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advice and help on a true analog synth
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underground utd



Joined: Jan 11, 2011
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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 9:45 am    Post subject: advice and help on a true analog synth Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

hi everyone,
I'm looking for some advice to help me buy my 1st true analog synth but first let me tell you what I know about making sounds and music. I've been djing for 15 years (not as a pro but as a strong hobby). I play techno, electro/house and trance, all with a dark-ish, acid, pumping edge. above all I'm a vinyl lover. As for the hardware I got a Korg esx1-sd wich I'm realy happy with, making a groove in 10min is kind of satisfying. Now, here's what I know about sound synthesis : not a lot, so when I decided to buy a simple synth, I bought a Korg monotron. This was to help me understand the basics of making sounds from scratch, and it did very well. So, I'm looking to go one up again and get a true analog synth with more features, so far here's a list of what caught my attention : DSI mopho keyboard (even though it seems more complicated to edit due to it's menu-sub-menu-asign-re-asign, way to program). Doepfler dark energy (no presets, just knobs to tweek). MFB microzwerg or megazwerg or kraftzwerg (again, just knobs). My price range is 400-600€ (500-700$). One last thing, there's another keyboard waving it's flag saying "look at me I'm easy to program" and that's the Roland gaia (wich I know is a v/a).
Fire away !!
Thanx
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fengland



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PostPosted: Tue Jan 11, 2011 1:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

hey, welcome to the analog world. The dark energy and mfbs look like great learning tools being semi modular - you'll get the most bang for the modules you have and learn the most about synthesis from something modular - but they're also more complicated and more of a pain to repatch live. A couple questions I would ask is do you care about having a built in keyboard and do you want midi. If you're just making noises or are a good keyboard player and the synth has keys, you don't really need it, or you can sample textures and do melodic analog stuff that way. Midi is a necessity for me as I like to tweak live while I've got a sequence going. analog sequencers are another option. You could also consider vintage analogs, though maybe they're not as good an option if you don't have some soldering and servicing experience.
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underground utd



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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 1:03 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

hi,
If I was to buy a module without a built-in keyboard I would buy an external midi controller as well. I've not considered an analog sequencer, but I'm going to seek some infos. Thanx
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Thu Jan 13, 2011 3:07 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

There are some related threads in the Modular Synthesis subforum also.. and I think those discussions do contain some advice that should apply for you too. Possibly.. ?



http://electro-music.com/forum/forum-115.html

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psychepoppet



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 2:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I will concur with what Elektro80 and Fengland. Elektro80 stated, in regards to a "new" member here in regards to expensive modules in a modular analogue synthesizer:

"...the nasty truth here is that the basic stuff is far from basic. I´m not in any way opposed to boutique modules at all, but the basic toolbox of fully featured utility modules and a good number of these as well will take you really far. Even if you buy a gazillion of fancy stuff you will still need the basic lot in order to make sense of the fancy stuff anyway."

What I take from this message is: simple is better. So I propose to you some simple questions.

What is your objective in acquiring an analogue synthesizer? What do you plan to do with it? Is it the character of sound? Is it a desire to learn more? What do you want to learn? Is it the apparent simplicity of design? Does it have to be analogue?

600 euro or $800US (present Google calc.) is a lot of money. I own three mildly coveted analogue synthesizers. They do not make me a better musician. They do not add anything to my music that I do not bring to it my self. In fact, in my desire to seek the equipment, I have failed to develop my skills in what I had available already. Technique is most important in performance and production.

So for the solid answers:

Analog sequencer: no, they will cost you double what you are looking to buy. The ESX-1 should have some sequence ability.

DSI Mopho: +1. Read more about it and its brethren, carefully.

Dopfer/MFB: Never owned, but based on demos and specifications they should provide a good next step up from the Korg you own. MICRO/MEGAzworg. I'd go with Mega. It will provide room to learn.

Roland Gaia: If you are going "VA" then look at used equipment. I don't know the market in Europe, but look at the MS2000, JP08080, ION, etc. Those are all sub $700 in the US market. Any one of those, including the GAIA, are able to help you learn synthesis until your brain is full.

The only recommendation out of all this I would humbly suggest is that, if you are learning, save money and buy used digital gear that teaches the same principals as analogue. If you really want to save money there are lots of VST available that will do the same and MIDI keyboards are cheap.

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 7:29 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

psychepoppet wrote:

What I take from this message is: simple is better.


Sort of .. well.. yes.. sure. What I was trying to say was that the boring basic modules.. everything from oscillators to filters and logic modules provides the synthesist with all the basic tools to explore almost a limitless universe of soundcreation possibilities. You don´t need that extra tit spinning slut distorting through zero whatnot for 999USD. Get the darn boring stuff instead.

I´m a bit annoyed by the persisting mythology about analog synths. Sure, analog synths are OK. -But I think it is arrogant and disrespectful to lure aspiring synthesists into buying really expensive gear. I´m all for recommending digital gear. It is much better for the field of electronic music that people learn the basics and get into making the music rather than flatlining the Mastercard before even a note has been played.

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

And yes.. software will do just fine. psychepoppet! Yes! Good advice.

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psychepoppet



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PostPosted: Sat Jan 29, 2011 9:05 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Elektro,

Thanks for clarifying the quote. 2am + is not the best time of day to write a clear post. I was focused on the parallel and forgot the context.

I'm a recent casualty of the "analog question" and don't want others to fall in to the same trap. In fact, since you mention it, my bank sent me a new credit card just last week and replaced my photo with Kiefer Sutherland's. Very Happy

Underground,

To be clear, I strongly feel there is no need to buy analog gear to learn synthesis. However, I give a thumbs up to DSI or MFB since it would be wiser for you to buy modern analogue gear to learn on, than old gear. I still think its a better choice to buy a used knobby (slidy?) VA with midi and combine it with something like Arturia's Moog or 2600 software if your computer is up to the specs.

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fengland



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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 10:56 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Sure, if you don't want to spend any money just make music on the computer - that's how I started. But if you really want analog gear and have the money, get analog gear. Better yet, get a soldering iron, learn how to use it, and make your own - that's how I got into analog.
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Tue Feb 01, 2011 11:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Laughing

Sure.. everything is nice to have around if you have the money to spend.
I have a modular synth and other analog stuff. I don´t have a Lear Jet though. scratch Where did I go wrong? Shocked

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 4:11 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

fengland wrote:
Sure, if you don't want to spend any money just make music on the computer - that's how I started. But if you really want analog gear and have the money, get analog gear. Better yet, get a soldering iron, learn how to use it, and make your own - that's how I got into analog.


I'll back that one up. Having a seriously low budget, I was forced to use only software then did gradually get into analog and digital hardware DIY. My stuff is unique because I'm an electronics and software designer, though the parallel path of becoming a builder is just as valid (and much faster).

Mostly people here seem to start building, then pick up theory of what they are building along the way. That's the advantage of breathing solder fumes, your level of familiarity with your synth extends to a deeper level. I see posts from people all the time who want to buy their way into music and I have to wonder what their real internal cognitive understanding of what they are doing can possibly be...

Not that I'm knocking GAS, as the GAS heads fuel the market demand, but I can fill up an hour of interesting music with a $100 minisynth that I built myself, or maybe use a software model of one that I coded myself. I'm not being egotistical, I'm saying it's very rewarding to work that way. Same thing as building your own car or house or garden or whatever, you know every little detail and how it all works together.

That means your mental image of what is happening with the music is much more thorough, more detailed, and well you can "see" the whole thing operating in your mind that way. Probably that is a level of familiarity that we all want to have, but is difficult to accomplish.

It also requires limiting scope. In three years I've really only developed three semi-original circuit ideas and shared them with others here who are also building them and researching them. If you're a DJ and you need something unique in a hurry, you can't take my path - but with guidance from the good people here at electro-music, you can get awfully close to what you want to know.

As far as selecting equipment, I can't help you there since I am no collector. However I'd suggest that if you want original sounds, you should look at some of the original things that are being done here and in other places. Recently there has been some discussion about builders building custom stuff for soldering newbies as a way to help finance their hobby. It's just a thought, but something like that might be a good option - more of a building collaborative approach.

Les

p.s. oops, wandering post there, must be early in the morning!

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psychepoppet



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
:... I don´t have a Lear Jet though. scratch Where did I go wrong? Shocked


Do not fret, DIY LearJet. Build one today Very Happy

Posted Image, might have been reduced in size. Click Image to view fullscreen.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:08 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ooooh! Does it make sound?

Les

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loydb



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:17 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Get a soldering iron and order a Weird Sound Generator kit from MFOS. After that, maybe a mini-synth or experimenters' board or (if you're into it) an ultimate+expander...
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psychepoppet



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
Ooooh! Does it make sound?

Les


Only good for late 90's/early 00's style trance and minimal techno. the Virus or JP-8000 can't touch its ability to replicate the sound of a passing plane or an epic swooosh.

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psychepoppet



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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 11:37 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Of course, nothing sounds as good as a REAL LearJet. Maybe I'll find a good deal on craigslist...
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elektro80
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PostPosted: Wed Feb 02, 2011 3:47 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

psychepoppet wrote:
Of course, nothing sounds as good as a REAL LearJet. Maybe I'll find a good deal on craigslist...



My favorite jet sounds ..

the English Electric Lightning F.2A and of course the Vulcan 2B.

It´s just incredibly fab to watch the huge Vulcan take off at a really steep angle and climb at an insane speed into the skies. And it sounds great!

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pyrosonic



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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:02 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I have a nice LONG sample of a Harrier VTOL take off on my Ensoniq ASRX.

When I saw Pink Floyd at the Stadium in Cleveland touring with Animals,they had their Lear buzz the stadium to start the show.With all the mics turned on amplifying the sound it was something to hear! When everyone turned around to watch it go by the band came onstage and started playing "Sheep"
Supposedly someone got in a little trouble with the FAA over that one. Cool

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elektro80
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PostPosted: Thu Feb 03, 2011 7:34 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

elektro80 wrote:
psychepoppet wrote:
Of course, nothing sounds as good as a REAL LearJet. Maybe I'll find a good deal on craigslist...



My favorite jet sounds ..

the English Electric Lightning F.2A and of course the Vulcan 2B.

It´s just incredibly fab to watch the huge Vulcan take off at a really steep angle and climb at an insane speed. And it sounds great!

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CatchAce



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PostPosted: Wed May 11, 2011 8:58 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Inventor wrote:
Ooooh! Does it make sound?

Les



i bet you can make a decent sound for it with your synth,.... or your mouth
Mr. Green
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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 2:19 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

CatchAce wrote:
Inventor wrote:
Ooooh! Does it make sound?

Les



i bet you can make a decent sound for it with your synth,.... or your mouth
Mr. Green


lol, good bet!

Les

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kkissinger



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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 6:41 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

underground,

On a budget of $500-700 usd you may want to continue to explore VSTs and virtual analog synthesizers.

Even the lowest priced production synthesizers cost around twice your budget. Of course, there is DIY...

If you approach your analog sound as a keyboard and/or midi instrument, you will need a MIDI to CV converter (Paia electronics has a good one). It will also need a case and power supply -- In other words, a significant part of your budget will be chewed up before you add any modules!

However -- you could start out with a MFOS Weird Sound Generator. It is not expensive, is battery-powered (a safe plan for a beginning DIYr), and, if you want to "play" a sound with your computer-based sequencers, you can sample it!

Also, you can purchase a front panel for it -- often in sDIY one must drill and label one's own panels and to have access to an already-built panel is a great advantage.

(Incidentally, I am building a WSG for my granddaughter -- I think she will have a lot of fun with it!)

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fengland



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PostPosted: Thu May 12, 2011 6:55 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I guess the MFB stuff, doepfer dark energy, and vermona mono lancet haven't been mentioned and are in that price range - they all have built in midi and are true analog. The mono lancet and dark energy can be semi modular as well so they can be expanded with a modular down the road.
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Keysandslots



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PostPosted: Fri May 13, 2011 5:15 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

How about the Nord G2 demo software?

http://www.clavia.se/products/nordmodular/demo.htm

Randy
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YashN



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PostPosted: Sun Aug 14, 2011 6:36 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

For that budget, I'd say go for the DSI Tetr4 for analogue or the Alesis Ion for a very good and versatile VA. With the Ion, you may want to get some external effects too.

If you compose, always try to get a polysynth which allows you to do at least one bass note and a 3 or 4 note chord.

The rest can be multi-tracked on your computer, track by track.

If you're just starting in synthesis, I wouldn't go for the modular route, but rather would master a simple already internally 'patched' synth, or something similar (the Ion goes much further, so the possibilities are there if you need them).
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YashN



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PostPosted: Thu Oct 20, 2011 11:49 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Here are a few additional usually affordable analog synths I would recommend as well: Korg DW-8000 (or DSS-1 or Poly-800), Roland JX-3P, Roland JX-8P. You could also try a Roland Alpha Juno 1 or 2. Sometimes, you can get old Yamaha CS synths (not the 80 of course) for your price range, and also the SCI Prophet-600.

I also have seen some Matrix-1000 or Matrix-6 for those prices or lower, and you could also get a Korg Polysix for that price range.

Note that for the Korg DW, DSS and Poly, if you manage to get them modded to get realtime control over the filter cutoff and resonance, as well as external audio into the VCF, then these things are total beasts with a very agressive, strong, dark, self-resonant filter...
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