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Need sturdy small VA to compliment Micro X/Triton for Live Use/Performance


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  • Need sturdy small VA to compliment Micro X/Triton for Live Use/Performance

    I'm looking for a sturdy, road worthy synth with a great soundset and easily tweakable real time to add to my live setup. I've been playing in a Top 40 band for years in the last year we've been leaning less from tired rock standards to hitting current top 40. We have two keys players in the band and we split up duties when attacking any newer modern top 40 stuff (LMFAO, BEP). He's running a M3 and a Virus and I currently have a Korg Micro-X, Roland XP30 and a heavy, luggable Triton Extreme (from time to time) depending on size of stage and setup. He's usually attacking the main parts and I'm adding addition overlays, leads and dynamics with sfx. I'm looking for light, easily tweakable VA to cover leads, stabs and also sound FX like hits, stingers, sub drop and other type sampled percussion. The MicroX is a perfect gem for these types of synthy nuances. It's quickly becoming my go to synth for these types of sounds and textures. It pains me to say because it has such a flimsy, light build and it's control features aren't neccesarily road worthy. But it has a small footprint (I often midi out/in to a VP-550 I have in stage for 49 keys). The problem is... I'm often changing patches quickly and even while saving patches to a Favorites bank and being able to create combi's I'm only working with 25 keys... And the real reason. I've sorta exhausted my sound options with the MicroX. (using, and tweaking most of the applicable patches).

    I've narrowed down a few choices all in the $400-700 range which is what I'm looking to pay. Novation Ultranova, Waldorf Blofeld (desktop) and M Audio Venom. The Roland Gaia is also a possibility... it just looks a little big for the footprint. I don't need horns, piano, organ or other BnB sounds. I have that covered in the romplers I use. I'm looking for a more modern sounding VA to cover alot of the 'fat sawtooth stack' you hear in current productions. I've owned a Micron, MS2000B, and R3 in the past. The Micron wasn't particularly road worthy. The first I owned had the control knob sheared off in a fall. The second had a flakey power input. The R3 was nice... presets were a little uninspired though, and tweaking and editing on four tiny screens was a bit of a chore. The desktop Blofeld intriques me, but having demo'd the keys version in a local store I wasn't particularly drawn to it. I also demo'd the Venom (although quickly). It had a grainy harshness I was looking for but I felt scrolling through presents it would need alot of work to get ready for prime time. It's sounds raw and unrefined. I'm looking for something middle ground. Something with playable presets, yet plenty of room for sonic creation. The Virus sounds incedible on stage BTW... I'm not looking to compete with it. I want something to compliment it.

    Am I'm open to any ideas even older synths like JP8000?
    so over this signature BS!!!

  • #2
    How much real time tweakage is important? You can buy the Akai Miniak for $250 new but it is limited to a pair of mod wheels and three rotary encoders for real time tweakage (mappings per patch). It's the same synth as the Alesis Micron, just in a different case and rebadged as Akai.

    My VCAs go to 11


    • #3
      The Venom will give you an edgy modern sound but does VA pads and leads as well. It is, however, very dependent on the computer for real editing and unlocking the synth's true potential.

      The Ultranova is more dance oriented but has cool live features. The Gaia has a great preset bank from Sweetwater which covers many classic 70's and 80's type famous sounds in aces. The Miniak has every VA preset you could ever want.

      Keep the XP-30, it is great board. The only board I like better is the Juno GI. I have had great results across the gambit with the GI for guitar to FM to effects to VA to pads to brass to piano, organ, rhodes over a 1,200 sounds with up to 4 layers.

      Sell both Korgs, and the VP-550 and pick a cool VA maybe.

      The Venom with time would be very cool and cheap. A Nord Lead 2X would be flexible but the Nord Wave would be very good for synth, sampled brass, strings, and even FM. Both the Venom and the Wave have built in effects. The Gaia will give you the best super saw sound and effects as well.

      Now Kurzweil could do all this in one board. YOU could sell it all and buy just this, PC-361K and be done.

      Finally the Korg Kronos is just sick.

      Good luck!


      • #4
        ultranova might be a good fit for you - it's pretty cheap and relatively well made.
        Having a little set of keys, not dependent on one of your other boards to control it, might be handy.
        Also, the touch sensitive knobs could act as triggers for the SFX etc... that you were mentioning - it's designed as a performance board.
        as of now: fusion 6hd, motif 6, rs7000 + siel MONO


        • #5
          Thanks... I am leaning a bit toward the Ultranova... it seems like the controls are built a bit more toward live performance use.

          The Juno GI I've heard nothing but good things... unfortunately the Juno G I heard nothing but bad things (display issues, rotary knob failure, cheap build). The Venom is out for me. I gig 6-7 times a month and we change songs frequently. There are times I need to tweak things in rehearsal or right on stage to fit a song. Great for a home studio but bad in theory for live application. I've seen that soundbank for the Gaia from Sweetwater. It's impressive but we're not playing classic rock at all. In fact in terms of covering classic synths I'm well covered. It's the newer studio created sounds I'm challenged with.

          To give an idea of the music we cover (and how we cover it) I have the video below:

          On the SFX side I'm wondering the best way to approach that. Right now I'm using some great patches on the Micro X to fill in hits, stings and bass drops. Steam Sweep is on nearly every pop recording these days (a cascading, rez down effect). I must use it on five, six songs. I'm looking for things like portamento sweeps, and other sounds to help in 'buildups' to transitions.

          I intend to get a Kronos next spring... but I won't gig with it in this band. We put alot of wear on gear and the Kronos is too beautiful to play in some of the sh*tholes we book. The last thing I need is to replace a $900 touchscreen after someone's beer sprays in the audience. I stick with the cheaper gear. Some of it is disposable (The Micro X) but it gets the job done.
          so over this signature BS!!!


          • #6
            Novation ultranova


            • #7
              Much interested in this thread as I'm looking for virtually the exact same thing.
              Appears the singers biggest problem is pitch and to much lesser degree his tone or phrasing. --- chord123


              • #8
                If you need a KSP script, e-mail me! Depending on amount of work, the price can be arranged!

                Folio: Zero-G - Animato | Sonokinetic - Tigris & Euphrates - Desert Voice - Carousel - Toccata - Voices Of Israel - EMP - FE | Hollow Sun - HSDV Drum Synthesiser - Music Laboratory Machines Series - RMI Electrapiano


                • #9
                  OK, let me see cheap.

                  How about the Gaia or the SH-201 for just sweeps, sawtooth waves, LFO's, and arps.

                  The Juno GI is great for editing and can be fast, but just because I am familiar with it. It will sound bigger than your XP-30 but may not financiallly be worth the upgrade.

                  Venom will get you basic editing on the front board and the new sounds may be refreshing.

                  The Novation looks interesting but I do not know much about the sound, editing looks intuitive though.

                  Then there is analog but I would not put anything too precious, new or old, in a bad environment.

                  You seem to like Korg gear anything there interesting to you?


                  • #10
                    My favorite VA is the RADIAS. I still prefer it to the AL-1 on the OASYS/KRONOS. Very cheap on the used market too...
                    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


                    • #11
                      My favorite VA is the RADIAS. I still prefer it to the AL-1 on the OASYS/KRONOS. Very cheap on the used market too...

                      McHale and I often have different tastes in synths but I do like the RADIAS.


                      • #12
                        I'm a fan of the Radias as well. Picked up the keyboard version and am really loving it... lots of knobs for tweaking and the possibilities are endless. It's amazing how it can produce some nasty digital stuff along with amazing analog-type sounds.
                        Too many keyboards, not enough music.


                        • #13
                          I like the Keyboard version the best as well.


                          • #14
                            the novation supernova 2 is the best compliment to the virus sound imho. the ultranova does a good job of taking that synth to new heights and in a portable package. i've played it at the store and really like the sound.

                            btw i've owned a virus c and a jp-8080. a jp-8000/80 might be an option but it doesn't sound as good as the ultranova imho. you could always get a virus indigo 2 (the small key version of the virus c)

                            the blokeys was pretty baddass too.


                            • #15
                              I recommend the R3. Easier to edit than the Miniak, filter sounds waaaay better than any Roland VA, has heavy modulation editing... Long story short, the build quality feels a bit weak, but mine survived two years of heavy gigging and tours with just the Nord G2 gig bag with zero problems.
                              Hard: JP-8000, MC-505, R3, microSTATION, Moog Theremin, miniKP, Ineko, Bitrman
                              Soft: Ableton Live 8, Korg Legacy Collection, FM8, D16 Classic Boxes/SilverLine Collection