-=[THE SYNTH ZONE]=-

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

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

They're great instruments.

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 10:41 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=imuCQ3Do6lk

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

FM synthesis definitely needs a comeback

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 11:28 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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 (seven 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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IMpElp0a_Q

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rceP4hDkXi4

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hYEYzPW6mes

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

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

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

read that as heavy twerking on the fly

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

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

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

Well, until they stop working of course.

DDD, Thursday, 30 January 2014 22:02 (seven 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 (seven 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:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=di_HMqlO28E

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

So many broken synthesizers. ;_;

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

Green Day - Boulevard of Broken Synths

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

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

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

also i have never played a minimoog or sh101

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

i need to step up my pad game

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

which is the point of the module in a way but I'm not recording it or using it with anything else yet, just having it in the periphery while I mop or w/e

Joe Bombin (milo z), Friday, 12 March 2021 21:34 (one month ago) link

There's an E-Mu Emax SE in great shape with a USB reader installed on Reverb that I'm tempted to make an offer on with my stimmy bucks.

Joe Bombin (milo z), Saturday, 13 March 2021 02:45 (one month ago) link

Sounds tempting! Completely unnecessary, but still tempting.

DJI, Saturday, 13 March 2021 18:16 (one month ago) link

Hey synth people. What are some decent polyphonic synths that can be had for cheap? I've been eyeing a few in the Yamaha DX family. Basically just looking for something to learn piano on as well as to fuck around and get weird with.

I had been learning on this cheap-ass Casio thing that I inherited from my niece, but it's dead now and I thought I'd try to step things up a notch. Also tried a Korg Monologue for a while, which was a lot of fun, but I think I'm definitely better suited to something with a full-sized keyboard.

I dunno, just like "Oh, you're looking into the DX7? Well, be sure to check out a Bleepblorp 4000. You can get them for $200 less and it is whispered that they have the most exquisite bass sounds of the 1990s." or something like that.

peace, man, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 16:25 (one month ago) link

I wonder if the best solution would be getting a Volca FM (or another small synth like a Yamaha Reface CS, or one of the other Refaces, or the Roland boutique series, a Minilogue or another Volca, etc) and controlling it with a cheap full-size midi keyboard? I think anything with a full-size keyboard (Nord, Sequential Circuits, etc) and serious onboard synthesis starts to cost $$$$$.

Although back a few generations I used to have an Alesis Ion digital synth that was full-size, it was ok, wish I still had it.

change display name (Jordan), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 16:58 (one month ago) link

well what's important? If you want to learn piano you need something polyphonic, so that rules out a ton of things, like the Monologue. Also you want full-size keys.

It's not easy to find a nice cheap synth with a nice keyboard, you may be best off getting a good controller that feels good, keyboard wise, then use it to control your computer or any synths/synth modules you get down the line.

Are DXs even velocity sensitive? I don't remember.

dan selzer, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:06 (one month ago) link

thinking the same. There are great cheapish synths, I own and love the Minilogue and the Reface DX, though neither will win keyboard awards. The minilogue is only 4 voices so again, ok to play melodies and basslines and some chords, but not suitable for learning piano.

Reface DX is small but is more fun to use than a vintage FM synth.

dan selzer, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:07 (one month ago) link

Good thoughts - thanks! Any advice on choosing midi controllers?

peace, man, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:20 (one month ago) link

This might not be the answer you're looking for, but I find the Novation Peak super cheap for what it does. It's about $1k used, and it's got plenty of voices, subtractive and wavetable capabilities, a really gorgeous analog sound despite the digitally controlled oscillators, and very nice on board FX.

octobeard, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:22 (one month ago) link

The Peak/Summit are really great-sounding synths.

DJI, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:23 (one month ago) link

xp Oh def get a midi controller for the key action. I actually wish all synth models had module versions. Decouple that keyboard action from the sound generation.

octobeard, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:23 (one month ago) link

I'm getting a Mk3 controller too. Great for controlling software but also a sweet sequencer for MIDI/CV gear once you start down that path.

DJI, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:57 (one month ago) link

Oh wait I'm thinking of the SL Mk3. The Launchkey looks good too, but I don't think it has the sequencer.

DJI, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:59 (one month ago) link

The M-Audio Oxygen ones also work for (even cheaper) midi controllers.

change display name (Jordan), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 17:59 (one month ago) link

Another option is a low-to-medium end Roland digital piano (for learning piano) and then using it as a MIDI controller for VST synths. Lots of free and cheap VSTs that are incredible these days. All of the Rolands work over USB as MIDI controllers IIRC.

Joe Bombin (milo z), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 18:02 (one month ago) link

Cherry Audio has a few cheap synths that are great, Full Bucket in germany has a ton of wacky free ancient Korg emulations that are cool.

dan selzer, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 19:41 (one month ago) link

Yeah, the VST thing is definitely appealing, but it would mean investing in a computer that could handle that kind of thing. None of the computers I own are suitable.

peace, man, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 19:54 (one month ago) link

MIDI controller plus small synth module (Volca, Roland Boutique, etc) makes sense but it’s worth seeing what you can get used on Ebay/ Reverb.

I paid about £200 for a Roland Gaia, which is widely hated as the presets are all terrible, but it has a nice keyboard and is good enough for Grimes and Sadie Dupuis.

Scampo di tutti i Scampi (ShariVari), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 20:03 (one month ago) link

What's yr budget?

dan selzer, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 20:13 (one month ago) link

They've probably climbed a bit but I saw Deepmind 12s sold locally for $500-550 last summer, that's plenty of polyphony for chords+built in effects.

Joe Bombin (milo z), Wednesday, 17 March 2021 20:36 (one month ago) link

xp: My total budget is under $1,000. Preferably well under a grand. That's probably the biggest part of what attracted me to the Yamahas.

peace, man, Wednesday, 17 March 2021 23:23 (one month ago) link

A midi controller, an audio interface, an ipad, Korg Module (if you want to learn keys) or some other korg synth app (if you care more about synthesis), and an ios camera kit to hook it all up.

Dan I., Thursday, 18 March 2021 03:46 (one month ago) link

$200 used + $200 new + $200 used + $40 + $40

Dan I., Thursday, 18 March 2021 03:48 (one month ago) link

Interesting idea!

peace, man, Thursday, 18 March 2021 14:10 (one month ago) link

You don't even really need the audio interface in that scenario. You can do audio out the HP jack on iPads (not sure about the latest ones).

DJI, Thursday, 18 March 2021 16:03 (one month ago) link

And if you already have a new-ish iphone and don't mind having less screen real estate you can use that and skip the ipad too, so it's really just like $250 to get a midi controller and a synth/sound module app

Dan I., Thursday, 18 March 2021 16:41 (one month ago) link

For that route, it's trickier since they don't have headphone jacks. You can dongle out of the lightning port of the camera kit adapter, but then your phone loses battery pretty quickly.

DJI, Thursday, 18 March 2021 16:46 (one month ago) link

and of course BT audio has way too much latency for playing software instruments.

DJI, Thursday, 18 March 2021 16:47 (one month ago) link

Yeah, those kinds of issues is why I prefer the camera kit and audio interface approach. Audio interfaces are useful in so many contexts that it's a good idea to get one. I know people fetishize DAW-less approaches these days but I hardly ever use a DAW and I'm still constantly using my audio interface

Dan I., Thursday, 18 March 2021 16:51 (one month ago) link

What interface do you use with the iPad? I like the look of that Zoom UAC-2 one.

beard papa, Friday, 19 March 2021 08:40 (one month ago) link

if learning piano/keys is an important part of the equation, i'd recommend investing in a USB/MIDI keyboard controller with full-weight keys, and skimp on the sound modules (iPad seems like a good way to go) until you want to expand your synthesis firepower. weighted keyboards are considerably pricier (i think the cheapest start at $500) but i think the difference in feel/response is profound... maybe learning on a piano spoiled me, heh

davey, Friday, 19 March 2021 11:25 (one month ago) link

SYNTH LIFE UPDATE: Selling my old Reface CS to make room for some new gear. I'm jonesing to get an Opsix, but the $800 price tag feels a little steep to me. I really like the way that thing sounds though, and the patching possibilities are pretty wild.

Also considering the Modal Cobalt 8, Minilogue XD, and the Microfreak. None of which are FM like the Opsix, but the main things I'm looking for are: 1) robust sound design; 2) at least 4-voice polyphony; 3) compactness. I feel like I could actually go a long way with the Microfreak and some external FX. I'm not a big fan of that keyboard though. If anyone has recs or thoughts on these options, I'm down to hear them.

american primitive stylophone (zchyrs), Friday, 19 March 2021 12:08 (one month ago) link

ASM Hydrasynth Desktop might be desirable if a built-in keyboard is not a must

davey, Friday, 19 March 2021 12:24 (one month ago) link

About the audio interface, I'm really happy with a Steinberg UR242.

After 15 years with Presonus and Maudio interfaces that I always had to jump through hoops to get to connect and stay connected, constantly futz with things to try to avoid audio glitches due to DPC latency, and get random and not-infrequent blue screens (due to flaky drivers, best I could tell), it feels like a miracle to have an audio interface that Just Works and never, ever crashes or malfunctions.

Dan I., Friday, 19 March 2021 14:40 (one month ago) link

If you can afford it, a used Peak would be pretty sweet.

DJI, Friday, 19 March 2021 14:40 (one month ago) link

Also for audio interfaces, I think the little MOTU ones look pretty good.

DJI, Friday, 19 March 2021 14:41 (one month ago) link

This guy makes a bunch of cool tools for making glitchy live music: https://www.giorgiosancristoforo.net/softwares/

DJI, Thursday, 25 March 2021 16:24 (four weeks ago) link

(haven't tried them, but was recommended by a coworker)

DJI, Thursday, 25 March 2021 16:25 (four weeks ago) link

i used MOTU for I/O long ago and it worked very nicely. idk how the prices compare but Focusrite's latest gen has been great as well.

davey, Thursday, 25 March 2021 16:37 (four weeks ago) link

i fully endorse giorgio sancristoforo's gleetchlan software, it's like a bunch of wild max/msp modules that you connect together with a giant synthi style pin matrix. i like to feed 6 of the same field recording at slightly different speeds and just let it absolutely mangle itself. really fun.

adam, Thursday, 25 March 2021 22:00 (four weeks ago) link

gleetchlab that is.

adam, Thursday, 25 March 2021 22:00 (four weeks ago) link

I need to try his Stockhausen-y Berna app again, I couldn't figure it out the last time I tried.

Joe Bombin (milo z), Thursday, 25 March 2021 22:08 (four weeks ago) link

yeah i never got that one cookin

adam, Thursday, 25 March 2021 23:27 (four weeks ago) link

I'm never quite sure what's going on with Ciat-Lonbarde instruments but the Sidrax seems cool - like a Soma Lyra but less whalesong

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sUbYN1ezipg

Joe Bombin (milo z), Tuesday, 30 March 2021 17:35 (three weeks ago) link

Man, there are some people in my life who would LOVE that thing.

DJI, Tuesday, 30 March 2021 17:56 (three weeks ago) link

Well, I ended up going with the Microfreak, which I've had for a little over a week now. I'm having a blast with it so far, and it turns out I was wrong about the touchplate keys--I love them! Also I had no idea how cool the arp/sequencer on this thing is. You can make a psuedo-random repeating pattern with the arp just like on the Keystep, but then you can actually save it to the sequencer and tweak it from there. It's really cool for generating melodies and grooves.

feed me with your chips (zchyrs), Thursday, 1 April 2021 15:06 (three weeks ago) link

that sounds fun, the arp on the keystep is wonderful

adam, Thursday, 1 April 2021 15:29 (three weeks ago) link

Nice to see the Timecops using a Volca Keys to monitor Loki! pic.twitter.com/FsiuVA9Yhq

— Matt Colville? (@mattcolville) April 5, 2021

na (NA), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 00:06 (two weeks ago) link

Must not have been able to borrow the Eventide rack unit from Contact.

Joe Bombin (milo z), Tuesday, 6 April 2021 03:10 (two weeks ago) link


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