Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

A forum for comparing two or more synths against each other. Also known as "versus" threads.
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syncretism
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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by syncretism » Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:11 pm

I own a Sunsyn, but haven't logged much time in front of an Xpander. I've heard and read sufficiently unfavorable accounts about the Xpander's reliability and attendant total cost of ownership to swear it off, but perhaps those problems have been overstated.

The Sunsyn's OS is robust, and it finally delivers on most of the instrument's original specifications, such as user-uploaded waveforms for the RCOs. You need OS V2 for the latter, though, and that requires that the Sunsyn be shipped to Berlin for a hardware upgrade. Don't expect to find a V2 Sunsyn for less than five grand any time soon.

As for the synth itself, it's the last thing I'd sell. I can get pretty close to any other two-oscillator synth at my disposal with it, at least sonically. It falls short of the modulars when comparing modulation options, and leaps ahead of some of my other fixed-architecture synths, but the sound is beyond reproach, to my ears.
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Niall.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by Ianh » Tue Dec 29, 2009 8:53 pm

I figured I would have to send the Sunsyn in to have it upgraded. And am aware of their value both version 1.__ and 2.0. As for the Xpander's reliability I have heard mixed testimonies. I have heard many of the problems are mainly associated with the Japanese version. I have also heard that they are actually one of the more reliable synths in there age and class.
As a sunsyn owner is there any other piece of equipment that you could recommend in the realm of highly programable poly synths?

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by xpander » Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:03 pm

i'd say the Xpander is extremely reliable. in my experience most problems you get with older synthesizers revolve around contacts- keys, pots & connectors- or power supply failures due to old capacitors. i haven't had a single problem with mine since in the several years i've owned it- it's a solid piece of gear. also, i've never seen one in any of the local repair shops.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by syncretism » Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:19 pm

Well, there's a favorable testimonial from someone who owns one. That's worth more than my hearsay.

I'm not inclined to mention other polysynths, because I haven't used that many. The Omega/CODE series is capable and fun to play with, but, as everyone knows, costs a lot of money. The Xpander was tremendously flexible - indeed, I've long considered buying one if I could get over the perceived maintenance concerns. All of the other big-deal polysynths from Yamaha, Roland, SCI, Oberheim and Moog, et al are unknown to me. Sorry.

There's also the Spectralis, which I think sounds superb, both on the digital side and the analogue side. It's a true hybrid, and brings to the table all of the routing power and logic that digital designs offer. I also hated using it, but YMMV.
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Niall.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by pflosi » Tue Dec 29, 2009 9:29 pm

Ianh wrote:I have lusted after the Korg Ps series, especially the PS-3300, but I have NEVER seen any of the PS series for sale(and probably couldn't afford one if it did).
there's actually one for sale here on VSE ;)

besides that, I think you really researched the subject for a powerful poly. not much synths left to choose.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by KennethA » Tue Dec 29, 2009 11:49 pm

Ianh wrote:Those are all awesome synths I just feel that most of their value lies in the nostalgia/exclusivity department.
Not true I would say.
There is nothing that sounds as marvelous as a real PPG.
I have a 360 Wavecomputer, Wave 2, Wave 2.3 and an EVU and these synths are unbeatable soundwise and are all the best of the best (to my ears). They are so different from anything else out there.

The Prophet VS is a fantastic and innovative machine as well. I had one at one time - and miss it dearly :-(
Who knows; maybe someday I can get my hands on one again.

A wonderful New Year to you all !!

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by Ianh » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:44 am

I agree with you, I was actually referring to the Oberhiem 4 voice, and Korg ps series. A see now how that was not clear in my sentence.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by Ianh » Wed Dec 30, 2009 1:49 am

And yes I have done LOTS of research, the main reason I am asking questions here Is for opinions of owners of these synths. Opinions on sound, layout, capabilities, versatility, and reliability. Not to mention over all enjoyment of the machine. These are things that are not simple facts that i can research, but things that people who have spent a long time using a pice of equipment would know and be able to express to me.
That is why the name of this thread is Xpander vs Sunsyn, because through research I feel that either of these would be right for me. I just want to know from others experience how they stack up. As for the vs ??? that is room for suggestion of possible instruments i have not yet considered which in tern means i do not know about.
Again I thank every one for there continued input.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by matia » Wed Dec 30, 2009 2:33 am

it sounds a bit cleaner than an xpander, but when I had my Andromeda I was able to get very close to a lot of the Nitzer Ebb belief sounds (which was predominantly Xpander). If I were looking for that sound again I would definitely go for the A6 but I have not played a Sunsyn.

-matia

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by syncretism » Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:08 pm

In use, the Sunsyn's a treat. It's not very deeply modal - most of the analogue functions can be edited with pots on the generous front panel, and the digital (LFOs, RCOs, MIDI)/additional routing components (CC, VCAs for routing elements) are for the most part only one or two button-presses away. The patch naming scheme is resolutely old-school in method, which wouldn't be so bad if I weren't spoiled by Elektron's implementation for the past eight years and librarians for longer. Pots are fiddly in my experience - it's hard to dial in a precise value in one pass. A lot of times, the values will jump by two, and if I really need that odd number, then it'll take a little longer to get it. More often than not, my ears can't hear the difference, but it's irksome on so expensive an instrument.

The filter's fabulous, and one of the best I've used. I think I'd get a lot more out of the snapshot morphs if they could be saved with the patch, though. I recall that the Xpander's multimode filter is equally, if not more, impressive. I certainly liked the sound of it.

I don't know if you can dial in strong, percussive sounds with the Xpander, but I'd love to hear some examples. The Sunsyn can make some truly excellent kicks, but what the h**l, I have drum machines for those. Envelope and VCA responses really aren't a sticking point for me. The LFOs' MIDI sync is weird at first - analogous to oscillator sync, really, but is fun to use creatively. With practice, I didn't miss the straightforward note divisions found in other synths.

Edit, fixed some careless writing
Yours,
Niall.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by syncretism » Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:15 pm

Also, all this talk makes me want to buy an Xpander. Damn it.
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Niall.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by space6oy » Wed Dec 30, 2009 7:20 pm

off topic, but this thread made me have a dream last night about a white elephant exchange where someone gave me a sunsyn. i was in shock until i learned it was completely dead.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by Ianh » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:19 pm

I know you can do percussive sounds with the ramp generator on the Xpander. The examples I have heard are quite impressive actually. The fact that the Sunsyn has such modulation capacity and so much of that power is available from the front panel is a big point of interest for me. But the Xpander, despite its limited amount of hands on control does have a very well laid out interface. I think i would have more fun with the sunsyn but it is about as much as 2 xpanders. God I wish I could try them out.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by syncretism » Wed Dec 30, 2009 9:52 pm

I wish Droolmaster0 were here; he's owned both.
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Niall.

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Re: Xpander Vs SunSyn vs ???

Post by droolmaster0 » Wed Dec 30, 2009 10:24 pm

Some subjective comments, since anyone can research feature lists, etc....

The 2 have this in common - they are 2 of the best user interfaces ever devised. the xpander, being mostly menu based, however, is not nearly as suitable for real time tweaking. For setting up complicated sounds with lots of mod routings, I don't think that it's ever had an equal - for that, I'd take it over the Andromeda any day, but that's just me. The look, and the interface, make it just feel more like a musical instrument. Again, I stress the subjectivity of that judgement...

while it's always a temptation to make objective statements about sound quality, I think that quite obviously, if you prefer the sound of one of these synths more than the other, then its sound quality is better by definition. I preferred the sunsyn's quality by a mile - but it is probably less vintage sounding, more raw, faster envelopes and a harder sound in general.

I loved tweaking the sunsyn in real time - virtually everything is available via a knob - once you get to know it, it probably presents you with a wider variety of sounds than any other analog synth that I've tried (other than a modular). The 2 digital oscillators don't hurt in that regard.

while you don't have nearly as much modulation as is available on the xpander, you do get to do some audio rate modulations, it's very nicely set up. The midi control is also pretty amazing - you can even modulate the mod routings themselves via midi. Old versions of the firmware were unstable when you messed with some of the modulations, but the latest pre v2 os remedied that, as far as I know.

There also used to be lots of complaints about the multimode- I don't know whether that's been beefed up in v2 - I vaguely recall that it might be.

The xpander has perhaps the best implementation of multimode that I've ever seen. There is no question (in my mind) - if you're less concerned about tweaking sounds in real time, and want to construct really complex, evolving drone type sounds, the xpander is the one to get. Of course, the more the menu based interface bothers you, and the more that the sunsyn's sound quality (which I think that most users think is quite amazing) attracts you, the more the Sunsyn wins the 'debate'. I think that if you do have the $ for a sunsyn, the real choice would be between it and a matrix 12 - you can set up massive sounds on that thing.....

What would I choose between a Sunsyn and a matrix 12? I'd choose the Sunsyn in a second. The sound quality is much preferable to me, and for the sorts of things that a matrix/xpander can do, I'd rather do on a modular....but that's just me.

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