A Tale of Two Synths

Last night we were supposed to start tracking synth lines. The session was scheduled for 7 – 10pm. Due to traffic in Toronto, the talent wound up getting in late and it was closer to 7:30 before we started getting things set up.

We are using a Roland V-Synth GT to track the synth lines. It has one of the scariest panels I have ever seen on a keyboard. And it is quite the tone machine. You can read a full review of the synth here.

The keyboard player had spent considerable time finding and tweaking tones on a V-Synth in Halifax. He had made detailed notes on patches and tones for the work that we are doing this week-end. He arrived in Toronto early yesterday morning and then picked up another V-Synth from the Long and McQuade store in North York. After that he made his way to my improvised studio here in Kingston.

We connect the synth for tracking. Only the patches on the Toronto V-Synth were not to be found. To be sure, there were several hundred patches on the machine. Just not the same ones he had used on the V-Synth in Halifax.

It took us several hours to troubleshoot the problem. After spending time trying to determine whether there was some bank select feature on the device that might magically present the missing patches  — there isn’t — we thought that perhaps some custom presets had been loaded into the Halifax synth — there hadn’t but we did not find that out until much later.

Finally, after much tinkering on the synth, I went online and entered “Roland V-Synth Patches” and sure enough Google reported that Roland had issued a free download of new patches for the V-Synth.

To get the free patches, you have to register on the Roland site. They send out an email. You click a link. And wait. Wait. Wait.

Site wouldn’t load.

The file must be lurking someplace else. More Google. And finally, a site which has a copy of the free download.

Download the file. Read the instructions. Format USB memory stick on the synth. Remove USB memory stick and hop over to the computer. Copy the “.prj” file to the USB memory stick. Remove the USB memory stick from the computer and put it back in the synth. Follow the menu instructions to load a project from USB.

Everything seemed to work. We got a new set of patches.

Sadly, they were not the right ones.

Perhaps there was an update to the synth? The Toronto synth was on Version 1.03. Checking the Roland site, I found that the current version was 2.0. Again, a free download. This time the download site worked fine. More jumping around with USB memory sticks. Another round of steps to boot the synth and do the core update.

After almost three hours, success. We had the same patches. The folks in Halifax had kept the synth current. Not so for the North York Long and McQuade.


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  1. […] a few challenges getting started last night with the tones we wanted. You can read the whole story here in “The Tale of Two Synths”. Until next time. […]

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