best 'sounding' digital synth

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shaft9000
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Post by shaft9000 » Sat Sep 08, 2007 9:16 pm

i've thought about this a lot lately.

JD 990 & 800, Q, Kurzweil, JV/XV's, M's/T's & Oasys, DX/EX/SY's, are the usual suspects.
But I will humbly differ.

until the solaris rolls around, and the hartmann neuron is more acceessible, i still haven't played a digital that is both as flexible, lush and bass-ballsy as the Supernova 2.
Virus's (filter's too dark imo) & Creamware's are sort of stuck in VA-land the Q is well, the Q - love it for it's characteristic sound but not overall integration and versatility. Nords are too limited in programming and I don't care for their overall bright-edgy timbre. Ion, MS2000 & the rest of the VAs are too emulative or limited to get in the door.

With the SN2 you get the lushness and precise programming aspects of the JDs, adding increased parameter resolution and smoothness. Awesome performance features: 2 pedal & audio ins, heavy mod/pitch wheels, luxury keybed, minimal to non-existent menu diving, 8-part multis/layers/splits w/ discreet FX for each part, 8 banks of 127 programs AND performances, 8 outs, dead-easy excellent 40-band vocoder, blah blah.
Its FX section is nearly unbeatable, maybe Kurzweil and Oasys are better quality-wise but not as immediate and performance-friendly.
Soundwise it cops Junos, MKS, OBX-a, Synthex, and others very well, but i feel it's at it's best blurring the line between digital and analog. It can sound even more like a D50, SY99 or DX7 at times, only much more tweakable! The SN2's detail, presence and variability in the midrange is very effective in particular. Clear, ballsy pads with graduated smooth, glassy highs and a sub-bass register that likes to be turned up loud. A Korg M/T-series it is certainly not!
The highs could perhaps be a little more open in subtractive mode, but the FM is where all that comes through. I've played a few DX's and while i like the overall sound, programming them is frustrating. Imo the SN2 offers a little better full-range sound - while operators are reduced to 3, you can factor in a delicious multimode chorus, comb filter, the 'analog' waveforms, ringmod and LFOs to thicken stuff up a great deal - so i don't feel shorted at all, ever.... Using multis you can have up to 24 operators under your fingertips if desired!
Grungy and clean organs, marimbas, Rhodes, bells and stranger-sounding keys abound. The arpeggios are incredible.
Infinitely tweakable, and pretty easy on the ears, too.
2600.solus.modcan a.eurorack.cs60.JP8.Juno6.A6.sunsyn.volcakeys.jd990.tb303.x0xb0x.revolution.
999.m1am1.RY30.svc350.memotron

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Post by madtheory » Sat Sep 08, 2007 10:08 pm

It's too general a question, there's far more variation of synthesis systems with digital than with analogue. Additive, wavetable, subtractive, variations of sample playback, VA, FM etc. etc.

But I'll answer anyway :)

So it's a long list of faves- Kurzweil K2000 (I haven't used later ones, but I'm sure they're better), Korg M1 with its quirky samples and excellent phaser, Roland D-50 with its weird mix of VA and sample playback, Casio CZ-1, VZ-1 and PPG Wave 2.3. I can't stand DX-7s, or any FM based synths. Emu samplers, you can do a lot ofsynthesis with those.

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Post by DGX305 » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:19 pm

For me, it's certainly the D-50 on the VC-1 card using the original V-Synth v.2.
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Post by sacredcow » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:39 pm

shaft9000 wrote:i've thought about this a lot lately.

JD 990 & 800, Q, Kurzweil, JV/XV's, M's/T's & Oasys, DX/EX/SY's, are the usual suspects.
But I will humbly differ.

until the solaris rolls around, and the hartmann neuron is more acceessible, i still haven't played a digital that is both as flexible, lush and bass-ballsy as the Supernova 2.
Virus's (filter's too dark imo) & Creamware's are sort of stuck in VA-land the Q is well, the Q - love it for it's characteristic sound but not overall integration and versatility. Nords are too limited in programming and I don't care for their overall bright-edgy timbre. Ion, MS2000 & the rest of the VAs are too emulative or limited to get in the door.

With the SN2 you get the lushness and precise programming aspects of the JDs, adding increased parameter resolution and smoothness. Awesome performance features: 2 pedal & audio ins, heavy mod/pitch wheels, luxury keybed, minimal to non-existent menu diving, 8-part multis/layers/splits w/ discreet FX for each part, 8 banks of 127 programs AND performances, 8 outs, dead-easy excellent 40-band vocoder, blah blah.
Its FX section is nearly unbeatable, maybe Kurzweil and Oasys are better quality-wise but not as immediate and performance-friendly.
Soundwise it cops Junos, MKS, OBX-a, Synthex, and others very well, but i feel it's at it's best blurring the line between digital and analog. It can sound even more like a D50, SY99 or DX7 at times, only much more tweakable! The SN2's detail, presence and variability in the midrange is very effective in particular. Clear, ballsy pads with graduated smooth, glassy highs and a sub-bass register that likes to be turned up loud. A Korg M/T-series it is certainly not!
The highs could perhaps be a little more open in subtractive mode, but the FM is where all that comes through. I've played a few DX's and while i like the overall sound, programming them is frustrating. Imo the SN2 offers a little better full-range sound - while operators are reduced to 3, you can factor in a delicious multimode chorus, comb filter, the 'analog' waveforms, ringmod and LFOs to thicken stuff up a great deal - so i don't feel shorted at all, ever.... Using multis you can have up to 24 operators under your fingertips if desired!
Grungy and clean organs, marimbas, Rhodes, bells and stranger-sounding keys abound. The arpeggios are incredible.
Infinitely tweakable, and pretty easy on the ears, too.
Just say the entire nova line? They've all got the same engine. It's amazing how low novas go for these days, like people don't realize that fact.
Last edited by sacredcow on Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:47 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by modulator_esp » Sat Sep 08, 2007 11:41 pm

Of the digital synths I've owned/tried

Additive - K5000
FM - FS1r
Sample based - EMU Proteus 2000
VA - Nord G2
Vector - Prophet VS
Wavetable - Microwave XT
Wave Sequence - Wavestation
mostly enjoying adventures in sound :)

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Post by shaft9000 » Sun Sep 09, 2007 1:16 am

sacredcow wrote: Just say the entire nova line? They've all got the same engine.
They actually differa bit. SN2 at the top; take away the vocoder and audio ins, doublesaw, some poly and comb filter for the SN1. Throw back in most of those features, reduce the outputs, poly & multis, reduce the # of Motorola chips from 9 down to 6 and you get the Novas.
Same basic structure, just different limits and extras. I should add that my vote goes particularly for the keyboard SN2 as it is far more knobby + it has those great EG sliders, has modwheels and a plush keyboard - all big points to me. A real breeze to program AND play!
2600.solus.modcan a.eurorack.cs60.JP8.Juno6.A6.sunsyn.volcakeys.jd990.tb303.x0xb0x.revolution.
999.m1am1.RY30.svc350.memotron

shaft9000.muffwiggler.com <- singles & mixtape
shaft9000.bandcamp.com <- spacemusic album
youtube.com/shaft9000 <- various synth demos and studies

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Post by MrFrodo » Sun Sep 09, 2007 1:27 am

In my opinion, the best-sounding FM synth is the Yamaha DX7 MkII.
Best sounding wavetable synth: Korg Wavestation
Best -sounding LAS synth: Korg 01W
Best-sounding hardware sampler: E-Mu Emulator II
Best-sounding workstation: Yamaha Motif
Best-sounding virtual analog: Novation SuperNova II
Best-sounding all-in-one: Fairlight CMI III
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Post by DGX305 » Sun Sep 09, 2007 2:19 am

MrFrodo wrote:In my opinion, the best-sounding FM synth is the Yamaha DX7 MkII.
Best sounding wavetable synth: Korg Wavestation
Best -sounding LAS synth: Korg 01W
Best-sounding hardware sampler: E-Mu Emulator II
Best-sounding workstation: Yamaha Motif
Best-sounding virtual analog: Novation SuperNova II
Best-sounding all-in-one: Fairlight CMI III
and the best sound out-of-this-world synth: V-Synth GT
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Post by crystalmsc » Tue Sep 11, 2007 10:46 am

my best digital would be the MicrowaveXT. based on the audio, digital filter and overall sound quality.
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Post by aeon » Wed Sep 12, 2007 7:44 pm

Of the digitals I have owned, these possess the best sound quality to my ear:
  • Clavia Nord Modular
  • Korg OASYS PCI
  • Roland JD-990
  • Waldorf MicroWave XTk

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Post by Soundwave » Thu Sep 13, 2007 12:39 am

MrFrodo wrote: Best sounding wavetable synth: Korg Wavestation
The Wavestation is a Vector ROMpler! :error:

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Post by DGX305 » Thu Sep 13, 2007 1:33 am

isn't every keyboard that isn't analog or accoustic is digital?
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Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Sep 13, 2007 2:56 am

DGX305 wrote:isn't every keyboard that isn't analog or accoustic is digital?
Yes...

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Post by i_watch_stars » Thu Sep 13, 2007 3:40 am

It seems a large portion of people responding aren't even reading the first post.
Feelsee wrote:Any opinions on the sound quality of digital synthersisers? (non VA)


I would presume that this is because the poster realized that there have already been a number of "best sounding VA" threads.

Under this proviso, I would throw in another vote for the Roland JD-990/800...a fantastic sounding sample based synthesizer.

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...

Post by elmosexwhistle » Thu Sep 13, 2007 7:22 pm

quite a subjective thread this isn't it? but hey ho, here we go...

i really dig fm...and the sy77 is the FM powerhouse i always dreamed of...it can do the whole FM thing really well and load in dx series patches, it has a decent mid 90's rompler set, which with it's great synth architecture can allow you to get some wild sounds, and do D50 style stuff aswell...

as for the *sound* well, the virtual filters on the thing and it's built in effects can add a bit of warmth, although it does harsh digital stuff (think the dx1 sound in dire straight's money for nothing) good aswell...

the mk1 dx7 is another fave, mainly because of the 12 bit DAC's which make the sound really meaty and grungy, i use a gate most of the time to cut out it's noisy outputs though...

the digi synth i don't like is the M1, it sounds pretty plasticky, and i really don't dig any of it's sounds...same for the wavestation...even though it has a great architecture and a cool joystick, none of it's romples i particularly like...

cheap pss yamahas sound great and the ones with synth sections can be made to do EVIL things...

and finally, the an1x (no surprises there then)...sometimes oberheim like, sometimes dx7 like, sometimes crazy additive kawai kind of effects, and sometimes completely mangled and nuts...it's a dreamy synth with a great sound for a 1st gen VA :) x

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