After months (years?) of burnt fingers, inhaled solder fumes, mild shocks, cuts, bruises, confusion, and revision hell, we’re debuting our updated live stage rig at Local 604 Bottle Shop in West Asheville on May 4.
For the technically-inclined/curious, the rig update included simplifying the hookup to the Ableton Live interface, a cleaner output panel on the “brain” (rack containing Audio and Midi interfaces, effects, DIs, and inputs from onstage mics and instruments), and the most significant update – four “station” interfaces with multi-channel EDAC snakes to send audio and data back and forth to the main rig of “brain”. These interfaces and the main panel were built with the help of
Asheville Makers ( http://ashevillemakers.org) using CNC and laser cutting technology.
The guitar rig got an extensive upgrade, integrating it with the main rig and adding multi-channel snake cables to streamline setup. The keyboard rig got the same treatment along with a lighter keyboard controller to replace the Roland Fantom x8. The synth station got a small rig interface in Eurorack format, as we plan to phase out the Moogerfooger bank and replace it with a Eurorack system in the future.
So come out, say hello, drink a beer, and hang out while we stress test this thing.
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The Analog Moon live rig was updated in 2019. It’s dubbed “2020” because it’s unlikely to be completely finished before then, but it’s functional so we’ll take the rest of the year to work out the kinks. The old custom Macbook snake was replaced with a Thunderbolt 3 hub for one quick connection to the Macbook. More importantly, the stage has been organized into four “stations” and each station has an interface to pass audio and data through a multi-channel snake to the central “brain”.
The audio interface is still a MOTU Ultralite MK3 and the MIDI interface is a MOTU Micro Lite. They both connect to a USB hub inside the rack case. A T.C. Electronic vocal processor is routed as desired to all three vocal signals and passed as a separate vocal effects channel to the PA.
On the rear of the main rack, a power conditioner provides power to everything inside the rack as well as the transport and drum MIDI controller (Akai MPD26) which sits on top. The main keyboard unit, a Roland Fantom XR is housed in the main rack and controlled by a MIDI controller at the main keyboard station (station 1). Line level signals are passed through a eight-channel Radial DI or individual Shure DI before output to the PA. Depending on the type of performance, as few as two, or as many as fourteen channels can be sent to the PA.
The core of the Analog Moon live rig is the interface system, which includes four stations, each having its own interface and EDAC-connected multi-channel snake cable.
The Analog Moon guitar rig was updated along with the rest of the live rig in 2019. It’s dubbed “2020” because it’s unlikely to be completely finished before then, but it’s functional so we’ll take the rest of the year to work out the kinks. There are a few new guitar pedals since the last update, as well as a new cabling system and interface to the rest of the main stage rig.
The guitar rig passes signals (audio, midi, CV/expression, etc) using multi-channel snake cable terminated with various EDAC connectors just as the main live rig does.
The rig can be basically broken down into five main components (not including the guitar itself): the pedalboard, the handboard, the effects rack, the amp, and the rig interface.
The effects rack houses non-essential-but-useful effects. These effects pedals/units are always on and are added and removed to the signal chain with a Voodoo Lab GCX Guitar Audio Switcher which is controlled by a Voodoo Lab Ground Control unit on the pedalboard.
In the rear of the effects rack there’s a panel with EDAC connectors to connect the pedalboard to the effects rack, the handboard to the effects rack, and the effects rack to the rig interface which is situated on the side of the amp.
The effects rack can actually be left out of the rig entirely by connecting the pedalboard snake directly to the rig interface on the side of the amp. The handboard can be connected there as well. In both locations, it passes through a true bypass circuit which can be controlled from the pedalboard or at the handboard itself.
The handboard houses delay units. It’s connected to either the effects rack or the rig interface with a six-channel snake with EDAC connectors. Two small stomp switches (one on the handboard itself and one on the pedalboard) control a true bypass to add or remove the handboard circuit completely from the signal chain.
The pedalboard houses anything that belongs early in the signal chain, any essential effects, a Voodoo Lab Ground Control Pro, a Voodoo Lab GCX Guitar Audio Switcher (under the top deck), and volume and expression pedals.
The Ground Control unit controls both the pedalboard and the effects rack GCX units. Presets can be recalled manually or via MIDI from the main rig. The VOL and EXP 1 pedals can be set via toggle to control volume or effects on the pedalboard or later in the signal chain (effects rack, rig interface). The volume pedal is typically set to send control voltage to control volume at the end of the signal chain with a VCA (Moog Minifooger Boost).
The rig interface is the central component of the guitar rig. It sends/receives an audio signal to the main rig and into Ableton Live for looping/sampling, controls volume at/near the end of the signal chain with the guts of a Moog Minifooger Boost acting as a VCA, routes MIDI between the main rig and other parts of the guitar rig, and sends low voltage power over the snake to power the pedalboard components, and sends the final amp mic signal to the main rig.
The panels and enclosures were designed in Autodesk Fusion 360 and milled and engraved with the help of Asheville Makers.
The bottom deck of the pedalboard is made of lightweight poplar plywood, routed to hold and pass cables.
The edges were routed for aluminum angles.
Supports were added for the top deck and spaced to house the GCX unit.
The layout was checked with pedals lying around the studio.
A horizontal groove was routed under the front row to allow cables to pass.
Vertical grooves were routed on the bottom of the bottom deck intersecting the horizontal groove on the top.
The top deck and the handboard are oak, and edge routed like the bottom deck.
All of the decks were stained with ebony oil-based stain.
The aluminum edge pieces were mitered and attached after staining.
The top deck supports were attached and hinges were installed for the top deck.
The oak grain of the top deck and handboard shows a bit more prominently through the stain.
The top deck is attached and secured with hand screws for access to the lower deck, cabling, and GCX unit.
An early (rev1) version of the effects rack rear panel had no EDAC connectors for the handboard or rig interface.
In that earlier version, the handboard pedals were connected individually and the rig interface was still in development.
The pedalboard has two rarely used LED gooseneck lamps which may come in handy during studio sessions.
The keyboard rig got a fairly large upgrade in 2019. The heavy Roland Fantom X8 was switched out for the rack version and a smaller, lighter Studiologic MIDI controller was put in its place. The MIDI controller sends performance data on four channels: one to control the Fantom rack unit, one for a future poly synth, one for the Critter and Guitari Pocket Piano, and one for software synths in Ableton Live. For now, the key station and the synth station will overlap a bit as the Moog Little Phatty Stage II still faces that station.
The keyboard station is still situated to control the main rig as well. The Akai MPD26 is used as a transport and track faders for Ableton Live as well as a drum controller. In the far left of this image, you can see the Electro-Harmonix V256 which is used for vocal effects at the keyboard station. The Boss RE-20 Space Echo is currently running behind the Critter and Guitari Pocket Piano.
The update to the keyboard station included a Strymon Zuma power supply (mounted on the underside of the “shelf”) that powers everything at the keyboard station. On the right, you can see the face of the keyboard station rig interface where any signal passed to/from the main rig is input. These connectors remain in place and only the multi-channel EDAC snake is disconnected for transport.
The synth rig is largely unchanged except for the addition of the interface and multi-channel snake. In the future, we hope to replace the “MoonerFooner” with a smaller Eurorack modular synth.
MIDI signals to/from the interface are connected directly to the Moog Little Phatty Stage II.
CV is accessable on the right panel of the Moog Little Phatty. Here we’re using the gate to trigger the MuRF.
The MoonerFooner now consists of seven MoogerFooger effects and the control processor.
The synth station interface was built in Eurorack format for future upgrade to a Eurorack modular system.