Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

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hirundo
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Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by hirundo » Mon May 01, 2017 6:41 am

I'm looking for a digital synth to pair up with my upcoming Prophet Rev2. I want it to be a rack/desktop synth that is easy to use and has an engaging and evolving sound, and I don't care how close it sounds to analog. I have a Blofeld whose sound I love, but the polyphony is too low (2 wavetables and a comb filter and I'm down to 3 voices). Some synths I've considered:

Q rack: I love the sound, but they're expensive and I haven't seen a blue one on eBay for months.

Microwave XT: I played one a few times, but I missed the smooth wavetable transitions and the comb filter of the Q/Blofeld.

Radias: Demos sound good, but I've had no hand-on experience with it.

Ultranova: Looks great on paper, but I sold one a few years ago because it always seemed a little too...generic? or something...not quite sure. Plus it's not a rack.

Virus TI: Surprisingly, I was underwhelmed. It seemed too complex to be fun to program, and its digital side (which is what I care about) seemed to lack something compared to Waldorf synths.

TG33: Maybe a little too chiffy 90s, and programming it might be too much like keyhole surgery?

I guess this boils down to three questions: 1. Should I wait for a Q or try out the Radias? 2. Should I give the Ultranova or Virus a second chance? 3. Is there any obvious option that I'm missing? Thanks in advance for your advice.

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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by HalloweenJack » Mon May 01, 2017 11:26 am

I've never owned/used one of the synths you mentioned so I cannot comment, I'm sure that there will be other forum users that will do it...

Anyway, while I was reading your questions, I immediately thought at the Roland JD990, I have played a JD800 for many years and when I'm thinking at a digital synth with tons of caracter and an original sound, with plenty of modulations and beautiful filters, well suited for evolving sounds, well the JD is one of the digital synths that immediately comes to my mind...

Actually when I say "evolving sounds" there's another synth that I would consider, the Yamaha FS1R, I can obtain with it the most amazing evolving sounds I've ever heard, but the edit/programming is a nightmare even with an editor, and in my opinion they are way overpriced in the current used market...

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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by commodorejohn » Mon May 01, 2017 3:02 pm

If you want shamelessly digital and totally wonderful, it's gotta be the DX7. Get the TX7 desktop module and you have all the magic of the original in a smaller package.
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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by nuketifromorbit » Mon May 01, 2017 6:13 pm

I'm a big fan of the sy22/tg33/sy35 line of synths, and honestly I don't find them too hard to program. That being said sy edit is most likely still floating round the internet and makes things a great deal easier, plus it allows access to fm parameters which are not accessible from the front panel. While I have no first hand experience with one, the sy77 might also be worth considering?
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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by supermel74 » Mon May 01, 2017 6:45 pm

Wavestation SR maybe

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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by gcoudert » Mon May 01, 2017 7:35 pm

commodorejohn wrote:If you want shamelessly digital and totally wonderful, it's gotta be the DX7. Get the TX7 desktop module and you have all the magic of the original in a smaller package.
I was going to suggest it too. The Prophet/DX (or TX) combination is awesome imho, even better than DX7+D50. Not necessarily great for complex, evolving sounds but digital FM synthesis adds an undescribable edge to analogue patches, particularly when layered. Think Tears For Fears on the 'Songs from the big chair' album (DX7+T8). Maybe get a TX802 module which, unlike the TX7, is actually programmable from the front panel?

The Wavestation is another great one. Wave sequencing does produce incredible evolving sounds.
GC

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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by commodorejohn » Mon May 01, 2017 8:20 pm

nuketifromorbit wrote:I'm a big fan of the sy22/tg33/sy35 line of synths, and honestly I don't find them too hard to program. That being said sy edit is most likely still floating round the internet and makes things a great deal easier, plus it allows access to fm parameters which are not accessible from the front panel. While I have no first hand experience with one, the sy77 might also be worth considering?
I need to dig into my TG33 more. It is slightly cheesy early '90s-ness for sure, but not in a bad way.

And SYEdit is available on archive.org: https://web.archive.org/web/20130728112 ... y_edit.zip
I know one user here had trouble because the installer is a 16-bit application even though the software's 32-bit, so they couldn't run the installer on 64-bit Windows. If you have trouble with that, I put up a 7Zip archive of the installed program directory at: http://www.commodorejohn.com/syedit.7z
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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by hirundo » Tue May 02, 2017 4:55 am

Thanks very much for the responses. Some questions for you all:

I've shied away from FM because of its reputation for being difficult to program, and I've heard that the current Reface DX is significantly easier. I've never used an FM synth, though, so I don't know what I'm talking about. Is it really easier? Is the sound still good, given that it's got fewer operators than a DX7?

I've always wanted a Wavestation A/D, but programming it seems torturous. Would an iPad dedicated to running a Wavestation app be a realistic alternative to a hardware synth in a hardware synth setup?

Thanks!

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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by commodorejohn » Tue May 02, 2017 5:47 am

FM's reputation is due in part to it working just similarly enough to more conventional synthesis methods to fool you into thinking the wrong way, and in part to the much clumsier interfaces compared to traditional knobby analog synths. But once you learn a bit about how it works (Gordon Reid's old "Synth Secrets" articles for Sound on Sound have a solid overview, and they're available online,) it becomes easier to understand. It's definitely a less twiddle-'n-feel method of synthesis and more something you plan out ahead of time.

Two-operator FM is definitely easier to start with (thinking of a modulator-carrier pair as analogous to a simple subtractive voice is one of those wrong ways to see it, but it's a useful approach to start with nonetheless,) but you can always get a four or six-operator synth and only use two operators. The 6-op DXes and some of the 4-op ones like the TX81Z have some nice features that the 2-op and simpler 4-op ones don't, like fixed or at least more fine-grained operator tuning and more complex EGs. But even a 2-op FM synth can sound fantastic if you know what you're doing.
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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by JeEA » Tue May 02, 2017 7:22 am

Check the dexed fm software. It is great and You Can
Program Your DX7 with it. You Can load DX7 sysex and listen
to the sounds and try it out before buying an fm synth

Check out Power DX7 on Facebook. Maybe that Will
Make You buy a DX7 ;-)

Cheers

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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by HalloweenJack » Tue May 02, 2017 1:28 pm

I edit my own patches with my FS1R and I'm not surely a genius #-o , I use an editor which helps me to have a better general view of the parameters I'm tweaking but I agree with Commodorejohn, it's only a matter to understand the principles behind FM and to invest some time and energies to study how it works...bear in mind that if you decide to purchase a DX7 at the end, you will find thousands of free patches on the web, so maybe no need to start immediately editing your own sounds...

I'd like to add that, even though some FM "purists" may not agree (since it's true, FM doesn't need filters), 6 operators FM with filters has given me the most interesting and controllable results, I have owned two DX7s (mki and mkii), SY77 and SY99, now a FS1R and I have to say that from this point of view (but not only!) the SY77 and SY99 are surely the kings of FM, with their 6 operators FM engine, AWM (and the possibility to use the AWM waveforms in the FM engine), filters and more feedback loops...

The rack version of the SY77 is the TG77 ;)
Last edited by HalloweenJack on Tue May 02, 2017 2:23 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by Ashe37 » Tue May 02, 2017 1:31 pm

This is the token suggestion of an Ensoniq digital synth- VFX, VFX/SD, SD-1, etc...

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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by gcoudert » Tue May 02, 2017 8:04 pm

HalloweenJack wrote:[...] if you decide to purchase a DX7 at the end, you will find thousands of free patches on the web, so maybe no need to start immediately editing your own sounds...
You'll also need an FX unit because that thing is as dry as Gandhi's flip-flops.
GC

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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by commodorejohn » Tue May 02, 2017 8:44 pm

Well, a good FX unit certainly wouldn't go amiss, but there's plenty of DX7 patches which are rich and pleasing all by themselves. Just not most of the presets.
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Re: Shamelessly digital synth to pair with analog?

Post by nameless wonder » Wed May 10, 2017 6:36 am

Perhaps surprisingly, the JD-Xi's digital synth capabilities are quite extensive - you can apply ring mod and cross mod to the included samples and make amazing sounds never before heard. Just a thought for ya!

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