I am a professional crash test dummy by day, and expert on chopstick variations on toy piano by night.  I can derive complex quadratic polynomial frequency transforms capable of dividing by zero.  Einstein once consulted me regarding the depth of the universe. Womens' panties are thrown at me when I walk into a bar or restaurant.  I prophesized the rise of the Tea Party at my birth.  Elvis is alive and hiding in my mansion after tiring of sightings at Burger Kings.  I possess three credit cards with no limits, infinite grace periods, and zero minimum payment. My plan to pursue world peace is right on schedule. I am the author of a world famous dissertation to resolve all the world economy problems with the simple application of river mud from the Amazon in the deep jungle.

Enough about my fantasy persona.

My name is Michael Caloroso. I enjoy the tranquil secluded outdoors, woodworking, traveling, trains, and especially music.  I am a gearaholic. When I get depressed I go down to the music store and buy stuff I don't need... oh wait this isn't gearaholics anonymous?

This biography focuses on my main hobbies of music, pro audio, and sound design.  As you can tell I also like to occasionally indulge in zany humor (I watch too much Monty Python).  I've been tickling the ivories since I was a wee brat.  I'm an engineer by day and a rock-n-roll rebel by night.  "Prosumer" best describes me because I acquire pro audio equipment ("pro") but since my music is strictly a hobby I am a consumer ("sumer").  My collection started back in 1978 when I began performing in weekend bands in clubs and bars.  Along the way I collected more stuff and didn't sell much.  It has now blossomed into a large home project studio.

My first exposure to audio engineering was at age three when I was given my first hearing aid and I immediately adjusted the volume and tone to be comfortable. The doctors said it was unheard of for a three-year-old to know how to adjust a hearing aid on their own.  Music has always been in my blood as I would plop myself in front of the stereo speakers for hours and then pick out the songs on the piano. I started piano lessons at five and continued through college.

Paralleling my musical education was my engineering skills. My father had a large model train layout and a bench full of tools, where I learned to fix things and make little projects.  In fact, my first intelligible word as a child was a curse word (much to the dismay of mother), which was attributed to hearing Dad's frustrations trying to keep the train from jumping the track. Mom put me back on the piano.

On one occasion a neighbor called to ask my father if he could help wire up his train set, and in his absence Mom sent little Mikey to help. I got the train set wired up and running and the neighbor was quite delighted until it occurred to him that a four-year-old boy was teaching a grown adult how to wire up a simple train set.

Having been fascinated with tinkering with toy trains since childhood, I discovered the inside of a radio and took it apart to learn how it worked. Imagine dad's disgust when the radio no longer worked after I put it back together. That progressed to building circuits from magazines and designing my own fixes for things that broke. An engineer in the making. When I reached college age, I was at a crossroads: a career in music or a career in engineering?

It was the age of D-D-D-D-Disco, and I had read of the abuses of the music industry in the book The Platinum Rainbow. I chose engineering.  It turned out to be a wise decision because it is extremely difficult anymore to make a living from music.  The engineering job pays for the bills and the toys.

My older brother had taken piano lessons and then took up guitar, and we formed our first band together. We were hooked when we performed on the stage with that band for the first time in 1981. Those were the days when the drinking age was still 18!  I earned my Bachelor's degree in Electronic Engineering Technology and I worked in bands on weekends to pay for school.  Both my musical and engineering skills progressed during this period and by the time I graduated I was an accomplished multi-instrumentalist (piano, bass, drums, guitar, and kazoo) and I got quite good at keeping my electronic music gear running. 

I enjoy listening to just about any style of music with the exception of opera and rap/hip-hop.  My favorite bands are Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZTop, and Rush.  I've worked in many weekend bands for many years playing styles such as classic rock, progressive rock, top 40, R&B, funk, cajun, zydeco, blues, jazz, dixieland, and classical.  These days the weekend warrior is not as lucrative as it used to be for several reasons: 1) the pay has remained stagnant while expenses (esp auto fuel) have gone way up, 2) patronage has gone way down thanks to enforcement of drinking and smoking laws, 3) due to #2 many bars have closed or stopped featuring live entertainment so there are fewer venues to play, 4) DJs have taken over much of what's left of the business, and 5) it got difficult staying up past 3am on weekends then reverting to "bank hours" during the week.

I also got a new job in a new town - there is next to nothing of a music scene in the new town and my job responsibilities keep me very busy.  Fortunately the company does have an arts committee so I joined a jazz band.  This was a good fit for my performance desires and work obligations since the band performs about once a month during the week and I can participate work schedule permitting.  I am getting to enjoy my free time on weekends.  I have a lot of original songs I have written over the years and decided this was a good opportunity to record them.  With my multi-instrumentalist talents I can compile pretty much a full band recording for demo purposes, and I call in friends with better skills for the completed product.

A new promotion came my way that freed up my time so I decided to look into weekend bands again.  I was pretty selective in what I wanted to do - good pay, easy schedule (once a month so I can still enjoy free weekends), level headed musicians, and hopefully not too many late nights.  There was very little in local opportunities, save from a couple of bands that looked promising.  One band had a very good female singer with a large following, but they didn't have any openings.  Another band had great potential but the keyboard player opening had just been filled.  Going back to my buddies at my old stomping grounds was not economical as rehearsals would had been a three hour round trip.

A few months later I went to a party at a model railroad layout and the owner had an established southern rock band working out of a town less than an hour drive from me.  He had tried to enlist me a few years before but I was too busy at work.  By now I was in a better position workwise so I was ready if they still were open.  Turned out we both had mutual desires - good pay, easy hours, easy schedule, good personalities.  We both easily made the audition (I was auditioning the band too) and I have joined Iron Horse playing keyboards and third guitar.  So far it has been a great experience!

My weapons of mass compositions are primarily vintage Moog and Oberheim analog synthesizers that I have acquired during the "great analog dump" of the middle 1980s when everybody was selling them to buy the latest digital dinner bells.  Analog synthesizers have been a favorite tool of mine ever since I built a PAiA modular kit in 1981 as I love being creative and finding new ways to make sounds.  They are also an interesting bridge between my hobby and my profession.  I tried to like FM, LA synthesis, additive synthesis, sampling, and other synthesis methods but I always gravitated back to a panel full of knobs/buttons and that big fat sound that is the domain of analog subtractive synthesis.  I have zero softsynths, VAs, and plugins - while I acknowledge the advantages of zero maintenance, hardware sounds better in my opinion.  That is the origin of my alias "Analoguediehard" (I am also known as "The Real MC").  The old analog keyboards also offered another engineering challenge: how to keep them working when parts are scarce and how to keep them from going out of tune.  Unknownst to me at the time, the effort in maintaining complex polyphonic synthesizers was directly applicable to my work skills as a systems engineer.

My arsenal is at a point where I don't need any more keyboards.  While I might have an impressive collection, in the end you are more productive with a smaller setup.  Limitations force you to be creative.  I decided that I have too much stuff and have been selling off things that I haven't used much so I put my kazoo on ebay. 

Since I don't need any more keyboards, I have been building a comprehensive project recording studio that is modular enough that it can double as a live sound reinforcement system.  I have done some sound reinforcement in the past and liked that kind of work.  I enjoy dabbling in pro audio recording and have gotten really good results.  Despite my hearing impairment, my ears have developed over the years and have learned to pick out the intricacies of music.  Many times I would finish a recording and ask myself why can't I get it to sound like the songs I have been hearing on the radio and on CDs?  With a lot of reading, analytical listening to CDs, experimentation with gear over the years, and feedback from friends I have developed exceptional mixing and mastering skills.

Thanks to these skills, I became a member of the beta test and sound design team for the Alesis Andromeda and contributed many patches in the factory library.   I was asked to replicate some popular sounds from progressive rock.  One of them was a Moog Taurus bass pedal sound - at that time I had not yet owned a set of Taurus pedals and I replicated that sound from what I heard on CDs and from analyzing the schematics.  When I delivered that patch, one of their sound designers who did own a set of Taurus pedals checked it out and was impressed how accurate it was.

I like to share my knowledge on internet discussion forums and on the webpages herein.  I also like to collect schematics and service manuals of various synthesizers and other audio gear, even ones I do not own.  My curiousity drove me to analyze why certain audio gear sound the way they do and with my EE skills I have uncovered the secrets of sound design.  I was also studying the different control techniques especially in complex polyphonic analog synthesizers.  My reputation as an expert in analysis of audio gear was growing online. 

Between that and my analytical ears, I got an offer from Moog Music to consult on their soon-to-be-released reissue of the Moog Taurus bass pedals.  Their new Taurus III was designed to be a faithful recreation of the original and they wanted a "Taurus Aficionado" (that's the title THEY gave me) to lend a critical ear.  By that time I had landed a clean set of Taurus pedals and they had seen my work online.  Moog had a set of Taurus pedals at the factory but they were in rough shape and not 100% functional so they asked me to bring my pedals with me for a side-by-side comparision.  I could never completely duplicate the sound of the original Taurus pedals until Moog made the Taurus III - and I told them I don't make that statement lightly.  The patch I designed for the Andromeda was "almost there" but the Taurus III nailed it.  We matched the original Taurus presets in the new unit and I contributed some new patches for the factory library.  I got a nice token of appreciation in the owner's manual and an appearance in a YouTube video of that visit.  When the Taurus III was released it was widely accepted as a worthy successor to the original - popular enough that Moog Music exceeded their original limited production run of 1000 units and at last count have surpassed 1500 units.

So why have I developed these webpages?  Not to show off my collection but to offer a comprehensive study and history of them.  These are brutally honest reviews as I am not ashamed to list the cons along with the pros.  There is a lot of misinformation on the internet and my pages are an effort to set the record straight.  They also offer insights to sound design and technical analysis of the instrument rather than just a reprint of product brochures.  For entertainment I have peppered them with light doses of zany humor so I hope you enjoy them.  And please bid on my kazoo.

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