Tired of Diving Presets, need help

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Mattew96
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Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by Mattew96 » Wed Feb 08, 2012 7:17 am

Hello!
Though I am no stranger to the musical arts especially in keyboards, I am new to the world of synthesizers... as far as creating sounds and such, since I finally discovered my first (sadly, I do not own most of them, but am allowed the use of them).
I currently have access to four synths... all digital.
2 Korg X5D
1 Yamaha YS-200
1 Techniques SX-PR902 (I only include this loosely... it has basic synth functions if you menu dive far enough, and it's my own, so I have to make it feel like it can do anything ;D)

I would really like to hear about the X5D and YS 200...
Any advice on customizing sounds?
These are sadly not very user-friendly interfaces (but at least better than DX-7s! ;D) and I am very VERY ready to move past the presets. As far as the Yamaha goes, everything is peachy except the Input-4 Nos!, sadly the most vital field to creating my own sounds, because it controls the waveforms, and getting grips on exactly how to get what I want from the different wave shaps etc... seems impossible. I know it has something to do with the operators to modulate the carrier frequency...
The Korg, well it's just a beast to figure out. All the abbreviations are giving me a splitting headache and I just need the long and thick of it. I get about as far as assigning basic oscillator functions, then I just lose comprehension. I mean, I know there are two LFOs "tucked in" (rather programmed in)there among other things, but the menus are just beyond me. I have downloaded the entire manual for both instruments and am currently reading through but so far no luck...
I definitely want to move away from digital synthesis soon as it is way over my head, and I have always identified much better with not only the analog sound but the interface as well. I'm expecting I shall buy myself a nice Juno 6 or 60 in the next 7 months or so where I can fiddle to my hearts content, but meantime, I'm stuck with these beautiful digital synthesizers, and lacking the skillset to use them. It's important to note that though I've never really properly used or personally experimented with any synthesizers for more than maybe 3 weeks, I have always been a fan and always will be, and always get my nose into whatever I can that has to do with them :)
I'm probably coming off like a complete dork here, but I'm just hoping someone can decrypt this and give me some help!(Or just some advice on how to handle these two synths)
Thanks a bunch!

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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by Rick N Boogie » Thu Feb 09, 2012 2:18 am

Although i cannot help with the synths you have currently, I will say, analog, or virtual analog, (digital), don't be afraid to go VA so long as it has plenty of knobs and very little menu diving. Having a thoughtfully laid out top panel and all major functions with their own control will go a looong way in providing both the control you seek, as well as an easy learning experience. There's just something magical about pressing a key with the left hand, and turning a knob with the right- causing a drastic, (or subtle) change to the sound. Get yourself a "knobby" synth as soon as you can, and leave those menu's behind like a bad dream.
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Mattew96
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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by Mattew96 » Thu Feb 09, 2012 4:00 am

This I can't wait for. As soon as I can get the money, I'm all there!
Since I don't own these synths, they're rather gifts of circumstance, I shall make do for now.
But I totally agree with you. That kind of instant control is definitely what I desire from a synth... Knobs, patch cables, sliders, the whole nine yards! I don't mind the maintenance issues, in my opinion, worth the time and money.
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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by aredj » Thu Feb 09, 2012 1:30 pm

Do you have your head around the basic principles of subtractive synthesis? You didnt mention if you know or don't generally understand envelopes or LFOs etc...

I just wonder, cause its a must have, especially when using menu driven synths...

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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by Mattew96 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 12:26 am

Indeed, I've done more than my fair share of research and listening in my lusting for a synthesizer over the years. I have a moderate-advanced grasp on subtractive synthesis, but I can't really be sure because I really don't have any practical experience.
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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by Phenom » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:25 am

These days I rather like menu diving if things are set up well. I liked tweaking on the Yamaha RY30 a lot more than I did some knob-laden drum machines. Other stuff I have like the SY35 just annoys me, handling independent signal paths for 4 seperate elements without a decent screen and a data entry slider wears me out very quickly. Nice sounds though.

I think coming to a synth like the Korg X5D without any grounding in subtractive synths is not the best place to start. I had an M1 and loved it, but I knew enough about synths to understand what the abbreviations on the screen meant. On an even smaller screen like the one on the X5D it must be even harder, even though comparitively, there isn't much synthesis-wise going on in those early Korgs.

I think coming back to those synths after you've spent a little time with something knobby and with a nice linear user interface might be a good idea (Juno 106 and SH101 are 2 very common and obvious examples). Once you learn the principals of a simple synth, 90% of other synths open up to you, even if their user interface design fights you every step of the way.

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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by Mattew96 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:08 am

Well, I would love to, and thanks for the advice, but you see, I'm at the point where I have very little money. I will hopefully be buying myself a Juno 60 in fact, maybe very soon. But as of this instant, where it's inconvenient to go buy my own (I have a request pending, probably won't work out though...), I have to use what I got. And even still, I don't own these, they are simply graciously at my disposal. So I gotta work with what I got, until I can get my own. I'm very serious about getting the Juno 60 though. I need my polyphonic first before I get a monophonic, and the Juno really is identifying with me. I'm looking forward to a synth I can actually understand, and decode, and apply what I do know to it to learn and grow!
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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by calyx93 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:19 am

Well, you've certainly picked one of the best synths for learning on (JU6/JU60) as they're as simple as they get in terms of layout and general functions. They're what I cut my synthesis teeth on when I was a youngster :)

Once you master it, then you can easily grow into other, more complex synths. No doubt about it.
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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by Phenom » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:31 am

I hear you on the lack of cash, but maybe there's alternatives.

I notice that you own a digital piano, which I presume has a midi out yeah?

How about getting a novation bassstation module, they are ultra cheap -at least here in the UK, I hear they go for a bit more in the US. It's monosynth rack, but it's analogue with a killer filter and a linear user interface. You could learn programming on that, and the great thing is, it has a MIDI-CV+Gate interface built=in so you could use it to drive old vintage synths if you fancy buying them in the future. It also has an external audio input, which is fun for all kinds of experiemntation.

You could save for a bassstation a lot quicker than a juno 60, it would be midi-ready, you could play it from the superior keyboard of your piano, and it's a decent bit of studio kit into the bargain.

I love my Juno 60, but they really are currently overpriced, I got mine in the days when they were undervalued thank goodness. If money is an issue maybe look away from the trendy stuff for the time being, and focus on cheaper stuff.

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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by Mattew96 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:24 am

Sounds like a smart idea, except it's monophonic. I guess beggars can't be choosers though. You can bet that I'm going to look into that for sure. At the very least though, I'm going to wait for a response from the potential Juno-60 first. This particular one would mean a lot to me to have. I'll put something together to pay it... unless it's already sold...
Anyways, would you happen to know of any polyphonic or at least duophonic synths similar to that? I really do need that function at this point. :\ It feels like I'm sounding unappreciative, but I'm really not. I can't thank you all enough, really.
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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by Phenom » Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:22 pm

I understand the feeling, a Juno 60 is what I learned on. Though limited, the principles of subtractive synths are all in there, even though it only has a single envelope, a single DCO, and a single LFO with only one waveform. I thought that although the bassstation is a monosynth, it does have some advantages for learning synthesis in that it has more options.

But obviously a polysynth is what you want, and a knobby one for learning on. If it was just the Junoish sound I would recommend the cheaper Alpha Juno synths, which are similar to Junos in architecture but perhaps not the easist synths to learn from scratch.

I can't think of a cheaper knobby analogue than a Juno 6. Ater that you go up to Juno 60 and Polysixes. None of these are ultra chap at the moment, and if you want to use these with MIDI in the future, interfacing them costs even more money.

Would you consider a VA synth like the MS2000. Great synth to learn on, good sounds (though clearly not analogue), and some very nice analogue type features that you would never get on a cheap polysynth- Mod matrix, Mod sequencer, ring modulator etc.

But if you can get a deal on that Juno 60 then I say go for it.

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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by madtheory » Fri Feb 10, 2012 3:20 pm

IMO a Novation KS or one of the Nord Leads is a superior synth for learning on, and both are much deeper synths that the Roland. Plus they're reasonably priced and not as likely to break. The Novations are under rated so are cheap used, and have one of the best user interfaces- IMO only the V-Synth beats it actually. Novation always did a good job on the UI. I believe that's down to Mr. Chris Huggett, given that the Wasp and the Oscar are so great. THe Nord Lead 3 is lovely, whereas the 1/2/2x can be inscrutable.

The Juno is nice sounding but very limited, and to be honest there's nothing really unique about the sound IMO. It's a well designed synth in that it's almost impossible to get a bad sound from it, but it's very limited in scope. I find with the KS I can get any analogue type sound I want. On the plus side the Juno would probably hold its value, if not appreciate.

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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by Phenom » Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:37 pm

A big +1 from me on the novation KS synths. very cheap and sound brilliant. I think they sufferred from coming out around the same time as the Alesis Ion and were heavily discounted (at least here in the UK) after a few months. I thought the KS synths were better than the Ion anyway. I've always thought of all the Nord Leads apart from the 3 as being very overrated, and the 3 is probably ouside your price range.

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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by mharris80 » Fri Feb 10, 2012 5:09 pm

I'm probably gonna get flamed to h**l and back for this, but here goes. If you need something to practice making sounds on-and you need it right now-have you considered trying a softsynth?
If you're using windows, there's a handy program called VSThost: http://www.hermannseib.com/english/vsthost.htm

Once you download that, there are quite a few free VSTs which have the same controls as the analogs. Most notable being Synth1: http://www.geocities.jp/daichi1969/softsynth/

It's based on the Nord Lead, which is probably one of the most straightforward synths you can find. I know it's not the same as having an actual piece of hardware at your disposal, but it can be a way to experiment with making new sounds while you save up for the real thing. This is how I first got into learning synthesis.

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Re: Tired of Diving Presets, need help

Post by madtheory » Fri Feb 10, 2012 6:38 pm

mharris80 wrote: I know it's not the same as having an actual piece of hardware at your disposal..
You don't realise how important this is. The interface of most subtractive synth plugins is actually a hindrance to learning. Students are always amazed at what they learn on our NL2, having spent a few years in Reason.

But ya, it would do as a stopgap. A Korg X5D editor would serve the same purpose. Then when he gets a synth with a knob for almost all parameters, he'll be in heaven!

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