Looking for a synthesizer with lots of deep, dark, drones...

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Witness
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Looking for a synthesizer with lots of deep, dark, drones...

Post by Witness » Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:06 am

Hi there,

I'm currently looking for my first synth. I'm very fond of ambient artists such as Steve Roach, Robert Rich, Klaus Wiese, Alio Die etc. I'm interested in finding a synth with sounds that would create dark, mystical atmospheres. I'm willing to spend around $1500 for my first synth, but I'm confused as to where to look. I don't want to hang out at the music store all day long and test every freakin sound. Any suggestions as to what synth would contain drones? As a reference point, on this site there is the Korg Wavestation which has a deep dark droney demo of metallic bell sounds (http://www.vintagesynth.com/index2.html). That is the atmosphere I'm looking for. I'm was looking at a Korg Radias, but a lot of the sounds that I heard were "techno" ish. Would the Radias be capable of those sounds?


Thanks for the help...

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Post by synapsecollapse » Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:54 am

i would say at 1500 you might be best off getting a few synths to cover a lot of ground.

a wavestation and a dave smith MEK might make a very nice combo.

some other thoughts that come to mind that are close to being within your budget:
virus c or ti
waldorf xt
alesis andromeda

while sugestions on a forum are nice once you get limited down to a few choices be sure to listen to lots of demos and play them nif you get the chance.

questions like these go in the buyers guide section of the forum.

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Post by kvnvk » Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:14 am

the Radias is perfectly capable of doing dark, droning, atmospheric ambient sounds, that's primarily the type of sounds I create on mine. it has a ton of real-time control knobs on it for editing patches, can't go by the presets or the targeted market for a synth.
any of the Access Virus synths are really good for dark, atmospheric sounds as well. nice thick, organic bass sounds compared to all the other v/a synths I've owned, which sound good but are too clean imo.
also for this style of music you'd want to have a decent reverb processor, don't cheap out on an inexpensive pedal.

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Post by WDW » Sat Mar 08, 2008 7:18 am

Welcome to VSE.

As a heads up, what-synth-should-I-buy questions go in BUYER'S GUIDE.

Moved...

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Re: Looking for a synthesizer with lots of deep, dark, drone

Post by Yoozer » Sat Mar 08, 2008 9:23 am

Witness wrote: I'm willing to spend around $1500 for my first synth
Don't spend it all on a single synth. Effects are nearly as important, and there's the rest of your studio, too. And there's the very powerful software route; something like NI Absynth does this kind of stuff very well. If you plan to produce in a studio you'd be doing yourself a disservice to ignore this one.
I don't want to hang out at the music store all day long and test every freakin sound
And sometimes it just boils down to that, and there's no way to help it because we can't decide for you if you like the sound or the workflow.
I'm was looking at a Korg Radias, but a lot of the sounds that I heard were "techno" ish. Would the Radias be capable of those sounds?
The thing's got knobs on the front, which means you can change the sounds if you don't like 'm ;).

Judging on a basis of a demo is not the best strategy :).

The Wavestation differs from the Radias in the way it generates sounds and in the way you're supposed to work with them. Nobody'd compare 'm, because they're apples and oranges. The Wavestation is sample based and alters its sounds with the joystick, which changes the mix between 4 sound sources. The movements with the joystick are recordable.

Furthermore, synthesizers are not bound to genres. Yes, they can contain a large number of presets geared towards a certain kind of music or those sounds may be easier to make on those synths, but that doesn't have to mean anything. Then there's the matter of sampling; you can get some great results from that.

For instance, see http://homepage.mac.com/synth_seal/html/index.html and check the Korg M1 demos. Few people'd believe you get those sounds out of that. That doesn't make it the best choice, it just shows that there's lots of potential in every synth, even the cheap and ugly ones :).
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Post by seamonkey » Sat Mar 08, 2008 5:16 pm

I think you'd have to be one lucky sucker to find a used Andromeda for $1500, maybe $1800 but you can always try. :) From what I understand they have a rather steep learning curve as far as sound creation so for a first synth that might be a bit too much.

In the gear for sale forum there is a wavestation for sale for I believe $200USD. They are wonderful for deep dark atmospheric sounds.
You might also consider the software pkg Atmosphere from Spectrasonics, it has a huge library of atmospheric patches.
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Post by DisasterArea » Sun Mar 09, 2008 2:52 am

I would like to reaffirm the notion that a wavestation would suit the type of music you are talking about. Other than the vector synthesis, you have wavesequencing, a feature used often by Robert Rich, although he often does it with samples off a MOTM modular, which shouldn't be your first synth. The idea is to create a patch that consists of a sequence relative to the key you are playing in which each note can be a different tone from the last, in timbre, pitch, duration, x-fade, etc. He also uses the wavestation for its ability to use custom tunings, a lot of that music relies on using this. Look around the web for information on wavesequencing and get your head around how it is/can be used as there is lots of information out there. It is something that has all but disappeared from the hardware market, but has resurfaced in software as the godfather of granular syntheis.

Another way to achieve wavesequencing is (if you can find one) a quasimidi cyber 6. This is a midi controller keyboard with sequencing and arpeggiator, but very unique as part of its sequencing options is the ability to wavesequence other instruments in your rig. I may be letting the cat out of the bag for some people's secret weapon here, but these things are rare anyway so I don't care.

Since wavestations are inexpensive, you can then have money left over for sampler, mixer, outboard, maybe another, smaller synth, and whatever you're going to use to sequence tracks. Plus they are available all the time, and you can get a software editor that might make programming it more intuitive.

I am actually sure you could get results you like out of the radias or something similar, but it can be cool to step up to using the same piece of gear one/some of your influences used and see if you can find something in it they never did.

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Post by sacredcow » Sun Mar 09, 2008 6:44 pm

If I were you, I'd just buy random s**t used, see if it worked for me and if not, sell it back. Doing this will give you a much better idea of what you want, what you like and dislike.
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Post by DisasterArea » Sun Mar 09, 2008 7:46 pm

If I were you, I'd just buy random s**t used, see if it worked for me and if not, sell it back.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the whole point of the "Buyer's Guide" was to provide a place for people to get recommendations from more experienced users in order to narrow their search for the right gear for their purpose and serve as an expedient to their goal of making the music they want, etc. If Witness wanted to go the route you suggest, why would he bother posting this thread? I would offer that he doesn't want to waste time with gear that has little to do with his goals, and rereading the first post would bear this out.

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Post by sacredcow » Sun Mar 09, 2008 8:15 pm

DisasterArea wrote:
If I were you, I'd just buy random s**t used, see if it worked for me and if not, sell it back.
Someone correct me if I'm wrong, but I thought that the whole point of the "Buyer's Guide" was to provide a place for people to get recommendations from more experienced users in order to narrow their search for the right gear for their purpose and serve as an expedient to their goal of making the music they want, etc. If Witness wanted to go the route you suggest, why would he bother posting this thread? I would offer that he doesn't want to waste time with gear that has little to do with his goals, and rereading the first post would bear this out.
Then I guess we disagree. I stand by my recommendation. There aren't many decently programmable synths that won't give you deep, dark drones. And personally I don't know why he really posted this thread, and that's not for me to explain, but I do know that you could make a case for more than a few hundred synths being exactly what he's looking for. Suggestions are nice, but in my experience getting what you want has a lot more to do with trial and error, and he's got $1500 to experiment with.

Also, IMO, i see the buyer's guide section as much more practically useful through threads such as "x vs. y" pros and cons, as well as asking what people who own certain gear have to say before purchase, or maybe even someone looking for very certain gear that fulfills a very certain function. But really, really broad recommendation threads such as this are around as open as the synth market is wide, thus my recommendation.

I will, however, offer one specific recommendation for the OP. Look into the Kawai k4. Some sound examples here: http://homepage.mac.com/synth_seal/html/k4b.html
It's kinda like a wavestation with a filter, and probably cheaper.
Oh and learn to program if you want to get the most out of anything.
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Post by tallowwaters » Sun Mar 09, 2008 11:03 pm

i make tons of these noises and i use primarily a microkorg for them. i also use samples of my yammy tg33, kawai k4, ensonis fizmo and nord micromodular. a sampler works great for all these. also make lots of drones with softies like STS and Protoplasm and sample them as well.

not many of them just happened, though. i had to work hard to get some. in that regard, i can get superb drones from any synth, though some of them have too much presence/punch to be useful in that realm, ie: the dsi evolver
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Post by clusterchord » Mon Mar 10, 2008 12:01 am

i disagree all synths are equally capable of doing the dark, droney thing.. some are still slightly better than others.

i second the androemda suggestion altough its a prices proposition. very warm filters, and basic sound is very organic with infintie posibilites in adding animation, modulation etc..

however my personal faves in drone/illbient dept are hybrid machines.. like emax, microwave, esq-1, mirage.. etc.. that have digital oscillators going thru lofi converters into analog filters and VCAs.

on purely digital side of things.. waldorf XT is fantastic. u could pull off a whole album with it.. tho i like running it thru extra analog fx like space echo or analog filtering. for example: http://www.babic.com/SYN/XT/clc_XT_space_echo.mp3

also jd990, k5000, wavestation and virus work great for this type of thing.


in general, having good fx arsenal is crucial for getting the darkest, mystical, most ambient timbers out of any synth. so i would stock up on analog delays, tape echo, some old eventide like h3000... stuff like that..

actually that might be even more important than the synth you choose.
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Post by tallowwaters » Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:36 am

clusterchord wrote:i disagree all synths are equally capable of doing the dark, droney thing.. some are still slightly better than others.

um... okay.


anyhow, just look for any synth with a capable mod matrix.
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Post by crystalmsc » Mon Mar 10, 2008 5:45 am

Witness wrote:there is the Korg Wavestation which has a deep dark droney demo of metallic bell sounds. That is the atmosphere I'm looking for.
the Wavestation has a good potential for that type of sounds. agree, that an Evolver going to be a nice processor and combo synth for that.
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Post by felini » Mon Mar 10, 2008 2:46 pm

If you´re willing to do some extensive programming, you should consider the Oberheim Matrix 6. You can do every kind of strange, evolving drones and noises, for example, using FM and the modulation matrix, where you can acomplish some weird modulations. If you spend a lot of time with this synth, you´ll be amazed at the timbres you can get out of it. You can find one for about $400/500, and spend the rest of your money in FX, or a Nord Micromodular to complement the Matrix 6, and get more digital sounds.

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