Sound on the NeXT

I have always had a keen interest in sound and the devices that generate it.

I discovered NeXT computers in the magazine Science et Vie Micro (SVM) in the double issue 63 of July-August 1989 1.

But the first time I saw and touched NeXTcomputers and NeXTstations, I believe it was at “Imago” (I’m not sure of the name) on Boulevard Saint-Germain in the 6th arrondissement of Paris (or at the SICOB show in 1990). At that time, this store was one of the few, if not the only, store in Paris that exclusively sold NeXT equipment. These machines were a shock !

They were beautiful, with an elegant design and that black color that stood out from the standards of the time, which were dominated by shades of beige and gray. And above all, they were powerful, combining the robustness and power of Unix with a superb and fast graphical interface. Not to mention the innovative interest of their development tools and the object-oriented approach of the system.

One of my NeXT Cubes

My desires came to a screeching halt… at the time, I absolutely didn’t have the budget to equip myself at these prices2…. For example, the two basic models were :

NeXTcube (68040) with 8 MB RAM, 105 MB disk, MegaPixel screen, Starting Point kit (keyboard, mouse, etc.), 2.88 MB floppy drive and NeXTSTEP 2: 50,845 francs ex VAT.

NeXTstation with 8 MB RAM, 105 MB hard disk, MegaPixel screen, Starting Point kit (keyboard, mouse, etc.), 2.88 MB floppy drive and NeXTSTEP 2: 31,765 francs ex VAT.

What’s more, if you needed to develop, you couldn’t neglect (to a lesser extent) the price of development tools and documentation, and you had to allow for more memory, a change of hard disk and RAM, with a maximum of 2GB (per partition) and 64MB RAM respectively.

So, reasonably, I waited… a long time before acquiring one (thanks again to the donation from my former colleague and friend Thierry Besançon)! What followed was a cascade of lucky events, including, among other things, the acquisition (by exchanging equipment) of two NeXTstations (B/W), two NeXTcomputers (cubes), and a multitude of peripherals, each more varied than the next! But very clearly, my machines come from the world of research and academia, in music, mathematics, and medicine.

Since I acquired these NeXT computers, and more particularly the NeXTcubes (commonly called Cubes), I have been almost archaeologically interested in everything that allows sound processing via these machines… and the associated research tools… And yes, you have probably noticed that we are gently drifting towards IRCAM.

A few cubes at home

But first, I propose a little trip back in time. Let’s take a jump into the past… And it won’t be about sound. Indeed, everything started at the end of Steve Jobs’ first period at Apple Computer… In 1985, Steve Jobs was ousted from Apple.

In 1986, Steve Jobs bought The Graphic Group from Georges Lucas for $10 million… and renamed it Pixar.

Does Steve Jobs like cubes?

In its early days, Pixar was dedicated to selling very powerful machines (200 times faster than a DEC VAX-11/780 computer) for the time, specializing in the creation and graphical visualization of data. These machines, known as Pixar Image Computers (PIC), were intended for various companies and laboratories with advanced graphical needs. Potential clients included hospitals (for three-dimensional visualization of X-rays), the aerospace industry, and even Disney, which used these computers to automate the coloring of its animated films.

However, both versions of the Pixar Image Computers were expensive ($135,000) and struggled to find buyers. To demonstrate the exceptional capabilities of their machines, Pixar decided to produce small demo animations. Among these creations was Luxo Jr, a short film directed by John Lasseter. This promotional film featured a small desk lamp, which has since become the emblem of Pixar. Luxo Jr not only succeeded in drawing attention to Pixar’s technological capabilities but also won an Oscar, thereby enhancing the company’s reputation in the field of animation.

Despite an Oscar, critical success, and technical recognition, Pixar’s machine sales did not take off and remained disappointing. In response, Pixar reinvented itself and started producing numerous advertisements, using their animation expertise to create memorable campaigns.

Pixar Image Computer I
Pixar Image Computer II
Pixar Image Computer II

I recommend visiting this site because they explain a lot about this mysterious machine. There is also a PDF version of the Pixar Image Computer brochure3.

Pixar sold 300 PIC computers from 1986 until it closed its hardware business in 1990. The division dedicated to designing and manufacturing machines was abandoned and sold to Vicom Systems, marking a turning point for the company.

Many of these computers were sold with custom software, enabling, for example, the processing of images from scanners in hospitals or Disney Animation’s digital ink and paint system. Some of them were used by clients until the late 1990s.


In parallel with his activities at Pixar, and likely to overshadow Apple, Steve Jobs launched a new company: NeXT.

The goal of this company was to design a new type of computer that would straddle the segment of workstations and high-end personal computers! Jobs wanted the power of Unix and an ergonomic and user-friendly graphical interface.

Indeed, NeXTstep4 5, the operating system of NeXT, is a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) type, meaning literally in French “ce que vous voyez est ce que vous obtenez” or more concisely “tel affichage, tel résultat” !

Since Steve Jobs was a perfectionist, he needed a computer offering high-end capabilities and a revolutionary design ! NeXT was born !

Steve Jobs et un NeXTComputer
Steve Jobs, the ebullient founder of NeXT and his first creation

At NeXT, there are only two types of machines: the cubes (NeXTcube6) and the stations (NeXTstations7, NeXTstations Color, and NeXTstations Turbo Color8). Of course, there are nuances between these different models…

We often talk about the Cubes, but in reality, we should focus on the CPU boards of the Cubes, as there were several versions. Initially, these machines were equipped with Motorola 68030 processors running at 25 MHz. Later, updates were offered to improve performance, with Motorola 68040 processors at 25 MHz, then at 33 MHz, and finally an upgrade to 50 MHz. These improvements also involved changing the motherboard to increase the RAM capacity, which went from a maximum of 64 MB at the beginning to 128 MB at the end. There were also variations in the BUS/Power backplane PCB.

To deepen your historical knowledge and get a more serious description of these machines, see the excellent site by Éric Lévénez, which is undoubtedly the best French site (indeed, let’s be modest, on the web) about NeXT and in French! And also the must-see site/forum

A NeXTcomputer that over time became NeXTcube (aka the “cube”).
A black-and-white NeXTstation (known as “slabs”)
My main black-and-white NeXTstation (known as “slabs”)
A color NeXTstation (called “slabs”)

It’s worth noting that the computers produced by NeXT (now known as “black hardware”) come standard with what was available as a very expensive option from competing manufacturers at the time. For example, all NeXT motherboards come with a Motorola 56001 Digital Signal Processor (DSP). This processor specializes in digital signal processing, and is ideally suited to sound processing !

A Digital Signal Processor (DSP), specifically the Motorola XSP56001 running at 20MHz

The internal sound capabilities of NeXT computers

As mentioned in the previous paragraph, the NeXTs are equipped with a DSP operating at 25MHz and with 24KB of memory, expandable to 96KB (we’re not kidding!). This additional processor was the icing on the cake… These machines had some impressive features for 1991!

With two serial ports compatible with standard MIDI interfaces, a 16-bit mono or stereo sound acquisition and restitution system with a maximum frequency of 44100 Khz, these machines were ahead of their time! There were also in the development tools the “Music Kit™” and “Sound Kit™” specialized libraries to manage audio, DSP and MIDI events! It’s worth noting that the DSP has a DB15-format input/output port on the motherboard, allowing external cards to be added.

The functional structure of NeXT’s software libraries MusicKit and SndKit

The characteristics of these machines (especially the cubes) naturally suited them for use in a musical environment. Unfortunately, due to their prohibitive price and the limited popularization of Music and Audio Technology (M.A.T.) at the time, these remarkable machines were only used within research centers, notably the two largest: IRCAM in Paris, France, and CCRMA at Stanford in the USA. They were also utilized in other research centers in the Netherlands, Germany, Belgium, South Korea, Japan, etc.

NeXT computers have a DB19 port which serves as the black-and-white video output. As you will read in a few paragraphs about the Sound Box, this port is also used for connecting these devices. It’s important to understand that this port handles signals for keyboards/mice, audio, and also black-and-white video.

In addition to the native audio capabilities via the DB19 port and the serial and DSP ports, there are three ways to expand the capabilities of NeXT computers: internally, by adding a NeXTbus card, or externally, via the DB15 connectors of the DSP, and surprisingly, through the SCSI port.

Natively, NeXT cubes and stations are capable of managing sound at the system software level; different keyboard versions are equipped with specific keys (increase, decrease, mute).

First version of the non-ADB keyboard (the circle with a line through it on the Power key is different from the second version). The keys dedicated to sound (speaker with waves) control the volume. You can also see the green “Mute” label, activated by holding down the [command] key.

Second version of non-ADB keyboard (the barred round symbol on the Power key is different from the 1st version).

The only version of ADB keyboard, with round buttons replacing keys and the green power button.

Sound on monitors ?

The black and white MegaPixel Display N4000, N4000A, and N4000B monitors, in addition to their display and input functions (keyboard and mouse), are equipped with a speaker and microphone. At the back of the monitor, there are RCA connectors for stereo audio output, as well as two 3.5mm jacks: one for audio output to headphones and the other for connecting an external microphone. However, due to space constraints inside the monitors and to avoid display interference, the color monitors, which are not specific to NeXT machines, are not equipped with integrated speakers and microphone.

Connectors of an N4000 monitor
Connecteurs d'un moniteur N4000A
Connectors of an N4000A monitor
Connectors of an N4000B (ADB) monitor

Sound Box

To add sound to NeXT machines (Cube with a single color monitor connected to a NeXT Dimension, NeXT Station Color, and Turbo Color) equipped with color monitors, you need to use the appropriate Sound Box. There are two versions: the N4004 for early NeXT machines equipped with non-ADB keyboards and mice, and the N4004A for Turbo machines equipped with ADB. The box is connected to the NeXT via the DB19 port. This port handles signals for keyboards/mice, audio, and also black-and-white video.

Sound box no ADB

Sound Box N4004
Sound Box N4004A (ADB)

NeXT-External CD-ROM Drive

This is the CD-ROM drive offered by NeXT. As you can see, it’s a fairly typical SCSI CD drive for its time, and it uses a cartridge (caddy). You can plug in headphones into the front 3.5mm jack, and there’s a volume control knob right next to it. For listening through speakers, there are two RCA jacks (red and white) at the back of the unit. Interestingly, from the outside, the NeXT-External CD-ROM Drive9 closely resembles (the difference being color and logo) the AppleCD 150 marketed by Apple during the same period, which integrated a SONY CDU-514-25 CD Caddy drive.

Lecteur de CD

External audio devices

These external peripherals are one of the only possible upgrades, and are particularly useful for NeXT stations which, due to their physical format, are not expandable (as they have no NeXTbus). They plug directly into the NeXT DSP port.

Ariel – DM-N Digital Microphone (595$)

Ariel – ProPort Model 656 (1295$)

This external box is equipped with two analog inputs and outputs, pre-amplifiers and two phantom-powered inputs. Sampling frequency is adjustable from 8 kHz up to 96 kHz in 16-bit.

The Singular Solutions – A/D64x Audio Interface (1295$)

The Singular Solutions A/D64x system includes the hardware and software required for professional direct-to-disk recording and data capture on NeXT computers. The system features two channels of 16-bit delta-sigma (ultralinear) analog-to-digital conversion with 64x oversampling and a three-stage linear-phase digital anti-aliasing filter. It features balanced and unbalanced inputs and an integrated low-noise mic preamp with 48-volt phantom power. It also offers digital audio input and output (AES/EBU and S/PDIF).

The A/D64x supports sampling at 16KHz 22.05KHz 32KHz 44.1KHz and 48KHz (plus external). It can also operate in stand-alone mode (analog input to digital output). Multi-A/D64x synchronization is available, as are brackets for rack mounting. Software is included for direct-to-disk recording and non-destructive audio editing.

Ariel – DatPort AES/EBU CP340 Digital Audio < -> DSP Port Interface (??? $)

This is a digital-only audio interface IN / OUT, XLR, RCA, Optical that operates in mono or stereo at frequencies of 32, 44.1 and 48 kHz. Communicates with NeXT via DSP port.

Ariel DAT-Link+ Townshend Computer Tools, Inc

It’s a digital-only audio interface IN / OUT in AES/EBU, SPDIF RCA, Optical and works in mono or stereo at 32, 44.1, and 48 KHz frequencies. It’s truly astonishing, since communication with the computer is via the SCSI port for workstations of the time (sun, sgi, dec, pc), but also on NeXT.

MetaResearch – Digital Ears (595$)

MetaResearch – Digital Ears
MetaResearch – Digital Ears

The Digital Ears takes line-level audio signals (rca connectors) and converts them to digital information in 8 or 16 bit, 5.512KHz, 11.025KHz, 22.05, 44.1 kHz stereo or 88.2KHz in mono. It then transmits this information to the digital signal processor (DSP) on the NeXT Computer.

Internal computation board

I’d like to make it clear right away that I’m talking about “computing boards” here. In fact, in their basic version, or in the absence of converters (analog to digital and digital to analog), these cards do not allow you to produce sound directly!

To the best of my knowledge, there are only two models available, namely IRCAM‘s M860 and CCRMA’s Quint Processor, both built in cooperation with the Ariel company.

Ariel / IRCAM – M860 (15000$)

IRCAM / Ariel – A full-option M860
IRCAM / Ariel – An M860 without options
IRCAM / Ariel - M860 board without heat sinks, RAM and
IRCAM / Ariel – M860 board without heat sinks, RAM and piggyboard
Zoom in IRCAM / Ariel - M860 board without RAM and piggyboard
Zoom in IRCAM / Ariel – M860 board without RAM and piggyboard
piggy board
To the left vertically is the “Piggy board” that provides the M860 with 8 digital input/output ports, and 4 analog inputs as well as 4 analog outputs. On the right, it shows the rear side connectors of an M860 without the openings for a Piggy board.
The “Piggy” expansion card, from left to right and bottom to top, adds 8 digital input/output ports (Micro-D D-Sub connector) and 4 analog outputs (numbered from right to left as 1 to 4), as well as 4 analog outputs (round connectors).

The difference between these two photos is the same type of M860 with 64MB RAM (middle board) and the analog (4in/4out) and digital (8) audio I/O board, also known as the “Pigggy Board” (bottom board).

When this board is referred to in technical literature, it is often under one of these acronyms: S.P.W. (Signal Processing Workstation), I.S.P.W. (IRCAM Signal Processing Workstation) and S.I.M. (Station d’Informatique Musicale), but these are misleading. In fact, the correct name is probably the M860 card. It’s important to understand that these acronyms actually represent the name of the complete solution, i.e. a NeXTComputer (cube) and one or more (maximum 3) M860 cards, as well as other peripherals (MIDI interface, audio interface for DSP, etc.), and the IRCAM software (Max/FST, SpecDraw, Spat, Circle, Animal, etc.) required to operate the whole!

IRCAM’s signal processing station, the following ports are connected: audio input/output ports, power supply, black-and-white monitor, RJ45 network, and SCSI.
8 versions of M860 board, 2 NeXT Cube CPU 68040 board, 4 Piggy board
Screenshot of a SIM where Max/FTS is launched; on the right are application icons for several versions of Max/FTS, including Animal, Signal Editor, and Circle.

For years, until the closure of IMEB 10 in Bourges, my wife Myriam and I presented compositions at the international festival “Synthèse.” Below is the patch of one of my wife’s compositions, followed by the link to the player to listen to it.

The Max/FTS patch of the piece “Vagues à l’âme”

Philippe Manoury – En écho

While exploring the machines I recovered from IRCAM, I found directories belonging to famous users, including Philippe Manoury.

Here are two examples of Max/FTS patches (they are actually complex with multiple layers of patches) and videos that give an idea of what they result in.


En écho

IRCAM Signal Processing Workstation
Two of my S.I.M. in full operation, notice the use of the ports from the Piggy Board, ProPort 656, and RS423-MIDI.

Each board is equipped with two 40 MHz Intel i860 processors, 64MB RAM, and a 27 MHz Motorola 56001 DSP.

To find out more about the M860, read this article.

Intel i860 CPU
Intel i860 CPU

Ariel – Quint Processor (7000$)

Ariel / CCRMA Quint-DSP
Ariel / CCRMA Quint-DSP

The QuintProcessor is equipped with five Motorola 56001 DSPs at 27 MHz and a maximum of 16 MB, each with an external communication port. There’s also a built-in SCSI interface for use by the DSPs.

This board is a competitor to the IRCAM board. The Quint Processor was developed at the request of the CCRMA at Stanford University in the USA.

To find out more, click here : Real Time Sound Processing & Synthesis on Multiple DSPs Using the Music Kit and the Ariel QuintProcessor

The Ariel QuintProcessor [Ariel, 1990] is a board for the NeXT cube that contains five 27 MHz DSP56001 signal processing chips, each with its own bank of static RAM and pair of serial ports. The DSPs are arranged in a star configuration, with one “hub” and four “satellites.” The 56001 is well-known as a low-cost and powerful signal processor that is well-suited to musical uses. The QuintProcessor (“QP”) augments the power of the 56001 by providing the following additional capabilities:

  • 0 wait-state static RAM (32K words for each of the satellite DSPs and 8K words for the hub DSP).
  • 256K, 1M or 4M words of dynamic RAM for the hub DSP. Automatic refresh hardware for the DRAM.
  • Interprocessor communication hardware.
  • Two NeXT-compatible DSP ports and a larger connector that brings out six more serial ports.
  • SCSI controller and real-time clock for hub DSP.
  • Rapid NeXTbus access to the host interfaces of the DSPs and to the other QP hardware.

MIDI interface

On NeXT, MIDI events can be managed. The NeXTcube and NeXTstation motherboards feature two RS423 serial ports (with mini din 8-pin connectors). These serial ports interface directly with MIDI serial peripherals designed for older Apple Macintoshes (those with a serial modem/printer port).
These interfaces require no special drivers, as they are handled directly by the system!

Apple MIDI Interface Kit

Original Apple MIDI interface for Macintosh models with 8-pin mini DIN serial ports. The kit comes with three cables: a serial cable for connecting the interface to the Mac, and two MIDI cables for connecting MIDI musical instruments.


midiman – MiniMacman 1 in/ 1 out)

midiman – Macman (1 in/ 3 out)

RCN – MIDI NeXT (1 in/ 2 out/ 1 thru)

RCN - MIDI NeXT avant
RCN – MIDI NeXT avant
RCN - MIDI NeXT arrière
RCN – MIDI NeXT arrière

Hardware is good, but software is essential !

Very quickly, there were many developments dedicated to audio, both for software that utilized the native audio capabilities of the Cubes and Stations, and especially for DSP acquisition boxes and later for the M860 and Quint cards.

Software provided by NeXT

This software is available in the standard installations of NeXTStep.


The famous MonsterScope, software that functions as both an oscilloscope and a spectrum analyzer, uses the DSP 56K of the motherboard. It handles analog inputs from the microphone as well as signals from the DSP.

NeXT Monster Scope
Main window


The basic audio editor included with NeXTStep allows you to play and record audio through the microphone, as well as perform copy and paste operations with insertion.

There are other audio software programs, such as CDPlayer…

Research Center Software

Spectro3 allows for the analysis of the sound spectrum of an audio file.


A MIDI sequencer.

Commercial software

Digital Audiometer

Digital Audiometer was designed to test hearing. The quality of the test signals was much higher than what was normally available at the time.


A software for managing sound acquisition from audio sources via DSP ports includes options like Digital Ears and Digital Microphone.


A music notation editor / MIDI sequencer.


A software that handles Mod files, which is a music format that is not very popular nowadays but was trendy in the early 90s.

Here he plays Close to the Edge by Art Of Noise!

Digital Audiometer

An audiometer, or acoumeter, is a device used in audiometry to measure an individual’s hearing capabilities. It provides a report on auditory acuity, indicating tendencies toward deafness or hearing impairment.


A relatively powerful sequencer that handles both MIDI and audio.

Studio3 Setup

A software that allows configuring Opcode Studio3 interfaces.

Les logiciels de l’IRCAM

Max / FTS

Max/FTS is a software invented and developed by Miller Puckette in the mid-1980s at IRCAM, initially on Macintosh and ported to NeXT in 1990 specifically for Cubes equipped with M860 cards.

It manages MIDI and audio, and can operate without DSP cards, but it performs optimally when supported by M860 cards. Up to three of these cards can be installed in a Cube.

Please note, Max relies on the CPOS (Co-Processor Operating System11), which is specific to M860 cards and is loaded when the RESTART button is pressed in the FTS window, after selecting the cards and number of CPUs to use.

I have several versions of Max/FTS, ranging from 0.17 to 1.3.22, but version 0.26 provides the best balance of workload and efficiency.

The window allows you to activate the M860 cards and define the number of CPUs to use. Here there is a single M860 card positioned in slot 4, thus using 2 CPUs.
Here, there are three M860 cards positioned in slots 4, 2, and 6, thus providing 6 CPUs.
This window allows you to modify the settings of each M860 card and the Piggy boards, and this can be done hot-swappable, meaning without restarting. There’s always one M860 (in slot 4) configured to operate at 32KHz and it’s equipped with a Piggy board.
Here, three M860 cards (in slots 4, 2, and 6) are configured to operate at 32KHz, and all of them are equipped with a Piggy board.

Max has two modes: an execution mode and an editing mode. You switch between them by clicking on the key icon located on the left side of the patch window (highlighted in red here). You can also observe whether the CPUs are activated (if there are active CPUs, the red overlay with a cross is not present). I’ve added the CPU numbers in red. If a checkbox is grayed out, it means that the patch in the window is assigned to that CPU.

mode execution

When the editing mode is active, new icons appear.

mode édition

Max/FTS is a graphical programming environment based on modular boxes and connections that allow for creating complex processes.

The modular boxes represent basic building blocks such as arithmetic, boolean, and mathematical operators, as well as data tables, controllers, buttons, and various input/output interfaces (analog, digital, MIDI). It also provides display tools like text, graphics, and matrices. This system is extremely powerful and flexible, enabling intuitive design and manipulation of audio data flows.

Max/FTS stands out for its ability to integrate and synchronize various types of data and media, facilitating the creation of complex interactive applications without the need for traditional textual programming. Since those early days, the Max user community continues to grow, contributing to a vast and diverse library of extensions and examples, further solidifying its position as an indispensable tool for creators and researchers.

A typical patch in Max/FTS

A small compilation of patch Max :


Animal12 (Animated Language) is a software package specific to the M860 board and dedicated to the rapid development of projects involving real-time signal processing.

animal patch


Spat is a software layer that spatialises sound, and is still being developed.


This is spatialization software that allows you to record a sound trajectory but only on the 2D plane (inside the disc shown in the following figure) for Spat.

The Circ application and a Max/FTS patch.

Générateur de trajectoires

It’s a spatialisation software that allows you to record a 3D sound trajectory for Spat.

Signal Editor

Audio editor13 from IRCAM, capable of doing the same thing as the NeXT editor, but it takes large files into account and allows you to enlarge the visualisation, thus offering greater finesse in copy/paste.

Les logiciels du CCRMA

Music Kit et DSP Tools

Music kit is a suite of functions provided by NeXT in NeXTSTEP that allows for managing all MIDI, DSP, etc. events. It is widely used by developers at CCRMA because this software library handles DSP 56K very well. Furthermore, the CCRMA’s Quint is based on 5 DSP 56K.

InstrumentBuilder is a program that makes it easy to prepare for using cmusic.

SynthBuilder is a software package that lets you build musical instruments and audio processing in the style of Max. It’s based on the MusicKit software library (and in particular the 56K DSP).

Vocal Trac Editor can be used for voice synthesis.

Some links

About development tools : MusicKit and SndKit Concepts

Links to Motorola DSPs and Intel CPUs: on the forum DSP NeXT. The I860s seemed to be difficult to program for maximum power… Read the next article : Floating-point performance of the i860.
I recommend the very interesting i860 64-Bit Microprocessor – THE ADVANCE INFORMATION 1989

From what I’ve read on the Benchmark, a NeXT 68040 at 25 MHz had an index of 116, while an i860 at 40 had an index of 26. That’s ~4.5 x faster!

Finally, here’s a list from a catalog NeXT summer 1992. It contains references to the following audio peripherals for NeXT:

55 ADA1800 Digital Audio Interface Stealth Technologies, Inc.
55 A/D64x Singular Solutions
56 Ariel DM-N Digital Microphone Ariel Corporation
56 Ariel/IRCAM Signal Processing Workstation Ariel Corporation
57 Ariel ProPort Model 656 Ariel Corporation
57 Ariel QuintProcessor Ariel Corporation
58 DataDisplay Dazzl
58 Dazzl Analog-to-Digital Convertors Dazzl
59 Digital Ears Metaresearch, Inc.
59 Midi Link Convertors Quest Inc.
60 SCSI488/N IOtech Inc.
60 SoundHouse MIDIapolis Systems

Products Available Soon
62 Ariel DatPort Ariel Corporation
62 LogicStream Lab Interface Board And Virtual Instrument Toolkit LogicStream
63 Model MZ-4 Four-channel Analog- to-Digital Converter Greeneridge Sciences Inc.
Applied Speech Technologies AST A/D16

Thanks to : Andreas, David Fischbach, IRCAM.

Update on :

  1. Le fichier PDF de Science et Vie Micro (SVM) – numéro double 63 de juillet-août 1989 ↩︎
  2. Le fichier PDF des Tarifs NeXT Printemps 1991 ↩︎
  3. La brochure PDF du Pixar Image Computer ↩︎
  4. Le fichier PDF NeXT 0.9-1.0 Release Description ↩︎
  5. Le fichier PDF NeXTSTEP 2.0-Release-Notes ↩︎
  6. La brochure PDF du Cube ↩︎
  7. La brochure PDF du NeXTstations ↩︎
  8. La brochure PDF du NeXTstation Color et NeXTstation Turbo Color ↩︎
  9. La brochure du NeXT-External-CD-ROM-Drive ↩︎
  10. Les publications de l’IMEB de 1970 à 2010 ↩︎
  11. Un article sur CPOS ↩︎
  12. Animal: Graphical Data Definition and Manipulation in Real Time ↩︎
  13. Un article sur Signal Editor ↩︎

Flash Kit for Fairlight CMI

The FLASH KIT is the solution to do without the original 8’’ drive !


KIT Flash pour Fairlight C.M.I.

Why should you replace one of the 8’’ floppy drives of your Fairlight Computer Musical Instrument by this diskdrive emulator ?

There are three reasons :
It’s currently very difficult to find or to buy functional blank 8’’ floppy disks.
The floppy drives are often faulty or grimey, and it is more difficult to find a cleaning floppy or alignment floppy ! And what about a new functional diskdrive ?
The original floppy disks, which are often more than 30 years old, are very often unreadable because they are worn, damaged (by scratch, mildew) or corrupt (by magnetism).

The Fairlight C.M.I.’s FLASH KIT is the solution to these problems and new features are added !

Indeed, the flash kit allows you to do the following :
save your sounds on your computer (Mac or PC),
easily exchange your sounds and compositions via Internet,
access to hundreds of virtual disks with out having to carry large and heavy 8’’ disks,
not have reliability problems disks that do not work at a crucial moment.

The Flash Kit includes :
documentation (Full part of the one that you are reading now) in English and French,
a SD type flash Memory card where the disk images are stored (delivered with more than 256 disk image),
a Flash drive (The black metal structure with many electronics boards),
a fifty way cable,
a thirty-four way cable with converter attached,
a two way power cable.


Items Kit
Full part (2013)


Full part (2014-…)


How does the flash drive work ?

The Flash player behaves like a 8″ floppy drive ! When you start and depending on the setting of the switches CMI nothing will happen as long as you do not select a startup disk image !

You can choose between several modes of operation the drive 8″ remaining, which by default is configured as drive 0 (boot drive) and flash drive that comes configured drive 1 (data drive).

The Flash player is able to emulate two virtual drives! The A and B ! The hole in the front is to insert an SD card.

The use of the flash drive is very easy. As it is based on the HxC drive, it works like it ! There are also three LED : green, orange and red.

The left and right black buttons allow you to scroll through the choices. The validation button is to confirm your choice. In order to have the configuration mode, press and hold the validation button for many seconds. A specific menu will appear on the LCD display.

The display contrast can be adjusted using the knob to the right of the front panel.

You have also a sound beep when the flash drive change of virtual head and when you move in folder’s, file’s and when you confirm a choice.

Compatible flash cards are SDHC Card and up to 32GB capacity. They are being formatted in FAT32 format. Caution !! I do not recommend to use a Macintosh, because Mac OS/X creates hidden files that can affect the proper functioning of the Flash Player. Use a PC.

You can get more details on setting up the Flash kit by reading the documentation.

Documentation :

The last update of the installation documentation is in the file : FLASH-KIT UK R1a

Import WAVE files in a Fairlight CMII, II, IIx and III. With the flash card it is possible to transfer wave files between the Fairlight CMI and computers.
This small note is valid for Mac and PC. Click CMI Flash Kit tips and tricks to download the document.

But the best way to get an idea is to view some demonstrations on the following videos :

Some videos of Flash-kit customers:


Some pictures


The 1st big batch


The current version



Order Kit

You can order the kit by paypal or by bank transfer. I can also undertake to set up the Flash drive in your C.M.I., please contact me for more information. For half size floppy format for CMI III, thank you to specify that in the paypal message.

The total price of the Flash Kit is 500 euros, select the model and valid.

Fairlight CMI Kit
Fairlight CMI Kit
Flash Kit for Fairlight CMI I, II, IIx on left or for CMI III on right
Size :

There is a maximum time of one month between order and delivery. The kits are manufactured on demand.

The price includes delivery to all countries (with 500 euros insurance, tracking number, proof of shipping, Retail Delivery against signature).

For more informations on the transport