READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

A forum for discussing the pros & cons of buying a particular synth and for advice on buying synthesizers.

READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

Postby Synthacon » Tue May 24, 2005 12:28 pm

Right, this forum is slowly turning in to "What should I buy???"

So how about following a few of these tips....

1- What is the MOST you could spend?

2- Is there a more powerful choice just over your budget? If so, save a little more!

3- What type of music are you going to make?

4- Is a Keyboard a priority or would a rack do?

5- Are you prepared for repair bills? If not then DO NOT buy a Vintage unit.

6- Is the synth you are looking at capable of been expanded?

7- Are there more features than you need, if so this is GOOD!!!

8- Read as many REVIEWS as possible, these are not always as subjective as personal views.

9- TRY one out, not always possible, but you can HIRE stuff you know!

10- Dont think that a new synth will cure your musical faliures.

11- Most synths, and I will say that again "MOST" synths can produce the SAME sounds as each other!!!

12- Have you already got this type of synth in your set up? Do you need another?

13- Lusting after the latest in technology is a BAD thing.

14- Get to know what gear you have already, you will then know EXACTLY what you are missing/in need of!

15- Dont worry about what gear other people have, it does you NO GOOD!!

Sorry, mini rant over!
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Postby polardark » Tue May 24, 2005 3:32 pm

One of the moderators should pin that. And thrown in something about the Ion/MS2000 debacle. :)
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Postby THM » Tue May 24, 2005 3:59 pm

By your command. *stuck*
DotCom Modular * ARP 2600 * Elka Synthex * EML PolyBox * EMS Synthi AKS * MOOG Minimoog Model D, Memorymoog * Kurzweil PC88 * Oberheim SEM * Roland Jupiter-8, JP-8080, Juno-60, TR808, TB303, MKS50, RE301, SDE330, SRV330 * Yamaha CS0 * see THM on MySpace
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Postby frekwah » Wed May 25, 2005 2:52 am

OK. If i answer ALL these questions, can I post them to you Synthacon, and you can pick me a synth?

...or better yet, we need a nerd (no i wasn't referring to you vynl, but you can be the one) to make a new synthfinder based on these answers.. and link to to a "Your Chosen Synth" page that will display the synth based on your answers...
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Postby Guest » Wed May 25, 2005 11:42 am

http://www.google.com

http://www.tweakheadz.com

http://www.soundonsound.com

http://www.futuremusic.co.uk

http://www.harmony-central.com/Synth/Data/00all.html

http://www.sonicstate.com/synth/

...are the first stops. Read, learn and inwardly digest.

Answers to questions

1 & 2. What is the most you would spend?...then add 25%. If you can't afford it, mow some lawns. You'll be better of getting what you want as opposed to the compromise you'd make.

3. Fuggetaboutit. You can make pretty much any type of music on pretty much anything. Get something that is multi-timbral and polyphonic...and if you don't know what that means..use Google. You'll learn a lot more from reading something than from me telling you from here.

4. Get a keyboard. If it's a first synth, get something self-contained. After all, those confusing MIDI cables are a pain in the arse.

5. If you're new to synths, try getting somthing new/made in the last 5 years. Vintage suff is for people that know what they're doing. You can be one of those people if you do a)some learning first and b)have some patience to learn and do some research. Sure, that big-ass Moog thing in that video is cool as beans...but maybe a) the guy in the video didn't actually use it to make the sound and b) it's so expensive/rare, then you could equip yourself with a more than modest home recording studio for the same price.

6. Nope. I do not know how many synths that can be expanded. Not many. Not even a consideration. Apart from samplers...but you've got a PC, right? Sure you can get some of Rolands's extra super-duper sounds on a card, but you coulda bought them for half the price had you done the research in the first place, right? That extra money in 1 and 2?

7. Bah! Feature-smeatures. Get something that sounds good...to you. Salesmen sell features. Sometimes the best things are undiscovered little gems that no-one knows about. But why not buy "the shiny brand new one over here as I have been on a sales training course and know how to impress the punters synth over here"? It's only 250% more than what you wanted to spend...did I mention we do finance?

8. Oh yes. Read. Research. Do not buy on impulse. Weigh up the 'how good you feel' versus 'how angry the missus/girl(boy)friend/bank manager will be'...that 'bargain' will cost you more than double...and you'll lose respect...it's easier to be patient and mow lawns...and quite theraputic.

9. Always try it out. Turn every knob. Press every key. Ask every 'dumb' question you can thing of.

Spend some time with it yourself. How many times has the guy done the same demo? Can you get around the menu system?...and learn 'Stairway to Heaven/Jump/Final Countdown'...they love it...honestly!

10. Oh God/Allah/Yahweh/[insert chosen religious deity here]...now, how true is that? Sure...your studio will impress the hell out of your friends. It will not impress the hell out of your bank manager.

11. Ahh...topic of debate. If you're a newbie, then something like a Novation KS-4, Nord Lead, Access Virus, Alesis Ion, Korg MS2000 etc...then that's true. Buy something and make some fucking music. Allow anal audiophile old pharts argue the phiner pheatures of CEM chips...you know who you are... ;)

12. See 10. Try out our 'competitions'. One synth competitions. It's a laff. Check out the FAQ section to read about the previous competitions.

13. Agreed. With knobs on. Wait a bit and see how it fares. Usually, it is bug-ridden and gets superceded fairly quickly....and the price plummets. Why buy a PS2/XBox game when it comes out when you can buy it for less than half, 6 months later? :shock:. Play it in a music store/your mate's house. Is it that good? A $€£20 will be much better than a £$€50 game...

14. Refer 10 and 12. Spend an evening with just the one synth. Turn nothing else on...apart from yourself...and you did read that manual, didn't you?

15. Gear-lust is bad. Refer to 10, 12 and 14...and check out the 'competitions' as to what you can actually achieve with just one synth.

[Addendum]

16. Be original. Just cos you ain't got a two-kay Triton, does not mean that your bugeoning Hip-Hop career get put on hold. Great music does not necessarily come from great equipment.

Thought, talent and confidence will get you further...but you do need all three. Being the best in your own head will only lead you to Internet Infamy...by Christ they're out there...sad, but true.

I don't want to discourage anyone from doing anything, but we'll crack a few cans and have a few laffs at your expense..and you'll still be asking "Supersize, sir?" in 20 years. ;)

17. TB-303s are over-rated. So are TR-808s. In the interest of humanity, I'll pay $50 for any that you have lying around...;)

Right. That's me done for a bit. Thanks to Synthacon for providing the questions. It's all open to debate (you can be sure of that) but I have to put me two penneth in, innit?

8)
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Postby Synthacon » Wed May 25, 2005 4:15 pm

I have to wonder how many people will read this and still ask... "Should I buy an Ion or a Virus?"

Please for the love of god, WORK STUFF OUT ON YOUR OWN!!!!!!!

I had to, and I'm sure ALOT of people here did. In the days before the internet YOU HAD TO!!!!

Please do not take my anger as something bad, I'm just a little fed up of all the same questions coming out. This web site is also connected to a MASSIVE databse of Synths, most with Audio Clips, WHAT THE FUCK do people want us to do?

Tell you what, from now on if you are in the market for a new synth(Old or Vintage), send me the money you have, I will buy you something with the info you provide me and send it back to you!!!!

Rant over again :lol:
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Postby stillearning » Wed May 25, 2005 4:46 pm

While I certainly understand these rants, I would be happy if people who want "which synth..." advice would simply include enough info so we can help effectively and efficiently.

1. What is you budget?
2. What are you into? (music, sounds, etc)
3. Live, studio, or personal home use?
4. Level of synth expertise? (beginner, intermediate, etc)
5. List what gear you already have.

There are times when I think "which synth" type questions are the best way to get an answer from people who own and use these things on a regular basis. It's a lot of money for some people to spend. So, do your homework, read all you can, try one in a store if possible, and if you still can't decide, go ahead and ask! If I was a "newbie" reading this thread, it would scare me out of asking anything at all!
As always, kindly allow for the possibility I have no idea what I'm talking about.
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Postby Mr Rich » Thu May 26, 2005 3:20 am

eric_fusebox wrote:Allow anal audiophile old pharts argue the phiner pheatures of CEM chips...you know who you are...


Oi ! :wink:
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Postby frekwah » Thu May 26, 2005 3:26 am

ahaaha! Audiophiles and their 'Chips'... God bless em!
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Postby Klantan » Thu May 26, 2005 2:19 pm

8- Read as many REVIEWS as possible, these are not always as subjective as personal views.


8. Oh yes. Read. Research.


...are the first stops. Read, learn and inwardly digest.


So, do your homework, read all you can


There's a theme here... :wink:
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survey answers

Postby subtle_nuance » Thu May 26, 2005 8:41 pm

OK, I'll be happy to answer those questions. I'll expect every person who posts to these forums to come to this category, read what I answered, vote on a synth...I'll tally up the scores and buy the model via Ebay that gets the most votes. It'll be a crap shoot if all the functions work, and based on what I've seen, odds are they won't even have a manual to go with the keyboard they are selling. I can't use a keyboard without the manual or without midi capability. I don't need an onboard sequencer...I'll be using cakewalk.


1. What is your budget?

I don't want to risk more than $300, plus up to $50 shipping. So the winning bid has to be under $300. The only way I'd spend more is if I went to a music store and got one new in the box. i.e. - A Yamaha S08 is going for $1000 right now, whether it's online or in the store. Online avoids the sales tax, but if it breaks, I don't want to ship it off. I want to drive it to, preferably, an authorized repair facility. If I buy it used and it breaks, then I'm out $300 MAX. It prolly wouldn't be worth fixing and I'd be wasting my money getting a $35 estimate. So to answer the question, let's say my budget is $300 max. Yes, I do mow yards already. That pays for food, not synths, sorry.

2. What are you into? (music, sounds, etc)

The sounds I'll want most resemble what's being using in soft rock, Adult comtempory, 'smooth' jazz. I'll need very realistic orchestral instruments, and nothing particularly ethereal or 'techno.' Clear, tight, uncluttered arrangements, songs/sounds/artists I like are...
a. Latter-day Sting. (Some older Police sounds like they used one mic in a garage, and no synths)
b. A producer named (Tony?) Britton did some Tina Turner stuff I like. (What's Love Got to Do With it?....Hero....
c. Bee Gees 'Saturday Night Fever' seems to be ahead of it's time. What else sounded that clean in the late 70's? Maybe it's cause they hired a full live orchestra.
d. Quincy Jones - my fav producer. Off The Wall, The Dude, Thriller. Sometimes I think I should try to emulate him and forget everyone else. That'll work. He has combined synths with acoustic instruments beautifully. He either hires the violins or has a damn good string machine.

I'll use electric piano and Fender Rhodes sounds on occassion, but newer models all have good sounds for that, I think. I'll need realistic strings, piano, organ, brass, wodwinds, your classic guitar sounds, (studio, classical, rock, George Benson, Earl Klugh, The Who (i.e. - Behind Blue Eyes intro). And I MUST have realiztic drum sounds, but most new keyboards have that too. I've heard too many records where it sounds like someone off in another room hitting a cardboard box with a spatula. What are they thinking?

Someday, WAY down the road, if I really enjoy working with synths, I might try something daring. In that vain, I like Depech Mode's 'Enjoy the Silence, or Dirty Vegas' 'Without You.' I don't know how sophisticated they are, I just know I like it and they aren't anything like what I've already mentioned above. I don't consider their music as mainstream as I MUST be for now.

I DON"T want anything that sounds like the song 'Baby Baby' by Amy Grant. Listen to the intro riff that is repeated throughout...I can't even tell what instruments the synths are suppose to be emulating. I think maybe it's a lousy string sound, all too common in synths. And the bass is very obviously a synth. It all sounds programmed. The key for me is to be programmed, but not sound like it.

3. Live, studio, or personal home use?

Personal home use, creating demos that sound as close to a final record company product as possible. I will be taking the keyboard and midi file to a studio to mix in vocals or some acoustic instrumental solos. Any live performances, for now, would consist of attaching a PC and playing Karaoke style. The keyboard player won't usually have to do a lot of work. At most, they'd have to play a single part with one sound from beginning to end.

4. Level of synth expertise? (beginner, intermediate, etc)

Beginner.

5. List what gear you already have.
Ensoniq SQ1+, but a lightening strike fried the midi OUT port. Works great live. I'll take $200 for it today, plus shipping. Sold new in the store for $1000. Have manual and it looks brand new. Used it for about 3 hours total. Send check or money order for $250 to cover shipping. Will send when check clears.

OK I'm done investing my time with this. If I can't get answers here, I'm mowing yards to save the $1000. I trust the new Yamaha will do what I need, and I can start learning it instead of reading web sites...as much as I detest giving a retailer full price. It'll be worth 60% less the minute I walk out with it. Keyboard resale is as bad as a used car. It doesn't make financial sense. It's for people who want to walk in and say 'gimme that' and be done shopping.
Last edited by subtle_nuance on Fri May 27, 2005 12:26 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby stillearning » Thu May 26, 2005 10:04 pm

You'll want a rompler to get the realistic piano and orchestral sounds, but it'll have to be a bit older to stay under 300. Search completed listings on ebay using advanced search and enter your max price. I don't know which older romplers have the most "realistic" drum sounds, though. Possibly an older Roland, or Korg Trinity, something along those lines. Just a guess here, but if you're done investing your time in this, then just passing this off on others may not get you the results you want.
As always, kindly allow for the possibility I have no idea what I'm talking about.
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what's a rompler?

Postby subtle_nuance » Fri May 27, 2005 12:37 am

What EXACTLY is a rompler? Name some makes and models. I see that term used, but no one wants to define it. I like formal definitions, whenever possible. And if I can point to any keyboard on the market and say 'that meets your definition, so I guess all keyboards are also romplers' then you haven't really distinguished between the two.

I like using the knowledge and advice of others who have spent perhaps years forming their opinions, to save me time. I could sit here and read for 6 months, or work on sounds and sequences for 6 months. Or go read AFTER I've gotten some experience and have it mean a lot more to me. Or have a hit record and pay somebody else to do it. That's why the most knowledgeable people make the money they do. No one else has time to do what they've done. They invest their time making nothing, in order to have it pay off down the road. But I guess we all know that. It's a gamble. Time is money.
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Postby piRoN » Fri May 27, 2005 4:31 am

I like formal definitions, whenever possible. And if I can point to any keyboard on the market and say 'that meets your definition, so I guess all keyboards are also romplers' then you haven't really distinguished between the two.


I'm going, to hurt you, subtle.

I like using the knowledge and advice of others who have spent perhaps years forming their opinions, to save me time. I could sit here and read for 6 months, or work on sounds and sequences for 6 months. Or go read AFTER I've gotten some experience and have it mean a lot more to me. Or have a hit record and pay somebody else to do it. That's why the most knowledgeable people make the money they do. No one else has time to do what they've done. They invest their time making nothing, in order to have it pay off down the road. But I guess we all know that. It's a gamble. Time is money.


Am I the only one confused here?
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Postby stillearning » Fri May 27, 2005 2:35 pm

A rompler is a keyboard that is playing back samples of waveforms recorded into rom memory, instead of generating waveforms via circuitry as in an analog or a virtual analog. Some people do not consider romplers synthesizers in the pure sense of the word. Romplers are better at sounding like acoustic instruments because it usually is recordings(samples) of real instruments. Current examples are Korg Triton, Roland Fantom, Yamaha Motif, and Kurzweil K2661. In your price range, you will likely be looking for an older one. Now go forth and do some reading on this site, and other websites mentioned above.
As always, kindly allow for the possibility I have no idea what I'm talking about.
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