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Synths, synths, synths, let us talk about all the synthesizers

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 10:41 (nine years ago) link

They're great instruments.

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 10:41 (nine years ago) link

SYNTH FACT OF THE DAY: Despite performing what is called "photosynthesis", plants are in fact NOT synthesizers.

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 10:43 (nine years ago) link

do you a favorite synthesizer?

Are you an old school analog synth fetishist?

^ enlightening post (sarahell), Thursday, 30 January 2014 10:58 (nine years ago) link

Fave synth, that's a hard question. I like synths where every function has a knob you can twist, so let's go with that. The Yamaha CS-80 is my dream machine, though. The recent Dave Smith synths like Prophet 12 are good contenders for My Fave Synth as well.

Analog synths do sound great (I own a Microbrute) but some of the analog-fetishism (or rather digital hatred) can seem ridiculous for some. After all, it's the player that makes an instrument sound good, not the other way around.

Speaking of analog and fav synths, if I owned this synth I would be happy for the rest of my life:


DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:05 (nine years ago) link

I am interested in what envelopes and VCAs sound like, usually the first thing I do when I check out a synth is how "snappy" the envelopes can get, how nicely the VCAs and filters respond to it, the percussive qualities. Buchlas sound like "pk" then "pup" then "plup". ARP 2600s sounds like "clk" then "cluck". Rolands and new DSIs do not have any percussive qualities that are as useful as those synths.

Goblin Farrell (flamboyant goon tie included), Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:19 (nine years ago) link

I love the sound of FM synth + analog filters these days and have been tooling around with a couple of Mutable Instruments objects that are very interesting. Switchable tuning! turn a knob and it's real, it's Pythagorean, pretty cool stuff.

Goblin Farrell (flamboyant goon tie included), Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:22 (nine years ago) link

FM synthesis definitely needs a comeback

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:28 (nine years ago) link

My first encounter with FM synth (outside of pre-pubescent .cmf programming, and I didn't really get what was happening) (ditto a DX7 in high school) was with a Nord Wave, where it was suddenly like oh! I don't need to artificially create an overtone series? I really love the pairing of FM oscillators and analog filters, the Mutable stuff has been super fun. A friend of mine has a... Wave, PPG? what is it. Something like that. The big one. I played around with it but again the envelopes were mushy, it was all tone and no snap.

Goblin Farrell (flamboyant goon tie included), Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:38 (nine years ago) link

A studio I worked in had a CS-80 and it's not all that. When it came time for futuristic polysynth it was always the Jupiter 8-- which at this point has an equally ridiculous price tag

Goblin Farrell (flamboyant goon tie included), Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:40 (nine years ago) link

I know the CS-80 is mostly associated with Vangelis sounds although it is capable of more and may be not that great after all... but just look at that design! It seems like no other synth that came before and after the CS series has the same looks/design influences. As far as reliability goes.. at least it's not the PolyMoog.

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:47 (nine years ago) link

Actually, now that I think about it, the Polymoog DOES share some design similarities with the CS-80

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:51 (nine years ago) link

The CS-80 is surprisingly difficult to get into "dialling in" a sound, its interface isn't as intuitive later synths. Also tbrr I need MIDI or CV/gate connectivity, have the computer play the line while I work with the sound, and I don't know if that's a possibility for CS-80s (or if any owner would go for it if it was)

flamboyant goon tie included, Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:52 (nine years ago) link

I don't have much use for MIDI to be honest, sitting at a computer and programming notes, I am unable to work like that (and I tried). It just doesn't give me the same kind of joy that touching a keyboard while twisting knobs does. But it's helpful when I need to synchronize several synthesizers.

You can also buy a MIDI kit for your CS-80 at a bargain price of 470 £!

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 12:02 (nine years ago) link

Hmm, I get you. My process is this: typically I dial in a sound, record the take simultaneously as MIDI info and as audio, then save the patch (if applicable). When the song develops and suddenly I realize the synth is too glassy or too dark or whatever, or just wrong, I just feed the already-recorded MIDI info back into the synth and fix the patch in realtime. Not so fastidious, just an easy way to make changes.

A side note to this is that I've gotten so enamoured of my ARP 2600 that I rarely use any analog poly synths, I typically track each voice monophonically using MIDI-to-CV. The signal-to-noise on the ARP is so ridiculously low that you can track 10+ tracks of it and still have silence (provided you keep the spring muted). I love my ARP. I bought it with the money from a soul-destroying film gig several years ago, best decision ever-- though I'm told the Cwejman 2600alike is just as good/better (and cheaper and easier to service)

flamboyant goon tie included, Thursday, 30 January 2014 12:39 (nine years ago) link

I usually dial in a sound, play along to the track and slightly change the settings until it fits in well, record (often with a metronome) and hope for a good take or two. Sounds risky and not as professional as your method, but personally I don't like having all these "safety nets" while working on creative stuff. Having this slight tenseness helps me concentrate and evaluate certain synth sounds, mixes and parts more. Like, every part you record could be the last one of your life.

The ARP 2600 is awesome and I wish I could own one. In fact, I wish I could own every classic monosynth. I'm more of a poly guy anyway, although in our multi-tracking DAW age monophonic synthesizers work just as well for me.

Speaking of awesome monosynths, Soviet synthesizers are rarely talked about:




DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 13:12 (nine years ago) link

i was digital only for a few years but i'm getting into using analog synths more and more. it's baby steps, but i've been using a Microbrute (running straight audio) and i just got the Korg Volca Keys (controlled via MIDI).

i know a lot of dudes who are more into messing around with old gear and than they are into making records and i never want to be that, so i'm just getting hardware when i'm having a specific sound that i'm not satisfied with the digital version of.

speaking of, i really do think they both have their place...soft synths can sometimes cut through a mix much more easily.

haven't messed around with FM synthesis yet but i really want to, probably going to get NI FM8 to learn on.

festival culture (Jordan), Thursday, 30 January 2014 14:01 (nine years ago) link

"Always appreciate all kinds of synths and syntheses." - Synthfucius

Speaking of digital synths and new purchases - I'm about to get a Yamaha AN1x for 250 €. Way underrated VA synth in my opinion. And even if I don't need its sounds I can use it as a MIDI controller with velocity and aftertouch and whatnot.

Jordan, I agree with you re: creating music vs. farting around, but making bloopy shit can be fun and even cathartic sometimes.

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 14:08 (nine years ago) link

Anyone get a Microbrute? Looks pretty sweet, especially for the price.

I use a Prodigy that someone in our practice space owns, and I love it, but the newer Moog stuff is $$.

I also just bought Korg Gadget for my iPad mini, which is pretty neat. I cannot find a software synth that comes close to sounding as good as the Prodigy, though.

schwantz, Thursday, 30 January 2014 17:41 (nine years ago) link

Whoops just saw your post Jordan. What do you think of the Microbrute? Can you get big, squelchy sounds out of it?

schwantz, Thursday, 30 January 2014 17:42 (nine years ago) link

i loooove it, and yes. mostly i've been using it for thick saw basslines and square-ish leads, and lfo chaos. it's very intuitive imo.

festival culture (Jordan), Thursday, 30 January 2014 17:44 (nine years ago) link

Awesome. I think I'm gonna get one. I wish it had another octave, and full-size keys, but other than that it looks sweet.

schwantz, Thursday, 30 January 2014 17:45 (nine years ago) link

Unfortunately my main keyboard (Nord Electro) does not have pitch/mod wheels.

schwantz, Thursday, 30 January 2014 17:46 (nine years ago) link

Also, I got to play a Jupiter 8 on our latest record, and DAMN that is fun to play.

schwantz, Thursday, 30 January 2014 17:48 (nine years ago) link

Does anybody want to recommended sites or tutorials for gaining a practical understanding of synthesis? All I do is play with free VST synths at this point and I get the basics but I want to have a better handle on it.

L'Haim, to life (St3ve Go1db3rg), Thursday, 30 January 2014 18:11 (nine years ago) link

Also own a Microbrute - it's brilliant. The minikeys aren't as shitty as on the MicroKorg, allowing you play quite smoothly. And it can do anything from exquisite to big and squelchy.

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 18:13 (nine years ago) link

St3ve, check out the Synth Secrets series, should teach you a bit (start from the bottom): http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/allsynthsecrets.htm

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 18:13 (nine years ago) link

Oh yeah, I had started in on those Synth Secrets articles but gotten sidetracked, thanks for reminding me.

L'Haim, to life (St3ve Go1db3rg), Thursday, 30 January 2014 18:39 (nine years ago) link

i've had the most luck looking on youtube for either the VST i'm working with or general synthesis tutorials.

festival culture (Jordan), Thursday, 30 January 2014 18:55 (nine years ago) link

what are your favorite synths for bass sounds? that's the #1 thing I'm lacking right now. I've got an Oberheim Matrix 6 (I finally got it fixed!) which makes some really lovely & mellow sounds, and I also recently bought an MS-20 Mini but haven't done anything too ambitious with it yet.

charitable remainder unitrust (crüt), Thursday, 30 January 2014 19:01 (nine years ago) link

the Matrix isn't very good for heavy tweaking on the fly though

charitable remainder unitrust (crüt), Thursday, 30 January 2014 19:02 (nine years ago) link

read that as heavy twerking on the fly

bilbo bobbins (how's life), Thursday, 30 January 2014 19:03 (nine years ago) link

uhm, I think your MS-20 mini should be able to produce some great bass sounds, although I personally don't like the KORG Sound, it's just too.. "crispy" and "defined" for my taste.

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 21:04 (nine years ago) link

The MS-20 is a fabulous bass synth, probably the best currently-available combo going, in that regard? I always forget about it! So great.

tony...ahar...ding (flamboyant goon tie included), Thursday, 30 January 2014 21:40 (nine years ago) link

yay for fixed matrix!

my fave bass machines are juno 60 & pro one

i'm in a snit with vintage machines at the moment though since my really fucking expensive prophet 5 hasn't worked at all since i got midi installed

föllakzoidberg (electricsound), Thursday, 30 January 2014 21:41 (nine years ago) link

Vintage synths can be so uncompromising, that's why I like them

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 22:02 (nine years ago) link

Well, until they stop working of course.

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 22:02 (nine years ago) link

ha. it wouldn't hurt so much if it didn't sound so incredible when it's working

föllakzoidberg (electricsound), Thursday, 30 January 2014 22:12 (nine years ago) link

Speaking of vintage synths, I just realized how much 70's and 80's library music has this sci-fi synth soundscape thing going on:


DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 22:41 (nine years ago) link

So many broken synthesizers. ;_;

emil.y, Thursday, 30 January 2014 22:45 (nine years ago) link

Green Day - Boulevard of Broken Synths

DDD, Friday, 31 January 2014 10:18 (nine years ago) link

Actually I'm wondering: Has anyone here played a Synclavier?

DDD, Friday, 31 January 2014 10:20 (nine years ago) link

no, but if i did i would make it say jammin on the one

föllakzoidberg (electricsound), Friday, 31 January 2014 10:55 (nine years ago) link

I am fascinated/curious about what makes people say this or that synth is good for particular applications, or how to to understand the different character of different synths besides the dry technical details about oscillators and such. e.g. electricsound says he likes the Juno 60 for bass sounds but for whatever reason I associate Juno 60s more with string pads and like mini Moogs or Korg SH101s with bass sounds? Maybe those are just more obvious cliches?

L'Haim, to life (St3ve Go1db3rg), Friday, 31 January 2014 15:27 (nine years ago) link

Yeah, it's interesting since I always thought synths to be sonic all-rounders, even with their various configurations and designs. But maybe some people like the sonic capabilites of, let's say, an ARP Odyssey more than the capabilites of a Minimoog in terms of bass/lead/pad?/... sounds.

DDD, Friday, 31 January 2014 15:37 (nine years ago) link

personally when i say the 60 is good for bass it is because it has nice snappy envelopes and very tight but not wooly low end. it can do string pads well too though, it it a p amazing machine tbh. i appreciate it even more now after five years than i did in my initial rushes of excitement when i first got it

föllakzoidberg (electricsound), Friday, 31 January 2014 22:22 (nine years ago) link

also i have never played a minimoog or sh101

föllakzoidberg (electricsound), Friday, 31 January 2014 22:25 (nine years ago) link

i need to step up my pad game

festival culture (Jordan), Friday, 31 January 2014 22:42 (nine years ago) link

One day I'll type out my synth adventures but not today. I own a lot of synths. Maybe I will type it. Here we go.

Juno-106 - great entry level synth. Start here and end here if you plan to own house or children. Only issue is that the oscillators like to burn out, and replacing them involves ordering chips and soldering.

Juno-Alpha - teeny tiny, the B is velocity sensitive, super light, super durable, mine got the shit kicked out of it and it still works. There is a cool fifth- and sixth-stage on the envelopes, it's like an ADADSR, so you can make stuttery sounds. It is a pain to program. I bought a PG-300 (the programmer) from a guy who was looking at me like I was a sucker and then I sold it to somebody and understood what a sucker looks like. This takes a little effort to program properly but it's easier than a DX-7. It's good if you're somebody who needs to travel light.

Juno-60 - I think it's this one that has the miracle arpeggiator. Any time I want to do something arpeggiated I borrow one of these guys. I have never owned one but I use them a tonne. It receives clock in so you can send it pulses from Logic using beat mapper to live drum takes and have the arpeggiation stay in time. It also has CV-out so you can double it up with an ARP or a Minimoog. The "ensemble" function is famous and it sounds good, I never felt comfortable using it because any time I turn it on it's like "oh, that sound". This is a great synth and I'd own one except that I own a Jupiter 8.

Jupiter-8 - a weird synth. It's hella expensive, I bought it with a film score budget for a sci-fi movie. It is heavy (a two-person lift, really) and runs hot. The envelopes are too mushy to be really useful for percussion but they are good for bass and pads. I was working on a film where the director hated synthesizers, and he came by the house and kept asking for any noodles to be removed, he just wanted lame-ass indie piano/ukelele plunky-plunks. The Jupiter was the one exception, he loved the Jupiter. It does sound otherworldly, like The Best Synth Ever! But its arpeggiator sucks, it can't be controlled without MIDIfying it (and the kits are poorly reviewed so I haven't done it), it's not particularly routable, and it's too heavy and expensive to really be useful in any home studio. Mine is out on semi-permanent loan to a friend's studio until I get my own space for it, which will probably never happen. I don't know what to do with it, it's kind of like having a convertible in the garage.

Nords - they sound bad. There is something in that frequency spectrum that drives me crazy. Their pianos and organs sound "realistic" without sounding good, and they never sound good in a band. Nord synths are slightly better but still bad-sounding. All that said, I travel with and play a Nord Wave because it's light, it samples, the FM synths sound good, it's got built-in delay and reverb. You have to wrestle hard with these synths to make them sound good but the lightness, durability and usability makes it work it.

Nord Modular - especially these ones. Capable of sounding unbearably good. This is a DSP-run synth where you built a virtual modular on your PC and upload it into the hardware. Like, you drag and drop your modules on to an environment and connect them with patch cords. Super steep learning curve and, like other Nords, sounds terrible 99% of the time, but it worth it for that 1%. I am a thief, not a programmer, I download other people's architectures and tweak them. I have a Memorymoog clone on mine that is so precise in its emulation that it's uncanny. My Nord Modular is my DX-7 and my drum machine, what a great synth. Any time I need to do a shitty film score real quick I turn it on and the score is done.

ARP 2600 - my favourite synth ever, and the only one I use on recordings that I want to be proud of. It never sounds bad. The envelopes are enormously flexible, the CV modulation is amazing, you can build anything and get absolutely lost in creating self-generating patches. Sometimes if I have a houseguest I make a seagull + seashore patch and put it in their room. The spring is noisy but is fun to route sound through it and then back into other things. I am sending mine in to a synth spa in Savannah to get the ring modulator repaired and the connections tricked out. There is no HPF so you have to figure that out if you want to make hi-hats. There is no MIDI, but I use a lightpipe-to-CV converter; the added control of the Silent Way plug-ins is miraculous. I wish I was at home playing with this synth right now. Todd Terje says that the Cwejman S1 is just as good, better in other ways, and less expensive and that he's been using that these days instead of his ARP.

Mutable Instruments - I have a Shruthi and an Ambika. They are both totally awesome but I haven't found a use for either of them just yet.

I have a modular, too. I've lost a week of my life into creating beautiful, useless music with it, but haven't cracked it yet, made it feel like an instrument. I'll type about it another time.

flamboyant goon tie included, Saturday, 1 February 2014 00:26 (nine years ago) link

the 106 is weird, i can't stand the results i get from playing one, but other people seem to be able to coax really nice things out of it

föllakzoidberg (electricsound), Saturday, 1 February 2014 00:33 (nine years ago) link

I had a late night session with the TR-8S, and it's starting sink in just how powerful it is. Getting comfortable with setting parameter locks opens the whole thing up.

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Saturday, 19 February 2022 14:51 (eleven months ago) link

Synth dads <3

change display name (Jordan), Saturday, 19 February 2022 15:33 (eleven months ago) link


I’ve had my eye on a Winterbloom Castor & Pollux for a while but they’ve been impossible to get here until now. It’s great - a really versatile Juno-inspired dual oscillator.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Monday, 21 February 2022 22:20 (eleven months ago) link

beautiful, love the mixer and waveform sum outs, curious how the chorusing works in practice, post bleeps

adam, Monday, 21 February 2022 23:32 (eleven months ago) link

two weeks pass...

loving the minibrute 2s, it sounds really, really good, especially if you are into buzzy, distorted sequences. kind of reminds me of the classic korg synth (the MS20?). I wish there was a way to save patches, I keep finding really great sounds, but then can't resist tweaking then, and then find I'm unable to re-create them. I may just try to remember to take pics of them and attempt to catalog the pics somehow.

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Sunday, 13 March 2022 17:54 (ten months ago) link

I am moving into a new place that will have a detached garage (for the bikes / tools) and studio (for the ~synth zone~) building in the back yard that I have been given domain over. I am excited to setup the studio furniture from scratch. I plan on transferring over my standard Ikea DJ booth (2 x 4 Kallax on it's side + legs to get it to proper height) but am totally free to build / buy the desk / rack for my hardware gear setup. The center of my setup is the MC-707, and I've got a 61 key controller keyboard and a handful of other outboard kit (couple of td3's, electribeS, fx boxes). Should I put it all on one flat surface? Make some kind of tiered setup? standing desk or sitting desk?

sous les paves, Monday, 14 March 2022 17:17 (ten months ago) link

I have one of those Output desks, and I like how it has a big tray underneath for my keyboard. My back definitely misses my standing desk, though.

DJI, Monday, 14 March 2022 18:26 (ten months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Hardware is fun and cool, but lately I'm trying to save $$ and I'm diving into some VSTs. And holy cow, I want to strongly recommend Vital. I've ponied up for the "Pro" edition, but the basic version is free. The sound-design and modulation possibilities with this thing are utterly wild, and it's got one of the user-friendliest VST UIs I've ever seen (assuming you're already familiar with some synthesis basics).

feed me with your chips (zchyrs), Wednesday, 6 April 2022 14:18 (ten months ago) link

This guy has a bunch of cool hard techno videos featuring the Roland TR-8S, it's cool to see it in action getting stretched well beyond drum sounds


Muad'Doob (Moodles), Monday, 11 April 2022 18:21 (nine months ago) link

I recently downloaded the new operating system for the Elektron Machinedrum, not from Elektron. And it's really a beat. I went ahead and bought the little controller thing that also gives a more advanced sequencer.

Just more ways to make/program electronic sounds and melodies beyond the percussive sounds.

dan selzer, Monday, 11 April 2022 19:08 (nine months ago) link

Vital looks extremely up my alley, ty!

change display name (Jordan), Monday, 11 April 2022 19:19 (nine months ago) link

Wish I'd gotten a Machinedrum and/or Monomachine when they were just 'old' instead of 'vintage digital' and $2500-3000 each.

papal hotwife (milo z), Wednesday, 13 April 2022 06:44 (nine months ago) link

Ethics and vapourware suspicions aside, this really is the most extraordinary undertaking:


Behringer claims to have 50 synths in the design / testing phase, including a Polivoks, Kobol, LinnDrum, CS80, Solina, etc.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 13 April 2022 12:10 (nine months ago) link

Yeah I got my non user wave machinedrum when they were just cancelling it and it was like 600 bucks. The price immediately started climbing.

dan selzer, Wednesday, 13 April 2022 12:33 (nine months ago) link

Behringer’s desktop Solina String is the one I’m most interested in.

Surprised they haven’t floated something like a Farfisa combo organ in a MS-1 sized package.

papal hotwife (milo z), Wednesday, 13 April 2022 20:09 (nine months ago) link

Yep, the Solina and Polivoks, for me. Particularly as they are working with Vladimir Kuzman on the latter.

They’ve just announced they’re planning a $399 copy of the Buchla Easel 208….

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Thursday, 14 April 2022 07:58 (nine months ago) link

Hmm. Still trying to save $$ but that mkII Volca FM looks pretty nice...2x the voices and patch memory of the original, but in the same price range. Still kinda baffled that they don't put USB ports on these though

feed me with your chips (zchyrs), Thursday, 14 April 2022 20:13 (nine months ago) link

Ha, they finally added velocity to it too. I wish this had been a firmware update to the regular Volca FM, I'd love to have the upgrades but not enough to sell mine and buy a new one.

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 14 April 2022 20:32 (nine months ago) link

Surprised they haven’t floated something like a Farfisa combo organ in a MS-1 sized package.

Yamaha's Reface YC is pretty damn close to this. I kinda prefer it more than my actual Farfisa just because I know it'll work.

Elvis Telecom, Sunday, 17 April 2022 20:45 (nine months ago) link

I had a real YC for almost twenty years and forced myself to sell it when I moved across the country because it weighed like 100 pounds and I hadn’t used it in years. Instantly regretted it and will probably buy that Reface YC someday just for the comfort nostalgia vibes.

Like your Farfisa, the real YC would break a lot though!

SA, Monday, 18 April 2022 00:41 (nine months ago) link

I've had Vital downloaded forever but never really dove into because the interface was a bit intimidating/flipping through presets made it worse.

Started going just from the init patch and I really like it going easy on the modulation and macros. The text-to-wavetable ability + making an LFO stereo so you start in the middle of a wavetable and have it modulating in and out going the opposite way in each channel is a lot of fun.

papal hotwife (milo z), Tuesday, 19 April 2022 07:10 (nine months ago) link

Looks like Elektron are dropping something new very soon...


feed me with your chips (zchyrs), Wednesday, 20 April 2022 17:50 (nine months ago) link

Syntakt's probably pretty fun, but seems like kind of just a cobbling together of existing Elektron parts. Like maybe a slicker Model: Cycles mixed with a RYTM lite? Still using the old RYTM analogue engines too, which really need a overhaul at this point. Curious to see how it lands, but considering their big releases the past few years have been minimally upgraded re-releases of classics, the budget Model stuff, and now this, they're kinda not looking too inspired these days. I know some key (or at least public facing) talent has left these past few years.

circa1916, Friday, 22 April 2022 14:44 (nine months ago) link

Yeah it seems a little underwhelming, particularly given the 1K pricetag. I was hoping it would be a little more fully-featured for what they're asking. I think the budget Model stuff is good--I own a Samples and it's what got me into Elektron gear. Apparently Korg has been working on a "Drumlogue" with a similar feature set to the Syntakt, so maybe that will prove to be an affordable alternative.

feed me with your chips (zchyrs), Saturday, 23 April 2022 00:20 (nine months ago) link

two weeks pass...

New Oberheim for all the Van Halen tribute bands out there to really nail that "Jump" sound.

papal hotwife (milo z), Tuesday, 10 May 2022 21:09 (eight months ago) link


Being cheap is expensive (snoball), Wednesday, 11 May 2022 18:40 (eight months ago) link

I'm all about tiny budget synths, and those Rolands *look* very nice, but function-wise don't seem very interesting to me, since I don't really make acid techno/pick your choice of uptempo 4/4 dance music.

The new Polyend box (it's a sample-playback groovebox, so not a "synth" technically) looks very fun, but that's gonna be out of my price range for the foreseeable future.

feed me with your chips (zchyrs), Thursday, 12 May 2022 18:06 (eight months ago) link

Has anyone tried out Dreadbox Nymphes? It looks like it could be really nice.

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Friday, 13 May 2022 01:50 (eight months ago) link

three weeks pass...

ooh, the Eowave Quadrantid Swarm is one I might actually have to get, seems really good for making gnarly techno sequences

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Friday, 3 June 2022 15:16 (eight months ago) link

this mylarmelodies fellow can pretty much sell me on anything


Muad'Doob (Moodles), Friday, 3 June 2022 15:18 (eight months ago) link

three weeks pass...

Dawesome Novum is the most interesting granular plugin I've seen (not cheap or free but there's a 90 day demo) - it splits an audio file into six spectral layers that can be turned on or off or individual layers swapped out with layers for other sounds.

papal hotwife (milo z), Friday, 24 June 2022 02:01 (seven months ago) link

Very intriguing, it looks like what I wanted out of NI Form.

change display name (Jordan), Friday, 24 June 2022 04:10 (seven months ago) link

three weeks pass...

gear update!

still going strong with the Minibrute 2s, just incredible bang for the buck. I recently found myself with a bit of extra money, so I decided to add on the 6U Rackbrute and a bunch of modules, here's the rundown:

Eowave Quadrantid Swarm semi modular synth and sequencer - the build is a bit flimsy, it takes up a lot of space in the rack, and it is nearly impossible to get anything in tune (a quantizer might fix this). In a way, it reminds me of a 303 because it doesn't seem to do a bunch of the stuff it was meant to do very well, but it just sounds very good and is a great way to produce noisy atonal techno jams. I probably will move it to a stand alone case eventually if I need more room.

Mutable Instruments Marbles random sampler - I really like the idea of building grooves between several voices based on random sequences that I can then lock down. I've come up with some interesting things here and there, but it can be very difficult to tame it down to something manageable. I need to keep working with this one to find it's sweet spot. Possibly changing up the scales it uses could help.

Make Noise Maths function generator - this is just extremely powerful and helps dial in the exact right sound in all kinds of circumstances, pretty much can be used with everything. There are times when I expect it to do a particular thing and I'm not sure how to get it exactly right, but that just comes down to my own lack of know how. More often than not, it does a ton of work.

Expert Sleepers ES-8 USB i/o interface - this is very handy for sending audio and CV signals back and forth with Ableton, it is pretty much how I run everything. I send clock signals from Ableton to sync the various devices, and then send back the audio to record. It also allows me to sequence modular voices with midi from Ableton and Push, as well as send additional modulation signals. Finally I can send out audio from Ableton to use modules as outboard effects processors. The one issue I've had is that I'm very reliant on an M-Audio interface for general audio i/o including sending audio to my speakers. Windows does not allow you to run multiple audio interfaces at the same time. My workaround has been using Asio4All to basically kludge the 2 interfaces together, but it is very unstable and leads to a lot of crashes. I've more or less got it working most of the time, but will probably add in a CV-to-1/4" converter to send audio back and forth from the M-Audio interface instead of trying to run both simultaneously.

SSF Stereo Dipole filter - I originally wanted to get Mutable Instruments Blades because I love how smooth it is, but I guess Mutable Instruments is going out of business, most of their items are discontinued, so it's pretty much impossible to find for anything close to an affordable price. The Stereo Dipole was the one of the closest I could find in terms of functionality. It sounds utterly amazing. It doesn't have the same smoothness as Blades, and can get a bit screechy at points, but generally just makes everything sound better. I'm pretty much running every sound through this at the moment because it adds so much.

Intellijel Quad VCA - This is a very handy little mixer that also provides some nice overdrive color. Pretty much all patches have some combination of Maths, Stereo Dipole, and Quad VCA, plus LFOs and attenuation from the Minibrute.

Mutable Instruments Plaits macro-oscillator - I was very much on the fence about this. It seems to appear in every last rig you see, probably the most popular module out there. I felt like its sound was maybe becoming too much of a cliche and wasn't sold on the idea of a digital oscillator. I bought it for a few reasons: right now there are enough out there that you can snipe one for a decent price off Ebay or Reverb, it seems like it will be discontinued in the not too distant future and will probably have decent resale value then, it would make a nice contrast to the very analog sounds of the Minibrute and Quadrantid Swarm. Anyway, it sounds really good, and it was silly of me to resist. It has enough flexibility that you can dial in stuff that still has some uniqueness.

Make Noise Mimeophon delay/reverb - this is in the mail, will be a good addition for more effects processing, which has been a very important element of the rig for me.

Other possible future additions - CV-to-1/4" or something else to help manage my interface issues, maybe a Quantizer, a compact LFO source or sequencer, a drum voice. None of these is critical at the moment, but are more nice to have someday.

The final complementary piece of gear that I mentioned upthread is the Roland TR-8S drum machine. It isn't perfect, but it has been getting a lot of use lately because it is so quick to dial up a solid sounding beat. The classic sounds are of course all great. It has a parameter locking function (Roland calls it "motion") that helps fine tune my beats and add some extra movement, although it is not nearly as precise or flexible as what you'd find on Elektron gear. It also has limited capacity for sequencing samples, which I really haven't made full use of yet. It holds far fewer samples than I would have expected, so I need to take some time to really pick out a selection of the best ones I have. I would much rather just dump a bunch of stuff in there, but that isn't going to work. With all the drum samples I have in Ableton, I can realistically create beats on the computer that are just as good, but so far the Roland has just been quicker, easier, and less CPU intensive.

I'm very happy with the move towards a more hardware-centric approach. The bottom line is that I'm getting much more high quality sounds out of the rig than I can get using soft synths, and I can dial in what I want very precisely. I tend to come up with a few sequences and/or patches, then just hit record and jam out on them for about 10 minutes. Then I can edit down the recordings to some useable loops or just use extended segments if they sound good enough. This has enabled me to be more productive and actually get stuff done without feeling frustrated. Having decent sounds readily available just makes it all more fun and less like a chore.

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Wednesday, 20 July 2022 16:50 (six months ago) link

I think this will be the year I add one or two hardware instruments to my Ableton + Pigments set up.

― Muad'Doob (Moodles), Sunday, January 16, 2022 11:58 AM (six months ago)

lol "one or two"

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Wednesday, 20 July 2022 16:55 (six months ago) link

The Korg Opsix is on sale at a bunch of places for $330

papal hotwife (milo z), Tuesday, 2 August 2022 00:46 (six months ago) link

Yeah, I saw that - tempting, but I think I have enough stuff to keep me busy. Have I mentioned the Peak is great?

DJI, Tuesday, 2 August 2022 01:02 (six months ago) link

Damn the Opsix looks op-sick. Bye 8 I've been in a firmly software mode lately and it's been working for me.

change display name (Jordan), Tuesday, 2 August 2022 04:36 (six months ago) link

this looks like a great deal, I'd strongly consider if I hadn't just bought a bunch of gear and have zero space left

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Wednesday, 3 August 2022 13:34 (six months ago) link

synth night on Sky TV (uk freeview channel 11) next friday night (12th) with a Tangerine Dream documentary, then I Dream Of Wires, some New Order thing and then 2 hours of something called Rise Of The Synths

koogs, Wednesday, 3 August 2022 17:52 (six months ago) link

narrated by John Carpenter - ooooh

"The film explores the origins and growth of the electronic music genre known as synthwave" - ewwwww

papal hotwife (milo z), Wednesday, 3 August 2022 21:27 (six months ago) link

one month passes...

Korg Drumlogue, finally

Being cheap is expensive (snoball), Thursday, 15 September 2022 18:13 (four months ago) link

kind of cool...but kind of underwhelming. At that price point, I feel like the Roland TR8S is a much better deal. The custom osc thing will be cool, but it just isn't as feature-rich as the Roland. I feel like this should be more like 450 bucks or something.

dan selzer, Thursday, 15 September 2022 18:38 (four months ago) link

Anybody using a power pack and special cable to power Elektron gear?

I came up on a Model:Cycles and Behringer RD9 new-in-box for $475 yesterday. Dude I bought them from was a little older than me (late 40s) and living out of his car. Had bought a ton of stuff but lost his job/apartment before he could use them. I gave him an extra $50 because I felt bad for taking advantage of his situation. The RD9 is kind of superfluous in my setup and it’s a bummer that it doesn’t take Pattern Change messages over MIDI, but it is cool as hell and sounds and feels like a 909. The Model:Cycles is my first piece of Elektron gear and I can tell why people like them so much. It would be a really nice piece to take off the grid on its own.

sous les paves, Thursday, 15 September 2022 18:42 (four months ago) link

Regretting not getting an Opsix while the getting was good :(

Maybe in a year the prices will be down again, after everyone who snapped one up to resell it has done so

change display name (Jordan), Thursday, 15 September 2022 18:43 (four months ago) link


it should also be noted that the TR-8S recently added probability and a set of very customizable FM drums

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Thursday, 15 September 2022 19:21 (four months ago) link

I've been curious about the Model: Cycles, it seems like a good place to start with Elektron stuff because it isn't quite as crazy expensive as some of their other gear.

Muad'Doob (Moodles), Thursday, 15 September 2022 19:23 (four months ago) link

I have the Model:Samples! I love it. It doesn't really do anything I can't do in Bitwig, but it's just more fun to use.

I agree that $600 seems steep for the Drumlogue, but I feel like it's mostly cuz of inflation. If it had been released a few years ago it might have been priced more like an Electribe. Even the Volcas are creeping closer to $200

feed me with your chips (zchyrs), Friday, 16 September 2022 21:22 (four months ago) link

When I first plugged the RD9 in last week I felt a little bit of regret for the purchase..."This is nice but doesn't do anything I can't already do with my current gear...kind of a waste of $$$". After a weekend of playing around with it I now feel like it's the only thing I've ever needed and that I'm the next Jeff Mills. It's so much fun to play hands-on and pushed through a little FX it sounds great. The thing I get with the hands-on version that I don't with software versions or with just running samples of the 909 drum sounds is that it's combination of knobs and the different accent levels allow you to be very expressive and wring a lot of 'movement' and drama out of simple patterns that just programming stuff and letting it run does not.

sous les paves, Monday, 19 September 2022 21:00 (four months ago) link

Honestly I should have saved up another 300 bux and gotten a TR-8S but....

sous les paves, Monday, 19 September 2022 21:01 (four months ago) link

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