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.

Advice on Equipment.

Postby szoludko » Mon Apr 28, 2008 8:18 pm

Hello all. I have been out of the loop for the past 10 years and would like to get back into playing again. I will mainly play at home for my own entertainment but might possibly decide to play out.

I have been tooling around with the idea of doing a Pinkfloyd/ 70's synth rock type band. Basically anything that features moogs, B3's, farfisa, rhodes/clav/wurlitzer...etc.

I am prepared to spend some $ and am trying to decide what to get if I could boil it down to three keyboards and maybe add some modules later. The old stuff would be great ( I used to fix them for a living back in the day) but not practical.

From my reading(not playing) I have been leading towards the Kurzweil's and Nord's. They are expensive but I like to live by the buy cheap buy twice rule.

I love to have knobs and sliders. I can remember spending hours just playing with a sound and never learning the song. I also would like a weighted keyboard for the piano parts(and to get my fingers back in shape).
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Postby selkino » Tue Apr 29, 2008 12:19 am

Hi!

I also planning to learn piano, as I used to play on cello for years, and I begin to miss the sensation of playing music pretty bad nowdays.
Meanwhile I got tangled up with electronic music, so I decided to buy a synth to produce the music I think is cool.
So here's a few questions:

-How much is the minimum number of keys to learn playing on piano? 50?

-Are weighted keys really important?

--
I like every kind of electronic music, maybe electrofunk is my real number one, but just to name a few other: IDM, dnb, clever breakbeat, minimal house, electro, ambient and so on.
--
I would spend around a $1000 (~£500)
--
Or better just buy a good professional keyboard or digital piano, and buy a rack as well?
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Postby selkino » Tue Apr 29, 2008 10:01 pm

help us guys. say at least that it'd been discussed many times and YES you should browse all the 1000 search results because the answer is there..
please :)
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My opinion and recommendations

Postby Tiitu » Wed May 14, 2008 6:54 am

In my opinion, velocity and aftertouch are important, but weighted keys not so much in electronic music. However, semi-weighted keys feel better than cheaper systems. Just try yourself. For example, Tyros-2 has got a very good semi-weighted keyboard with velocity and aftertouch.

In any case, I'd prefer chromatic buttobboards like those in some accordions. There are these type of midi keyboards avalable, but unfortunately they are expensive and without velocity and aftertouch. Using a joystick, thumbwheel and foot pedals will help you to overcome this limitation, however.

If you are a guitarist by origin, then a Ztar is absolutely the best MIDI controller keyboard for you!

Otherwise, I would suggest you to get a good keyboard like those you can get from Korg, Roland or Yamaha. A single keyboard with everything built in is much easier, more practical and quicker to use than separate keyboards and modules. Later you may want to add your favourite modules and synths with integrated or separate keyboards, however.

My favourite modules and synths are: Yamaha Tyros-2 (digital), Oberheim Xpander (analog), Oberheim Matrix-1000 (analog), Roland MKS-70 (analog), Rolan JD-990 (digital), Waldorf Microwave (analog?), Waldorf Pulse (analog), Creamware Minimax (digital/analog emulator), Creamware Pro-12 (dig./an.em.), Creamware B4000 (dig./an.em.), Solina String Ensamble (analog), Ketron SD2 (digital orchestra module) and the future Solaris keyboard to be realeased by John Bowen in a few months. Check it!

You can find most of the synths here at www.vintagesynth.com and listen demos at www.synthmania.com .

Good luck and happy time with an interesting hobby or job.

Cheers,
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Re: READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

Postby NiMa » Sat Jun 07, 2008 2:43 am

oh child, I posted a "what should I buy?" then discovered this post, hope nobody minds if I delete-move it in here and answer a few of these questions...

I wrote:I currently have two (yes, only two, I'm just starting out, lol) synths, which happen to both be FM (the DX7, which I singled out because of its legendary status, and the DS-8, which I just bought on a whim) which are great for low metallic noises (like wa-clav) and strings (and FM brass, lol), and, in the DS-8's case, uniquely awful-sounding presets, but I feel that the timbre I really want could be better appropriated with an analog synth. (It annoys me how I'm getting a more appropriate sound out of my sample-based keyboard than either of my synths!)

I'm really thinking of bright, edgy, distinctly analog tones (a bit like the Fargo preset on PSR keyboards), and would like a preferably 61-key keyboard synth, MIDI capable if possible (but it's no big deal if it isn't), not too expensive used, and not too rare. I'm not a good programmer (with FM at least), so I'd appreciate a good factory patch set also.

I'm already looking at Juno-60s and Juno-106s, but have no idea /really/ what I'm looking for. As I stated before, I'm starting out and have little knowledge of synthlore.

EDIT: Polyphony of any sort if possible, but I could probably live without it.


1) Not much, about £300 maximum, and even then it would take me ages to save it. I'm just looking for something for when I can afford one

3) Synthpop/electronica. Somewhat 80s revival

4) Keyboard please.

5) Possibly.

10) That's me all right *sigh*

13) I like old technology, so yeah

12/14) I don't need anything capable of electric piano, bright metallic or bass sounds thanks to my DX7. I just think I need something a bit more analog as a lead.[/quote]
Born in the 90s, stuck in the 80s.

----

Current synths: Yamaha DX7, Korg DS-8
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Postby Box » Sat Jun 07, 2008 3:09 am

This is for NiMa (was posting in thread but it got deleted :P).

Only synth so far that I've purchased and loved to death has been the Roland JX-8P. It can do all your 80's sounds: pad, string, brass, bass, sfx, etc... It's programmed with a single data slider (programmer box optional but not needed), after awhile you get used to it and it's no big deal. Can be had for under $300 American (got mine $150 shipping included). It's 6-voice Analogue polyphonic with 2 DCO's, 2 filters (LP & HP), 2 envelopes (VCA & VCF), and VCA per voice. Also has MIDI. Fantastic machine for the money.

BTW, I like your signature. It describes me to a T; I also was born in 90's yet live in the 80's. :P
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Re: READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

Postby theduchessofdarkness » Mon Sep 01, 2008 9:03 pm

I would love some help with my synth search, i am overwhelmed by everything out there and do not have access to trying anything out without purchasing it. I have no shame as a newbie! I am a vocalist and violinist and although i have a lot of recording/mixing experience, I have not until recently had the budget to buy a synth. I stupidly bought a juno 106 on ebay this week only to find out when it came that it had dying chips that i do not even want to try to fix! I used to play on an alpha juno-2 and loved the sounds but i need something more versatile, powerful, and with more capabilites than that now.

Budget- total after tax/shipping- $2500 (and I am really fed up with ebay so this does not include auction prices)

I am into strange sounds,i like the analog/vintage sounding stuff but don't want to deal with repairs, into goldfrapp, kraftwerk, portishead type music (i know i know, that covers about every synth there is)

home studio and possibly live use.

need Keyboard, no rack units

I was excited when i first got the juno 106 because the interface was so easy! i need most of the parameters out in front of me, not buried inside menus. it also has to make sense-I have a korg EMX and have no clue how to use it because every button seems to double as another which really confuses me. I am an extremely visually oriented person and im new at this and would like to start out with something easy to understand so that i can let the creative part of my brain work instead of the analytical part.

gear i already have- electribe (that is too complicated for me), juno 106 (that is broken), and an E-MU usb interface with midi which i would really like to have the option of using when recording to computer. TC helicon voicelive. violin. ;)

As far as features go, I do know i would like something polyphonic (at least 8-note polyphany), has arpeggiator, has vocoder abilities, has midi, and pitch bender control thing
(dont make fun of me)

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR HELP AND NOT YOUR ELITIST SOAPBOXING ABOUT HOW IM NOT WORTHY OF A SYNTHESIZER BECAUSE MY KNOWLEDGE WILL NEVER MATCH YOURS
really, thanks to all of you helpful ones
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Re: READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

Postby Carey M » Wed Sep 03, 2008 1:08 pm

theduchessofdarkness wrote:I am into strange sounds,i like the analog/vintage sounding stuff but don't want to deal with repairs, into goldfrapp, kraftwerk, portishead type music (i know i know, that covers about every synth there is)


If you like sort-of vintage sounding analogue stuff, but don't want to stress about synth maintenance, a DSI Prophet 08 could be what you are looking for... Andromeda, maybe not (very complex machine).

As far as features go, I do know i would like something polyphonic (at least 8-note polyphany), has arpeggiator, has vocoder abilities, has midi, and pitch bender control thing
(dont make fun of me)


A real analogue synth will not give you vocoding abilities, so methinks a virtual analogue would suit you better. Korg Radias and Access Virus TI have vocoders, arps etc. I you are willing to get something sans vocoder, maybe a Nord Lead (really accessible user interface) or an Alesis Ion.

- CM
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Re: READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

Postby killanator » Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:32 pm

theduchessofdarkness wrote:I would love some help with my synth search, i am overwhelmed by everything out there and do not have access to trying anything out without purchasing it. I have no shame as a newbie! I am a vocalist and violinist and although i have a lot of recording/mixing experience, I have not until recently had the budget to buy a synth. I stupidly bought a juno 106 on ebay this week only to find out when it came that it had dying chips that i do not even want to try to fix! I used to play on an alpha juno-2 and loved the sounds but i need something more versatile, powerful, and with more capabilites than that now.

Budget- total after tax/shipping- $2500 (and I am really fed up with ebay so this does not include auction prices)

I am into strange sounds,i like the analog/vintage sounding stuff but don't want to deal with repairs, into goldfrapp, kraftwerk, portishead type music (i know i know, that covers about every synth there is)

home studio and possibly live use.

need Keyboard, no rack units

I was excited when i first got the juno 106 because the interface was so easy! i need most of the parameters out in front of me, not buried inside menus. it also has to make sense-I have a korg EMX and have no clue how to use it because every button seems to double as another which really confuses me. I am an extremely visually oriented person and im new at this and would like to start out with something easy to understand so that i can let the creative part of my brain work instead of the analytical part.

gear i already have- electribe (that is too complicated for me), juno 106 (that is broken), and an E-MU usb interface with midi which i would really like to have the option of using when recording to computer. TC helicon voicelive. violin. ;)

As far as features go, I do know i would like something polyphonic (at least 8-note polyphany), has arpeggiator, has vocoder abilities, has midi, and pitch bender control thing
(dont make fun of me)

THANK YOU IN ADVANCE FOR YOUR HELP AND NOT YOUR ELITIST SOAPBOXING ABOUT HOW IM NOT WORTHY OF A SYNTHESIZER BECAUSE MY KNOWLEDGE WILL NEVER MATCH YOURS
really, thanks to all of you helpful ones


i second the Prophet 08. All the important parameters are out in front of you. you really cant go with anything other than analogue or VA if you want all controlsr right there. 8 voice polyphony really narrows it down a lot.
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Re: READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

Postby nbellum » Fri Nov 28, 2008 10:19 pm

1. What is you budget? 400-600 USD including shipping

2. What are you into? (music, sounds, etc) I am looking to start an industrial/experimental synthpop/rock/metal band with 4 friends. One is a guitarist, one a bassist, one drummer, and one on a theremin. Something like Deadsy or Fear Factory or In Flames.

3. Live, studio, or personal home use? Live.

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

5. List what gear you already have. I have only dealt with software and midi keyboards/controllers.

I was looking at the Alesis Ion/Micron as my first choice but I am looking for other possibilities as well. Please help asap.
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Re: READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

Postby shrtyscott3 » Sat Nov 29, 2008 11:44 pm

1. What is you budget?
Ummm, no budget the MOST. Hmmm, 5000$.

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

3. Live, studio, or personal home use?
Live and personal home.

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

5. List what gear you already have.
None.
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Re: READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

Postby killanator » Sat Dec 20, 2008 7:10 pm

shrtyscott3 wrote:1. What is you budget?
Ummm, no budget the MOST. Hmmm, 5000$.

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

3. Live, studio, or personal home use?
Live and personal home.

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

5. List what gear you already have.
None.


Dave smith instruments prophet 08/poly evolver or a Nord lead/Nord wave would be good for you
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Re: READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

Postby robai » Mon Jan 12, 2009 4:18 pm

I primarily write electronic/dance music and have been in the market for a Novation Supernova. Ive been offered a Supernova II (24 voice) keyboard for $1200. Frankly, it's a stretch right now, and I really only have about $1000 to spend. Should I borrow $200 and just go for it?

Are the upgrades for the Supernova worth getting, because Ive seen them for a few hundred dollars.

Thanks.
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Im looking to buy my first synth, any suggestions?

Postby beats.bass » Mon Feb 23, 2009 1:15 am

I'm looking to buy my first synth, I'm willing to spend $420, If I can't find anything with that then I would probaby be spending $100 more. I just bought Live Ableton and I want a synth controller to be able to make hip-hop beats and electro mixes. I am looking for a keyboard since I am in piano classes. I would be using my laptop without an audio interface because I still don't have enough money. I was about to buy Microkorg but I have been reading reviews an I got discouraged, I also wanted a synth with faders. Is a led screen neccesary if I am a beginner?
My friend has a novation sl-25 is this a good choice for a first synth? I am open to any suggestions, I really need help on this to make a right decision.
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Re: Im looking to buy my first synth, any suggestions?

Postby Yoozer » Tue Feb 24, 2009 7:58 am

beats.bass wrote:I just bought Live Ableton and I want a synth controller to be able to make hip-hop beats and electro mixes.

http://www.zzounds.com/item--NOVXIO25 would be the best option; I don't think there's anything that's a lot cheaper. Yes, it's above your original budget but it solves 3 of your problems (MIDI controller, synth, audio interface) at once.

I also wanted a synth with faders.

Can't have it all.

Is a led screen neccesary if I am a beginner?

The screen has nothing to do with it, really. It just means that adjusting the settings for the controller (velocity curves, MIDI channels, etc.) is supposed to be easier, but you usually do this only once and most modern controllers have computer editors to do this with.

My friend has a novation sl-25 is this a good choice for a first synth?

It's not a synth. A controller keyboard generally has no built-in sounds; the Xiosynth is an exception that does.
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