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What ($500 used VA) synth should Not-me buy?

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  • What ($500 used VA) synth should Not-me buy?

    Not-me is our producer. He's a prog-effects-laden guitarist in his own band and his exposure to my rig has whetted his appetite to add a synth to his stage setup. I'd been pushing him hard towards the MiniBrute, but he can't let go of the idea that keys = chords and no-presets = really-slow-between songs, despite my demonstrating the contrary on both counts. I still believe what he needs is the MiniBrute, but it's not what he wants.



    His idea of the sounds he wants to make is dominated by Rush, Signals-era in particular. I know he won't be happy for long unless he's making his own sounds, since he wants to learn about synthesis from this experience. His budget pushes him into the used market, but it's right into the era (90s-00s) where I know very little about the instruments.



    So, down to hard requirements. We've talked about these in quite some detail while I explained why the MiniBrute was perfect and he explained why it wasn't.



    -- Budget in the order of $500. Cheaper the better, of course, he has a guitarist's idea of reasonable gear budgets.



    -- Single box (not module + controller) ideally in the 37-49 key form factor. 61-key is too large for his stage footprint.



    -- Full size keys.



    -- At least limited polyphony.



    -- Half a dozen or so user presets.



    -- Strong and simple VA. He wants real analog, of course, but (hi, MiniBrute!) won't find it in the budget. Wavetable or sampler not required, the simpler the better.



    -- Intuitive programming a novice to subtractive synthesis can handle with some guidance from a seasoned analog expert (i.e. won't drive me crazy explaining it to him). I consider the Waldorf Blofeld beautifully intuitive, while the Korg Z1 is obfuscation incarnate.



    -- Must be able to program and edit patches on the synth itself rather than by computer. The GAIA kind of fails here because while it's beautifully easy to program a patch, it's essentially impossible to edit it without having the software to tell you what you programmed in the first place.



    I could of course just sell him my GAIA when I replace it with a second Blofeld, but I'd rather find the right synth for him than pass off something that might make him throw up his hands and become a preset jockey.



    So you know my perspective, my own rig is: Minimoog Voyager Old School, Moog Taurus 3, Waldorf Blofeld Keyboard, Roland GAIA (to be replaced with another Blofeld), and Korg Z1 (which is currently dedicated to organ duty until I can get an XK, with the first Blofeld already replacing its synth duties). My playing style is very Canterbury Scene.



    I know virtually nothing about the synth models and capabilities in his price range on the used market, but I know you all do. Fire away!

    Martyn Wheeler (playing synthesizers/organ like it's 1973 in England)

    now: Fredfin Wallaby
    was: The Gonzo Symphonic

  • #2
    As much as I love the Minibrute for what it is, I'm not sure why you're pushing it so hard. It's not polyphonic, it has no presets (doesn't matter how good you are at programming, switching sounds during a show without presets is a huge PITA)... It's a terrible choice for a first performance synth.



    Used Virus KB, MiniNova, MS2000, SH-201, Radius... There are a lot of VA options. Actually, I generally recommend ROMplers for first synths

    Comment


    • #3






      Quote Originally Posted by Iamthesky
      View Post



      Rush, Signals-era



      -- 49 key form factor.



      -- Full size keys.



      -- At least limited polyphony.



      -- Half a dozen or so user presets.



      -- Strong and simple VA.



      -- Must be able to program and edit patches on the synth itself




      Oberheim OB12







      These are hard to find but, is the perfect synth for what he wants to do. The large display makes it a dream to program.

      Comment


      • #4






        Quote Originally Posted by burster
        View Post

        Oberheim OB12







        These are hard to find but, is the perfect synth for what he wants to do. The large display makes it a dream to program.




        In fact, they're very hard to find, and well over $500 when you do.



        I agree with Audacity, go universal rompler. A great budget set-up would be a Korg TR-Rack and a midi controller. You could easily do that for $400 - maybe even $300 if you find a deal on the controller.
        Gear: buncha stuff and a couple bazilion cables

        Comment


        • #5






          Quote Originally Posted by bruto
          View Post

          A great budget set-up would be a Korg TR-Rack and a midi controller. You could easily do that for $400 - maybe even $300 if you find a deal on the controller.




          Thats a no go.









          Quote Originally Posted by Iamthesky
          View Post

          -- Single box (not module + controller) ideally in the 37-49 key form factor. 61-key is too large for his stage footprint.




          A Novation Nova or Ultranova would work since they do big Rush type pads and modern synths sounds

          Comment


          • #6
            Alesis Ion. Best choice for old-school analog sounds, polyphony, presets, plenty of knobs to twirl, perfect size, price & form-factor.
            Korg Z1, Yamaha Clavinova CLP-350, Alesis Ion, Alesis QS8.2, Kawai K3M, Arturia CS-80V, VAZ Modular, co-author of MinimogueVA and Arppe2600va.

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            • #7
              Alesis Ion or Novation X-Station.



              Edit: Okay looking at the complete auction prices for used X-Station 61's, I would say one of those for sure. They are hovering between $250 and $400 and have a much better KB than the Ion (I used to own bot at the same time - though just the 25 key X-Station). Also, like the Ultranova, the X-Station has a USB audio interface.
              Gribs

              ...Music can be used to stimulate mass emotion, while mathematics cannot; and musical incapacity is recognized (no doubt rightly) as mildly discreditable, whereas most people are so frightened of the name of mathematics that they are ready, quite unaffectedly, to exaggerate their own mathematical stupidity.

              G.H. Hardy in A Mathematician's Apology (London 1941).

              Comment


              • #8
                Korg Z1 (got mine for under $300)

                Novation KS4

                Korg MS2000

                Yamaha AN1X

                Roland SH201

                Alesis ION

                Could get an SQ80 for under $500 also (just saying)

                Alesis Fusion 6HD





                Take your pick.
                Venn Diagram - Artist WebsiteMachinedrum, Monomachine, Analog Four, Octatrack, NordModular, Moog SubPhatty, Novation Nova, Korg MS20 Mini, Maschine, Tassman, Aalto, Absynth, Uhe's ACE & AudulusContact

                Comment


                • #9
                  (Kind of tricky to reply on this forum at the moment. Reply with quote keeps failing, so please forgive the lack of attribution)



                  I'm not discounting any advice in this thread, and I'll be following the leads you have given me, thanks!



                  There is, however, one listed in this thread I'd have to discount out of hand: the Korg Z1. I own one. For a novice to program patches on that would be a nightmare -- have you looked at how filter keytrack is programmed, for example? I can't say, "Well, if you want it to sound brighter at the lower end, turn down the filter keytrack" -- you have to set the starting note, the ending note, the slope, and a couple more numeric parameters, instead of just turning something to 80%.








                  As much as I love the Minibrute for what it is, I'm not sure why you're pushing it so hard. It's not polyphonic, it has no presets (doesn't matter how good you are at programming, switching sounds during a show without presets is a huge PITA)... It's a terrible choice for a first performance synth.



                  Polyphony and presets didn't come up until the entire discussion was almost over. Up until then, it was a synth to learn the principles of synthesis, and to play some cool synth lines on stage occasionally. As an analog instrument that puts everything right out there at your fingertips, the MiniBrute does that extremely well.



                  But I think (but am open to being convinced otherwise) that there might be a small misunderstanding here:






                  Actually, I generally recommend ROMplers for first synths

                  Martyn Wheeler (playing synthesizers/organ like it's 1973 in England)

                  now: Fredfin Wallaby
                  was: The Gonzo Symphonic

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Nord Lead 1 or 2.



                    If you carefully watch eBay you can definitely find one for $500 or under. Checking completed listings will confirm this.



                    Enjoy.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      I must say I like what I'm reading about the Alesis Ion.



                      Google isn't coming through for me on a synth-capability based review of the X-Station, though, all I can find focus mainly on the controller functionality. Anyone have a cool link stashed away somewhere to that kind of review?

                      Martyn Wheeler (playing synthesizers/organ like it's 1973 in England)

                      now: Fredfin Wallaby
                      was: The Gonzo Symphonic

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        - If you can't find anything on the X-Station, try the K-Station. I seem to remember the synths are pretty much the same. X has interface and controller capabilities.

                        - I have to agree the Alesis ION fits the bill nicely for what you are asking. And it (and its little sister the Micron) do have that 90's vibe going on.

                        - If he's not totally down on the ROMpler, a Motif or Motif ES with the Vintage Keys library would make him smile and serve him well, at least until he tries to program it.
                        Korg Kronos 88 :: Korg M3-73 Xpanded (w/Radias board) :: Yamaha MOXF6 :: SpaceStation V3 :: Behringer B212A Powered Speaker :: Akai EWI USB :: Variax Guitar :: PODx3 Live! :: Martin Acoustic Guitar :: Mandolin :: Steinberg Cubase 7.5 :: Omnisphere :: Trilian :: V-Collection :: Korg Legacy Collection :: SampleTank 3 :: Sonik Synth 2 :: Ravenscroft 275 Piano :: Komplete 9 Ultimate :: VB3 :: Just Way Too Many VST's

                        Comment


                        • #13






                          Quote Originally Posted by ChipCurtis
                          View Post

                          Alesis Ion. Best choice for old-school analog sounds, polyphony, presets, plenty of knobs to twirl, perfect size, price & form-factor.






                          This ^^^^.

                          Comment


                          • #14
                            While the Alesis Ion is a good va it is also very vanilla sounding. It does old school great but, not so great modern synth sounds. A Novation va will do better modern saws and such plus nice pads, bass and drums. You guys need to decide if he wants old school or new school type sounds.

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              I think for a first time synth the novation x-station is a great idea - not the beefiest synth, but it has a lot of hands on, easy to understand control and built in FX to get some fun, exciting, sounds easily... and, the keyboard feels great (one of the best feeling keybeds , if not the best, of the VA's).

                              The Ion? it seems to be a love it or hate it board... I hate it. Dry, boring, actually hurts/tires my ears.

                              My favourite VA soundwise? the AN1X. There seems to be some agreement about it sounding amazing - some people hate the interface, i think it's very well designed for limited knobbage.

                              check out one of the new novations?!
                              as of now: fusion 6hd, motif 6, rs7000 + siel MONO

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