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#2884749 - 10/13/17 04:55 AM Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk?
BuckW Offline
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Registered: 06/20/17
Posts: 87
Oh we might not each have the EXACT same list but i bet it's close. And there's no getting around wasting time separating wheat from chaff.

If the companies just had the good 20% they would outsell the competition because how much time do you have to tinker with a given synth in a store?

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#2884751 - 10/13/17 05:12 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: BuckW]
Phreakay Offline
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Because one man's trash is another man's treasure?

Omnisphere is the king of choice, over 12,000 sounds.
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#2884754 - 10/13/17 05:42 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: BuckW]
Synthoid Offline
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Well, most of those "junk" programs are there to show off various features, bizarre sounds, and to keep your attention in the store long enough so more people will come over to "oooh and aahhh."

w00t
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#2884756 - 10/13/17 05:46 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: Phreakay]
Grave Bryce Administrator Offline
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Originally Posted By: Phreakay
Because one man's trash is another man's treasure?

^This^.

You can't please all of the people all of the time. Everyone likes different sounds and music. Dance guys don't want prog patches, etc.

Originally Posted By: Synthoid
Well, most of those "junk" programs are there to show off various features, bizarre sounds, and to keep your attention in the store long enough so more people will come over to "oooh and aahhh."

...and ^this^.

Factory programs are primarily meant to sell the synth. A bunch of the fun (for me, anyway) is wiping out the ones I won't use...or modifying them to a form where they're more interesting, and maybe learning something about the instrument's archtecture in the process.

It's really interesting to be on a development team and have them hand you one with no programs at all and say "go".

dB
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#2884776 - 10/13/17 07:48 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: Grave Bryce]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 203
The Yamaha MM8 has quite a few runs of 3 to 8 voices that are clearly just incremental variations of the same basic thing with, say, more vibrato or reverb or some other effect. Then they scatter them about so it's not quite so obvious that the voices are so closely related.

On the other hand, one of my favorite voices is obviously derived from a Fender Rhodes-ish base, but with the sustain and release jacked way up and higher treble. It's at the extreme end of one of the runs, but I found a use for it.

But, yeah, a lot of stuff is repetitive and derivative. It's just there so they can say that the thing has a thousand voices, when it's really only a fraction of that in unique sounds.

Grey
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#2884780 - 10/13/17 08:25 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: GRollins]
SkiGuy777 Offline
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Registered: 02/19/17
Posts: 164
Loc: Plantation FL
Because they're trying to cater to pop tunes, dance, country, and film scores. The Kronos is pretty good at allowing a search by category and they even name the patch after the song or artist. And the Kronos has a user bank to create new combis. On the older 01W/FD, changing a program causes any combi to change that use it. That's why the Kronos is very popular, they've got tons of sounds named after the song or artist (pop, jazz), and they've got a user bank to save new patches.


Edited by SkiGuy777 (10/13/17 08:27 AM)
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#2884877 - 10/13/17 01:44 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: SkiGuy777]
GhostlySilver Offline
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I used to be irritated like the OP when checking out factory presets.

Now I view them as opportunities to learn how to the synth works - how to tweak patches for that synth, etc. I usually look for something in the neighborhood of what I want (eg. a bass sound or pad), then learn what it takes to get the sound to where I want it - filter settings, velocity response, FX mix/level, etc.

I make a note of presets that I find totally useless for what I want/need to do, so that later I can save my presets to those preset locations.


Edited by GhostlySilver (10/13/17 01:47 PM)
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#2884882 - 10/13/17 02:14 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: GhostlySilver]
AnotherScott Offline
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When SF author Theodore Sturgeon was asked why so much science fiction is bad, he explained, "Sure, 90% of science fiction is crud. That's because 90% of everything is crud.” So if only 80% of the sounds on a board are crud, you're doing well!
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#2884886 - 10/13/17 02:36 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: AnotherScott]
GhostlySilver Offline
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Funny you bring up science fiction.

I was just thinking that what would make the OP happy is a scifi solution - a device that scans the user's brain then instantly sets the synth's presets to his personal taste. wink
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#2884887 - 10/13/17 02:39 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: BuckW]
timwat Offline
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Originally Posted By: BuckW
And there's no getting around wasting time separating wheat from chaff.


I have found it more useful to consider sounds that are not useful to me today as simply, "not useful to me...today". I compare them to movies, art, songs, and even musical genre that don't resonate with me...they simply weren't made for me.

What I've found many times is patches that at the time of purchase seemed unusable...proved to be great jumping off points that just needed the appropriate project to speak to me.

That being said, I do with it was easier with all synths to quickly sequester and "quarantine" those immediately unuseful patches somewhere off to the side - so I can keep them for future exploration whilst quickly getting to the job of the project I have today.
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#2884891 - 10/13/17 03:03 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: timwat]
David Emm Offline
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Define "junk." There are more "bread & butter" sounds in most sets than I care for, not needing 15 Rhodes variants. OTOH, I always make a Favorites list with notes when I take on a new synth or patch set. Some are one-time DigiNatDance showstoppers; some are modest but good layering fare; and the ones I like best are rich, but missing some component I can drop in easily. ROMplers were not known for their great pianos in the 80s, but I got a pretty good 01W rock piano going, with splits and layers of bass guitar, three different pianos and a very low string bed for piano-body resonance. No one of those patches were stellar, but together and 'verbed, they resulted in a bright Rockmaninoff beastie that roared live. So I don't think a list is 80% junk; its 50% sensible potential, 30% EDM sounds I'll use on the 45th of Yeah Right and 20% keepers that have New Song stamped on their foreheads.
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#2884899 - 10/13/17 03:56 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: GhostlySilver]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 203
Originally Posted By: GhostlySilver
Funny you bring up science fiction.

I was just thinking that what would make the OP happy is a scifi solution - a device that scans the user's brain then instantly sets the synth's presets to his personal taste. wink


Oh, no you don't!

Dude, if you follow that line of reasoning to its logical conclusion, you'll find that the same technology will lead to listeners creating their own music...at which point musicians will be out of a job.

Be careful what you ask for, you just might get it.

Grey
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#2884900 - 10/13/17 03:58 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: timwat]
GRollins Offline
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Registered: 09/01/17
Posts: 203
Originally Posted By: timwat
That being said, I do [wish--my edit] it was easier with all synths to quickly sequester and "quarantine" those immediately unuseful patches somewhere off to the side - so I can keep them for future exploration whilst quickly getting to the job of the project I have today.


Yeah. What he said. I like that idea.

Grey
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#2884905 - 10/13/17 05:04 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: GRollins]
Mark Schmieder Offline
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I disagree with the premise, as it is too subjective and also a generalization that does not apply equally across all synths.

In some cases, budget, laziness, or lack of expertise and vision may lead to a lot of similar patches in the factory bank (lots of cut/paste with few parameter tweaks). That might at least partially fall under the category of objective vs. subjective.

Usually, there is an attempt to please everybody, meaning that even a one oscillator analog synth is going to have a lame "acoustic piano" patch in it. :-)

For companies that have a large presence in retail stores, you can bet that most of the patches will have huge amounts of hideous reverb and/or delay, so that players in the store feel like giants. Those patches aren't designed to blend with a band.


Edited by Mark Schmieder (10/13/17 05:04 PM)
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#2884930 - 10/13/17 08:25 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: Mark Schmieder]
The Zombie MC Offline
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Dave Smith used to say that a lot of Prophet-5s that came in for repair still had their factory programs in them. Take that as you wish...

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#2884931 - 10/13/17 08:26 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: BuckW]
The Zombie MC Offline
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Originally Posted By: BuckW
If the companies just had the good 20% they would outsell the competition because how much time do you have to tinker with a given synth in a store?


Hell yeah. I still could never get a good piano sound out of a Minimoog when I tried them in a store.

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#2884932 - 10/13/17 08:27 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: The Zombie MC]
Grave Bryce Administrator Offline
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Most techs I know tell me the vast majority (I've heard figures as high as 95%) of synths that come in for service have very few custom programs...and that the ones that do usually just have lightly to moderately tweaked versions of a few of the factory programs.

dB
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#2884935 - 10/13/17 09:03 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: Grave Bryce]
harmonizer Offline
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This has been an interesting thread to read. I've got a Roland XV, and counting the sounds from the SRX-07, there must be well over 1000 patches, and yes there is a lot of crap in there. It's a rompler, so the crap patches are not going away.

But it sure was nice that Roland preloaded that goofy Performance in US:23. It formed the basis for creating the weird G "twang" note for Cake By The Ocean. Who could have guessed?

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#2884941 - 10/13/17 10:55 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: harmonizer]
Mark Schmieder Offline
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One of the criticisms of "Jump" is that the band didn't bother to customize the factory patch to put a stamp of personality on it.
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#2884986 - 10/14/17 08:58 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: Mark Schmieder]
ClavAnother Offline
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Registered: 07/01/13
Posts: 101
I found it interesting how since the OB6 stores sequences with the patch, you are able to find out what each programmer thought the usefulness of each sound was.

So when I got it, I took a quick look at the factory patches and most were ridiculous, but after I found out that every single patch has a sequence I started listening to them and it turns out it's possible to make some type of music with all of it, just not always the type I'd make.

The System 8 is similar, but not every patch was saved with a sequence.

Anyway, it leads me to assume that all those shitty presets over the ages might have come from some intended usefulness, but the puzzle hasn't been solved.

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#2884990 - 10/14/17 09:57 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: ClavAnother]
p19978 Offline
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Loc: KY
I guess it depends a lot on the type of music you like and play.

For me, all I use are AP, EP, B3, clav, horns, and one square wave patch... which is why I bot an SK1.

In days gone by, the old "Vintage Keys" and "Classic Keys" modules suited me fine and my tastes have never changed.

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#2885129 - 10/15/17 07:25 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: p19978]
hardware Offline
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They do this to force you to learn how to use delete and store parameters.

I bought Serum because of its routing and Modulations.
First synth I ever bought where the analog presets sounded like paper.
It does freaky sounds I want to use for segues.

It has more crap sounds than I ever heard but the routing and Modulation sold me.
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#2885160 - 10/15/17 10:50 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: hardware]
Dave Weiser Offline
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HA the thread title sums up the whole reason I got into sound design work for Kurzweil 17 years ago! Back in the late 90s I was horrified that most romplers and workstations had truly ghastly presets for what are now considered standard pieces: Rhodes, Wurly, Clav and B3.

I remember so many keyboards from the 90s having that damned Strat-Clav and at least 7 Kotos and 13 pan flutes. But rarely a realistic Rhodes and never a realistic Clav.

I took this thinking with me to Kurzweil and for the first chunk of years I usually had a pretty hard line about what I considered good and what I considered cheese. It helped at first as they desperately needed those vintage sounds.

But after several years I realized that I was neglecting (and bumming out) some of the folks who had spent their early years using (and tiring of) those vintage axes. The guys who marveled at the early digital synths, the guys who like those pan flutes. I reminded myself that some of these players were using Mellotrons in the 70s because they wanted actual strings. (I've only used Mellotron sounds when I wanted an actual Mellotron.) I learned that there was in fact room for my purist realistic vintage "must have" instruments to coexist with chiff-sampled-trumpet leads, DX Rhodes stacked with piano and everything else that makes my hair stand on end.

And then add to this wanting to cover standard bass, drums, horns, guitar, strings, orchestral, virtual analog, etc and that's how you wind up with 1000+ presets.

Because as much as I love my nice, rounded, slightly overdriven Jamerson style Motown bass preset in the PC3 for example, some guy out there (with dubious taste) is going to think it's crap. He will instead be longing for an overly bright round-wound abomination straight out of a GRP record from 1988, or worse, the bass sound from Top Gun. If it's possible to include both, then keyboard manufacturers can appeal to more customers, everyone wins.




Edited by Dave Weiser (10/15/17 12:44 PM)

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#2885187 - 10/15/17 02:28 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: Dave Weiser]
Randelph Offline
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Registered: 06/30/09
Posts: 386
Loc: San Francisco, CA
Great post Dave!

I first encountered the no-end-of-sounds with an XS7 and a M3. But part of what was so time consuming and confusing for me was that while I LOVE the classic bread and butter sounds of good AP, EP, organ, and synth, I didn’t know how to evaluate and therefor cull to the Favorites the best of those endless sounds on tap.

As i read reviews of different sounds on various forums, it was obvious i didn’t have the background of having owned a real Rhodes, clav, B3, etc., so i had little direct experience in how to hear what the keyboards were offering; and AP is its own special case- i grew up playing a funky old upright, never once noticed how good or not it was compared to a grand piano, which i played every week at my piano lessons, and now that its on my radar, the many many good to great offerings available are very challenging to evaluate, sometimes there’s subtle differences in tonality with an otherwise great sample set that’ll jump out for some people but is not even noticed by others, unless in direct comparison. It’s taken me many years to develop that ear, like evaluating a good piano, and find its a pursuit that relies on high quality keyboards AND sound systems.

5 years or so ago when i got the Nord Stage Classic 88, it was a huge relief. Very few sounds, but i loved pretty much every one of them, i felt a connection to the sound, and was relieved by the direct UI. I was pretty meh about the XS7 sounds altogether (which puts me in the minority), and the M3 always had a sharp treble spike and thin sound that eq didn’t always cure.

I get kind of obsessed with the sounds onboard a keyboard, i can spend more time finding the best sounds, tweaking them and then making “multis” out of them than actually practicing, so having fewer sounds was a relief, esp. since i liked them so much. Though it should be said, having a weighted board made a big difference to how i experienced the sounds.

I get very curious about the process involved with the creation of these boards, so to have someone involved and talking about it is great. Many times, like with the creation of literally thousands of sounds, many of which are minor variations on a theme, I wonder who it was that was involved in the decision making process, and, who is listening, etc.???

Seems obvious that the marketing/business side had a major say in most of the decisions to pump up the number of presets to stratospheric numbers. But who stays on board? Many boards come out that have impressive features, and must have cost in the hundreds of thousands of dollars in engineering time to create, but then, maybe after a few bug fixes, is left to languish with no significant updates, no matter how loud the masses are clamoring for it on forums like this, it just feels like the product has been abandoned.

So its always a pleasure to hear the inside story and have some kind of direct rep like you, like Mike Martin, etc., where you can possibly get a bit more of the inside story and some way to influence if the product is further developed.


On the subject, I recently got a Casio MZ-X500 and have been pleasantly surprised at how much I like most of the sounds. But this is a case where I wish they’d made MORE presets, and esp. more ‘multis’.

The board has very limited 4 voice layer/split capability, but altogether is very accessible and user friendly, what a major upgrade they made once they got a decent screen in place. The real power comes into their hex layer voices, 6 at once, with sliders for each of the Tones, a slider for overall volume and overall cutoff and resonance. Great stuff, but here’s an example of a product that is brilliantly designed, about as user friendly as i’ve ever encountered, tons of great, fun features with all those velocity sensitive pads, which feel great- but the board needs help!

It’s all well and good to have such a powerful feature as Hex Layer Tones, but if the UI is not friendly for rolling your own then the community is unlikely to create a lot of home rolled patches. This is a very good example of creating a fantastic product and then not following thru. Most of the Hex Layer Tone patches are geared for the EDM crowd, which is crazy, there definitely needs to be more of these coming from the factory that cover at least the bread and butter stuff.

And because you have no visual indication of what those 6 Tones are mapped to, you’re flying blind both for editing and playing. With all the resources they threw into creating this board, not making a page where you can see, on one page all 6 Tones, the velocity range, the volume, keyboard range, the name of the sample, and possibly a crude representation of the envelope- without that page, you’ve got no idea what slider is turning up what Tone and how its mapped, and it makes playing Hex Tone Layers much much less enjoyable, more of a preset playing experience. Another obvious avenue, though more expensive, would be to develop an ipad editor.

Once again, who at Casio is paying attention to this oversight that would be relatively easy to fix and would set the user communities on fire? Who listens after a board has been launched, how much money/resources are allocated? It rather feels at time being the child of a neglectful parent- we are after all very dependent on the parent company.

Sorry, got a bit OT!
Randy

PS I concur! There are a number of presets made to this day that almost offend my audio sensibilities! I suspect that many of them come from the arranger market.
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#2885210 - 10/15/17 05:32 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: Randelph]
DrSynth Offline
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The thought process that goes on in developing the factory sound sets in my experience has been very logical. In no particular order, we've choosen sounds that:

1) Serve the working musician
2) Demonstrate the capabilities of the unit
3) Catch your attention & differentiate it from other keyboards

#1 is what creates a lot of the perception of the OP's comment -- in fact when you look at one sound set needing to be useful wordwide across numerous musical genres & ethnic styles -- there's very little consensus what's good/bad. You may have zero need for a tuba, splatty brass and 3 accordions, but the guy playing a beer hall in Germany sure does. Though 7 kotos, as Dave W notes, is probably one too many smile. Add on top of that is sounds are like words, in isolation they're nearly meaningless. It's all about context and use. If it fits your use, it's awsome and if not it's WTF?!?

#2 by necessity aren't meant to please anyone per se, but are there to show a particular features & unique application or capility that's not obvious. Caters to the synth heads as opposed to the players who do limited editing that #1 is to serve. Ideally it's sounds that are cool, demonstrative & musically useful -- though always for a limited context at best.

#3 ends up being a sort of hybrid extension of #'s 1 & 2. Usually to be used specifically for an on board demo etc., and is so tweaked out for those purposes may be worthless in any other context. Examples would be a lead guitar sound, while ostensibly a 'gig staple' it can be a version whose envelopes, dynamics, velocity layers, etc. and processing are specific to the melodic phrasing and notes its playing in a demo. A synth sound similarly may have a specific timbre or behavior for it to lay in or stand out in the demo. And neither will be necessarily be otherwise like be useful trying to fit into some other context, though if you noodle with them long enough they may inspire you to someting within their context.

After all that even if we nail 1, 2, & 3 then something simple like our our specific personal tastes for EQ & touch response is yet another virable that can make an otherwise solid sound one man's trash & another man's treasure. So by default it's the "beige conundrum" where everyone is equally disappointed, pleased with some sounds and disappointed with others. Go in and dump what is useless for you, and program more of what serves your needs. If you don't program, look toward third party support, or put the effort in to learn basic essential tweaking skills.

I always thought it ironic when my third party sounds earned raves compared to the factory sounds that sucked, and I did both! Then I realized with third party sets I can control and focus on specific genres & contexts. Back in the day in some of my more snarky moments I'd suggest if everyone is going to complain about the factory sounds anyway, ship it with init voices - that'll teach 'em "... you stole fizzy lifting drinks .... you get NOTHING! .... Good day sir!"

Manny
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#2885211 - 10/15/17 05:39 PM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: DrSynth]
timwat Offline
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50 points for the Willy Wonka reference, Manny!
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#2885246 - 10/16/17 04:08 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: BuckW]
Synthoid Offline
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#2885275 - 10/16/17 07:22 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: Synthoid]
Nadread Offline
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I never use any of the studio set (multi) presets on my FA06. But whenever I go over them I always think "wow, I forgot this keyboard could do that".
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#2885276 - 10/16/17 07:33 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: Nadread]
Stokely Offline
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Registered: 12/15/12
Posts: 1580
Loc: Florida
Yeah, I've noticed that...things like "synth mallets" etc.

Like others have said, one person's trash is another's treasure.

Same as with guitar processors, my preference would be to have at least one bank of "basic" patches that give you starting points. It's usually harder to pull apart a fat layered thing with three different fx than say a simple sawtooth with maybe some reverb. My pc3 has a few patches like that. Now, it doesn't mean I can come up with anything good, but it gives me a fighting chance smile I get that they want to show the thing in all it's polished glory--if someone pulled up the basic sawtooth patch they'd say "gross! this thing sounds awful!"

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#2885284 - 10/16/17 08:17 AM Re: Why is it that every synth's list of programs are 80% junk? [Re: Stokely]
The Zombie MC Offline
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When Alesis was developing the Andromeda, they were smart enough to assemble a sound design team of people into various genres. We had people into prog, pop music, EDM, hip hop, rock, even classical (I'm to blame for "Frankensteinwhey")... I think there were a dozen sound designers, really seasoned programmers. Most product development teams employ 1-2 sound designers.

Keyboard magazine had an interesting article with interviews with sound designers back in the 1980s. Sound design is often late in the development cycle and designers can be asked to fill 120 factory library sounds on very short notice before NAMM or Musikmesse. Sound design could be concurrent with development and can be a moving target; a change made to the system can render some or all previous sounds moot!

Locale of sound designers make a difference too. The taste for sounds for Americans can be very different from Europeans and Asians. Yamaha's first analog synths didn't catch on right away because their sound design mindset was still stuck in home organs - the GX-1 was an analog polysynth disguised as a big home organ, the SY-1 and SY-2 monosynths used modules from the GX-1. The next product - the CS-80 - had design input from abroad and the CS series became very popular.

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