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Hartmann Neuron - Is it worth getting one? And for how much?
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paugui



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PostPosted: Sun Nov 22, 2009 5:44 am    Post subject: Hartmann Neuron - Is it worth getting one? And for how much? Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi

I was listening to some demos of the Hartmann Neuron (it seems that there are some more available on youtube since the last time I checked out, and some are quite cool).
It seems like the perfect synth for backing a track with quite nice sound pads.

However, I heard that the units could be more reliable and that the software can have the same sound, except that you don't have effects in the software. You also lose the gorgeous interface the keyboard has. But the software seems way cheaper.

This way I was wondering what are the good reasons to get a Hartmann Neuron keyboard and what is a reasonable price for one at the moment?
Also, since I saw we have some Neuron users here, what do you guys think of your experience with the Neuron? I said that the sounds on youtube seemed nice, but I'm not sure if a similar sound would be unobtainable with a cheaper synth.
What do you guys think?


Best regards

Paugui
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tahome



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 1:42 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I'd have to say yes, the Neuron is quite unique.

If you're after exploring interesting sounds and atmospheres and getting creative there's no other synth like the Neuron. If you're more the analytic type who knows in advance what kind of sound he wants then the Neuron isn't for you, unless you have 2+ years of experience with it. Creating sounds on the Neuron is more like exploring and finding them by accident than creating them in a straightforward manner. However, the upshot of all this is that it creates sounds that really have an almost organic quality to them which would require tons of layers of complex sounds on a traditional synth. It really depends on what you're after.

Some of the factory sounds are really bad (but there are additional libraries, s.b.) because apparently whoever designed the presets didn't know the first thing about what the Neuron does and what it excels at.

Also, there is a very helpful forum that sells spare parts and has free add-on software for it: http://www.surroundsfx.com/forum

I don't know what would be a realistic price, but maybe someone at SurroundSFX will know.

HTH
--th
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EdisonRex
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 2:34 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi Paugui

"All you hear" about the <<neuron>> is best found at http://www.surroundsfx.com where Stephan Bernsee keeps what community there is together.

I have a <<neuron>>, as I am sure you know. I bought it the same week that Hartmann went out of business, although I didn't know that at the time. Had I known all the back story, I'm not sure I would have chosen differently anyway.

The <<neuron>> is quite unique from both the hardware architecture and the user interface. What sound like plain patches can take on some radical dimensions due to the nature of the underlying software. The so-called "adaptive resynthesis" is actually very powerful even though I am not sure I would have ascribed it all of the hype that was in the original manuals about it.

The biggest problem with the <<neuron>> is the orphan status, both with the distributor Schlafhorst and the successor in interest to Hartmann. There are not realistically likely to be any updates to the Neuron's OS, which means that some of the hardware's features will never be implemented. The hardware platform itself is underpowered, even though the hardware uses a fairly standard (for 2002) PC motherboard and (for 2002) Linux, upgrading either remains something to be hoped for, rather than something to be expected.

The <<neuron>> is fragile; those joysticks and encoders break easily. There is a hard disk in it. Owners are wise to do regular backups and keep a disk image handy. Fortunately it is Linux and there exist plenty of technical resources to help keep Neurons alive. I have never traveled with my <<neuron>>, and I don't think I will ever put it on a plane or anything like that.

As for the <<neuron>> VS, well, that poor thing is dead due to lack of development past the point where Hartmann went bankrupt. The controller is cool perhaps for other uses.

There is a relatively small core of users who are quite faithful to the <<neuron>> and they have learned how to maintain their systems overall. I think that there are people who want to buy a used one, like all rare items, for working models the price will go up. Even non working models may become valuable (for restoration or parts). (or already have).

As to the sound, I don't think I've ever heard anything like it before, the sound is different from other resynthesis systems, and the interface once mastered is expressive. It takes some work to understand it and make it work for you.

Anyway, Bernsee's site is really where you would go to get information on the <<neuron>>. Hope this helps.

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tahome



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 4:01 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Second that. I believe the SurroundSFX is Denis Goekdag's site though (see http://www.surroundsfx.com/contact.html ), although I've seen Stephan Bernsee (who invented the technology behind the Neuron) visit there, too.

As for the NeuronVS there is a software that allows it to be used as a MIDI controller (Mac only though), look for Nuke4all on the SurroundSFX site.

--th
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paugui



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:27 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi

Thanks for your replies.

I think (and from what I've heard on my researches on this site) the Neuron has a quite nice sound for pads, and it seems quite unique, which is great.

I am just a bit worried with the problems.
If a unit has been working well until now, is it likely to not present problems in the near future? I mean, if you get a stable unit, is it likely to remain stable?

I would also like to have an idea of how much do they worth at the moment.
There is one in Portugal being on sale for 4500 euros, but that seems quite too much in my opinion...
It would be good because I could pick it up, but it seems really expensive, for that price I can get a lot of equipment... probably all top digital synths from the 90's except a VL1... and nowadays I could get a Solaris and still spare some money.
I also am aware that the last units were sold for around 2500 euros or less, which makes me think that, even considering the rarity factor, 3500 euros is more than a fair price.
What do you think?
Also, the software can be had for much less than 500 euros and seems to be able to get the same sound (minus the effects). It is just a shame to lose the wonderful hardware, and from what I've heard I would almost need a top PC dedicated exclusively to the Neuron, which makes the package more expensive... but even considering that... I almost feel like 3500 euros for a machine that might fail one of these days and that will be quite hard (and I guess expensive) to repair, doesn't seem that wise...

How much would you offer for a Neuron, what would be a fair price for both the seller and the buyer?
And do you think it is worth spending much more on the Hardware when the software can be had for a much cheaper price?


Thanks in advance and best regards

Paugui
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EdisonRex
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I think 4500 euros is probably too much, and I own one. That said, mine isn't for sale. 3500 might be a fair price, if it comes with spare parts (Denis was selling these a while back) and you do a backup and treat it like a computer.

Which is really the point, it's not as "road worthy" as other systems, it having a hard disk and a big PSU fan in it, and fragile little orange joysticks. Despite the steel case, there are a lot of stories about disk failures. I don't know of any motherboard failures, though. Support is by community, but that's like all obsolete electronics.

If you do buy one, let me know, I can help you understand the various tools that you need to work the thing.

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paugui



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 12:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Hi

So if I take good care of it, it is likely to behave well, right?

And if I have some problems, I can always count on the forum you mentioned, right?
And most problems are likely to be solvable, right?


If that is the case, I think I try to get the synth, if I get a bit lower the 4000 euros mark.

It seems to have a really nice sound for pads (by the way EdisonRex, I've downloaded your Ephemera's on this site and you do some really nice stuff), so I think it would fit my music.
By the way, in terms of other sounds, especially melodic leads and crazy effects, can it do some nice sounds too?
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:42 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

The majority of them seem to be working fine. I should think that given I think there are not more than 3000 out there, that 30 or so will have failed in some big way, which is 1%, and we'd have heard about most of them on Denis' site (I stand corrected, although Stephan is prosoniq who built the software technology and is quite paired with surroundsfx anyway)...
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:43 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

oh and it's capable of fairly normal sounds, just use a simple model.
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paugui



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

And the leads, can it create a nice "analog" like lead, in terms of having a live feeling (since there are a lot of modulators) and some warm to it too?
At least, if I use an analog filter to process it, might it be possible?
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seraph
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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 3:52 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

tahome wrote:

As for the NeuronVS there is a software that allows it to be used as a MIDI controller (Mac only though), look for Nuke4all on the SurroundSFX site.


arrow http://www.surroundsfx.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=433

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tahome



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 10:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

seraph wrote:
tahome wrote:

As for the NeuronVS there is a software that allows it to be used as a MIDI controller (Mac only though), look for Nuke4all on the SurroundSFX site.


arrow http://www.surroundsfx.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=9&t=433

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Yes, I know, but it's free now! Smile

--th
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tahome



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PostPosted: Mon Nov 23, 2009 11:40 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

EdisonRex wrote:
The majority of them seem to be working fine. I should think that given I think there are not more than 3000 out there, that 30 or so will have failed in some big way, which is 1%,


I don't think that there are this many Neurons. I seem to recall (although I can't find that posting now) that there are only a couple of 100. I believe you are thinking about the NeuronVS here which was cheaper and probably sold more units.

[EDIT] Found it:
http://www.surroundsfx.com/forum/post-3273.html#p3273

So it *is* a pretty rare piece of equipment.

There are two main issues that seem to crop up with the Neuron (I had the same problems with mine): 1. dead BIOS batteries and 2. dead hard drives. Both are things that will fail on a regular PC (and most other synths) as well, and are fairly easy to replace. You need to reset the boot sequence after exchanging the battery but that is pretty straightforward and a detailed manual exists for this as well, which can be downloaded from the "Neuron file vault" at http://neuron.audiodsp.net/ (latest update is from 31-10-2009 so it seems to be pretty well maintained).

EdisonRex wrote:
...and we'd have heard about most of them on Denis' site (I stand corrected, although Stephan is prosoniq who built the software technology and is quite paired with surroundsfx anyway)...


He is the founder of Prosoniq but last time I talked to him at Frankfurt MusikMesse he was working at a company called the DSP Dimension ( http://www.dspdimension.com ) which he told me is the former R&D department of Prosoniq. They do development for Prosoniq, but apparently also for a lot of other companies in the audio and video biz. Pretty cutting edge stuff btw, check out http://www.sonicworx.com

I don't know how he is affiliated with Denis/SurroundSFX.com though, but Denis seems to own 3 Neurons and a Kyma system ( http://www.surroundsfx.com/forum/post-3281.html#p3281 )... so whatever it is he's doing he's doing it big... wow!
--th

PS: I would not recommend the Neuron as a synth for leads - it doesn't have a mono/glide mode and its strength is clearly in the ambient/pad/atmosphere department.
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paugui



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 3:30 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

So, if I get a Neuron and if it works fine, most problems I will find are likely to be fixable, right? At least in the near future.
Cause that is a really big concern to me to spend so much in a equipment that might fail beyond repair...

My main aim was to use it for pads, but some good leads would be welcome.
I think I will just try to get a real analog then for some solos (or maybe a MEK Razz).
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tahome



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:47 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

It's all pretty much standard PC parts (as in any modern synth), except for the user interface panels and the sound hardware so yes, you should be able to get replacement parts when it fails. I've even seen someone sell replacement hard drives with the OS preinstalled so if you're not afraid of using a screwdriver every now and then you should be fine.

The most annoying thing is the orange sticks that break off easily, but you can order them from the SurroundSFX.com store from time to time ( http://www.surroundsfx.com/other.html ).

HTH
--th

Last edited by tahome on Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:52 am; edited 1 time in total
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paugui



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PostPosted: Tue Nov 24, 2009 5:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ok, it seems much better now... I was a bit afraid of potential problems but knowing that, it makes me feel more into getting it.


Thank you all for your replies,
Best regards

Paugui
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paugui



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PostPosted: Tue May 11, 2010 3:30 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I haven't got one yet, but I was reading this review on SOS - http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/aug03/articles/hartmannneuron.htm - and I was wondering... are the problems they mention still present on the Neuron?
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tahome



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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 3:59 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

That review sucked... I guess they must have pissed that guy off or something. They probably didn't buy enough ad space, dunno. It's not half as bad as it would suggest.

The Neuron does have its quirks (setup mode not working right, sticks breaking off, fan being too loud, the CPU being underpowered, built-in sounds suck - for the most part, ethernet sound transfer etc) but other than that it's a fantastic instrument and I love it.

If you're willing to live with its wrinkles (some of which can be ironed out by installing a new fan etc) you'll get an instrument that is truly without competition both sonically and from the creative standpoint.

Also, even though Hartmann died in 2003 (?) there is an active user forum at http://www.surroundsfx.com/forum that has been hugely helpful to me.

--th
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paugui



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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 7:24 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Ok, that sounds much better.

If anyone wants to trade one for the equipment I have for sale, just let me know Razz
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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 8:45 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I've always been confused by Hartmann Neuron vs. Jomox Resonator Neuronium
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tahome



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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 12:03 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I don't see how this can happen.

The Neuron analyzes a sample with a Neural Network and creates a model to resynthesize and manipulate the sound.

The Resonator Neuronium is a bunch of analog feedback circuits that are interconnected in a network and produce some bleeps and noises...

Totally different to my ears. Check out youtube, it should become very clear then.

--th
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PostPosted: Wed May 12, 2010 1:17 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

tahome wrote:
I don't see how this can happen.


Maybe because your German is better than mine? Laughing

I found a comparison page, but... I don't read Deutsch.

I do thank you for taking the time to write up a quick little explanation. That will suffice for me.

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tahome



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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 9:02 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

I see - sorry. I wasn't aware of the fact that the info is only available in German.

Cheers
--th
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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 11:14 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

It would have been cool to be born Swiss. I hear everyone there speaks at least 3 languages.

I'll be going to Switzerland this summer, but to study French instead of German.

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PostPosted: Thu May 13, 2010 1:06 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Cool! I must admit that my French is a bit weak because I live at the German border and never used it much, but I'm happy to be born here - it's a nice country and I can guarantee that you will have a great time here!

Cheers,
--th
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