Hidden Gems and Secret Weapons


I know 150€ every year is not that much but Grrrrr


Looks as if drum notation might be one of your secret weapons. :grin: I’m assuming it often takes a backseat to Melody / harmony notation.


It’s the most characterful and charming machine that I own.

Enjoy :slight_smile:


Really considering the Quadra Thru to clean up my setup. It’s an abomination right now


That all sounds fantastically useful - except the bit about the CF cards. Hmmm.


Fair enough; the BPM sync delay in the E/SMX-1s is extremely handy too, as is the Mod delay for that matter. Time to read the ER-1 manual for me!


The Alesis ion is a great virtual analog synth. It has a “drift” parameter that applies a random fluctuation to the pitch of each oscillator. The “drift” is one of my secret weapons.

The Yamaha TX81Z is a great synth. It’s a pain to program, for sure, but it has a very interesting sound. I have sold it now, but one time used a pair of them for FM drums.

The BBE Sonic Maximizer has helped me a lot in live situations. Right before a DI box, it can tighten things up. I didn’t care to use it in the studio much, but live it was great.

$4 USD tape deck from Goodwill that I use to bounce tracks to for it’s terrible wow/flutter.

Last, and not so secret, Reaktor/Max MSP/Pure Data. Having some kind of way to do whatever I want irrespective of my current tools allows me to find solutions to problems without a ton of time finding the pre-made solution.


I own the Alesis ion… not sure if it’s a secret weapon but it’s a blast to play with. You can use it as a vocoder also. For a synth it was ahead of its time. Hard to find in LA for some odd reason but my name is ionmatika so I had to have one. haha


I used to be able to read music notation (for piano, trumpet, etc.), but I’m not a drummer and I still have a lot to learn. I’ve found at least three different styles of drum notation, all of which make sense in different contexts. And then there’s an ASCII style drum tablature which I think I’ll pass on for now.

Of course I can just record the MIDI into Live and edit the piano roll. But for me, the grid display style as used in the DR-110 Graphic, the TR-707, and later Roland/Boss drum machines seems to work well as a storyboard layout for my ideas. That’s where I’m having the most fun right now.


I guess my “secret” weapon is a Turkish stringed instrument that I’ve spent nearly two decades developing skill on. :nerd_face:

Otherwise, I don’t know that there’s really “secrets”, just “tools”.


Never seen Filtatron before ! Looks and sounds great, very usable for a iPhone music tool. I can see how I could integrate this into my Ableton set up and maybe use a korg plugkey to get a midi controller to physically control it.

Agree a hardware replica would be dope!


Not so much of a secret weapon, but the shruti-1 is a bag of tricks. It has unusual oscillators modes, excellent sequencer and creamy filter. I don’t use it that much, but the few times I do, it’s always a hit, never a miss.


I tried using a camera connection kit to control it with my digitakt, but I either have a faulty cck or I need a usb midi host because I haven’t been able to get it working.


Technically you only need 1 or 2 cards as the card can easily be backed up on computer then reformatted in the Repeater, a 256mb card will hold 25 minutes of audio approx, so if you wanted to fill the 99 slots then you could have a maximum of about 4 seconds per track per slot, but of course you can allocate the memory how you see fit.

You can find the cards on ebay, pretec are the best ones.


Moogerfooger Cluster flux - at an eye watering prize, especially nowadays. But the sound makes me all giddy.
The cluster on the DN/op-1 plus some percussion run through a Knas moisturizer makes me feel complete


For Sample pack / Loop people / construction kits
Octatrack is definitely a gems …


Eventide TimeFactor as a Looper. I don’t think that many people realise its wild mangling potential. Should probably do a couple of videos on it.


Lots of great suggestions in the thread although I do think in this day and age with so many YouTube videos etc the concept of a secret weapon doesn’t make too much sense. Talking about lesser discussed gear and favourites makes a whole bunch of sense.

I can definitely get behind the Shruthi recommendation. I had one with a polivoks filter, then upgraded to an XT with the 4 pole mission and hopefully I’ll soon have the Shrolca that was kickstarted for a variation in a Volca format.

I’d also agree that the Volca’s are great fun an often unfairly derided…
They offer plenty of novel and unique ideas that reward hands on tweaking. Wouldn’t want to rely only on them but great to enhance other stuff with.

A big shout out for Permut8 too for being such an inspiring fx unit… I wish there was a hardware version with an analogue filter in it. The multiple firmwares and the interface which is a happy-accident machine are dead good. I reckon it must’ve made it onto about 75% of tracks I’ve done since it came out. Sometimes very subtley, other times less so.

Oh, the Clavia Micromodular too… so flexible, so nice sounding…

In some ways, the software world tends to have more things that get lost to the relentless march of progress. For me, one thing in particular is the Reaktor factory library. Indeed Reaktor ensembles in general given how a good chunk of folks liken the additional click or two to load an ensemble to a hook in the jaw compared to loading a vst. But, the older factory library is full of really nice sounding stuff like Carbon, OKI Computer, Vierring etc… plus the presets often given a real nostalgia buzz for early 00’s idm…


Another hidden gem, the Roland MC-50 Mk II. Mostly for what it teaches about the Micro Composer way of making tracks. It feels like I’m using a higher tier of hardware, but from the early 90s.

This lead me to the MC-202 manual, which is a charming read.


It’s funny you mention that. I just sold mine. I learned everything about sequencing and composition on it. It’s slow and tedious at first but it’s like learning music in a new way. It forces you to visualize patterns in your mind. A lot of people probably would not like it, but simple patterns feel very rewarding when you write them with the MC-50 mkII