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recording tricks for smooth synth sounds?


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i have a roland jv1080 that i am trying to use for underlying wash sounds for recordings of a flute and harp duo doing windham hill-type and celtic material. the synth sounds great through my monitors, but after recording it (i am going straight into a roland VS), the synth sounds are often rather cheesy sounding, and not smooth enough. i thought this was a really nice synth - i am not a keyboard player, i just bought this thing for my studio. do i need to sell this thing and buy something else that specialises in washes and pedal tones and such? i need good warm strings, solid pedal tones, and special effects like wind noises, bodhrans, etc. thanks for any help.


sunridge studios

salem, oregon

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Check your recording level's. You might be overloading but only enough to roughen things up. If everything sounds Ok through the monitors then I would think it's a recording problem. How does it sound direct though headphones?



Q:What do you call a truck with nothing in the bed,nothing on the hitch, and room for more than three people in the cab? A:"A car"....
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My $0.02 is that the JV-1080, (and 2080) while I know it has a hugely entrenched following, is not a particularly "smooth" sounding unit. I do recall liking the strings better than other sounds, but the JV series has always been a product where I could really hear the 16-bit grain. The newer XV's, with improved D/A convertors, are somewhat better.


Assuming you don't want to spend for a dedicated sampler and high-end third-party sound libraries, some of the Emu sound modules may have what you want, and IMHO sound better than the JV stuff.


Then again, if you're happy with how the synth sounds through speakers, it may well be as tenthplanet says. Which VS workstation are you using? Couldn't hurt to put a high-quality stereo DI feeding a good outboard convertor into your signal chain...

Stephen Fortner

Principal, Fortner Media

Former Editor in Chief, Keyboard Magazine

Digital Piano Consultant, Piano Buyer Magazine


Industry affiliations: Antares, Arturia, Giles Communications, MS Media, Polyverse



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Let's round up the usual suspects...


Suspect number one: converters. If I were to guess who the REAL culprit was, I'd look at the VS's converters, not the JV-1080's. True, the XV's sound cleaner, but the JV-1080 has been used on countless records. Do you have another converter you could use? A Finalizer or an M3000, for example?


Suspect number two: MONO. Are you recording the sound to a single track. It may sound better when you're playing it because it's a stereo patch, i.e. the left and right channels might be programmed differently. (The effects might be causing this problem, too.) How did you connect it to the VS? If you want to record the sound in mono, i.e. to a single track, connect the L(MONO) output of the JV-1080 to one of the inputs on the VS. Then - this is important - DISCONNECT the right output on the JV-1080. This instructs the JV-1080 to send ALL of the sound to the L(MONO) output. If you fail to disconnect the RIGHT output, only part of the sound will go to the VS. The rest will be lost.


Suspect number three: resolution. Are you recording 24-bit or 16-bit? 24 sounds better (all other things equal).


Suspect number four: cheesy built in effects. Try recording the track both with and without reverb to see which one sounds better. There's a dedicated effects on/off switch on the front of the JV-1080. Press it, then use the right arrow to scroll over to the "ON" under the word "Reverb". Press the "DEC" key to turn the reverb off globally. (The "INC" key turns it back on.) Pro recordings rarely feature built in reverbs. Add your master reverb to the sound at mixdown.


(NOTE: The previous suggestion is generally applicable, but I HAVE had experiences where the built-in reverb sounded better than an external processor. It didn't sound better in an absolute sense, but it was better matched to the sound and the mix.)


Suspect number five: EQ. Try to use EQ to slice out the annoying aspects of the sound.


Suspect number six: input impedance mismatch. Try recording through a (clean sounding) direct box. This probably won't make more than a subtle difference. If you have a nice preamp, that may help, too. Consider the things I've listed above first, though. They'll have a bigger impact on the results than a fancy preamp will.


[ 12-27-2001: Message edited by: dansouth@yahoo.com ]

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