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Modern synths for the ages?


Bucktunes

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Now that I've hit 50, it's occurred to me that a new grand piano would certainly outlive me. But what about electronic instruments? In this day of disposable digital keyboards that come and go like old computers, are there modern synths that could still be around and relevant in 30, 40, even 50 years from now?

 

I'm guessing the Minimoog Voyager would be one, since it's fairly mature technology that's not likely to change much. Any other synths that I could buy and happily keep until I "play myself out"? :/

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Steve

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1) Define "relevant".

 

I'd define it as well known, generally well loved, with a distinct sonic character that makes it desirable to both musicians and collectors.

 

2) Any modern electronic synth of reasonable quality will last as long as you choose to take care of it.

 

Absolutely. :cool: At least until it breaks, and you find that the cost of fixing it exceeds the practical value of the instrument. My recent experience with my S90 would be what I'm talking about.

 

 

3) Amazingly, some folks have forgotten the crazy 80's when a Minimoog could be had for a song and a DX7 as trade bait.

 

I remember it well! I practically gave away my "obsolete" white faced Odyssey when I got my Prophet 600. :facepalm:

Funny how synths go from cool to outdated, then back to cool again when we realize how good it really was.

 

Which brings me back to my original question - Anybody care to do any crystal ball gazing to predict which keyboards currently on the market will still be considered classics in 20 or 30 years? :snax:

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Steve

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I think nothing completely modern can be considered classic. At least in hardware, repairability will be required for synths to last 30 years more.

 

That means discrete easily replaceable components, non custom. Which lets out all modern hardware.

 

I suppose some software synths could be considered classic, but who knows if the operating systems of the future will be able to run them.

 

So acoustic and electro-acoustic instruments, discrete analog synths, and hammonds are left. Same as now!

Moe

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"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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I guess that in the long run, those instruments which have unique features, specialized synthesis methods, and/or a very recognizable sound, will be the one to be considered "vintage" in 20 or 30 years, and still used by musicians.

 

Look at what is considered desirable now by the most obsessive collectors (old analogs aside, which are a case by themselves): the old Yamaha FM or PM synths, Casio CZ and FZ stuff, Roland 808, Kawai K5000 family, Waldorf Microwave... all instruments with a definite personality, and a peculiar sound.

 

Not surprisingly, no old "workstation" is considered a good buy today, and I got the impression that the trend will continue in the next decades. Only exception, the Yamaha SY and EX series, which joined workstation-type romplers with innovative synthesis methods (FM, Va, FDSP, etc.)

 

 

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I guess I should define "modern" as something you can buy new today that could have the same longevity as a Minimoog, Prophet 5, Oberheim, Jupiter 8, etc.

 

There was a point in the 80s where the mini-moog was worth almost nothing. I know, I had one. I couldn't pay people to buy it from me. :laugh: I forget what I finally sold it for, but a couple hundred at most.

 

It's rebirth as a nostalgia piece and the relaunch of the Voyager etc was in the past 10 years or so I believe. Throughout the 80s and 90s, it was as popular as "Pong" and the mood ring. When the DX7 and then Romplers appeared, it was looked upon as a heavy, unstable, out of tune beast with cooties. And while certain people liked Geddy Lee might have kept using his Oberheim, that whole niche of keyboards was pretty much toast for years. So, it's longevity with a huge gap.

 

3) Amazingly, some folks have forgotten the crazy 80's when a Minimoog could be had for a song and a DX7 as trade bait.

 

Sorry Sven, I didnt see this until I wrote my rant. Yessir, you're correct. A Minimoog in the 80s was the leper of synths.

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I'll go against my usually "digital" is always replaceable and isn't really very collectable, but I suspect that at some point down the road, some will look on the Access Virus TI with some particular fondness.

 

I've heard others talk about the Roland V-Synth the same way, but I don't have much personal experience with it.

 

We'll all know in about 25 years!

Yamaha C7 Grand, My Hammonds: '57 B3, '54 C2, '42 BC, '40 D, '05 XK3 Pro System, Kawai MP9000, Fender Rhodes Mk I 73, Yamaha CP33, Motif ES6, Nord Electro 2, Minimoog Voyager & Model D, Korg MS10
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  • 4 years later...

OLD THREAD BUMPED

Okay, over four years has gone by since we last discussed this. At that time the consensus was "wait and see". Obviously there are many new synths that have come and gone, but several have somewhat stubbornly remained and seem to be well on their way to becoming classics. Also, a few recently released synths have a lot of promise. Anybody else think we may have a few more answers to the original question?

 

I'll go out on a limb and name the Access Virus TI series.

- They've remained mostly unchanged for over 5 years now.

- They have an outstanding sound character that is recognizable and much imitated, and has influenced many styles of music.

- New prices have stayed high, and bargains on used ones are few and far between.

IMO this says that Access is confident that they've got it right and there's no need to fix what isn't broken. And they seem to be pretty solid, so they might be around for quite a while. :cool:

 

I'd also nominate the Minimoog Voyager, which has now been in production longer than the original Model D! And again, mostly unchanged and built to last. IMO just the fact that it's a real Moog makes it collectable almost by default, even if it didn't sound so darn good! :thu:

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Steve

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Prophet 6

Yeah, that's actually the one I was thinking of when I mentioned "recently released". Considering how many Prophet 5s are still alive and kicking after 30-35 years, I agree the Prophet 6 will probably still be rockin' after I've checked out! :laugh:

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Steve

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I daresay that the Nord Lead series has become quite iconic, especially the Lead/Lead2/Lead2X models, that were basically the same instrument with small incremental upgrades (Lead 3, 4 and A1 featured more substantial differences).

 

I'm seeing them used by all kind of artists in all kind of music, and sure it has already shown considerable staying power, thinking that the Lead-2-2X have been in production for 20 years!

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I kinda think, if the OP will excuse my impertinence, that no modern keyboard instruments are going to become classics the way that a Minimoog, Odyssey, etc. have become. Why? Because all of those instruments were created in a very special time, the few decades it took for the electronic synthesizer to be born as a viable performance instrument (before that it was an obscure laboratory curiosity). What we have seen since then have been variations on a theme, all of them belonging to the genus "performance synthesizer." (Even a ROMpler is a synthesizer by strict definition.) IMO the inherent repair-ability of a synthesizer has nothing to do with it. What matters is historical timing.

 

What happened with electric guitars is a parallel. The few models (species) most responsible for birthing the electric guitar as a performance instrument (new genus) distinct from all of the acoustic guitars that came before (a different genus) have become true classics: the Gibson Les Paul, Fender Telecaster and Fender Stratocaster. All of the others models that were created then and since have been relatively minor species variations.

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What happened with electric guitars is a parallel. The few models (species) most responsible for birthing the electric guitar as a performance instrument (new genus) distinct from all of the acoustic guitars that came before (a different genus) have become true classics: the Gibson Les Paul, Fender Telecaster and Fender Stratocaster. All of the others models that were created then and since have been relatively minor species variations.

 

I agree with that line of reasoning, some 'classics' weren't exactly the most playable. Nothing was more annoying than hearing a minimoog whose oscillator had drifted seriously out of tune.

 

I might add the Rickenbacker to that guitar list mainly due to the British Invasion. Though expensive they are highly prized classics, more so outside the US.

Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12

Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell

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I think 10 - 20 years from now, many younger players today will have fond memories of their microKorg and Electribe.

 

What some of us old timers like today, may not be what your kids remember.

 

In many ways its all about recapturing a lost time. When maybe you couldn't afford the latest and greatest but still manage to produce great sounds. On the guitar side many still have fond memories of their Sears Silvertone / Danelectro.

Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12

Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell

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Analogue Solution, MFB, Schmidt(but no one can afford one), ....

 

I like Studio Electronics stuff a lot. The Omega 8, CODE 8. This is cool stuff. Even the little Boomstars are killer.

 

 

Their polys give me a woody.

 

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  • 2 years later...
Bump...Since this was last discussed, I believe there have been several synths introduced that are surely modern classics. I'll go ahead and say that the Minimoog Model D reissue is a foregone conclusion. Now I'll just wait and see what else you all add. ;):cool:

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Steve

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Popularity and appeal in the newest instruments has definitely been looking back, nodding to the past. It's hard to imagine any virtual analogue synths becoming classics - as digital modeling of analogue circuits improves these sorts of instruments will just fade as newer better versions come out. However, the new crop of analogue hardware synths really should be attempting to break ground as opposed to reissues and knockoffs.

 

In that vein - I think the Beginner DM-12 and it's variants are interesting - clearly influenced by vintage Roland analogues but very different in design and features. The Novation Peak also blends analogue and digital technology to create something new and exciting, fun to design sounds with. And of course Dave Smith has made many neat synths over the years... The poly Evolver in particular I feel was a neat blend of analogue and digital.

 

 

Yamaha CP88, Roland VR-700, Crumar Mojo, rebuilt 1910 Chickering 5'2", Fender Rhodes MKI 88k, Casio PX-560

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Right now all the hype is about the analog revival. And that is great, but I can hardly see a reproduction/imitation/elaboration of 40-years-old stuff as a"future classic".

 

And that rules out most VAs.

Maybe the only ones that could qualify are the Virus and Blofeld. Because they are widespread, have been heard in all kind of music in the last decade (and more), and they are much more than just VA, as they use filters and synthesis methods that would be impossible for pure analog.

 

In my view, a "classic" must break new ground. The only possibility I see for that is in hybrid synths, that overcome the inherent limitations of analog with digital sections. We are seeing something like that with the JD-XA, Prophet12, Peak etc, but I think the possibilities offered by current technology are much bigger.

 

Also, the Matrixbrute is something quite new: a 100% analog, with analog effects but a digital matrix patching surface.

It may well become a classic, only time will tell.

 

 

But the (sad) truth is, the vast majority of contemporary synth sounds and electronic music is based on software. And that is disposable by definition.

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