Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Acxel II

Remember the Technos Acxel Resynthesizer (pictured)? I just read this post on Music Thing. Apparently the creator of the Acxel, Pierre Guilmette, is working on a new version. Check out Music Thing for a letter from Pierre.

You can find his website, iDarca Audio here. You'll find a bit of info on resynthesis and some audio samples.

Update some more info on the Acxel:

"Don Garbutt writes: Freaky, obsure, expensive, unique, weighs a lot, robust construction (lots of VLSI chips inside). This machine is impossible to find, although I have one. Lucky me!!! Graphical interface is totally intuitive, and tell me if you know of any other machines that are resynthesis- based, as this is , if you care to use it in this fashion. Digital filter emulation (oscillator # filter) is unequaled.

Comments About the Sounds: This machine can compose its own music, when mistreated properly. This Sample and Hold type environment produces beautiful clouds of constantly evolving sound shapes, and has no comparison with anything that I have found. Resynthesis mode creates very bizzare versions of acoustic sounds, with access to any particular harmonic, with real time performance interpolation over harmonic blend, tuning, filters, and many other aspects of its mutant generation.

Don Garbutt Cosmology

Track 7. The Expanding Universe (1990, 2003)
This is an edit of an old piece with a less-old middle section interwoven together. Most of the sounds of the ambient section were generated by the Technos Acxel in a chaotic self-generating mode. This Canadian-made electronic instrument from 1986 was a full-blown mini-computer running 640 mips. I worked as a product specialist for its maker, the Pi-Technos Corporation, from Quebec City. The Acxel had 256 designer digital oscillators, and could replicate a sound through AI-aided resynthesis. This machine could be coaxed into spewing random blobs of sound on a good day, by driving its time variables at silly high values. The only explanation that I ever got from the designer when asked about this fractal creation weirdness was, “It is not recommended that you run your envelopes at that speed.” Bernard Parmegiani saw it and said, “Aleatory!” The machine’s resynthesis ability is showcased in the real-time time-stretched bird-calls near the end of the work.

This is a combination of Technos Acxel chaotic self-generated sound clouds and processed environment sounds, recorded on many technologies including 24-track analog, mixed to DAT and edited on Sound Designer II.


Crimson Twins
Don Garbutt []
David Evans
Denis Pousseur (EX)
Matias Boman (EX)

Technos Staff:
Pierre Guilmette
Clive Smith (consultand)
Don Garbutt (Product Specialist)

Mathias Boman Wrote: About Kyma vs. Axcel, hmmmmm. Well, they are truly two different animals. My Kyma was a half-loaded (7 cards, with a total of 14 processors). The Kyma is very, very powerful - and can do lots of things the Acxel cannot. BUT, in practice, the Acxel is SO much more intuitive to work with - the grapher is THE best interface ever created for a audio workstation. PERIOD. It's is very, very fun to create sounds with the Acxel, especially when one has a good source with some complexity.

The way the Kyma works with resynthesis it really not as intuitive and creative like the Acxel. And working with the Kyma is a little like programming a computer. The Kyma has a very steep learning curve, you need to spend time really learning about how to combine the different modules, which parameters are OK, etc..

The Acxel, once you understand the basic menus, is just child's play! Almost no learning needed to have great fun!

Just the fact of doing extreme time compressing and expanding on the Acxel in REAL TIME, is AMAZING! For example, you could take a pad and many times make it a percussive sound, just by moving your finger! Time compression/expansion is done by just moving the finger from left to right, with "standard" speed is in the middle, very fast is to the left - and very .

Or the fact the you so quickly can change the base pitches ou amplitudes of 32 isc's at the same time, it is truly very inspiring!

Yes, the system I have left does have multi-outputs (8) - and software to support it.

I have not only one revision, I have several - and like you said, some support multi-outputs and some don't. The revision that I gave to jam doesn't work with multi-outs, but that machine doesn't have multi-outputs - so it didn't matter.

In general, it is the multi-output option that some revisions doesn't support. But because I have 2 or more revisions (don't remember exactly how many I have, but I don't think there exists a version I don't have), you can use the one that would best fit your project - if you were to discover that one revision didn't support what you were looking for.

About sounds, how it boots, etc. let me give you the quick answer: the system is floppy only, boots from a floppy disc and stores sounds on floppy discs too. So when starting the system, you put the OS floppy disc in the drive and the software reinitiates the system and is transferred to RAM). After booting, the OS disc is not needed more - so then you can put another floppy in the drive to load and save sounds/programs.

To store programs/sounds, you first format a floppy drive. Then it all depends on the complexity of the sounds you're make, how many will fit on one floppy. In theory, you could end up with just a few sounds on a floppy if they are very complex (using many isc's and complex frequency and amplitude envelopes) - but otherwise you can have lots of sounds on one floppy.

The basic structure is that all isc's are organised in groups of 32 each. So a basic 256 isc system can have a maximum polyphony of 8 voices. To make more complex sounds, you can group up to 1024 isc's together - to form one sound. The resynthesis process can generate more complex and accurate sounds the more isc's you have in the system. So in pratice, you could have 1 voice with 768 isc's, or any combination of 32 isc's.

You can then combine simple and complex sounds like you want - and choose which sound you want to to respond to a certain MIDI-channel and where the sound is outputted (ond of the 8 physical outputs). I used to do make groups of 2 outputs, so that each sound became a stereo sound (it's truly amazing what can be done when you have complete control of each side of the stereo image) - or to make a stereo mix.

For me, the most important thing about having multiple outputs is to be able to work in stereo. Because without this option, all sounds will be mixed together and outputted through a singe, mono output.. :(

Just so you know, I would be happy to help you to get you started on how the Acxel works. Unfortenately I don't know where the manual is (the system JAM has doesn't come with a manual either).

David Evans Wrote: Well, Pierre Guilmette (the guy behind G2SI and Technos) has a...certain way of writing advertising stuff. It's usually pretty tricky to figure out what the hell his stuff does! The Acxel brochure was pretty confusing but when you dig into the machine you can understand what he was trying to say.
My guess is that if G2SI is like Technos the stuff works and does what it claims but in a very strange, odd way.

Technos Acxel is presently sold in swedens here is site of the shop


Update also be sure to check out Mathias Boman's Acxel here.

Update: be sure to see the Q&A in this post.

1 comment:

  1. Don Garbutt has a new email address:


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