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Thread: A question for musicians

  1. #51
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Re: Hydrasynth
    Bloody hell, it's £1,299. That is out of my price range.
    Well we were talking about it because it's brand new. The other upcoming one we were talking about was the UDO Super 6, but the pricing for that was even worse, over £2,000. I mean these are fun just for watching their demos. I only ever get used cheaper equipment myself.

    If you're looking for something more economical, the first one that comes to mind is what I just mentioned, the Minilogue. You can allegedly find it as cheap as $350 usd/£280, maybe even less used.
    For the price it's great. Well it was great when it was still $500. I almost bought it new then.
    It's made for experimenting and playing with, very old-school tactile, wysiwyg, easy to control sounds, easy workflow.
    This video puts it in context: Minilogue 2-YEAR Review - IS IT STILL WORTH GETTING?

    I found this video on budget older synths which is tempting me too--
    Synth Price Drops: 5 Used Synths Going Down in Price .
    That video makes the Deepmind 12 stand out in comparison.
    That shines with the "wall of sound" you can make with all the voices going; everything is patches in menus, though, no console workflow.

    It's all about what you want to focus on.
    The Roland System-1 looks awesome and has a great and intuitive interface where everything is where you can see it.

    Edit: While I'm posting demos, the recent Moog Matriarch demo was practically a religious experience for me.



    It shines with the creative arpeggiators and how easily you can make a good sequence and play with it in real time. The budget version is the Grandmother, similar features with less voices, which is featured in that video above.

    Yes it's hard to make a decision. But we're in a special time with all of these choices, and all of them are great in their own way. So I can't complain. You just have to find the one that speaks to you. Think about how you like to spend time playing with a synth and which one shines in that respect.
    Last edited by demagogue; 17th Sep 2019 at 08:04.

  2. #52
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    The UDO sounds very good, but yeah, it's out of my price range. The Minilogoe is very tempting. Anything labelled Moog will almost automatically make me drool like a Pavlovian dog, and that Matriarch sounds awesome.

    It seems I have some thinking to do.

    Thanks for the suggestions.



    [Edit]

    The MicroBrute seems more more achievable to me, and in that video, that guy is pretty much saying in plainspeak what I'd use it for, hard sequenced basslines and noisy crap. But perhaps it'll prove to be a little bit too limited over time.

    One reason I made this thread is that I've not really paid attention to new hardware for the last 12-odd years, so there's a lot for me to catch up on, stuff you may think is obvious, I probably missed.



    [Edit again]

    For reference, once, a few years ago (*cough cough* 26 *cough*) I very nearly bought a Korg MS-20. It seemed like such a cool old machine at the time. It was already old, but it seemed to have so many possibilities. The only reason I didn't buy it at the time was a lack of money. It was even owned by a band I'd seen using it live on stage, Stahlwerk 91 (a synth tribute act, ranging over many genres, both hilarious and awesome), with beer caps to replace broken knobs. I toyed around with one (not theirs) and I really wanted it. But as a lowly student, I decided it was probably more important to eat that year than get a new toy.

    The hardware I already own, but is mostly in another country, is as follows:

    Roland Alpha Juno-1, I have two of those, and the MKS-50, the rack version. So three. I like that sound. One Juno is with my brother the actual musician, the MKS is here with me but I don't think I've even powered it up yet since I took it here 4-5 years ago. It's needs a keyboard controller and MIDI cables, and I've been too lazy to deal with that. One Juno is in a box.
    Roland Juno-60, awesome bass, but no MIDI, but I got a converter for that. My brother the actual musician has borrowed that for the last 10 years.
    Korg Poly-800. It was cheap, but it does some stuff pretty well. Again, brother has it.
    Roland D-110, rack. Annoyingly tedious to program, but I've used it on so many tracks and tried to bend it to my will, and make it do what it isn't supposed to. Sometimes you just find the limits of your hardware, and I certainly found them on this. In a box far away.
    Yamaha TG-55 rack. Fairly decent thing that I used lots, but it took ages to program. In a box.
    Yamaha TG-77. The cooler more versatile version, which I haven't actually used much yet. In a box. Better than the 55 because it has so many FM options I've not yet explored.
    Akai S-700 sampler. Decent machine, but terrible storage media, 2.8" floppies, I spent more money trying to track down this obsolete floppy format than I did on the machine itself. Turned out it was only used by this machine and old word processors. If at least it had only been 3.5", they were everywhere. Gave it away when I moved to Scotland. And all the floppies. Hundreds of samples. Maybe the guy I gave it to can never again find more 2.8", but at least he now has a vast library of drum machines and noises. I was very thorough back when I had a brain.
    Akai X-7000. Keyboard version of the same sampler. Same problem. Same solution. Gave it away.
    Nord Micro Modular. Probably the coolest bit of gear that I own. Got it with me here, but I haven't used it lately for the same reason as the MKS, need cables and a controller.
    A four octave controller keyboard I can't even remember the name of now, but with 8 assignable knobs that I could map to important settings on my Nord, the two of them made a great pair. In a box. It might be the next thing I bring with me to Scotland. No onboard synthesis at all, but lovely knobs. That is not a sex joke, it just sounds like a Carry On double entendre.
    Zoom RhythmTrak RT-123 drum machine. Pretty good for quickly getting things down, but terrible for syncopation. Got it less than two feet away just now.
    Yamaha CS1x virtual analogue, given to me for free by one of my Scottish friends. It is so far my only current main controller keyboard, and I haven't fiddled around too much with the onboard synthesis just yet, I've only had it what, four years..? It's 5 octaves and a bit too big and clunky to move easily, but it helps me to get chords and melodies down.

    So you see, it's mostly 80s/90s digital crap, with a few exceptions. No wonder so many of them are in boxes in a country far, far away.

    The thing I've used recently is an Android app called Caustic. It lets me do several things fairly easily, but is also quite limited in other ways, hence my urge to buy new hardware.


    [Edit yet again]

    I very nearly forgot. As a fan of the Juno-1, many years ago when I still had a functioning brain, I wrote a program for a PC to save MIDI data and store patches. Suddenly I had unlimited storage and could save all my noises, and was no longer limited to the 64 onboard patch saves. This section means nothing for the theme of the thread, I just want to point out that, many years ago, I wasn't quite the moron I've become over the last 20 years of CFS, and my brain could actually do useful things. I'm way too thick for that stuff now. I miss my brain. Maybe some day it'll send me a postcard from wherever it is, and we can reminisce about the time we spent together. Good times. We got a lot of work done.
    Last edited by Gray; 17th Sep 2019 at 15:11.

  3. #53
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    That Juno 60 is likely worth a fortune now; you should get it back! I’ve got a Minilogue, and I love it, but you sometimes have to work around the four-voice limit. Otherwise it’s very versatile and fun to play with, and they just released an upgraded version with some nice extra features. I also have the MS-20 reissue, and it’s one of my very favourite things for making drones and vintage-sounding leads. I’ll never part with it. I’ve made entire tracks with it.

  4. #54
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    Perhaps "fortune" is overstating it a bit, but it's probably gone up a bit. If I asked my brother for it back, I'd get it, he's very reasonable, but also in a different country. On the other hand, he knows that when I die, he'll inherit it, so... cue Columbo style plots.

    I'm still leaning towards the Roland System-1, or the Reason softsynth, I just have to decide if it's worth it given my apparent lack of talent.

  5. #55
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain

    Boom. Pssth. Boom. Pssth.

    I made a more concentrated effort on 6-to-8, and retitled it to suit what I was thinking as I was working on it. It's now called Small Boat, Big Waves, and I hope will evoke images of someone in a small rowboat struggling against a storm to get back to shore. Maybe that's not what you hear, but that was the intent. I'm not perfectly happy with it yet, I need to tweak a few bits here and there, but it's more resembling a proper song now. Except without singing. It's quite tricky to get the distortion levels just right, the dials are very sensitive. I took on board some comments about the piano, and I tried to fix it, you tell me if I succeeded.

    Here it is. Small Boat, Big Waves.

    I'd still like to add some guitar to it at key moments, but I haven't got one at the moment.

    [Edit]

    As I listen back to it now, the noisy drum break at the end isn't noisy enough, it sounded better in my headphones, I need to fix that and make it sound worse.
    Last edited by Gray; 28th Sep 2019 at 11:04.
    Boing. Peng. Boom-Tschak. Peng.

    System Shock 2 Walkthrough

  6. #56
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    I wasn't gonna post this new track I made last night, until my brother the actual musician persuaded me to.

    Last night I was watching a BBC documentary on Steve Reich, Philip Glass, John Cage, Karl-Heinz Stockausen etc, all those guys that inspired me way back, and I was yet again inspired, so I started to fiddle around in Caustic. Only a few minutes in, I lost track of my purpose, and it came out more like a poor man's Autechre wannabe thingy, but I still liked it and kept fiddling with it. I'm quite pleased with it now. It's not what I intended, and some details still need to be fixed in the next version, but I'm not yet ashamed of sharing it with you. It's another one-chord rhythm-based lengthy piece of crap, I tried to make it more melodic but that just somehow made it worse, so I deleted that. Or perhaps I should say it's noise-based, the rhythm takes the backseat to how the sounds actually sound. In v2 I'm very annoyingly proud of just how the distorted bits, um... distort. Like a proper music nerd, little bits like that are quite important to me for some reason. The bit I'm the most annoyingly smug about is actually the title. It's four jokes in one. It came to me in a dream as I was sleeping, after having finished most of the track, and bam! Of course! That must be the title! Is it Autechre? Näe.

    https://soundcloud.com/user-188042036/nae-v2

    Now proceed with the mocking.




    [Edit]

    I only now realise the comedy potential of starting this post in a Scottish accent, saying "I wasnae gonna...". Curses! Too late for that joke. It would have made five. It would have topped my single-word sarcasm joke of four in one. Ach, well, ye cannae win them all...


    [Edit again]

    Oh yeah, and about that Juno-60, tonight I donated it to my brother, the actual musician. He's been using it for years anyway, and probably can put it to much better use than I can. And they're both in the same country which kind of helps.
    Last edited by Gray; 4th Nov 2019 at 14:14.

  7. #57
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    I'm super late to the party here, but totally down for talking synths any and every day.

    In case anyone is interested purely from a nerd perspective, my setup is:

    Access Virus TI
    Prophet 6
    Novation Nova (rarely used these days)
    Behringer Neutron (amazing for the price - highly versatile)

    On the software side, I use:
    Native Instruments Komplete 12 (covers pretty much everything you'd ever need in truth, so long as you have the CPU oomph to spare)
    Arturia Pigments
    IK Syntronik
    GForce M-Tron
    Ozon Iris 2

    I've previously owned:
    Roland D-50
    Korg DW-8000
    Roland XP-60

    I produce in Ableton Suite 10 (which in itself contains most of what you'd ever need to make great sounding music)

  8. #58
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    Quote Originally Posted by faetal View Post
    Ableton Suite 10
    Interesting. I've been recommended the very same thing by a guy I trust. Would you say it's a good piece of software? Versatile? What exactly do you do with it? My friend is a DJ and only uses bits of it, not using its full potential, I'd like to hear more from someone who uses it more.
    Boing. Peng. Boom-Tschak. Peng.

    System Shock 2 Walkthrough

  9. #59
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    I find it great to use - really easy and intuitive audio routing. Great stock plugins. Doesn't bother with the whole skeuomorphic thing, so the interface is really clean.
    I'd recommend getting the lite version from somewhere - I may even have a key you could use if you are interested.

  10. #60
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    Can you please elaborate a bit on exactly what you do in Ableton? I still have a very fuzzy idea of what it does, I just hear good things about it. Can you perhaps walk me through how you'd write a song in it?


    If it is what I think it is, maybe it's the tool for me. What I need is a virtual synth with various different modes of synthesis, a range of drum machines, a stack of FX, MIDI, and an ability to import/export samples. Can it do all that? I'm pretty sure Reason can, which is my comparison for this. Ableton is a bit pricier, so perhaps it can do more, I don't know yet, which is why I'm asking.

  11. #61
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I produce on Cubase, mostly just because it came on a USB with my Mox8. (Back in the '90s and early 2000s it was Cakewalk, but that's kind of a dinosaur now.) I used Ableton and Fruity Loops before, but they never really stuck. But I think it's just a matter of using what you know best. Once you know the UI you can do a lot more even with a lot less.

    Cubase is really pared down and simple for me. I've got VSTs I like, my favorites being Absynth and Modo Drum, and I'll just hook them to my keyboard through Cuebase and play them directly into a track. And the native patches for the Mox8 sound good. (I'm just now realizing the synth options on the Mox8 are also pretty versatile, which I had no clue about until very recently. It has atrocious UI, but if you dig there's a lot in there.)

    Then I'll just play in music track by track. If there's a sequencer, I don't use it. And there's quantization which I don't really use either. Like if there's a thubbing base line, I'd sit there and just literally thub the key every time in real time. At best sometimes I'll just drag in a sample whole cloth, like a drum track, and just copy/paste it in a long ass line, with bloc fills and alt versions interspersed.

    In that respect I'm old fashioned maybe, but I like just looking at all of the tracks and wysiwyg. IMO it makes my music a lot more improvisational, more likely to have flubs, but at least more unique sounding.

  12. #62
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    Your method is quite different from mine. I'm quite untalented, so I need stuff like sequencers and quantization. If I was just to record using my actual hands it'd come out like crap, I'm clearly not a gifted musician. I see myself as, um, I hate to sound pretentious but I will anyway, more a composer than a musician, in the sense that I dream up stuff in my head that I can not actually play, and try to make machines do it for me instead. I lack the manual dexterity to perform well, my main instrument is keyboards but I suck at that, and when trying to learn how to play the guitar I quickly realised I'm a much better keyboardist. So, what I would need is some convenient software that can do that. However, the more I look into what my options are, the more I'm seduced by the idea of getting the Roland System-1. Not only because it sounds awesome and can do all sorts of neat stuff, but also because it will force me to play it with my actual hands. I know I suck at it, but that is sometimes how I come up with the melodies I like and the backbone of a song. Perhaps it will force me to take a different approach on how to make music. Or more likely, just be another expensive toy that I will find new and dull ways to suck at. I'll have to ponder this for a while. Perhaps it'd be wiser to get Ableton or Reason instead. I'll have a think.

  13. #63
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    stop telling yourself that you suck, thats the first step to greatness!

  14. #64
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I should add that I don't think continually thubbing an electric baseline in real time is actually a good idea. I think I probably should be using a sequencer and quantization but, you know, old habits die hard. There's always new things to learn, if you want to put it that way.

    That's something I love about music. No matter where you are, there's always something you can be doing to learn more and develop yourself. It's a bottomless well.

  15. #65
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    When I say that I suck, it's because I mean it. I've been making pretty bad music for over 3 decades, and I know that I'm not talented. The main reason I keep saying I suck at it is because I want to make it perfectly clear that I'm not one of these clueless, deluded pretentious fools who think they're the next rock star. That's not me. That was my bandmate back in the 1980s. I know that whatever I can come up with will be mediocre and a mishmash of whatever stuff that inspired me, it will never be original and groundbreaking, and I'm fine with that. I just make music to please myself and nobody else. By saying early that I'm terrible is my way of not getting people's hopes up whenever I post new stuff. I may love how it sounds, that's the whole point, but chances are nobody else will. Hence the frequent sucking mentions.

    Right now, I'm working on v3 of Näe, and I'm really in love with the new and improved noise level of the bass growl, but I seriously doubt whether anybody else will notice the change or care. I'm making it for me. If someone else likes it, good, but I'm not expecting it.

    [Edit]

    Right, v3 of Näe is up. To the casual observer, it's not better, just longer and more tedious. To me, I'm getting really pleased with how I got the bass growl to distort the way I want it to. I keep turning up the distortion FX every time, until it sounds too horrible, then have to dial it back down a bit. I'm very pleased with it just now, but for v4 I might yet again go nuts with it. Also there's some added crap near the end that almost nearly has a melody, but don't get your hopes up. It's just more of the same old shit.

    https://soundcloud.com/user-188042036/nae-v3
    Last edited by Gray; 18th Nov 2019 at 15:08.

  16. #66
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Well I've just found a new drug, VCV Rack.
    I have like 800+ modules already downloaded, and the crazy thing is they're all open source and freeeee.
    I've already got ideas to make some of my own.
    I'm not making too much music with it yet, or let's say I'm making a lot but it's still kind of bland, but I'm learning a lot and it's amazo-fun!
    This is what someone that knows what they're doing can do with it.


  17. #67
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    Quote Originally Posted by Gray View Post
    I'm a shit keyboardist, I'm not a performer, more of a sound technician and programmer. I can only pretend to be an actual musician for so long, but give me a noise machine with knobs and I'll twiddle away until I starve to death.


    Last edited by Jason Moyer; 25th Nov 2019 at 09:59.

  18. #68
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    VCV Rack is a lot of fun to play with, and I feel like I'm learning a lot.
    But it's also hard to get nice patches out of it, or I just haven't learned enough yet.
    Anyway, this one turned out not-completely-awful, kind of wistful even.
    This isn't me playing directly. Everything is being run by the patch, well, except the drums are sampled in.

    https://soundcloud.com/user9513654/i...-you-had-to-go

  19. #69
    Administrator
    Registered: Sep 2001
    Location: above the clouds
    Quote Originally Posted by Gray View Post
    Can you please elaborate a bit on exactly what you do in Ableton?
    I've tried it a few times - it was invented by the two guys who started Monolake if you're familiar with them. They created their work by having everything running live in the studio and fiddling with parameters in real time so Live is actually a software creation coming from their way of working.

    The unique thing about it is that you can set up a bunch of looping clips and combine them in different arrangements without using a typical timeline sequence where you have to place regions in a line. I suppose the best thing is to watch a tutorial video to see that part of it.

    The other unusual bit is the warping tempo thing that makes it easy to shove loops into the same tempo an tuning.


    My experience is to be wary of jumping between software because it's more important to actually create something than worry about what you're working with. These days everyone is overwhelmed for choice with music software and sounds.

  20. #70
    SShock2.com
    Member

    Registered: Apr 2001
    Location: The land of ever sideways rain
    Right, I have some news.

    It's lengthy, but please bear with me, it will only be dull and pointless until it ends.

    A couple of months ago, my stepson asked me about vocoders, and sent me a weblink to a thing he wanted to buy. It was a Talk Box. Granted, they can sound vaguely similar, but the nerd in me wanted to make sure he didn't buy the wrong thing, so I went into a lengthy rant about the difference between vocoders and talk boxes. I sent him links with examples of songs using one or the other. I elaborated in tedious boring detail what a vocoder is and what it does, and what a talk box is. Just to prove my point, for the first time since moving to Scotland 8 years ago, I dug out my old Nord Micro Modular to show off the vocoder programs, but then I realised my microphone was in a box 1137 miles north. So, I bought a new, cheap microphone. I spent ages trying to get everything connected and working, and you know what, for the first time in a long time, I really enjoyed tinkering around with a vocoder, albeit a fairly basic one off the Nord, not a proper dedicated one. More on that later.

    Turned out, he was itching to express himself musically, but didn't have the tools to do so. So I suggested he'd get the quick and easy app I use on my tablet, Caustic. It's very convenient to get ideas down very quickly. I don't have a tablet, he said. Aha. Mental note.

    Fast forward to x-mas. I got him a tablet, and the £5.99 it takes to register Caustic. Two days in, he knew more about the app than I do. He's a fast learner and a clever boy. He showed me how to work things on it I hadn't figured out yet after only using it for two years or so.

    New Year's day. Hung over. Listening to Nitzer Ebb, watching all of these end-of-the-year summaries of how awful 2019 was, and all that was wrong with it. Sure, it was awful. But one phrase stuck in my mind. "it was better in the olden days". No it wasn't. I'm old enough to remember, and it was shit. So an idea formed in my head. It wasn't better in the olden days, but it is much worse now. Hey, that sounds like a song Nitzer Ebb never made. I'll write that, and in Swedish.

    So that's what I've been doing for the last two days. I've got all the lyrics done, and the music came to me instantly, all within just a few hours, this is the fastest song I've ever written. Granted, it's kind of a jokey mock-EBM track whining about stuff with a lot of shouting, but the whole concept came to me so quickly, I'm not used to that. Now I just have to get down to the hard graft of putting all of those elements together in what may pass for an actual song. I'm really pushing my limits here, I'm not a singer, or vocalist of any kind, so I'm trying to overcome my inhibitions and shout angrily into my new microphone while standing in the hallway closet so I don't upset the neighbours. All of this crap will be solidly drenched in FX and, indeed, vocoding. I know, I know, nothing about this is new or groundbreaking, and it might have been mildly exciting in 1986, but at least I'm trying to do stuff that's new to me, pushing my limits, face my insecurities and actually record my own voice, crappy as it may be. This post isn't about the end result, because it isn't done yet and once it is it won't be great, it's about me trying to overcome my crippling fear of actually hearing my own voice recorded. Yeah, it sounds like crap, I'll probably just vocode the whole damn thing, but at least I'm trying to do something new.


    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Moyer View Post


    That. I want one of those. I don't know exactly what it is, but I find the sound of very synthetic noise extremely pleasing, the more synthetic the better. Perhaps it's a flaw in my nature, and I can't connect with organic life forms. Nah, fuck that, I love to get, um, intimately organic. But there's just something with very synthetic noise that really really gets me, and these two machines seem to do exactly that. Bleeps, blops and bleerps really really appeal to me. Now I have to do some numbers calculations to see if I can afford either.


    Quote Originally Posted by demagogue View Post
    Well I've just found a new drug, VCV Rack.
    I have like 800+ modules already downloaded, and the crazy thing is they're all open source and freeeee.
    I've already got ideas to make some of my own.
    I'm not making too much music with it yet, or let's say I'm making a lot but it's still kind of bland, but I'm learning a lot and it's amazo-fun!
    This is what someone that knows what they're doing can do with it.

    Ok, you've peaked my interest. That looks like the screen for the Nord Modular, and I'm quite intrigued to see what it can do. Curious now.




    I have a very short working version of "Ingenting var bättre förr, men allt är mycket sämre nu", (aka "nothing was better in the olden days, but it's much worse now"), but I don't want to upload it yet until I have at least the first verse down, the current version is just the basic 95 second beat, samples and melody, and an EBM cliche bassline I'm really pleased with. I'll post it here if I ever manage to finish it.
    Last edited by Gray; 2nd Jan 2020 at 15:21.
    Boing. Peng. Boom-Tschak. Peng.

    System Shock 2 Walkthrough

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