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Looking for a small Synth


02R96

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Hello everyone,

 

As you can can tell by my picture I usually hang out in the Guitar Forum but I have a few questions the members of this forum are uniquely qualified to answer (shameless schmoozing).

 

I'm looking for a small synth to add background ambience and effects to my personal recordings. I'm not a touring musician and it probably will never leave my home studio, so road worthyness is not an issue. I'm not too familure with the terminology surrounding synths, so bear with me.

 

I do want a quality instrument. I was considering something along the lines of a Mopho or maybe a Roland Gaia SH-01. My price range is around 4 to 800 dollars. If it was polyphonic that would be a big plus.

 

So where do I start?

 

Dan

 

"I hate what I've become, trying to escape who I am..."

 

 

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Hi Dan,

 

OK, the guitar forum guys were nice to me when I asked a couple of dumb questions over there. :) So, I'll try to help. (Although your question is not dumb!)

 

I own both a Mopho and a Mopho Keyboard, and if real analog is important to you, you probably can't do better for the price. However, it is monophonic. You could chain it to a desktop Tetra to make a fabulous polyphonic, all-analog synth, but that would definitely break your budget.

 

If you want to stay inside the budget AND have polyphony, I believe you are looking at virtual analog only. A good low-cost option there is the Alesis Micron. I owned one, and I absolutely loved it. It has two key drawbacks, not sure if you care about them.

 

1. It's not very roadworthy (my gigging routine killed mine after around 3 years :( ). But you already said you don't care about that.

 

2. It has very few knobs, and is therefore somewhat difficult to program. It has great presets, so if you're not into programming this is probably fine. But if you want to do real synth programming, I would look elsewhere.

 

I know there are other synths competing in the same market segment as the Micron. They are probably a bit more than the Micron's $400 street price. But still well within your budget. I haven't paid much attention to that market segment, but other guys here probably have.

 

Hope that helps!

 

--Dave

(Keyboard player with the occasional guitar question...)

 

Make my funk the P-funk.

I wants to get funked up.

 

My Funk/Jam originals project: http://www.thefunkery.com/

 

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Well, if you want *really* small, look no further. :D This'll fit in your shirt pocket!

 

I'd either go with something like the MoPho or a used analog synth with a small footprint like, I dunno, a Moog Rogue, if that's still in that price range, or something similar. But a Mopho sounds more "modern", which you might want, and should be quite reliable. The Dave Smith Instruments stuff seems solidly built.

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By the way, I play guitar also and record and have an interest in foot pedals, so I tend to post in all sorts of places.
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Now here is a lot of synth for $700; you'd need to spend another $100 on a midi keyboard if you dont have one http://cgi.ebay.com/KORG-RADIAS-R-RADIAS-R-PRO-SYNTHESIZER-VOCODER-NEW-/390246508866?pt=LH_DefaultDomain_0&hash=item5adc812942#ht_5144wt_1137

 

[video:youtube]

 

[video:youtube]

 

"Just a tad more attack on the filter, Grandad!"
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+1 for the Radias. It's something you would grow into rather than out of in 6 months.

 

Too many people start with a budget synth that doesn't offer much and it ends up at the bottom of the closet. The Radias will keep you busy.

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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To the OP:

 

Could you tell us more about what you are trying to do? You mention that you are not familiar with the terminology around synths, so I thought it might be good to ask you some questions.

 

Both the Mopho and the Roland Gaia SH-01 are analog synths. Is this a coincidence, or is there a reason you think an analog synth would be best for you?

 

Some people who buy a synth are mainly looking to add to their recordings some basic keyboard sounds, such as the ones heard most frequently in pop music like the acoustic piano, organ, Rhodes/electric-piano and the clavinet (clav). The real instruments that made these sounds in the 1970s are large, heavy, and expensive, so it is common for musicians to buy synths which emulate these sounds. Is this what you want? If so, which of these keyboard sounds are most important to you, and can you cite some particular songs where you want to "sound like that"?

 

Other people who buy a synth are looking to do more complex things, such as creating their own types of sounds.

 

Also, note that some synths (like the Korg Radias-R) contain only the "sound generation" functions and require the use of an external keyboard (often called a MIDI controller), which looks like an electronic keyboard but makes no sounds by itself. A MIDI controller will only send the MIDI commands (i.e. "this key was pressed down" and "that other key was released") to the "sound generation" function which will translate the MIDI commands to sounds. Other synths or keyboards (the terminology can be vague), as the Roland Gaia SH-01, will include the equivalent of a MIDI controller keyboard and the "sound generation" function in a single physical package.

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The Radias would be a great choice. I've been watching the eBay prices on Radias racks, because I've been tempted to pick one up myself.

 

Another choice is the new Novation UltraNova, which I'm increasingly convinced is the best polyphonic virtual analog synth on the market for under $800.

 

Noah

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Some people who buy a synth are mainly looking to add to their recordings some basic keyboard sounds, such as the ones heard most frequently in pop music like the acoustic piano, organ, Rhodes/electric-piano and the clavinet (clav). The real instruments that made these sounds in the 1970s are large, heavy, and expensive, so it is common for musicians to buy synths which emulate these sounds. Is this what you want? If so, which of these keyboard sounds are most important to you, and can you cite some particular songs where you want to "sound like that"?

 

Other people who buy a synth are looking to do more complex things, such as creating their own types of sounds.

 

Good bunch of questions.

 

Since he wants ambience and sound effects, it sounds like he wants more of a synth than a keyboard that emulates pianos and organs and such. Probably something that makes odd "noises" as well. And a lot of the keys that were suggested seem like they fit the bill.

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However, it is monophonic. You could chain it to a desktop Tetra to make a fabulous polyphonic, all-analog synth, but that would definitely break your budget.

 

This. Or you could just get the tetra if you don't need a keyboard and don't care about complex programming on the device itself. The good thing about taking this path is that you can easily add an extra voice + keyboard + lots of knobs later if you need to (by poly chaining it to a mopho keyboard as mentioned).

 

Also if you don't need a keyboard and want a monophonic analog synth check out moog's slim phatty (make sure the 'moog' sound is what you're after though).

 

As for VAs you can also checkout the novation ultranova or m-audio venom (neither of which I've tried mind you, but I know they fit in your budget).

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Happy birthday, BS!

"I'm so crazy, I don't know this is impossible! Hoo hoo!" - Daffy Duck

 

"The good news is that once you start piano you never have to worry about getting laid again. More time to practice!" - MOI

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Both the Mopho and the Roland Gaia SH-01 are analog synths. Is this a coincidence, or is there a reason you think an analog synth would be best for you?

 

Just to clarify, the Mopho is a genuine, monophonic, analog synthesizer. The Roland Gaia is a polyphonic VA, (virtual analog) synthesizer.

 

:cool:

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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Small synths, polyphonic, *more or less' within your budget:

 

Virtual Analog:

- used Virus KC desktop (module)

- used Yamaha AN1x

- M-Audio Venom

- used Nord Lead 2x rack (module)

- Roland Gaia

- used Roland JP8000

- Korg Radias module, if you can really find one so cheap

- Novation Ultranova

- used Novation Supernova or Nova (module or keyboard)

 

To control the modules, you need a MIDI keyboard.

 

Real Analog:

- DSI Tetra + cheap MIDI keyboard. Only 4 voices, though.

 

ROMplers (sampled sounds):

- Yamaha MM6

.. sorry, I lost count of the various Korg and Roland spinoffs! :freak:

 

 

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ROMplers (sampled sounds):

- Yamaha MM6

.. sorry, I lost count of the various Korg and Roland spinoffs!

 

Korg X50 & Roland Juno-D. (I'd prefer the former).

 

(The Yamaha MM6 offers very limited editing btw.)

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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Thanks for all the suggestions. Options, I like options!

 

I want to be able to add things like sweeping, spacey oscillator sounds and Moog like effects and embellishments. I am a disciple of 70s Prog Rock. When my friends were head banging to Ozzy, I was getting my brain cells rearranged by Steve Howe and the Mini Moog sounds of Rick Wakeman (there might have been a green leafy substance involved, but I cant remember. Hey pass the Cheetos). Pink Floyd, ELP, Kansas, Genesis, etc were all on my turntable.

 

So those are the type of effects Im looking to experiment with. Maybe a Mini Moog Soft Synth is really what Im looking for? Im very familiar with MIDI and how it works also.

 

:wave:

Dan

 

"I hate what I've become, trying to escape who I am..."

 

 

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You might also want to check out the Waldorf Blofeld (it's also available as a module, but then you have to pay extra for the ability to load your own samples). Great synth for the money IMHO - it had a bit of a chequered history with the firmware in the earlier stages, but I've rarely had any issues with mine since the latest firmware was released (about a year ago I think).
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Given that it's for home/studio use, and you've mentioned softsynths (in your last response), I'd recommend going the software route. You're not a died-in-the-wool purist from a hardware perspective (yet ;) ), so you'll have the most flexibility in the virtual software world.

 

I'd suggest checking out Applied Acoustics' Ultra Analog as a good start without having to shell out a ton of money. Lots of other options out there, but this is a great first step (and has enough power to do everything you want).

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You will need to budget for a good quality sound card if you want to get decent sounds out of a soft synth. I use the G-Force Minimonsta soft moog http://www.gforcesoftware.com/ins_minimonsta.php which comes with some Rick Wakeman presets - and you can see him playing it there

 

[video:youtube]

 

but I would say unless you can play like Rick you would get more utility from a Radias or R3 and better sounds unless you fork out for a top class sound card.

"Just a tad more attack on the filter, Grandad!"
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