"Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

A forum for comparing two or more synths against each other. Also known as "versus" threads.
Post Reply
User avatar
ZeeOne
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 72
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:52 am
Gear: Just guitars for now
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

"Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by ZeeOne » Fri Apr 17, 2015 8:08 am

I want to buy a new(er) keyboard but since Roland insist that they can't sell the JD-Xa for less than 2 grand and/or make a budget version with adult-size keys and DSI can't make a poly without semi-weighted keys and wooden end pieces, I'm forced to look at VAs and the like. Here's what I've been looking at:

Roland Gaia: Lots of knobs, and the fact that it has no screen means no menu-diving, which I hate. But at the same time, it only has 37 keys, which I'm not a fan of.

Roland Juno-Di: Sounds great and has a full 61 keys, but very limited front panel editability.

M-Audio Venom: VERY cheap on the used market (often less than than $400) and sounds very good, but requires the editor software to access all the parameters. I prefer things to be self-contained.

Waldorf Blofeld: The inclusion of PCM sounds as well as wavetables is good, plus it has enough knobs to be enjoyable to edit. But at over 7 years old now, it is getting toward outdated. That having been said, who could really resist a synth named after James Bond's original arch enemy?

Korg KingKorg: I miss the robust 61-key form factor of my old Z1, and it's a Korg, so I'd be getting a little bit of that in a more up to date package. The tube is an interesting touch. It's a bit overpriced new, but it can be found at reasonable used prices. But my main guitar is gold (it is a darker shade of gold, though), and having a gold synth as well seems a bit too blingy...

Studiologic Sledge: Oh my, look at all the knobs :mrgreen: ! I like that it has a full 61 keys and that it's bright yellow as well (don't ask). But it's also big, and I don't have that much space at the moment.

Novation UltraNova: This one sounds really good, and is very affordable both new and used. The vocoder could also be fun to mess around with, but I don't necessary NEED that. Also, like the Gaia it's only 37 keys. Boo.

Casio XW-P1: OK yeah, it's a Casio, but it sounds really good. I have my aunt's old CZ-1000 and when it works ( :lol: ) it's nice instrument. My first keyboard was a consumer-grade Casio LK-30 (I've actually still got it and drag it out from time to time). The XW-P1 is Casio's first real(ish) synth in years, so they're to be commended for that. But supposedly it isn't easy to edit, and it IS a Casio, a company whose real bread and butter is calculators, watches, and the like, so that vibe will always be hanging over it to me...

Thoughts/comments/suggestions?

User avatar
moodorf
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 175
Joined: Sat Feb 15, 2014 8:50 pm
Gear: Little Phatty (needs repair)
Blofeld
DSI Prophet 08
Ensoniq SQ80
Pittsburgh Modular System 10
Renoise
FL
Location: Western NY

Re: "Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by moodorf » Fri Apr 17, 2015 5:41 pm

My vote goes for the Blofeld.

User avatar
Jabberwalky
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 2151
Joined: Fri Apr 01, 2005 6:03 pm
Gear: A hybrid of vintage and modern junk
Band: Variar
Location: Pgh, PA
Contact:

Re: "Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by Jabberwalky » Fri Apr 17, 2015 6:46 pm

Ultranova, or Blofeld.

User avatar
Stab Frenzy
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 9723
Joined: Tue Jun 06, 2006 5:41 pm
Gear: Eurorack, RYTM, Ultranova, many FX
Location: monster island*
Contact:

Re: "Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:49 am

Jabberwalky wrote:Ultranova, or Blofeld.
Yep.

User avatar
silikon
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 1247
Joined: Mon Jul 31, 2006 1:21 am
Real name: Ms. Jackson
Gear: Random bullshit with knobs and buttons.
Band: Year with no summer
Location: East.
Contact:

Re: "Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by silikon » Sat Apr 18, 2015 3:32 am

Ultranova. Compact, amazingly deep, great sound. I wish I had more time with one to get into it deeper.

Runner up if you had space: Sledge. For me the downside is that it's all a big heap of elongated plastic. I guess I expected some heft to it. But then it is light and will gig easier than say, dragging along a Voyager. Not quite as diverse in the wavetable department as a Blofeld (especially one with the sample option), but I have to say, this machine sounds way different than I was expecting; In a good way. 3 Oscillators (one wavetable) with sync on 2 and 3; 12/24db LP/BP/HP Filter, onboard effects that are NOT terrible (flange, chorus, reverb, delay, and phaser) and a reasonably flexible EG on both filter and amp. The sledge is also no larger than any other given 61-key board... perhaps slightly less wide.

If none of these seem to suit you, you might want to look into a Roland V-Synth (I believe one is still for sale in the FS thread, by the way)... most of the programming magic happens on the touch panel, but it's amazingly intuitive, and any menu diving... well... the interface is really clean. I never found it obtrusive. Sounds wonderful and wildly programmable.

I can't really say much for the other picks you have as I've never had time in front of them.
echo 1 > /dev/awesome

User avatar
meatballfulton
Moderator
Moderator
Posts: 5793
Joined: Wed Apr 13, 2005 9:29 pm
Gear: Logic Pro X

Re: "Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by meatballfulton » Sat Apr 18, 2015 12:15 pm

Juno Di is sample based, not VA.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

User avatar
Psy_Free
Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 818
Joined: Thu Aug 17, 2006 6:36 pm
Gear: Synths 'n' stuff.
Band: Klangzeit
Location: UK
Contact:

Re: "Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by Psy_Free » Sat Apr 18, 2015 1:09 pm

Ultranova & Blofeld. You can pick up the pair 2nd hand for £500-550 ($750-830) or so.

They make an awesome pair.
"Any noise is good. For what is a different matter"
Bandcamp 1
Bandcamp 2
Soundcloud

User avatar
Percivale
Junior Member
Junior Member
Posts: 227
Joined: Mon Sep 09, 2013 1:56 am
Gear: Blofeld, Juno-106, AN1X, MB-6582/SEQ V4, etc
Location: SG Synthesizers Group
Contact:

Re: "Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by Percivale » Sat Apr 18, 2015 4:14 pm

KingKorg, Ultranova or Blofeld - in no particular order :)

User avatar
ZeeOne
Newbie
Newbie
Posts: 72
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:52 am
Gear: Just guitars for now
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

Re: "Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by ZeeOne » Mon Apr 20, 2015 7:53 am

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I know nearly everyone here has said the Blofeld, but I think I might scratch that one off the list. From the demo videos I've seen, it seems like a lot of menu diving is involved in crafting sounds, even though the most commonly used parameters are editable right from the front panel. Also, it sounds kind of "cold" to my ears...I know it's digital, but it seems like some VAs sound warmer than others, and IMO the Blofeld is one of the others.

User avatar
pflosi
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 3620
Joined: Tue Nov 13, 2007 6:14 pm
Gear: more than 150 characters...
Location: zürich
Contact:

Re: "Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by pflosi » Mon Apr 20, 2015 10:52 am

What a rare moment of consensus on this board :) Ultranova and/or Blofeld for sure.

Rick N Boogie
Active Member
Active Member
Posts: 304
Joined: Sat Feb 19, 2011 3:45 pm
Real name: Alan
Gear: MEK/Blofeld/Phatty/JP08/DrumBrute/ER1
Basses/synth fx galore
Band: no.one.won
Location: Dallas, TX
Contact:

Re: "Affordable" Modern Synth Showdown

Post by Rick N Boogie » Tue Apr 21, 2015 4:32 pm

Blofeld is actually a breeze to edit, very smartly set up UI. Yes, it can sound cold, but doesn't have to. I kept my Blofeld KB over a Virus KB, if that says anything.
Bassist, synth junkie

Post Reply