One of the challenges of using old gear in new setups is that the workflow of the 80’s is different from today. Of course, trying out new (or in this case, old) ways of working may often lead to interesting ideas and bursts of creativity from breaking out of the comfort groove and dealing with new limitations and boundaries.
But there are some things that have improved.
MIDI sequencers of old were made for composing entire songs whereas hardware today is more geared towards immediate, spontaneous composition. Obviously, this means that modern gear can perform a lot of operations in real-time without ever breaking the flow of the beat, where old sequencers and recording gear sometimes (or often) need to be stopped. This should not just be blamed on a different modus operandi, but sometimes the processing speed of the electronic clockwork inside just wouldn’t cut it. My favorite example is the Yamaha QX3, which offers exactly one loop option, and it can’t even do that properly without losing the beat every time it restarts.
The ASQ (and MPC) can do some things during playback and record, enough to build a groove and layer things on top while even correcting mistakes, and being primarily created (but certainly not restricted to) building beats, it rarely, if ever, loses timing.
That is, until it encountered modern synths.
For bass lines, my current favorite is my Moog Sub Phatty. It’s a wonderful instrument with a slightly short keyboard, that captures the Moog sound and playability in a modern piece of technology. It also sends MIDI CC data for every knob and wheel, making it possible to record and play back the performance not only as audio, but as MIDI too, for later manipulation. This makes sense, as these types of instruments were made with the intention to be played not only through the keyboard and the ”regular” modulation and pitch wheels, but also through interaction with the front panel, in effect sculpting the sound as you go. This Moog also has the option to send higher resolution CC data meaning that zipper noise from knobs is no longer an issue.
This, however, did not sit well with my ASQ.
Merely touching the filter knob made my ASQ stutter when recording, finally coming to a halt with an error code indicating data overflow. It never ever crashed or lost data, mind you, but it made recording my swelling bass notes impossible. Sad face.
So, I tried lowering the resolution of controller data being sent. Still the same problem.
Now, my ASQ is equipped with Roger Linn’s excellent 3.10 firmware, meaning that I have greater control over data filtering. As it turns out, this was the solution.
Under the MIDI button, punch ”3” for the Setup menu choice, and switch the PASS EVENTS setting to the value NO for the following items:
CC33: Modulation LSB
According to the 3.10 manual, the slightly cryptic parameter PASS EVENTS will, when set to NO, bypass recording of said data. But I could now record filter and resonance sweeps flawlessly!
I guess this is because I turned off the least significant byte of the data stream for said controllers, meaning in effect that I filtered out a major part of the controller stream (by a factor of 128 if my calculations are not completely off). In practice, it was difficult to hear a difference, if any, and for recording ideas, this is more than sufficient.