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Going back to hardware..


Jabbe

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Here's a quick explanation:

 

I'm getting a bit tired to my virtual synths. They're good for some things and I love using a PC for recording, but I'd like to see more instruments. Things that react to my playing. I just bought a vintage Rhodes MK2 Stage 73, and buiying a Juno-60 soon. These things feel more like instruments to me, I've never liked tweaking anything with a mouse. Sure, I can get 200 different kind of nice rhodes sounds with MrRay73, but sitting in front of the real thing is a whole another thing. I can do my gigs with just my VK8, so giggin is no problem. I'm looking for new instruments I can just use in my studio...

 

So, the question is: what should I look for? I think I need something that'll give me nice pads and strings. All the VSTi's and VA's have nice pads but there's just something wrong with them when using them in a mix. I want something that sounds mellow and can sit back in the mix and give some fullness to the track. And this goes to eeverything, not just pads. I want sounds that don't sound too great when played alone, but sounds that work well with other sounds, especially real instruments. Should I look for something like a Wavestation, JD800, maybe some other 80's/90's digital synth, or maybe an analog string machine or a polysynth...? I don't have thousands of euros, just something that I can get cheap used..

 

:wave:

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I think you should first experiment with effects and mixing techniques. A lot of people are using VSTis successfully in a mix. I cannot imagine something like Z3ta+ not standing out, or Atmosphere not sounding full and smooth. What VSTis are you currently using?

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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Maybe the biggest problem with VSTi's is horsepower. I'm using a laptop, and I'd like to use it's processing power to audio processing. VSTi's take too much power, altough I use Sampletank, Albino and Battery 2 a lot. Another thing is that I hate editing with a mouse. Albino has great presets but it just doesn't invite me to make new sounds on it. I'd like to play instruments rather than use a computer. I haven't tried Atmosphere but I think my PC can't handle any more virtual instruments. I'd rather just use hardware and record everything live.

 

Yea I've never owned an analog, but I found a Juno-60 in good condition and am going to buy it soon. But I think it's better for lead and bass kinda sounds than smooth pads, right? I mean I can sure get some pads with Juno too, but it is a bit limited in that area I think...

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Juno 60 is analog ... digitally controlled analog. So is SCI 6-trak, which sounds rather weak as a rhythm instrument, but when you "self-tune" it a day earlier, set it in unison mode so all 6 DCOs play the same note (last note priority, IIRC), it's a very hot little beast. And it isn't very expensive when you can find one.

 

The biggest disadvantage to the the 6-trak is the granularity on small VCO changes. When trying to dial up Zawinul-style patches, where tiny oscillator envelope amounts are used to make the sound less mechanical, I could hear the steps as the envelop ramps up or down. And not as a subtle thing, but as a complete failure to apply the Zawinul technique. Very unfortunate.

 

But I had a Juno 60 and a 6-trak and they made a heck of a pair, since the Juno had great rhythm sounds and the 6-trak had killer minimoog-array-like leads.

 

Note that Juno 60 doesn't have MIDI, although (if you can find one) it has a MIDI converter (called "DB8"). Even with that, the two synths weren't terribly compatible MIDI-wise. Those were the early days. When you release the last key on the Juno, it sends an "all notes off" message, which causes the SCI to shut up completely -- stuff like that. I found workarounds for these things somehow, but it's all too long ago to remember the details!

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Oh yeah, the Kork Poly 6 was a very hot sounding little item in the same era. If I had it to do over, I'd have skipped the Juno (which I bought just before the Poly 6 came out).

 

IIRC, the Poly 6 didn't have MIDI, and the Poly 61 (which did) was a big disappointment -- no knobs, all digital, or something like that.

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I'm with you mate~! I have used a fair share of Vst's and in recording situations, that's fine (most of the time, I have yet to hear anything coming close enough to a real hammond/leslie or a rhodes that has been tweaked a bit with the hammers/ mic placements.. I have never been able to get that raw organic sound out of vst's or samplers for that...

 

My main reason for going back to hardware is that I now play much more live and as you say, there is something about the physicality of the gear that changes the way you play... plus the fact that booting up a laptop just aint the same as seeing all those modules in the rack and keys...

 

Current setup for me is:

Yamaha Kx88 (still haven't found a controller that beats it if you know a bit about hex and sysex..)

Old D70 (not using the sounds really, just got it second hand with a brand new key bed and I really like the action on that one for synth parts plus it has decent mother keyboard capabilities).

Roland Vk8m + speakeasy preamp into two leslie 147s (when the gig demands it, not always, the leslie sim in the vk8m is not too shabby for smaller gigs....).

Proteus 2000 with sounds of ensonic zr and cloaky piano (which works nice once I changed the programming a bit according to cloaky's instructions.. turned out that emu goofed up some settings when doing the rom....

Roland JV1080 .. fully expanded but only used for layering of sounds

Rhodes 73 mark 2 (quite tweaked and through some stomp boxes, again, depending on the gig if I take it out)...

And lastly, today I picked up a Korg Ex8000 with two mex8000 at a good price so that'll complement what I have.. next in line is a more dedicated analog thing.. always on the lookout for matrix12...

 

Hardware rules for actual gigging!!!

 

BTW, sitting with the EX8000 and realising that it does not respond to most CC's... but I have noticed that it should work with sysex.. time to dig out the hex-binary converter and get into setting up the kx88 for it.........

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Wavestation has nice shimmery pads. So does a Yam TX-7 or DX-11 or TG-33 (all different varieties of FM). All of those are digital.

 

Prophet-5 is good for warmer pads.

 

Good luck,

 

Daf

I played in an 8 piece horn band. We would often get bored. So...three words:

"Tower of Polka." - Calumet

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MIDI is another thing I don't need so much. Using too much midi makes you forget how to play. If I were forced to play everything to tape live without midi, I'd bet my timing and playing would get a lot better.

 

I think I'll look for a used Wavestation EX and the Alesis ION. It's the only new synth I'm interested in, as all the demos I've heard have sounded really analog. I think it'd be great for what I'm doing.. could I be able to get all synth sounds I need in my gigs with it?

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Originally posted by mate_stubb:

Analog.

Analog.

Analog.

 

If you've never had a real analog synth, you owe it to yourself to try one.

It amuses me when people insist that analog is the way to go. In my experience, most people like this have had little or no experience with analog synths in order for them to realize their many drawbacks.

I've owned quite a few analog synths (ARP 2600, Minimoog, Memorymoog, Korg PolySix, etc,) and they can sound quite boring after a while. They are nowhere near as versatile as my current favorite, (Logic Pro 7's physical modeling synth) Sculpture, for example which can make sounds that even a Buchla 200e couldn't. Then there is also the problem of repair, maintenance, lack of portability and inflated costs with analog hardware synths.

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...and then there's also the problem that you pay 500 for something and sell it next day for 100 to get the new, better version for another 500. And it'll still feel like a computer program.

 

I'm also tired of taking my laptop to gigs. It's ok for one gig I do sometimes, where I need lots of samples and different synth sounds. But I'd rather take some hardware stuff with me.

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Let's review. The application he specified was:

 

"I think I need something that'll give me nice pads and strings."

 

"I want something that sounds mellow and can sit back in the mix and give some fullness to the track."

 

For this, analog is perfect. Especially since he is getting back into the real instrument vibe. He didn't ask for weird Buchla bloops or CSound/Kyma flexibility.

 

BTW, I built my first analog modular synth in 1972, so I DEFINITELY speak from experience. There are MANY modern true analog synths that are totally reliable, portable, and affordable to complement the vintage instruments.

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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Jabbe also asked: "Should I look for something like a Wavestation, JD800, maybe some other 80's/90's digital synth, or maybe an analog string machine or a polysynth...?"

 

IMO, a Wavestation is the better choice.

 

BTW, I built a modular analog back in the early 70's, and I speak from experience as well.

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I'd like to see more instruments. Things that react to my playing. I just bought a vintage Rhodes MK2 Stage 73, and buiying a Juno-60 soon. These things feel more like instruments to me, I've never liked tweaking anything with a mouse.

 

I can understand the desire to want to continue to play something real. It definately makes the experience different. Have you csonsidered using both and having the best of both worlds?

Begin the day with a friendly voice A companion, unobtrusive

- Rush

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I'd like to see more instruments. Things that react to my playing. I just bought a vintage Rhodes MK2 Stage 73, and buiying a Juno-60 soon. These things feel more like instruments to me, I've never liked tweaking anything with a mouse.

 

I can understand the desire to want to continue to play something real. It definately makes the experience different. Have you csonsidered using both and having the best of both worlds?

-------------------------------------------------

 

I'm all about this solution, Chris. A real, smooth and playable Rhodes (OK + the Juno) and a nice laptop+controller on it, is IMHO a solution that can feed our "real instrument" desire and cover many other sounds that it's almost impossible to have on stage without having roadies :)

Just my oppinion though

Regards

Yannis

Be grateful for what you've got - a Nord, a laptop and two hands
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I loved the sound of the late 70's early 80's analogs but hated the stability.

 

I loved the stability of the 80's digitals but hated the sound.

 

The sound got better in the 90's digitals but the control options and programming was horrible.

 

Towards the end of the 90's we started getting good sounding keyboards (IMHO) with just a few control options, and the ability to use a computer for programming.

 

Right now I am really happy. ROMplers have more control options, VA's abound with full pannels of knobs and sliders, real analogs don't seem to go out of tune when the stage lights come on. Life is good.

 

So I guess what I am saying is, don't waste your money on something like a 6-Track. (I hated mine.) Check out new instruments like the Novation KSR, a used Karma or Fantom, or a used Virus. You don't need "Old" hardware to sound good. Like many here, I lived through the old analog years and I am not really interrested in going back.

 

Robert

This post edited for speling.
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Originally posted by Rabid:

So I guess what I am saying is, don't waste your money on something like a 6-Track. (I hated mine.) Check out new instruments like the Novation KSR, a used Karma or Fantom, or a used Virus. You don't need "Old" hardware to sound good. Like many here, I lived through the old analog years and I am not really interrested in going back.

 

Robert

I have the Novation X-station which has most of the KS synth engine in it. I like it for lots of things, but it just sounds too digital in some way. I've tried Virus, Fantom, Triton.. just about everything that has come out since 2000, but there's just something missing. I had a Motif ES7 for over a year. I loved it when I bought it but after a couple of months I got really bored with it. Same thing with all digital synths I've had. Only exception being my D50.. it sounded too 80's to me, but now when I sold it I started to think that there was something really cool about it.. the sound that I can't get anywhere else. I haven't tried V-synth's D50-card, but I bet it doesn't sound the same as the original D50. I'd actually like to buy my D50 back, and try to use it's sounds in a different way. I guess my mistake was trying to use it for wrong thins... now that I'm writing it I really start to miss it! :cry:

 

I'm also using some softsynths, like Sampletank, Battery, Albino and MrRay. They're good for some things like making demos of songs, but when really recording something or trying to get really inspiring sounds, there's just something wrong. On the paper they should be a lot better, but there's just that "organic" side of old gear that 's lacking from new stuff. Maybe another problem is that a softsynths sound never goes to analog domain.. the warmth of real D/A convereters and A/D preamps in between if missing.

 

If I were just doing gigs, I'd buy something like Nord Electro, which has great sounds and is very light. But it's sounds get boring after a few days, and this applies to all new synths. My Rhodes sounds very muddy compared to the Nord, so I need lots of EQ and outboard FX to get the sounds that I want, but then it's just something magical to play. :love: I haven't taken it to gigs yet, so I guess I can start to hate it, too.. :D

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Jabbe,

 

I hear two things in your messages:

 

1. You want something physical, to connect you to performing the music more than tweaking it with the mouse; and

 

2. You feel like there's something "missing" in your software-based synth sounds.

 

I'd suggest that the first is something real, and the second is probably nothing having to do with "analogue" vs. "digital" or "hardware" vs. "software" sound per se, but simply a question of boredom with what you're getting out of your current setup.

 

So, solve both problems honestly. Forget about whether what you "really" need is an analogue keyboard, or not; try out a bunch of stuff, like it sounds like you've been doing, and make a choice based on nothing more than what seems to be inspiring you, and what you feel will inspire you for a long time to come.

 

It might be an Ion, a used Wurly, a used D50, a used FS1R or even more flexible software, like Native Instruments' Reaktor, hooked up to a good MIDI keyboard of any type.

 

Don't start with any assumptions based on anything other than what sounds good, and inspiring, to you, and I think you'll figure this out.

 

And think hard about whether it's the software or hardware, or you; you could save yourself a bunch of bucks if you find out that it's not really any limitation in what you're using right now, but just the feelings you have about it. Dealing with those feelings is cheaper, though maybe tougher, than just spending money. :cool:

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And another thing: stop trying to make some poor stressed laptop be the end-all do-all music machine. That's where your real problems started. If your primary goal is studio work with VSTi's and audio then you need a serious computer that is up to the job. If your goal is gigging then get a stage instrument and revisit the studio computer question later. Set some priorities.

 

And MIDI doesn't make you "forget how to play"... you do that on your own.

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Good points. I'm using a laptop so I can move with it, it's great for lots of things and almost noiseless. It's a Centrino so it has enought power, not a poor stressed one. :) I'm just sick with trying to get more power... there's never enough! That's why I want to do some things with hardware and use the PC for what it's best for, and that's recording. And I don't want to put money on computers now, I'm fine with my current machine if I just don't try to do too much with it.

 

My goal isn't gigging as I said. I mean, I do gigs but I don't need to be able to bring everything with me to one gig. I'd rather have lots of choices so I could pick a board or two that fit the situation.

 

Problem with trying everything is that I live in a place where I don't often get to try anything. I can buy used stuff but I'm getting it by mail, that's why I need advice on what to get...

 

I know things like a Fantom would have lots of stuff that could be useful, but there's too much I don't need. What I'd like to have is a machine to do this, another to do that and third to do something else. I don't want too much stuff that's in the way when trying to do just one thing if you know what I mean here.

 

And about forgetting how to play... I've been playing too much into a sequencer and then quantizing it. It's too easy to make it sound on time like that, if I didn't have MIDI I would be forced to play everything better.

 

On the other hand, maybe Atmosphere could be worth giving a try. I listened to some demos and it sounds like what I might be looking for. But it just isn't hardware.. :freak:

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Check out a used Korg Z1. On the surface it might seem effects-heavy, but they can be reduced or removed. It can give you a very warm, fat analog sound, plus you can go the digital route also. Great arpeggiator controls, lots of knobs, solid construction, excellent keybed. It is a modeling synth, and takes a little longer to "reset" from patch to patch than the average synth. I use it live, and factor that into the ends of phrases when changing patches. I've used a variety of synths over the years, but have gotten more complements from the various sound engineers with this one. :thu:

Composer/Performer at Roger Hooper Music

Product Trainer at CASIO

www.rogerhooper.com

 

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a couple things jabbe:

 

about the D50 - i've found that you can't go back home again. i've sold a few synths and bought them back again and was always disappointed with the experience. you know what it can and can't do, but still fall into the same learned habits with it.

 

about the always needing more power thing:

i think if you buy a 'closed' keyboard, you can pretty much escape this.

you learn to really use what it's actually got, without the expectations of 'expanding' it in the back of your mind.

i'm thinking something that doesn't have expansion boards and that you can't load new samples in.

pretty much exactly opposite what most people look for, but it can bring a certain focus of concentration.

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I think the best way for me to go is to buy a digital board that does it's job well. I'm not happy to bring my laptop to stage anymore, and I'd like my "padmachine" to boot up in a second every time I like to use in the middle of the night and I don't want to worry about it crashing. :freak:

 

So I guess my choices now are Z1 and Wavestation. Opinions of the ups&downs of these two? :)

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No help on the WS/Z1 thing? :(

 

I found a Siel Orchestra in nice condition, I'm trying to buy that. I bet it sounds better than Atmosphere or whatever..

 

I also played a D70 yesterday at a reherseal. It sounded awful in a way that it sounded 80's, but it also sounded really cool in some way. There's some nice little fatness in it.. something that you just can't get from plug-ins... weird! :freak:

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