Friday, March 21, 2014

More A-190-4 MIDI-CV/Gate/Sync Interface Specifications

Last year, quickly after the A-190-4 prototype suddenly appeared in the wild, i already contacted Dieter Doepfer about some of the specs of the module.

The Doepfer A-190-4 will be the new replacement for module A-190-1 which is no longer available.
The functions of A-190-1 and A-190-4 are nearly the same (Midi In, Midi Out, CV1, CV2, Gate, Clock, Reset), but the operation of the A-190-4 has been improved because a 3-digit LED display is available.

The current values of all parameters (like Midi channel, reference note, clock divider) can be read back and modified by means of up/down buttons.
In addition A-190-4 is equipped with an USB interface and the external +5V supply is no longer available.

A-190(-1)  MIDI-CV/Sync
Interface
The A-190-1 has 2  DACs (Digital-to-Analog Converters)
In the original A-190-1 DAC 1 is 'hard-wired' to receive MIDI note messages and convert them into control voltages available at CV output socket CV 1. This DAC has 12-bit resolution, which gives excellent tuning resolution (in steps of 1/4096th). As a rule, DAC 1 will be used to control VCO pitch.
DAC 2 can be assigned to your choice of MIDI controller. This DAC has 7-bit resolution (1/128th steps).

At the time (almost one year ago) Dieter couldn't tell much about the processing power and if any other functions would be available (arpeggiator? like the A-190-3), but this week I have managed to get a bit more info.
Christian Assall, software developer at Doepfer, was kind enough to explain a few more things about the A-190-4 via e-mail:

A-190-4 Prototype
- "The A-190-4 will have 2 new DACs... Because the development of the A-190-1 was now before more than 15 years, it makes sense to use modern pieces."

- "DAC2 will now also be 12 bit and will have a range of 0 ... 10 + volt ( but can also only use it for velocity/controller and things similar to the A190-1 , but not for pitch/tune controlling like the CV1 - so it's not possible to control two voices - because you also have only one gate ;-) - for polyphonic things we have the A190-5 in development"

About future firmware updates:
- "As the next development in schedule list is the A-190-5 - which is something like a 'great' brother of the A-190-4 - the A-190-4 has in most cases the possibility to inherit his features...
...so it's more a question of what we and the users want and decide to include in a preferably easy to use CV-interface the A-190-4 should be... This also belongs to the topic arpeggiator."

The A-190-1 Arpeg. mode never got released 
About the somewhat hidden arpeggiator-function in the A-190-3:
- " It's more a cost-free present or an eastern-egg like thing than a real feature in my eyes, because it hasn't any dedicated switches or display for that - so I think it's for many users hard to use ...
But if you can - sure you can use it and you can do some arp. things without any additional devices/software ...."

- " We never released this feature in the A-190-1, mostly because of the not optimal user interface, that was not suited in our eyes for additional and such a complex features.
An arp. should have a dedicated/suitable user interface - otherwise it didn't make much sense in my experience/eyes.
Sure also the weak processor power was a reason, not to try with many tricks to get an arp. which is in timing and didn't interfere with the other functions of the module.
So, never to release, was more a matured consideration that came from practical experiences..."

The A-190-1 will be replaced by the A-190-4 from about April 2014.
As of April, the Doepfer BS basic systems will come with an A-190-4 installed...