Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by mpa1104 » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:53 pm

I used to wander into the music stores a lot, less so over the past 10 or so years, but of all the synths I kept visiting incessantly, it was the V-Synth. There was always something very distinctive and singular about what it offered and the way it did it. It's been no disappointment, even after waiting this long, to finally own one. I really appreciate what this synth can do, the immediacy of the interface, and the extent of sample manipulation and general sound mangling.
My only bug bear is the rareness of the VC2 card as I would seriously love to be able use the vocal designer option, but sadly, they seem next to impossible to find, and there's no third party option that I've been able to find.
But, that aside, it remains a formidable instrument in my mind. Let the V-Synth love continue!
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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by bluntedcircuit » Sun Jun 09, 2013 10:48 pm

What's so great about the sampler?

I don't mean this in an antagonistic way, I mean it as someone who is a sucker for digging for samples and hasn't had a chance to mess with the v synth.

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by mpa1104 » Mon Jun 10, 2013 12:27 am

Well from my point of view, it's the flexibility in how you treat the samples. There is initially a bit to get used to with the "encoding" business (there are a small number of ways you have to encode any sample before you use it in the V-Synth for creating patches), but it makes sense in terms of how you want to use that particular sample.

It's the VariPhrase that makes it for me. I've used three other sampler boards over the years (my main one being the ASR-10 which I still have, and still enjoy using) but the VariPhrase is what (I feel) sets apart the V-Synth from other, dare I say, "traditional" samplers in that it significantly increases the usefulness of a single sample over a much greater key range.
Also, being able to manipulate the formant of any sample using a huge number of modulation sources (including many in real time) is relatively unparalleled - well, in my limited experience it is anyway - and using the TT pad to freeze a loop or sample mid-playback is (again for me) a brilliant way to get something completely different each time out of a sample, potentially making it as random and as transient as a sound from an acoustic instrument.

I'm well aware my actual experience with different synths/samplers is limited compared to most others on forums like this, but still, I've been around a while, seen a lot, heard even more, and for my ears, these additions (along with numerous other performance and programming parameters) to the V-Synth are the things that put it a cut above quite a few others.
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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by shaft9000 » Mon Jun 10, 2013 2:06 am

i'm going to be a j**k and disagree/deny the thread title.
:D

BEEF #1: even the TB-303 is a finer achievement - and it was a market failure, that also failed it's intended use to begin with! BUT...like or not *cough*Marc Doty*cough* there's no denying it's influence and iconic stature, though. It's major major; having inspired dozens of clones and variants. People just can't seem to get enough of 'em.

the V-Synth is pretty iconic, though too, and rather special. BUT.... it's hardly birthing genres or changing the market much...nord wave and blofeld are still the closest thing, and they're more like each other than they are like the V. NOBODY'S FOLLOWING...which i understand is partly due to Roland's Variphrase patent. But if Antares can do Autotune -which Roland reputedly developed first- then what's stopping the Variphrase variants?
market interest, that's all. smell money, will follow.

BEEF #2: sound-quality-wise, put it next to the JD990, JP-8, MKS-70 or even the Juno6(!) i have...and they're each much richer and more appealing to the ear. The filters, COSM, ringmod and FM are all a disappointment to my ears. Alesis ion/micron is sooo much better in these regards, and even the friggin' microkorg beats the V here. They try to make up for lack of punch with an Oscillator drive+comp parameter, and amp sims, etc. ugghhh, no. That just made it sound more like an early, rougher Virus. And the arp/step sequencer STOPS RUNNING when you exit the edit page(smacks forehead).

AND THE BEEFIEST BEEF #3(not specific to the V, but Roland of late):
Roland abandoning their once-mighty left hand control panels for...now there's just a stupid combo-mod bender that sucks balls. you can't even take your hand away to latch/set anything. it feels piss-poor... not that the old benders were robust, mind you - but you got other cool stuff to help out, too. Not here. :cry:

soTHERE! LOL

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by synthRodriguez » Mon Jun 10, 2013 3:23 am

Had the GT, sold it.

The flexibility was great, but the sound was awful; fingernails on a chalkboard for me, and I'm a Roland fan. i spent many hours with it and I really tried to like it. Almost wondered if there was something wrong with mine.

The JP-80 is more my world. Smooth and silky.

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by mute » Mon Jun 10, 2013 6:26 am

Someone asked why the sampler is nice.. without owning one, I would say that would have to do with the Variphrase engine which is still pretty damn cool. So if you're curious.. google variphrase ;) Pity Roland went to s**t after that era.. well, not total s**t but their creativity really went downhill.

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by mpa1104 » Tue Jun 11, 2013 10:11 pm

shaft9000 wrote:let the flaming begin!
No flaming, just to say "to each their own" :)

Life would be rather dull if we all liked the same thing. Besides, the reason we all produce the variety of music that we do is because as individuals, we'll buy the sort of synth that does exactly what we want it to do, something that suits our individual way of creating, producing and manipulating sounds. If 1 piece of kit doesn't suit someone else's method of creation, so what?

The only thing that has surprised me a little is to see that at least two sets of ears find the V-Synth sound quality offensive. Playing the V-Synth in tandem with other of my boards such as Juno 60, ESQ-1, Prophet VS, RS-202, etc presents no problem with me and I don't personally find the audio quality to be lacking at all. Maybe being older has it's advantages with not being able to hear all those higher frequencies that you young folk can :D
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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by Infrasound » Wed Jun 12, 2013 11:36 am

I don't feel the need to flame either.

'Best ever' is a highly subjective term, but part of my labelling of the thread title as such is partially a reaction against the Roland-1980s-King of analog title bestowed upon the company, as if the only synthesizer worth owning is a Roland with either an Sh, a Juno, or Jupiter in the name.

Sure, they made some nice synths, but especially now with the MS-20 reissue, and the incessant 'Let's get Roland to make a duplicate of some 30 year old technology just like Korg have done' bleating of some people, the last thing I think we need is for Roland to rehash what is being rehashed (or revisited sometimes in new and interesting ways like the Elektron A4) by so many others. Instead, why not look at a period in time where Roland did something truly innovative, instead of simply making a synthesizer to try and emulate pianos or strings, or trying to emulate their great synths in such a piss-poor fashion (MC 303 anyone?)

In my opinion there are plenty of companies producing analog synthesizers (albeit most of them monophonic), and doing so in what I imagine to be an increasingly crowded market place. I think it's only a matter of time before we see a few more analog polyphonic synths released. I don't believe there will be a lot of companies doing so, and I would personally prefer to see a company with some enthusiasm (and love for what analog is) do it, much like DSI, Vermona, and MFB are doing. The engineers at Korg I've seen interviewed seem to have a real love for the MS-20 and synthesis. Nothing I hear from Roland gives me any indication they care about analog very much at all, except as something to be cashed in on (observe the MC 303, the digital SH series, and the new Jupiters), which has the effect of pissing off those who loved those original instruments.

Coming back to the V-Synth and why it's so good (and what's wrong with it)?

I agree that some of the sound quality leaves something to be desired. As a VA, I think it sucks in many ways - the audible and quite horrible aliasing which is evident if you go too far up or down the keyboard, and the same unpleasantness with some of the COSM effects.

However, in terms of synthesis capabilities, this thing is a true synth. There is a lot of scope for manipulating sound, and as a sampler that is a synth I think it wonderful. Camel's Alchemy is another nice instrument which shares some capabilities with the V-Synth (and goes miles beyond in many ways), but it's software only.

Where the V-Synth shines IMO is just how well Roland designed a control surface for a sophisticated piece of software (even today in my opinion). Between the time-trip pad, the somewhat-maligned D-beam, the touch-screen, and the decent amount of knobs and sliders, Roland have supplied ample amounts of real time control. The way in which the upper buttons (the 3 structure combo's) are interlinked with the knobs and sliders and the touch-screen makes for a quite intuitive (and quick to navigate) working surface.

I am not a particularly good programmer of synths, nor is my understanding of synthesis that great, but the way Roland have designed this instrument has enabled me to understand a lot more than I usually do, in a far quicker amount of time. As someone who works as a language teacher, I can appreciate good design, particularly with a pedagogical bent, and Roland have done this extremely well. This is perhaps my number one reason for stating what I did - a synthesizer is not an instrument designed just for playing. It is an experience that can be educating in a highly creative fashion, and the instruments encourages such exploration. If you just want to play, a rompler may be a better bet.
AND THE BEEFIEST BEEF #3(not specific to the V, but Roland of late):
Roland abandoning their once-mighty left hand control panels for...now there's just a stupid combo-mod bender that sucks balls. you can't even take your hand away to latch/set anything.
I am not a trained keyboard player, and this personal beef affects me little, if at all, so for my own subjective opinions I cannot count this as a minus. With the sheer amount of other control options immediately accessible I wonder how much of a problem this is for others? This is a performance feature some may find remiss, perhaps particular to a certain type of player, but a feature which may be of little or no significance to others.

Yes, the instrument has its faults, but I'll stand by my thread title. I'll go one further, and state that I feel not only is it the best thing Roland ever did, but that it is one of the best designed synthesizers I have ever used.

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by Hybrid88 » Wed Jun 12, 2013 3:51 pm

Well personally I'd have to say it's the 'best ever' in terms of interface, not raw sound - but it does have a stunning reverb (which actually hides its rather average underlying tone).

That's not to say you can't pull some amazing sounds out of it, but it does take some work which is probably why it is best being a sound designers synth rather than a simple players synth. The combination of buttons, scroll wheel, sliders, knobs and a nice big touchscreen with simple GUI is ingenious, and proves itself as a synth born from a company with an impressive ancestry. People that are willing to put some work into making their own sounds will be able to get something good out of anything - the V-Synth will serve these type of people best, preset flickers, maybe not - but that's why we have Romplers/stage pianos etc.

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Jun 14, 2013 4:22 am

shaft9000 wrote:i'm going to be a j**k and disagree/deny the thread title.
:D
Well, it depends on what's the best definition of 'best' really. :D
BEEF #1: even the TB-303 is a finer achievement - and it was a market failure, that also failed it's intended use to begin with! BUT...like or not *cough*Marc Doty*cough* there's no denying it's influence and iconic stature, though. It's major major; having inspired dozens of clones and variants. People just can't seem to get enough of 'em.
It may have had a really big influence, but if it was better at doing what it was supposed to do in the first place it never would have had any influence at all, apart from on people who didn't know any bass players. And by definition if something could be better then it can't be best, can it. ;)
the V-Synth is pretty iconic, though too, and rather special. BUT.... it's hardly birthing genres or changing the market much...nord wave and blofeld are still the closest thing, and they're more like each other than they are like the V. NOBODY'S FOLLOWING...which i understand is partly due to Roland's Variphrase patent. But if Antares can do Autotune -which Roland reputedly developed first- then what's stopping the Variphrase variants?
market interest, that's all. smell money, will follow.
It could be argued that nobody's following because the V-Synth is so far ahead and the competition hasn't progressed to the point where they can even mimic it yet. :idea: Something with say the sampler voice from the Octatrack (which can separate pitch and time information like the V-Synth does) in a keyboard would be a lot like the V-Synth. In fact the Octatrack for me is a direct replacement for the VS, because it does what the V-Synth can do with samples in a way that works better for the strengths of those processes, ie mangling loops and longer samples.
BEEF #2: sound-quality-wise, put it next to the JD990, JP-8, MKS-70 or even the Juno6(!) i have...and they're each much richer and more appealing to the ear. The filters, COSM, ringmod and FM are all a disappointment to my ears. Alesis ion/micron is sooo much better in these regards, and even the friggin' microkorg beats the V here. They try to make up for lack of punch with an Oscillator drive+comp parameter, and amp sims, etc. ugghhh, no. That just made it sound more like an early, rougher Virus. And the arp/step sequencer STOPS RUNNING when you exit the edit page(smacks forehead).
The arp and step sequencer on mine always kept going, I think that might be user error on your part, sounds like you didn't assign the right conditions for it to run (key on, always on, can't remember exactly what the options are, sold mine a year or so back).

Re: Sound quality, that's personal preference but when I had the VS in the studio with the Microkorg, Micron, Evolver, K5000W and a bunch of softsynths the VS was getting used a lot, far far more than the Microkorg which is great for basses IMO but not a lot more. It may not sound like a JP-8, but either does a JD990. The sound engine is very very flexible and I got a lot of really good sounds out of it. It was great for doing that 70s German Berlin School stuff which relied a lot on effects processing.

Leaving sound quality to one side and talking about build quality, the V-Synth was phenomenal in that regard. Such a great feeling keybed, all metal construction and it just feels so solid and well made. Everyone who complains about the build quality of new synths should get their hands on a V.
AND THE BEEFIEST BEEF #3(not specific to the V, but Roland of late):
Roland abandoning their once-mighty left hand control panels for...now there's just a stupid combo-mod bender that sucks balls. you can't even take your hand away to latch/set anything. it feels piss-poor... not that the old benders were robust, mind you - but you got other cool stuff to help out, too. Not here. :cry:
The V-Synth has the best left hand control section ever made on any synth in my opinion, its not just the bender but also the TT pad, two assignable C knobs and the D-Beam. All that stuff is freely assignable to pretty much anything in the mod matrix.

If you want the mod trigger to not be momentary then you're looking on the wrong spot, for something you can set and leave there's the C1 and C2 knobs, or the TT pad can be used as a latching XY mod source. The only thing that you can't use to set to a spot and leave is the one you single out as not being able to do it. It's not Roland's fault if you're looking for it in the wrong spot.

Sounds like all in all you just need to spend more time with a V-Synth to learn its ins and outs. It was actually miles ahead of anything in terms of interface and sample mangling tech when it came out which is partly why it never found a niche, it was too different from everything before it.

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by grabme » Fri Jun 14, 2013 8:30 pm

Possibly their best all rounder. I wanted one for the D50 and the possibility of JP8000 type sounds as well as the vocoders. Sound wise, I think the presets are impressive but too many presets are unusable, I'd prefer more bread and butter sounds like the JV/XV range. Not tried the sampling but if its anything like the S700 series then it will be good, not sure if it has the same low end frequency as those though?

I think the D50 emulation is excellent although the real thing still seems to have that layer of dust sound on the convertors that makes it sound that bit nicer, but in a mix probably nothing in it.

It would be good if Roland actually developed their products a bit more and maybe released the Jp8000 or JD990 cards for it or at least had a go at something like a virtual JX8P which has been replicated to a high degree of accuracy as a vst in my opinion. Also if the plugiator tabletop synth can pull off such good emulations then I'm sure the V-Synth is easily able to do the same so it has a lot of untapped potential.

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by Joxer96 » Wed Jun 19, 2013 10:16 pm

grabme,

Have you tried running the V-Synth VC-1 in 'D50' mode as opposed to 'V-synth'? Supposedly that will make the character indistinguishable from an original D50. Unfortunately I no longer have my D50 to do a side by side comparison, but it's supposed to nail it perfectly.

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by Pro5 » Thu Jun 20, 2013 2:24 am

Phenom wrote:
On a similar note I got thinking recently about the JD800 and would like to propose that it was possibly the bravest thing Roland ever done.

Consider the time of it's launch, the M1 and latterly 01/w were dominating the pro synth market. Looking at the Korg synths one would have possibly learned these lessons for the pro synth market at the times.

Lots of patch memories
Have lots of multi-timbral parts
Have lots of multi-timbral memories
Have multiple banks of effects, lots of preset algorithms
Nobody programmes any more, a single data entry slider is enough for tweaking
Have a sequencer, workstation are where it's at
Nobody wants a dedicated performance synth anymore
Be strong on drum sounds
It's a numbers game on the spec sheets, get as many samples in as you can, the fidelity is less important
Analogue has been commercially dead for a decade, no one wants that interface anymore
Keep it mid-priced (the M1 was selling at £1000 in 1991, the 01/w had an RRP of £1800, with street price of about £1600. The JD800 launched with an RRP of £2400)

Considering all this, launching an expensive performance synth with a slightly compromised multi mode and an interface that looks alien to any synth player arriving after the DX7 was commercial madness. 6 note poly on the biggest sounds probably didn't do it any favours either. But whatever else, Roland deserves respect for remaining dedicated to the dedicated "big synth", the Jupiter 8, the JX10, the D50, the JDs, the Vsynth etc.
Agreed. JD-800 was definitely a love letter to synth heads, and a risky release.


And ON topic - V-synth is a monster sound machine, Roland haven't been as brave again since (shame). I think V-synth and JD-800 were two of the 'bravest' machines they released, putting all in and great build and premium feel but on synthesizers that actually aren't as 'mainstream' as the sure fire rompler winners (boxes of pre-canned sounds). Roland can be brave and when they are they really hit it out of the park, but then spend the rest of the time releasing sub par stuff like Gaia, SH-201, that new organ thingy and... possibly even the Jupiter 80.

Combine a V-Synth with a JD-800 + some honest real analog (filters or oscs) and that is the next Roland super synth.
Last edited by Pro5 on Thu Jul 11, 2013 1:20 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by Jay200MPH » Thu Jun 20, 2013 10:43 am

I'm just going to chime in here to say I disagree - the best thing Roland ever did was teaming up with Dave Smith to develop MIDI. :mrgreen:

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Re: Why the V-Synth is the best thing Roland ever did

Post by shaft9000 » Fri Jun 21, 2013 3:43 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote: Well, it depends on what's the best definition of 'best' really. :D

It may have had a really big influence, but if it was better at doing what it was supposed to do in the first place it never would have had any influence at all, apart from on people who didn't know any bass players. And by definition if something could be better then it can't be best, can it. ;)
Well i wasn't trying to prove that the tb-303 is best anything. only that V-Synth is not, and i gave some reasons why, citing the 'post-mortem success' of the 303 as proof. criteria differ, but influence is pretty easy to see.
it is ultimately a success for Roland as there's no denying that it's association alone sold them a ton of MC-303s - it wasn't the MC's stunning sound or brilliant real-time sequencing i reckon. some might say 'oh but the 303 failed fundamentally at being a bass' but that doesn't matter since analog synths failed to imitate real instruments, and still by some criteria PCM fails, by other criteria PM fails. but people still use the classics for their own character. so that begs the question - what character has the V-Synth???? :?

It could be argued that nobody's following because the V-Synth is so far ahead and the competition hasn't progressed to the point where they can even mimic it yet. :idea: Something with say the sampler voice from the Octatrack (which can separate pitch and time information like the V-Synth does) in a keyboard would be a lot like the V-Synth. In fact the Octatrack for me is a direct replacement for the VS, because it does what the V-Synth can do with samples in a way that works better for the strengths of those processes, ie mangling loops and longer samples.
hey wow. you just negated the premise of your first sentence by talking about the octatrack instead. that's a neat but weird thing to do. i guess we're both half-wrong?

The V-Synth has the best left hand control section ever made on any synth in my opinion, its not just the bender but also the TT pad, two assignable C knobs and the D-Beam. All that stuff is freely assignable to pretty much anything in the mod matrix. etc...
so what about the 'also' if the bender is is plain terrible to begin with - and it really ends there. there's no getting around that because that's all there is in the left-hand control panel. Again, a clunky x/y pad and poorly scaled and jumpy D-Beam (both a good foot north, not the left-hand area) do not suffice to improve this one bit. How is that hard to understand?

Your comments aren't really adding up as points.
Consider: why would i 'NEED' to spend more time with a badly designed synth, in order to better appreciate how i 'need' to use it? i have spent weeks on the thing, and saying RTFterribleM(have) or 'learn how to synth'(have) as some sort of defense of lazy, compromised design is frankly disingenuous.
i want flexibility, not corners.
why on earth should an arp ever STOP playing just because i want to move to another edit screen? It's just another pointless hoop/design 'feature' to look-up and jump through, and in the end I DON'T CARE why - I just want the synth to be more playable and user-friendly than it is. And sound better than it does. That's all :D

i'm not getting your POV here, Stab...if the V-Synth is so perfectly awesome to you - why would you be rid of it?
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