Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

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samuraipizzacat29
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Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:52 pm

I didn't find a thread for this, so I figured I'd start one. What would you consider are the most finicky, unreliable digital synths you have owned or come across?

Mine is the fizmo. This is a real enigma of a digital synth. It's both the best and worst design of any digital synth I've come across.

On one hand:
1)voltage regulator is dead wrong (who uses a 9v AC adapter anyway?)
2)knobs are flimsy
3) ensoniq is obviously out of business
4)display is awful.
5) overall semi-cheap construction (and yet it's a heavy synth????)
6) 80s paint scheme
7) ugh- that display should be mentioned twice

on the other hand:
1) TRANSWAVES!
2) 4 PT MULTI-TIMBRAL!
3) KNOBS!
4) VOCODER!
edit: 4.5) 24 BIT EFFECTS! (right? I'm not near my manual or synth, I know they're quality though)
5) BEING THE COOLEST GUY AROUND BECAUSE YOU ACTUALLY HAVE ONE! (I embellish)

It just strikes me that this synth can somehow be the best and worst of so many worlds at the same time. So I wonder if there's any other digital synths that are as oddball, or just a total PITA to deal with their little idiosyncrasies as the old fiz. I'd like to narrow it down to digital, because for all intents and purposes, digital synths are supposed to be stable little bundles of joy rather than worrying if it's going to burn to death at any moment (fizmo). And yes, I've replaced the regulator, so mine's not going to die for a while i hope.....

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by ItsMeOnly » Fri Jul 15, 2011 7:55 pm

D-70 hands down (and it's a pitty)

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:04 pm

explanation? I meant to discuss it for the world's edification and also for the sake of gear talk fun....

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by ItsMeOnly » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:12 pm

samuraipizzacat29 wrote:explanation? I meant to discuss it for the world's edification and also for the sake of gear talk fun....
Did you ever crash your synth? because D-70 could crash at any time and moment.
It had really awkward MIDI control, really messed up patch editing (spreadsheets come to mind) - although with ROM and board revisions they've improved. Plus, not really a D-series...
Last edited by ItsMeOnly on Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by meatballfulton » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:12 pm

Red Sound eleVAta...on paper a capable VA synth with expansion options. Only the expansion options never shipped, the synth was buggy and the company tanked. I bought one for $150 used and found that it would lock up after playing it for a few minutes. Paid for an OS upgrade chipset, installed it and it would still lock up. I sold it to a guy who already owned 3 of them and told me he never had problems...

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 8:22 pm

ItsMeOnly wrote: Did you ever crash your synth? because D-70 could crash at any time and moment.
It had really awkward MIDI control, really messed up patch editing - although with ROM and board revisions they've improved. Plus, not really a D-series...
haha great! that's exactly what I wanted to know. Synth crashing is by far the worst feeling in the world. IDK how many times I've experienced total buzzkill by power drop, synth restart, etc. If we're talking about that realm - then vsthost (or any DAW i've tried for that matter, or any of my pcs too....) absolutely kills me. I'll have an awesome vst and crazy effect chain going, and then i miswire one thing and BAM! it's all gone. I hate you vsthost. Yet I love you. That's what I'm takling about - love/hate relationship :)
meatballfulton wrote:Red Sound eleVAta
Yes! exactly what I wanted to know. I was checking one out a week or so ago, and thought it looked pretty rad (or at least worth buying cheap if I found one), but now i'll mostly reconsider. Opinion on the other redsound products? darkstar? been after one of them too.

That's the whole point - these synths that on paper should be stable, but in real life just aren't. Nice work.

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by garranimal » Fri Jul 15, 2011 10:05 pm

While the JX-10 has great analog sound imho, but the original operating system is poorly written, extremely buggy and it too would crash seemingly without warning or provocation. At the time of its release, external midi controller support was non-existent. Colin Frasier offers a greatly improved OS which adds midi-controller support, to which you can burn your own Eeproms for improved performance.

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:15 pm

Any probs with your andromeda os? I've heard (a few) complaints about those.

Also, while we're here and you have a venom: the output went distorted on mine. Sent it back and got it repaired no problem, but seems to fit the bill and thought u might like to know.

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by rhino » Fri Jul 15, 2011 11:55 pm

Never owned any of these, but I heard that three of the worst may be:
1) ARP Avatar. Said to have had about a 200% failure rate - that is almost every unit was sent back to ARP for repair at least twice.

2) MOOG Polymoog. Bleeding-edge technology plus clueless non-Moog techs resulted in ultra-short MTBFs.

3) Siel DS-2. Poor quality capacitors and bad soldering QC sank this one.

4) Not the same --- but I wish KORG had invested in metal or plastic cabinets on the PolySix: One good bump or one spilled drink and the fakewood crumbled back to sawdust.
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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by D-Collector » Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:08 am

rhino wrote:4) Not the same --- but I wish KORG had invested in metal or plastic cabinets on the PolySix: One good bump or one spilled drink and the fakewood crumbled back to sawdust.
Really? I've been lusting for a P6 for a long time but there's nothing I hate more than poor build quality. I got rid of my JX-8P two years ago because it would bend and warp in every axis, even though it was in very good general condition. Plastic and wood, how I hate that combination.

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by MitchXI » Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:10 am

This isn't a first hand experience...

Also, a sampler...

The ensoniq EPS 16+

apparently lots of fun crash error messages after significant usage time.
I remember reading a page where a guy did a DIY fan installation to stop overheating problems.

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Sat Jul 16, 2011 12:57 am

rhino wrote:Never owned any of these, but I heard that three of the worst may be:
1) ARP Avatar. Said to have had about a 200% failure rate - that is almost every unit was sent back to ARP for repair at least twice.

2) MOOG Polymoog. Bleeding-edge technology plus clueless non-Moog techs resulted in ultra-short MTBFs.

3) Siel DS-2. Poor quality capacitors and bad soldering QC sank this one.

4) Not the same --- but I wish KORG had invested in metal or plastic cabinets on the PolySix: One good bump or one spilled drink and the fakewood crumbled back to sawdust.
Thanks - but I'm mostly looking for digital synths with strange quirkiness no one would expect for this thread. Although as an aside, the polymoog is the saddest failure of a synth of all time. I can't wait to get mine back from the tech to tool around on it (i got it only slightly broken and for cheap) but it's just sad it's feared instead of venerated.
MitchXI wrote:The ensoniq EPS 16+
samplers count. That's a strange machine in general. Probably an awesome addition to this thread. It's ultra-useable, but has a lot of quirks. Especially considering scsi and floppy are dead to the world. Idk how you could possibly load 8 parts of useable samples in only a 2mb memory. Also, it confused the poop out of me loading/saving samples, sequences, performances, etc as different types of information and being on different disks. Besides figuring out the output expander. The lcd/ui wasn't "too bad" but the machine's definitely quirky and not without operational issues.
oh and another thing on the eps16+ is that certain sources on the web say the filters are analog - manual says digital, and they really sound digital to me. so afaik i'd consider them digital filters.
Ironic it's an ensoniq again...

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sat Jul 16, 2011 1:51 am

rhino wrote: 1) ARP Avatar. Said to have had about a 200% failure rate - that is almost every unit was sent back to ARP for repair at least twice.
The Avatar I had fit that description. It would operate fine if I hit it in one particular place on the metal panel. Specifically one place. Despite the fact that when you opened it up (the thing opens like a hinged box), there was nothing IN that particular place.
Sorry that that's OT.

samuraipizzacat29 wrote: samplers count. That's a strange machine in general. Probably an awesome addition to this thread. It's ultra-useable, but has a lot of quirks. Especially considering scsi and floppy are dead to the world. Idk how you could possibly load 8 parts of useable samples in only a 2mb memory. Also, it confused the poop out of me loading/saving samples, sequences, performances, etc as different types of information and being on different disks. Besides figuring out the output expander. The lcd/ui wasn't "too bad" but the machine's definitely quirky and not without operational issues.
oh and another thing on the eps16+ is that certain sources on the web say the filters are analog - manual says digital, and they really sound digital to me. so afaik i'd consider them digital filters.
Ironic it's an ensoniq again...
1. A panned mono sample is just as good as a stereo sample. I had the 4mb upgrade on mine, but I still recorded entire songs with loops, samples, etc. with that 4mbs. People are spoiled today, and have the impression that super-high resolution full-stereo samples are necessary... and they're just not.
2. SCSI is dead, but that isn't to say there aren't many SCSI opportunities still to be found. And believe me, you WANT to go the SCSI route with the EPS 16+
3. My EPS-16+ was VERY quirky to begin with... crashed a LOT. But over time, it seemed to get more stable. It started crashing again late in its life, and it was very depressing. I ended up giving up on it and buying another sampler. When THAT sampler failed because of a poor power source, I was forced to go back to the EPS-16+ while it was being fixed. It turned out that the douchebag who installed my SCSI card didn't screw it in place, which resulted in that card shifting back and forth which dirtied the contacts. After cleaning the contacts and screwing it in place, the thing worked flawlessly. Mostly, the EPS-16+ has a way it wants things done, and you have to learn its language. Once you do, it becomes much more trustworthy.
4. The best thing to do in regard to saving with the EPS-16+ is find one with the SCSI upgrade, and save to disk. Then, the next best thing is to save as Banks. You save the whole song with the song's name, and then when you load the song, it loads all relevant material. It takes very little effort to save or load that way.
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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by silikon » Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:06 am

Radikal Spectralis 2.

Beautiful machine, wicked powerful DSP.... OS that was rife with bugs.
samuraipizzacat29 wrote:Any probs with your andromeda os? I've heard (a few) complaints about those.
...While it's not "digital" (at least what I think you're terming digital as a VA or DSP driven synth versus analog architecture, i've never had it lock up, or act squirrel-like.

But hands down the worst digital machine (you said you included hardware samplers) the Akai MPC4000.

God I loved to hate that machine. Worthy of the "allow me to introduce you to the pavement repeatedly" award.

See also THIS.
echo 1 > /dev/awesome

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Re: Most Unreliable, Finicky Digital Synth?

Post by vinyl_junkie » Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:17 am

In the Avatar they used a kind of lube for the faders which corded the contacts, good stuff eh
I read this in a book from 1993 called Vintage Synthesizers

The EPS-16+ is a awesome machine, people are indeed spoilt now days... Mine is 2MB and it's more than enough for complete songs.
I mean remember guys who made complete records on SP-1200's? less than 10 seconds sample time there...

The thing with it crashing is not a issue.
When I got it, she would crash all the time on a daily basis... So I contacted a tech dude who told me a lot of Ensoniq products he services have dry joints on the PSU.
Ever since I have re-worked the PSU connectors and cleaned the pins with a fibreglass pen I have not had a single crash or freeze... And I have used it for a long time in a hot environment.

I'm surprised no one mentioned Waldorf yet... I mean the early OS on most of their synths was unusable cough Q and look at the Blofeld now mind a lot better than what it was it's still VERY annoying.. the OS sucks, the output sucks (Some one modified it with a digital out and it sounded sweet) and so does the build quality in general but like the Fizmo..it's a wicked synth
Last edited by vinyl_junkie on Sat Jul 16, 2011 2:24 am, edited 1 time in total.

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