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Cheapest SuperNATURAL-style synthesizers

Posted: Mon Jan 27, 2020 5:20 pm
by Mattew96
Hi forum!

Bit of a change of pace for me around here. I am helping my old high school acquire the correct equipment they need for their musical theatre program.

Basically it's a fairly large program, and the pit band uses a full set of band instruments except for string instruments. The string instruments are filled with keyboards, and there are typically also 2 "keys" parts.

Somewhere along the way, they decided to purchase a complement of stage pianos/home pianos, as they are versatile in the rest of the year when they are not being used for the musical, but this year illustrated just how inappropriate they are as controllers, ESPECIALLY for string instruments.

So the budget is relatively low here, however being an older school they have some vintage equipment that I can sell for them to create a better budget.

What I will be selling:
2x Korg X5D (well used) (est. $400 CAD each)
1x Roland U20 (keyboard issues, I will be repairing it) (est. $200 CAD)
1x Roland FP 10 (audio out currently broken, I will be repairing it) (est. $1200 CAD)
1x Roland R-8 (like new in box) (est. $400 CAD)

If lucky, will get an extra $1k thrown in.
Total budget:
$2600 - $3600 CAD
$1972 - $2730 USD
$1510 - $2091 GBP

What I need:
Priority 1:
2x standalone synthesizers with GOOD string sounds. Like, authentic individual instruments, as if a single Violinist/Cellist were playing, not necessarily a group string sound. This year I gave them the use of my Integra-7 and the SuperNATURAL sound engine was perfect for this case. I am less familiar with competitors to the SuperNATURAL engine from Korg and Yamaha which is why I am asking.
Don't need to have tons of keys - even a 49 key solution would probably be adequate if it exists.
They must not be computer-based solutions. The teachers want standalone hardware that does not depend on a computer.
Using an Integra-7 or other MIDI module is not ideal as my old teachers are not super tech-savvy nor do they want to spend too much time learning. It has to boot up and "just work". The only reason the Integra worked this year is because I was there to help set it up.

Priority 2:
2x performance synthesizers with GOOD everything sounds and the ability to make versatile performance sets. My personal preference lies with the Jupiter 50, but if anyone can recommend a cheaper alternative with at least 76 keys, extremely realistic sounds, and a lower price-point, please do give me your advice. These synths are less important as they can be substituted with a computer-based solution if my budget gets overrun.

My school prefers Roland products, but it's not a hard exclusion.
Used synths are fine, new synths are 20% off list price due to a deal with a local music store.

Thank you for your assistance!

Re: Cheapest SuperNATURAL-style synthesizers

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 3:43 pm
by Mattew96
Looking at the Korg Kross 2. Anyone have any experience with the orchestral sounds from this synth? it seems to be a great way to keep a similar, familiar package size to the Korg X5D's I'm looking to replace, but with updated sounds and features. I'm struggling to find orchestral examples though.

Re: Cheapest SuperNATURAL-style synthesizers

Posted: Thu Jan 30, 2020 11:59 pm
by Ashe37
what about the current Juno or FA-06?

Re: Cheapest SuperNATURAL-style synthesizers

Posted: Fri Jan 31, 2020 8:15 pm
by Mattew96
Thank you for your response!

I could be mistaken, but as I understand it both of those use what I deem to be rather poor PCM samples. If I'm not mistaken, the Juno and FA sounds are based on the XV soundset? Or more on the nose, would be equivalent to what I already hear from the PCM section of my Integra-7?

I am looking for a modeling sound engine that specifically caters to orchestral sounds and it really needs to be on par with the Jupiter-50/80 Integra-7 solo strings.

My next look is going to be at the Yamaha MX series and Korg PS-60. Again, need to find them in the wild and evaluate, but being cut-down flagships is a good indicator that they may have a better catering to the orchestral realm while being (in these cases) *very* cheap. Then again, they might be no better than the Juno DS-series.

Re: Cheapest SuperNATURAL-style synthesizers

Posted: Mon Feb 03, 2020 3:24 pm
by Mattew96
I bought a used Yamaha MX49 for $475 CAD.
It's very impressive! I need to edit the stock sounds a little, but the bare bones are quite awesome, especially for the price. What I am missing most is the instrument emulation, like mono/poly depending on whether two notes are played simultaneously or legato, but for the price it might end up being a very good solution. I'm going to play around with the editor a little and see if I can get it working to my tastes. It's mainly lacking in the pizzicato and tremolo solo strings area.

Re: Cheapest SuperNATURAL-style synthesizers

Posted: Mon Apr 13, 2020 1:10 pm
by meatballfulton
Mattew96 wrote:
Fri Jan 31, 2020 8:15 pm
If I'm not mistaken, the Juno and FA sounds are based on the XV soundset?
The FA series has both the XV and Supernatural sound engines. It can even load Integra patches.