Help me pick up my first synthesizer

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phil_vr
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Help me pick up my first synthesizer

Post by phil_vr » Sun Oct 21, 2007 11:51 pm

Hi guys..

I have absolutely no experience in keyboards (playing electric guitars) so I am trying to explore new instruments and music itself. So I decided to give it a try with synthesizers.

I just need something able to give me different kinds of sound, and I am focused on used gear from the 80's. I have found a few synths which vary from 200-250$ and are: Roland Alpha Juno1, Korg DW-6000, Alesis QS7. Which one you think an absolute newbie in keys should go after? They are all in pretty much good condition, but I have no idea of their capabilities or futureproof value if I seem to pick up and end up having a nice instrument that will stay with me and develop my skills. I may end up having a small basic home studio, so connectivity and compatibility with modern mixers and amps would be welcome (I assume that they have at least a similar jack like electric guitars).

Which one of those three should I go for? Or anything else you may suggest and its available on "For Sale Gear" on this site at this pricerange?

Any information and advice you can give me, I will appreciate it so much.

Thanks once again..

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Box
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Post by Box » Mon Oct 22, 2007 12:10 am

If it were it me the DW-6000; DW-8000in $200ish range aswell and much better. The Alesis QS series is more sampler-ish. The DW is an analogue-digital hybrid synth. It uses digitally generated waveforms, analogue filter and amplifier. The Juno is an analogue synth that uses DCO's. Personally it'd be between the Juno and DW. DW is same editing as my Poly-800 and it's super easy and straightfoward with everything listed on panel, no menu-diving. Juno looks harder to edit. From what I've heard over internet DW sounds better. But you can look on YouTube and Google for demonstrations, sound samples, info etc... Do some research and get back to us with what you think.

Also the Korg Poly-800 may be a good choice for you. The mkI version can be had for around $100 or mkII for $150-200. Plus you can strap it on like a guitar (80's style 8)). I love the thing, for the price it's unbeatable and super easy to edit though maybe a little time consuming since it has the digital interface instead of knobs. But it's an analogue synth with DCO's.

And yes, keyboards have a 1/4 jack like guitars.
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Post by uncle silas » Mon Oct 22, 2007 3:40 am

I have a QS 8.1. There are a a few computer based programs that makes the keyboard more useable but the sounds aren't good enough to make it worthwhile. If you're going to resort to using a computer to program the synth you might as well get a midi controller and a bunch of VSTis.

You can get some good sounds but onboard tweaking is tedious and with only 4 sliders you can't do much on the fly tweaking.

It was my first synth and I never got much out of it. I use it as an 88 key controller now.

edit: for now, if you've got a computer with speakers and any midi devices, get a few free VSTis and mess with them so you understand how to create sounds; all the principles are the same. That'll give you a feel for what to look for when you start shopping.

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Post by mrd6376 » Mon Oct 22, 2007 3:43 am

If you're into the retro sound and want some under $500 but with professional quality, I'd go with the Microkorg. I'm fairly new to synth as well, and I just love it.

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Paolo Di Nicolantonio
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Post by Paolo Di Nicolantonio » Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:02 am

Out of those three I would recommend the QS7 - because it's the most recent one and more versatile than the other two. The Roland and Korg are also nice machines if you don't need reproductions of acoustic sounds.

Also, the QS7 is a very capable MIDI controller, with both velocity (the keyboard plays harder or softer depending on touch) and aftertouch (if you keep pressing the keys after playing, you can engage different effects, open/close filter, change LFOs etc.) - whereas the other two don't - so if you really get into this world of synths, you can then buy a synth module and control it via MIDI from the QS7. Also the QS-series can be expanded with cards, and you can even import custom samples.

If you'd like to hear what the QS sounds like, you might want to check out my page: http://www.synthmania.com/qs8.htm

The alpha-Juno is great for Techno and electronica : http://www.synthmania.com/mks-50.htm

At the moment I don't have demos of the DW-6000 but you should be able to find something online.

Good luck with your decision :)
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Post by phil_vr » Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:06 am

Thanks for the info guys...

I think I will go with Box's suggestion.. seems to be just fine for my very basic needs. I actually play guitars and I want to experiment with background sort of symphonic sounds at a press of some keys, in the frame of the sound of King Diamond where there is this symphonic "carpet" as background and a steady heavy riff, and get an explosion of those symphonic sounds with alterations to the tempo of riffs and scales...

And since I will get this new instrument I will definitelly try to expand my knowledge on music in general. And thanks for the ideas Uncle Silas I will try it first chance, if I dont seem to get the sounds right.

Cant wait the time to get it and put my first piece on the rack I imagine to have for my home studio!

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Post by phil_vr » Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:12 am

Hey Paolo

These sounds are just great man! Woao... really amazing..

Damn.. I am troubled again.. I think I will better wait and see before I make any rush conclusion. These QS sounds are really amazing.. even if its not my style, like I said, I would like to evolve myself with a nice and capable instrument..

I am just thrilled at those sounds..

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Post by uncle silas » Mon Oct 22, 2007 4:40 am

phil_vr wrote:Hey Paolo

These sounds are just great man! Woao... really amazing..

Damn.. I am troubled again.. I think I will better wait and see before I make any rush conclusion. These QS sounds are really amazing.. even if its not my style, like I said, I would like to evolve myself with a nice and capable instrument..

I am just thrilled at those sounds..
There's no doubt you can do some amazing stuff on the QS. If you go that route make sure you set it up with a computer and purchase a computer based controller program. If it's your first synth you WILL hate programming it. It's more complicated to use than most synths, but on the bright side, if you learn it inside and out you'll know how to program almost anything.

I should also note as a warning that I've had a number of problems with my QS:
A dead left channel sound output that went south years ago (I use the optical output now so it's no biggie). At one point I opened it up and cleaned things and it worked for a few years then went to static-villle, which is better than being dead I guess.
A sketchy mod wheel that probably just needs to be cleaned but does weird s**t. You can see it in a midi monitor, it doesn't send the full swing of the controller.
And about 7 random keys in my top octave decided last month that they wanted me to own a 76 key controller rather than 88. Once again, may be contacts needs to be cleaned but still damn lame, imo.

Note: this keyboard has NEVER been abused in any way and has rarely even left the house. I've got a few boards from the mid-70's to mid-80's that still work flawlessly...why a keyboard from the late 90's would already have these problems really irks me.

Anyway, if you get a QS make sure it's the 8.1 if you can. Avoid the x.2 models as they really cut corners to drop the prices on those models. The 8.1 is a very powerful machine, perhaps too powerful?

There you have it. :)

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Post by crystalmsc » Mon Oct 22, 2007 11:56 am

for under $250, if lucky you can score a Yamaha CS2x. Since you want to explore music in general, the normal voices in XG layout could be a nice starting point for some simpler edit and variety of sound which are also useful to play XG/GM files nicely. In the performance mode, you can go complex for some orchestral layer or arpeggiated sounds.
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Post by phil_vr » Thu Oct 25, 2007 4:54 am

Thanks for all info guys...

I ended up with a top notch Roland Alpha Juno 2 in a pristine condition for less than 200$. It is amazing and I feel so overwhelmed that I dont know how to get the most of it... eventually I will grow up my skills with it and learn it..

Thank you for all your help and the articles that helped me so much...
I will post pictures as soon as possible as I am too busy playing with it right now!!

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crystalmsc
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Post by crystalmsc » Thu Oct 25, 2007 7:41 am

congrats for the nice pick! and if you are using mac, don't forget to get this nice looking editor: http://xmidi.com/juno.html
or if you find it hard to find the rare PG editor. Peavey PC1600x has a nice template (MKS-50) for it. Happy Playing!
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