|Hardware Feature #17|
|RAM Music Machine||RAM Electronics||£49.95|
RAM Music Machine
The following advert was taken from Sinclair User July 89
The RAM MUSIC MACHINE is probably the most exciting music add-on available for any computer.
Its a full sound sampling system allowing any sound to be recorded digitally into computer RAM. Once stored, the sound can be replayed at different pitches with any varying effects.
Its an echo chamber & digital delay line. Create very interesting effects.
Various sampled sounds are provided to get you going.
The Music Machine can be used as a drum machine - eight drum sounds are provided, but you can easily produce your own.
The powerful software allows you to compose tunes from individual bars of music. You can edit on screen & Save/Load sounds, instruments & rhythm.
Its a two voice music/sound system.
Fully MIDI compatible. The Ram Music Machine supports full MIDI In, MIDI Out & MIDI Thru.
Output through your hi-fi or headphones. Comes complete with microphone.
Use a full size MIDI keyboard to play the Music Machine.
Sounds produced by the Music Machine can be mixed with a MIDI synthesiser's own sounds.
On screen sound editor can produce MIDI data from your own compositions.
No other product can offer so much in one unit - it's the total solution !
Note: Advert was 'Datel Electronics' who were selling this product.
The following review was taken from ZX Computing - Novemebr 1986
This smallish uninteresting looking black plastic box is perhaps the most powerful versatile and exciting peripheral that I have had the pleasure to review for ages!
Described as The Complete Home Computer Music System I consider this claim to be a modest appraisal of the unit, it could be used In professional applications as well. So what does it do?
The great majority of purchasers will go for its superb sampled drum sounds and built in sequencer allowing complex and carefully constructed patterns to be created bar by bar and linked together to form a complete song.
A very versatile unit the quality and flexibility of which is equal to the £250+ Yamaha dedicated RX21 that I use. On the plus side is the fact that each bar can be set to Individual tempos, not feasible with the RX. But there is a real time play mode where your fingers can attempt to mimic Buddy Rich. On the minus side is there is no "real time" pattern constructing and only two Toms, the RX has three. However the Music Machine has Cowbell and the RX hasn't.
But this does not matter!
If you want another Tom then you can have it, or remove the cowbell or any of the sounds and replace them with any other you fancy because the Music Machine is also a Sampler! This means that you can record digitally any sound you like via the cheap microphone supplied, tape or line out of an amplifier.
Once a sound is in memory then you can set the start and end parameters and play as much or as little of it as you wish, even looping it for continuous sustain. You can reverse it and play it backwards, interesting, or go to the piano screen and play it back over a 12 note one octave range rising from middle C.
Once you have exhausted the novelty of that then you can use the tune sequencer and play it over a much extended three octave range and in two ports. It is here that some of the limitations of an inexpensive unit may become audible, the sustain effect is played by a very fast staccato repeat and it can be heard as such, also the tone may become unpleasant in the extremes of the range. A £10,000 + Fairlight allows multi samples across the whole range to be taken so what can you ask of a unit such as this?
For technicrats the sampling rate is 19444KHz and this gives approx 1.1 sec, it sounds short, but in fact it gives plenty of time to say Samantha Fox (should you so wish). A start and end of a sustain loop within the sample feature would have been useful, and the enlarged display of the waveform often resembles a burst from an airbrush and this is a pity.
The rear of the unit bristles with sockets and the three which most owners will use are the rnicrophone IN, the Phone OUT to on amplifier or stereo and a Headphone for personal listening. Only the output from either the tune sequencer or the drum sequencer can be sent to the headphone or phono socket at any one time.
Not just simply a fascinating toy as are most of the samplers I have seen, including some made by well respected companies in this field, but actually usable to create genuine musical compositions.
For anyone with musical interests this is an absolutely essential piece of equipment. I've heard Rap records with less backing than this can produce, and the quality is good enough for studio use.
Should you be one of the growing number of serious home musicians who own a keyboard such as the Casio CZ101 or any of the other instruments fitted with MIDI (Musical Instrument Digital Interface) then you can greatly extend both units' use.
There are three MIDI sockets fitted, standard five pin DIN, for MIDI IN, OUT and THROUGII and via these you can either play your sampled sounds over the full keyboard range sync with external sequencers, play the Music Machine's sequencer out to the keyboard (at the same time as using the drums via the headphone or phono out) or any other combination you desire This is possible from the software which operates in both the common Omni and Poly modes allowing full channel assignment and internal or external clock control.
All this in one unit and program must make it complicated to run.
Not a bit! The manual is written to suit all abilities, step by step chatty approach throughout but with full technical detail for those with deeper understanding -something many of the dedicated professional units I've looked at do not usually give.
As for operating, the menu system has been carefuly designed with many options being consistent whether you are In the Sampler, Piano, Midi, Echo or any of the many other operating screens. You soon learn the essential commands and the others are nearly all self evident.
I am afraid this review is rather on the enthusiastic side, but then I have deliberately compared this unit with others of much higher price and it holds Its own. A simple MIDI interface by itself can cost over £100, this has much, much more to offer.
RAM ask for ideas, there is no limit when you consider MIDI, for example how about; A real time multitrack sequencer with auto correct and variable quantize, or a multitrack step time sequencer, both with high resolution printout facilitys, or a midi patchbay system (give me a unit and I'll write one of those!) or, or . . the list is vast indeed.
Yes you may say, but it'll cost the earth and be well out of my reach. I agree it is a little more than the average £10 - £3O interface but at an astounding £49.95, it offers incredible value for money, the chance for anyone with an interest in music to get into the latest hi-tec rnusical development and I have no hesitation in giving it the highest accolade possible from a hard bitten, cynical reviewer.
I will buy one.
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