Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
User avatar
cornutt
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 2117
Joined: Sun Dec 02, 2007 6:03 am
Gear: 6th
Location: Rocket City USA
Contact:

Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by cornutt » Sun Jul 05, 2009 5:14 pm

Here's mine. I will state up front that I have a preference for the Roland T-handle, so you know where I'm coming from.

Roland JD-800: To me, this is the one Roland got exactly right. Force is just stiff enough; it always re-centers perfectly, and there's no zippering even at extreme range settings. I prefer the force sensor that they used for the modulation on this one.

Roland V-Synth: Feels a bit sloppy compared to the JD-800, although the handle itself is meatier. I don't like the tilt motion on the modulation axis, which has a huge amount of travel compared to the force sensor on the JD-800.

Ensoniq Fizmo: This is the only synth I have which has traditional wheels. They do have a nice feel to them, and I'm beginning to appreciate the uses of the non-spring-loaded mod wheel. If I had my druthers, I'd eliminate the finger notches and just have a constant curved surface all the way around, with an index mark to indicate position.

Roland Juno-106: Good feel in the pitch bend axis, and having the range control right there next to it (instead of having to futz around in a global settings menu) is something I wish they still did. It seems kind of flimsy, though, and I've always been afraid that I'll break it. And the modulation is just an on-off switch.

Edirol PCR-1: Uses a screwy rocker-type switch that causes pitch to slew at a settable rate. It's impossible to get a specific interval or hold a constant setting. And the switches chatter, so you get lots of random jumps. Modulation is an on-off button.
Switches, knobs, buttons, LEDs, LCD screens, monitors, keys, mice, jacks, sockets. Now two joysticks!

nvbrkr
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 812
Joined: Fri May 09, 2008 8:14 pm
Gear: An electric piano and analog synths.
Location: Helsinki, Finland

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by nvbrkr » Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:30 pm

cornutt wrote: If I had my druthers, I'd eliminate the finger notches and just have a constant curved surface all the way around, with an index mark to indicate position.
Nah, the Ensoniq "notch" is pretty good for soloing. It would be harder to do expressive leads with that thing in general - it's there for a reason.

User avatar
aXL
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 247
Joined: Fri Dec 30, 2005 8:28 pm
Gear: Moog LP Stage II, Ensoniq ESQ-1, Nord Electro 3, Roland JP-8080, Akai SynthStation 49, numerous softies...
Band: Nemesis Kane
Location: Somewhere

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by aXL » Sun Jul 05, 2009 6:36 pm

Moog LP: Nice wide wheels with a good surface that sits well with my rather chunky fingers. Pitch wheel can be set to move at separate intervals for up and down, which is a feature I am very enamoured with. Being able to push it up two semitones and down twelve without mucking with settings inbetween is fun. Modwheel tends to drift backto start if left unattended at a 45 degree angle or less, but I don't really mind that since I rarely leave it in that position on the Moog.

Ensoniq ESQ-1: The wheels on this one are much firmer than the LP, and a lot slimmer. The modwheel does not suffer the same drifting problem as the LP, which in this case is good. I've been experimenting with adding a slight modulation with the modwheel and leaving the wheel in place to add a slight LFO modulation to pad sounds, which the ESQ-1 does rather well.

Korg K61: These are the only wheels I have without finger dips. My main gripe with the wheels is that they are too small. Bigger wheels, in my experience, gives at least the illusion that you have a greater travelling distance, which in turn would give a more precise controlling experience.
Sir Nose wrote:It's like sex with or without a condom. You know which choice is gonna feel better, but it's not always a wise choice.
Disciples of the new wave, portaits in the sand...

realtrance
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 50
Joined: Thu Aug 10, 2006 3:37 pm

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by realtrance » Sun Jul 05, 2009 7:56 pm

I hate pitch-bend or mod wheel devices that wheeze, or squeak, or have "bumps" in the action.

User avatar
Pro5
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1002
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:30 pm
Gear: OB-6 | SH-2 | JX-3P | JD-800 | Performer
Location: U.K

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by Pro5 » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:09 pm

I also like the Roland style for bending as it's more comfy (and quick) to get the 'save a prayer' wibble than the standard yamaha style wheel.

Modulation wheels though.. I think I prefer the Yamaha wheel as it's more controllable than the small range on the Rolands I have (D-50 and JX-8P with those combined bend/mod sticks).

JX-3P has a 'fat' Bender ;) with seperate mod button. The feel of the bend, to me, is very nice thought it's all obviously older tech.

The M1 isn't bad, cool that you can pull back and modulate/affect another parameter but it can get a bit out of hand with such a wide area of movement ;0

The SY77 is cool having a 2nd Mod wheel (With centre notch) for 'anything' (Cutoff for example).. and the AN1x has a nice set of controls with ok wheels and a nice ribbon.

In other words I can't name one I prefer in ALL ways over the other.. but for bending I do find the roland way more natural for me (based on what kind of bends I'm doing), but can work with anything really. If you are doing guitar style/funky style bending then a Yamaha wheel is possibly easier to get exactly where you want it (with thumb) compared to the roland stick with it's smaller range of movement... this is all personal preference though.

Bending AND mod at the same time? Yamaha, as mod doesn't HAVE to spring back to 'off' which is useful.. set the wheel and leave or pull back to disable.
Last edited by Pro5 on Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:18 pm, edited 3 times in total.

User avatar
Christopher Winkels
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 690
Joined: Wed Sep 17, 2008 12:52 am
Location: Burlington, Canada, eh.

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by Christopher Winkels » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:13 pm

Moog Little Phatty - Beautifully coated with a soft, grippy rubber coating. Nicely sprung, fat, and playable. And illuminated to boot!

Yamaha CS-15 - Weird yet effective spring-loaded lever with a slight delay time to snap back to the zero position. Excellent for pinching between thumb and index finger. No mod wheel, unfortunately.

Sequential Circuits Pro-One - Awful, just awful. Excessively small diameter and needlessly narrow. These pitch and mod wheels were designed for hobbits, not humans.

ARP Odyssey Mark 1 - No mod wheel, but a knob for pitch. Large dead zone means it's easy to return to neutral. Surprisingly easy to get used to, and quite underrated despite having no spring action. Why they dumped this for PPC I've no idea.

Dave Smith Prophet'08 - In feel and function very similar to the high-quality Little Phatty wheels, yet poorly positioned on the chassis. Prone to glitching occasionally on mine as well, which is more of a software problem, but annoying on occasion as well.

Future-Retro XS - Mod wheel? Pitch bend? We don't need no stinkin' wheels!

User avatar
rhino
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 2611
Joined: Sat Aug 02, 2008 5:00 pm
Real name: bill
Gear: keepers:
Kurzweil K2500x
Ensoniq TS-12
Yamaha SY-99
Alesis QS-8
Roland JD-800
Roland JX-10
Akai AX-80
Ensoniq SQ-80
Korg DSS-1
Moog Mini
Fizmo
Location: kentucky hills

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by rhino » Sun Jul 05, 2009 8:36 pm

i like the big, wide rubbery ones on my Alesis QS
When the wise man points to the stars, the fool looks at the finger.
- Confucius

User avatar
Synthaholic
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1206
Joined: Tue Aug 21, 2007 5:43 pm
Gear: Motif XS6, TX802, D-550, A6
Location: NH

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by Synthaholic » Sun Jul 05, 2009 9:04 pm

All my current synths have wheels, though I've owned a few in the past with paddles.

For pitch bending, I like the Roland paddle. "Save A Prayer" wouldn't have sounded the same if the JP-8 used a wheel. Don't care as much for the older Roland modulation, which was either full on or full off, no range. I guess newer models (JD-800 and later) changed that.

For modulation, an unsprung wheel is best IMHO. Both my Motif XS and Andromeda have nice mod wheels. Pitch bend wheels are best with a return-to-center spring. I had a Polysix once which would sometimes end up playing out of tune because the pitch wheel got bumped out of center and didn't return automatically.

If I could build my own synth or controller, I would have a paddle for pitch bend and a vertically-oriented ribbon for modulation. The ribbon would have a hold function so I don't have to keep a finger on it to retain modulation. It would be located such that it can be hit with a finger of the same hand used to manipulate the pitch bender (to make combination bend/modulation maneuvers easier).
Two VCO: thanks to the push rods, one can choose several forms of waves at the same time!
(from a Babelfish translation of a Jupiter-6 site)

Yamaha: Motif XS6, TX802 Roland: D-550 Alesis: A6 Andromeda

User avatar
madtheory
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 5418
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 12:45 pm
Real name: Tomas Mulcahy
Gear: Wurlitzer Opus 1536, Model F, Morovdis Arpeggiator, Maplin My First EQ, Jeff Wayne Thunderchild rack, Thermostat, Buck Owens' Moog.
Location: Cork, Ireland
Contact:

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by madtheory » Sun Jul 05, 2009 11:07 pm

Pro5 wrote: Bending AND mod at the same time? Yamaha, as mod doesn't HAVE to spring back to 'off' which is useful.. set the wheel and leave or pull back to disable.
Nah. The wooden paddle on the Nords is far better than anything else listed so far, IMHO.

User avatar
Pro5
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1002
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:30 pm
Gear: OB-6 | SH-2 | JX-3P | JD-800 | Performer
Location: U.K

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by Pro5 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 12:11 am

madtheory wrote:
Pro5 wrote: Bending AND mod at the same time? Yamaha, as mod doesn't HAVE to spring back to 'off' which is useful.. set the wheel and leave or pull back to disable.
Nah. The wooden paddle on the Nords is far better than anything else listed so far, IMHO.

"Rank YOUR pitch bend / mod wheels"

The day I have a nord will be the day I put it in my list somewhere, can't say it's the best amongst my synths If it's not even amongst my synths :mrgreen:

User avatar
madtheory
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 5418
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 12:45 pm
Real name: Tomas Mulcahy
Gear: Wurlitzer Opus 1536, Model F, Morovdis Arpeggiator, Maplin My First EQ, Jeff Wayne Thunderchild rack, Thermostat, Buck Owens' Moog.
Location: Cork, Ireland
Contact:

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by madtheory » Mon Jul 06, 2009 9:39 am

Bleh...

User avatar
Pro5
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1002
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:30 pm
Gear: OB-6 | SH-2 | JX-3P | JD-800 | Performer
Location: U.K

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by Pro5 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 2:27 pm

madtheory wrote:Bleh...
?? I never said the Yamaha was the BEST in the world, only the best 'all round' out of my synths... not sure how you read my post to mean a Yamaha is better than everything out there because I know it certainly isn't.

User avatar
madtheory
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 5418
Joined: Mon May 01, 2006 12:45 pm
Real name: Tomas Mulcahy
Gear: Wurlitzer Opus 1536, Model F, Morovdis Arpeggiator, Maplin My First EQ, Jeff Wayne Thunderchild rack, Thermostat, Buck Owens' Moog.
Location: Cork, Ireland
Contact:

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by madtheory » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:12 pm

"Bleh"- meaning you were being pedantic and I couldn't be bothered saying anything else.

User avatar
Pro5
Expert Member
Expert Member
Posts: 1002
Joined: Tue Oct 07, 2008 9:30 pm
Gear: OB-6 | SH-2 | JX-3P | JD-800 | Performer
Location: U.K

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by Pro5 » Mon Jul 06, 2009 3:22 pm

that wasn't being pedantic. you should re-read the thread really. HOW THE f**k AM I GOING TO JUDGE HOW GOOD THE NORD STUFF IS IF I DO NOT OWN IT?

You made the error of forgetting this thread was about how we rated our stuff from best to worst, NOT a 'best controllers on all synths' thread.

Not pedantic at all but actually 100% accurate and spot on, don't turn your oversight around on to me.


Edit > Thinking about it, this is more about your misuse of the quote fuction than any pendantry on my behalf. Don't quote someone and say 'nah' if you don't want them to ask WTF you are doing it for... just post that you rate the Nord and leave my stuff out of it :lol:

plikestechno
Senior Member
Senior Member
Posts: 757
Joined: Wed Oct 01, 2008 11:36 pm
Gear: Lots. See sig.
Location: Edmonton, Canada

Re: Rank your pitch bend / mod wheels

Post by plikestechno » Mon Jul 06, 2009 7:18 pm

Prophet T8. First class like everything else. Ridiculousy smooth springless mod, pitch wheel divine.

Roland JX10. Very nice feel. Good spring for ptich. Fun feel.

Casio CZ5000. Underrated controller. Wonderful action through to other synths as well.

Yamaha DX7IIFD. I'm spoiled by other keyboards so while some rate the keys and wheels on their DX7s they feel like cheap junk to me.

Octave Cat SRM. Levers. Awful. Clunky. LFO ramps sharply not very smooth at all. Why a dead spot in the middle? Would never just sit there and rock the stick on the fly.
Serge/Modcan A/MOTM/Frac/Phenol/Andromeda/Jupiter6Europa/OctaveCatSRM/ARPSolina/ARPPro Soloist/Pro2/Korg770/Juno60/Lambda/Anamono/Little Deformer/Integra7/Microwave1&2/Syncussion/FS1R/Microkorg/Xoxio/VL1M/JD990/MKS50/TX816/DSS1/KARP/TG33/OCoast/SC40

Post Reply