the gear

Although I philosophically believe that in sonic art the sound of a performance is the only true measure of it's value, and that the equipment used to create those sounds should only be a secondary consideration, I also know from experience that people who see me perform are understandably curious about the equipment they are hearing and seeing. In part this is due to the fact that the majority of what I currently use is hand-built and so can not be seen anywhere else except at a performance.

So I have posted this page (for those have not seen me perform or who have but did not get a chance to get a better view) so that you can see things in more detail, as well as read a description of each device. [click on the photos for an enlarged view].
a picture of the radio

The radio


The radio was my entrance into performing with home-built/hand-made electronics. The beige box* on the right houses the simplest shortwave radio design I could find and build. Proceeding from there I modified it so that the tuning coils for the radio are on the outside, with the idea that I could interchange coils as I was perfoming.
I continued to expand on the original design and added a bank of external coils (to the left) which can be switched in and out of the circuit.
I further expanded the design and added a feedback loop, through the bank of coils, controlled by the blue knob on the black box (forground).
But by far the biggest and most important addition was the five copper "touch pads" on the top of the black box. Each pad connects to various componets (chosen at random) of the radio, so by touching the pads with my fingers I can effectively (through the resistance and capcitance of my skin) become part of the circuit.
a picture of the oscillators

The oscillators


The oscillators are exactly that: two basic square-wave oscillators. But what makes them perhaps different is their control.
The white rectangle in the foreground is a "light-table": a piece of white acrylic with LEDs embedded in the sides. Sitting on this are the four 'pucks', two violet and two yellow, each containing a photo-resistor. One of each set (the round ones) control the pitch of each oscillator while the others (square) contol the amplitude and filtering.
a picture of the mixer

The mixer


The mixer is a four-by-four matrix mixer. Matrix mixers differ from regular mixers in that they allow mixing from the output of any device to the input of any other (and/or multiple devices). This includes the output of any device back into it's self

Here is a picture of the mixer under construction.

This is currently incomplete, not pictured are: the Analog Delay, the (world's smallest) Plate Reverb, and the Submixer for the Matrix Mixer (added after the above picture was taken).
I will be adding pictures of these soon. But the process of buildings ones own equipment is one of constant evolution in responce to artistic need, and as I am constantly tinkering with and modifying my equipment this page will probably never be completely up to date.

Robb Drinkwater - July 2005