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Help me Decide Which VA to Buy!

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  • Help me Decide Which VA to Buy!

    In line with keybrdwizrd's well-stated guidelines:



    Currently have a Motif XS7, it's my bread-and butter piano, organ, poly synth, digital/analog sound layers, occasional solos and splits. MicroKorg XL, which really doesn't count 'cause I just carry it around for noodling.



    Budget $1K and under.



    Live and jamming use, mostly geared toward prog-rock. Would like it knobby. Love the sound of the AN1X but not enough hands-on control.



    Current stong contenders are the Alesis Ion, Roland JP-8000, Roland SH-201, Novation KS4 or 5. Like the sound of the Korg Radius but I think it's got a lot of deeper stuff I'd never use.



    Opinions, thoughts and musings welcome and appreciated!
    Yamaha Motif XS7 / Roland JP-8000 / MicroKorg XL / Takamine GN30CE / Alesis iMultiMix 8 / Mackie TH15A Thumps / Epiphone Les Paul Studio Deluxe / Fender SuperChamp XD

  • #2
    I haven't tried all of those, but I do like the Alesis Ion. I want to get one in fact.
    Gear: buncha stuff and a couple bazilion cables

    Comment


    • #3
      I wouldn't fault the RADIAS because it has endless possibilities! And price-wise, they are VERY reasonable. I paid $999 for my first one - new. I paid $450 for my second one, used. I absolutely love the RADIAS. Don't forget, you can get a RADIAS module and put it on an M3 keybed if 49 keys isn't enough. I mounted mine on a 73 key M3 keybed and absolutely love it (but kept the 49 key keybed still in the box).



      -Mc
      Response from John from American Musical Supply on why I have received 2 used/damaged Korg M3's and 1 reboxed M3 from Guitar Center (a.k.a. why I'll never buy from AMS again): Footfall wrote:What you're experiencing with these units is the result of our warehouse crew intentionally "overpacking" this product.Current Korg Gear: KRONOS 88 (4GB), M50-73 (PS mod), RADIAS-73, Electribe MX, Triton Pro (MOSS, SCSI, CF, 64MB RAM), DVP-1, MEX-8000, MR-1, KAOSSilator, nanoKey, nanoKontrol, nanoPAD 2

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      • #4
        For me it is the Nordlead 2X for 1499. Or for cheaper the Roland GAIA, get it from Sweetwater. It has great sounds installed for all kinds of famous songs that sound very analog and with built in effects. The Nordlead Wave is stellar but expensive. I always enjoyed my SH-201 for hands on programming and it has decent effects. Finally the new Micro Nova if you can deal with mini keys. Good ol MicroKorg is still good. There you have it, many choices to think about.

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        • #5
          was gonna say JP8K b4 reading. hard to beat it's hands-on controll if at all, seriously. Nice supersaw and feedback osc, but kinda limiting sonic-wise, as are most/all your other options in price range. If you wan't more advanced synthesis without paying top dollar for hardware then consider a nice VST(s).

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          • #6
            Of the synths you're considering, I like the JP8000 and the Ion the best. The JP8000 sounds great, and has an excellent programming interface. The thing I like most about the JP8000's interface is the immediacy of it. With all of its sliders and knobs, it's very easy to program and adjust patches in no time. I've played the Ion several times (though I've never owned one) and liked it a lot as well.



            I know you ruled out the Radias, but I'd give it a second look. It's a step up from the other synths in contention here, and they go for a very good price. I'd go so far as to say that the Radias, along with the Virus B, is about the best synth you can find these days for under $900.



            I was never a big fan of the SH-201. The JP8000 always sounded better to me, and the 201 doesn't have a display or nearly as many parameters within immediate reach.



            Novation also makes nice synths, IMO. If you want knobs and programming latitude, you might want to look at the Ultranova, or the Supernova / Supernova II.
            Kronos, Fant.G8, PC3X, K2500RS, A6, Q, M3-61, Fant.X7, Motif 8, EX5(x2), V-Synth, K2000(x2), D50, JD800, JD990, JP8080, XP30, MC909, MC505, JX-10, JX-305, TR-707, Juno 1, DR-202, Radias, Triton Pro, Wavest. SR, EMX1, ESX1, ER-1, EA-1, R3, Poly 800, RS7000, FS1R (x2), RM1X, AN200, DX200, QY70, QY100, K5000S, OB-12, Maschine,ASR10,ASR88,ASR-X Pro, EPS,Virus B, Equinox,E-Mu XL-7,MiniAK, Synthstation,X-Station, XioSynth,TG33,Venom,V50,UltraNova,Z1,Spark,Moog LP Stage II, JP8000,Tetra,Supernova 2.

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            • #7






              Quote Originally Posted by zoink
              View Post

              I was never a big fan of the SH-201. The JP8000 always sounded better to me, and the 201 doesn't have a display or nearly as many parameters within immediate reach.




              I feel different but that is maybe because I started out with the SH. While I agree that some things are missing, like display, I always thought that the effect section with the SH (reverb/mod delay) is much broader than the EQ/chorus/delay section in the JP. The sound is almost identical but the structure of the synth is slightly different.



              While the JP can do more in the cross modulation section and fine tuning of waveforms, I thought it is kind of a bummer that some sound combinations result in a mono synth and the 2nd LFO is for lever only. The SH has two full LFOs and full polyphony when using sync or ring modulation, also all waveforms on both oscillators.



              But you can go on and on, I could get almost identical sounds out of both units. The biggest different was the lack of reverb with the JP, IMHO.

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              • #8
                If you are willing to buy used (apologies if you stated otherwise and I missed it), I heartily recommend one of the older Access Virus models. I have the KB (b) version and it sounds and feels tremendous...got it and a case for under 700. I'd be surprised if any other board you'll find has a more solid build quality and keyboard action. I'm not a heavy tweaker/programmer so I can't really compare that to the other boards, but I felt like I could get any analog-type sound I might want out of it.

                Comment


                • #9






                  Quote Originally Posted by Strenge
                  View Post

                  If you are willing to buy used (apologies if you stated otherwise and I missed it), I heartily recommend one of the older Access Virus models.




                  +1
                  Kronos, Fant.G8, PC3X, K2500RS, A6, Q, M3-61, Fant.X7, Motif 8, EX5(x2), V-Synth, K2000(x2), D50, JD800, JD990, JP8080, XP30, MC909, MC505, JX-10, JX-305, TR-707, Juno 1, DR-202, Radias, Triton Pro, Wavest. SR, EMX1, ESX1, ER-1, EA-1, R3, Poly 800, RS7000, FS1R (x2), RM1X, AN200, DX200, QY70, QY100, K5000S, OB-12, Maschine,ASR10,ASR88,ASR-X Pro, EPS,Virus B, Equinox,E-Mu XL-7,MiniAK, Synthstation,X-Station, XioSynth,TG33,Venom,V50,UltraNova,Z1,Spark,Moog LP Stage II, JP8000,Tetra,Supernova 2.

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                  • #10
                    i did a side-by-side of jp and 201 feedback osc. i love feedback harmonic sweeps for bass, but don't do that cause it's mine. The 201's is not only poly but I liked it better because it had more of a deep growl on the lowest harmonics settings, the JP had a broader overall range though. The flanger/chorus is usefull on the JP. I think the delay's great though having three paramaters. It can have a 'canned' reverb-like sound if the left-most knob is low and the others are high (I forgot which is which). Ultimately, a multi fx box/program can be had for a low price and i think essential with synths. Reverb, delay, and distortion 'should' be in every synth, but become obsolete with multi fx.

                    Again though to me the JP's not great sonic-wise besides the feedback osc because it's outdated especially if you like VSTs. It does have a unique tone, and I happen to like it, but it's hard to beat the controlls, knobs + slider for filter cut and res right next to eachother to simultanously tweak, once you learn that you'll be hooked, but don't do that cause it's mine. Some knobs slightly stick back at 0/neutral so you always set it right quickly. I love the lever, whenever I messaged roland about something completely different than the JP, I'd sometimes throw it in there to be remade in new products. It can do all this spur of the moment and simultanously: fade into lfo amount, tweak both lfo rate and amount simultanously, pitch bend, rub the assignable ribbin control with heal of hand. I actually love the cheap feeling keyboard, easy to rip on. Wish they'd make a JP8000 part 2 instead of all the BS they pumped out over the years. I'd also suggest MS2000 over the microkorg if you don't need battery-powered.

                    Ultimately, the best thing to is after you've narrowd it down using youtube vids, specs, and reviews and are stuck between a few is buy them all or one at a time and then resell them, they hold about their value, and you'll know which one(s) you want.

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                    • #11
                      I know it's not really a VA, but I'd strongly recommend the original Roland V-Synth.



                      Also, have you considered the Novation Ultranova? I played one for about 45 mins in the shop and was blown away.

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                      • #12






                        Quote Originally Posted by Nismology
                        View Post

                        I know it's not really a VA, but I'd strongly recommend the original Roland V-Synth.



                        Also, have you considered the Novation Ultranova? I played one for about 45 mins in the shop and was blown away.






                        The V-Synth actually does have a VA section. It's nothing special, but nice enough, and it's a pretty good bonus on top of everything else the V-Synth can do.



                        And I agree, the Ultranova really is quite a synth. I'd like it even better if they made it multitimbral and gave it 49 keys and more dedicated knobs. It's probably the only synth I can think of in its price range that has the sound quality and programming latitude of a top-end VA. The fact that you can now find them for $400 used is pretty amazing.
                        Kronos, Fant.G8, PC3X, K2500RS, A6, Q, M3-61, Fant.X7, Motif 8, EX5(x2), V-Synth, K2000(x2), D50, JD800, JD990, JP8080, XP30, MC909, MC505, JX-10, JX-305, TR-707, Juno 1, DR-202, Radias, Triton Pro, Wavest. SR, EMX1, ESX1, ER-1, EA-1, R3, Poly 800, RS7000, FS1R (x2), RM1X, AN200, DX200, QY70, QY100, K5000S, OB-12, Maschine,ASR10,ASR88,ASR-X Pro, EPS,Virus B, Equinox,E-Mu XL-7,MiniAK, Synthstation,X-Station, XioSynth,TG33,Venom,V50,UltraNova,Z1,Spark,Moog LP Stage II, JP8000,Tetra,Supernova 2.

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          I spent more time making new sounds on my sh201 than any other synth/board I've ever owned. It was a lot more enjoyable to use than my ms2000. I just never really liked it's tone. I always had to roll some highs off in my mixer, because the filter just couldnt cut out the harshness until long after the point of cutting out too much else.
                          Age of Shadows Metal with keyboards and a singer who actually sings.

                          Comment


                          • #14






                            Quote Originally Posted by Sparkytfl
                            View Post

                            I spent more time making new sounds on my sh201 than any other synth/board I've ever owned. It was a lot more enjoyable to use than my ms2000. I just never really liked it's tone. I always had to roll some highs off in my mixer, because the filter just couldnt cut out the harshness until long after the point of cutting out too much else.




                            That is exactly the same experience I had. But even with it's harshness it was warmer than my workstation. My new Jupiter 50 sounds decent in the synth department but the Gaia still has it beat in that department. Just like a clone organ just sounds better on organ. If I had the time and stage space at a gig I would run 3 keyboards; a workstation, a VA and a Clone wheel. I am not missing the weighted keys for piano insofar as cover music goes.

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                            • #15
                              I think most VAs do that to an extent - sound harsh with the filter open.



                              I found that the perfect solution in my Alesis VA is to always have the saw waves at 97% and never go beyond that. Then that digital sheen goes away. I wish the SH-201 would let you do stuff like that, but it's quite a bit more basic in nature.
                              http://www.reverbnation.com/christianschulze

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