R.I.P. Sebastian Niessen

In the age of fifteen Sebastian Niessen had a first modular synth and - his very last passion was exactly this: a "perfect" own modular system. It was existing in hardware already but most probably it will never be finished anymore.

Born in the earlier German capital Bonn he moved to Brussels, became a sound engineer, studied, lived in NYC for a while and came back later on to live in Munich for the rest of his life.

Mostly busy in design works, electronics and repairs he was always a hardliner declaring good synthesizers and studio electronics should electronics should be something for established musicians only but nothing for the masses! His "specials" in custom design and consulting generated a quite prominent list of clients, where Kraftwerk is just one example. 

Two releases as a musician on different Samplers called "Blimp" and "Während der Arbeit" could have been found, no relation to his collection of road compatible instruments as seen in his apartment and workspace in Munich, ready to go.

His Brand "SND" became famous with the SAM16, an amazing high quality sequencer tool that not just started events in a row, followed up by his harmonic Filterbank FB14/FB14S. Finally, he defined (Midi-) timing as a complex creative tool in electronic music with their ACME-4, a co-production.

Sebastian Niessen died a the beginning of November in the age of just 62 after a long and serious illness in Munich.

Hr. Schneider


Read the detailed epilogue on Amazona (in German).


Audio-rate PWM with AJH Synth

Here is how you can make a single oscillator sound huge using pulse width modulation at audio rate - using a normal-speed VCO as a mod source rather than a dedicated LFO. Frequency Modulation (FM) synthesis uses the same principle, but modulating the pitch of a waveform at extreme speeds to create additional harmonics, and thus an entirely new sound. Here we are modulating the shape of the wave itself, which also creates additional harmonic content and produces a new and more complex timbre. This process requires a fair amount of experimenting and fine-tuning, but the results can sound massive.

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