The thread of many (analog) polys

A forum for comparing two or more synths against each other. Also known as "versus" threads.

Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby Chewy » Thu Mar 19, 2015 7:52 am

Yeah, the SX-210 and -240 (under the Kawai name, as well) are really cool! I looked up specs and demos a while ago, and would love to have one. If I remember right, the SX-240 was the one I liked more due to it having more Osc/voice
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby max badwan » Thu Mar 19, 2015 10:39 pm

Chewy wrote:Yeah, the SX-210 and -240 (under the Kawai name, as well) are really cool! I looked up specs and demos a while ago, and would love to have one. If I remember right, the SX-240 was the one I liked more due to it having more Osc/voice

The K 3 compares very favourably to the DW 8000. Kawai synths in general are excellent.
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby Chewy » Sat Mar 21, 2015 3:39 am

max badwan wrote:The K 3 compares very favourably to the DW 8000. Kawai synths in general are excellent.


Yeah, Kawai synths are pretty nice, I was just pointing out that the SXs also went under the Kawai brand name. I'm not sure if Teisco became Kawai or what.

I considered the K3 around the time I got my DW, as well. Like the DW, the K3 seems to have a very fat sound!! Not all hybrids do (ESQ-1 for example. I have one, and it's definitely not bad, but doesn't have the warmth and width the DW and seemingly the K3 do). The K5000 is another one of theirs that definitely kicks a*s, very complex. To be honest, I even like the K1 and K4, or at least some of the sounds I've heard from them. And then of course, there's the aforementioned SX-210 and -240, which are awesome. So in short, I agree - they make fine synths, heh.

Sorry for all the hybrid and digital tangents here, guys. Back to the analog realm - stringers. I don't think they've been brought up a lot. What's your opinion in general? Are there any you really like? This isn't a guideline, just something to maybe stimulate conversation. Also, anyone here hoping to see/hear more of the JD-XA or (especially) the Pro-6 soon? I am. (& I know that second one's obvious, heh)
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby jahreed » Tue Apr 07, 2015 8:17 pm

Just wanted to chime in to represent what i feel is an undervalued analog poly

the SCI Six Trak
despite it's slow envelopes, one osc per voice architecture, single parameter voice editing and limited resolution of parameters i have created so many different textures on this beauty and find it really inspiring to play.

Despite being one of the first synths with midi it takes advantage of midi CC for control of all sound parameters.
It shares the synth on a chip setup of the akai ax60 but has a sweeter more musical sound to my ears.
patches can be programmed to evolve dramatically with modulation routing.

pads, arpeggios, and mean stacked unison leads/bass are all strengths of this IMHO
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby Chewy » Wed Apr 08, 2015 3:54 am

The SixTrak is a nice synth for sure.

One really cool thing about it (and others from SCI) is that it might be one osc/voice, but they're VCOs! (If I remember correctly) And this was at a time when most other companies were creating DCO synths and digital ones.

And although it's not knob encrusted, it looks pretty easy to edit. The slow envelopes probably wouldn't bother me much either, I think I'd end up using it mainly for pads and strings anyway
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby blavatsky » Thu May 14, 2015 4:30 pm

JX3p w/ PG200 - Nice, sounded a little thin, anemic but liked the sequencer. should have kept - fun to mess with, would not want as my only poly though.

Juno 106 - Currently own; mine is kind of beat up but gorgeous sounding. It's a little basic in terms of what you can do, and single DCO but really opens up with effects (using Kp3, grainshifter/delay/mod helps alot). Not a Jupiter but a lot cheaper

Analog 4- Amazing variety of sounds/routing/mod matrix etc, only 4 notes but can evolve and twist more than more analogs. High , high quality effects add a very nice layer. Annoying amount of menu diving/tiny text for me, takes it down a notch

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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby Sexor » Thu May 28, 2015 5:10 am

This thread may be old, but I'm up for some late night synth-ranting so here goes:

Like so many, I love the Junos, despite their simplicity. I've found the Juno-6 to be my favourite, because it's so pure. The lack of memory means that the sliders always indicate how your sound is, and working with it feels a bit like using an SH-101. I had a 60 but never used the memories so I thought what the h**l, I'll "downgrade". Didn't regret it.

The 106, despite having the same architecture "feels" very different. Not in a bad way, just different. More cold and sterile, like people have said, but very very usable and an unmissable element of any synthesist's arsenal.

The Polysix just drips with character. Had mine midi-fied so I can do sequenced unison basses all day. I don't think these are comparable to the Junos, despite being similar on paper. Much more class, but would somehow never work as one's only synth, like the Junos do.

Jupiter-6... where to start? This is probably my most used synth. It's been at my side for almost a decade now, and I think I've used it in almost every song I've made since I got it. That's something, right? Still, the sound isn't mindblowing... it's more like a big Juno 106 somehow. Incredibly usable and fits into mixes. I will chime in with the others about the resonance. It's awful, and I almost always keep that resonance slider at 0, unless I want to do some weird effects. It somehow just kills the sound completely, sounds very hollow in itself, and brings out the worst stepping you will ever hear. Nothing cool about it.

Sidenote: the Juno6/60 has beautiful resonance, and the few times I've laid my hands on a Jupiter-8, it has felt a bit like having a JP-6 with Juno6/60 filters. Lovely!

Teisco SX-400: Wonderful beast with heaps of character and a lot of sound-sculpting options. Killer ensemble effect and very alive in every way. Sounds like nothing else, and is completely underrated as well. Downside... you will probably never ever find one.

Alpha Junos: My first analog synth as well! Handy to have around, but definitely overshadowed by a lot of better options. Used to tour with one (the smaller version) for a long time, which was a cheap way of having a Roland analog poly sound in a live setting, and easier to haul around than its full-sized siblings. I even had the PG-300 once, but even that was disappointing to use and was sold for the price of a Juno-106. What really makes it annoying to use are the multi-stage envelopes. I have a deep hate for multi-stage envelopes. They make even the simplest of decay curves a h**l to program. This peeve also goes out to you, Mr. Casio CZ-101 and Ms. Yamaha EX-5! Let us have an ADSR for daily use, and make the multi-stage an option!

DSI Mopho X4: Personally, I don't get why people aren't all over these. This is what replaced my AlphaJuno for live use, and it's ace! Very hands on, lovely form factor, and if 4 voices aren't enough, just plop a Tetra onto that little Tetra-shaped space on the panel (nice coincidence!), and then you have something much better than a Prophet8 (which I also don't click with at all).

These are the Polys which I have kept, and are in constant use. Good instruments. Now let's see which ones didn't make the cut:

Akai AX60: I lusted for this one when I was starting out in music but could never find one (they are quite rare in Europe). It was supposed to be some kind of underdog Juno-killer. So years later, after a good drunk ebay session I suddenly found one of these at my doorstep, shipped halfway across the world for double the price of the synth :facepalm: - Anyways, to start with, the looks are to kill for. It's like a Juno's evil twin. Slick, black, red leds and the whole panel is littered with sliders and buttons, beautiful 80's design. Then you start playing it, and you wonder if the sound is coming through a pillow or something, but nope, no pillow in front of the speakers - That's just how it sounds. I tried and tried to like it. For two years I kept giving it second chances, but eventually ended up hating it. The oscillators are just so damn weak, and the filter resonance really only has two modes, the first being "dull" for 98% of the slider action and then "XTREME" for the last 2%. It's one of those great-on-paper synths. I will always cherish the photos I took of it.

Korg Poly800: Has some nice sounds, a few cool quirks, but the interface isn't fun. Still perfectly fine for a lot of applications and I would recommend it to anyone starting out, but for people with a few more capable synths at their disposal it quickly becomes the "why do I even still have this thing"-synth.

SCI Six-Trak: Pretty cool synth, but sonically even more limited than the Junos, and misses the hands-on bus. Cool sequencer, but archaic in its implementation. Programming it gets very tiring very fast, especially if the program buttons are sticky (which happens to all of them sooner or later). Somehow always sounds like an 8bit video game, which can be good but also bad. Form factor is great, because it looks like a Mopho X4! Or wait, was it the other way around?

Akai AX-73: Pretty much the same as the AX60, except you miss the hands-on thing and it's bigger than a door. Why I even had this is still a mystery to me.
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby nathanscribe » Thu May 28, 2015 12:07 pm

Sexor, I think we have similar synth tastes :)

I love my Juno 6 and 60, wish my Jupe-4 worked all the time, want my CS-40m back up and running (2-voice counts as poly, right?) and can't be bothered with multi-stage envelopes.

I've had a Blofeld for about 18 months and am only really starting to get use out of it recently. I blame the interface, and the filters aren't to my taste very much. I tend to use the PPG model, and push it with some clipping drive first. Had some very very close emulations of Juno sounds on there.

DX-7s. FM can be cheesy as heck, but it's still a great synth for punchy basses, percussive clangs, and with the 7s' Poly Unison mode, some surprisingly lush and/or aggressive pads.

Stringers. Love 'em. Korg Lambda is fab.


Things that made me sad:

Oberheim Matrix 6 - nice sound, terrible interface

Korg DW-8000 - actually really liked this, lots, but it overpowered everything else in a way that prevented its fitting in, and had to go. If you want big, digital-wave/VCF sounds, get one of these.

Nord 2x rack - nice idea, useful and flexible, but some of its operational quirks were mindnumbingly counterproductive.

Waldorf XT - sounded great, but despite the knobbage, the controls I *really* wanted were buried in cryptic two-line text menus.

Casio CZ-1000: membrane buttons.

Roland RS-101 stringer: wonderful, except every time I fix it, it breaks somewhere else. I've replaced about 200 parts in this and it's still broken. Literally, now. It's in pieces awaiting a complete rebuild. One day.

I can't even remember what else I've had. I may have overdone it.

Oh wait: MicroKorg. Doorstop with a vocoder on it.
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby CfNorENa » Fri May 29, 2015 10:16 pm

nathanscribe wrote:Waldorf XT - sounded great, but despite the knobbage, the controls I *really* wanted were buried in cryptic two-line text menus.


I agree with this. People always rave about the "knob-laden" XT interface, but that appearance is actually a bit misleading. It makes *tweaking* easy and fun, but serious sound-design --which the XT is just begging for -- requires quite a bit of menu diving.

Nevertheless, still a keeper for me. :keys1:
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby Chewy » Sun May 31, 2015 6:21 am

Thanks for reviving, blavatsky and Sexor (and nathanscribe and CfNorENa, as well)

The original 3 Junos seem to get a lot of praise - even over some esteemed VCO polys. Definitely going to keep this in mind if I get another standalone analog poly. I was actually thinking of a Mono/Poly or Polysix (probably the former) if I do get one in the future, since I've seen some go for semi-reasonable prices compared to other VCO polys, so that's interesting to hear you liked the (original) Junos better than a Polysix.

One thing I like about my Alpha Juno 2 is the waves - like the other Junos (I think?), you can mix waves, but the Alphas also have these cool saws made out of pulse/square waves, at least one of which you can change the pulse width of and apply PWM! Pretty cool to me. I agree about the envelopes - when I make patches, I'm still like :facepalm: when I get to the ENV. Same for my CZ-5000. I think the DW-8000 did multi-segment envelopes better (although, the DW's envs are very different, which is a good thing)

The Teisco SX-400 looks really cool. I remember seeing a video of it a while back, and really liked what I heard and saw.

I agree about the Mopho x4; I don't have one, but I like the specs/features and (from what I can tell from online demos) the sound. It being 4 voices doesn't really bother me, either.

And another non-analog tangent: I think I'd like the Blofeld. Been interested in (dynamic) wavetable synths for a while, but haven't gotten any yet. The interface does not seem prohibitive to me, personally (and yeah, I know, there are some menus), and I like the amount of wavetables available and (IIRC) the modulation options. It'd also probably be one of, if not the, cheapest wavetable synths to get.
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby Sexor » Tue Jun 02, 2015 4:06 pm

Chewy wrote:I was actually thinking of a Mono/Poly


Now that is one boxful of happiness! It may not completely fit the bill for a fully articulated polyphonic synth, but never mind that because it is one of the most inspiring machines I have ever worked with.
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby Pro5 » Thu Jun 25, 2015 9:33 pm

blavatsky wrote:Juno 106 - Currently own; mine is kind of beat up but gorgeous sounding. It's a little basic in terms of what you can do, and single DCO but really opens up with effects (using Kp3, grainshifter/delay/mod helps alot). Not a Jupiter but a lot cheaper


I've got one here now (in almost time-warp condition, original box, manual, casing never been opened (though I will to pre-emptively sort the voice chips perhaps) - very clean) and it's rapidly become my favourite poly synth I've ever owned. So have updated my original post in this thread to include the 106 and adjust my feelings on the other polys in relation to it. Yes it's great with effects, one of the best synths ever and very very useful for just getting on with music! No wonder it's so well loved by professional recording artists who don't have time for spec wars and just want great sound, fast. I prefer it over the 6/60 I had precisely because I feel it's a bit more fluid and workable (so if it sounds less thick or vintage, in this case for me that's good - it works better in my music, the 6/60 are great synths too but for me they were more static somehow... less playable and the tone was harder to work into as many areas unlike the 106). Not a jupiter but I'd take it over a Jupiter 4/6 for my needs. A jupiter 8 would be the only Roland synth I'd even consider in place of it now (and even then I'd keep the 106 around it's just such a great instrument).

Chewy wrote:The original 3 Junos seem to get a lot of praise - even over some esteemed VCO polys. Definitely going to keep this in mind if I get another standalone analog poly.


Yes. With good reason. There is a different feel to the first 3 (to each other) and if you are doing hard hitting fast bass and less variety the 6/60 may be better, but if you are wanting to put it in mixes with more instruments and in a variety of vintage and modern contexts I think the 106 is much better at it. I never fell in love with the 6/60 or even the 3P which I really really liked, but the 106 feels like the first synth I've genuinely loved in a long time. Set up some nice effects and spend all night playing - BLISS. And it literally will fit into any mix somewhere, somehow and enhance it with its full texture.

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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby Chewy » Sat Jun 27, 2015 12:06 am

Pro5 wrote:>>> YMSMV <<< (Your miles *still* may vary) :mrgreen:


Haha! Glad to see you posted again, always like hearing your input!

I would probably be using an analog poly largely for strings and pads, and it sounds like (both from hearing demos and comments of users) the 106 would excel at them.

Pro5 wrote:...if you are doing hard hitting fast bass and less variety the 6/60 may be better...


Yeah, on a semi-related note, I've always found it funny how some people (not you) seem to judge polysynths based on whether or not they can do snappy, hard, mono sounds (punchy, fast ENV/LFO bass, leads, arpeggios/sequences, etc.). I, personally, would just use a monosynth for those, and don't really think it's important for a poly to have those characteristics. If a polysynth does, that's cool, but I definitely don't think it's essential. If a poly has more limited time range LFOs and ENVs, for example, I'd much rather them be slower than faster.

Another thing I like about the Junos - you can still find them for relatively reasonable prices. The high prices of vintage synths nowadays are ridiculous! Even on ones that are supposed to be cheap. I see people on ebay selling JX-8Ps and Alpha Junos for like $500+ now! I got my JU-2 for $300 a couple years ago, with a memory cart, and I thought that was kinda high.

In a couple years, the prices on everything (in terms of vintage synths) have jumped dramatically. The last JP-8 I saw for sale on there was going for $12k. It's obviously an expensive synth, but the prices used to be much lower. There's even people selling the original 3 Junos for like $1200 - $1500 (sometimes even more) regularly. The high prices even seem to extend to non-ebay places now, although you can still get good deals occasionally, even on ebay. I do sometimes see people selling their Juno 6/60/106s* for around $700 in good condition still, though, and it makes me smile. You can tell those guys are musicians, not scummy resellers.

(Kinda long, sorry about that, heh)
*plural, not the speaker version :lol:

I really like how much detail you put into your posts, btw, it's very nice in discussions like these.
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby Pro5 » Sun Jun 28, 2015 12:36 am

Chewy wrote:Yeah, on a semi-related note, I've always found it funny how some people (not you) seem to judge polysynths based on whether or not they can do snappy, hard, mono sounds (punchy, fast ENV/LFO bass, leads, arpeggios/sequences, etc.).

...

I really like how much detail you put into your posts, btw, it's very nice in discussions like these.


Well yes, imagine if all we had was fast punchy synths without the easy ability to just lay back a bit and be a bit less in your face? it would make for music of little contrasts, so all these synths have a place somewhere.


Thanks for the comment on my 'detail'. :lol:
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Re: The thread of many (analog) polys

Postby pinksoir » Sat Aug 15, 2015 10:01 am

Old thread? Sure but there's never a bad time for some synth ranting and raving!

Yamaha SK-20 - My first 'synth' a few years ago and the thing that started the bug. Severely limited but if you like the basic tone of the synth section -- which is raspy, thick, and capable of real bite -- it's a beaut. Paraphonic so it allows for some cool manipulation of the envelope. String synth and (fm?) organ is a bonus and the ensemble and leslie sim (which slows down and speeds up, doesn't switch) is a nice addition, though noisy as h**l. Big and awkward but has that cool late 70s Yamaha fake-wood charm. I'll probably sell this at some point in the near future, though it's not worth much and I do like it,so... I may keep it.

SCI Prophet 600 - Meh. I didn't really gel with it at all and sold it on soon enough after I'd bought it. Cool features on paper but the sound just wasn't to my taste.

Roland JX-3p - Love this synth and will not sell. I had the PG-200 but sold it due to never using it. I like to use CTRLR to program it from my DAW, and it's pretty easy to use the 'push button, slide slider' interface anyway. Plus, I didn't like the feel of the knobs on the PG. Dual osc Roland sound and a lovely filter means this can approach Juno territory (I've approximated a ton of Juno 60 patches and in the mix the difference is negligible) yet do so much more. I reckon I'll do the Kiwi upgrade at some point too. If only it had sliders like its Juno and Jupiter brethren it'd be such a dream, but then it'd be a much more expensive synth so i being how it is means that chumps like me can get a super powerful and gorgeous sounding analog at a very reasonable price.

Yamaha CS50 - This synth was my dream for a long time, then I bought one and it was sublime. It surpassed my expectations, but after a while I started getting bummed out by its 4 note polyphony and lack of MIDI. Eventually I sold it which I massively regret, such a unique instrument in so many ways. Though there were a ton of good reasons to let it go besides the aforementioned - it's bulky and heavy and, in my mind anyway, a ticking time bomb with its proprietary ICs and complex innards. I will most likely be moving around a bit over the next few years (no fixed abode) so something as awkward as a CS50 would be completely impractical. But I made a record which will be out early next year and the CS50 is all over it, so I'm happy that I owned it and recorded with it - the recordings will serve as the best sort of record of me having owned my dream synth.

Oberheim Xpander - Bought this with the funds from my CS50. Not a big fan. In fact, I've been trying to sell it for quite some time now in order to buy or part exchange for a Polysix. I know that's a step down or whatever but the Xpander is overkill for me, doesn't fit with my music at all (not techno/house/whatever, more electronic infused alt/pop stuff) and I reckon the Polysix will be a better spouse to my JX-3p. I guess between this and the P600 it's obvious that the CEM sound just doesn't do it for me.

Teisco SX400 - I bought this unworking cheap from a dude who obviously had it sitting in his bands rehearsal space or something for a looong time. Battery had leaked and fudged up a load of the ICS and boards. Actually, the battery damage isn't catastrophic but the damn thing doesn't make any noise. When I bought it from him it just made this weird resonant swirling on key depression which subsequently stopped and now the thing is as dead as my ex-girlfriend's soul. It's spent numerous hours at a tech who is systematically replacing the ICs, most of which are easy to find but some of which are rare enough. Hopefully I can get it working, but, even still, I think that it might be out the door due to its size and weight. Very rare, though I was interested to see a poster above say he owns one!

I use software quite a bit and I love TAL's Uno-LX which for me gets close enough to the Juno 60 (in the mix) to negate owning one. I mean, a friend has two 60s and they're lovely synths, but the CC-ability of the Uno-LX and the fact its LFO can be clocked means that functionality wise it wins out. When it's eq'd and surrounded by other stuff no one would be able to tell. I'm a firm believer in function over form and keeping things as simple as possible. There's something about the 3p that draws me to it, plus it's MIDI CC-able, so it fits in my workflow. The Polysix too seems to have a certain, as the French say, "I don't know what" which would justify owning one, and its only software emulation is pretty lousy. It won't integrate quite as nicely into my DAW environment, but I think it'll be a nice synth to tweak or play live. Dose SSMs doe. There's a pretty nice software emulation of the JX-8p which sounds pretty lush to my ears though I've never owned an 8p myself by all accounts it gets pretty damn close. For those few things the 8p does well it may well be the ticket.

All that to say, I've owned a few synths and in that time learned what I reckon will work best for me. 2 main analog poly synths along with my couple of mono synths. I want an FM rack synth too (surely I can do that in software? I dunno, I'm still inexplicably drawn to hardware), but I'm happy with a hybrid approach for the rest. The way I see it and how I work, my DAW is also an instrument for me. I'd be happy entirely ITB, but I like the luxury of hardware though I feel the need to reign in my gear lust lest it become uncontrollable.
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