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Building my system

Posted: Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:30 pm
by iainnitro
Greetings Folks:

I am finally on my way to building my kit up. So far, it consists of one Roland Fantom X7. I am planning to add a Roland JV-1080 sound module because I found a great expansion card for "Vintage Synthesizer Sounds" and that is one unit that can use the expansion card. That is going to happen in the near future.

Otherwise, I am planning to add a Moog Voyager and Alesis Andromeda A6 to round out my setup. I also am looking into additional rack mount sound modules as I decide to add sounds. The X7 was mainly bought as a "midi controller" to control what will ultimately be a sweet setup (IMHO).

I could use some pointers on getting the MIDI portion to work. I am looking at 3 synths, and at least 2 sound modules that all have to work together for my setup to function as I envision.

I think the Moog is first on the list because the Andromeda(s) seem to keep increasing in acquisition cost, though I have seen them go as low as $3000. Always interested if anyone can help with the modules I am seeking... which reminds me, I forgot to mention that I am not even sure it exists, but is there a rack mount version of a Yamaha Motif?

Just FYI, the sounds I am seeking to get are the original sounds from these bands:

Utopia/Todd Rungren
Human League
Gary Numan
The Cars

So mainly late 70's early 80's analog sounds. On the expansion card I mentioned, it has samples from Roland Jupiter, D50 etc as well as some Moog, Sequential Circuits, Oberheim OBX, and others. That covers a lot of ground for me for a mere $200 USD investment.

So advice is welcome and a good guide to MIDI would be helpful too... I want to know how to interconnect everyone so I can basically "call any sound" from any of the 3 keyboards mentioned.

Thanks guys, obviously my influences are all the synth-pop and new wave era of the late 70's and 80's and the emulations I have heard are close, but lack the true analog sound of those great keyboards.

Re: Building my system

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 2:46 am
by ronP

You have a good base to start from with the Fantom, which can be used to introduce yourself to the basics of synth sound creation, sampling, beat making, and scratch composition all in one box.

Your best next step is a monophonic analog with a knob per function design. A contemporary Moog or Dave Smith Instruments synth would serve well, or perhaps a Minibrute or Base Station II. The one note of a monophonic will limit you in the best sense, teaching you to do musically more with less. In fact, just get a $50 Korg Monotron first and improvise and contemplate the sound(s). Your ear will grow and direct you to the electronic music you want to make.

Good Luck . . . and have fun!


Re: Building my system

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 3:01 am
by iainnitro
Hey RonP:

Thanks for the suggestions. I have always liked the Dave Smith fare (Sequential Circuits). The Phophet series certainly helped define my genre of music and naturally those were very capable back in the day.

I will take that into consideration and indeed I have been working on my setup for about 3 years now. Saving sheckles and etc to get things done.

Have a good one and again appreciate the response.


Re: Building my system

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:26 am
by Bitexion
The Andromeda should get you any of those sounds you list, with its 2 oscillators+sub oscillators and two filters (One lowpass, one multimode in parallell or serial), if you know how to program them on a regular subtractive synth. It's very hands-on and you can do pretty much everything on the front panel without diving into menus. In 16-voice unison mode this synth is such a beast it's kind of freaky. It has so many "patch points" it's almost like a modular synth. It was on top of my most wanted list for years before I finally got one.

The thing you won't get is the specific digital synth sounds like the odd digital PCM samples of the D50 or Fairlight samples.

And yes, there are rack versions of the older Motif XS too if you wanna go that route, they do both analog and digital sounds to perfection. It's kind of past-generation as the XF and MOX keyboard versions have improved on the Motif series further, but have no rack versions yet.

If you wanna MIDI them all together it's a good idea to get one of the 3-in, 3-out MIDI boxes (or more), let's you route MIDI in all kinds of ways with a few mouse clicks.

Re: Building my system

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 6:30 am
by iainnitro
Greetings Bitexion:

Thank-you for reply to my post! I really am interested in the Andromeda A6 for sure. I have been looking for one for quite a while now myself and they seem to be holding their value quite well (which means saving more money). I can afford most of the time to buy gear that is like $1000 USD or under in a month, but the current two Andromedas I know of for sale (eBay) are $4000 and $5000 (USD) respectively and are not here in the USA. One is in Canada, the other in England. Obviously, given my geographic location in the Mid-USA, I would be more inclined to buy the one in Canada :-) The prices I have quoted are buy it now... the Canada one had an opening bid of $3800, but I suspect someone will grab it at $4000 Buy it now... the only thing is that I can not do it right now myself, so I am watching the sales carefully as I see them come up.

The Andromeda is going to be the most challenging unit for me to acquire for my system, but I think it will be a great addition and will serve well.

Can you expand on the 3 in one midi boxes you speak of? Are there model numbers or other info you can share?

@Everyone: I did find the Yamaha Motif XS rack mount sound module, so I now know where to get it and how much it will cost. Thank-you to everyone who responded on this part of my post!

Re: Building my system

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:12 pm
by meatballfulton
If you have the X7 already, the JV-1080 will be redundant. Like most mfrs, Roland has slowly evolved their digital synths over the years and the raw waveforms (if not all of the finished patches) in the JV series are already in the Fantom.

The X7 cannot mount the JV expansion boards, instead it uses SRX boards. The SRX-07: Ultimate Keys contains the entire SR-JV80-04: Vintage Synthesizer expansion plus more (complete SR-JV80-08/10 and select waves from SR-JV80-03/09). The SRX boards will have to be bought used, they were discontinued a few years ago. They sell for about $300 on eBay.

While the Yamaha Motif sounds different than the Fantom, you will find a good amount of overlap between the X7 and any of the three Motif modules (Motif Rack, Motif Rack ES, Motif Rack XS). I owned the Motif ES keyboard and now own the current XF keyboard but can't recommend the rack units for you until you have some of the other stuff you are interested in, esp. analog synths.

My suggestion is to get the SRX-07 and learn your way around your Fantom, then an analog monosynth with MIDI. While the Voyager is a fantastic synth you might find that a Slim Phatty for a fraction of the price will give you 90% of what it's big brother can do.

Good luck!

Re: Building my system

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:41 pm
by iainnitro
Hello meatballfulton:

I appreciate the insight. The problem is I already own the SR-JV80-04 expansion board and so I would be essentially eating the $135 USD I paid for it if I don't buy the compatible unit for it. Being brand new to the Fantom, I trusted a seller that it would fit my Fantom and he was right if it was the Fantom 76 model... but I have to either pick up the JV unit or as you stated the SRX-07 card. I have seen those on eBay for as little as $150 though recently... so it is kind of one or the other at this point. Obviously the SRX expansion board would eliminate one component.

I will take it under advisement as I decide what to do about the purchase in the next month or so. I guess I could always sell the SR card back onto eBay or to someone who wants one.

Thanks for the reply in any case.


Re: Building my system

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:12 pm
by Bitexion
Regarding the MIDI interface, I meant something like this

There are lots of brands and varieties on the market, not just this one. They go all the way up to 16 in 16 out!
Basically you plug all your synths MIDI OUT into the MIDI inputs, and the outputs to the MIDI Inputs. And there is a separate one that goes to the computer. So now you can pretty much route the midi signals wherever you want without moving a single cable around, the MIDI interface software will do it, or on some expensive ones, the hardware itself lets you configure it with switches.

Re: Building my system

Posted: Wed Jul 03, 2013 5:23 pm
by iainnitro
Cool! I since also found a M-Audio Midiman which I think is the same kind of device as you listed in your post. Looks like I will be investing in one of these boxes for sure, it also solves a problem I have had with my Roland Fantom X7 in that the drivers are not compatible to my latest version of Mac OS X (10.8.4) so the interface box does have updated drivers, and that solves one headache. Don't get me wrong, I am FULLY impressed with my X7!

Thanks for the information!