Going virtual

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Scotteralus
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Going virtual

Post by Scotteralus » Mon Jul 28, 2008 2:10 am

Hiya -

I am now facing a lot less space than I'm used to. I'm also only used to actual synths - and mostly analog at that. So, I'm being forced to enter the 21st century and need a v-synth and controller. Since the extent of my MIDI experience/knowledge has been using one synth as a master with another as a slave to layer sounds, I'm looking for guidance. What will I NEED and what should I USE? Assume you're talking to a total novice (a very good assumption) with a budget of around $600-$700, but might be able to go $1,000 if the reasoning is COMPLETELY SOUND.

My computer uses Windows XP, has 1.0GB of memory and a 200GB hard drive (I don't really know what that means - I read it off the face of the base! See, isn't that oh so very sad?!)

I've always been partial to Rolands, if that means anything. And as far as a controller, ideally 49 keys is about as much space as I can muster. Thank you in advance to anyone and everyone who takes the time to read this pathetic cry for help and reach out.

Sincerely,

Scott (aka "wants to play like Emerson but can barely "do" Vangelis!")
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Yoozer
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Re: Going virtual

Post by Yoozer » Mon Jul 28, 2008 6:55 am

How much of your rack gear can you sell and buy back as rack units?
Scotteralus wrote: What will I NEED and what should I USE?
Picking software synths is relatively easy - just download a demo of each of 'm, install it (either doubleclicking setup.exe or dragging a .dll file in the Program Files > VST Plugins folder) and restarting the sequencer software. Base your choice on your preference. http://www.zzounds.com/item--NINKOMPLETESYN might be a neat package, but the full version with everything has a discount - it'll gobble up a large part of the budget, though.
Assume you're talking to a total novice (a very good assumption) with a budget of around $600-$700, but might be able to go $1,000 if the reasoning is COMPLETELY SOUND.

My computer uses Windows XP, has 1.0GB of memory and a 200GB hard drive (I don't really know what that means - I read it off the face of the base! See, isn't that oh so very sad?!)

Right-click on the My Computer icon in the Start Menu and choose "Properties". It'll say "Computer: Intel (or AMD) CPU at ?? Ghz."

You have 1 gigabyte which is below standard but it'll do. Your 200 gb harddisk is big enough for most "huge" sample libraries.
I've always been partial to Rolands, if that means anything. And as far as a controller, ideally 49 keys is about as much space as I can muster.
Assuming that you have a set of speakers/monitors already:

- you need an audio interface (soundcard for music production). You can find these in music stores (so don't go searching at Newegg or something). If they have enough inputs, they may act as a replacement for an (analog) mixing desk. Choice is based on your budget and your need of inputs. If you wish to keep your mixer and only use the stereo out, 2 inputs is enough. Invest in something decent, though, no use having great synths and shitty converters.

- you need a controller keyboard. You can take one of the older Roland A-series (A-30, A-90) but Roland's controllers are called "Edirol" nowadays. These will have USB and hook up directly to your computer; with the A-series (or any other synth that just has MIDI) you will need an USB-MIDI interface, too - and in some cases, the audio interface offers you 1 MIDI in and 1 MIDI out. More synths == more I/O. MOTU is one of the few that still makes MIDI interfaces with more ports.

- you need software. This is the hardest to pick, since each software mfg has a philosophy on how it should work, and this philosophy should gel with you - you have to feel comfortable with it and making music should be fun, not a chore.

You don't need the biggest, most bad-a*s version of anything; Cubase has a cheaper brother (Studio 4) with pretty much 90% of the functionality of the big version, and it's a lot cheaper. There's also Sonar, Protools LE, Ableton Live, FL Studio, Mackie Tracktion, etc. Best would be to get a demo of each and determine in a course of 2 weeks which fits best with you.
"Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.

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Re: Going virtual

Post by crystalmsc » Mon Jul 28, 2008 8:43 am

Scotteralus wrote:I am now facing a lot less space than I'm used to. I'm also only used to actual synths - and mostly analog at that.
Since there's already some 61 keys on the synth list. May be something like the Novation Xstation-25 would enough as a controller. The layout of the synth will make you feel like working with an analog synth. Also I like the beefiness of the synth engine, which sounds a bit on the analogish site, while not as dirty as said the MicroKorg. With that, all you need is to plug one USB cable and you are set with an audio/midi interface, keyboard controller and a VA to start right away with your PC after installing the driver. I suggest to keep the money and toying around with those great freebies first. These are some of my favorite analog emulations to try: minimogueVA, Arppe2600VA, Claw and Triangle II.
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Post by Paranoid Piranha » Mon Jul 28, 2008 11:11 am

xstation is one of the best solutions for minimal setups - and it will leave you some cash left...

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Re: Going virtual

Post by MrFrodo » Sat Aug 02, 2008 4:50 pm

Pending how wide a keyboard span you want to use, you should consider one of the Novation KS, X-Station or XioSynth models. I've considered one of those, but as much for the synth engine(s) as the MIDI features. But, they're all good as MIDI keyboards. For one thing, they all have aftertouch. (I especially like the ones with longer keyspans.)

I'm less confident in my knowledge of soft synths, but you might consider a couple by Arturia, like their versions of the Minimoog, CS-80 and 2600.
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