Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

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Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby ryandfl » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:56 am

Dudes,
Waldorf Microwave XT or Nord Lead 2(x) for a go to digital synth that I can control like crazy with a Monomachine sequencer?

I'm looking for all of the appropriate buzz words, but the thing on my mind at the moment is a "pure" kind of tone but not lacking in "character". The Nord seems to have a more focused/pure sound while the XT seems to have some more life to it. The XT also has effects, which is a sweet bonus. If they are very modulate-able, then that's a big bonus.
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby nathanscribe » Tue Mar 06, 2012 10:34 am

The 2x is a good synth, 4-part multitimbral and very easy to tinker with as pretty much everything is on the panel. I used to have problems getting mine to remember aftertouch routings after swicth-off, but apart from that I liked it a lot. The XT is a different beast altogether - wavetables are interesting. Despite the knobbiness though I found it a pain to edit properly, partly due to the fact that the features I wanted to tweak were always several button pushes away and hardly ever on the main panel - and partly because there's plenty to edit. Sounds great though.

It's just a matter of taste I think. Both do their own thing, both are good... the XT might cover what you want from the Nord sonically, so perhaps that.
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby samuraipizzacat29 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 1:13 pm

a big question is how confident you feel in your editing capabilities and how long you want to spend tweaking. the microwave xt is infinitely more powerful, but also a lot more difficult to control and predict. a nord lead is more basic virtual analog subtractive sound creation- but is limited by what it does (and doesn't) do.

in a microwave, you can put whatever single cycle wavs into it you want. a nord lead you are stuck. a nord lead is a lot more performance based instrument whereas the microwave can be for performances (and works quite well) but is more suited to studio work.

they're two very different machines and not really comparable in terms of sound creations. You'll get a lot more cross-breeding of timbres and evolving soundscapes with a microwave than you could ever imagine with a nord lead or any virtual analog (excepting maybe an1x - but that is totally different)
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby ryandfl » Tue Mar 06, 2012 6:52 pm

Hm, that's kind of a bummer to hear the the editing is not terribly intuitive or easy to access on the XT. The number of knobs was what first got me interested in it. Most of all I'm looking for something fun. I do want complexity though, so menus may be inevitable, but I want to main the vibe of "this is an instrument" vs "this is an OS".

Maybe some background would help you guys give me a recommendation. I'm coming from software and am slowing building up a Eurorack, so I have the expectation that everything should be modulatable. The Monomachine is my first and currently only digital hardware synth. I like the power of it a lot and think the menus are setup pretty darn well. The freely assignable 3 LFOs per channel are sweet, though I wish there were ADSRs to work with too. But my main issue with the MNM is the sound - it can be good and can be not-so-good. So I'm hoping to track down another digital machine that I'll primarily control with the MNM that sounds...better. A solid, all rounder to compliment the analog Eurorack.

So the Nord and the XT came to mind. I'm not that into Viruses. Any other suggestions?
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby samuraipizzacat29 » Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:10 pm

well if you're going modular (yes! that's my first love) then I think you're likely to be disappointed long term by the nord lead or anything that's basically subtractive in nature. it'd help immensely to know which modules you currently have and what your goal is for your modular. i.e.: are you planning to have lots of voices (vco/vca/vcf) or are you aiming for crazy modulations (maths, ar generators, sequencing/gates, triggers, clocks, etc) or timbres - filters, reverbs, delays out the butt? there's a big world out there :)

if you're going straight subtractive for instant gratification - go as cheap as possible. microkorg, bass station rack, micron, miniak, etc you get the idea. if you want a polysynth that's not covered by the monomachine or euro, then go for a "different" technology. i.e.: an1x, dx7, d50, m1, or a good rompler. maybe a juno 106, poly 800, jx8p would suit you?

I don't think you'd be disappointed LONG TERM by the microwave xt. It's just not as hands on as another simpler synth in the sense that you have to work to get something out of it, but when you do, it's totally unlike anything else. a nice complement to your current rig, but I would still add a basic poly synth of some kind. I'm a big proponent of the poly 800, you can never have too many of those.
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby nathanscribe » Tue Mar 06, 2012 7:40 pm

I'd agree that the XT is a long-term thing. I should mention that there are four user-definable knobs beneath the display, so at least you get the chance to easily tweak some of the more esoteric parameters when you've built a patch. Personally though, I found the Pages mode of editing more coherent than using the main spread of knobs on the panel - most of the obvious and regular 'synthy' controls are there, but enough is missing to mean plenty of page-scrolling is needed. After a while I think I might as well have been using a regular 2U Microwave, rather than a 5U XT.

Samurai's mention of other technologies is also good advice - if you're into modular flexibility and want something supportive and complementary in a polysynth, how about FM? The DX range, or their TX racks, are obvious candidates and can be tried out for cheap, but the SY77 is another powerful beast, with 2 simultaneous FM engines and 2 simultaneous ROMpler engines - and the samples can be used as FM operators, which adds to the potential. The 77 can be had for not very much money at all, and is a bit of a bargain at the moment.
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby ryandfl » Wed Mar 07, 2012 7:00 am

You guys are great.

As for what I have on the modular side - it's still very much a work in progress, but a VCOb, RS95, A-101-2, A-140, A-103 STG Wavefolder, Pittsburgh mixers, 132...3? VCA, the Doepfer spring reverb, resetable LFO, low cost midi to cv, and an ES-3 MKII for Expert Sleepers usage. I just dropped the Doepfer quad envelope and am planning to trade/sell an SEM20. Up next is a Maths, then I'm not sure what. A filter to replace the SEM20, vcas, more modulation sources. I'll probably try to alternate between a sound module and then, say, 2 supporting control/routing modules. I'm definitely into melodic stuff, but like nice blips and bleeps in the mix.

But what struck me as I got this far is how darn expensive the modular world is. I realized that go into it, but after experiencing it for a little while, I came to the conclusion that I should slow my euro roll and get a couple complete voices in the form of non-modular synths, which could cost the same as a Maths, a vca and a couple multiples. After having more of a setup to work with I can resume the euro hunt with some more patience and less crack.

Ultimately I just want to create some funky psychedelic stuff (think Spongle/Hallucinogen + Apex Twin + Pink Floyd) and have the ability to modulate, set things via midi and twist knobs like crazy. Without having a wall of synths.

So some of the FM machine suggestion just don't appeal to me due to the lack of knobs and hands on programming. I love the interface of the Juno 106 and similar machines. But I'm hoping to become aware of something that has that kind of tactile feel, sound at least almost as sweet, but have crazier possibilities.

What do you think?
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby nathanscribe » Wed Mar 07, 2012 11:58 am

Well, to generalise, any keyboard or rack synth will have some kind of inversely proportional relationship between features and quantity of readily-accessible controls. More or less. If you want lots of crazy potential, often it's buried in menus or behind a few button-pushes, rather than emblazoned across a massive panel smothered in twisty things. It's almost always a trade-off. Button-pushing is not necessarily any more difficult or less navigable if the interface is well thought out and you know what you're doing. For example, I had a mono Evolver keyboard for a few years but never found the interface very handy. Maybe that was down to the endless rotaries, I don't know. Also, the TX81Z used to faze me but now it seems very easy to get anywhere I want in it, despite the up/down yes/no interface and 90 parameters per patch. The DW-8000 has buttons and a data slider, which is a good compromise between ease of access to a function and instant tweaking - the DX keyboards have the same. Software on a computer has masses of potential but can be a cripplingly bad experience if you just use the mouse all the time. The problem is not going to lie specifically and only with a mode of synthesis per se, nor with an interface style per se, but with the level with which you are familiar with both those and the ease with which you can hop to the things you want to tweak at any given time. Even a decent mixing console, with one knob per function, would frighten off someone who was not familiar with the fundamentals of its operation.

If you want digital flexibility, there are hardware synths that give it, and if you don't like the interfaces provided you might be able to forge something in software or apply an external hardware MIDI controller with user mapping.

FWIW, Richard James used a fair bit of DX-7, particularly on the earlier stuff. A lot of the later 90s stuff started to use software - Max I think, but I don't know too much about that. I can't readily think of any hardware digital synth that would provide that level of sound mashing.
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby ryandfl » Thu Mar 08, 2012 5:33 pm

Hm...I don't think I know what I want at this point.

I do like some DX-7 sounds, but got pretty impatient with FM8 and imagine the DX would be work.

The feature sets of the Poly Evolver and the maybe the Viruses might be the closest to what I have in mind, but they both sound weirdly fuzzy and annoying in the top end to me.

Maybe I'll just stay focused on modular stuff for now.
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby samuraipizzacat29 » Thu Mar 08, 2012 6:14 pm

not that I recommend preset mongering, but a dx7 IS a lot of work - yet there are tons of presets in the yahoo group for anything fm based. just presets will keep you busy for years.

maybe a v-synth would work too..... v-synth xt...... 8-)
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby ryandfl » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:00 am

What do you you guys think about the Yamaha AN1x? I just read up about it a bit and am listening to some demos now. Sounds pretty good.
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby samuraipizzacat29 » Fri Mar 09, 2012 12:12 am

My digital synths are an an1x k5000s microwave xtk and technics sx-wsa1. Everything else digital is software, including FM's synths( at least for the moment). So, yes an1x is top notch IMHO. But....

An1x Is still not really a performance synth. It can be difficult to program. Yet, the fruits are well worth it, and it is also supported by a good software editor( for PC) and tons of patches. One guy on the yahoo list says he believes the machine was intended to be a cs-80 clone and you should hear his patches. All In all, you can make nearly any bread and butter type synth sound with an an1x and it will be at least believable. And from there, the more effort you put into it, it is gratifying. But it is a bear to work with at times, like all good things are.

I guess my advice at this point is just listen to the sound of demos, not the patches, not the melodies, but the SOUND, and go with what you think you like best and then don't ever ditch it until you're confident you know it through and through or at least know exactly what you don't like.

Or be like me and buy every poly 800 you can get your hands on and atomahawk mod them:)
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby ryandfl » Fri Mar 09, 2012 1:08 am

Innnteresting. It seems to have kind of a hyped up midrange though. At least that seemed like a theme in the handful of demos I just heard. Kind of a guitar-y sound to it.

Well based on my price range, sound quality and features, I'm leaning towards the Microwave XT. The only thing I'm nervous about there is its ability to do bread and butter stuff well, which I'm hoping to cover too. Not that I think it can't, I just haven't come across many demos of it doing normalish basses and whatnot. I did heard an awesome bass from a Microwave II, which is reassuring.

Any sound files you can point me to? Maybe something you've recorded?
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby samuraipizzacat29 » Sat Mar 10, 2012 5:31 pm

it's not a microwave xt, but here's a demo of a tabula rasa wavetable module I just pieced together the other night. It sounds a lot better than I expected, and especially in the sense that it adds a lot of flexibility to otherwise dull digital bass type sounds. I.e.: you can load a wave you like, add some other subtle differences to waves in the same wavetable, and then morph through the waves as you see fit to make really subtle basslines that really rip! and that's the same with any wavetable synth.

this demo is kind of all over the place and intended to demonstrate the full range of sound and not necessarily sound "like" anything. oh - and it's running through a vactrol filter so that makes for the extra beauty..... 8-)

that demo might just be proof that an analog filter makes anything sound good, so idk ;)

the background of this song (the nasal sounding distorted lfo modulated synth sound) is definitely an1x. it's a tweak on a preset.
Watch on youtube.com

the mp3s on this page are a great example of what "can" be done with an1x
http://home.arcor.de/richardon/richy2001/an1x.htm
It's really ticking me off, but there WAS a pair of youtube videos a guy did that were lucky man and fanfare for the common man that tickle my musical parts. Can't find them atm.......
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Re: Waldorf Microwave XT vs Nord Lead 2(x)

Postby Rick N Boogie » Sun Mar 11, 2012 6:13 pm

I don't think I can add too much to this discussion re: the synths themselves, but i would like to reasure the op that menu diving, while not optimal, is not all that complicated or unforgiving as it may sound. My big polysynth is a Virus, and like the the Microwave, a good deal of the "good-times" is hidden away in the menu's. But, they're so logically laid out, easy to find, and quick to edit, it hardly matters. It would be great to have a knob per function, but there are so many options, it would be impossible. It's both the curse and the blessing of these machines. They are capable of so much, but the compromise is editing through menu's. And, though you've said the Virus isn't for you, i think they sound splendid, as does the Microwave, which was on my radar as well. Complicated?, yeah, maybe, but after a few days exploring, it becomes second nature.
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