New Site Soon

17 09 2010

Greetings Everyone,
I haven’t posted in awhile… I’ve been exceedingly busy and distracted these last few months. Three moves in less than a year is enough to really jumble your senses! Most importantly, after much thought, I’ve decided to finally commit myself to building effects and custom electronics full-time and treat it as a real business.

Sometime during the next few weeks, I will be updating my commercial site, www.soulsonicfx.com. After much thought, I’ve decided to do the entire site using WordPress. I’ve been very pleased with the results I’ve gotten using this WordPress blog, so I’d like to stick with something that I’ve grown very comfortable with. I also enjoy the challenge of seeing what I can do with it.

If you’ve tried to access the site in the past 24 hours, you’ve probably noticed it’s down. My host says they’re performing file maintenance, so it should be back up soon. This has affected the email accounts as well, so if you’ve had trouble getting in touch with me, please use my secondary email address: solgrind (at) lavabit.com

I have some exciting new things in the works like, a cool new tube overdrive, an Echorec-inspired delay, and an innovative fully-modular mixing system!

-MC

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Four Banger mk2 – FINALLY!!!

3 12 2009

First, I must apologize for not posting for such a long time. I’ve been exceedingly busy with a number of things, so I’ve neglected this site. But, I have certainly not neglected building wonderful new effects!

I first built the Four Banger during July 2008. Since then, it has gotten alot of attention. I am very pleased that people have found it to be a useful and good-sounding tool; but the original design was quickly thrown together as a one-off build, and despite the fact that it sounded great, I found it to be deficient in several ways from a technical point of view. So, I decided to stop taking orders for it and went back to the drawing board to re-design the entire thing from scratch and try to improve it in every way possible.

Here is a photo of the first build:
Four Banger mk2

The hardest decision was deciding what kind of enclosure to put it in. After much consideration, I decided upon the standard “125B” enclosure style. The reasons are because it is a fairly compact size – but can still easily fit a battery (unlike the previous Four Banger Mini), it is readily available, and it is reasonably priced. I also put much thought into how I would paint it. Enamel paint or powdercoat are the usual choices, but I decided to go with a hand-painted acrylic finish over a matte enamel primer with a lacquer top coat. I like acrylic because of the wide color pallet available, the brightness of the colors, and the fast drying time. The lacquer top coat protects the finish very well from everyday wear and gives a nice gloss.

Here, we can see inside:
Four Banger mk2 guts

I’ve taken several new approaches in this design. First thing you may notice is that the jacks are mounted directly to the circuit board. This greatly reduces the amount of material and time required to wire the circuit. I have chosen this style of jack because they have proven to be very reliable when used this way and they are of very good quality. The next thing that catches your eye is the bypass switch. I have chosen to move away from the standard “Taiwan Blue” 3PDT footswitch as I, and many other builders, have used. Instead, the Four Banger mk2 uses a miniature 4PDT pushbutton switch with an external actuator to activate it and protect it from damage. I have chosen this switch because it is higher quality, is more suited for guitar-level signals, and has a much lighter feel without the loud “KA-CHUNK!” sound and no need to stomp on it to turn the effect on and off. Despite the lighter feel, it can easily withstand heavy stomping without any danger of accidental damage; the amount of force required to damage it would easily do equal damage to a standard large footswitch. And because it is mounted on its own board, it can easily be replaced if necessary. The Boost Select switches are now small pushbutton switches instead of toggles. I chose them because they make installation easier and there is less chance of damage if they are accidentally stepped upon.

Now, to discuss the re-designed circuit: Let’s begin with the Rangemaster (R). I have painstakingly designed a new modern silicon-based treble boost circuit that gets as closely as possible to the sound of the original germanium version of the Rangemaster. I built an original spec circuit with a vintage black glass OC44 to use as my reference, and I believe I have captured that sound. The main reason for dropping the germanium circuit in favor of a modern version is because of consistency. It is simply too difficult to find a large enough supply of great sounding germaniums and be able to offer the unit for a reasonable price. Additionally, I relished the challenge of a new design… as always ;). Moving on, the MOSFET (M) boost is my “No Crackle” re-interpretation of a certain popular boost. After coming up with the initial No-Crackle design, I haven’t seen much reason to change it, though I may tweak it a bit before final release, to try and reduce the noise a little bit. The Opamp (O) boost is another new design. Though the original Opamp boost was nice, I personally found it to be a tad boring and I wanted something with more versatility. Now, the Opamp’s gain can be dialed from a transparent buffer all the way up to a great hot overdrive. I’m very pleased with how that one turned out, and I’m going to be offering a deluxe standalone version that will compete against such heavy hitters as the Klon Centaur. Finally the JFET (J) boost has been re-worked as an SRPP style circuit instead of the previous Mu-Amp stye. The SRPP has lower noise, lower output impedance, and greater drive capability. It is a small change, but surely a worthwhile one.

I will be passing around a demo unit to some known pedal guys to get some first-hand feedback and reviews. I plan to begin officially shipping these at the beginning of January 2010. The projected price will be $200USD. This price will included worldwide shipping cost. I am also working on a deal to get these and other SoulSonicFX products distributed in Australia so it will be easier for my Australian customers to obtain them. Also, the soulsonicfx.com website will soon be updated with more information about this and other products I will be selling.

I have now officially opened a pre-order list for the Four Banger mk2. This will allow me to more accurately judge the demand and plan production accordingly. If you would like to be on the pre-order list, please send an inquiry to preorder@soulsonicfx.com.
If you have previously contacted me about the Four Banger, PLEASE send a note to the above pre-order address. This will allow me to organize all the requests and keep track of everyone. Thanks to all of you for your patience, I know some of you have been waiting to hear about the new Four Banger for quite some time.

-MC





Four Banger Discontinued

27 02 2009

As of February 28, I am no longer taking orders for the Four Banger.
All outstanding orders will be completed, don’t worry if you’ve been waiting, it will get done and you will be contacted when it’s ready.
The response for this as been overwhelming and I quickly realized this is too big of a thing for me to tackle building at home in any kind of quantity quickly and be able to maintain the quality I desire, so I am discontinuing it in order to focus on building other things instead.

But don’t worry… the Four Banger will most likely return in a new (better) form this upcoming Summer! It will be back.

-MC





New SoulSonicFX Site

10 02 2009

Hi everyone. Today, I spent some money and purchased an honest-to-goodness domain name and webspace for my effects business so I don’t have to clutter up this wondrous place biz-related stuff. This blog is supposed to be about DIY, but it’s gotten turned into other things, and I’d really like to get the focus back where it belongs.
So here it is:
SOULSONICFX.COM
There really isn’t anything there yet, but I promise to have a full online catalog up soon.





Four Banger UPDATE!!!

13 12 2008

Hi, I haven’t posted anything in awhile. I apologize for that. But, my excuse is that I’ve been extremely busy building and designing new things; some things to sell and some things to share. Anyway, over the past few months my Four Banger: Four Boosts in One Box has gotten some attention and it’s probably the most asked for item that I build now. This is good, but having built several now, I’ve decided to make some improvements, and that’s what this article is intended to explain.

Okay, first thing; I am not building these on perf board, I only did two  like that, and one was only at special request. I have a nice printed circuit board designed for it, and it’s been turning out very well.
Four Banger Boards

I’ve also been experimenting with different colors:
Four Banger green
And even custom painted colors:
Four Banger Custom Paint
Four Banger Custom Paint1

Along with the improved circuit boards and different pain jobs, I’ve also improved the quality of the parts to put it on par with the level of quality and reliability I prefer. The main components improved were the mini toggle switches and the controls. The mini toggles are substantially better than what I had used previously, and they have a short bat which makes them less likely to be damaged if they are accidentally stepped upon. These improvements have increased the overall cost of the components moderately and I have raised the price to reflect this. I now sell the standard Four Banger for US$120.

And now introducing a new Mini-Sized Four Banger!
Four Banger Mini

By utilizing a hybrid combination of traditional thru-hole and modern surface-mounted components, I’ve been able to shrink the Four Banger to half its size. Nothing about the circuit has been changed, only some smaller components have been used in strategic locations. The sound and performance is identical to the standard Four Banger. The only difference is that the Four Banger Mini is DC power only; there’s simply no room to fit a battery in there! As you can see here, it’s quite a tight fit:
Four Banger Mini insides

Here, you can see the “secret” underside of the Mini’s pc board which shows the SMD components:
Four Banger Mini pcb

I’m quite pleased with the results. I sell the Four Banger Mini for $130. The slightly higher price is because of the increased labor of hand-soldering the SMD components and the higher price of the Tantalum capacitors used.

If you are interested in purchasing either version of the Four Banger, you may contact me at: solgrind (at) lavabit.com
I do transactions via PayPal and the current wait time is about 2 weeks. I will gladly ship anywhere in the world. If you want any special color or modification, please ask!

-MC