Seth Cluett > smaller, worse, and possible – development of new noise-making devices

i had two very fruitful weeks of isolated, concentrated, fantastically experimental time in steim’s studio II (composition).  for the last 3 years i have lived in new jersey, in the u.s., and have had access to well stocked recording and electronics studios. this year my wife and i are living in paris, our apartment is rather small. my steim residency was for me an opportunity to catch up on my last 6 months of ideas, and assemble parts for my next 6 months of projects.

on my arrival, i re-arranged the entire room and created a very nice u-shaped workbench.  i set up my current performance equipment on one table, a soldering workbench on another, a ‘dirty table’ behind me and a small table for my computer to my right.  this let me (with the help of a rather incredible swivel-chair) let my mind flit from idea to idea without clearing space to work and in-so-doing wasting time.

i have been using a 3 x 3 matrix switcher/mixer in my live performances for about a year, it uses ‘competition rated gold-microswitch arcade buttons’ which you’d find in an console game like galaga or space invaders:

3 x 3 matrix switcher/mixer
the benefits to these buttons is that they act extremely fast, they are ‘user-interface’ friendly and they are bright red (which, next to a ‘blue-led’ is the second coolest thing you can use in an interface).

the downside is that they are noisy (they click loudly when pressed), they are momentary (i can’t find a state i like and leave it without the use of something heavy), and they are huge… here’s the inside:

3x3 matrix switcher/mixer inside
the third thing, is that this particular mixer, has some minimal cross-talk.  i use it for feedback, so this is a good thing.

i set myself to building a new matrix switcher that:

a) had on-off-(on) toggle switches to allow the ‘saving of states’

b) was MUCH smaller

c) and had worse cross-talk

The new matrix mixer:

toggle matrix mixer
is 3″ x 3″ with a matrix of 3 x 3 (nkk) on-off-(on) toggles with switchcraft jacks.  the wiring on the inside is a bit different then the original switcher (i’d open it and take a picture, but i fear the pandora within).  as such it is not much of a switch but a non-linear feedback matrix.  the inputs in each row are wired to each other as well as the outputs.  i used some very nice metal film resistors for that ‘hi-fi’ edge over the generic carbon-film resistors of it’s predecessor.

the main difference is in the size and play-ability.  the small size is more portable for sure, but it is VERY different to play than the old red-button switcher in-so-far-as it i can’t memorize hand patterns to bring back ‘certain’ feedback areas.  i can however leave the setting ‘set’ using the fixed toggles.  this lets me use the momentary toggles to perform-from a setting which previously required a number of heavy objects to hold down buttons or a poly-dactyl amount of fingers.

the next stage will be to replace the switches entirely with digital switches and variable digital resistors in the place of the summing resistors so that the 100% analogue routing and feedback can be controlled VERY slowly via computer.  this is, however, another project all together which will most likely involve a ouiji board to ask david tudor for advice. so far the digital resistors that i’ve tried make a clicking or stepping between values… any thoughts on this would be most welcomed.

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