On board effects

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chamomileshark
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On board effects

Post by chamomileshark » Tue Dec 30, 2008 3:15 pm

I'm curious, what do people think about these generally? I got the feeling in the past that they were really useful, a bit like a freebie if you were cash strapped and generally gear limited. Now I'm not sure I prefer synths without built in effects.


So do you use them or do you turn them off straight away and process via other hardware or software units? Is that because the onboard ones are not so good or because if you have outboard you know them better?

Are there particular onboard effects you do use? (I might if I used the Roland U20 use the onboard chorus..but then I have a Boss CE300 superchorus)


I'll post this on software synths too, but there I would think there is even less reason when you can get quality freeware processors.

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Re: On board effects

Post by Johnny Lenin » Tue Dec 30, 2008 4:00 pm

Sure. The chorus on the AX60 and JX8P completely changes the character of a patch. I don't think of it as an effect so much as another parameter. I use the onboard effects on the Fantom when playing live and composing and often when recording. However, I find that some VSTs work better it recording [compression, delay], so I'll often turn off effects when I'm recording.

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Re: On board effects

Post by aXL » Tue Dec 30, 2008 8:47 pm

I could never really get to terms with the chorus on the JP8080, so I'm saving for a CE20 as a "master" chorus pedal.

However, on a lot of the vintage instruments, like the old Roland Junos and the Synthex, you get a lot of good sonic colour with the chorus options. Also, if you cont ring modulation, the CS80 had a sweet implementation of that as well.

As a general rule, you very rarely find synthesizers with a good on-board multi-effect processor. If it's a single modulation effect, however, it is normally almost tailored to work well with the rest of the instrument.
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Re: On board effects

Post by Christopher Winkels » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:14 pm

As the good Mr. Lenin pointed out, Roland pretty much nailed chorus on any number of '80s units (my MKS-70 and Juno-6 would have been less pleasant machines without that wonderful little bit of circuitry). They felt integrated in with the unit in a way many effects on ROMplers are not.

Outside of budget contraints, I don't much see the point of OBEs these days, since a good used outboard unit can be picked up for a pittance and a whole cottage industry of wild'n'wacky boutique manufacturers will only be pleased to sell you hundreds of effects boxes to mangle sound.

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Re: On board effects

Post by chamomileshark » Tue Dec 30, 2008 9:25 pm

re the Juno thing, agreed. Not to want to appear negative but I tended to feel it made up for some of the instruments weaknesses, in the same way that alot of string machines sound a bit rough when you turn off the ensemble.

Ring mod. Actually I tend not to think of it as an effect, but you might say it is. It certainly added alot to the CS80 particularly as it was integrated into the rest of the synth rather than a static thing.

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Re: On board effects

Post by xpander » Tue Dec 30, 2008 10:22 pm

i like anything that's part of the synthesizer's sound chain, they can all be used for sonic shaping. features are features.

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Re: On board effects

Post by Gianni » Tue Dec 30, 2008 11:25 pm

It depends on the synth's effects' quality I think. At least for me it does.
Sometimes I want a gritty powerful lead for guitar-oriented songs, but let's say I try with an X-Station chain of effects, it will never sound as good as a couple of NL + analog pedals or even Korg Triton's effects.

Roland usually has some awesome effects, on both analog and digital synths. One of the reasons I fell in love with V-Synth GT was because I like that kind of effects distribution. Not too little, not too much.

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Re: On board effects

Post by killedaway » Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:05 am

i love inbuilt effects, and i use them in every piece of equipment that has them. no, they're often not as good as the top-of-the-line standalone effects, but i don't care. the type of music i do allows me to use almost any "quality" of effect. the dirtier, noisier, "crappier", the better. when they actually sound nice, that's just a plus.
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Re: On board effects

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:26 am

I use whatever sounds good. As xpander said, if it's there you can use it. I do have a lot of outboard effects that I use instead of onboard ones, and that I use for softsynths, but really the important thing is the sound, not what's making it.

I think of effects in the way a guitarist does, part of the signal chain and so part of my sound. The instrument doesn't end at the audio outputs. :thumright:

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Re: On board effects

Post by Joey » Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:45 am

I love the onboard FX on my virus, so much that my prophet 08 is patched through it so I can use them on it as well.

The microwave XT has a great chorus effect in the amp stage that is just on or off which I like to use, the other fx such as the flangers and delays are not very good however

with the Juno the chorus is great, it just makes the sounds come alive and can turn otherwise sterile sounding pads and basses into monsters

the DW8000's digital delay is great as well

onboard fx are great
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Re: On board effects

Post by nathanscribe » Wed Dec 31, 2008 12:50 am

Agreed. Ensemble or chorus on an old analogue is a great bonus, given that even a humble CE-2 or similar can set you back a fair bit these days. The built-in delay in the Korg DW8000 can be used for chorus, flange or delay, and that saves a bit of outboard being tied up... my Teisco S-100P has a spring reverb in it. Don't get that in too many units. The delay in the Evolver is really part of the structure of the sound - on a patch level, not just an afterthought. But I don't miss these things on synths that don't have them, because I've got loads of effects kicking about anyway. As for the reverbs/delays/chorus on romplers and things, or the plethora of doo-dahs stuck on VAs to make them sound appealing in the shop... well... I don't like them much to be honest. Those feel to me like they're trying to do the job of a separate unit, and I'd rather use outboard. I suppose all that's a matter of taste.

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Re: On board effects

Post by Jack Spider » Wed Dec 31, 2008 2:24 am

I like on-board effects, and see them as a welcome addition to any synth. Like Johnny, I also consider them to be additional parameters to tinker with. Roland's old chorus on the likes of the Juno 60 and on the JX-8P is a great example of it really adding to an instrument. I must mention that the generous effects set on the Novation KS4/5 were so good/useful, that I seldom used external FX with it. Come to think of it, the Korg MS2000 had some great built-in FX too!

And of course, should the effects on an instrument be not so good, they can always be turned off and externals used.
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Re: On board effects

Post by madtheory » Wed Dec 31, 2008 5:17 pm

It's interesting that people are talking mostly about modulation effects. I would agree, modulation effects are definitely a bonus. The Korg M1 had a fab phaser. Delays are useful too.

When it comes to reverb though, I would generally avoid the onboard implementation and use a plugin or outboard. Even on softsynths, the reverb is usually very compromised and easily done better elsewhere.

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Re: On board effects

Post by 23 » Wed Dec 31, 2008 6:39 pm

I don't see a problem at all with them. It's a sheer win win.
At worst, you don't use them, and carry on as if they weren't even there.
At best, you do use them, and you're on to a case that very well may mean that it's one less external effect that you may have wanted to apply anyhow.

I have to confess, notably on a small group of more modern day polys, I'm not even sure I consider effects "effects".
When things start getting to the point of the effect working on per voice basis (which arguably might as well be the case on all monosynths with effects), well....the effect at that point might is without question a part of the general synth arch.
Granted, even when effects have not been on a per voice basis, I still just considered them part of the synth....
As of others have noted, the Junos (and else) would in many cases have a COMPLETELY different sound/character if you took their chorus away.

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Re: On board effects

Post by sacredcow » Wed Dec 31, 2008 6:44 pm

Err, my on board effects reviews
Good: everything on the EA-1 but the distortion, everything on the ES-1, the delays and non-modulation effects on the nova, the digital delay on my k4 that freaks out when you modulate it.
Bad: command station effects, the non-tempo-syncable chorus/phaser on the nova
So mostly they're good. And if they're not... well, you might still like the gear anyways. If not, sell it.
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