Rhythmic Robot Audio Logan KONTAKT
Rhythmic Robot Audio Logan KONTAKT
1977 was a great year. Star Wars came out in the cinemas. The Queen had her Silver Jubilee (where I got to dress up like a policeman in our school parade). And the Logan String Melody II was released.

The String Melody had come out a few years earlier, in 72, but hadn’t been much of a hit. The mk II changed all that, earning itself a spot in the pantheon of All Time Greats. It looked stunning, with lavish 1970s real wood veneer and a delightfully responsive waterfall keyboard that made it a real player’s instrument. But that wasn’t why it was a hit.

The reason is very simply to do with the sound it makes. It doesn’t sound much like a real string ensemble, but it sounds amazing regardless, and it’s graced a thousand hit tracks as a result. It’s thick, warm, rich, thoroughly analogue, and yet at the same time airy.

It’s controllable, with drawbar-style faders to combine registrations, and attack and release controls too. And the five "Preset” buttons offer different settings of vibrato and chorus effect across all those synthesised strings, giving you huge, swirly, gorgeous acreages of pads that stretch on into the sunset…

And we’ve sampled every last wonderful resonance of it for you!

The Logan String Melody II bunches most of its controls within easy reach of the player’s left hand, so let’s take a quick guided tour.

The silver push-buttons are the Preset selectors. Each of these engages one of the Presets: a combination of string settings, chorus settings, and LFOs that defines the basic sound the keyboard makes.

Most of these – all except Orch., in fact – can then be adjusted further with the drawbar-style sliders below (in nice bright 70s colours!)

The red and blue "String” faders operate like typical organ drawbars: top is off, bottom is loud. They control three String registrations per set – Cello, Viola and Violin – which are effectively the same tone but played at pitch for the Cello, then one octave higher for Viola, and two octaves higher for Violin.

Mixing these up is very simple and gives you an instant orchestral ensemble effect. The red drawbars control the sound to the left of Middle C and the blue ones control the sound to the right, so you can set them identically for a whole keyboard of string wonderfulness, or have different registrations in the bass and treble.

The yellow drawbars are for the Bass tones: Perc, which is a one-shot percussive bass sound, and Bass, which is a good deep analogue growl.

These can be blended in to the String sounds, but they only operate to the left of Middle C. Or you can disable the String drawbars and just play the bass sounds on their own, for really deep analogue bass tones. They sound gorgeous.

So on the original Logan, the sounds that emerge alter drastically depending on which Preset you have engaged.

The Organ preset sounds utterly different to the Orch. preset. This was part of the reason that we broke our Rhythmic Robot version of the instrument out into five separate Kontakt instruments.

What you get, then, is five Kontakt instruments, one for each of the Presets – so you can load them individually to mimic the original Logan, or stack them up any way you like for even richer, thicker, warmer stringscapes!

There was no way to do this on the original, since engaging one Preset popped out the buttons for all the others.

But hey, this is a whole new millennium, and now you can have Organ with Acc., or ‘O’ with Orch., or even the whole damn lot of them blended up into a sumptuous frenzy of swirling chorus and swooping LFOs. Let’s go crazy!

There’s more. We thought you’d like a bit more control than just Attack and Release, so we’ve slotted in a standard ADSR envelope on the front panel.

Round the back, there’s more still: additional Chorus and Phaser effects (so you can add Chorus to, say, the Acc. setting, which doesn’t usually have it), plus separate Vibrato and Tremolo controls (with Depth and Rate), a nice warm Tube distortion circuit, and a set of cab models to emulate the sound of the Logan playing through an amp.

These open up a whole wealth of different soundscape possibilities: we particularly like the cab effects, since the naturally spacious sound of the Logan can be made growly, dark, glowering and sinister with one cab, or thinned and made "smaller” for easier siting in a busy mix with another.

Add in some Tube distortion and you can use the Organ preset as if it were a Hammond (though of course it sounds very different indeed!)

This is where you’ll find the opportunities to build your own tones that extend far beyond the palette of the original instrument.

We really went to town on the sampling, too. Each chromatic note of the four-octave keyboard was sampled at 24-bit, for each of the registration stops, on each of the presets. These are long samples, too, to give the sound time to evolve, and they’ve been looped very carefully to preserve the cyclical components of the chorus effect.

This makes Logan one of our larger instruments in terms of sheer Megabytage, but we really think it’s worth it.


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Dating from the very end of the 70s, the EKO P15 is a rare and quirky Italian analogue which blurs the line between a preset machine and a properly controllable synthesiser. It has 15 pushbutton presets (hence ‘P15’), but these are joined by LFO, VCF and VCA sections with much more promising-looking sliders and switches.

In practice, the LFO is always freely tweakable, while the VCF and VCA can be switched between Preset mode (in which case they don’t respond, because behind the scenes their settings are being determined by the Preset you’ve currently called up) and Manual mode (in which case you can adjust them to taste).

It’s a rather fun system, and while there are obvious limitations – only Attack and Release on the envelopes, for a start – it can be a quick and effective way to get at basic sounds.

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With both VCF and VCA switched to Manual, the P15 effectively becomes a rudimentary synthesiser with its oscillator type determined by whichever Preset you engage.

These ‘raw’ oscillators range from crusty-sounding ramp waveforms (on the Reed and Violin presets, for example) to various flavours of pulse wave; there’s an effective sonic palette available in those oddly-coloured little buttons.

The overall impression is, to our ears, one of low-budget 1970s sci-fi shows: full of portentous filtersweeps and LFOs that wobble in time with the cardboard sets. It’s kind of cool.

There’s a three-and-a-half octave keyboard built into a sturdy tolex-covered carrying case, some really lurid green silkscreening (which I’m afraid we’ve imitated

just couldn’t stop ourselves) and, rather optimistically, a legend that reads ‘Digital System’ in the upper left of the panel… which is just a big fat lie, really, since the whole keyboard is analogue from start to finish, even if it does use newfangled ICs instead of transistors.

We’ve kept very true to the original in our recreation of the P15, and so long as you keep the Presets Active button engaged and the polyphony switched to Mono, it’ll sound and behave just like the real deal.
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This is a genuinely weird little find: an Italian transistor organ with built-in rhythms and a wonderfully future-retro styling. It’s made by a company called GIS (no, us neither) and it’s called the Skyline.

The innards comprise a three-voice transistor organ with Flute, String and Oboe patches – which can be combined to form seven sounds in all – plus a neat little preset rhythm section, with a thick analogue sound not too far from early Korg units.

The rhythms are also combinable (if you lean on the buttons) which can make for some great, slightly mad, combos (Latin Waltz Tango, anyone?).

All the sounds come piped out of an internal amp and speaker assembly which adds a great mellow warmth to the transistor tone.

The whole thing is wrapped up in a matte black console with bevelled edges, on a column stand attached to a plinth, which makes it look like it’s been salvaged from the command deck of an early nuclear sub.

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The combos are even better, making for complex waveforms with a very distinctive character – again, there’s a quite delicate quality to the higher registers that makes for very airy pad sounds.

Something particularly alchemical seems to happen when you put all three buttons in for the Flute + Strings + Oboe combo: a very rich and satisfying pad sound emerges which has a sweet, evocative edge unlike what you’d expect from a transistor machine. 

It quickly became clear to us that the only way to capture this vibe was to sample the combo patches along with the basic patches (rather than using layers of the basic patches to recreate the combos in Kontakt).

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1977 was a great year. Star Wars came out in the cinemas. The Queen had her Silver Jubilee (where I got to dress up like a policeman in our school parade). And the Logan String Melody II was released.

The String Melody had come out a few years earlier, in 72, but hadn’t been much of a hit. The mk II changed all that, earning itself a spot in the pantheon of All Time Greats. It looked stunning, with lavish 1970s real wood veneer and a delightfully responsive waterfall keyboard that made it a real player’s instrument. But that wasn’t why it was a hit.

The reason is very simply to do with the sound it makes. It doesn’t sound much like a real string ensemble, but it sounds amazing regardless, and it’s graced a thousand hit tracks as a result. It’s thick, warm, rich, thoroughly analogue, and yet at the same time airy.

It’s controllable, with drawbar-style faders to combine registrations, and attack and release controls too. And the five "Preset” buttons offer different settings of vibrato and chorus effect across all those synthesised strings, giving you huge, swirly, gorgeous acreages of pads that stretch on into the sunset…

And we’ve sampled every last wonderful resonance of it for you!

The Logan String Melody II bunches most of its controls within easy reach of the player’s left hand, so let’s take a quick guided tour.

The silver push-buttons are the Preset selectors. Each of these engages one of the Presets: a combination of string settings, chorus settings, and LFOs that defines the basic sound the keyboard makes.

Most of these – all except Orch., in fact – can then be adjusted further with the drawbar-style sliders below (in nice bright 70s colours!)

The red and blue "String” faders operate like typical organ drawbars: top is off, bottom is loud. They control three String registrations per set – Cello, Viola and Violin – which are effectively the same tone but played at pitch for the Cello, then one octave higher for Viola, and two octaves higher for Violin.

Mixing these up is very simple and gives you an instant orchestral ensemble effect. The red drawbars control the sound to the left of Middle C and the blue ones control the sound to the right, so you can set them identically for a whole keyboard of string wonderfulness, or have different registrations in the bass and treble.
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