Single Oscillator Synths.

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Single Oscillator Synths.

Post by Box » Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:36 am

Don't think this would belong in Buyer's Guide, but if it does sorry mods. But my question is: can decent sounds be had? This question is really more meant for VCO synths. I know with my Poly-800 and Ion when set to a single oscillator the sounds are thin and and useless for the most part. I know some good sounds can be had but nothing like "Jump" or any emulations of a a two+ oscillator synth. I guess my real question is: Is this also true with VCO or does the "instability" sort of make up for lack of oscillators and detune or "thicken" the sound? Thanks in advance. :)
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Post by maindeglorie » Mon Nov 12, 2007 4:47 am

Just listen to the Roland SH-1, 101, and 09. Check out Analog Crazy's SH-09 demo on youtube. And prepare to be blown away by a single oscillator.

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Post by Uncle Screwtape » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:03 am

I've recently learned that ther is plenty of power to be had in a single oscillator synth. My Mini-Korg put out some decent sounds with a little work, but the Polysix has surprised the s**t out of me. You can check out OriginalJambo's Polysix demo on YouTube. His video is what convinced me to pull the trigger when I bought mine.

I've found that any analog I've analyzed is just unstable enough to produce resonance and harmonics with perfect imperfection. It's funny, because I mentioned in a thread, when I got my ION, that I just couldn't reproduce my favorite Polysix patch with a parameter by parameter setup. I had to use more functions to produce the same result, and it still wasn't right. I was finally able to reproduce it after a few attempts, but it really took some work.
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Post by Box » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:05 am

maindeglorie wrote:Just listen to the Roland SH-1, 101, and 09. Check out Analog Crazy's SH-09 demo on youtube. And prepare to be blown away by a single oscillator.
I know monophonic single osc synths can be awesome. But what I mean is single osc polyphonic synths. For example "Jump" doesn't sound right with the single oscillator on either of my current synths. I didn't know if a VCO synth would be differnt. I guess what I want to know is that with a two osc synth you can detune them and get a thicker sound, would a single VCO osc sound just as thick since it drifts? This would be for chords just as example.
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Post by Sir Ruff » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:09 am

maindeglorie wrote:Just listen to the Roland SH-1, 101, and 09. Check out Analog Crazy's SH-09 demo on youtube. And prepare to be blown away by a single oscillator.
You mean prepare to be blown away by a single oscillator + sub-oscillator... big distinction.
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Post by Z » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:11 am

The Akai AX-60 is a single VCO polysynth. I woned one in the late 80's/early 90's. I got some pretty thick sounds from it. I used to play "I'll Wait" with it quite a bit. It wasn't capable of the really thick and bright "Jump" sound, but pretty close. I'm sure its onboard chorus helps out quite bit.
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Post by Zamise » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:18 am

I'm probably wrong and I'm sure I'll be corrected if so, but that jump sound was done on one of the Oberheim synths originally I thought. Think OB-8 would be best for polyphony. It has 8 osilators with two parts or voices for each one. When you play one note one board kicks off with both parts, so it does sound like two oscs basically and one can be slightly detuned or slightly difrent. A chord will use something like 3 boards at once with 6 parts, two for each note, if that makes any sense? So You could play 8 notes simultaniusly on the OB8 but it had the fatness of 16 oscs at that point. Put them in unison, which makes it a mono synth and you've got one giant a*s analog sound per note. Not sure if they are running off the same VCA or VCO or not but that is sort of how it might be achieved. Something like the DS P8 I think might make a good modern equivlant, or perhaps not. Anyway it might be of intrest to look more into how those and similar synths like them work for the sound you might be looking for, otherwise I don't know, and if I'm wrong then ignore everything I've mentioned here.
Last edited by Zamise on Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:22 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Post by wiss » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:21 am

korg ms-10
micromoog
arp axxe, little brother
jen sx100
roland cmu-810, mc-202,sh-1, sh-3, sh-09, sh 101, TB303?
octave kitten
technosaurus micron
tiesco s-60f, s-100f
wersi bass-synth
yamaha cs-5,cs-10

all of them are 1 VCO or DCO and they are great
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Post by Box » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:24 am

Thanks for info everyone. I thought that maybe since that the single osc was a VCO it would make up for the "thickness" in its sound and would be like a detune in two+ DCO or digital synths. I've been looking at the Akai AX series as far as VCO synths went, but it being single osc kind of scared me that I couldn't get the sounds I'd want (Van Halen for ex.), but now I know differnt. Now it's just a matter of finding one. :P
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Post by Box » Mon Nov 12, 2007 5:27 am

Zamise wrote:I'm probably wrong and I'm sure I'll be corrected if so, but that jump sound was done on one of the Oberheim synths originally I thought. Think OB-8 would be best for polyphony. It has 8 osilators with two parts or voices for each one. When you play one note one board kicks off with both parts, so it does sound like two oscs basically and one can be slightly detuned or slightly difrent. A chord will use something like 3 boards at once with 6 parts, two for each note, if that makes any sense? So You could play 8 notes simultaniusly on the OB8 but it had the fatness of 16 oscs at that point. Put them in unison, which makes it a mono synth and you've got one giant a*s analog sound per note. Not sure if they are running off the same VCA or VCO or not but that is sort of how it might be achieved. Something like the DS P8 I think might make a good modern equivlant, or perhaps not. Anyway it might be of intrest to look more into how those and similar synths like them work for the sound you might be looking for, otherwise I don't know, and if I'm wrong then ignore everything I've mentioned here.
Van Halen used an Oberheim OB-Xa for their 1984 album I know. Van Halen is primarily what I play along with Rush, Journey, etc... All the synths they used sell for $2000+, primarily the Jupiters and OB's. I want something that can sound like them for the most part so I was looking toward single VCO synths since they can be had a lot cheaper, mainly the Akai AX series.
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Post by calyx93 » Mon Nov 12, 2007 6:00 am

There's a big difference between single oscillator synths with or without a sub-oscillator. The single ones, unless they offer some filter FM via VCO/DCO, really have a boring sound, IMO. They just sound rather one-dimensional, despite their filters (well, unless if they had a dual VCF scheme). You sound like you're looking for a polysynth (due to the Van Halen remarks), so I can only offer my advice on these.

The only single VCO/DCO synths I can think of, that have any sort of useful sound (again, IMO only) are the Roland Juno synths (because of the sub-osc and built-in chorus) and the MKS-50, the Polysix (for the same reasons), AX-60/AX-73/VX-90 or SCI MultiTrak/SixTrak/MAX (only because they VCO->VCF FM and have chorusing) and the Kawai SX-210 (like the Polysix and Juno series). (EDIT 11/12/07 - I forgot the Jupiter-4, but it might not be up your alley and may be a bit more pricey than the aforementioned synths.)

The dual VCO/DCO synths usually offer many more options due to their ability (to some degree - depending on the model) to offer some form of inter-oscillator modulation - i.e. oscillator sync, cross-modulation or features such as independant LFO or ENV modulation of either (or both) oscillators and individual tuning between the oscillators. This opens up a much broader sonic palette that a single oscillator scheme synth simply cannot provide.

There are decent number of rather inexpensive dual oscillator synths out there, so don't feel like you're forced to just choose the single-osc models. Examples - Siel DK600, Roland JX-3P/8P/10 (or their rack counterparts), Prophet-600, Kawai SX-240, Oberheim Matrix-6/6r/1000, and Cheetah MS6. There are probably more, but those are the first to come to my mind.

Best of luck in your pursuit :)
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Post by adamstan » Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:08 am

Examples - Siel DK600
Great inexpensive synth. Somehow related to Polysix - it has the same chipset, you just get two DCOs in place of one VCO. They are quite nice DCOs, 'cause they are driven by actual VCO (SSM2031), not by crystal.

Sounds great, its most important limitation is single envelope, and it cannot modulate osc pitch with env. So "Jump"-style brasses aren't perfect...

Anyway, for its price it's great.
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Post by xpander » Mon Nov 12, 2007 7:50 am

Zamise wrote:I'm probably wrong and I'm sure I'll be corrected if so, but that jump sound was done on one of the Oberheim synths originally I thought. Think OB-8 would be best for polyphony. It has 8 osilators with two parts or voices for each one.
16 oscillators, 8 voice polyphony.

here are my opinions (read: not interested in debating):
single oscillator voice architecture drives me nuts, not because they don't or can't sound wonderful but because they are too limited in timbral possibilities for my tastes.

in any event, i would personally prefer a single VCO over a single digitally-controlled oscillator in my analog synths, that lack of frequency precision is part of why i align analog synths more closely to non-electronic instruments. the flipside is that i would chose an SQ80 over any single VCO (even with a sub oscillator) any day of the week.

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Post by Analogue Crazy » Mon Nov 12, 2007 1:47 pm

There are loads of great sounding 1 VCO synths out there. The Jupiter-4 and SH-09 can sound so beefy that you would think they had 2 VCO's going at times. I personally love single VCO synths. They may miss out on fancy stuff (Sync, X-Mod) but they are still capable of meaty sounds. Sometimes the most simple synths are the best.
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Post by Box » Mon Nov 12, 2007 3:17 pm

Analogue Crazy wrote:There are loads of great sounding 1 VCO synths out there. The Jupiter-4 and SH-09 can sound so beefy that you would think they had 2 VCO's going at times. I personally love single VCO synths. They may miss out on fancy stuff (Sync, X-Mod) but they are still capable of meaty sounds. Sometimes the most simple synths are the best.
Thanks Analogue for your philosophical statement. :)
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