Andromeda thread

well, I just like to keep this nice post saved it's here: ... 796#341796

and posted by Mike Peake
Nice thread.

Brother Dave has indeed answered the questions well...and with a project this large, there can be endless questions.

Indeed, the Andromeda is the child of too many brews. It took over four years to create due to chip turn-around time (the first chips were pretty broken, and took a long time to iron out the S/H clocking and timing) and the size of the software/polishing the feature set. There were other products under development at the same time, such as the DG8 and the DMPro, that took up a lot of effort as well.

It's important to note that the Andromeda suffered resistance throughout it's development, sometimes subtle, sometimes to the point of near-cancellation. It was so deep and time-consuming, that there were those who wanted to wash their hands of it at various points. Folks like Dave, Julie, Dave Seaton, and others went to bat and kept it alive. A6 fans should offer thanks to them for fighting the good, continuous fight. Congrats again as well to Phil and Jeff for the killer developement/coding, and for the great ideas they added along the way. And again to Phil for putting up with me.

The sound of the A6 is not as large as a Minimoog, or a Moog Modular. I said this on the AH mailing list just prior to its release, that it won't replace either of those synths. Something about the 5V unipolar ASICs (3.3V effective operating range) changed the sound of the original circuitry. The filters were breadboarded and sounded pretty close to our vintage units, with as much variance from an original than any original shows against another (Moogs sound different from each other. I've heard killer 901b-based Modulars and deadly dull, fully cleaned and calibrated 921b-based units [at least in terms of oscillators]). Even the Chroma is larger-sounding than the raw, one waveform per oscillator A6 tone. Yes, it's been observed that you need to use tricks to enlarge the overall Andy tone. Thankfully, there are several ways to achieve this.

One trick I've had in mind (Mix Mode) is to use Colin's sub-osc@34.7 volume trick, with Osc 2 soft or hard sync'd to Osc 1, with just enough Osc 2 subosc to create a single, large waveform, effectively the sound of just one, larger-than-normal-A6-oscillator (can use Filter 1's HPF to track the fundamental with resonance to increase the size). Use Unison X and or Chord to "tune" another voice, having it act as a second Oscillator to the first. It would have to be the same overall Program, filter settings and envelope times, etc.

Route a satisfactory result out an Aux jack, into Voice 15 Audio In. Program Voice 15's Filters in parallel, with Filter 2 open and Filter 1's BPF at about 40-80Hz. Set that Program to the Main outs. This is just blue sky conjecture, but using the filters in an Audio In voice to mimic the Moog filters' seeming bass boost, as the resonance effectively shuts off down toward and past about 125Hz, is part of the early Moog sound. Of course, you'll have to use an envelope to Filter 2 Resonance or through the TG for the source voices...

And note... The very fastest setttings, in either 1.40.12 or the beta rev .13 are faster than the Modular or Mini envelopes. We found that the Minimoog VCA would click with an input voltage rise time faster than about 750uS. This might vary between Minis and with calibration as well, but the point stands; the Minimoog was not a speed hound. Use slower Engine Optimizer settings. This also cleans up the PWM some.

Obviously, the VCAs don't have the dynamic range that vintage units have.

Someone asked about calibration of the voice FM; Mic, was that you? Basically, the A6 has far greater depth of modulation than the Xpander per Mod route. Each Andromeda Mod route can sweep the entire range of its destination. The Xpander's control routes are limited to what, a minor sixth? I don't know if its FM is the same limited depth; I don't remember it having the out-of-control mangling of a modular with the route wide open. The A6 oscillator cross FM routes go way, way out into that territory. I know that there are oscillators that are stable enough to allow effective use of that sort of depth, but...why? This is a moot point unless you are using a triangle core oscillator ala the Buchla and Plan B designs. It's an entirely different way of flying, I believe the "Airplane" quote says. So, on the A6, only use the first quarter or so of the available depth, and you still may be well beyond the range of the Xpander, if you want to try to zero in on that sort of thing. And no, the associated VCAs are not attached to any code that would allow them to be optimized. I remember having asked about it, and it sounded both difficult and unlikely.

Want better PWM? Use an external hardware LFO through the Osc Mod input.

Has anyone used an audio-rate external LFO on the Filter input, with large amounts of resonance and voices going at once? Could be a delightful destruction.

If Elhardt is lurking, have you used my suggestion regarding the 1-16 Audio In, for violin body modification effects?

Regarding Marcus Ryle and Michelle... Dave, if you blinked, you would have missed the early engineering specification meeting they attended... As mentioned in the A6 Tips and Tricks document (a great thing!), the square wave on each oscillator has its own VCA. This is to allow a level blend with one of the sawtooth polarities, which Marcus showed to have a different sound than standard PWM. This is one of the things Marcus and Michelle gave us, and they may have helped Rob do some of the overall uP update planning.

Brother Dave, be careful with your prototype. Both of mine are now dead. It turns out that you can't do a reset on them; it wipes something out in the code (tuning tables plus???) Now it's down to you and Arnd. Regarding the prototypes using the rev 2 voice chips (production units use rev 3), the rev 2 had linear smoothing for the control signals, and as such, there is audible zipper noise. There are also some bugs that were fixed...but IIRC, the hard sync was a bit better than on the rev 3s. We needed the soft sync tightened, and for some reason, the hard sync might have suffered.

I still have a couple of light grey on grey front panels for sale. The thing about replacing the panels is not so much the 72 knobs; it's if you want to go the whole route and replace the far larger number of buttons. They sit tightly on their switches, and it's a bit of a pain to change them out.

I can't begin to imagine the effort required to replace the LEDs...

BTW, there are rumors that there may be differences between the red and blue Andys. The only difference is the color of the overlay itself. There are no technical differences. However, only 78 or so were sold prior to the bankruptcy, IIRC, not counting the first hundred or so units that went out to reps (don't know how many there were in that batch, or if there were any). We sent the remaining red overlays to Taiwan when then took up production, but I don't know if any further red units were produced. (And kudos to those who traveled to Taiwan to make sure that production was happening...that's effort...)

Thank Dave Bryce for the red units. It was his good idea.

Also, the chips didn't change at any point that I'm aware of; it is far too costly to run revisions for this to have happened casually. There may be variation in different pressings, but this is a subject beyond my ability to comment. Suffice to say, one major change that occured after the bankruptcy was the creation of an automated test fixture for the chips. It had been performed by ear and by hand by Jared and another gent at the old Hawthorne location.

Speaking of the Hawthorne location and the bankruptcy... When it became clear that we were losing the Hawthorne warehouse/assembly line/testing facility/parts stock/repair division/warehouse, Taiho and I went down and stripped it of all A6-related parts, and stored them at the then current location. We only had one A6 in-house through the bankruptcy, and we were still receiving calls from bands to get a hold of one... We had to keep it for reference, and to send to reviewers. Colin had been posting on TGS at the time, lamenting the extended wait for his already paid-for order... We built him one from the rescued parts, tested it, and sent it out. IIRC, there weren't enough parts to built two.

The folks who actually assembled the Andromeda at the US facility deserve much credit. It was a multi-stop assembly line, and the guys who set it up and wrote the assembly procedure have a major accomplishment on their hands. Thank you all! A few of us went down there every day for a while to help this process, as well as to assemble the first units shipped to the public (this is after tester units/sound design units/rep units). That joker FAST on AH has one of them, and it has my initials for quality control. A few of the engineers share in this; you don't know how many people kicked ass to make this happen. Some of use worked 80+ hour weeks at the end of its development, and some must have worked that much during it. Dave was one key to its existence; without a genuine keyboard person in marketing, several decisions might have been out of our hands. Dave and the project managers were very firm in defending it, and the engineers enjoyed the opportunity to basically do what had been specified without having to justify it every so often to those who didn't understand. It wasn't war, but when something is so close to your heart, you're ready to fight. Those who didn't understand analog synths, be they friend or partial foe, just seemed to leave us alone.

Dave has already explained the fights regarding the names on the unit on another forum. Dave was right, Andromeda is a great name for it. And oh, how hard we tried to find another that fit.

What would I change about the unit? If I could, I would re-engineer the voice chips to have the proper oscillator sonic oomph, a signal path with the punch of a modern analog such as the Wiard or Technosaurus, the filters to sound like the things they were genuinely derived from, and a modern uP to snap up those envelopes and raise the nyquist so that the LFOs could be opened up to higher rates. Anyone want to loan me a million dollars? I'll refund any available change after testing etc. Smile

Speaking of the fabulous Wiard, I felt that it should have won Electronic Musician's Editor's Choice award, and IIRC said as much to the editor who phoned us. The Wiard 300 VCA/Env combination's variable slopes make for the finest power-shaping resource I've encountered.

What about me? I'm pretty much finishing up coming out of the stupor of the first five+ years of recovering from alcoholism, a problem that I neither understood nor had a name for until early 2001. What a screwed-up mess, and I got to do it pubicly. Nothing like getting laughed at and jammed for having a fatal disease that you can't do very much about. Kudos to those who retained some level of honor and community in their relations with me through this time. We get enough ugliness from the squatters in the White House, than to add to the teetering total of negativity that the country is going to have to deal with, sooner or later... People, hold yourselves to a higher standard. Little else is so important as higher standards. End soapbox.

God bless Bob Moog, over and over. He and a couple of other progenitors asked after working with us on the project; we wanted to keep most of it in our own hands, and thankfully, said progenitors went on to do their own new classics. We are sooo lucky...

by "Dave" he refers to Dave Bryce who posted a lot about the Andromeda A6
and one of the first models to Mike, Dave and Arnd (Kaiser).

nice link to an overlay which was also used by the Aurora Mod by Kris rhen: ... blueA6.jpg

Dave Bryce posted earlier:

Actually, we just got tired of people complaining that the QS synths had no resonant filters, so we decided to make something that did. Very Happy Cool

Making Andromeda was really the culmination of a dream for a bunch of us who had grown up with the older analog synths. We had spent years working on sample based stuff, and Erik and Rob Rampley got Alesis founder (and major engineer geek) Keith Barr drunk one night and talked him into letting us make an old school American power synth. Keith actually designed Andromeda's ASICs himself, if memory serves.

One of the back stories was that we were fought tooth and nail by Alesis' sales and marketing VP at the time, who thought we were out of our minds. He once told me we'd be lucky to sell 50 total units. Guess he may have been wrong. Shocked Idea

If anyone has any specific questions, I'll do my best to answer if I can remember. That was a while ago...

more from dave bryce here:

seems like they would want to distinguish Alesis from the "workstation hell" of that era.

Not just workstations - it was VA synths, too. We figured making a Real Actual Analog synth would catch some people's attention (as Bitexion correctly surmised).

Plus, we were tired of hearing that we weren't a real synth company despite the fact that our ROMplers (especially the QS8) were outselling just about everything else at the time...but there were folks who kept telling us that ROMplers aren't real we made a real synth. Idea

That seemed to do the trick...


theglyph wrote:
Dave, the one major question I have had and the one thing which has kept me from pulling the trigger on an A6 purchase is what will the status of the A6's ASICs be in the future? CEMs and SSMs were used in several synths from many manufacturers so those chips were manufactured to some degree in surplus as we see today (although they ain't cheap Crying or Very sad). Did Alesis make sure that the IC manufacturer made enough chips to fulfill any future failures or is the well not so deep?

Alesis is the chip manufacturer...I mean, they don't own the foundry where the chips are physically made, but they do everything else. Consequently, there's no way we can know how many of them Alesis has made/wants to make...

...unless they want to tell us, of course...


nice to read addition from Dave:

I can only answer two of those questions becuase I haven't worked for Alesis for about seven years, so I have no idea what their current plans are.

Marcus Ryle, who founded Line 6, was one of the guys responsible for the XpanderMatrix 12. He and his team had a lot to do with a bunch of Alesis products including the ADAT and the QS synths...but they had nothing to do with Andromeda.

There are a few "rev 2" Andromedas that were only used during beta. They are slightly different from the production models, but the OS in them is different enough that you can't transfer programs between, them, so they can't really be directly compared....nor, if you could, is there actually any point in doing so. Howver, all the production models are (AFAIK) exactly the same....


ok, and from here.. post your own Andro-related stuff..

just thought it would be nice to save that stuff for the synth geeks, matrixsynth had a post up for the same reason..
as i am earning on the andromeda since ages, can anyone tell anything
on the production status of the andromeda? the rumour is, it is discontinued,
some other sources claims there will be a new revision out soon...
since numark taken over alesis, nobody could tell anything on this subject.

i also like the highlight here, alesis has got another fine piece of
virtual analog synth(s), the ion (and micron), although both failed in my eyes
due to _zero_ management behind the product... :sad: schrieb:
the rumour is, it is discontinued,
some other sources claims there will be a new revision out soon...

That´s the rumor since the big price drop. ;-)
I would not expect Alesis to stop the A6 production soon.
But I don´t believe in a new revision, too.
I guess you will have to take the A6 as it is. ;-)
the Andro got rare these days, some shops marked it "sell out" over here, I'd get one quite soon because I do not believe it will be available for years..

the ppl at alesis fought and struggled for it to happen but we'll never see something like a successor or even a re-release - if you want one I'd recommend to get one asap. - it's one of those you should get as long as it is officially available..

to me it looks a lot like discontinuation in the near future.
I only wonder about their replacement parts policy, hope they keep a lot for repairing, including other countries - otherwise it could be the same problem as the matrix synths. sooner or later.

nothing lasts for ever..
Jörg schrieb:
That´s the rumor since the big price drop. ;-)
may i ask which big pricedrop are you referring to, the 3000 > 2222 EUR one?

Moogulator schrieb:
if you want one I'd recommend to get one asap.
yes, indeed, i want one, even if it is cost an arm and leg over here.
i already contacted and queried the hungarian alesis distributor.
in case they could not fulfill my order, i'll try to source the andromeda in germany.

maybe another question, does anyone happen to have any information on the recently released andromedas in the uk,
where as almost a complete batch was faulty by default (according to the a6 list)?
i was trying to collect the serial numbers, seems the faulty batch is almost a sequence:

I'd think of the 4444 -> 2100 one - thats quite a lot - if I were them I'd never lowered the price that much, but if I ever need another one I'd go for it today.. so sad they do not racks or desktops of it.. it is still a problem to have a nice analog synth on stage which is not that oversized (5 octaves != car size).

hmm, I am not sure how much it is in your country, but maybe you can order it from here (do they have a distribution in east euro countries?)

music store's (germany, cologne) latest ad was "sell out" at 2222€, so I guess you can get one there..

I am not sure about the faulty thing, I do not even know how many ASICS they got in stock atm, but if it does not work you got the warranty.

we had another guy from hungary here on the forum, he also had an A6 but also told us it is not so easy to get synths over there, at least the ppl over here might not trust the east? possibly..
quick update on the topic.

the hungarian alesis distributor confirmed:
the andromeda is discontinued, alesis does not accept order any longer on this item.
(i forgot to ask, maybe next time... does alesis has any synth currently in production?
seems the ion, micron and even the fusion line is phased out...)

as moogulator has been already suggested, i've found musicstore cologne
has couple original units left, like 3-4. i already bought one of these.
the sales team was really great, they even checked the serial range for me:

(21)A10611045700644, (21)A10611045700633, (21)A10611045700629

looks like these units was manufactured on 2006/11/04, this is my
assumption... might be the last batch ever, although not the same which
has been sold recently in the UK, and whose units was reported by a6 listmembers
as faulty ones. anyway, i will report back to you, once the synth is delivered.
ms also sold the hartmann neuron when the company went into insovency, anyway, Alesis may not be interested in synthesizers anymore?
we all don't know..

synths are out, you must buy a compressor these days ;-)
Moogulator schrieb:
I'd think of the 4444 -> 2100 one - thats quite a lot
ah, you referring to the complete product cycle.
yes, indeed, the original price, back in 2001 was over 4k euro, in hungary it was introduced
for 1.3million HUF (extremely big money!). little bit later, i guess shortly after alesis bankruptcy,
the price dropped below 3k euro range (although not in hungary).

Moogulator schrieb:
if I were them I'd never lowered the price that much
as far as i know, after the pricedrop sale figures started to increase.
i assume more people could afford the 2k EUR price than the "flagship" 4k EUR range...

Moogulator schrieb:
(do they have a distribution in east euro countries?)
since the bankruptcy, numark taken over alesis distribution over here.
belive me, sometimes its really hard to get any information from the "dj" guys.
last time they said to me: why do you want an andromeda, the fusion 8hd
could offer at least as good sound plus a lot more features. :)

Moogulator schrieb:
I am not sure about the faulty thing, I do not even know how many
ASICS they got in stock atm, but if it does not work you got the warranty.
shipping back and forth the unit in between DE <> HU costs a lot. this is what i'd like to prevent.

Moogulator schrieb:
he also had an A6 but also told us it is not so easy to get synths over there,
at least the ppl over here might not trust the east? possibly..
i can deny this. since we joined the EU, german dealers and musikstores
are really kind and helpful. at least, so far i've had pretty good experience with them.

on the other hand, not only synths, any other musik equipment is hard to get over here.
really small market, completly different income (typically 1/10th of a german average), almost 0 sales.
but i do not want to hijack the andromeda thread.

btw. other musikshop's has just sent their answers. beside musikstore cologne,
synhiecenter has got two brandnew andromedas aswell. in case anyone looking for a new one,
call them. touched by sound (nuernberg/germany) and klangfarbe (wien/austria)
has got a demo/floor model for sale.
ok, well.. finally the andro will raise in price since there will be no more in a short time.
if I had non I'd go for one now.. or not at all;-)

well, they could have kept it at 2.6 or 2.9€.. but I am not really a business man.

the fusion thing is just a joke, but it was nice to have sampling and FM in one synth, thats true, but no replacement for the andro, possibly they do not care that much about synths and their sound over there?
they simply sink their credibility in seconds ;-)

sending it: of course, but I see not so many other options.. possibly they can give you a warranty it works / they checked it (I am not sure if MS is ABLE to check it..)

demo models: check them first and touch it, before buying one.
you also need to care if it is a good shop..

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