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First analog synth for noob


slg1013

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Last holidays we got my son a Korg Krome because he was interested in composing. I'm thrilled to say that he's really taken to it and has improved incredibly over the past year. I'm thinking of getting him an analog synth this year, as he's expressed a lot interest in learning about sound design and "knob twiddling". While I'd love to be able to get him something like a DSI Pro2 or Moog Sub37, those are a bit out of my budget. Ideally I'd like to spend less than $800, so I was thinking of the Arturia MiniBrute or Korg MS-20 mini. I would love to hear opinions for what you think would be a good choice.

 

Thanks for taking the time,

 

Steve

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Gaia is a great learning synth. They use Gaias to teach subtractive synthesis at Berkley. Between now and then I would recommend some free soft synths like:

 

Mini Mouge VA

ARPPE2600VA

The Elecktro studio free pack. Etc.....

Tyrell N6. There are a lot of them

 

 

[video:youtube]

 

My favorite freebie is Sonigen Modular but don't start with that one.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I suggest a DSI Mopho keyboard. It is Analog and you can expand polyphony with a Tetra later; the software editor is cool (but not necessary); it sounds great; has terrific feeling keyboard (with AT); and is built tough with wood side panels and metal chassis.
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Last holidays we got my son a Korg Krome because he was interested in composing. I'm thrilled to say that he's really taken to it and has improved incredibly over the past year. I'm thinking of getting him an analog synth this year, as he's expressed a lot interest in learning about sound design and "knob twiddling". While I'd love to be able to get him something like a DSI Pro2 or Moog Sub37, those are a bit out of my budget. Ideally I'd like to spend less than $800, so I was thinking of the Arturia MiniBrute or Korg MS-20 mini. I would love to hear opinions for what you think would be a good choice.

 

I was going to suggest a MiniBrute or a Korg MS-20. Or a Moog Sub 37 if you can swing the cash.

 

Get real analog. The Roland Gaia is nice, but really, listen to it next to a real analog keyboard. If someone is going to learn analog synthesis, not only teach them on a real analog board, but teach them what analog really sounds like. While the Gaia is nice, to me, when you play it, it doesn't quite sound like the real thing, and that to me is important, especially when you're starting off.

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The Roland Gaia was very impressive in the demo I just watched. Hoping that my local guitar center will have one of these

 

Otherwise keep an eye on your local classifieds provided you are somewhere near a large city. These come up for sale all the time locally in the $400-450 range. I picked one up a year ago just to noodle around on. I like it a lot.

 

Nord Stage 2 Compact, Yamaha MODX8

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The Roland Gaia was very impressive in the demo I just watched. Hoping that my local guitar center will have one of these

 

Otherwise keep an eye on your local classifieds provided you are somewhere near a large city. These come up for sale all the time locally in the $400-450 range. I picked one up a year ago just to noodle around on. I like it a lot.

 

GC has a 'used' section on their website. They have several for less then $500.

Kurzweil Forte, Yamaha Motif ES7, Muse Receptor 2 Pro Max, Neo Ventilator
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I think the Gaia would be a perfect synth for a beginner to learn how things work. Maybe it's not as nice sounding as a Moog, but the interface is more intuitive than a Phatty is.

Live: Korg Kronos 2 88, Nord Electro 5d Nord Lead A1

Toys: Roland FA08, Novation Ultranova, Moog LP, Roland SP-404SX, Roland JX10,Emu MK6

www.bksband.com

www.echoesrocks.com

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Not sure how the Roland Gaia and SH-201 (their older virtual analog synthesizer) compare, but I do have an SH-201 and really like it. Roland's virtual analog sounds are very, very smooth - filters, LFOs, and choice of waves for oscillators are very high quality in what they give you.
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The big things a VA synth gives you over the analog synths mentioned is additional waveforms (in the case of the GAIA you get sampled PCM sounds) and polyphony.

 

If you go with the Gaia and still want a true analog as well and stay within your budget, you may want to look at a Microbrute or a Korg Volca Keys. Both are true analog synths that provide loads of knob twisting fun. :)

 

Let us know whatever you end up doing.. BTW you are an awesome Dad for hooking your son up!

 

 

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The Microbrute is a great starter analog synth, particularly if you add a few of tiptop's stackables cables, so more complex patching becomes possible. Paired with a Korg Volca Beats, and it's an instant starter kit.

 

In a different vein, another thing you might look into is Syntorial. Though emphatically not analog, it is an interesting product aimed at introductory synth sound design.

 

Still a third suggestion is the Roland Aira System 1. Street price $600, and though "Virtual Analog" rather than analog, it offers hands-on satisfaction of knob-twiddling, while still potentially offering different sound palettes over time, with its built in/plug out architecture, as against the finite set of wave forms of analog synths.

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Roland Gaia has a great interface, but a poor sound in my opinion. For a similar price, you can get other VAs which sound better, like the Novation Ultranova or an used Waldorf Q.

Nothing sounds like real analog, though. In addition to the already mentioned Bass Station II, I would consider the MFB Dominion X Sed

http://www.mfberlin.de/Produkte/Musikelektronik/Dominion/Dominione/dominione.html

 

or the Hypersynth Xenophone

http://www.hypersynth.com/xenophone.html

 

Both are real analog modules with 3 oscillators and plenty of controls on the front panel, and both sound really great.

 

 

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Arturia hardware (Mini or Micro Brute) gets my vote for a first analog synth. Easy entry price, real analog, lots of knobs and sliders, it does what it does from how it is set up on the front panel, can sound nice and sweet and then get really grungy; retro and modern. Gonna want some effects soon, though...delay is a must.
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On eBay right now:

Access Virus KC. Current Price: $530.00

Novation Supernova II. Current Price: $599.00

Yamaha AN1x (New in box.) Buy-It-Now price: $599.00

Korg Z1. Current Price: $459.99

 

All very powerful VA synths with gobs O'knobs for a-twiddlin'. The Access and the Novation are probably considered the cream of the crop, but all are quite good.

 

..Joe

 

PS: No, I ain't selling any of them.

Setup: Korg Kronos 61, Roland XV-88, Korg Triton-Rack, Motif-Rack, Korg N1r, Alesis QSR, Roland M-GS64 Yamaha KX-88, KX76, Roland Super-JX, E-Mu Longboard 61, Kawai K1II, Kawai K4.
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A big plus to a GAIA over an analog is it will stay in tune. While I like my UltraNova, I would not want to use it to teach someone subtractive synthesis.

 

Check out the Sweetwater Bonus Bank Demo below.

 

[video:youtube]JtOn3DhhvJE

This post edited for speling.
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Your first analogue synth should not have presets. Period. Learn to twist knobs, what an oscillator, filter, envelope and lfo are.

 

That will serve you well later with more complex machines, almost all of which use these concepts.

Moe

---

"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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Gaia does some things well. One reason I got a Gaia besides the interface was the price and that it was used all over the Monsters Ball Tour. I cover quite a bit of Lady Gaga stuff and some things the Gaia absolutely nails. I use the Gaia to create pitch builds and noise builds that I sample. The built in effects are OK. The verbs are not my favorite but it is a nice effects bundle for a starter synth. It is the top board in my Avatar.

 

It is digital and it sounds digital but that isn't all bad depending on what kind of

music your son likes. These oscillators are a little flakey in the upper ranges but stay in perfect tune. The routing of the LFO is straight forward. The rate knob is very sensitive in thee 2:00 to 4:00 range. I still think it is a great first synth. Geoff Downes was using one for leads in his Asia rig.

 

For $999 the Sledge is a good buy. It is a poly that will run in unison mode. The oscillator mixer section is setup just like an old Mini Moog.

 

If you can currently hookup a laptop to the Korg some simple free VST soft synth will teach you a lot.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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Surprised nobody mentioned the Alesis Ion yet. Also has a great knobby layout (with the 3-osc mixer section also set-up just like a Minimoog), has numerous filter types like Moog, Oberheim, Roland, ARP, Sequential, etc. - and a killer modulation matrix, and 2 mod wheels. Probably the best sounding VA for vintage 70s emulations. But the prices are going up and fewer are being sold now. People must have caught on to just how capable of a synth this is. Just 6 months ago you could get one for ~$420, now prices are around ~$580 for those few musicians still willing to sell theirs off. Glad I pulled the trigger a couple years ago and snagged one for $380.
Kurzweil PC3, Yamaha MOX8, Alesis Ion, Kawai K3M
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  • 3 weeks later...

So I'm still searching. Had a chance to play the Arturia Mini and Micro brutes and the Roland Gaia over the weekend. I liked the sound of the Arturias more, but thought some of the features (e.g., presets and polyphony) on the Gaia would be nice for my son while learning. There is a local add for a DSI Mopho keyboard for $400 that seems like a really good deal. I don't have any local music store to try any DSI instruments. Any opinions on a Mopho keyboard for $400?

 

Thanks again for all your help and suggestions...

 

Steve

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