Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

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logix
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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by logix » Fri Apr 03, 2020 11:00 am

It's a tricky question sometimes: sell or keep? Do I collect cool and rare vintage gear or do I make music? What do I actually NEED to make the music I want?
All tricky questions, and I'm trying to figure out the answers.
With a family and a part of the living room for my studio those are things to take into account as well. It's not very compatible with my past dreams of having as many rack units, keyboards and flashing lights as possible, but looking for a more compact solution (without losing too much in terms of sonic variety and options).

Anyway, I'm trying to decide on what to do with the DX-7 and want to compare those Brian Eno patches between it and the TX-802, but wonder if anyone has suggestions on how to dump the existing patches from each synth over to my Mac, dump the Brian Eno patches over, then dump the old patches back in? I have it all MIDIed (through a Roland A-880 MIDI patchbay and a Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 audio interface connected to my Mac via USB. But as I usually do this with an Atari ST (currently needing repairs) I really don't know which software to use and how.

I really think a Prophet 6 will be a gamechanger for me (or an OB-6 as suggested here, though I've long had my eyes set on the Prophet 5 for that 80s funk sound, so the Prophet 6 is probably more down my lane), and it'll even look good in the living room with its wooden panels and all.
I could really downsize by getting rid of the JX-8P and DX-7 keyboards, then replace them with that single keyboard. It would mean 4 octaves instead of 5, but I've read many threads on the subject and I think I can do with 49 keys as I'm no piano player. Bass is usually a different sound/DAW track anyway, so I'd play that separately with one finger (transposing as necessary) as opposed to how a piano player plays it.
Then again my wife says an electric piano of some sort would be nice, space permitting, so if we can work that out, a compact 76 or 88 key piano with MIDI could double as a keyboard controller for those parts where I would actually need more than 49 keys. Just thinking out loud.

But for now.... comparing those Brian Eno patches between the two DX synths.

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by madtheory » Fri Apr 03, 2020 12:27 pm


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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by logix » Fri Apr 03, 2020 10:25 pm

Thanks Madtheory, that worked!

OK, so I've transferred the Brian Eno sysex file over to both synths, but honestly I can't hear any difference between them (TX-802 and original DX-7).

I've tried playing at different keys, high up, low down, chords etc. but to my ears they sound the same (I've been using some good headphones by the way, and both synths are output with the same levels, no EQ etc.). Maybe it's just me, but they sound absolutely identical, and I've tried all 32 of those Brian Eno patches.
Either I've missed something, my ears aren't up to spec or the differences really aren't that great and noticeable.

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by madtheory » Sat Apr 04, 2020 12:47 am

It’s only the first 4. It’s the velocity does it.

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by logix » Sat Apr 11, 2020 1:39 pm

There might have been some minor differences at certain velocities and pitches (keys) but to me it's not like night and day. So only the first 4 sounds are by Brian Eno while the rest of the bank is by others? Some nice Rhodes and other sounds there!
To me, and the kind of music I like making (mostly 80s synth-funk, Electro etc.) it doesn't seem to make a difference if I use a 2nd generation DX (TX-802) or the original DX-7, but will spend some more time comparing the two before deciding on what to keep/sell.

TX-16W: You mentioned using the Cyclone sampler plugin which has really gotten me intrigued, and I've successfully installed and made it available in Garageband. It certainly looks and feels like the real thing!
I was a heavy TX-16W user (Yamaha 2.06 OS) back in the 90's/00s and made a lot of disks, but I don't miss all the time-consuming "housekeeping" work. I would rather use it to make music!
Do you use Cyclone mostly as a sample-playback device? I know it can record (sample) new sounds too, but can existing disks be modified (performances have its waves replaced, voice parameters changed etc)? I have lots of disks with just waves (i.e. individual drum sounds) and I should easily make them usable by using them with other performances/voices I've already used with other disks). It would be great if I could do this with Cyclone and not need the real hardware.

Most of my own sample disks have been transferred over to my Mac's hard drive (via an Atari ST as far as I remember) and stored as folders, and I understand I need to make disk images (using the online Cyclone floppy baker). Is something like that doable on a Mac using Disk Utility or some other software?
And what's up with .FXP files? I read about it in the Cyclone FAQ (and downloaded lots of TX-16W disks in that format from that same thread) but it doesn't appear possible to load them into Cyclone, or I'm doing something wrong!?!

I'm also having trouble reading several of my TX-16W floppies on my Mac (hoping to transfer them over). Perhaps it's due to that special (assumingly damaged) track/sector making it slightly different from a standard MSDOS disk (or the disks have gone bad after all these years :o ). Maybe I should dig out my old Atari ST and try it there instead. How did you transfer your TX-16W disks over to Cyclone?

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by madtheory » Sat Apr 11, 2020 2:49 pm

logix wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 1:39 pm
To me, and the kind of music I like making (mostly 80s synth-funk, Electro etc.) it doesn't seem to make a difference if I use a 2nd generation DX (TX-802) or the original DX-7
Cool. Personally I'd sell the DX-7 and the rack and buy a nice weighted keyboard (or a modern controller with assignable sliders etc) and Arturia DX7, that'll import your old SysEx (assuming you've backed it up before selling!!)
logix wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 1:39 pm
I was a heavy TX-16W user (Yamaha 2.06 OS) back in the 90's/00s and made a lot of disks, but I don't miss all the time-consuming "housekeeping" work. I would rather use it to make music!
Ya the Yamaha OS was awful. Typhoon was a lot better. I still think it's the best OS of any sampler ever. It'll auto-tune, -auto-map and auto-loop as you go.
logix wrote:
Sat Apr 11, 2020 1:39 pm
Do you use Cyclone mostly as a sample-playback device?
I use Cyclone mainly to access my old library. Arturia CMIV is much better for grainy sampler sounds. Cyclone it will import Yamaha set-ups off Yamaha disc images (just like Typhoon on a real TX16W), and once you learn Typhoon OS it's very easy to get things into voices. But I usually just get the samples out and into Kontakt, Battery or CMIV.

I just use the floppy baker online with a Mac, to make new disks. I copied all my old floppies directly on a Mac because the Yamaha simply uses MS-DOS format. No need for an Atari. If the TX16W won't read it, an Atari won't read it either. Omniflop running on a PC with a dedicated "A" drive (the floppy) is the way to go. It'll make a raw disk image, bad sectors and all. Then you could work to retrieve damaged files.

fxp files probably won't work for you in Garageband. You'd need to run the VST version of Cyclone. There's probably a workaround but I don't know.

After all that, I feel I deserve to see a pic of your rig! :)

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by logix » Sat Apr 11, 2020 11:32 pm

Most definitely! I'll post a photo soon.
Your suggestion sounds good -and I definitely keep Sysex files of my own sounds :) And backups!

The FXP files didn't work within Tracktion Waveform 10 either (which takes both AU and VST plugins), but no worries. I get to try out the sampler in Garageband which is much easier to grasp (I'm also slowly trying to get grips with Studio One 4 Prime and will give Tracktion Waveform 10 a closer look too). Frustrating, but at least now I've been able to set up a MIDI sequencing setup in Studio One, so I'm getting somewhere with DAWs :D
Garageband is pretty to look at, it's easier to get an overview and understanding of things, but as far as I understand it doesn't handle external MIDI devices nor external MIDI sync, so nothing to invest too much time into.

The TX-16W used the MSX disk format with Yamaha's OSes as far as I remember. It was almost 100% MSDOS compatible, but not quite. Same thing with Atari's TOS format. Back in the day some kind person helped me by creating a piece of software called Enox which allowed for formatting TX-16W disks twice as fast as Yamaha's OS, and there was an "Atarize" function which made the disks readable on the Atari ST. Helped me a lot and allowed transferring my samples over to the Atari. The funny thing was that it ran on the sampler itself! You just booted with the Enox disk instead of the Yamaha or Typhoon OS disk.
Omniflop sounds great and might be worth a closer look if nothing else works.

I have a lot of work ahead of me to make disk images out of my floppies, but I would have to do that anyway, regardless of keeping the hardware sampler or not: I'd replace the floppy drive with a Gotec or HxC2001 disk emulator, but I'm leaning towards selling it if Cyclone turns out to be just as good.
On that subject: I couldn't find it using all the individual outputs (I believe there are 10 in total), just left, right, mono and stereo. Is this a shortcoming in Cyclone, or something I haven't figured out? (I just booted up my TX-16W with Typhoon and I see there's an "Individual" setting in addition to the above, which is missing in Cyclone -maybe it has something to do with setting up things in the DAW that I don't understand yet).

I would like to add different EQ, panning, levels and effects to say the individual drums in a drum set, and would be essential to work as a serious sampler.

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by madtheory » Sun Apr 12, 2020 12:24 am

I dunno, all my discs loaded fine on a Mac, showed up as IBM PC 720k.

I use Cyclone in Pro Tools with DDMF Metaplugin. All the inputs and outputs show up there more clearly than they do in most DAWs! It's 8 mono and two polyphonic. But I haven't used the feature since I don't use Cyclone for playback any more, just for acessing the archive.

How are you accessing the fxp files? They're loaded via the DAWs preset browser, not Cyclones disk image thing.

Ya a batch convert to disk image would be very useful for Cyclone! I have a friend who could help with that...

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by logix » Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:39 am

I've just tried to upload (attachements) photos of my setup, but get error messages saying they're too large. That's despite making them less than 500 KB each, so I'm not sure what the forum requirements are -anyone know?
madtheory wrote:
Sun Apr 12, 2020 12:24 am
I dunno, all my discs loaded fine on a Mac, showed up as IBM PC 720k.

I use Cyclone in Pro Tools with DDMF Metaplugin. All the inputs and outputs show up there more clearly than they do in most DAWs!
That's good to hear. I took a closer look and noticed that the output setup was a little different from that in Typhoon in the hardware sampler. I can probably find out more in the Cyclone forum.
I used to be very active in the TX-16W forum back in the 90's, but there is no longer an active community, is there? The closest I could find is the Cyclone forum, but with hardware related questions I feel it's not quite the right place.

How are you accessing the fxp files? They're loaded via the DAWs preset browser, not Cyclones disk image thing.
Aha! So these files have nothing to do with Cyclone, but is a way to gain access to TX-16W sample setups with other software!

Ya a batch convert to disk image would be very useful for Cyclone! I have a friend who could help with that...
Cool! Is he offering a sample conversion service, or do you mean he has the knowledge to develop something?

I'll see if I can find some info in the forum about why I can't upload my photos, and give it another go.

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by madtheory » Mon Apr 13, 2020 3:13 pm

logix wrote:
Mon Apr 13, 2020 9:39 am
I've just tried to upload (attachements) photos of my setup, but get error messages saying they're too large. That's despite making them less than 500 KB each, so I'm not sure what the forum requirements are -anyone know?
Dunno, I gave up on it. I just post a dropbox link.

Do we really need a TX16W forum? The Typhoon manual is actually really good. Or at least, when it was my main writing tool, I pored over it and worked it for all it was worth :lol:

Not sure if you get the .fxp/ fxb thing? More here:
https://soniccharge.com/forum/topic/431

My friend has the knowledge, yes. He just did a batch converter to pull 16 bit wavs off Yamaha and Typhoon format disks. Much quicker than using the AIFF export in Typhoon.

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by logix » Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:12 am

Please tell me about your friend's batch converter. I don't know if I need it right now, but is that something he's made available for others? Free? Shareware/commercial? What platform does it run on?
Yes, the Typhoon manual is probably a good place to start. I've skimmed through it but should probably spend more time with it.

Back to my home studio...... here are some photos:

Image

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So it's in a part of the family's living room, which isn't ideal in itself. Too much gear, taking up too much space and too much attention. I'm thinking downsizing and making the rest blend better in.
The two storey rack has to go (meaning I have to sell several rack devices) and the heavy duty touring racks don't fit into a living room. Perhaps something in wood which will blend better in. Maybe a nicer wooden desk as well, but with the ability to hold those rack patchbays etc. but perhaps even more compact.

Ergonomically and practically I'm thinking a slanted rack, and the keyboard(s) have to be closer to the desk. The solution here just doesn't work, but trying everything out I didn't have long enough audio cables to switch places with the keyboards.
Having played around with a few DAWs to get the basic feel I see that "desktop musician" probably describes what I'm getting myself into, so maybe a really small and modern keyboard on the desk will be suitable for basic stuff and controlling the DAW and software instruments, then jump over to the main keyboard whenever I need to play more musically complex parts.
We've also been talking about getting an electric piano of some sort as my wife plays the piano, so with MIDI and/or USB output it could double as a full-size MIDI controller for the DAW.

Then there's accessing/editing my hardware rack synths: I'm tired of bending down and looking at those tiny displays. I do have a programmer for my MKS-70 and MKS-50, but they take up room, and I still have to stand in front of the unit's display to see what's going on and save the patch.
With an editor/librarian on my Mac (or on an iPad), could I do everything from there or would I have to go back and forth?
Ideally I just want to move over to the rack to switch it on/off or adjust the levels on the mixer.

Lots of things to keep in mind... I know, I know: getting rid of all the rack hardware and going all in-the-box (ITB) would solve most of these issues, but....

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by madtheory » Mon Apr 20, 2020 6:58 pm

This is mine, in its own room (except now the Casio FZ-1 is where the Casio CT-430 was).I kept some hardware that I really like (Kaoss pads, OB Cyclone, Quadraverb), or is not worth the trouble of selling (Exciter, Yamaha MLA7 mic pre). The Novation KSR is a synth I really like, plus it's a great controller for programming virtual synths.

logix wrote:
Tue Apr 14, 2020 11:12 am
Too much gear, taking up too much space and too much attention. I'm thinking downsizing and making the rest blend better in.
The two storey rack has to go (meaning I have to sell several rack devices) and the heavy duty touring racks don't fit into a living room.
Agreed. I like your thinking. It needs to be more pretty! :) I don't know about sharing a piano as a controller though. We now have the piano in a separate room, I practice on the weighted keyboard (an old Akai MX-1000) in the pic. I use Pianoteq, love it. Under the FZ-1 is a pianette (i.e. very small upright) that I mess around with tuning. That's a little electronics work bench in the RH corner.

Synth plugins ARE integrated editor/ librarians. Tweak your sound in the DAW, save the DAW session, you can leave your patch library unchanged if you wish, just tweak stuff to fit in the mix.

Roland Cloud will replace your Roland rack gear.

I'll ask my friend about the TX16W WAV coverter. I think it's in beta. But I also think you're better off using Cyclone for the transition to Kontakt, or UVI Falcon. Or just stick with Cyclone.

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by logix » Mon Apr 27, 2020 1:18 pm

Thanks for showing us your setup!

You've got a good point about softsynths essentially being an editor/librarian in itself, and I assume that applies to the Cyclone sampler plugin as well.
I like the thought of practical solutions: whatever lets me make music effortlessly.
But I was more thinking about finding suitable editor/librarian Mac software for my hardware synths. I could use my old iPad mini too -whatever works in a practical manner without costing too much.

Yes, my setup definitely needs to look better in a living room for the whole family!
I'm scratching my head on how to minimize the rack setup and see that the huge (6U) Roland M-480 mixer can be replaced with something smaller.
Roland's M-12E is the right size, but 12 channels is too limiting (and just 4 more than my Focusrite 18i20 audio interface).
Image
Next up is the Roland M-16E, but being 6U like my existing mixer there's no advantage there (except it has EQ controls). Other suggestions for a smaller mixer with 16-24 inputs? I haven't found anything suitable from the other makers either so far....

Cyclone will probably serve me well once I understand how to use it in a DAW environment with individual outputs and transferring my floppy disks. It'll save both physical inputs to the mixer and 2U of rack space (and add practical conveniences such as not having to re-load my samples every time I continue working on my current project).

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by madtheory » Mon Apr 27, 2020 2:36 pm

Thanks! You're welcome. Sorry, I was imagining only what I would do with all that gear. To me an 808 is not a useful instrument it's $$$, same with all your Roland synths... so I'd probably only need 8 inputs if I was in your shoes :lol:. I am not trying to upset or criticise here. 808s are that price for a reason.
logix wrote:
Mon Apr 27, 2020 1:18 pm
I'm scratching my head on how to minimize the rack setup and see that the huge (6U) Roland M-480 mixer can be replaced with something smaller.
We're back to the million dollar question :mrgreen: How many things will you sell? Then you're left with how many inputs you need. Or you could just put the M-480 on top horizontally, instead of vertically taking up valuable rack U's :D. My little setup works great with 4 analogue ins and outs, plus a patchbay. But my hardware is mostly effects, not synths.

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Re: Downsizing (which synths can I sell?)

Post by logix » Sat May 09, 2020 11:13 am

No offence taken; I'm all for constructive criticism and different viewpoints (which is why I'm posting here in the first place) :-D

Yes, an ITB setup would of course solve all my challenges with not having a dedicated studio for everything, but..... it's hard to let go of those "gems", so a compromise looks to become the solution.

In the process of deciding I've brought my DMX drum machine out of the closet and attached it to the audio interface in order to try out the different DAWs (or just playing around -it's very cool that I don't even need to start up a DAW in order to use it as I can just turn on the audio interface (not even the computer) and hear everything that comes into it -probably obvious to most people reading but a nice surprise to me) and I must say having a real physical device in front of me is something special. Even my wife thinks it looks nice with the wooden panels ;)
Image
The same with the 808. IMHO it's over-priced but that's how supply/demand works (and a lot of hype on the Internet), but I like the immediate physical response and feeling of "realness" as opposed to everything being on a screen. And it's refreshing not to have to point, click and drag the mouse for absolutely everything.

I've had the mixer installed on top of the rack, but it's so deep that it takes up several units in the front as well. But you're right -once I figure out what to keep I'll know how many inputs I need. At the moment a used Roland M-12e rack-mixer (2U) appears to be the best option (if I can do with 12 inputs along with the audio patchbays) but I believe Behringer also has/had some compact rack mixer that could be worth checking out (despite the mixed feelings I have about Behringer).

I've gotten a lot of tips here about which synths are worth keeping and not, but I'm still at loss abut the MKS-50. Despite my akward setup I should probably just start actually using it all.
As for rack replacements more fitting for the living room I've found many options, but of course at a price :o I don't know how much a carpenter would take for making one, but if I work out the dimensions/design it shouldn't be that much work for someone with the precision cutting skills to at least cut out the parts needed for me to put it together.... Something like this maybe (a quick web-search. There are probably better photos around but you get the general idea):
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