Who needs a million and one synths

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Automatic Gainsay
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Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sat Jul 21, 2007 8:29 pm

There are more reasons to own synthesizers than just functional capability. If functional capability were the only reason to own synthesizers, then hardware would probably vanish, and you'd be left with software, and everyone would be happy.

Luckily for the world, synthesizers are not computers, they're musical instruments and are still (although increasingly less so) designed to SOUND GOOD regardless of their functional capability. While it cannot be denied that a more fully featured synthesizer can be more useful, expressive, and inspiring than one with less features, the amount of features is ultimately unimportant compared to how the instrument as a whole sounds to the user and listener, how the instrument inspires the the user and therefore the listener, and how artfully and expressively the instrument is used and or played.

There seems to be a trend in this thread to list functional aspects as the singlemost or ONLY justification for synthesizer usage. Using that as a stance, it makes sense that a person should really own one synthesizer that provides all of the functionality a person could ever want. However, there is MUCH more to synthesizer use and ownership than merely a list of functionalities.

People have more than one synthesizer (as has been stated in this thread) because different synthesizers possess unique functionalities.
People have more than one synthesizer because different synthesizers have different desired sounds.
People have more than one synthesizer because different synthesizers have different meanings to them and inspire them in different ways.
People have more than one synthesizer because sometimes the synthesizer itself is needed to save and maintain past musical efforts.
People may even have more than one of the SAME SYNTHESIZER because they like it so much that they want a spare, one to perform live with, etc.
People have more than one synthesizer because they may love synthesizers and collect them... just like every other object that someone collects.

There are many valid reasons to have multiple synthesizers.

It seems like the protest that arises about having multiple synthesizers tends to come from people who seek to decry those who can afford to have multiple synthesizers, those who stockpile synthesizers that others desire, or a general misunderstanding of the notion that synthesizers are not hammers or bicycles or toasters.


It's not like there is a whole host of people who buy up synthesizers that they don't use or don't care about... This thread is a bit of an argument against a demographic that probably doesn't exist, or is the most massive of minorities.
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Post by tallowwaters » Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:04 pm

i collect straws.

and sometimes hickeys.
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Post by 23 » Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:20 pm

[quote]
I totally disagree. I would rather have several simpler synths that each have their own character and slightly different set of features than one supersynth. What if the sound or aesthetic of said supersynth just doesn't do it for you? And by aesthetic I don't mean just looks but the interface as well and the overall experience. Synths or not just tools, they are also toys, and some people would have more fun with synths that have individual and pleasing characters and an interface they find inspiring than a fancy new monster synth full of modulation matrices. Your synth philosophy leaves no room for the flat-out charm that some synths posess. It seems some people here think that when a person buys a synth they are accepting a solemn responsibility to make the best music possible with this synth in the most no-nonsense and effecient way to be shared with the world, and if you don't then you don't deserve the synth on which you spent your hard-earned money. Can't somebody want synths just because they enjoy them? It's not all about workflow.[/quote]

No I'm with you actually. And like I said, I truly am coming from my stand point of working.
Part of this may be do to the fact that at one point in time, I was not only highly limited in what synths I had, but with funds coming in for any additional synths. Thus, I got into synth programming not out of sheer delight or pleasure, but truly out of necessity. There was many a timbre out there I was wanting to hit, but as I didn't have the funds to go out and buy every synth that emitted a timbre I liked, I was forced into a position of having to figure out how to get similar timbres out of my limited arsenal (or simply rest content with not getting such timbres). For a very long time, this was an arson limited to two different synths.

With each new synth added on, the philosophy remained the same. At this point, very often it's no longer emulating a sound I heard another synth do however, and it's things rendered down to conceptual ideas. "I think a timbre that had 'X' qualities to it would be really cool. Now what do I have with an architecture capable of bringing this concept to life?"
There was a rather in depth thread here awhile back concerning the workings of Waldorf Wavetable synthesis, and literally, by the end of it all, there was pretty much an agreement reached that numerous things could pull this off. (a summary of sorts of this thread can be seen [url=http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea ... =267427373]HERE[/url]; and what could be considered a sequel to that writing [url=http://blog.myspace.com/index.cfm?fusea ... 7A47730259]HERE[/url])
To this end, there had been a point in time where I was obsessing over what could be done with things like Waldorf Wavetable synthesis, Vektor/Wavesequencing synthesis, Transwave synthesis, etc. Oddly, at the end of it all, it wasn't a PPG, Wavestation, Fizmo, etc. that I went with as my weapon of choice, but actually something that most people never realized even had capabilities along these lines, that being the EMU P2500.

That all said, there's a good number of synths out there that I like (again, like the 106), but given how I came to develop my method of working coupled with tools I now have available, they became redundant to have (IMO).

I LOVE, and I mean I LOVE the look of the Voyager and it's build quality. The reason I don't own a Voyager is simple though, and that is that when push comes to shove, it doesn't really offer me any further capability. I love it's look and feel, but I can already match it's capabilities pretty much pound for pound (far exceed them even). Even with the ease of it's UI, I have things that I find just as adequate (with the exception of onboard keys missing on somethings). So basically, when I answer the question of "Why should I own a Voyager?", I'm left with the answers of "Because I like the way it looks and it has on board keys". So how much do I miss those onboard keys? The answer is simple, "Not much." I'm pretty satisfied with the variety of key controllers I already have. More satisfied in many regards as really, 60 some odd keys is pretty much as far below 88 that I care to go, and the Voyager is much lower than this. I'm then left with "Is 2000 to 3000 dollars worth a cosmetic art piece? (since it's cosmetic look and feel that I really be adding)"
The answer to that question is a resounding No.
Another question would be "How cluttered do I like my workspace?"
The answer to that question is "As uncluttered as possible."
So an additional question becomes, "Is adding a cosmetic art piece worth adding additional clutter to the workspace?"
Again, the answer I have to that question is "No"

Now are there small subtleties I'll be missing out on by not having the Voyager?
Absolutely. However, my general capability will really not suffer at all by it's absence.

Now even where my guitars are concerned, I prefer electrics, so I have two with a third about to be added. All six stringed. Two with different pickups and pickup placements coupled with differing string types (which of course results in a different sound, though I doubt a non-guitarist would notice it). The third is to again go with a different pickup assortment and to have placements that are different than the other two. Finally, once the third is in tow, one of the guitars gets permanently tuned to drop D. In essence, each guitar is to serve it's own individual purpose.

When people start stacking up synths that bare nothing but subtle differences, differences that (IMO) really aren't going to be able to stand out in a mix, I really don't get it.

The "acid" sound is well known, and really, I know a darn high number of acid heads that swear they can pick a 303 out of a bunch. Yet, there's been a few occasions where I've headed out for acid performances, had my 303 and some other things in tow, and literally had "acid" heads confuse something else for my 303 (I won't always turn to the 303 for acid action because sometimes there's some sort of nuance something else I have features that makes it more convenient for what I want to do at the time). What I came to think in these regards was the confusion was based simply in the fact that since I was doing an acid performance, and due to the fact that I had a TB in tow, certain things got attributed to the 303 by people even though the 303 had nothing to do with what was going on. This isn't to say some of these people can't pick up the sound of a 303 in isolated conditions, but I find it likely that due to the fact that differences could be made subtle, that once enough things were thrown into the mix (and possibly some effects), those subtleties pretty much became invisible. At that point, it literally became a matter of what architectures and what those architectures were capable of.

Like wise, I had a mate that was in the studio 2 different days. I was working on a piece and the first day he was in, there was a bass line coming from my Synth II that he liked. The next day he came in, and referenced doing a tweak to the Synth II bass line, he sort of got taken aback when I explained to him the Synth II was now doing nothing because I had recreated the patch on my SNII and shifted to it (for some manual modulation tricks I wanted to pull with the patch during the course of the song). Again, his basis was illusionary. It was a simple deal of "O.K., well I heard the Synth II doing this, so this is what the Synth II sounds like"....when really it was more a matter of, the Synth II happened to be doing what it was doing out of convience, not because nothing else wasn't available that could pull of a darn near identical timbre.

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Post by 23 » Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:37 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote:There are more reasons to own synthesizers than just functional capability. If functional capability were the only reason to own synthesizers, then hardware would probably vanish, and you'd be left with software, and everyone would be happy.
I'm with you fully.
And actually, in regard to the former Cure member, if collecting was his thing, I could totally understand why he had what he had, but I was assuming this not to be the case.

In regard to software, I really think that hardware would have totally vanished if it were not for the fact that a physical control issue comes into play. It's in the area of physical control, not timbral capability, that software just keeps on coming up short. To a large degree, that's really what the "TI" movement is all about. Outside of pretty much serving as an effective dongle that makes the driving software VERY hard for one to steal, it pretty much gives users a dedicated hardware interface for what boils down to being a software piece. But to that same end, one can easily argue that the majority of synths made post the DX7 and D50 have been software pieces enclosed in dedicated hardware shells. What tends to be the biggest difference between a VA and "software" synth isn't how the two work (as that's pretty much identical), its' the fact that a VA offers up a dedicated hardware control interface. The final frontier of the whole softsynth movement (IMO) truly does lie in finally figuring out an adequate hardware control surface for them all. One that remains easy to understand as it's switched from being used for this and that synth; that as it is switched from this and that synth manages to still feel like it was specifically designed to control this and that synth. And while accomplishing this, also offers up an adequate amount of control parameters. Once that barrier is knocked down, software synths will become an entirely new ball park.
Ton of folks are trying to be the first to knock that barrier down, but I really don't see that wall crumbling any time soon.

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Post by JSRockit » Sat Jul 21, 2007 9:59 pm

23 wrote:
I LOVE, and I mean I LOVE the look of the Voyager and it's build quality. The reason I don't own a Voyager is simple though, and that is that when push comes to shove, it doesn't really offer me any further capability. I love it's look and feel, but I can already match it's capabilities pretty much pound for pound (far exceed them even). Even with the ease of it's UI, I have things that I find just as adequate (with the exception of onboard keys missing on somethings). So basically, when I answer the question of "Why should I own a Voyager?", I'm left with the answers of "Because I like the way it looks and it has on board keys".


Yeah, I fell for the Voayger...and it was mistake. It is a luxury item.
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Post by Hades » Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:29 am

pworks wrote:
JSRockit wrote:
23 wrote:I couldn't help but read through that thread and think "God....what a retard"
The guy you are calling a retard is someone who has put in alot of time and effort in genres of music that utilize synths. To me, the guy has earned the right, over 99.9% of the people in the world, to be a collector.
i couldnt agree more i mean everyone is dissing this guy like they`re is a band or situation that is even remotely close to the sucsess of the cure and have toured the world headlining huge festivals selling millions of records geeze what do you guys need to be impressed its not all about fame and money but if anyone has earned the right its him
can someone point me to this topic or vid or whatever with that guy ?

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Post by Hades » Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:33 am

tallowwaters wrote:i collect straws.

and sometimes hickeys.
isn't it a shame you can't really collect farts ?

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Post by 23 » Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:42 am

Hades wrote:
pworks wrote:
JSRockit wrote: The guy you are calling a retard is someone who has put in alot of time and effort in genres of music that utilize synths. To me, the guy has earned the right, over 99.9% of the people in the world, to be a collector.
i couldnt agree more i mean everyone is dissing this guy like they`re is a band or situation that is even remotely close to the sucsess of the cure and have toured the world headlining huge festivals selling millions of records geeze what do you guys need to be impressed its not all about fame and money but if anyone has earned the right its him
can someone point me to this topic or vid or whatever with that guy ?

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Post by Soundwave » Sun Jul 22, 2007 12:21 pm

I tend to get more done with less so any hardware for me has to be very hands on and be able to fit in with my current gear in a live/jam scenario. As far as getting deep into sound design the Auturia MMV & FM7 cover the ground I need for both analogue(ish) and digital tones which I don't think I'll exhaust the possibilities of either as they're both quite comprehensive in their own area's.

I can see the point the 23 is trying to make, I see a lot of folk here with several ROMplers or VA's that have pretty much similar characteristics and will all be able to produce very close approximations of the same sound where I would choose one that gets the job done and spend the rest on getting something different. Sometimes I think that folk that do are often preset tweakers who don't quite know how to program a synth inside out and are hanging on to a few beloved patches that they don't know how to replicate on a similar synth.

As far as analogue goes its totally different story as even though the standard subtractive synth design is quite uniform across the board the characteristics can vary enormously from different manufactures.

I have a good friend who fortunately has the enough spare cash to acquire a fine selection of analogues but he'll only get the best example of each make (i.e. He sold his Odyssey when he got his 2600 and got rid of his OBXa when he got his Xpander and SEM 4 voice).
There's also the fact of some folk being more a collector/enthusiast rather than a dedicated musician/producer as analogues can be a good investment if got at the right price which then essentially just become part of your savings that you can also have fun with even if you don't actually plan on creating any music with them.

I must say tho I've found over time that the more equipment's you have the more you can get distracted or bogged down with technical issues and as you gradually get less spare time with age its best to spend the time you do get on being productive. With me I just stick to how much you need to have running at one and if I want anything new it has to be an improvement on what I already have which means something else will have to go to make room. I find having a small mixing desk often quenches the GAS for filling those spare channels with something you don't really need.

I sold my Pulse+ the weekend :( to pay for a new Kaoss 3 tho thankfully it hasn't gone far as my mate doesn't have a Waldorf in his studio! :roll:

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Post by Psy_Free » Sun Jul 22, 2007 8:28 pm

I have a few synths & drums machines (more than listed below) & if I had more room I would buy even more, because I luv em to bits. Each has it's own character, ups & downs, & ultimately appropriateness for the task/project in hand.

The way I look at it, you need different footware for the office, playing football, relaxing on the beach, going hiking, climbing mountains, deep-sea diving etc.

Thus I would find it very difficult to use my Voyager on the football pitch, but the MC-202 would be just fine :)

Plus, GAS is something that can't be easily cured.
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I need a million and one synths...

Post by raoul duke » Sun Jul 22, 2007 9:43 pm

To compensate for the difference in libido between my wife and I. Sad, huh?

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Post by Hades » Mon Jul 23, 2007 9:07 am

23 wrote:
Hades wrote:
pworks wrote: i couldnt agree more i mean everyone is dissing this guy like they`re is a band or situation that is even remotely close to the sucsess of the cure and have toured the world headlining huge festivals selling millions of records geeze what do you guys need to be impressed its not all about fame and money but if anyone has earned the right its him
can someone point me to this topic or vid or whatever with that guy ?
thx for that link.
I already thought you guys were talking about Roger O'Donnell when I saw the cure mentioned. I love most of what the cure did (apart from the last 2 albums), but my god mr o'donnell seems about as interesting as a parking meter. :shock:
funny/sad video, kind of.
but yes, I can see why someone above here said that if people like him haven't even "earned" the right to have so many synths, than who has ?
of course he's just as much human as any of us, but yeah, if you're stinking rich, and you're a professional musician, then it would rather be understandable to have so many.
what I found funny was the title in sharp contrast to the content. "showing off" ?? nah, he was just playing a few notes on every model, hit the pitchbend a bit and that's it. I hardly even saw him touch any knob. :roll:

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Post by JSRockit » Mon Jul 23, 2007 2:32 pm

Hades wrote: what I found funny was the title in sharp contrast to the content. "showing off" ?? nah, he was just playing a few notes on every model, hit the pitchbend a bit and that's it. I hardly even saw him touch any knob. :roll:
And he was playing along with a song in the backround...
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Post by Soundwave » Mon Jul 23, 2007 2:42 pm

Didn't Vince Clarke have almost every production vintage analogue made or something?

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Post by gs » Mon Jul 23, 2007 4:09 pm

23 wrote:The final frontier of the whole softsynth movement (IMO) truly does lie in finally figuring out an adequate hardware control surface for them all. [.................] Once that barrier is knocked down, software synths will become an entirely new ball park.

Ton of folks are trying to be the first to knock that barrier down, but I really don't see that wall crumbling any time soon.
I think a really cool idea would be to create a lego-like modular control surface whereby each knob space (block or whatever) snaps off of the mainboard and you can place it wherever you want. The mainboard surface and the backs of the knob modules would be made of conducive material. Each knob block would also accommodate a small stick-on (reusable) label, maybe of velcro or something.
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