Standard "first synth" advice thread, yadda yadda

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Seizure Salad
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Post by Seizure Salad » Sat Apr 26, 2008 8:38 am

otto wrote: As many others have mentioned you might be too quick to dismiss VA.
Yeah. To be honest, for a long time I was sure all I wanted was an Alesis Ion. It sounds amazing, great value, etc. But then I started fiddling around with real analog synths, and...well, everyone here knows the difference. But maybe I should reconsider. Your suggestions so far have been great--thank you to everyone for your input and discussion. I'll certainly look into the Yamaha AN1x and Roland Alpha Juno 2.

Sorry for being vague on the sounds I want. The most important sounds to me are: thick, rubbery, tight sounds I can use to craft good techno/dance basses and leads, huge, thick, lush, complex pads I can use for warm/bright/mellow shoegaze type textures, and...anything nasty and aggressive that can really cut through a loud distorted mix.

If anybody wants a concrete example of the kind of sounds I'm most interested in, I've hosted some songs for download that serve as basic examples. I know it's a bit of a hassle to download songs for some random guy on a synth forum and listen to them, but if you have some free time, I promise they're worth it. They're great songs, in any case.

"Yeah (Crass Version)" by LCD Soundsystem. The synth comes in at 3:18 and continues until the end. There is some fantastic programming going on here, considering how dramatically much the synth line evolves. They actually used a Moog Taurus II for this, but listen to how much they do with it. http://www.sendspace.com/file/9it0qp

"Midnight Souls Still Remain" by M83. Here's the closing track on the new M83 album. Warm, lush, mesmerizing pads. It's just two goddamn chords over and over again, but it sounds breathtaking. M83 are very hush hush about what synths they use, but it's rumored they have a MemoryMoog...so who knows. http://www.sendspace.com/file/7ui1b2

"Nice 'n' Sleazy" by The Stranglers. Here's a classic. There's synth throughout, but I especially like the f**k up solo in the middle of the track. Sounds like trash, but that's why it's awesome. No idea what synth they used for this. http://www.sendspace.com/file/vic78x

I considered the DCO vs. VCO thing for a long time, but I honestly can't tell the difference between them. Besides the drift, obviously. I definitely have one question, though. In doing all my research, I couldn't figure out why there aren't more tube synths on the market. It seems like such an interesting technology for synthesis, since everyone loves and venerates tubes. But there have barely been any serious tube synth products. I mean, besides obviously stuff like the Novachord, and Metasonix...which makes that...thing...that...sounds like a jeep stuck in the mud. What's with the lack of tube synth technology? Is it a really limited architecture, or something?

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Post by memedesigner » Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:35 am

First of all, thanks for the Stranglers example. Got that vinyl, haven't listened to it for ... quite a few years. Great song! The synth parts including the solo sound very much like a Minimoog to me. At least mine does sounds like that when it really lets its hair loose. :D

The M83 pads do sound amazing... there is a lot of production values going on, ie outboard, maybe some highend phaser, delay, reverb, you name it. That contributes a lot to the shimmer and aliveness of the sound.

I have no idea what synths LCD soundsystem uses, but sounds like they've gotten bitten by the vintage analogue bug ... that's a cumbersome condition and can be detrimental to actual music making...

However, there is one synth that I know that could bring forth 90% of this, could very well do the LCD soundsystems bass riff modulation thing, with a tight punchy bass, do great evolving refined pads and some vintage mono leads. That would be Virus TI, it really is a great instrument. Try it out at least, and forget about its trance image (and the presets which are mostly these reverb washed trance hooverwhathaveyous).

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Post by memedesigner » Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:41 am

Googled around for LCD soundsystem: Microkorgs and Moog Rogue. :shock: That's very cool! :D

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Post by Seizure Salad » Sat Apr 26, 2008 9:56 am

memedesigner wrote:Googled around for LCD soundsystem: Microkorgs and Moog Rogue. :shock: That's very cool! :D
Yeah, that's their live rig. They've got at least two Microkorgs and a Moog Rogue. Definitely one of the best live acts around. In the studio they use some different stuff, I think...I'm pretty they use a Moog Taurus II on the track I linked. But whatever. Cool sound, either way. Thanks for listening! I'll look into the Virus.

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Post by Yoozer » Sat Apr 26, 2008 11:00 am

Seizure Salad wrote: Sorry for being vague on the sounds I want. The most important sounds to me are: thick, rubbery, tight sounds I can use to craft good techno/dance basses
4-op FM synthesizers do bass sounds in pretty incredible ways.
huge, thick, lush, complex pads
Those almost never come out of a single synth; you'll have more benefits of learning the art of layering.
anything nasty and aggressive that can really cut through a loud distorted mix.
1) put the rest of the band in mixer 1
2) put your own synths in mixer 2
3) take a sidechain compressor
4) hook it up
5) every time you play you push the rest of the band away :D.
M83 are very hush hush about what synths they use
That's maybe - believe it or not - because it doesn't matter that much.

See, it's really easy getting caught up in endless discussions about warmth, fatness, etc. but what's being overlooked (up to the extreme where you see someone with a slew of vintage machines and a room with shitty acoustics, cardboard speakers, crappy outboard and a two-bit mixer) is that the processing and mixing are of importance too. Not when you're just demoing a single sound, but when you actually compose and produce music.
In doing all my research, I couldn't figure out why there aren't more tube synths on the market. It seems like such an interesting technology for synthesis, since everyone loves and venerates tubes. What's with the lack of tube synth technology? Is it a really limited architecture, or something?
Since it's already incredibly expensive (yes, even for large corporations) to even reconsider the chip-based synth with filter and oscillator ICs, it's completely out of the stratosphere to let them build anything 100% discrete. Plus, there's environment issues - you definitely don't want to re-tune everything because the temperature went up 3 degrees.

They could do it back in the day because that was all the technology that was available. Just like back then, 90% of the customers are looking for a decent piano sound and some bread & butter stuff.
"Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.

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Post by Joey » Sat Apr 26, 2008 6:15 pm

I would like to note that the alpha juno does NOT have three oscillators, it has one oscillator and one sub oscillator.

The Ajuno can have three waveforms running at once from its single oscillator, which is not the same thing as three oscillators, you cannot achieve that detuned sound.

VSE's info on this synth is incorrect.

With that said though, it definitely is a great synth, just a one oscillator synth might not be your cup of tea.
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Post by felis » Mon Apr 28, 2008 6:18 am

Andromeda. It's a synth you can grow into.


BTW: V301H - the A6 has VCO's.

V301H wrote:
... If DCO's are acceptable the Andromeda is a more than adequate first synth.

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Post by Shleed » Mon Apr 28, 2008 6:50 am

felis wrote:Andromeda. It's a synth you can grow into.


BTW: V301H - the A6 has VCO's.

V301H wrote:
... If DCO's are acceptable the Andromeda is a more than adequate first synth.
Maybe he's confused on the fact that the VCOs can be autotuned to make them have a DCO like quality. This is why people say the andromeda is "cold", because they don't realise the f**k autotune's on! :lol:

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Post by buhler » Mon Apr 28, 2008 7:24 am

i haven't been around for a couple months (been hangin' out at the midibox forum.. :D) but i figured this was a good place to jump back in. i was looking for my first synth last year and i would have to go with JMP on the Korg Polysix. that was my first and i love it. it's a very warm sounding synth but very nice. as far as the aggressive sounds you are looking for, i found those with the SID but that's most likely not a very good option for you. anyhow, good luck!

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Post by buckyball » Mon Apr 28, 2008 11:52 pm

The current issue of Remix magazine has an article on the recording of M83's newest album. That article claims, "his favorite piece of studio gear is by far the Roland [Alpha] Juno-2, which provides Gonzalez with the "John Carpenter" sounds he's looking for." I suspect they meant to say "John Hughes", not "Carpenter". The article continues:

While a vast array of keyboards was on hand to record the album, Gonzalez is also famous for being picky about the sounds he uses from each keyboard. He'll often take the same one or two sounds per synth and recycle them throughout the production.
Buck

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Post by shaft9000 » Wed Apr 30, 2008 1:58 am

otto wrote:The best way to figure it out is to just get something and start learning. If money isn't too much of an issue you might consider trying a couple different synths and finding what it is you like.
that is the best advice so far, by far.

no amount of demoing, reading around and mp3/YouTube-ing a synth comes anywhere near the way you know one after making a dozen or so tracks with it.

just get on with it, because nobody is going to know in advance where you'll be headed once you get into this stuff, even you.

better to get a few less-powerful synths to start, rather than throwing all your balls into one bag (PEK,A6 etc).
it's also much easier to let something smaller/cheaper go when you want to trade up!
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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