The Synth Thread...

All instruments that aren't guitars (or bass guitars).
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Shadoweclipse13
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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Wed Nov 23, 2022 6:43 pm

redchapterjubilee wrote:
Wed Nov 23, 2022 4:03 am
There’s no manual with it so I’ll need to download it.
That's one thing that drives me nuts about Arturia. I'm lucky that I have access to a printer at work, but not everyone does.
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http://www.offsetguitars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=104282&p=1438384#p1438384

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mackerelmint
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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by mackerelmint » Wed Nov 23, 2022 6:45 pm

Shadoweclipse13 wrote:
Wed Nov 23, 2022 6:43 pm
redchapterjubilee wrote:
Wed Nov 23, 2022 4:03 am
There’s no manual with it so I’ll need to download it.
That's one thing that drives me nuts about Arturia. I'm lucky that I have access to a printer at work, but not everyone does.
Yeah, true story. It's pretty much par for the course anymore, but it's still bullshit. The "manual" for the Korg volcas is just a sheet that tells you what the buttons do. Good thing Youtube exists.
This is an excellent rectangle

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marqueemoon
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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by marqueemoon » Wed Nov 23, 2022 7:52 pm

mackerelmint wrote:
Wed Nov 23, 2022 6:21 pm
marqueemoon wrote:
Wed Nov 23, 2022 7:21 am
Considering picking up a new midi controller to replace my ancient Oxygen 8.

Anyone have thoughts on the Arturia Keystep?

I’d like to find something compact with full sized din midi connections, and it checks both of those boxes.
I've got the keystep pro. It's really, really good. If you're looking for cheap and good without all the extra sequencing, then the regular keystep will certainly fill the bill. They're really solidly built, unlike the small MIDI controllers of the mid aughts.
Awesome. Yeah, the Oxygen 8 really looks and feels like a toy and it’s huge.

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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by Shadoweclipse13 » Wed Nov 23, 2022 9:52 pm

mackerelmint wrote:
Wed Nov 23, 2022 6:45 pm
Shadoweclipse13 wrote:
Wed Nov 23, 2022 6:43 pm
redchapterjubilee wrote:
Wed Nov 23, 2022 4:03 am
There’s no manual with it so I’ll need to download it.
That's one thing that drives me nuts about Arturia. I'm lucky that I have access to a printer at work, but not everyone does.
Yeah, true story. It's pretty much par for the course anymore, but it's still bullshit. The "manual" for the Korg volcas is just a sheet that tells you what the buttons do. Good thing Youtube exists.
For something simple, I could almost understand it, however, for something that simple, what's really the cost of printing a single, small sheet? I've got a Drumbrute Impact, and there's a LOT to learn. It annoyed me to have to print something on my own for something that intricate...
Pickup Switching Mad Scientist
http://www.offsetguitars.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=8&t=104282&p=1438384#p1438384

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Zork
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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by Zork » Thu Nov 24, 2022 4:23 am

Speaking of the Keystep: Is anyone aware of something like the Keystep, but with 5 octaves and full size keys but without a ton of pads, faders and DAW controls? Like literally a BIG Keystep? Lately I'm thinking more and more about maybe selling my Novation Peak and getting a Sequential Take 5 instead. The Peak sounds phenomenal but has no global tempo knob (why? why???), no sequencer, and the arpeggiator controls are hidden somewhere in a menu. The Take 5 has not 3 but only 2 oscillators, not 8 but only 5 voices and only a three and a half octaves keyboard but the UI is much better and it's not a desktop unit. On the other hand, something like a bigger Keystep would solve pretty much everything I don't like about the Peak.

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Mechanical Birds
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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by Mechanical Birds » Sun Nov 27, 2022 11:09 am

I’ve been wanting to get something cool for a long time but I know less than nothing about these things. I’ve played with a bunch of microkorgs in my life and that seems like a solid option - looking at one of the black ones (Deluxe?) on reverb but I have no idea what would be a good price for one. I’d like to keep it around $200 if possible. Do I have any options at that point? The only thing I know I want is something polyphonic

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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by Zork » Sun Nov 27, 2022 12:21 pm

I played a Microkorg for a loooong time but at one point I wanted more knobs and full size keys and more voices polyphony. I got a Novation K Station and while it's quite ugly, it sounds very good and has a great control layout. They are not exactly rare but you might have to wait a bit until you find one used. They are around 250€, maybe less.

https://www.vintagesynth.com/novation/kstation.php

Edited to add that finding a good poly synth for 200 bucks is not an easy task. They all will have at least one of the following downsides:
- only a two octaves keybed
- no knobs and hardcore menu diving to program
- only 4 voice polyphony
- minikeys
- weak sounding oscillators
- limited modulation possibilities

...which doesn't mean they're necessarily bad synths. The Microkorg has several of those downsides but it sounds great and can cover a lot of ground. It's certainly not a bad synth. But at that price point, you will have to do without certain things.
Last edited by Zork on Sun Nov 27, 2022 11:21 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by Mechanical Birds » Sun Nov 27, 2022 11:20 pm

Oohff

I know even less than I thought. I understand the list but have no frame of reference to compare different synths or how to judge a lot of that stuff anyway

Let’s say it’s $300 instead of $200 - think that’d open any more options for me? I appreciate the knowledge either way, thanks

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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by Zork » Mon Nov 28, 2022 8:25 am

There are good synths available in that price range but it depends what is important to you. Some people get along with mini keys, others hate them, some don't even care. Some people get along with deep menu diving totally fine, some are utterly annoyed by it. But let's see, for 200 to 300 bucks, maybe a tad more you can get:

Korg Microkorg:
The Microkorg has a great engine and you can program basically anything in the world. It's a very versatile synth with a great sound and the program matrix is not as bad as the internet repeats all the time. It has only four voice polyphony and the keybed is really pretty bad, though. For the keybed you can connect any keyboard with midi and call it a day but to me, four voices for a poly synth is just not enough. Of course you can adapt your playing and/or the programming to this limitation, but in the long run, 6 or 8 voices make a huge difference.

Korg Minilogue (not XD version):
The Minilogue has for almost every parameter a dedicated knob and is very easy to program, very easy to understand and a great beginners synth. The keybed is much better than the microkorg's, still not full size keys which might or might not be okay for you. Compared to digital "virtual analog" synths, it has limited modulation possibilities and is not as versatile. It sounds pretty good, though, and could be what you are looking for. It has only four voices, too, which, to me, makes it less interresting than other contenders but it's great for learning and understanding synthesis.

Korg R3:
The Korg R3 has 8 voice polyphony, a three octaves full size keybed, a vocoder and the engine is based on the Korg Radias. It's a very powerful and good sounding synth and delivers actually pretty much everything people complain about with the Microkorg. It has limited controls on the surface and you have to click through a lot of menues to program it, though.

Novation Ultranova:
Another virtual analog from the early 2000s. It's very similar to the Korg R3 but the user interface is much better: For every block, like filter, mixer, envelopes, there is a button. So you jump in the corresponding module and the 8 encoders change their function. You can also put it in "tweak" mode and program the encoders to control your favourite parameters. It's really quite clever. It has 18 voices polyphony, a Fatar keybed with aftertouch and a powerful engine (6 envelopes!). It sounds a bit digital or cold, though, and is often described as a bit sterile, but with a bit of oscillator drift and a bit of drive it can go pretty vintagey as well.

Novation K-Station:
The K Station has lots of knobs and is really fun to program and tweak the sounds, There are menues, but you will need them only once in a while and you can get a long way without them at all. It sounds a bit warmer than the Ultranova, sometimes described as soft. I had one for a while in a drum and bass project and I had never trouble to cut through the mix, though. It has 8 voices polyphony and you can route the effect sends to your modulation wheel, which is a very cool feature. Now, it only has a two octaves keyboard which is really a bummer in a poly synth. There is a rack version, the KS Rack, though, which even has multimode filter instead of only a lowpass, but people ask more than 400 nowadays, which frankly is too much for what it does.

Akai Miniak/Alesis Micron:
They are the same synth. The Akai has shortcuts to the modules via the keyboard and is a little easier to program than the Micron. They were dicussed in this thread a few days ago, so I'll leave it with that. The engine is very powerful, probably the most powerful from all, but could be a bit overwhelming in a first synth, especially since there are only three knobs to program it.

Mind you, these are all synths I either owned or still own myself or were owned and used by friends of mine. All of these are synths I would recommend for different reasons/purposes. I would probably advise you to get the Minilogue if you are totally new to synthesis, because they are pretty much what you see is what you get. Understanding what you do is just more important than the number of synth voices. If you want very powerful and versatile synthesis capabillities and are not afraid of menues and reading the manual, I'd probably get the Ultranova. The K-Station was for me really a joy to play, but it really should have a third octave on the keyboard, so that's why I would lean more towards Ultranova.

Others in the price range are Roland Boutique range (they are so tiny!) or the JD-Xi or maybe the Gaia, but I have no experience with them and I don't feel very attracted by them somehow. I had a Waldorf Blofeld for a while, though, and while it has probably by far the most impressive specs of all the synths in the price range, it was the most uninspiring synth I ever had.

A great mono synth can be more fun than a poly with compromises. Maybe have a look at the Novation Bass Station 2, too.

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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by Mechanical Birds » Mon Nov 28, 2022 10:41 am

Holy shit thank you so much for taking the time to drop all that knowledge, I really really appreciate it. Hopefully narrow it down soon and if I do will post in here

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Re: The Synth Thread...

Post by Zork » Mon Nov 28, 2022 12:49 pm

You're very welcome. :)

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