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Thread: Synthesizers (and other pro audio stuff)

  1. #151
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    As with most things in life, it fucking depends.

    I tend to put a bit of saturation and tape simulation on most of my soft synths and they sound great. My most used synth when writing is the Wavetable synth that comes with Ableton, and this is with a Prophet 6 and Virus TI (2 amazing and high price synths) on offer.

    Synths are wonderful and I love them, but VSTs can be dragged straight into a project and keep their settings afterwards (I have to resort to using this when I include the Neutron, or any Eurorack stuff, as well as bouncing down to make sure I captured what I had in the moment).

    That said, there is an x factor with having hardware you love. I find that having physical stuff I can play with, means I spend more time in front of music equipment, which leads to me doing more actual music work. It warms me up and gets me ready to write. I also get a lot of stress relief from it. I can have a really busy 14 hour day at work, and after an hour of making patches on the P6, or putting together a useless but amusing wall of bloops with the modular, I'm good as new.

    Go to a shop and try some out - it'll either grab you or it won't.
    Last edited by faetal; 3rd Nov 2020 at 09:23.

  2. #152
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Moyer View Post
    I have a Mother-32 so the Werkstatt would probably be redundant, but it seems like a really nice synth. I dunno what Moog's secret is, but of the pile of analog kit I have their stuff easily has the best raw tone of anything.
    True this. I paid €90 for Behringer's knock off of the Moog system 55 low pass filter, and I swear to god it just makes everything I put through it just sound so much more soulful.

  3. #153
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Speaking of physical systems, just in the last few days I guess it's the velocity control on my MOX8 keys somehow screwed up, so that maybe once every 50 or 100 hard hits or whatever, it weirdly either changes the voice or puts some kind of chorus on it. I don't really understand it. But it suddenly reminded me how completely dependent I am on the equipment working like it's supposed to. It's my workstation for almost everything I do musically, and one little thing puts it all in jeopardy.

    It's kind of maddening. It's a bulky, expensive keyboard, and I know everything about it. So it's not easy to just quickly replace either. I've been trying to record a set of tunes too, so now I have half of them done, and it makes me worry trying to record the other half now. Since I can be 5 minutes into a perfect tune and suddenly the voice changes and it's ruined. =L

    I guess it's just one more reason this year has been the fucking Chad of the new millennium.

  4. #154
    Member
    Registered: Feb 2001
    Location: Somewhere
    Having worked in music stores for the last 15 years I have played around with the real article a lot, and I love em, but the incredibly high price tag prevents me from actually owning any, so my only recording experience is with software.

  5. #155
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    I see it as worthwhile as good synths don't drop in value much over time if you keep them maintained as there will always be someone who wants them.
    It makes our apartment a more interesting place to do leisure, plus I see it as my kids getting to inherit a decent music lab as soon as they are old enough to benefit, should their inclinations lean that way.
    There are plenty of fun synths to be had for little money too. Werkstatt obvs, minilogue, bass station 2, Sirin / minitaur, Sub Phatty / little phatty, mother 32, erebus / nyx - and that's just off the top of my head.
    It's also transformed my music too. I've owned synths since around 1997, but I've mostly not made my own sounds much (other than noise / esxperimental patches obtained by just fucking about with no clue), whereas since I decided to point my mid life crisis at synths, I've learned to use them properly and now almost all sounds I used that aren't sample-based are made from scratch. Feels more like an instrument rather than a sound making box that way.

  6. #156
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    Software is fine if you like working that way. You're not going to give up anything sound-wise. The appeal of hardware is generally the same as the appeal of a violin or a guitar or drums in that context though. Why learn to play violin when you have amazing sampled orchestral libraries now that sound as good as the real thing (and probably better if you don't know how to record one). Why play guitar when you're just going to run it through a modelling pedal/amp/software anyway. It's because sound quality isn't the only aspect of creatively expressing yourself with a musical instrument.

  7. #157
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    I don't think I could tell the difference between good software and good hardware in a blind test, so yeah, I'm thinking it's mostly about the physical interface (which for me is huge, though). I've always kind of wanted a Moog; the closest I have is a DIY low-pass filter based on this. I don't think mine works 100% the same as the original, but it has it a good sound.

  8. #158
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Alright, the creator (Brian Clevinger) of my beloved DAW Absynth, which is what I used to make a lot of the sounds I posted here if I didn't use CVC, has dropped a free demo of his latest creation, Plasmonic, which is built around synthesizing the natural physics of sounds (like string plucks and wind chambers), so you can synthesize sounds that are both really alien but really organic at the same time. This is one of the DAWs I've been most hyped about, so I'll play with it and try to report on what I think.

  9. #159
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Is that the correct use of DAW? I thought that only covered things ike Cubase, Abelton etc?

    Cool news about the plugin though I do love some physical modelling.

  10. #160
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    I am very ready to believe I've always used it incorrectly to refer to any synth app, probably because for a long time I recorded directly from apps like Abysnth and maybe sometimes imported the sound files instead of opening them directly in Cubase as a plugin and recording there, although today I record most things in Cubase.

  11. #161
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Just checking in case I was using it wrong

  12. #162
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    Since I was nearby, I went to the famous synth shop Five-G today for the first time since the pandemic broke out, or maybe the second time, but anyway it's been a while. I played with a lot of different systems, but I'll just report the ones that stood out for me on this trip.

    I finally got to play the Hydrasynth. It didn't blow me away as much as I was hoping it would. The big screen with 8 big knobs that collects major parameters for each voice is admittedly a great design idea, and it is easy to modulate voices. But the thing is they had a Prophet 6 right nearby, and playing with those, really great sounding stuff came out for me with a little playing, and that didn't happen with the Hydrasynth. The strip was pretty cool, but it's basically like a 2nd glorified mod wheel. And the polyphonic aftertouch was cool but... I don't know if it's as useful as I was thinking. For a lot of parameters you might want to modify, having different notes take that parameter out of sync with each other doesn't always work as well as you'd think. Anyway, you'd have to practice it to have it sound good, and I wonder how many parameters it'd actually be good for. The other thing is it's really heavy! And still only the 4 octaves, for all the unweildiness.

    I still liked it, but I think this bumped up the Summit to my most wanted now, which unfortunately they didn't have at the shop, so I still haven't played with it yet. I was having more fun playing with the Prophet and the Korg Minilogue was right next to it too, which even though it's practically a toy, it's hard to keep my hands off of it ... maybe because of that.

    On the patchbay side of the aisle, you can believe the hype about the Moogs. They had the triple set up of the DFAM, Mother32, & Subharmonicon together, and they're really, really nice to play with. It makes me appreciate a system that's really designed with a solid philosophy in mind. Channeling how things work in a really specific way opens up the imagination.

    I also played with the Erika modules. Over on the VCV FB page, they have kind of DIY challenges (not exactly contests), like 3-module challenges. But one of them is a one-company challenge, and I did one recently with only Erika modules, so I've grown to really like their style. But you know, I have them on VCV now, so not sure I'll buy the hardware versions.

    The Soma was cool as always. Drone core isn't so much my thing enough to consider getting it, but I always love spending a little time with it.

    The big suprise for the trip was the Quadrantid Swarm. Man, once I started playing with it, I just kept at it. It's probably the thing I played with the most, setting up different sequences, beats, and overlapping drones. It was intuitive and really, really fun to play with. It was set alongside all the Make Noise units, and it has that style (aside: once again I really tried to like the 0-Coast & 0-cntl, they always draw me in, but something just doesn't click with them, or hasn't yet, I guess), but the Swarm is from a different company, Eowave, which I hadn't heard of before. So it was cool to find something new that really clicked with me, was really fun to play with, and sounded really good.

    Edit: I'm not even all that into the rave scene, but oh man...



    Edit2: And speaking of Erica Synths, this would pair very nicely with the ES Sample Drum to get some natural sounding drums you can modulate in the mix. And you can sample anything, so you could use it as a looper to overlay and cut up the stuff coming out of the Swarm, and it has a delay on it to give the Swarm voices some body. I've been thinking about the most minimal set up that works, and just these two alone are looking pretty great together.
    Last edited by demagogue; 16th Dec 2020 at 18:00.

  13. #163
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    I feel the same about the Hydrasynth. I was pretty much poised to buy it around this time last year, but something kept holding me back.
    On further reflection, that thing was that I wasn't hearing anything in the demos which blew me away. I was in love with the feature set and the workflow design, but couldn't find anything like a killer sound in the demos to make me pull the trigger. My Access Virus TI already has plenty of modulation options, and there are so many good VSTs (notably Arturia Pigments / Massive X) with decent routing besides.

    Agree on the Prophet 6 though. I think having knob per function and restricted modulation options keeps you grounded to the sound a bit more. Not that the P6 isn't capable for some very diverse sounds.

  14. #164
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    I have one and TBH I probably wouldn't have bought it had I been able to play it in a store first. It's a nice synth but I find it sounds better as a VA type synth than some weird digital modulation monster. The wavetables give me massive ear fatigue for some reason (unlike the wavetables on the Pro 3 or what I've heard of the classic PPG ones) which makes it difficult to program for more than an hour or two. The basic VA waves and filter models sound great but I'm not really digging the parts that should be interesting from a synthesis POV. I might just need to give it some time though.

    While I'm posting in this thread, I've decided to dump most of my Behringer synths to free up space. Part of it is a general distaste for their ethics (or lack thereof), but I mostly realized I have synths that aren't cheap Chinese knockoffs and cover similar ground. I'm going to keep their Vocoder/Stringer though since no one is making a competitive product in that space. As a reward for dumping a bunch of crap I think I'm going to let myself consider getting a Prophet 5 next summer.

  15. #165
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Moyer View Post
    I'm going to keep their Vocoder/Stringer though since no one is making a competitive product in that space.
    Yo

  16. #166
    Moderator
    Registered: Jan 2003
    Location: NeoTokyo
    It's interesting how Behringer's core crowd (seems to have) turned against them when they made a keystep clone (the Swing), at least they got a lot more hate than I remember ever seeing. They could take the mantle of being the champion of the little guy when they were cloning impossibly expensive and/or unavailable vintage gear, allowing even people without a lot of savings to get into the scene. But the Keystep was already cheap as bones and a new product, and they lifted it pretty much wholesale.

    They were never really for me because if I'm getting a full keyboard or workstation kind of gear, I'm willing to save up for the good stuff. And if it's something budget, I'll just get an app. That said, thinking more about that Swarm + Sample Drum combination has got me at least plotting out a combo on ModularGrid to see what different combinations look & feel like. Feel free to give some advice about essential modules. (Can we call them mods? I feel like I want to call them mods.)

    Edit: Here's a video going into more detail on Behringer's sordid history. As one comment summarized it, it's maybe the only instrument maker with an entire section on their wiki page on lawsuits, and they go back to the 1990s. Also, if you go to Sweetwater's page & search for Behringer Swing, well, you can do it yourself and see what happens.
    Last edited by demagogue; 17th Dec 2020 at 05:03.

  17. #167
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    Quote Originally Posted by faetal View Post
    I had a Streichfett. It's not terrible and I love the cheesy marketing (not sure why they dropped that with the STVC) but it really doesn't sound great to me. The VC340 is the only analog stringer that's been made since the pre-DX7 days as far as I know.

    Re: Behringer, this video probably sums things up better than I can. I was onboard with them recreating classic synths, and I still think their actual products are mostly good and surprisingly well made for their price (especially if you compare them to DSI/Sequential or Moog who charge a premium and have as many problems with their hardware). The problem is...well it's not one thing, it's a bunch of things. And ultimately while I would love to keep the clones I have (808 clone, Juno 106 clone, SH-101 clone, Minimoog clone) I can replace them easily with other hardware (which I have already anyway) made by less shitty companies.

    Last edited by Jason Moyer; 17th Dec 2020 at 06:50.

  18. #168
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Yes I saw the Benn Jordan video (and the follow up responding to their blog post).
    I agree that they have crossed a line. It's one thing to be democratising analog synths by reviving out of patent vintage stuff, but their blatant ripoffs of contemporary stuff just feels like malicious wielding of their production model (they'll always be cheaper due to the scale they can produce and their extensive production automation) to undercut other companies on their own products. The cork sniffer thing was just 100% cringe. I can't believe they went to that much effort for something which at best is just tragically unfunny and at worst dog whistle anti-semitism.

  19. #169
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror

  20. #170
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    Dammit, I own that cable tester.

    Lately I've been feeling like I want to buy something new although it's not like I've exhausted the uses for the things I already have by any means. If money was no object I'd take one of every Make Noise modules. I love their aesthetic and ethos -- maybe it's just that they have a great YouTube channel, but everything they produce seems designed to be played and experimented with. It makes me want to buy it even if I don't have a specific use in mind. On the other hand I've also wanted a Moog for a while, and a DFAM or Grandmother would be great, but again, not needed. If anything I should sell some stuff, maybe my Reface DX, and do more with less.

  21. #171
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    I'm trying not to buy anything unless it does something I can't do. I'm still waiting on the MS-20 FS that I preordered a year ago, and that's a synth with a bunch of features you can't really replicate (particularly the screaming dual hp/lp filter and the amazing signal processor section). There are a couple pedals I want (Collider and Nightsky). Even though from a practical standpoint I probably wouldn't do anything with it that I couldn't do on a modern Korg analog, I might reward myself for purging most of my Behringer crap with the new Prophet 5. I might sell my Digitone/Digitakt and consolidate them into a Rytm Mk2 to cover sampling and analog percussion-with-presets. I think other than picking up dream official reissues from Moog/Sequential/Korg/ARP if/when they come out, I have all of the important bases covered. And a few bases I may end up selling off if I don't find a use for them (VA, FM, Wavetables).

  22. #172
    verbose douchebag
    Registered: Apr 2002
    Location: Lyon, France
    Both the DFAM and Grandmother have been on my wishlist for a while.
    The Grandmother just sounds amazing.

  23. #173
    Member
    Registered: Nov 2003
    Location: The Plateaux Of Mirror
    I dunno if it sounds better recorded than just using VSTs or whatever, but "in the room" I have never heard a synthesizer that sounds as good as my Moog gear. Even something that unpatched is a fairly basic 303 type synth, the Mother-32, almost made me poop my pants the first time I heard the raw oscillator tone.

    The thing that's cool about the Grandmother is how flexible it is. With a couple patch cables you basically have a Minimoog. Without them you can basically mimic every Roland SH synth. It's probably the best old-school style monosynth ever. I mean, if you don't count the Matriarch which is kind of a superset of the Grandmother. The whole series is golden though, best thing Moog's done in ages.

  24. #174
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    The MS20 is the one synth I'll never, ever sell. It's got lots of flaws and the build quality is not great, but for me it's magical; there's an indescribable "rightness" to the sound that I don't really get from anything else I own. The 0-Coast maybe comes close sometimes, but I still feel like it takes effort to get it to that special place. For some reason I imagine a real Moog might get there as well. Maybe it's psychological, but if we've established anything, it's that synths are inherently so.

    I've kind of lost my appetite for pedals. Between having to use a million AC adapters or daisy chains, I'd rather just buy whatever latest thing Valhalla has come up with and keep my effects in the box. Make Noise effects excepted, of course.

  25. #175
    Member
    Registered: Jul 2002
    Location: Edmonton
    Quote Originally Posted by Jason Moyer View Post
    best thing Moog's done in ages.
    Urge to buy... rising

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