Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

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markt153
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Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by markt153 » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:16 pm

Hey :D

I have decided that i want to start buying gear. i have been an industrial/goth/ebm fan for most of my life and i want to start making some music

what would be a good decent quality synth to start with, preferrably one that doesnt break the bank. i guess my budget is around $250

my friend said it would be best to start with a sampler keyboard, since i can sample and it can probably do the basics of what i want it to do. is this true?

i dont want to use a DAW, so what would be a good hardware sequencer to use as well? all of my friends are SWEARING by an arturia beatstep or keystep.

i want to get a setup going asap so any help is appreciated :) thanks!

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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by meatballfulton » Fri Feb 03, 2017 11:54 pm

$250 is not much of a budget, sadly.

What is your end goal...just a hobby, join a band ????
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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by commodorejohn » Sat Feb 04, 2017 12:33 am

As meatball says, $250 ain't much in the keyboard market. That said, if you keep your eyes peeled you can sometimes find vintage samplers in that range or not too far above it - I've seen a couple Mirages listed for that, as well as a couple EPS/EPS-16+ workstations (which, I believe, have the same excellent 8-track sequencer as the ESQ-1/SQ-80 synthesizers) in the $300 range. So keep an eye on your local Craigslist and eBay, and you might just get lucky...
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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by ninja6485 » Sat Feb 04, 2017 3:17 am

A sampler is a great choice! The mirage is not. Don't get a mirage.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Sat Feb 04, 2017 6:46 pm

Korg MS-2000 perhaps?

If it's good for DAF, it can't be bad for EBM (or similar).

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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by Z » Sat Feb 04, 2017 9:09 pm

Save up a little more and you can pick up a used Roland JD-Xi for under $400.

The JD-Xi gives a lot of bang for your buck. It's a 3 octave mini keyboard with 2 polyphonic digital synth parts (both PCM playback and Virtual Analog) with a monophonic analog synth and digital drum section - each of the 4 parts can be sequenced into a 1,2 or 4 bar pattern in real time or in grid-style step programming.
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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by abruzzi » Sat Feb 04, 2017 10:50 pm

As mentioned you can get an Ensoniq EPS-16+ for around that price, and they are great samplers. The limitation for a beginner is until you load a sample, they won't make a noise. Sampling can be a tedious skill to learn, especially if you want to loop and multisample, as opposed to sampling "one shot" drums. Another possibility is the Kurzweil K2000. They've been creeping up in price, but occasionally you can find them for $250. You can add RAM so even if you don't have the sampling option, you can load and edit sounds. In addition, since they have ROM sounds, you can get started easier. I've also seen the sampling option sell on eBay for pretty cheap so you can possible add that in later if you want to sampler from the board.

E-mu made a keyboard version of their E4 sampler called the E4K, and a related E-Synth. These can occasionally be found cheap. The E-Synth variant has the benefit that it also has a ROM so you have some stuff ready to play when you power up.

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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Sat Feb 04, 2017 11:18 pm

abruzzi wrote: [...] The limitation for a beginner is until you load a sample, they won't make a noise. [...]
The only limitation for a beginner is to buy an Instrument which has been outdated for 25 years and which basically has no practical uses to a beginner who is not interested in that nostalgia thing of "this was my first sampler after I graduated from high school, and it took me only 24 months of flipping burgers to get half the price together".

If it really has to be a sampler, it should be something a little more modern and less exotic (even an ASR10 isn't recommended, even though it is a powerful machine). An Emu ESI would be good for starters, or even some software-based sampler. But a 25-year old EPS -- with how much sample time, 15 seconds mono at what resolution? -- as a good first synth/sequencer? You might as well want to advise him to buy a Prophet 2000... it's got an extremely flexible arpeggiator on-board.

Steer clear of the E4K Keyboard as they seem to be prone to break and are a nightmare to haul around. They are even more awkward to carry than a Polymoog, and they flex as easily which is no good...

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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by commodorejohn » Sun Feb 05, 2017 12:16 am

ppg_wavecomputer wrote:But a 25-year old EPS -- with how much sample time, 15 seconds mono at what resolution? -- as a good first synth/sequencer?
I'll stand by it. The maximum 2MB isn't a lot, but it's enough to work with (and sure, you can't load large amounts of long samples at high bitrates, but...just don't do that, then,) and Ensoniq's onboard sequencer is quite nice.
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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by ppg_wavecomputer » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:21 am

commodorejohn wrote:
ppg_wavecomputer wrote:But a 25-year old EPS -- with how much sample time, 15 seconds mono at what resolution? -- as a good first synth/sequencer?
I'll stand by it. The maximum 2MB isn't a lot, but it's enough to work with (and sure, you can't load large amounts of long samples at high bitrates, but...just don't do that, then,) and Ensoniq's onboard sequencer is quite nice.
Nostalgia is nice but not always helpful, particularly not for beginners.

A second-hand Akai MPC 500 might yield better results when sequencing *and* sampling are required.

Stephen
"Like the light from distant stars, Stephen Parsick's music has existed for some time, but is only now reaching us on Earth." Chuck van Zyl

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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by JeEA » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:38 am

Samplers are not for beginners In my opinion.
Normally the old samplers needs disc before they Can
make a sound. Some do have sounds In ROM but I would
recomend a synthesizer.

Yamaha made a great synth EX5 and EX7 they are both
synthesizer and sampler with ram exp i it's In. I have it and it is great. Arpeggio and sequencer up to 8 track.

There are many old synths which is great and at a great Price
Go to a shop and see what they have. And as You have alteady done
write on a synth forum ;-)

Cheers

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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by Hyde » Sun Feb 05, 2017 12:24 pm

Years ago i started with an ensoniq ASR & a synth attached via midi. Pre internet days.... You can pick up an Ensoniq SQ1 on the cheap. a great starting synth with an awesome sequencer & effects. SQ1+ is a small upgrade, few extra bucks. If you want a sampler after that, you will likely have built up your knowledge a bit. EPS16's seem to be up in price, at the moment. They are nice but still run short in memory, even when expanded. & if they have scsi they can be a fun toy but, it's insanely annoying to work with floppy's if you don't have a scsi hard drive. Start with an SQ1 or an SQ2 There has been one listed on CL here in SEATTLE for a $150 for some time. They are really a deal.

This is all from the SQ1+(sequencing, drums,effects,synth...everything) They are all rough mixes but, you'll get the idea of the quality of the machine.
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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by ninja6485 » Sun Feb 05, 2017 11:50 pm

I think an S2000 could be a great choice for around $100, and then you would have some extra cash for accessories. A sampler is a great choice because you can have any sound you want, so it's good at basically everything, and there's plenty of room for growth. With a synth, if you're using the same one for every song, eventually you're going to get a little antsy for new sounds. With a sampler that's not so much of a problem, and you can avoid your songs sounding "samey."(hence the growth potential).

The M1 used to be good as a swiss army knife style instrument, since it was a synth, with a drum section, and a sequencer. Another cheap workstation could be good, although there is a little less room for growth. I started with a Radias, and it was perfect. Everything you described. I think I dropped a grand, or even $1700 on it new, I forget. I can't reccomend that enough.

Ultimately, however, I think Z has the best advice. With $250, you're going to have to make sacrifices, and do extra work to make up for it. Such is being on a budget. An s2000 is going to require more learning, a definitely more effort than some other options, but it has a lot of potential. So it might come down to your intelligence, learning ability, and commitment level. The Roland Z suggested would be a lot easier to start with, and still has loads of potential for growth. It of course requires more resources!
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by abruzzi » Wed Feb 08, 2017 9:29 pm

ppg_wavecomputer wrote:
abruzzi wrote: [...] The limitation for a beginner is until you load a sample, they won't make a noise. [...]
The only limitation for a beginner is to buy an Instrument which has been outdated for 25 years and which basically has no practical uses to a beginner who is not interested in that nostalgia thing of "this was my first sampler after I graduated from high school, and it took me only 24 months of flipping burgers to get half the price together".
Perhaps, but I never owned or used any ensoniq gear until 2 years ago, so no nostalgia. I got an eps16 a year ago, and found it much easier to use for sampling than my E4 or K2500 simply because it didn't distract me with visual waveform displays, and forced me to do things by ear. Honestly it's the first sampler I've enjoyed sampling with. I haven't found the memory limitation a big deal because all I need is enough ram for a single (multisampled) sound since I'm not trying to make it do everything, though the RAM limitation would be an issue if you are trying to do multitimbreal usage. The floppy format is a PIA, but if the unit is self contained, then you aren't trying to shuttle sounds to a PC, and a box of 100 new DD floppies can be had pretty cheap on eBay, and that probably all you'll ever need. But I still think that a beginner would do better with something they can turn on and play, and start sampling a library once they've exhausted the sounds in the box.

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Re: Beginner looking for a good first synth/sequencer

Post by Jabberwalky » Wed Feb 08, 2017 10:28 pm

I bought an EPS16+ when I was a beginner. It wasn't that hard to learn, and it sounds awesome. I still don't feel comfortable recommending it though. It's all about the drive/ambition you have to learn something that might be tedious. You could probably get away with something much simpler using an ipad and a midi controller today.

Haven't tried it, but heard good thing about Beatmaker 2. Seems like your standard features are all there. Layering, ADSR, Filter, LFO, Loop Points, FX, Sequencers

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