Besides me, there was only (not even) a handful of private individuals who owned a M.A.R.S. Usually only colleges and studios owned this instrument. The last (PCI) M.A.R.S. I met end of the nineties - I was involved in the installation of the M.A.R.S. in the Experimentalstudio of the Südwestfunk, Freiburg/D (formerly Strobel Foundation) - directed by André Richard.
M.A.R.S. sounded so good that even Karlheinz Stockhausen, during a visit to the Basel electronic studio, to which we had programmed Ring Modulators for an upcoming performance of "Mixtur" (with the MARS), said after listening, that they were "just as good as the old, analogue Ring Modulators at the WDR, just with less noise". Everyone who has an approximate idea of Karlheinz Stockhausen's relationship to his Ring Modulators knows what this rather means: M.A.R.S. was ennobled. The other Titan, Luciano Berio, also worked at the IRIS Studio in Paliano with M.A.R.S. on his own works. I had the incredible luck to be able to witness both.
The bottom level of the software are the "Algorithms" (screenshot on the left). Here the implementation is programmed in the core. Everything has to be defined somehow. One of the basic problems had been that only "fixed point algorithms" were described in M.A.R.S. - no "floating point algorithms". Fixed point means only values between -1. and 1., everything else has to be generated with formulas that produce the desired curves via tables. The corresponding mathematical formulas are therefore indispensable. The head is spinning.
The Algorithms are bound in "Tones" and the Tones in "Orchestras". Thus, the Tones can be e.g. simply multiplied and provided with different addresses for the control. There are also different levels with tables (for LFO, parameter u.m.).
The "Orchestra" represents the integration of the Tones into the system bus. Even if it looks friendly and seems clear - the programming is to some extent "tricky" and no longer comparable with today's user interfaces.
The small, green "S" and red "D" in the Algorithm are Variables, the black "C" fix Values. Double-click opens "Definition-Windows".
In the left window is a futuristic ingredient of M.A.R.S.: Physical modeling. That was very crazy in the 90s - what had happened in the digital electronics! To test during programming, there are the small loudspeakers (1,2) - they can be set at any point for listening and are only active in the Algorithm level.
In the right window [Orchestra] the bus connection is depicted. From the 4 inputs (microphones with green lines) the signals are drawn into the provided Tones. Alternatively, the output signals (gray lines and loudspeakers) can also be routed into the Tones.
MARS. and ARES also offer every conceivable kind of tools, for monitoring, measuring, visualizing and checking all the resulting values.
Today, it seems normal, but in the early 1990s, this was an overwhelming package that replaced infinitely and expensive hardware, which was also not particularly accessible or widespread.
It was the beginning of "scientific coverage", which unfortunately can now be regarded as quite problematic.
Back to M.A.R.S.: the highlight for "electronic guerilla" - as I signified myself at that time - was, that the "Orchestra"-files could be dumped as a MIDI files. Thus the large and loud PCs had neither to be transported, nor "endured" (or taken into account). That was a huge liberation! The luggage shrank enormously and the set-up times were about 10 minutes (without "start-up" - which at that time also lasted somewhat longer).
From 1995 until the end of the millennium, I was almost everywhere in the world and I lived my electronic guerrilla life - with M.A.R.S.. I had two mini-transmitters and receivers (Sony Freedom Series) with good microphones and even went to concerts to sit in. This was a fantastic time - and the final stage, before (in my view) both, the concert-enterprise and the "artist stand" was finally destroyed by professionalization (perhaps). Performances changed into presentations.
Live Performances with M.A.R.S. were fantastic, because the setup was extremely simple and the concentration remained for the music! I had everything in a 5U Softbag - M.A.R.S., Mackie mixing desk, microphones, laptop and MIDI fader. Everything pre-wired - only power and the connection to the PA had to be connected. Previously, it was a Mac SE30 (cube), two 12HE cases (extremely heavy!) and two (piano) keyboards - the complex cabling lasted about 90 minutes! What progress.
Here is a picture of the Soundcheck at the VCF Festival in Cologne. Wolfgang Heiniger and I (the World Powerbook Orchestra) gave "Hosen aus Licht" ("pants made of light"). Two M.A.R.S. and much Max. On the monitor and the screen ran a fictitious machine text, which served only to temporarily disturb the audience by (false) error messages. A reporter of the Cologne newspaper congratulated me on the appropriate title "Rosen aus Licht" (roses of light). I did not correct it.
After the festival we were branded as "THE outlook in the future of electronic music", in great agreement. Great times!