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The Control Synthesis Deep Bass Nine was originally commissioned by Music Control ( a store dealing in secondhand analogue synths) to cope with the amount of requests they were getting for the classic acid bass monster, the Roland TB303. The DB9 is a single unit analogue sound module that attempted to emulate the sound of the TB303 but with MIDI control and while it was only partially successful at doing this you can still produce some monstrous bass noises using this synth. This synth is the real analogue deal unlike many so called 'analogue' synths available today that base their sounds on pure digital waveforms.
The front panel of this synth features nothing but 10 knobs that control all of the sound parameters. These include all the same parameters that you will find on the front panel of the TB303 including filter cutoff and resonance, tuning, env mod, decay and accent amount. The other knobs control MIDI input channel, power on/off, volume and waveform select. As with the TB303 you have the choice of a square or sawtooth wave produced by a single oscillator but here we find the added bonus of a filter input selection. This allows you to pass an external signal through the DB9's analogue filter. While this is a common feature today, when this synth was released it was very rare to find a filter input on a MIDI controlled piece of kit. Experimentation should be the order of the day here. Great fun is to be had passing drum loops and vocals through the filter and due to it's analogue nature you can give an added warmth to almost any digital sound.
Using the sawtooth wave with a random sequence and waggling the cutoff knob gives you instant flatulent acid squelching. The sound is fairly close to a real TB303 but not as accurate as the Rebirth software due to the fact that the DB9 has a lot more bass punch and the filter works at 24dB/oct instead of the TB303's 18dB/oct. It's when you use the square wave option that things really start to sound phatt ( Oh my god i just wrote fat with a PH ). The square wave has that classic warm hollow sound so loved by drum'n'bass producers and the amount of bottom end you get is almost frightening. If you want to cause a mass bowel movement on the dancefloor then this synth can do the job.
Using the accent feature is essential for those techno and trance bubbling acid lines. The accent knob determines how 'peaky' the filter becomes when you trigger the accent by using a MIDI input velocity over 67. This seems like an odd way of implementing the accent to me as it means that the overall volume of a note cannot be changed using MIDI velocity which can be annoying at times. The only other parameter that can be controlled via MIDI is the cutoff knob that is permanetly mapped to the modulation wheel although the DB9 does support pitch bend and portamento for some sliding acid action. None of the knobs actually transmit MIDI data so you can't record yourself turning the knobs during a mix.
One final welcome feature is the built in MIDI-CV converter. This allows you to control a single pre-MIDI era analogue synth using your existing MIDI setup although you may have to open up your DB9 to get at the CV output tuning presets on the circuit board if your other synth has unstable tuning. On the circuit board you will also find resistor presets for the resonance bandwidth and envelope slope, it can be worth fiddling with these as you can make the filter resonance go from a fat Moog sound to a thin squeal.
While the DB9 is not entirely accurate in it's TB303 emulation it is very usefull for producing big bass sounds and leaves the alternative F.A.T Freebass looking rather sad and weedy. At a secondhand price of only about £100 you really can't go wrong as it would cost you that much for a decent MIDI-CV convertor on it's own. If you see one off these then I would buy it quickly, it could be better but at that price who cares.