Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

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Suprastin
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Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Suprastin » Tue May 12, 2015 4:55 pm

Hello, comrades!

I'm from Russia and there are not a lot of professional forums about synths, and, unfortunately, the culture of sound design here is at the very beginning nowadays, as distinct from the Occident and Japan with it's modern technologies, but I believe, that someday it will reach almost the same level, heh.

But this was just a lyrical digression. Returning to the topic, I want to notice, that I play space-rock, post-rock, alternative and sometimes even shoegaze, so I need a synth mainly for fat warm pads and atmospheric sounds.

So I'd like to hear any suggestions about synthesizers from the subject of a topic:
on the one hand there are Roland Jp-8000, Waldorf Blofeld, Yamaha An1x, which all are virtual analog type of synths and on the other hand there is vintage Italian synth from sweet 80s: Elka Ek-22 which is analog: VCF of it is based on the classic Curtis cem3396 chips, which are used in the legendary Oberheim Matrix-6, for example; although the oscillators of Elka Ek-22 are digitally controlled (DCOs) for better stability and programmability. Unfortunately, I don't have any possibility to hear all these synths before the purchase. But I've been very impressed by some demos on YouTube and description of Elka EK-22.
All synths are near the same price, because I prefer buying pre-owned (used) musical instruments. And it's a real good deal, I think, to get an Italian analog synth in Russia only for 400 euros. And, for example on eBay Elka EK-22 costs almost twice as expensive as the one I was lucky to find in my country.
I'll be glad to hear your advices.
Thanks!

Best regards,
Nikolay
Last edited by Suprastin on Thu May 14, 2015 11:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Jabberwalky » Thu May 14, 2015 10:58 pm

Hi welcome to VSE. If you're looking for warm and fat pads and atmospheric sounds, you'll want a pretty deep engine and you can't go wrong with the An1x. I've owned the Blofeld, and the Matrix6 as well.

An1x: Great for all sorts of sounds, but you can stack two patches, giving you 4 oscillators. It sounds very nice, and quite warm (soft). It is also modern enough to integrate with midi and a sequencer. I like the keys, and wheels. The rest is kinda plastic.

Blofeld: Also a great choice. Obviously this is a desktop, so it's good on space. The sounds are really nice, and high resolution. It doesn't actually sound that warm to me. I would say it's somewhere in between digital and analog. It has a really deep engine, and it's very nice for hours of experimentation.

Matrix6: Very nice sounding synth. The CEM chips are cool as well. Unfortunately, editing it is not very fun at all. You can push button arrows for data entry. The synth is very deep as well. Incredible amount of weird features you don't find on other synths of the 80s. I never liked the Oberheim paddles personally, but the keys were ok.

Hope any of that helps.

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Suprastin » Thu May 14, 2015 11:52 pm

Jabberwalky wrote: Matrix6: Very nice sounding synth. The CEM chips are cool as well. Unfortunately, editing it is not very fun at all. You can push button arrows for data entry. The synth is very deep as well. Incredible amount of weird features you don't find on other synths of the 80s. I never liked the Oberheim paddles personally, but the keys were ok.

Hope any of that helps.
Oh, thank's a lot! Something became clear.

And I want to notice that Elka EK-22 has an advantage in editing over Matrix 6. It consists, first of all, in a "value" slider instead of arrow buttons in Matrix 6. But I'm not sure in a real similarity of sound between EK-22 and Matrix 6. And, unfortunately, there are not enough good demos of EK-22 on YouTube, so I have some doubts.
Also, I don't know how Elka EK-22 is in a comparison with other synthesizers: with An1x because An1x sounds really warm and rich, as I hear opinions of different synth enthusiasts, despite it's virtual analog; with Blofeld, because there are lots of atmospheric weird sounds, like there are little aliens living inside of it, so Blofeld is very interesting for me; and with Jp-8000, because it's very friendly-controlled: really generous amount of regulators. Yeah, and Elka is not very easy to control: for example, I often use cut-off filter and need handy access to this function: not through the key numbers and only then by the "value" slider. But Elka lures me in case of it's not a VA, it's true analog and it seems to be better in many sides, of course.
So, I'm a bit perplexed...

P.s. As for me - advantage in the sound (like analog warmness, depth and lushness) is on the first place and friendliness of the interface and possibility of easy live-editing is on the second place.
It's because I'm mainly the studio musician in my personal project, where I play alone; it's something like "one-man-band" and I'm ready to spend enough time to programming synth if it will be necessary.

Thank you once again!

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by meatballfulton » Fri May 15, 2015 1:12 pm

Suprastin wrote:
Jabberwalky wrote: Elka is not very easy to control: for example, I often use cut-off filter and need handy access to this function: not through the key numbers and only then by the "value" slider.
Most synths programmed in that fashion do not allow real time control of cutoff with the programming slider. The cutoff change does not happen until you play a new note.

The only way to tweak cutoff in real time would be if you can map mod wheel or an expression pedal to cutoff. I have no idea if the Elka allows this. The Matrix 6 probably does, but read the manual to be sure. Otherwise, you have to let an EG or LFO do it for you.

In this respect, the AN1x and Blofeld are superior since they have real knobs.
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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Suprastin » Fri May 15, 2015 5:23 pm

meatballfulton wrote: In this respect, the AN1x and Blofeld are superior since they have real knobs.
Dear meatballfulton! Thank you for the answer.

And I have an idea to use EK-22 with Korg Kaoss Pad 2 to control cutoff easy and in a real time, because it has some nice low-pass and high-pass filters. May be it will not be a traditional way to control filters, and even a bit weird, but it's really handy, I think. But unfortunately, the knob "hold" on my Kaoss Pad doesn't work, and it is very useful knob, so it will not be possible to play both hands on synth and make filter stay in the position, that you need; till the third hand will grow and put the finger on the Kaoss pad again. Heh, do you understand me? I hope.
So, may be in that way, to control cutoff with Kaoss is not as usual as with the classical knob, and to control resonance is not even possible (as I think).

And do you think it will be a good decision to make a simple VCF by myself and to integrate it in Elka EK-22 for a handy real-time control? Like a Moog Slayer Mod on Korg Poly-800, for example, but if I don't know how to do the same mod on Elka, I will be forced to make a new VCF for it. What do you think? Is it a good idea?
Last edited by Suprastin on Fri May 15, 2015 7:17 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Chewy » Fri May 15, 2015 7:10 pm

Welcome to the VSE! There are some good replies, I just figured I'd add a little bit of my input

All of those seem like pretty good synths, I know a lot of people really like the An1x, and I can see why. I own the JP-8000, and it's pretty nice. A little "thin" sounding sometimes, but it's not bad, and it's got some cool features, like the variety of waves and corresponding different parameters on OSC 1. There's the (in)famous supersaw with control over detune and mix, "triangle mod" with offset and LFO 1 depth parameters, noise (more standard, but with additional cutoff and resonance controls), feedback osc with control over harmonics and feedback, of course a pulse wave, with manual control over width and PWM (again, more standard, but still nice), a saw wave with shape and LFO 1 depth parameters (which I find kinda neat, I think it's fairly unique), and a regular old triangle wave. There's also a random wave on LFO 1 (for sample and hold type sounds), and LFO 2 can be assigned to pitch, filter, and amp, each with their own rate and depth settings. OSC 2 has more standard waves: pulse with manual control of width and PWM amount, saw, and triangle; OSC 2 can be synced to OSC 1, and also ring modulated. The knob/slider per function interface is excellent, as well.

The Blofeld is far more than a VA. Of course, you can do standard kinda VA stuff with it, but the main thing is that it has many dynamic wavetables, which are awesome. There's also extensive modulation, and the editing matrix looks very simple. It seems like if you have to go into menus more, you don't have to dive too far.

An1x seems to be a nice, full sounding VA with some nice features up its sleeve.

The EK-22 of course, is an analog DCO polysynth, and if you want warm pads, you can't really go too wrong with an analog. It won't have as many features as the others, but it will sound different. You could look into other inexpensive 80s DCO polys as well, as they are numerous (kinda like VAs now, heh), and some are really nice. For more hands-on editing, you could get a knob-encrusted MIDI controller and download some templates for it, if the synth you're going to use can be edited over MIDI.

All of them would be good choices, I think. I say just get what has the right combination of specs/features, editing, and sound for you

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Suprastin » Fri May 15, 2015 7:50 pm

Chewy wrote: All of them would be good choices, I think. I say just get what has the right combination of specs/features, editing, and sound for you
Thank you for the detailed answer!
I'd like to say, that now I'm totally fed up with digital synths, like yamaha dx-7 (which is a beautiful sounding synth, however) and Roland d-50, for example, which is a legendary one too. And all I want from the synth is warmness without ever little innuendo on thin and polish sound. So, I've decided that Blofeld is not my cup of tea. And also I have some doubts about VA-synthesizers.
But, unfortunately, at this time there are no really alternative to Elka EK-22 in sale here, in Russia. And if I'll decide to buy synth on eBay, oh, then delivery from other countries will cost me half-price of the synth. So the choice isn't as wide as I want...
Last edited by Suprastin on Fri May 15, 2015 10:46 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Chewy » Fri May 15, 2015 9:27 pm

Ah OK, I understand. I personally think it's a good idea to have both analog and digital synths (and even hybrids. I like having all 3 different kinds, it makes for a versatile setup with many different sounds), but I can see why you'd feel that way.

And yeah, shipping costs can be a pain in the a*s! Especially if it's a vintage synth going to a different country. I would say, since you can get that EK-22 for a good price, go for it! It may not be as "fat" as VCO polys (but that doesn't mean DCO polys sound bad, and they can still be fat. The only analog poly I have is an Alpha Juno 2, which is also a DCO synth, and I quite like it), but it should still give you the sounds you're after, and do so fairly well.

Let us know what you get, and have fun!

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Suprastin » Fri May 15, 2015 11:56 pm

Chewy wrote:Ah OK, I understand. I personally think it's a good idea to have both analog and digital synths (and even hybrids. I like having all 3 different kinds, it makes for a versatile setup with many different sounds), but I can see why you'd feel that way.

And yeah, shipping costs can be a pain in the a*s! Especially if it's a vintage synth going to a different country. I would say, since you can get that EK-22 for a good price, go for it! It may not be as "fat" as VCO polys (but that doesn't mean DCO polys sound bad, and they can still be fat. The only analog poly I have is an Alpha Juno 2, which is also a DCO synth, and I quite like it), but it should still give you the sounds you're after, and do so fairly well.

Let us know what you get, and have fun!
Thank you so much! It is very helpful information.
I'll surely write here, when I'll get synth. And it will be in a month, when I'll save up enough money for it :)

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by philip » Sun May 24, 2015 6:42 pm

Suprastin wrote:Hello, comrades!

I'm from Russia and there are not a lot of professional forums about synths, and, unfortunately, the culture of sound design here is at the very beginning nowadays, as distinct from the Occident and Japan with it's modern technologies, but I believe, that someday it will reach almost the same level, heh.

But this was just a lyrical digression. Returning to the topic, I want to notice, that I play space-rock, post-rock, alternative and sometimes even shoegaze, so I need a synth mainly for fat warm pads and atmospheric sounds.

So I'd like to hear any suggestions about synthesizers from the subject of a topic:
on the one hand there are Roland Jp-8000, Waldorf Blofeld, Yamaha An1x, which all are virtual analog type of synths and on the other hand there is vintage Italian synth from sweet 80s: Elka Ek-22 which is analog: VCF of it is based on the classic Curtis cem3396 chips, which are used in the legendary Oberheim Matrix-6, for example; although the oscillators of Elka Ek-22 are digitally controlled (DCOs) for better stability and programmability. Unfortunately, I don't have any possibility to hear all these synths before the purchase. But I've been very impressed by some demos on YouTube and description of Elka EK-22.
All synths are near the same price, because I prefer buying pre-owned (used) musical instruments. And it's a real good deal, I think, to get an Italian analog synth in Russia only for 400 euros. And, for example on eBay Elka EK-22 costs almost twice as expensive as the one I was lucky to find in my country.
I'll be glad to hear your advices.
Thanks!

Best regards,
Nikolay
Че это в России блять нет форумов о синтах? Да полно. На Молине бы мог создать тему, мы б тебе набросали ответов))

Anyways,get the ANx1, these are ridiculously cheap for what they are.

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Percivale » Mon May 25, 2015 12:09 pm

I have owned the JP-8000 and still have the AN1X and Blofeld. No experience with the Elka. I would say for warm pads and atmospheric sounds in one machine - take the Blofeld. Maybe you can put in an analogue filter somewhere along the audio chain.

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Suprastin » Sat May 30, 2015 11:40 am

philip wrote: Че это в России блять нет форумов о синтах? Да полно. На Молине бы мог создать тему, мы б тебе набросали ответов))

Anyways,get the ANx1, these are ridiculously cheap for what they are.
Во-первых, я не знаю, что такое "Молин" или как там, а во-вторых я не так давно в этой теме, потому что я гитарист и гитарных форумов, например, больше, а из клавишных - только на musicforums видел, но там все как-то не очень активно. В общем, я, скорее всего, неправ, просто, увы, не получилось найти русскоязычный форум, где можно было бы пообсуждать синтезаторы.
Приятно видеть здесь соотечественника!

Recently I've heard that "AN1x had horrible steppy filters when the resonance was high, due to low controller resolution".
Percivale wrote:I have owned the JP-8000 and still have the AN1X and Blofeld. No experience with the Elka. I would say for warm pads and atmospheric sounds in one machine - take the Blofeld. Maybe you can put in an analogue filter somewhere along the audio chain.
Thank you for advice.

Ok, guys, help me please to make a decision! Now I choose between Roland Jx8p and Elka EK-22. First of all for lush and warm pads. Unfortunately, there are no possibility to try them and to compare the character of sound

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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Kenneth » Fri Oct 16, 2015 3:51 pm

I used to have the Roland Jp-8000 and I loved the sound. Beautiful, silky smooth rain showers of misty supersaw. Can't make that thing sound bad! That being said, its engine is more limited than the others. Basic, in a way, but it's an absolute joy to program with every parameter being available for tweaking on the panel with its own dedicated knob or slider. I will probably buy another one eventually. There's also the desktop version, the JP-8080, which I have heard is built a bit better than the keyboard unit. Metal instead of plastic. That might be what you want.
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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Walter Ego » Mon Oct 19, 2015 1:59 pm

I owned an EK-22 for a short time, but DISCLAIMER: I am not an authority on it. I sold it after a short time. But, I actually had one in my possession, which most people have not.

The other synths on your list are all better made than the EK-22. Build quality is quite low. It's 61 keys, but the chassis is 100% plastic. It will get mushed up and dinged up quickly. Most pics of EK-22's floating around feature them in horrible shape. It's just very hard to keep it in nice shape.

Internally, corners were cut as well. When I got mine, I got it very cheap because one of the fuses had blown and the guy I bought it from thought it was broken. I looked at the fuses--there are three in the power supply and one had blown. It was a $2.40 repair job, so very cheap, but the point was that it had blown after the guy left it running for a couple hours. Not the most robust. At first, the VCF in one of the voices was wonky also. But a tuning procedure fixed that for the time being.

Though I used it briefly as a MIDI controller in a class I was teaching, I have read the MIDI implementation is quite poor as well--not just basic, but poor. In other words, the CPU cannot keep up if you are sequencing it externally. It lags and glitches. So if you ever plan on sequencing it externally, it may give you problems there, as well.

The parameters are all laid out on the front panel so you know how to access them. But it's still a real pain to edit/program. And I don't mind programming my Poly-800 or MicroKorg--but this one just didn't click.

While it does have a certain amount of sonic character, it is somewhat limited. Don't forget, DCO's of that era were simpler and the saw wave character is "steppier" due to low resolution in the digital clocking (someone may be able to prove me wrong here, but I believe it's similar to the DCO's of the Poly-800, less so those of the Roland JUNO series).

To sum up. Yes, it is rare, and yes, it is analog, and yes, it has those vaunted Curtis chips in the filters. But...the sonic palette is quite narrow--murky, dark, hollow. Territory already covered by more flexible machines from the same era. Ultimately, if your heart is set on it, go for it. I found the negatives outweighed the positives for me.
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Re: Jp-8000 vs Blofeld vs An1x vs Elka EK-22

Post by Kenneth » Tue Apr 05, 2016 4:27 am

Update: I now own an AN1x, and would like to compare it to the JP-8000.

JP has a wonderful interface through which to interact with the sound. Knob per function, expressive mod controls for the left hand, and a lovely, shimmering sound full of movement and life. It is also extremely limited for a somewhat modern VA synth (only one LFO, less than flexible mod routing, feedback wave forces you into mono mode, high-speed LFO modulating results in ugly glitches and discordant mess, etc.). Those limitations may aid you in the creative process or hinder you. Everyone is different.

AN1x offers a slightly less friendly interface, in exchange for a hugely more flexible engine, and, arguably, a more beautiful and musical overall tone (I have heard the word "sublime" used to describe the sonic character of the AN1x, and I can't think of a better way to put it myself). The first thing that hit me about this synth was the fact that it can handle quite extreme audio-range modulations without glitching out, and even sounds quite musical doing things like this. That's not common for a VA synth, or even a real analog synth. Being made by Yamaha, I suppose it should come as no surprise that the AN1x is very capable of DX-type FM sounds, even if the FM engine is different from the DX line (easier!). AN1x is also capable of multitimbrality (using more than one sound per patch). There are numerous ways of setting this up, including keyboard split, layering two sounds to each voice, and "unison", which I am not completely sure on the details of. Overall, I think this synth offers a more profound and satisfying musical journey than any other VA synth I have owned, certainly more so than the JP. Highly recommended.
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