What was the worst synthesizer you've ever owned?

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Ry-Fi
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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by Ry-Fi » Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:26 pm

CS_TBL wrote:Even a wet fart can sound spectacular when running it through a huge reverb. Point being: on their own, the silliest Yamaha PSR keyboard can sound like a dud, but hook it up to a range of effects and you may find use for it.
Hey, you just reminded me of a tasty little anecdote:

My pal, a progressing musician doing DIY recording, who mostly does guitars and vocals, has a rinky-dink little Yamaha PSS-170 that he occasionally uses for creative effect here and there in his tunes. His modest "recording rig" is a Boss BR-864 which has some COSM effects in it.

Well, using a "piano" (heh) sound from the PSS-170 and some of the effects in the Boss, he managed to create one of the most intense aural nuggets that I've ever heard in a song - it's one of those near-orgasm moments! It doesn't really sound like a piano or any other specific kind of instrument, and I certainly can't decipher the chain of effects he used to get the end result; it's just a completely original sound that he used in a brilliant way to create a total musical moment. I'm still stunned every time I hear that riff... This guy is a MASTER at making the most of the meager tools that he has at his disposal. He's made more incredible music with his measly arsenal of toys than I have with all the synths, effects, sample libraries, plugins, etc. in my collection worth much more than his.

Tasty gear is awesome, but some people can show that there's practically no correlation between a piece of gear's sophistication and how it can be used to create beauty!

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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by Christopher Winkels » Sun Mar 22, 2009 12:35 pm

I know what you're saying about the Prophecy knobs. With very little effort they're possible to "pinch" and distort. Korg never seems to implement portamento and hard sync properly either.

I sold a Moog Source to buy my Prophecy. Worst. Trade. Ever.

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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by rhino » Sun Mar 22, 2009 2:15 pm

way off topic maybe, but funny (now)
played for a few years at a church with a huge old Baldwin tube organ. sounded like a nest of cicadas and tree-frogs living in a rusty calliope near a power line. because i was not a 'member' i was not allowed to fix it. they would call a 'technitian' from 100 miles away to come and diddle with it. worst sounds i ever heard passing as music.
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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by MitchK1989 » Sun Mar 22, 2009 3:20 pm

I thought an alesis fusion could replace my micron in the VA department.

'Nuff said.

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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by cornutt » Sun Mar 22, 2009 4:15 pm

StepLogik wrote:A few years ago I had a chance to get a CX5m for real cheap and almost bought it. It was brand new. I thought it would be fun to program my own step sequencer and know that it would have solid timing since its not running a multi-threaded OS.
I'm not sure how solid it would actually be... Most PCs of that era, and I'm pretty sure the CX5M was no different, had crude video interfaces that had to be managed by the OS. Anything with really tight timing requirements would have to contend with the video interrupts.
But, I've heard that you can't actually program anything useful with it.
You could have if Yamaha had made the technical data available. The BASIC interpreter had PEEK and POKE keywords that could access arbitrary memory addresses, and there was an assembler available that was supposed to work on any MSX computer. But without that information, all you could do was select factory presets on the internal synth, and send it notes. The one thing I managed to do with it that I thought was really cool, was playing random notes from a scale; that is, given a particular scale (say, C# minor), play random notes selected from that scale. Or any other set of selected notes.
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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by StepLogik » Sun Mar 22, 2009 6:50 pm

cornutt wrote:Anything with really tight timing requirements would have to contend with the video interrupts.
I didn't think about that, but that's a good point.
cornutt wrote:
But, I've heard that you can't actually program anything useful with it.
You could have if Yamaha had made the technical data available. The BASIC interpreter had PEEK and POKE keywords that could access arbitrary memory addresses, and there was an assembler available that was supposed to work on any MSX computer. But without that information, all you could do was select factory presets on the internal synth, and send it notes.
I wonder why Yamaha never released that info. Seems like it would have been in their best interest. BASIC is easy to program, a lot of people could have written useful applications for the CX5m. That might have been their undoing.

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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by gcoudert » Sun Mar 22, 2009 8:09 pm

Easy answer: Roland D70.

- impossible to use without the manual
- impossibility to edit a tone within the patch so you couldn't hear it in context
- same sounds as U110/U220/U20
- doesn't read some U110 cards (Rock Drums for example)
- crappy synth engine; poor envelopes
- shitty filter
- had this feature that allowed you to vary the starting point of a sample; this never yielded an interesting result
- tones saved independently from patches like on the Korg Wavestation
- sluggish software response

It was definitely not a D-series synth. On the positive side, it was a great MIDI controller, complete with assignable sliders, etc. I only ever used the Fairlight Arr1 and Jupiter Strings patches.

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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by rockmanrock » Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:52 am

Dividedbyzero wrote:Kawai K4 was cheesy, noisy, very noisy, and not a lot of fun for me. However it was my only 'pro' synth for a few years.

Oh how I suffered. Can still hear it hissing and poping away if I close my eyes.
Ha! Had one as my first synth back in 1990. The filters were certainly strange on it. At the time these sort of synths were being touted as "you can do it all on this", a bit of a stretch to say the least.

Worst synths I've had...

Casio VZ-8M - really horrible menu diving interface, and the sounds were like a CZ with all the interesting bits removed. I didn't program it much, too painful.

Roland MC-303 - the sounds aren't completely terrible, as long as you stay away from the "303s", but I could never get to grips with the sequencer. Something funny going on with the way it works too, newly input notes not appearing until the next loop, unable to change to a new pattern unless you choose before a certain point in a bar, seems to suggest limited processor power. I'd have been really sore if I'd paid full whack for one in its day.

I quite like the Kawai K1, the strings and choir are lo-fi classics, nice and grungy.

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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by Alex E » Mon Mar 23, 2009 4:40 am

MC-303.

The MIDI implementation was horrible, it sounded boring, and it was very difficult for me make my own patterns. I could never figure it out. Not even with the manual if I remember correctly.
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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by krushing » Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:01 am

Red Sound Darkstar XP2.

It's a nightmare to program even when you finally realize how you're supposed to work with it and I didn't get ONE decent sounding patch out of it. And the filter is just weak as f**k. It looks intriguing on paper with the joystick'n'all, but doesn't work in reality at all. I sold it after two weeks.

Honourable mention goes to the Korg EX 800, the desktop/module version of the Poly 800 - it's ultra tedious to program, and though it'd probably be pretty easy to replace, the data entry buttons are of the most horrible variety, and most parameters just have way too coarse settings to be useful. It's not actually bad sounding at the heart of it, and I still have it gathering dust somewhere - waiting for me to get my lazy un-electronically-proficient a*s to do the Moog Slayer mod to it, but for now...well, there's a lot of dust on it.

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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by salwa » Mon Mar 23, 2009 11:19 am

Roland D110 - the only synth I sold. We just couldn't agree. And the sounds were - hmm, lets say: passable. Maybe if I knew how to program it... But I spent whole weekend with manual and couldn't understand one thing. My soviet Elektronika stylophone copy is more fun to play with.
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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by Stafftunes » Mon Mar 23, 2009 12:39 pm

Casio VZ-8m

I owned it for about a day before taking it back, utterly horrid user interface, and the sounds were quite weak, and far too similar to the FM sounds I was already getting from my other gear at the time, bought my RY30 instead and never looked back.

GEM s2 Turbo -

Horrid interface, Thin sounding rompler that made me shout every time I tried to use it. Was removed from my studio before I commited violence and replaced with a Kurzweil K2000.

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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you ever owned?

Post by garranimal » Mon Mar 23, 2009 2:35 pm

I'm thinking about that wet fart can going to a distortion pedal and a Roland Space Echo. Then increase the delay intensity into a feedback loop. Then modulate the delay time for pitch shifting effects. Alright then....

Runner-up. Talk about a programming interface with deep-deep menu-diving: the Wavestation SR. Drove me completely nuts. Which is a shame because it sounded great. Now the Legacy version with the software interface - might have to give that a whirl.

Currently the reigning champion is still my Memorymoog.
The GOOD - sounds like nothing else.
The BAD - It weighs a TON, like a large chunk of lead. The power supply is a behemoth. Large, heavy coil with a fan as noisy as PC fan PLUS a 5 pound heat sink mounted to the back. If you look at it wrong then it freaks out. Being so heavy, if you move it or bump it then it will freak out. Just put it in the corner of the room and leave it there.
The UGLY - Now only 4 voices function properly on mine, so voice cards 1+4 have to be defeated with the software before playing. When you open the case all these circuit boards and wiring harnesses jump in your face like a pop-up book. Wiring harnesses are extremely fragile and the little pins break away so easy, and carbon builds up on them which has to be gently cleaned away with an eraser - and then you find yourself using hookup wire between voice cards in ghetto fashion. Op Amp chips like to give up. They just decide to die, and you replace them, and they die again anyway - like goldfish. Smoke test: one false move in there and those costly, rare CEMs get smoked! No, it's not funny when that happens....it feels like a little piece of your soul has been stolen away.
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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you've ever owned?

Post by vanitypolice » Mon Mar 23, 2009 5:21 pm

I'm sure alot of you will disagree but I really hated the Novation Supernova. The reason that thing has 7 internal effects or whatever is because otherwise each patch sounds exactly the same. I really wanted to like this synth but I found that the engine was thin and trying to be masked by intricate effects chains.

Clearly effect chains have their place but when I spend $400+ on a synth, it should sound good on its own. Every other synth I have ever bought for more than that has. For less money I could have gotten a freaking Pod 2.0 or something and hooked it up to the output of anything I already owned.
I have found that when it comes to gear, believe the hype.

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Re: What was the worst synthesizer you've ever owned?

Post by matia » Mon Mar 23, 2009 6:10 pm

I'm with you on the Nova. We had a Supernova for a while and unless you wanted to sound like late 90's commercial trance the thing was about as useful as a pair of dirty undies after a nice shower.


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