Why do presets universally suck?

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by Z » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:07 pm

As others have said, the presets in synths are just general sounds to cover many genres of music. It seems that the mentality of these sort of subjective posts are based around the idea that synthesizers are for "electronic" music only - which is further from the truth. Look at all the DX7 presets (e bass, e piano, bells, harp) that have made it into countless hit records. The D-50 had its fair share of presets on records. Even Keith Emerson used JD-800 presets on Black Moon, so did Tangerine Dream on Rockoon.

I love creating my own sounds on my analogs and JD-800, but with ROMplers, I merely tweak a preset to my own personal needs - if tweeking is even necessary to begin with. I know my Fantom X6 is a powerful ROMpler synth, but I barely have time to play with my gear, much less sit down and try to program my own sounds from scratch. I just want to sit down and play.

My 2 cents...

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by Bitexion » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:11 pm

Another important point to the "preset hate" thing, is that people like different types of sounds. It's totally individual. So what the programmer might have thought as his fave sounds, someone else may find them dull and uninspiring. Some want big unison lead and bass, some want squelchy resonant bass, some wants smooth pads.
And almost everyone gets the best results when they learn the synth and erase the presets they dont like. Which kind of proves it's down to personal taste.

I don't know about you guys, but usually the first thing I do when I open the manual to an unfamiliar synth I test, is to look for the "init patch" function. Strip off all the fancy s**t in the presets and go from a single waveform.

Sadly I couldn't find that function on the new Moog Little Phatty (the name makes me embarassed), so I spent some time figuring how to remove modulations and all that stuff to start from scratch. THAT's when I started to have fun. Just browsing presets is uninspiring.

But I'm very happy new analogs have presets, since I can store the great sounds I make myself. I usually store a patch a dozen times before I'm happy with it.

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by WDW » Sun Aug 10, 2008 3:18 pm

DocT wrote:Still 9X% of sold synths contain nothing but the factory presets.
I always wipe my patches and reinstall the factory presets when any of my gear leaves my studio. :wink:

But, yeah, I think that you are right. I doubt that most folks are like me. The majority of gear that I have bought secondhand contained the original presets. There were several people who were the opposite and not only had replaced all of the presets but even included disks of tons more of their own original patches--all were professional musicians and sound designers.

As for preset-bashing, I see it like this... One either likes a preset or not. If so, then use it. If not, then replace it. It's all a matter of preference. Personally, I am not too proud to use someone else's presets. I've run across countless presets that I thought absolutely wonderful (and useful). And all of these comments are coming from a guy who very much enjoys spending hours upon hours creating his own patches.

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by DocT » Sun Aug 10, 2008 4:02 pm

WDW wrote:As for preset-bashing, I see it like this... One either likes a preset or not. If so, then use it. If not, then replace it. It's all a matter of preference.
That's true of course and I couldn't express it better. What bothers me a little though is that people tend to say "suck" instead of "I didn't like".

WDW wrote:Personally, I am not too proud to use someone else's presets. I've run across countless presets that I thought absolutely wonderful (and useful). And all of these comments are coming from a guy who very much enjoys spending hours upon hours creating his own patches.
I usually make music exclusively with my own sounds. But lately I made a few demotracks for new N.I. Kore soundpacks. Quite relaxing because I needn't be ashamed that I only used preset sounds when using presets was a precondition ;)
In the end I had nothing but veneration for the sound programmers. I would have needed a month off to programm the stuff myself. In particular when it comes to complex digital synths that have thousands of modulation possibilities, in case of the Kore sounds 8 variations or subprograms of a sound, that must not only be good in their own rights, but also well adjusted to allow seemless morphing, making a single programm can imho take a whole working day.
The average user mustn't however have the least interest in the effort behind the result, that's his right. Still it doesn't hurt to point to the efforts occasionally and to hope that the word "sucks" is used only after a few seconds of contemplation :wink:

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by Analogue Crazy » Sun Aug 10, 2008 4:18 pm

The Jupiter-4 presets universally suck, and you're stuck with em.
The Bass and Voice presets are nice, the other 8 are c**p.
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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by WDW » Sun Aug 10, 2008 4:47 pm

DocT wrote:
WDW wrote:As for preset-bashing, I see it like this... One either likes a preset or not. If so, then use it. If not, then replace it. It's all a matter of preference.
That's true of course and I couldn't express it better. What bothers me a little though is that people tend to say "suck" instead of "I didn't like".
I think that you alluded to the reason for this phenomenon quite well in your previous post. It's a matter of ego. A matter of "my programming skills are better than yours."

In my opinion, the quality of presets may be wholly irrelevant. In the case of a machine where presets are not replaceable, then, yes, obviously, the matter of the like-ability and usability of the sounds is of paramount importance. However, in the case of a machine where presets are replaceable, then the sounds are irrelevant, because the user can program his own. [In the latter case, usability of the interface and quality of the sound engine are the significant instrument-related factors. But we cannot forget the significance of the user's programming skills.]

I'm a firm believer in the "put up or shut up" philosophy. Sure, everyone is entitled to an opinion. But, when that opinion rises from mere criticism to harsh bashing, then it has risen to the level of arrogance.

As I write this post, I glance to my right, where sit a SEM, MS20 and 2600, and I wonder about what musicians of yesteryear ranted.

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:25 pm

Presets are contrary to the original concept of synthesizers: a device where you were the author of the sound you were using. The point of synthesizers was to create that which you envisioned/desired/needed.

Presets are unsatisifying because you are not creating the sound you desire, you're merely hoping that some engineer at Korg or elsewhere happened to provide what you envision... and that almost never happens.

In older synthesizers, it's easy to ignore the presets and get to work. In modern synthesizers it is a much more complex process to design what you want, and then the presets become frustrating because if they don't do what you want, a great deal of knowledge/skill/talent may be involved in making the machine do what you desire.
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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by ned-ryarson » Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:28 pm

griffin avid wrote:
A synth with great presets? I would say Korg MicroKorg.
I have read on forums (electronic, general music, rock and more) - complaints about the number of bands using its presets as is- so apparently they are well programmed and mostly usable.

na, the micro korg is a brilliant synth, amazing value, and i can can get really excellent results creating patches, but the presets are awfull. you do here a lot of mk presets in music these days, generally from s**t bands

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by otto » Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:32 pm

Actually I'm usually able to find very usable presets on a lot of synths. There were some good ones on the virus, Prophet 600, Moog LP, and MEK. I hate presets on synth from the late 80's to early 90s such as ESQ-1, D-50, DX7 etc.
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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by WDW » Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:33 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote:Presets are contrary to the original concept of synthesizers: a device where you were the author of the sound you were using. The point of synthesizers was to create that which you envisioned/desired/needed.

Presets are unsatisifying because you are not creating the sound you desire, you're merely hoping that some engineer at Korg or elsewhere happened to provide what you envision... and that almost never happens.

In older synthesizers, it's easy to ignore the presets and get to work. In modern synthesizers it is a much more complex process to design what you want, and then the presets become frustrating because if they don't do what you want, a great deal of knowledge/skill/talent may be involved in making the machine do what you desire.
Precisely how I feel about samples and loops.

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sun Aug 10, 2008 5:48 pm

WDW wrote:
Automatic Gainsay wrote:Presets are contrary to the original concept of synthesizers: a device where you were the author of the sound you were using. The point of synthesizers was to create that which you envisioned/desired/needed.

Presets are unsatisifying because you are not creating the sound you desire, you're merely hoping that some engineer at Korg or elsewhere happened to provide what you envision... and that almost never happens.

In older synthesizers, it's easy to ignore the presets and get to work. In modern synthesizers it is a much more complex process to design what you want, and then the presets become frustrating because if they don't do what you want, a great deal of knowledge/skill/talent may be involved in making the machine do what you desire.
Precisely how I feel about samples and loops.

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by Bitexion » Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:44 pm

That's all fine, but I would never speak against patch memory in itself. It is wonderful to be able to store several versions of a patch as you build on it. I know how hellish it is to redial a sound on the modular synth, to find that exact LFO sweetspot that created that perfect swirl or growl in "hi range".

Also, there's all the keyboardists that play session gigs for huge artists, like Bruce Springsteen, Stones etc. They usually only use a few Hammond sounds or brass stabs. No need for them to sit for 2 weeks and recreate those when they're there already.

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sun Aug 10, 2008 6:55 pm

Bitexion wrote:That's all fine, but I would never speak against patch memory in itself. It is wonderful to be able to store several versions of a patch as you build on it. I know how hellish it is to redial a sound on the modular synth, to find that exact LFO sweetspot that created that perfect swirl or growl in "hi range".

Also, there's all the keyboardists that play session gigs for huge artists, like Bruce Springsteen, Stones etc. They usually only use a few Hammond sounds or brass stabs. No need for them to sit for 2 weeks and recreate those when they're there already.
If you arrive at a point with an analog synth that you know that the analog synth in question is the perfect instrument for your personal tastes, then hopefully you learn to speak in the language of that synth... at which point, you begin to know how to get the sound you want without presets, memorizing, or patch sheets. Easier with a Minimoog than with an Eight Voice, but there you are. :wink:

I have benefitted from presets and patch memory on stage, to be sure. If I played in bands which needed pianos and Hammonds and brass stabs, you'd better believe I'd be using presets. While a lot of people can probably come up with analog sounds they like and can use, it is a smaller division of the population who know how to effectively sample a horn section AND apply those samples in a functional and musical way.

That's why it's way easy to find a useable string section or piano, and difficult to find a synth sound which suits your specific needs.
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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by WDW » Sun Aug 10, 2008 7:15 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote:If you arrive at a point with an analog synth that you know that the analog synth in question is the perfect instrument for your personal tastes, then hopefully you learn to speak in the language of that synth... at which point, you begin to know how to get the sound you want without presets, memorizing, or patch sheets. Easier with a Minimoog than with an Eight Voice...
...or a Matrix-12 or Andromeda.

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Re: Why do presets universally suck?

Post by griffin avid » Sun Aug 10, 2008 7:29 pm

Don't agree with that one at all. I have sounds that are from years ago. Aint no way I'm going to remember those exact settings. Much less call them up just like that. EVEN IF I knew the synth so well I could- who'd want to do all that menu diving everytime you want to switch patches?

And I don't think being a sound designer has to be tied in to being a musician/performer/etc.
If I'm a player, I want great sounding patches, a few options for tweaking and that's about it.

And as said earlier- even after I've made all kinds of presets for myself- there are still some that are unusable at certain times for certain songs. That don't mean the patches or I suck.

At the end of the day, I'm not sure my audience cares whether or not I surfed presets or made every sound from scratch.
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