My name is Roger Arrick and I'm the founder and product designer at Synthesizers.com. I love to tinker with electronics, build machines and program computers.
In 1969 at the tender age of 8, I first heard Switched-On-Bach and immediately became fascinated with synthesizers. Bob Moog became my hero. Keyboard players like Keith Emerson and Rick Wakeman fuelled my inspiration.
In spite of how this looks, I'm just one self-taught, small-business owner with a handful of hard working employees. Basically, I just love to exercise my God-given skills and ambition to build things.
Several people have asked what resources I draw upon to design circuits so here we go.
I'm self-taught and have no formal education in electronics or any other subject. As a kid, I spent my spare time taking things apart, collecting electronic parts, and building things. I read Radio Shack electronic books over and over, and specifically enjoyed Forrest Mims III electronic notebooks. That built the foundation of my digital and analog electronics knowledge. In addition to electronics, I spent a lot of time with Erector Sets and other motorized mechanical toys.
In my teenage years, I built robots, a pinball machine, and in the mid 70's, designed and partially built a small computer using 7400-series ICs. I also built many electronic music circuits and connected them to my home-built 8080 computer and wrote software to play classical music. This was way before MIDI even existed.
In the late 70's I landed a job for an industrial computer manufacturer and became a design engineer at the ripe old age of 17. Some of my designs included a quad-density disk controller with DMA, power supplies, and various communications boards.
At 19 I started my first company - Arrick Computer Products, and built mechanical switch boxes and computer accessories. In 1987 my products became commodities sold at a fraction of my parts costs by manufacturers in Taiwan, so I sold out and restarted as Arrick Robotics. I learned motor control electronics and developed a PC-based stepper motor system along with various mechanical devices used for laboratory automation. Being small with no capital, I had to design all the circuits, mechanics, and write all the software and the user guides.
In 1996 my interest in electronic music, specifically modular analog systems, was rekindled and I began designing modules to create a product line. The bulk of these circuits came from pieces found in analog data books and some electronic music circuit books. I like to do things differently so many of my circuits have some strange twists or done in a non-traditional way to keep things interesting and fun.
After a couple of years I introduced a Ladder filter modeled after the Moog 904a. The core of this circuit is Bob Moog's design. I probably could have never come up with that design, and Bob deserves all of the credit and glory. My contribution to the filter was to add a special leveling circuit to make the output constant over various resonance settings, addition of a mixer, reversable control inputs, and other user interface improvements.
In 2005 many customers petitioned for a remake of the Moog 960 sequencer. After enough people proved their support with a refundable pre-order, I began development. The reissue retains the exact front-panel layout as the Moog 960, but the circuitry is redesigned from scratch using modern components. Here's a picture showing how different the circuits are from the Moog.
I have abundant appreciation and admiration for Bob Moog and his work, he is my hero. Here's a tribute to Bob on the Q962 Module.
In more recent years I've worked to make the synthesizer product line as complete as possible including a complete range of cabinet styles. In 2013 a new set of controllers became part of the product line. These controllers are unique because they are modular just like the synthesizer system. You can build a custom controller with both normal and unusual control options including keyboards, wheels, whammy bar, touch pad, joystick and more.
Stay tuned, I've got some ideas coming up in the near future that you might find interesting. But as always, I don't announce new products until they are in production. I do it this way to make sure I can keep promises and keep my sanity.
You can read about my business philosophy on the About page.
Here are some of the design guidelines I use for products at Synthesizers.com
- Panel sizes compatible with Moog modular, using big knobs and 1/4 jacks
- Maximum modularity and minimal normalization and patching assumptions
- Control ranges go beyond useful limits, even if clipping may occur. I let the user decide what's best
- Signals are not made unnaturally perfect. I leave sterility to the digital world
- Separate functions are put on separate modules
- All ICs are socketed for easy repair
- Separate 5 volt power supply for digital and LEDs
- Pitch precision and stability is critical, I guard that
- Circuitry avoids exotic parts prone to obsolescence
- All analog audio path
- Optimized to allow for maximum affordability
- I resist cluttered panel designs
- Completely modular, even power components and controllers
- Sliders are not easy to adjust so I prefer rotary pots
- Intuitive panel layout
- Circuit boards mounted parallel to panel to reduce cabinet depth
- Attenuators on inputs where it makes sense to simplify patching