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The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 8:43 pm
by Solderman
With the rising number of abortive questions appearing on this forum of late, I've decided to throw my proverbial beret into the ring with this little vexation:

Why does the appearance of a synth matter?

I am a former Jupiter 8 owner, yet consider myself to be more of a pragmatic type when it comes to music gear, so the absurdity of buying something that looks pretty to use it for music is not completely incomprehensible to me.

I also don't really mean the layout of the controls, because that's usually a logical characteristic. I mean more in terms of visual aesthetics.

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:04 pm
by ImperatorDX
It matters because it's a part of the synth. I'm not the kind of person who easily accepts short-sighted statements like 'it's supposed to sound good, not look good' or 'hardware digital is the same thing as software digital'. There are too many factors in between that are important, although many people deny their importance.

I like synths, which means I'm interested in every aspect of them including their looks. If I was interested only in the end result (music), I'd buy an audio CD. Also, if something takes a lot of space, it'd better look nice.

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:12 pm
by balma
both are luxury 1100 CC motorcycles:

Image
Image

IMO the BMW is horrible. despite being one of the best motorcycles of the history, the old GS 1100 has one of worst appearances ever.

The Hypermotard, is an orgasm for your eyes


However the looking of a vehicle is far more important than the lookin' of a synthesizer. You don't sit over your synth and take a ride.

But in certain way, a good looking reflects a good design and dedication. Artifacts, must have an appeal. if you must take a decision over two machines with similar specs, at the end, appearance could have a weight on the final decision.

For my taste, this synth is HORRIBLE. It can have a great engine, but I would not invest $500 on it due to the ugly look.

Image

Beauty matters in most of the areas. Always did, and will always do.

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:20 pm
by smoothcriminal
The only synth I'd even consider buying for it's looks is the FutureRetro XS, because i find it's unique layout inspiring. FWIW I think the Blofeld looks awesome. My MicroQ is ugly as sin tho.

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:27 pm
by CS_TBL
It matters only to those who think it matters, it certainly doesn't apply not to everyone. Countless top producers just have a big rack 'o modules they control from their DAW without ever looking at the rack apart from switching it on/off. They don't care much for aesthetics, to them it should just sound good and work. They have the money to buy every classic synth ever made, but do they do so?
ImperatorDX wrote:I'm not the kind of person who easily accepts short-sighted statements like 'it's supposed to sound good, not look good' or 'hardware digital is the same thing as software digital'.
You still don't know what the term 'digital' means, do you? :lol:

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 9:37 pm
by Solderman
CS_TBL wrote:You still don't know what the term 'digital' means, do you?
May I intervene to prevent any potential cataclysm that may result from this question and simply say that hardware workstations I can see having an importance in appearances, if nothing else, for enhanced stage presence.

I realise this thread is a time-bomb due to its subjective nature, but hope to get some subjective answers before it goes down in flames.

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:45 pm
by griffin avid
I don't see a problem with this line of thinking at all.
Sure, we don't want to seem like shallow people, but looks are important.
When you first encounter something (and someone) that's all you have to go on.

And if you're turned off at the start, the chances of sticking around to delve deeper...
I see a balance, functionality verse aesthetics.
A great looking synth that sounds crappy or a crappy looking synth that....

We have enough choices so it's not one or the other.
I thought the KORG Radias looked great in images, but didn't like the look in person and so I'm not inspired to own one.
And the sound couldn't sway me either. The Moog Voyager looks great (to me) and sounds great so that's the purchase.

I never thought the KORG M3 was attractive. I played with it and it grew on me, now I think it's a gorgeous piece.
I would then say the opposite, it doesn't look so hot in pictures, but up close it's a beaut.

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 10:49 pm
by stikygum
The only reason the interface will matter for me is stimulation. Sometimes just looking at gear gives me ideas to create. Sometimes it's just inviting me use it certain ways based on the layout. It's not always important. I consider my P600 boring looking but love using it. I also consider my PEK beautiful and it is in fact visually stimulating to me. I don't think it always matters, but it helps.

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:00 pm
by Phollop Willing PA
I think it matters, a bit.

I'd rather have a really tactile synth, with sliders rather than knobs ie JP 8000 over Moog Voyager look, but as long as I can interact rather painlessly with it, I'm alright with how it looks.

I'd rather have a KP 2 Kaoss then one of the new ones because I don't like the look of the new ones and I don't like the flashing lights etc.

I'm not keen on lots of displays either, such as what you'd find on Roland V-Synth, nor I am keen on letter box displays that you need to rely on just to change the voices and programming.

What happens whenthe pixels drop out on such things like a Roland MC 505. You can't use it effectively. Then you drop another $200 to Roland to get it worked on and replaced.

I'm dreading the day when my Voyager need service, being in Canada...

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:01 pm
by JJQ
"but hope to get some subjective answers before it goes down in flames."

Ok. I like material, physical stuff. When Im bored at work and dream of working in my studio, I picture my gear. How it looks, feels and sounds, like when I think of my wife :) And I love to watch pictures of synthesizers I plan to buy. Or play with my increasing pile of unmounted synthesizers.com modules (a friend is building a case for me). Perhaps rather childish. :) But what a h**l Im a teatcher and spend most of my days with teens.

But its not as trivial as that. When I listen to electronic music i picture lanscapes and other planets in my head. And when I se beautiful things, cities, buldings or perhaps the sea, I often beging thining about melodies or synth-sounds. Images and sounds are very conected for me.

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:10 pm
by ninja6485
it's one thing to appreciate the look of a particular synth, or really detest the look of another, but when you start making decisions on what you want to own and use based on looks, it shows that the mucisal value and functionality of the synth are less important than the looks. which is sort of strainge because the whole point of the instrument is to play music. i wouldn't want my mechanic to only work on my car with tools he thought looked good, but i wouldn't mind if he appreciated the look of the tools he had.
ImperatorDX wrote:I like synths, which means I'm interested in every aspect of them including their looks.
fair enough
ImperatorDX wrote:If I was interested only in the end result (music), I'd buy an audio CD
exactly: buy the good looking synths and then buy the cd and leave the functional synths for the musicians who are interested in making the cd.
ImperatorDX wrote:Also, if something takes a lot of space, it'd better look nice.
i'm using this same rhetoric to choose my future wife... ;)

the blofeld looks great balma. it's that red motorcycle that looks ugly...

Solderman wrote:
CS_TBL wrote:You still don't know what the term 'digital' means, do you?
May I intervene to prevent any potential cataclysm that may result from this question and simply say that hardware workstations I can see having an importance in appearances, if nothing else, for enhanced stage presence.

I realise this thread is a time-bomb due to its subjective nature, but hope to get some subjective answers before it goes down in flames.
tick...tick...tick...

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Thu Sep 02, 2010 11:34 pm
by balma
Blofeld is ugly, ugly, UGLY!!!

Is there any philia related with the look of synths?

Sometimes I dream I'm playing X synth, and when I wake up, I'm sweating, and then is when I realize that my underwear...... :?

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 12:21 am
by pricklyrobot
ninja6485 wrote:...when you start making decisions on what you want to own and use based on looks, it shows that the musical value and functionality of the synth are less important than the looks.
I think you're arguing against a point no-one on this forum is likely to make.

Aesthetics would definitely, for me, tip the scales when trying to decide between two synths that were similar in function and price. I'd also spend a little more than I ought to get a really nice-looking synth; that's how I ended up with a Moog Source I later decided I couldn't really afford ;) (although I don't reckon anyone, myself included, would suggest that thing didn't sound every bit as good as it looked).

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:05 am
by rhino
Moderation, balance, and utility (i.e. usefulness)
A physical tool should be first made functional, then ergonomic, then durable, then aesthetic. My four favorite synths of all time are the Kurzweil K2500x, Yamaha SY-99, Roland JX-10 and Ensoniq TS-12: ALL rectangular black boxes with some black button and a flush display. Function should come first, then flash...look at the Roland SH-201.
The human eye IS drawn to a well-crafted object, and on stage, bold design adds presence, but if it don't work right, WTF ????

Re: The Appearance of Synths

Posted: Fri Sep 03, 2010 1:07 am
by Primal Drive
What can be uglier than a modular synth? It's almost a utilitarian version of an Eldritch Abomination with it's multitude of knobs, switches and patch cords.

And yet, how many of us drool (even just a little) at the sight of one, especially the vintage ones?

I may be in the minority, but I prefer functionality over looks.

Fat chicks are still not allowed, however. 8-)