READ THIS if you're looking at choosing a new synth!

A forum for discussing the pros & cons of buying a particular synth and for advice on buying synthesizers.
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Post by tombola » Mon Jan 09, 2006 6:31 pm

Always buy second hand.

I use eBay like a lending library for music gear.

For example:
Fancy a Microwave XT? Buy one.
Find you can't be bothered with trying to program it? Sell it.

Can't decide between a MS2000 and an Alesis Ion?
Buy the one you like the look of most.
If you don't like it, sell it and buy the other.


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Post by Mig21 » Sat Jan 14, 2006 1:08 am

I did read through this thread, so hopefully,I won't anger anyone with my question. After reading many reviews, I have decided to make the Roland MV-8000 the centrepiece of my hip-hop production rig. After going through the same process, I copped a Yamaha RY 30 to make drum sounds and not always rely on sampling them (I wanted an R8, but they are too pricey). Now, I want to get a synth to compliment my sampling. I want one that can preferably do it all; bass, piano, and other instruments like the sax, and so on. Really, I want one that has great pianos and bass, one with many kinds of bass and pianos, but more importantly, thick bass and old, soulful sounding piano sounds. For instance, I really like the keys in the Rocky soundtrack. I haven't completely ruled out getting two synths, one for bass, and the other for piano sounds.

To show you guys that I've done some research, I am strongly considering the Alesis QS6.1. It is supposed to have a wide range of sounds, but the piano sounds in particular are supposed to be good. And its a lot of bang for the buck too. I've also read good things about the Novation K Station, especially its bass sounds. The Ensoniq Halo also sounds good to me.

I want to make hip-hop that isn't poppy, but more soulful, jazzy, and classic. So I would appreciate it if people could comment on the synths I suggested or suggest other ones to me.

I will say, it is hard to have discipline sometimes. I'f I'm willing to spend $1000.00, why not $1100.00, and then $1500.00? Sometimes its hard to draw a line for money to spend and number of things to buy. I plan to dedicate myself to just the instruments I mentioned above and whatever synth I end up getting for the foreseeable future.

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Post by Astarael » Wed Jan 25, 2006 1:10 am

** my question may have already been answered in this thread, but i've already posted it in many other forums, and it's much easier to just copy-paste. therefore, i'm sorry if i've pissed anyone off... **

I'll begin by saying that i play mostly jazz/blues/classical piano (and a bit of hammond here and there), and am not too familiar with all the little details in the world of synths. therefore, feel free to correct me if i've got anything wrong.
i currently own a Yamaha CS2X which has served me well so far in the rock band i play in, in which i mostly use lead, pad, and organ patches. i only tried it with MIDI about once or twice, because up to now i havent been that interested, and the keyboard for me was mainly for gigging.
my main problem is that the patches just aren't doing it for me anymore, no matter how much i tweak them. I thought of solving these problems with a rack, but then figured that while i'm at it, i might as well solve a few other problems. I would be extremely greatful if you could help me find a synth which integrates the following:

* a large variety of organic patches (ensembles, flutes, reeds, strings, etc.) OR sample capability.
* a large variety of synth pads and leads, accompanied by a good editing option and as much as possible real-time analog control (the CS2X had these, but they were limeted to the very basics: LPF cutoff, HPF cutoff, etc.- and these were not very realistic). basically what i'm looking for is a lead section that with the right tweaking could give me a Wakeman/Emerson kind of organic analog-imitation warm sound, as well as a Rudess/Moore sort of lead sound
* a good organ section. Ideally, I'd go for a synth which is a proper B-3 clone, with drawbars, C/V, percussion, and all- but I realise that there are very few synths which have these features as well as all the others i have stated.
* pitch and modulation WHEELS, and not joystic. call it fussy or whatever you want, i just couldn't get the hang of those joystics. however, i don't mean by this criteria to rule out Korg, Roland, or any of the others which have a joystics- i could always get a rack and a controller keyboard.
* while I'm on the subject of the actual keyboard, I'm looking for a 61- 88 keyboard with a more comfortable touch than the notorious Yamaha "click". I once played an Access Virus KB, and the touch was fantastic. that's the kind i'm looking for. I'm not sure, but it may be what's reffered to as 'semi-weighted'. in any case, i'm not looking for 'fully weighted' touch cause that would get in the way with the hammonds.
* A ribbon controller. after listening to loads of Emerson, Rudess, and a few local artists, i decided i've got to try it. mind you, i've heard that Kurz does those as seperate MIDI expansions..
*I recently started exploring MIDI, so I'm looking for something with full MIDI capabilities, but i guess that goes without saying these days.

So far I've had my eyes on the K2661, or the Alesis Andromeda (it's a shame that if you add the cost shipping to the middle-east to these already expensive synths, I might as well buy a private jet).

oh yeah, i'd love it if someone could refer me to an article or somewhere wehre i can read about sequencing. thanx.

that's about it. thanks very much in advance,

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Post by Radio24 » Wed Jan 25, 2006 2:39 am

Mig21- i own an Alesis QS 8.2 and i love it. Its very similar to the 6.1 only newer and has 88 keys. The quadrasynth series have great sounds though- The basses are awesome and so are the pianos are good, but i would recommend getting one of the Q-cards, which have awesome sounds Jazz piano Q-card [im not sure if thats the name, but its something along those lines], which is going to be incredibly hard to find :/ but im sure you can do it with some research. I believe there is also another Piano (classical maybe?) Q-card which might be a bit easier. You could also try and find the alesis NanoPiano.. specs are on the VSE archives

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Post by ThinkMan » Tue Feb 14, 2006 3:16 am

tombola wrote:Always buy second hand.

I use eBay like a lending library for music gear. (...)
Buy the one you like the look of most.
If you don't like it, sell it and buy the other.

that's what I do! hehe

I agree with most of what was said so far. I like to add:
** if this is your first synth, you will need something with an easy interface (dedicated knobs and sliders), so that you can experiment and learn how different parameters affect the sound.

Suggestions: if you're interested in microKorg, save a little more and get Korg MS-2000b instead (same sound engine, excellent interface though)
or if you like the Micron get the Alesis Ion (again same engine, minus Reverb DSP and Drum sequencer, but you get lots of knobs!!)
and if you want to spend more check out the Nord Lead 1, 2 or 3; (the latter has the most straight forward VA synth interface ever!)


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Re: READ THIS if your looking at choosing a new synth!

Post by case » Fri Feb 17, 2006 1:12 am

Synthacon wrote:Right, this forum is slowly turning in to "What should I buy???"
So how about following a few of these tips.... <snip>
C'mon people, this list is as good as any - and probably better than most - and may actually help newcomers in the synthsphere to start thinking some thoughts that they will have to think at some point anyway. That's fine as long as the same people don't forget to *think* and *listen* for themselves. It's all in your ears and fingers, IMHO, and no Synth Finder or universal checklist can replace that, but it's always a starting point if you *really* don't know where to look.

Btw. (and completely OT), I kinda like the notion of "newbie"... compensates somewhat for the "senior consultant" line on my card :-)))


Last edited by case on Sun Mar 05, 2006 9:57 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by jim777 » Mon Feb 27, 2006 10:56 pm

tombola wrote:Always buy second hand.

I use eBay like a lending library for music gear.

For example:
Fancy a Microwave XT? Buy one.
Find you can't be bothered with trying to program it? Sell it.

Can't decide between a MS2000 and an Alesis Ion?
Buy the one you like the look of most.
If you don't like it, sell it and buy the other.

Great stuff! I'm looking now for something to use as a fun solo run synth, and this was kind of what I was thinking. I can't decide between an OB-12 and a JD-800 because I can't play either, so I though I'd get the cheap one out of eBay and if I didn't like it..... :lol: Right now I've got a Yamaha piano and a Motif 6, but I'm just getting back into doing all of my instruments myself after being a guitarist in bands for years. I had a pair of Octave Kats back in the day, and I want something that is in the same line as those were; a really big and powerful (will be used mostly as a) monophonic lead synth.
What an awesome site this is, I'm going to read every writeup of every synth here ;)
even Siberia goes through the motions....

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Synth Advice

Post by jhartford » Sat Apr 15, 2006 4:15 pm

First off, apologies for asking the "what to buy" question, but I don't really have any other options - I live in South Africa we don't really get a wide range of synth gear here (There's only one dealer for clavia and moog gear in South Africa and they're 1000km away. I'm yet to find anything by Alesis, Novation, etc., so I can't exactly go try gear out and while I do listen to the samples of the synths, I'm not sure they always do the equipment justice)

Anyway, onto the question. I'm a pianist/organ player looking to buy a synth. Music wise, I like how bands like radiohead and pink floyd use synths (I love the bass sound in Radiohead's climbing up the walls and the pads in Idoteque). Currently I play a Nord Electro 61, so I don't need any piano, organ or electric piano sounds - I'm only really interested in the synth sounds.

Budget wise, I'd prefer not to spend more than about $800, so the options in that range that I've seen are:
- Nord lead 2X rack
- Alesis Ion (not so keen on the MS 2000 cause of the limited polyphony, though it may be an option)
- Access Virus Classic (slightly more than my budget - is it worth it?)

Any advise/additions to this list would be great.

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Post by sacredcow » Thu Apr 27, 2006 5:28 pm

1. Budget
By the end of the summer, I'll have more than $1200, but I also want to buy a sampler and a lot of records with that.
2. Sounds
My major influences include the chemical brothers, dj scud, dom & roland, cotex, and the divide. I want to make dnb, acid, hard techno, and ambient minimal techno, so I want everything from scary dirty basses, smooth and big basses, acid squelches, techno stabs, sci-fi pads, warm pads, super distorted sawteeth, to basically everything. So I want a whole lot of sonic range and nothing cheap sounding.
3. Use
I want to use a synth as a part of a home studio, I have a computer for tracking things, but I want to be able to tweak synths and write patches away from the computer. I already have a midi keyboard so if I can save money by buying a reackmount, that would definitely help.
4. Experience
I've been mesisng with softsynths for over a year and I've finally got everything figured out. I really love to make synth patches on the Subtractor in Reason. I'm pretty bad with music theory, but I'm taking a class in it next year, and I think having an h/w synth would help.
5. Gear
Absolutely no hardware. I have a computer with a decent soundcard and a lot of software.

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Post by ronP » Mon May 22, 2006 4:28 pm

Hi. I just purchased my first synth in 20 years. What fun! I chose the now ubiquitous microKORG. Here is how I made my choice:

1) Size & Portabilty -- My home studio space is located in the oriel of a big-city garret apartment, so I wanted a synth that was small, yet powerful, and easy to move around as needed. Plus, my group gig requires me to cut across town to the band leader's studio two or three times a week. The walk or bike ride (car + parking = too much hassle) is an easy and pleasant one, much more so if the synth and accessories one carries does not weigh 40 lbs.

2) I require a mix of classic analog sounds as well as brighter chorused patches that digi waveforms can provide; I also play in a way that requires real-time sound modification and performance capability.

3) I have short fingers that have always preferred a synth with mini keys. The Casio MT-70, CZ-101, and Yamaha DX-100 were in my performance rig during the 1980s for just this reason.

4) I had an initial budget open to spending between $500 to $1000, which included essential accessories (case, cables, so forth); can always add more new or pre-owned gear later on if the group gig warrants expansion!

So the diminuative microKORG was the choice for me. I liked the Alesis Micron, too (there is a "ron" in Micron, after all), but the full-size keys and smaller number of real-time performance knobs on that sleek machine sold me on the microKORG.

Thinking through this topic, I would now like to get a CZ-101 or DX-100; I think the combination of an 80s mini-synth with the contemporary microKORG model -- two tiny synths producing one fat live sound -- would look great on stage.

Hope this case study helps . . .

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Post by irbaileyus » Wed Jun 07, 2006 8:52 pm

Hey guys, before i say anything i should point out that i don't know much about synthesizers, more than you average joe, but still very little in the grand scheme of things. I've had a mess around on a synth that a friend of mine has a few times, so i know i want one, but thats it!

Anyway, i've played guitar and bass in a few bands over the last few years, currently at uni having a crack with another band and we're interested in having a play with a synth! Its nothing that serious at the minute but you know how things progress... anyway like i say, we're after synth so we can have a crack at some meaty bass and just general downright cool noise i've heard coming out of these electronic beasties on this site and over at bluesynths!

the requierements are quite simple, a nice thick analog-ee sound, with some room for some distortion and purcussive fx, as well and nice easy layout so that i/we can teach ourselves and have some fun for now. I've tried to ingest as much info as i can from the net but thats no competition for someone who knows what they're talking about saying, "now what u wanna getcha is...!"

Now i'm not saying i want one of these (though i do), but when i was trolling through blue synths, this synth caught my eye (and ears): ... tent&id=61

According to bluesynths this is a super rare beasty and its got a touch keyboard (hella lame), BUT even i can understand the layout on it and the sounds are really great, nice and simple but really cool! So can anyone think of a synth that reminds them of this?

Sorry if is this is the wrong thread, or board, or world, to post this question on, but i would appreciate the advice.

ok, for that list:

1) max price....not sure, we're poor students, but we are dedicated to our cause, so, 3 figures tops...under £400 i guess, we're only experimenting for now...maybe you could give us a range of price options from the chep o th' cheap, up to £400
2)i dunno you tell me..
3)sound.... we're still working that out, but i guess you could say we're going for a sleazy electronic sound, but with the swagger and balls of rock... hey thats good...
4)keyboard is priority

let the stone throwing commence.

thanks in advance,

bails x

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Post by valdiorn » Wed Jun 07, 2006 9:04 pm

That synths looks funny :) too bad only 500 were built, I guess they're hard to find (never seen that model before)
I guess The Alesis Ion is a safe bet, it seems to be everyone's recommended synth these days. Something vintage might also suit you well, a Juno 60/106 maybe?
You can also probably find a Novation KS4 / KS5 keyboard for very little. A very different sound from the ion and Juno, but a good one nonetheless.

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Post by crystalmsc » Wed Jul 19, 2006 11:35 am

Ask the right person, could be in the:
1. Store (the product specialist)

2. Mailing list
such: Yahoo, Vintage Synth Explorer (yeah!), Future Producer,
Irish Acts (for Korgy stuff, great people there), Gas Station, etc.

3. Read comments

4. Ask your self wether you like it or not, trust your self, trust your instinct
(you are the right person too :O)

5. Pray
If the money is there and easy..could be the only answer you'll ever need!

Happy Hunting 8)
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Post by Violent-A » Mon Aug 07, 2006 2:55 pm

Thank you guy!!!
Intelligent words

i like it

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Post by Herr Roboto » Sat Aug 26, 2006 3:14 am

hey guys, I need some help too and don't think it deserves it's own thread, so I guess this might be the best place to ask

I'm totally new to synths and want to buy one
it will be my first synth and I could spend max. €400

what I'm looking for:
it would be great if the synth is a master keyboard too
normal key-size or microkorg size doesn't really matter, though I would prefer normal size
it has to be polyphonic(atleast 4-voice), have an arpeggiator and give a good "fuzzy" sound for basslines and the usual stuff
I guess I'm just looking for the ordinary synth sounds

for musical reference: I want sounds like the band muse

so far I've looked at the obvious microkorg and micron, but my stomach tells me to look for something else
the novation xiosynth looks great(and at ebay you can get a new xiosynth49 for exactly 400), but it's really hard to find reviews about that one

are there other alternatives or someone who can tell me if, for example, the xiosynth is good and worth buying?

unfortunately I don't have the possibility to try the synth, the music shops in my area are unbelievable bad
that's why opinions are quite important for me

thank you in advance

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