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Yamaha EX5 vs Fantom-S


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So here's what's up:


My goals are:

-import my own samples

-nice selection of strings/pianos/synth effects

-music inspired by NIN (this is where the samples come into play)


I can save myself $1,000 and buy the Yamaha EX5 for $600. Apparently it does have sampling (I need this) - though it's via SCSI. So, I'd need to get an external SCSI hard drive.. could I plug this into my Powerbook via a firewire adapter?


I'm going to try the EX5 out tomorrow more extensively, the last I tried it was months ago.


Or, I could spend a little over a grand and get the Fantom-S which I've been pretty deadset on.


Except, Yamaha's GUI and physical UI design stinks compared to the Fantom-S.. plus the FS has knobs and other such useful controls..


I also intend to export track-by-track to Powerbook and edit/put together in Logic.


Any thoughts?

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If you are using Logic and a powerbook, get the EXS24mkII and an audio/midi interface like the Firewire 410. The sampling capabilities in that are way more flexible than a hardware keyboard. The EX5 is huge sounding with lots of low end and really cool synth editing parameters, plus a great "feeling" keyboard. The EX has pretty authentic sounding analog sounds and killer effects, not to mention the outstanding VL synthesis engine. The sampling interface is not a happy experience; SCSI load times are painfully slow (realllll slow!). The bottom line is your ears and pocket book: if the Fantom sounds better to you, you will always wish you got it if you go the other route. If the $400 difference is a big factor, save the money and be happy! Go back and play 'em until you get a better sense of what's what. Speaking of NIN, Trent uses the Kurzweil a lot; you could probably pick up a used K2000S for $500-$600; that is a real deep synth. :cool:

Composer/Performer at Roger Hooper Music

Product Trainer at CASIO



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I'm admittedly biased, but I would definitely choose the EX5 over the Fantom for your needs.


I can't comment too much on the suggestion of using EXS24mkII, other than to say that 1) you need to like soft samplers, and 2) the EXS24mkII is probably a better sampler than the EX5, but it's *only* a sampler. In addition to sample playback, the EX5 has four other synthesis methods: AN (excellent modeled analog), VL (modeled acoustic), and FDSP ("Formulated Digital Signal Processing" a collection of a wide variety of models, some of which emulate real world stuff - like an electric piano pickup - and others which delve into the stuff of imagination). IMO, the EX5 also has much better effects, and most certainly has better filters. In short, the EX5 is a real *synthesizer*.


Regarding sampling on the EX5... the EX5 is an adequate sampler, but I never use it for actual sampling. I either sample straight into my computer, or I use my A5000 (for it's very cool automated sampling features). Once I have the samples in the computer, I do all the editing and looping there, and *then* load them into the EX5. If you do things my way, yes, you will need SCSI. If you use the EX5 to perform the actual sampling, you don't absolutely need SCSI. Note that the SCSI implementation on the EX5 is very slow by today's standards. This is offset by the fact that you can install 16 mb of non-volatile Flash Memory in the EX5 - a wonderful feature that allows you to have your favorite samples available immediately upon powerup. If you want/need access to very large sample libraries (such as Garritan Strings, etc.), note that the maximum DRAM that you can put in the EX5 is 64 mb. And I personally don't even want to use 64 mb in the EX5 because of the long SCSI load times. I have my 16 mb of Flash Memory loaded with an excellent set of 16 Mellotron instruments, plus some other stuff. I use my DRAM for the "flavor of the day".


Another plus of the EX5 is the rather huge amount of user support and free downloads. Look at EX5Tech for details. We have loads of very high quality free samples and patches, tutorials, utilities, etc. Some of this is available at EX5Tech.com, and some is available from AMPFEA.org.


Another option to consider would be the new Motif ES. It has an incredible amount of on-board high quality sounds, and offers better user sampling options than the EX5. However, it lacks several of the EX5's features, including integrated AN, VL, and FDSP synthesis, some of the performance controllers, and the Flash Memory option.


To summarize, I think you need to decide what's more important to you. If you need access to large sample libraries, get a real sampler, be it hardware or software. If you want a real synthesizer with a vast array of powerful sound generation possibilities, coupled with some custom sampling abilities, and a great set of performance controls (three wheels, a ribbon, six assignable knobs, and two user definable "Scenes" per patch), then get the EX5. You're of course welcome to search the EX5Tech forums for additional details, and/or to ask the crowd there for suggestions and opinions. They're an outstanding group of people... very smart, very friendly, and very helpful.


Good luck!

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Thanks for the quick replies guys.


I think I've confused myself. I'm not really looking for a *sampler* persay, I would just like the convenience of playing my own samples on the keyboard - and I know there are 2 ways of doing this: loading them in the keyboard, or accessing them from the computer.


It seems to me, much more simple to load them into the board and just play 'em. Maybe one of you could give me an example of how I would access the samples via the computer and not have to load them (therefore not using SCSI and just 16MB of Flash Memory)..


When I think "16 mb" I think "damn that's small.." Wav's can take up a good chunk depending what it is. And if it's going to take over 20 minutes to load 64 MB of samples.. well that's not really acceptable - even though I'd never be using this board in live performance.


If anyone wants to elaborate as to what a sampler is capable of, great. The idea I get is you record sounds into it.. and then I think "wait well what if I'm in a field recording such-and-such sound and.." - or are samplers dedicated for editing the sample, etc? Does Logic not include a sampler?

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If you are going to load your own samples, be sure to try loading a full set of samples into the EX5.


I used to have one of these, and while it was an excellent board, the load times were unacceptable in my circumstance.


Just something to think about.

"For instance" is not proof.


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Logic does not include a sampler, but the Emagic plug-in ( EXS24mkII ) is a softsynth that you can use in Logic. It costs ~$250.


A sampler these days means something a little different than when it only described a piece of hardware (rack or keyboard, generally) that recorded and then played back samples. While there are still plenty of pieces that do that, the prevalent sampler today is of the software variety, and most of those don't actually "sample". That is, they utilize the host application to do the recording, or some other app (Peak, Spark, etc) to record the raw sounds. Then the samples are imported into the plug-in for keymapping, layering, processing, filtering, etc.

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Phait, there are two common ways (yes, I know there are others as well) in which samplers are used:


a) to trigger musical/rhythmic loops, maybe one to four measures in length.


b) playback samples of traditional instruments which are mapped across the keyboard, usually with multiple velocities. (similar to a piano patch on a Rompler, for example)


I feel strongly that in both cases, in your situation, you are MUCH better off going with a software based solution. It simpler, cheaper, sounds better, is faster and better integrated with Logic. In the first example, it's usually just easier loading the sample loop into Logic and manipulating it there. I believe Logic has all the tools to cut, slice, stretch the loop, then run it through all the FXs included. You don't need EXS24 for this.


If you want better sounding instruments, you'll need a sampler like ESX24. EXS (as well as GigaStudio, Kontakt, Kompakt, Halion) support disk streaming so the load times are a tiny fraction of a hardware device. 2GB pianos take about 60 seconds to load (EXS should be in this ballpark). Do the math on how long it would take to load a hardware sampler, IF it could support 2GB. Also, with streaming on a 1GB RAM computer I can load something like 5GB - 6GB of instruments.


BTW, with either hardware or software samplers you'll want to invest in sample libraries which can really add up in expenses, but they can sound great.



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I played on the EX5 today going through almost every patch. I just had this instinct I wouldn't be happy with it. I wasn't too happy with the velocity on some patches either. Even though this closeout board didn't have a manual, I tinkered with the menu and I knew I would really benefit from the Fantom-S's GUI.


And also the EX5's sampling drawbacks suck..


So I've decided on Fantom-S.


Thanks for your answers and time.

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