Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by CapnMarvel » Tue Apr 06, 2010 1:33 pm

druzz wrote: romplers are the modern mellotrons.
Quote of the thread. I actually LIKE the old ROMpler sound (JV1080, K2500, etc.) and while it's not realistic it has a place. Dealing with terabytes worth of samples on a PC interface just isn't fun for me, while dialing up my Alesis Fusion's string ensemble or my JV's Hammond organ patches (albeit half-assed in terms of 'realism') gives me what I want in zero time if that's what I want.

I've yet to find a really, really great Mellotron sample outside of a few of the ones on the JV's 60's and 70's ROM board. I guess a Mellotron version of a Mellotron is too far down the rabbit hole.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by Cumulus » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:03 pm

I remember when I first figured out that ROMplers were not actually synths.

I was into synths back in the day. I remember being a kid in Radio Shacl drooling over the Concertmate MG-1.

When I was older I couldn't afford a synth so I started playing bass with some effects. At some point a friend of mine joined my psychedelic band in the early 90's and he played a Yamaha WX-11 through some Roland rack-mount thing. I was so excited to have a "synth" player in the band until I figured out that the thing could not do any actual synthesis. By this time I had managed to pick up a Yamaha CS-50 really cheap but there was no way I would drag that beast around to gigs.

I remember showing my friend some sounds on the Yamaha and saying, "Let's try to come up with that sound on your instrument. Of course, we couldn't. It has a nice piano sound, though.

Don't get me wrong, it did have some cool sounds but you couldn't really sculpt the exact sound you wanted. you pretty much had to choose a preset and go with it.

That's when my love affair with synths hit its low point. There seemed to be no more synths being made. I was the only person I knew who enjoyed analog synths and I felt like a complete outsider because I couldn't give a c**p about the latest ROMplers with all the cool sounds. "Hey, this thing can sound like any instrument!"

I have since come to appreciate them for what they can do (which is a lot) and I also sometimes like it when they don't sound "real".

I appreciate them for some of the same reasons I like my old Casios.

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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by griffin avid » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:19 pm

Strangely enough I had the exact opposite experience. I was looking to get traditional instrument sounds from a synthesizer and all the sounds were cheesy. I would turn to the synth guy and say Hey, can you do an upright bass? and he would turn and twist knobs and push sliders and the results all sounded horrible. I simply went to category menu and chose a great sounding upright bass patch and started making music.

Of course I made that up. I'm just saying.

It's funny to be on a Vintage Synth site and reading post after post about how ROMplers aren't ....good at ...being ROMplers. And there's even a post where someone says something like Unless you want what a ROMpler is meant for, I don't see why you'd want a ROMpler.


It's a simple matter to return the snobbery. Let's see: ROMplers would be better if they had more...memory. Anything besides a ROMpler would be better if it had more...polyphony. That's right. All (analogue) synthesizers suck because they don't have ENOUGH POLYPHONY. I need to make an entire Orchestral Arrangement. Where's the full percussion section? Bah!Analogue synths would be as good as their SOFTWARE counterparts if they could match the polyphony. When they do, it might make a good case to go that way hardware-wise.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by Cumulus » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:32 pm

They are so different that it is hard (and maybe a little pointless) to try to compare them. Sure, they share a lot of similarities like form factor and the fact that they both make sounds using electrons instead of, say, a string vibrating.

I really do think they both have their place. I could com eup with many improvements to both synths and ROMplers. The only problem comes when you want/need an instrument to do somethign it doesn;t do well. Of course, sometimes that leads to interesting sounds if you are open to experimentation but if you're just looking for a good upright bass or a mean saw lead patch you'd be best served by using the "right" instrument for your needs.

I think this whole thing started back when people used to say that a synth could imitate any instrument. Just when people started figuring out that this was simply not true, the ROMplers came on the scene and tried to prove it was true all over again.

I really think this thread could have ended with the first reply. :)

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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by nvbrkr » Tue Apr 06, 2010 2:36 pm

CapnMarvel wrote:I've yet to find a really, really great Mellotron sample outside of a few of the ones on the JV's 60's and 70's ROM board. I guess a Mellotron version of a Mellotron is too far down the rabbit hole.
http://www.leisureland.us/audio/Mellotr ... amples.htm

You'll need to filter the s**t out of them though.

Cumulus wrote: I appreciate them for some of the same reasons I like my old Casios.
Which is sort of funny, because the new Casios are ROMplers, right?

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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by redchapterjubilee » Tue Apr 06, 2010 3:33 pm

ROMplers are tools like anything else. I have only owned the E-Mu stuff that allowed the creation (to a certain extent) of unique patches and filtering (though the Vintage Keys filter was not resonant). No envelopes either. I don't have the VK anymore once I discovered that I could download Proteus VX for free from E-Mu and it had all the samples I used from the VK.

Mellotrons? I think the E-Mu stuff has the best Mellotron strings and flute I've heard aside from the real thing. I have M-Tron and I really don't like their string samples, but the rest is pretty boss. Proteus VX has the strings in it. It's still available for free at E-Mu's website.
Automatic Gainsay wrote:VA and RA cannot emulate strings (or anything else that is the point of ROMplers) at all.
I've been fooled a time or two, thinking that a solo from an analog instrument was actually something else. Analog synths excel at string sounds. I've been fooled by Geoffrey Downes' skill at programming trumpet-esque sounds on the MiniMoog. Same with Keith Emerson. "Fanfare For the Common Man"? I know it's a synth now, but sometimes it can fool you. How about Jan Hammer plugging into a Marshall stack and dueling with John McLaughlin in Mahavishnu Orchestra? Sounds like an electric guitar to me. I've programmed a Rhodes patch into the Alpha Juno that sounds just like a Rhodes in a mix. Moogs are particularly good at emulating stand-up bass and electric bass guitars. It's all in the programming.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Tue Apr 06, 2010 4:30 pm

redchapterjubilee wrote:
Automatic Gainsay wrote:VA and RA cannot emulate strings (or anything else that is the point of ROMplers) at all.
I've been fooled a time or two, thinking that a solo from an analog instrument was actually something else. Analog synths excel at string sounds. I've been fooled by Geoffrey Downes' skill at programming trumpet-esque sounds on the MiniMoog. Same with Keith Emerson. "Fanfare For the Common Man"? I know it's a synth now, but sometimes it can fool you. How about Jan Hammer plugging into a Marshall stack and dueling with John McLaughlin in Mahavishnu Orchestra? Sounds like an electric guitar to me. I've programmed a Rhodes patch into the Alpha Juno that sounds just like a Rhodes in a mix. Moogs are particularly good at emulating stand-up bass and electric bass guitars. It's all in the programming.
Okay, I agree that you can be fooled at times by good programming and artful production.
Using a decent-sized modular, you should be able to make some pretty authentic (if limited) sounds if played and produced correctly.
However, that's not what I'm talking about. :)
I'm talking about being able to use string sounds which don't just sound like strings because of an timbral similarity that is also dependent on usage and production. Various bowings, various traditional string applications, section and solo effects, muting, pizzicato, etc.
The best analog string patch in the world would still be extremely limited in application, because string instruments and string sections are complex in both sound and function. If you're writing orchestral music for strings, odds are you're not going to be satisfied with only a pad-sounding chord... you're going to want runs and bowing techniques and solos and duets and the timbral differences between a violin and a viola and col legno and etc.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by CS_TBL » Tue Apr 06, 2010 4:39 pm

..which is why my FM8 strings are in fact like 8 solo strings playing together (e.g. in my Xmas2009, Storm). All with slightly different or radically different positioning and LFO speeds/depths/delays, even with slight tonal differences and panning positions. That's the beauty of FM: it's so easy to make tiny variations without ruining the sound.

I did the same years ago with my Supernova II.. 8 parts, each part a solo violin.. it worked rather well, tho I ended up with 3 performance voices as my model was (nd still is) the basic 24-voice model..
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Post by PitchBender » Tue Apr 06, 2010 4:44 pm

I'm only a synth hobbyist so ... grain. salt. etc.

I always have seen romplers as a working musicians tool. If it helps you with your goal like performing music or creating scores or what have you then who really care about the rest? Unless of course you're trying to up your rank in the Cool-Kid-Hipster-Synth-Club, then you should avoid rompler use in public or you may not get invited to the next social rebellious meet up at the Starbucks.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by balma » Tue Apr 06, 2010 5:34 pm

loungedumore wrote:I'm with AG on that I don't consider a Rompler as a form of synthesis or synthesizer , just an extended sample playback machine . That said they are invaluable if you need piano ,Drums ,or other instruments you don't know how to tune , upkeep , or otherwise fit in your 10x14 studio . Bread n' Butter baby

Well we could extend a lot trying to define the term of synthesizer. I was looking for the "legal definition" that Mr Moog used once in court, in order to define their nature.

From Britannica Concise Encyclopedia:

"Machine that electronically generates and modifies sounds, frequently with the use of a digital computer, for use in the composition of electronic music and in live performance. The synthesizer generates wave forms and then subjects them to alteration in intensity, duration, frequency, and timbre. It may use subtractive synthesis (removing unwanted components from a signal containing a fundamental and all related overtones), additive synthesis (building tones from signals for pure sine-wave tones), or other techniques, most importantly whole-sound sampling (digital recording of sounds, usually from acoustic instruments). "


In my opinion they are synthesizers, no sample-playback.


The basic confirguration of almost all the romplers I have used, does not goes too far when modifiying a waveform from its original recording state.

Generally you layer four waveforms. Define the velo response, the panning and volume of each one.

A filter section allows you to filter the frequencies of the waveforms, shape them with an ADSR curve, and even relate the filter amount with the velocity of the keys.

Same for the Pitch and Amplitude. ADSR curves for each one of the common paramenters.

And the LFO section. You can send the amp, pitch of fiter to be modulated by the LFO.

Also there is the EFFECT section, commonly divided on reverbs & delays, choruses, and insertion effects.

This basic configuration is present on almost all the romplers I have used, and allows you to obtain some basic interestimg sounds in some cases, but on a limited wy.

Now, since there are limitating ways to express your creativity on the sound programming area, a good selection and decent amount of waveforms is very valuable.


But most of the romplers are not designed for the synth freak market, all those weird cyclops that wander around the synth forums like VSE or Matrixsynth... etc .etc


For example, on latin (salsa, merengue, socca, bachata rosa, cumbia etc) you will find a rompler. The configuration of these groups, is a conga-percussion player, one or two trumpetists, a drunk guy dancing and a keyboardist

I grew up looking these bands playing on local parties and tv. They always had a synth, and no Oberheim or DX7 there.

Latin music requires always some glassy keys or mostly piano sounds. And sometimes they use a trumpet lead. Their owners rarely will try to synthesize a sound. They just go for the piano presets.

The selection of waveforms, has a little bit of everything, but does not excels in any are specifically. SFX sounds are generally machine gun, storm, ambulance, bird, etc.

I sold my Yamaha W7 and Motif, Ensoniq TS 10 and SQ-1 plus, Korg Triton and Karma, Roland Fantom to these bands. By the way, MOTIF romplers are pretty decent emulating sounds. The synthesis of the ADSR is very very detailed, and the selection of acoustic guitars is very realistic.


Now, Roland brang the rompler synthesis more into the dance scene with the Grooveboxes series. Amazingly, these "drum machines" are not drum machines but they have exactly the same basic confirguration of 4 waveforms per patch of their old romplers. They just used more "electronica" oriented waveforms on them. But they are like XP 80s reduced to boxes.


Until there, I think there's nothing exciting for a synth freak on the common romplers. They can be just an addition to your palette sound, but for experimentation, most of us will feel a little bit dissappointed.


Now I retake the case of Kurzweil and Emu romplers. These are different from all the rest.

If you need a serious STRING ENSEMBLE for a movie filmscoring, or for a very emotional string section on your track, Kurzweil will do that job.

And their efforts trying to offer you expressive sounds inside an expressive instrumet are remarkable.

The string patch that you find on the Kurzweil, is a multisample patch. They sampled a real violin on multiple notes, not just C3.

So each note or octave, is a different sample. And the aftertouch programming is impressive. I have seen virtuous keyboard players in front of a K2600 playing strings or grand piano sounds, that really get very very close to the real instruments.

Kurzweil have released amazing romplers that actually can be a whole delightful experience for an analog synth freak.

Now about the EMU, I reiterate, those Protean romplers around there on Ebay for $300, aimed "hip-hop" or clasified as drum machines, are very powerful instruments that can go very far from the virtual analogs at that price Because the approach to the sample-playback synthesis of EMU is different. EMU protean romplers are their own kind. They admit the basic configuration of the classic romplers, but also have an impressive flexibility on the patch programming area.

I put another example on the LFO area:

I take the moogy bass sample, and link a LFO to the "sample loop". That means, it will reduce or enlarge the lenght of the sample looping according to the LFO variations. Then, I select one of the around 20 different LFOs there.

At the same time, I take a the LFO 2, and tell it, to go and modulate the amount of variation that the LFO1 produces on the sample loop, with the speed of the oscillation of the LFO2. Ant then, go to one of the 16 knobs, and program it to modulate the speed of the LFO2

What is most interesting: those programs I made to the LFO1, LFO2 and sample loop, can actually being modulated by other parameter, like a "quarter-clock-shifter" "half-clock-shifter" ,and I can keep going and going, creating long chains of parameters modulated by other parameters.

And at the end, modulate than big mess of weirdiness, to another knob. And graduate the intensity of the modulation knob, with another one!!!!

I'm honest, sometimes I feel dizzy, when I experiment with the PATCH CORD section of the command station, is wonderful. Is like a section, for those ones, who want to adventure into a jungle of interactions between different parameters. I just mentioned, a tiny fraction of what you can do there.

Inside the patch edit section, each one of the 12 instruments, can have its own chorus amount (wich can be modulated by X amount of paramenters btw), and the start of each waveform can be delayed with bpm sync if you want to.



And that's the point I wanted to reach with this boring and bad english writing: the moogy bass I took from the ROM, does not sound like a moogy bass any longer. The waveform changed dramatically when treated by the EMU's engine.

And I don't want to touch the extensive arppegio options or the sequencer or "superbeats" sections wich are impressive, because we are talking about the rompler synthesis capabilities.

And the variety of ROMS available, is quite good and interesting. The basic EMU ROMS have around 1000 waveforms on 32 Mb But there are some of them, like the Rob Papen drums, that have only 400. That tells me that the samples are longer. I have the Beat Garden rom, and this is oddiity. Such weird percussive samples that you donr't hear everyday. There are around 30 different ROMS available in the market for the command station or protean romplers.

I mean, here we have a sampleplayback-based ROMPLER, that has a different approach to the
virtual analog, wavetable, , substractive or additive types of synthesis.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by CfNorENa » Tue Apr 06, 2010 5:54 pm

I've definitely been bitten by the vintage analog bug, and there is no going back. That said, my budget Korg M50 is still the centerpiece of my operations in the studio -- nice weighted keys, touchscreen for all MIDI/sequencing duties (I don't use a computer), decent acoustic emulations for when I need them, and a suprisingly deep and complex synthesis engine. And for DIGITAL soundscapes/synth strings/airy and ethereal pads, it's oustanding.

But to address the original question: yes, I think a well laid out ROMpler can do very well indeed as a synthesizer (of the S&S variety, obviously).

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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by Trom69 » Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:03 pm

:whistle:
No. If there's no oscilator, it can't be a synthesizer.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:13 pm

balma wrote:"Machine that electronically generates and modifies sounds, frequently with the use of a digital computer, for use in the composition of electronic music and in live performance. The synthesizer generates wave forms and then subjects them to alteration in intensity, duration, frequency, and timbre. It may use subtractive synthesis (removing unwanted components from a signal containing a fundamental and all related overtones), additive synthesis (building tones from signals for pure sine-wave tones), or other techniques, most importantly whole-sound sampling (digital recording of sounds, usually from acoustic instruments). "

In my opinion they are synthesizers, no sample-playback.
That definition is a layman's definition which tries to include that which has ever been called a synthesizer into one packaged definition. There is a large semantic difference between defining what separates a synthesizer from other similar applications or instruments, and simply listing off all of the aspects of devices which have been called synthesizers.

When you take into account functionality AND intent, the ROMpler concept is more in line with the Mellotron/Sampler concept. People who buy ROMplers are not people who buy them in order to create their own sounds (generally), but instead buy them because they have a sweet sax sound, etc. Many ROMplers allow you access to the parameters of the sounds, but it is obvious in the design that the main thing they expect from you is to cue up that hot clav with effects and go to work.
You buy a ROMpler when you intend to use the presets on that ROMpler. Undoubtedly, there is someone with a Korg Triton somewhere who designs all of their own sounds with that device... but they are absolutely in the minority.
I am not making a criticism here. I've had several ROMplers, like I said, and they are very useful. However, they are simply not designed with the intent that earlier synthesizers were... the expectation that you intend to design sound with them, first and foremost.
The minute the DX7 hit, it hearkened a new age where the synthesizer started to change from a device which was used to generate sound to a device where one pressed a button to get a sound designed by someone who probably knew more about it than the user. By the time the M1 hit, the true ROMpler was born, and keyboard players who were not synthesists were free to have access to preset sounds to suit their tastes and needs.
And finally, let's remember where the term "ROMpler" came from. It was a derogatory and dismissive play on the word "sampler" where "sam" is replaced by "ROM (read-only memory)" indicating that it uses samples, but cannot sample. This is not the same thing as a synthesizer which uses sampled waveforms, this is a device where actual samples are used in order to achieve the emulation samplers excel at (as opposed to using sampled waveforms as a larger timbral palette for the design of sound), but without the ability to make samples (at least until some of the later Korg products, anyway!).

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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by balma » Tue Apr 06, 2010 6:37 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote:Balma wins for longest post ever. I am handing him the crown. (if I had the crown... that 21 guy used to make some long ones)
And I was not able to convince you that there are romplers that their engine makes them very suitable for designing sounds and being creative when programming from scratch! :(...

the Moog's definition was interesting, I think it was made on court, and it was a case of patent issue. Are synthesizers musical instruments or electronic-mechanical "machines"?


And about the oscillator mention, actually KORG names the waveforms as "Oscillators' on the Patch edit screen of the Triton and Karma :lol: that's kind of tricky or "dishonest"
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Tue Apr 06, 2010 7:24 pm

balma wrote:And I was not able to convince you that there are romplers that their engine makes them very suitable for designing sounds and being creative when programming from scratch! :(...
No, you did convince me! I was already convinced! I had an Emu E-Synth and have an Emu e6400, and both have extensive synthesis-options. It gets really blurry as to what can be defined as what when you have one thing which also features the features of another, and that's why designer intent and user usage also help in the definition.

Are you saying the Moog defintion was the one from Britannica that you cited??

I think overall the problem regarding the definition of synthesizer, the usage of ROMplers and even aspects of programming, sequencing, and synthesis is that keyboard users are far more diverse in their interests, usage, music, intent, etc. than any other instrumental musicians. On top of this, the companies which make and market keyboard devices have simply been jumping on every wish and trend which has come along since Moog first made the Satellite. As such, the culture of keyboard has been defined by trend, technology, and marketing more than perhaps any other instrumental culture in history. It has all happened so fast. It has happened too fast to even have a proper developmental history... its history has been primarily written in advertisement. It's no wonder everyone has a different perception of the use and intent of these instruments.

balma wrote:And about the oscillator mention, actually KORG names the waveforms as "Oscillators' on the Patch edit screen of the Triton and Karma :lol: that's kind of tricky or "dishonest"
That's what's so weird. As companies progressed with increasingly digital keyboards, they used analog terminology to describe digital functions which far exceeded the scope of the analog devices.
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