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Shopping for a VA.


RABid

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As the title says I am shopping for a VA. I do NOT want a keyboard model because of space restrictions and my preference for a joystick over wheels. Ideal specs would be 16 voice polyphony and 4 channels. Twice I visited a store with intentions of buying a Novation KSR but they only had the keyboard model. The other model I am considering is the Virus C tabletop. I already own a Nord Modular and plan to get the Nord Modular G2 when it comes out so for the sake of variety I am not considering a Nord Lead.

 

Given this information does anyone have any tips, suggestions, or warnings? Is a Virus C really worth the price of two Novation KSRs? Does the polyphony on VAs suffer the same polyphony reduction as ROMplers when using multiple oscillators? How is the quality of the built in effects?

 

I was all set to get a Roland MC-909 in a few weeks and use the control panel for interfacing with VSTis but a VA is probably a better choice for what I really need sound wise so I want to make sure the VA I get is also a good controller.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.

My Sweetwater Gear Exchange Page

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My ears tell me that the Virus, Novation and Nord VA's each have their own distinct identity. The Novation seem more like a "classic" analog, the Virus more hard/grungy with a big filter, the Nords with a little more nasal, bitey. That said there's a common soundset the are all good at covering.

 

So, have you considered something like the Waldorf MicrowaveXT? :freak::D

 

It's just that with the single cycle wavetable you do get quite an interesting "cold" VA and when you do wavetable synthesis, it goes all kinds of places. The Virus and Novation have some digital waveforms but none of the cool wavetable morphing. You can even record your own wavetables.

 

Anyway, that what I'd look into if I had a Nord Modular G2. That or a funky effects processor with a controller matrix. Something like Fireworx or Orville to send the Nord through.

 

My tuppence,

 

Jerry

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This is a purely subjective observation, so please take it with a grain of salt, but I think the Virus C is absolutely the best sounding VA out there. The Novations are fine, and the Nords are great, innovative synths. But the Virus C? I think it is in a class by itself.

 

It does best when it's not trying to emulate some analog patch. It is capable of some of the nastiest high-fidelity sounds I have ever heard that also have miles of depth.

 

I don't feel that I am biased, since I own a Nord 3 and the plug in version of the K. It would be hard to be disappointed after buying a Virus C, again, IMHO.

"For instance" is not proof.

 

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Given this information does anyone have any tips, suggestions, or warnings? Is a Virus C really worth the price of two Novation KSRs? Does the polyphony on VAs suffer the same polyphony reduction as ROMplers when using multiple oscillators? How is the quality of the built in effects?

virus c worth the price of 2 ksr's? - in my opinion, yes.

if you turn on the 3rd oscillator on the virus, polyphony is reduced (if i remember right, a 3 note chord will use 4 voices.)

i like the quality of the virus fx, but i think they're all playing 'terminology' games somewhat.

for instance, 'e.q.' is considered an effect, as is distortion.

also, on the virus, there is only one delay/reverb effect in multi-mode and i don't think the novation stuff has this restriction.

for comparison, i have a micro-q and think the fx on it are a little below average.

i understand the modular and g2 are pretty flexible for VA stuff. are your other bases covered? (rompler-wise). or don't you need/use stuff like that?

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I'm covered ROMpler wise. Raland Fantom and XV-5080, Korg Karma, E-mu P2500 and XL-7. As for VA's I have the Nord Modular Rack, Yamah AN200 and DX200. (OK. The DX200 is not a VA.) No more filler needed.

 

I like the sound of the Novation KS series and got to spend a bit of time on one. I have not found an Access Virus within 200 miles so I am traveling blind, or deaf, with this one. It is hard to tell from MP3's.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.

My Sweetwater Gear Exchange Page

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I've used several VAs over the past couple of years. I had the original Nord Lead for quite some time and I liked it a lot. Great for big, bright synth leads and emulating the Prophet 5 sound. Not as great for pads and limited arpeggiator features. A class act, overall.

 

I had a MicroKorg briefly and it was a blast to play. However, around the same time I picked up an Access Virus Indigo and it totally blew me away, so I sold the MicroKorg.

 

The Virus is a killer VA. It can sound very vintage and very cutting edge as well. It scores very high on the instant gratification scale. Loaded with great presets that are very inspiring. One could score a movie soundtrack with this machine alone.

 

Regards,

Eric

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Don't forget about the Creamware Noah rack. It does a very impressive analog style emulation of the minimoog and the prophet, and others, too.

 

Imagine - a polyphonic, velocity sensitive minimoog that you can edit from your computer for less than the price of the voyager + a whole bunch of other synths!

Tom F.

"It is what it is."

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rabid - can i pick your brain a little? have you spent some time with the nord lead 2?

i'm wondering if the nord mod gives you the same sound from the oscillators?

i really like the 2 sound a lot.

i'm toying with the idea of getting the mod (or G2 when it finally makes it out).

i know the lead 3 sounds quite a bit different from the 2 and wonder if you (or anyone else who knows) can compare for me?

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Rabid asked:

Is a Virus C really worth the price of two Novation KSRs?

I suppose only you can answer that in the end, but at the same time, each has features or a lack thereof that may make one more or less attractive to you, e.g., a true mod matrix, number of voice channels, routing features, overall tone of oscs and filters, etc.

 

For that matter, you may wish to consider a Access Virus b or Waldorf Q Rack as well...

 

Rabid asked:

Does the polyphony on VAs suffer the same polyphony reduction as ROMplers when using multiple oscillators?

In general, no...a 16-voice VA can do 16 1-osc voices, or 16 3-osc voices. That said, there are two exceptions...the Virus b/c is 24/32-note poly when acting as a 2-osc+sub synth, but drops to 18/24-note poly (IIRC) when acting as a 3-osc+sub synth...also, most all the VAs eat more voices when in unison/stack mode, so a Virus/Q/etc. all have 1/2 the voices when each note triggers two voices. A couple of VAs have unison modes that do not reduce polyphony (NL3).

 

Rabid asked:

How is the quality of the built in effects?

Needless to say, not in the same league as dedicated devices, but not necessarily sub-par either.

 

I dont care much for the tone of the Qs effects, even if they are quite usable, but the reverb is quite good, and it is nice to have 4 channels worth of them, but I sure wish the effects parameters were targets in the mod matrix. 4 channels have two inserts each.

 

The Novations offer reverb on every channel, but I find its tone to be fairly displeasing in terms of metallic resonances. I do not care for the Novation effects overall, but take my comment with a grain of salt...I do not own a Novation VA, nor have I ever.

 

The Virus b/c effects are pretty good, and you get the bonus of having their parameters as targets in the mod matrix. Most of the effects act as channel inserts across the 16 channels, and you only get one global aux delay or reverb. Some of the Virus effects (that phaser!) already sound clichéd to me from having heard them in many tracks and commercials, but I guess that is testament to their usability.

 

Rabid asked:

I want to make sure the VA I get is also a good controller.

My thought on this is that you will probably do better to use your E-mu or Nord Mod for this as the knobs can be programmed aside from the VSTi you are controlling.

 

The Virus, for example, can send MIDI CC from the knobs, but your VSTi had better have a learn function, as the CC numbers are fixed.

 

mildbill asked:

i'm wondering if the nord mod gives you the same sound from the oscillators?

The Nord Modular can perfectly emulate the Nord Lead 2 osc and filter sound.

 

Rabid, to close, I would certainly investigate a Virus b/c if possible, but I also echo what Jerry said...the Waldorf MicroWave XT is one hell of a synth that would offer some excellent and different tones to your setup, and a quality, programmable effects processor can never hurt!

 

The Nord Mod paired with the t.c. FireworX is an amazing combination in terms of depth and quality of sound.

Go tell someone you love that you love them.
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rabid: a virus c is $1365 and a ksr is $799 here:

 

http://www.novamusik.com/search.asp?type=SubCat&page=1&keyword=21

 

not really twice the price - if you get the virus instead of 2 ksr's, you'd still have $233 to play with - enough for that AN or DX200 (which you have), a softsynth or 2, or whatever else strikes your fancy.

 

i think you can tell i'm a fan of the virus (even tho it does have some shortcomings).

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