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 Octave Kitten II Midi-fied

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My MIDI-fied Octave-Plateau The Kitten II



Octave was a New York based company, they have actually only produced 2 synths (and 1 controller) around 1976-1979. Then they merged with Plateau Electronics, becoming Octave-Plateau, which released the mega Voyetra-8 synth.
They did actually survive, changing the name to Voyetra, releasing music software, and eventually became Turtle-Beach! They're are still around, y'know!

Octave's famous synth was the ''flagship'' The Cat, usually known as Octave CAT.
The Cat has went thru a few revisions - Original, SRM (Series Revision Model) and SRM II.
They released the Kitten, in 1977.
The Kitten is a single VCO version of the Cat (Cat being dual-phonic), basically half the Cat, with the same 24dB/Oct LP Filter.
However, I have not seen info on the web on the Kitten II (or any mention of it).

This Kitten II seems to be a later or the last revision of the Kitten, manufactured under Octave-Plateau.



Kitten II and Me

Always wanted a Kitten (and the Cat). But the Cat has many revisions, that I believe, later ones are better, but difficult to track down.  Well, the Kitten II is also difficult to track down, since there's not much info on the web about it, so it's kinda rare.

This Kitten II came up on eBay in mid July 2005.
Conditions seems OK to me, all knobs are there, altho some black caps are not, but I decided to grab it. Price was around £200, but hey, it's a Kitten "II".

The Kitten, like the Cat, can do a few things that other synths can't do, afterall, it's like half the Cat.

bulletThe basic VCOs are not very interesting, Triangle, Saw, Modulated Pulse and that White Noise, or even the PWM, sounded a little weak or thin to me. BUT, there are TWO Sub-Octaves - now with these kicked in, this thing is FAT and THICK. Plus you get 5 sliders for leveling them!
bulletThe real powerful area of the Kitten is really the modulation - the LFO / Sample+Hold routing to modulate the ADSR / VCO / VCF - it can produce many interesting effects and S&H sounds - which I think is the strongest area of the synth. That's what I really like and I am quite delighted that I have grabbed this Kitten II.
There are a few minor things about the Kitten (or Kitten II) that kinda bugs me a little, not a lot.
bulletThe metal frame is one piece, down to the keyboard area, so to open the synth, unlike other mono-synths where you can flip open the top panel, you have to turn the synth over and open the back under cover.

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Guess what, the bottom cover is not metal nor wood, it's just a plyboard (thick card-board).

bulletThe Pots / Knobs feel very plastic, and you get worried they might break when you turned the synth over to open it.
bulletTuning knob (and in fact the trimmers inside too) are not very precise.
bulletWhen the filter cuts in, the volume can drop quite a lot...
bulletOne more thing I should mention. The Kitten is NOT small. It is a lot larger than the Jen SX1000 or the Kawai S-100F. In fact, I think it's around the same size or even bigger than the Powertrans Transcendent 2000.  Gee, this kitty is fat and large... shame can't put her on diet!
But I suppose these are just minor stuff, doesn't affect the Kitten II itself, really.




On the Left, you get the "Transient Generator", which is the ENV/ADSR, the Repeat routing switch and S+H switch.

Below the Transient Generator, are the (centre-lock) Pitch-Bend slider , +2/-2 Octave Switch, Portamento Glide Slider, and the LFO Freq / Delay and LED.
In the middle, is the VCO section, with Modulation pots, PWM, and Tuning...

And below these is the VCO Mixer, with the five sliders.
Then comes the 24dB/Oct LP VCF, with Modulation from LFO/S+H or ENV/VCO, and Keyboard Control amount, and the usual Fc (Cutoff) and Q (Resonance) sliders.


The VCA is on the far right, with just a switch and the Volume knob.
NOTE: The VCA Switch is 3 position, as opposed to the Kitten (I) two positions.
Last is the White Noise Level slider.

On the left we have Power Switch and that damn flying mains lead...

On the right are all the sockets - from CV / Pedal Controls to two Audio Outputs and also Audio Input.

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No need to say anything else - as the sockets are quite self-explanatory.
Since the Kitten II was probably the last version of the Kitten, the inside has actually improved.
All the CV Sockets and Audio Sockets are actually PCB mounted, and the 3 Kitten Boards are all connected via connectors. (A lot tidier than the inside of an original Kitten).

Hmm... that extra green PCB above Board B on the right...
is actually the midi interface I added,
So are the small stripboards on the rear Board C.
Sorry, I should've taken photos before modding!!

So basically, the improved Board C is the PSU and also the Jack Socket / CV PCB all in one board, mounted at the rear panel.
In case you're wondering what those extra small boards I have there do... see the next section!



MODs & MIDI-fying the Kitten II
Other than opening it up, cleaning out al the dust and the usual slider dust removal, I did some little works on my Kitten II and of course, added internal MIDI. See the MIDI-fying Page ....
bullet General Works - IEC Mains Inlet Socket
bullet MIDI - Midi-fying the MG-1
bullet Tap Locations - Where to tap the Aux CVs
bullet Knob Caps - Simple D.I.Y. Pot caps replacements
bullet Other Possible Mods

See the MIDI-fying Page ....



MIDI-fied Kitten II

My Midi-fied Kitten II

As of 25th July 2005

-> MORE Kitten II Pics here <-



Some Octave Kitten II Soundz

bullet Basic VCO
Just the basic VCOs, with a little Glide.
You can hear it's way better when the two sub-octaves cut in!
bullet VCO + S&H
S&H modulating the VCO + Noise.
Also tweaking around with the S&H -> VCF.
bullet Basic VCF
Basic VCF sweep, 24dB/Oct LP Filter
bullet S&H + VCF Mod
The fun kicks in - LFO/S&H modulating ADSR/VCF and so on, producing those pulsating sequences!
bulletComing Soon
Will put up more if I have time!
-> Play ALL
More audio of the original Kitten can be found in the links below.



Other Links on the Octave Kitten
Since I can't find any info on the Kitten II, here are some links for the original Kitten and Cat.
bulletSoundOnSound's excellent "CopyCat" Page with detailed history on the Octave Cat (& Kitten), but no mentioning of the Kitten II tho.
bulletA Tribal Smile's The Octave Kitten - A Purrrfect Vintage Analog Synthesizer with lots of images on the Kitten, and also many audio samples
bulletEIM's Octave Kitten Info Page, with lots of helpful info and how to "zero" the Kitten.
bulletBluesynths has a good review on the Octave The Cat.
bulletSynthfool has schematics for the Octave CAT SRM1.



C Y 's files on the Octave Kitten II

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bulletBlank Patch Sheet for the (original) Kitten

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bulletBlank Patch Sheet for the Kitten II
bullet(Retyped) Calibration Procedure for the (original) Kitten.
Note: Trimmers on the Kitten II are slightly different.

- This is a re-typed version - human OCR, you may call it!
I basically retyped the whole Calibration Procedure for clearer / easier reading.
Filesize ~ 80k.





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