Complete and utter noob thread

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Matto
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Complete and utter noob thread

Post by Matto » Tue Sep 16, 2008 10:11 am

Hey guys,

Basically, I've been heavily into the idea of trying to create my own electro/dance type music for probably about two years now, and I'm about to embark on purchasing my first synth. I'll have access to a macbook pro and a copy of Ableton Live.

The type of music I'll be playing isn't far from stuff like The Presets (http://www.myspace.com/thepresets), Midnight Juggernauts (http://www.myspace.com/midnightjuggernauts) PNAU (http://www.myspace.com/pnautheband) and Enter Shikari (http://www.myspace.com/entershikari).

Really, I'll need something that I can learn with, something that won't break the bank (Around $800 Australian) and can provide the sounds I'm after. Gig ability isn't really crucial, but would be a huge bonus.

I've been recommended stuff like the Alesis Micron, MicroKorg, Roland Juno D/G and Yamaha M06.

Any help or direction whatsoever is hugely appreciated.

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Re: Complete and utter noob thread

Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:17 pm

What synth you use doesn't really matter to do stuff like any of those bands, it's more about the production than the actual synth. If I were you I'd get an MS2000 second-hand from US ebay, best value for money synth out there IMO.

Getting one synth for learning to play on and using Live for everything else should be fine to get started, try to focus on making songs rather than drooling over gear. Don't be one of those people that comes to VSE looking for advice on what first synth to get and then 6 months later they're still umming and ahhing about what to buy and haven't made any songs. :)

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Re: Complete and utter noob thread

Post by Johnny Lenin » Tue Sep 16, 2008 1:56 pm

Stab has some good advice. Don't get overly hung up on all the options; whatever you buy now won't be your last synth. And unless you're looking for the sounds that only a ROMpler or FM synth [or whatever] can give you, there's a lot of sense in starting with a virtual analog synth. That way, you'll be able to learn the basics of subtractive synthesis. That's a good place to start.

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Re: Complete and utter noob thread

Post by Yoozer » Tue Sep 16, 2008 9:26 pm

Matto wrote: Really, I'll need something that I can learn with
Further advice, except for what's offered above here:
- sounds do not come out of a single machine - it's the combination of things. Put a synth through a stompbox through an external effect, sample that, and play that, for instance. That's what Stab means with "production".
- whatever you do, pick something with decent keys

The MicroKorg's keys are small - wouldn't pick it as a controller. Juno-G is better than the D and both the G and 06 are workstations - synthesis takes second place. That said, they provide you with something that's harder to find in software shape (for free), namely a good library of realistic "bread & butter" sounds (piano, strings, etc.). Another option is an SH-201 which will act as a controller, too.

Also, take advantage of the large selection of software synthesizers (such as the Kore Player). Don't forget the audio interface and monitor speakers if you want to do complete production and performance.
"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: Complete and utter noob thread

Post by Johnny Lenin » Wed Sep 17, 2008 2:13 am

One more thing to add in the sprit of what has already been said: If you want a synth to learn on, there's not really much that you can learn from ROMplers/workstations like the Juno D/G and MO6. They're really composing/performing synths rather than sound designing/shaping synths. The Juno G and MO6 both have sequencers, so you'd learn about sequencng and get access to pretty good percussion, though.

You'll want a virtual analog or analog syth with lots of knobs and real-time controls to get a start wth programming your own sounds. I've owned the SH-201 and though I eventually grew out of it, I think it gets a bit of a bad rap. The controls are very well laid-out for the beginner, wth lots of knobs and direct access to things like LFO rate and envelope. It only has 32 user patch memory locations and it can sound pretty digital, but it can also produce some very cool sounds.

I have never owned the MS2000 or Alesis Ion, but they seem to have been designed with the same design philosophy. They might also be good options, but you'd have to hear from someone who actually knows about them.

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Re: Complete and utter noob thread

Post by Matto » Wed Sep 17, 2008 9:34 am

I've ruled out the microkorg, played it at a local music store and was completely turned off by it's fiddly keys.
Considering my geographical location, I'm limited to what I can get. I've found many Alesis Microns, Novation X Stations and a Alesis Ion (albeit $400 over my budget) on ebay. I'll keep an eye out for the SH 101's and MS-2000's, although I'm not crossing my fingers as they seem to be a rarity on US ebay, any other model's which aren't too expensive?

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Post by crystalmsc » Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:09 am

Matto wrote:any other model's which aren't too expensive?
the AN1x interface may not be as versatile as the X-stn or MS. But certainly way better than the Micron. But I really like everything else about it.
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Re: Complete and utter noob thread

Post by nathanscribe » Fri Sep 19, 2008 10:35 am

I second the notion that in order to learn about synthesis best, you need quick access to as many aspects of the sound as possible, so a synth with plenty of knobs/sliders on the front would be a good bet. There are other types of synthesis than subtractive (like FM, which has already been mentioned) and typically they have somewhat reduced interfaces - which makes them more awkward to navigate, but, when all I had was a Juno 6 and a TX81Z, I used to actually program the TX - something I don't spend time on now I've got loads of gear. So don't be put off by limited-looking control panels, as long as you want to spend time diving into them.

Also, don't confuse the SH-101 with the SH-201 (unless that was a typo, in which case ignore me). The 101 is the old classic mono from the early 80s, the 201 is the modern VA - and can be had cheaply.

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Re: Complete and utter noob thread

Post by Matto » Fri Sep 19, 2008 11:32 am

Ok.

So, my main contenders at the moment are the Korg MS-2000, Roland SH 201, Alesis Ion and the Novation K/X Stations (Really unsure about these, haven't heard much about them, though I can get them for a decent price and theirs an abundance of them on ebay).

Are the novations good units? Judging from what everyone's saying, I should really just pick up a synth and dive straight into in and learn from experience, so I'm really considering picking up a K or X station. I'd really love an MS2000, but they are far rarer it seems.


Also, in terms of linking it with ableton live, is it simply plugging the synth into the mac?


Thanks guys, been great help so far.

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Re: Complete and utter noob thread

Post by nathanscribe » Fri Sep 19, 2008 1:46 pm

You will need a MIDI interface to connect your synth to the Mac, unless your synth has USB. MIDI to USB interfaces can be had for pocket money, or you can pay a lot more - EMU and Edirol both make simple MIDI-USB in/out devices; when you get a few things, you might expand to something like the MOTU range. I don't know anything about various synths' implementation of USB personally, but I would expect a few of the more modern synths to have it onboard - Novation and Roland both do, I know that much, but you'd have to check on which products.

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Re: Complete and utter noob thread

Post by Matto » Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:00 pm

Sounds like it shouldn't be too difficult to get everything working together.

If I was to go out and buy a Novation 49 Key X-Station off ebay, would I walk away content?

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Re: Complete and utter noob thread

Post by esqoner » Fri Sep 19, 2008 2:26 pm

i think the x-stations are great.

i love the sound. you can use it to record (run stuff through its inputs jacks), lots of knobbies and twiddlies, really nice feeling keys with aftertouch.

I think it'd be a great choice.

with the ms2000, i am borrowing a friends right now...it is a great machine...but there is something about it i don't like...i haven't been able to pin down exactly yet though...but i love the novations i've had and wish i'd held on to them(but funds were short at those times).

there is another camp who loves the ms2000.
and another who doesn't like the novation sound.

you'll find what you like and don't as you go along. i thinkthe x-station is something you can learn with and grow with.

i cannot speak specifically about working with it and a computer though...i'd search the internets on it.
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