Synth grouping

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kineticsoundprism
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Synth grouping

Post by kineticsoundprism » Sun Mar 17, 2013 7:30 pm

Note sure if anyone here does this but ive been getting into using very specific synths with each other on entire projects and limiting what i use , i did this as i found having a room of synths always ended in this mishmash effect and as a bit of a lover of older electronica and idm i found the sound of it was really ' concentrated ' as a result of the limits that came about from these early guys maybe only having 3/4 synths back then.

Its like say you do an album with nothing but a 101 , 303 , 707 and maybe roland d50 or alpha juno .You get this really distinct and strong character to your music that strangely becomes watered down if you start adding alot of stuff from other synths and even more so when you start adding a mishmash of other instrument character.

This is why so much older electronica sounds so good ( apart form the fact people were more focused on mood back then and musical stuff and much less on eq curves and how they can learn to master the bland results from people so fixated on daw technique )

Human leagues early album :? its system 100 and jp4......thats half the reason it sounds so strong.

Aphex twin ? same thing - i know for a fact he owns loads of synths and i heard he sets up 2 or 3 for a session and limits himself to certain machines = analord sessions being an example and take ambient works 1 - same thing.A limited pallette but somehow a much stronger flavour.

Its like cooking .

I just started a project with just k1 and cz101 , same thing is happening - this really strong instrument character on every track which i would have lost if i was using everything in the studio.

Anyone else doing this ?

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Re: Synth grouping

Post by Z » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:32 pm

I get what you're saying, but I'm trying to set up a rig where each synth brings its own character. Of all the synths I own, only these few are currently set up: Fantom X6, JD-800, Jupiter 6, OB-X, Synthex and Wave 2.2.

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Re: Synth grouping

Post by Walter Ego » Sun Mar 17, 2013 8:45 pm

Yeah, limits are good. That's exactly why I ditched VSTs (namely the FL environment). I couldn't limit myself, and it gave me all kinds of writer's block.
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Re: Synth grouping

Post by plexicube » Sun Mar 17, 2013 9:02 pm

I've been doing a lot of recording lately using nothing but a Moog Rogue and an Ensoniq ASR-10. With the ASR's ability to layer, resample, and crossfade samples I have been finding a crazy amount of sounds lurking in such a limited setup; especially percussion! I think doing this makes one dig a little deeper into the possibilities of any one machine to add some sonic breadth. When working with more synths (and yes, I have plenty here) I tend to make similar sounds across instruments.
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Re: Synth grouping

Post by bluntedcircuit » Sun Mar 17, 2013 11:07 pm

I'd say there's also something to be said about the speed of creating, when working like this.

I feel I procrastinate a lot, and as I get more hardware, I felt I needed a new sound card with a lot of inputs to accommodate the hardware; but the longer I put off the upgrade the more I'm finding I'm more productive cramming all these sounds into two stereo inputs as a "drum chain" and "synth chain", and I'm finding I'm more pleased with the end result.

I feel like it forces me to be dedicated to my decisions, because once I get to a point I like what I've written, the only way to add more is to commit what I've written to audio. At which point I clear the patterns and patches and start fresh if I want more.
This is also more productive as I use less power hungry vsts, making my laptop a h**l of a lot more stable; and this forces me to write in a way that groups together sounds that are more cohesive.

So yeah, interesting point you have there

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Re: Synth grouping

Post by Kenneth » Mon Mar 18, 2013 1:45 am

I like this thread. I agree that having endless possibilities overwhelms the mind and creates writer's block. I used to be an avid synth collector until I came to this realization. I have owned dozens of synths over the past five years, but now I have a very minimal setup of instruments I find are inspiring and work well together. It's all about finding the sound you're after, and then finding out what synths work well within those limitations. I think more recently artists are finding it difficult to find their "sound" because we are constantly assaulted with music in our daily lives: TV ads, radio, grocery stores, elevators, etc. We can't get away from it, because unfortunately in this day and age, music is thought of by the public as a commodity rather than an art form. So it's a matter of sifting through the mud to find gold, I suppose.
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Re: Synth grouping

Post by Romannis1972 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 2:46 am

I second this statement!! I now have 5 synths that I feel help me be as creative as I possibly can:
Roland RS-70
Crumar DS-2
Access Virus A
Korg PE1000
Kawai SX-240
(and aid from my iPad2 running Moog, Korg and NanoStudio for sequencing)
Whith this rig I have now composed 15 tunes since the beginning of 2013. When I had a boatload of gear (circa 2006) I think I actually only composed 1015 tunes that whole year.

I feel everyone here is on the same page with their setups and ideals.... and that rules!

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Re: Synth grouping

Post by Bitexion » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:02 am

Limitations are good. I had "Unlimited" amount of VSTs a few years ago when I discovered a torrent site that only did music and VST program cracks. It was more "gotta get them all" rather than "gotta use them all". I just sat with a harddrive full of VST synths and never had time or bothered to learn any of them. Just install, boot up cubase and check out some presets, next, next, next, next.

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Re: Synth grouping

Post by GuyaGuy » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:05 am

I love how everyone in this thread defines 5-7 synths as "pared down." :lol:

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Re: Synth grouping

Post by Romannis1972 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 4:33 am

GuyaGuy wrote:I love how everyone in this thread defines 5-7 synths as "pared down." :lol:
Haha, yeah but when you have had more than 15-20 at any given time it is considered pairing down.
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Re: Synth grouping

Post by condit79 » Mon Mar 18, 2013 5:02 am

I went from 15 boards to just a modular, a mopho and a tempest at one point. it wasn't quite the right mix, so I added a sixtrak, an esq-1, minibrute and an ipad and switched my tempest into an arturia spark. I'm actually even considering dumping the sixtrak and mopho and just building even yet more modular. If I want options, i want them to be creative patching and different filters, not tons of keyboards.

So many good tracks I've made are done with one or two instruments and it's a fantastic way to work. Benge's 20 systems is a good testament to this philosophy. I could see myself doing just fine with a drum machine, a Moog format modular, a mono (to also control the modular) and a poly synth. h**l, I could do ok with just my modular and no drum machine, but it'd need to grow up a bit first :).

The thing is, less CAN be more. In my opinion, I'd rather have a few choice tools than tons of clutter. I find it harder to deal with the organization aspect of too many cables, effect boxes and keyboards than the actual mixing process with lots of voices.
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Re: Synth grouping

Post by Stab Frenzy » Mon Mar 18, 2013 6:37 am

GuyaGuy wrote:I love how everyone in this thread defines 5-7 synths as "pared down." :lol:
Yeah same. :lol:

I think that the reason people who think they need to have a 'minimal setup' of 5 synths to make music 'just like the old school electronic guys did' don't get any music done is because they think synths are pokemon and don't realise that one synth and one drum machine (or one laptop and one controller) is all you need to make an album. You just need something that can make sound, the skills to make the sound you want on it and a way to record it. Anything more than that is an indulgence, not the 'normal' way of doing things. I have a rather indulgent modular system so I'm not saying that the hair-shirt minimal setups are the only way to make music, but I think that too many people who post here think that some rig with stands of synths stacked so high you can't play them is the normal way of doing things.

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Re: Synth grouping

Post by GuyaGuy » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:10 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:
GuyaGuy wrote:I love how everyone in this thread defines 5-7 synths as "pared down." :lol:
Yeah same. :lol:

I think that the reason people who think they need to have a 'minimal setup' of 5 synths to make music 'just like the old school electronic guys did' don't get any music done is because they think synths are pokemon and don't realise that one synth and one drum machine (or one laptop and one controller) is all you need to make an album. You just need something that can make sound, the skills to make the sound you want on it and a way to record it. Anything more than that is an indulgence, not the 'normal' way of doing things. I have a rather indulgent modular system so I'm not saying that the hair-shirt minimal setups are the only way to make music, but I think that too many people who post here think that some rig with stands of synths stacked so high you can't play them is the normal way of doing things.
Totally. My set up is in the 7-synth range too but I'm perfectly aware that it's indulgent. And I've been selling off things so I can concentrate on just the 4 pieces I use/love the most: Poly Evolver, Phatty, Prophet 600 and Tempest.

The sky-high synth stack thing seems to come from that Vangelis/Jarre thing, but two one of the reasons they had so many synths were that many of their synths didn't have patch memory and they were one man bands.

Back to the OP's question: One thing that comes out of using a limited set up is having signature sounds. When I think of those early Human League albums there are certain signature sounds I associate with it and with the band in general. Same with Black Moth Super Rainbow and that vocoder patch and Optigan chords or Tycho and that mono flutey portamento lead sound and so on. While I don't think signature sounds are absolutely necessary (after all synths are all about diversity of sounds), they do help define an aesthetic.

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Re: Synth grouping

Post by Stab Frenzy » Mon Mar 18, 2013 8:46 am

GuyaGuy wrote:Back to the OP's question: One thing that comes out of using a limited set up is having signature sounds. When I think of those early Human League albums there are certain signature sounds I associate with it and with the band in general. Same with Black Moth Super Rainbow and that vocoder patch and Optigan chords or Tycho and that mono flutey portamento lead sound and so on. While I don't think signature sounds are absolutely necessary (after all synths are all about diversity of sounds), they do help define an aesthetic.
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Re: Synth grouping

Post by tekkentool » Mon Mar 18, 2013 10:09 am

kineticsoundprism wrote: This is why so much older electronica sounds so good ( apart form the fact people were more focused on mood back then and musical stuff and much less on eq curves and how they can learn to master the bland results from people so fixated on daw technique )
:?

Honestly this is why i think electronic music is SO GOOD now.

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