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Behind the scenes of Venom: Sink your teeth in (Part 1)

Only published comments... Dec 14 2011, 05:00 AM by Taiho Yamada
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M-Audio Venom is Born.



Hi, I’m Taiho, product designer of Venom, and here are a few things you should know about me…


1. I have always loved synthesizers.


Even as a small child in the 1970s, they captured my attention. There are certain songs that I loved back then, but at the time I didn’t know why.. Of course, when I listen to them now… there are synths all over them. I still remember the day that my first-grade teacher put on a 45 single of Hot Butter’s “Popcorn” and let us dance to it. Imagine sheer pandemonium with a roomful of tiny humans! And six-year-old-me was quite happy that she decided to play it twice.




2. My dad is cool.


One day when we were getting out of the car to visit my grandparents, my dad and I heard the sound of someone playing a synthesizer from an open window of a nearby apartment building. The sound twisted and morphed and made music in ways I’d never heard before. My dad asked me if I liked it and I said, “Yes.” That one word changed the course of my life.


A short time later, I had my first analog synthesizer. My dad bought it for me, but I’m pretty sure that he secretly played with it after I’d gone to bed. It was a budget synth, but designed by the master himself, Bob Moog. On this instrument, I learned about Oscillators, Filters, LFOs, Envelopes, Pitch Wheels, Mod Wheels, Portamento, and Sync. I was nine years old.



3. Andromeda is a galaxy of sound.


Flash forward past many years of learning synths, sound design, sampling, and sequencing, and by a strange set of coincidences, I find myself working at a really great company, helping to make all kinds of synthesizers. In fact, it just happens to be my dream job, and I enthusiastically join my friends in the creation of every synth ever engineered there.


But one of those synths turned out to be extra special… It brought us back to those childhood memories where synthesizers offered the potential of sonic explorations no one had ever heard before. I was so lucky to be a part of the development team for this 16-voice, real analog beast. As designers, we were able to collect everything we loved about our favorite synths and squeeze it all into this one awesome package.



4. Hmm.


There was just one problem with this particular galaxy of sound. Few mortal human beings could actually afford it.



5. Venom is born.


Fast forward a few more years, and I somehow find myself working at another really great company making synths. Like before, this company isn’t known for making synths when they hire me, but they have some experience with the Atmel Dream DSP, which happens to be really good at playing back piano samples. I was perfectly content with this…


Until one day I realized that using new algorithms, we could get the DSP to play back samples of classic analog waveforms with Pulse Width Modulation/Waveshaping, FM, and Oscillator Sync. Then I started thinking about the 2- and 4-Pole Multimode Resonant Filters we could implement. And that led to thoughts about Envelopes, tempo-synchronized LFOs, and a giant Modulation Matrix where every element could be interconnected. And at that point it was too late. The dam had burst.


Since then, it’s been a long journey both wonderful and terrifying. There’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears behind every Venom that we build. In this blog series, I’ll give you a look behind the scenes of the making of Venom, as well as some power-user tips and tricks for getting every last morsel of tasty sound out of this beautiful synthesizer. Of all the synths I’ve had the pleasure to work on, this one is the closest to my heart, and I look forward to sharing the reasons why.


By the way, my mom is cool too. Hi Mom.


To learn more about the Venom synth watch the intro video, listen to audio samples, and check out the buzz.




PS: Continue on to Part 2 - Behind the Industrial Design.


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About Taiho Yamada

I got my first analog synth at 9 years old and began recording electronic music as a teenager. As a Senior Product Designer and Product Manager at Avid, I am responsible for bringing to market keyboard instruments that are inventive, reliable, integrated, and best in class. Before joining Avid in April 2006, I was Director of Sound Development and Project Manager at Alesis, where I worked on innovative and award-winning synthesizers such as the QuadraSynth, QS Series, Andromeda and Micron. I'm very proud to have launched Venom, M-Audio’s first virtual analog synthesizer.

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