A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

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A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by modular » Wed Jan 07, 2009 2:34 pm

Hi there!

I need some help here. I'm looking for a new synthesizer - I already have a MicroKorg and had a Moog LP - but I'm not sure which one to buy. I don't think I have that many choices since I'm somewhat on-a-budget, and I'm not even sure if any of these will do the trick.

Anyway, I'm looking for a synth with a good sound palette in order to create some 'ambient music', full of pads, whistles and stuff like that. So let's just say I want the opposite of the Moog LP, that is a lead-synth. Maybe it is easier if I give you an example of what I want, so for that think of a name - Ryuichi Sakamoto - with the albums 'Chasm', 'Smoochy', etc. Specially 'Chasm'.

Resuming everything, it would be a synth with good tweakability with a very organic and warm sound. It as to be a polysynth with over 6 voices, since I want to 'expand my organ technics' ;) Yeah, I'm taking some piano lessons very soon. Former bassist here!


Now the problem is: price! If i had the money I would choose something like the Dave Smith Instruments Prophet' 08, but I can't afford that now since I've just bought a MacPro and all the stuff extra. So I really need to stick up with something a little bit cheaper. Digital or analog, even though analog would be sweet, yet almost impossible with this price range - I guess.

I want to spend something between 500 and 1000 euros. I really don't want to come close to the 1000 range. Yes, I don't know if I have that many options.

I've been looking around and I've seen a couple of synths that might do the trick, yet I've never tried any of them. I've been to some music stores and I couldn't find them either to play around a bit...

What do you guys think about these synths: Roland Juno-D, Roland Juno-G and Korg M50?

Do you think they're any good to create those kind of ambiences like the ones we can listen on Sakamoto's albums? What other synthesizers can do the trick?

Please, take as a price checker the following stores: Turnkey (http://www.turkey.co.uk) ; Thomann (http://www.thomann.de) or MusicStore (http://www.musicstore.de). I'm planning on buying from Turnkey since it looks like the cheapest store here in Europe.

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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by Jack Spider » Wed Jan 07, 2009 3:47 pm

I've owned a Juno-D and while it has a broad array of decent sounds, it isn't the most tweakable of instruments, other than the likes of attack/decay/release and filter settings.

Not all of the programming parameters that are accessible in the JV/XV series on which it is based are available for tweaking so while it is possible to tweak the sounds to some degree (you can change the sampled waveforms used in each of the patches etc.), it's no good for building sounds from the ground-up, if that's what you want to do. For an easily accessible and wide variety of sounds - pianos, organs, strings and synth sound etc. it's a pleasant enough instrument.

Here's a demo of some of the preset patches, which I recorded when I sold mine - not a terribly useful demo to you, as it was to demonstrate as many sounds as possible.

http://media.putfile.com/Roland-Juno-D-Demo
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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by otto » Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:21 pm

I don't know anything about Ryuichi Sakamoto but there are lots of synths that should be very affordable that can help you with ambient sounds. If your looking to go analog you can get ambiant sounds out of any cheap to mid-range 80's synth. Think older Juno's, Matrix 6/6r/1000 (like a budget P'08 in many ways), Akai AX, Roland JX, etc. etc. Decent effects and particularly reverbs will go along way. They Ensoniq ESQ-1/SQ-80 does decent ambient and metalic sounds.

A lot of people like digital synths such as the Roland D-50 for ambient. Most FM synths would be great but realize they have complex programmign requirement and a learning curve. On the other hand, there are tons of DX-7 patches avaialble to get you started...

You have a lot of affordable options really. Remember effects are your friend when it comes to ambient sounds.
Last edited by otto on Thu Jan 08, 2009 7:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by cornutt » Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:45 pm

Hmm. The request for something "warm" and "organic" sounds like he's looking for analog. And at least 8 voices.

You could get a pair of Matrix-1000s and configure them together with MIDI overflow. That will give you 12 analog voices, and the total cost would be in the 350-400 euro range. (That's assuming you have a keyboard to use as a controller.)
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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by Joey » Wed Jan 07, 2009 6:49 pm

ryuichi was a big fan of the prophet 5 as i'm sure you know

look into a sequential prophet 600, or an oberheim matrix 1000 or 6
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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by steveman » Thu Jan 08, 2009 1:32 pm

modular wrote: Please, take as a price checker the following stores: Turnkey (http://www.turkey.co.uk) ; Thomann (http://www.thomann.de) or MusicStore (http://www.musicstore.de). I'm planning on buying from Turnkey since it looks like the cheapest store here in Europe.
Turnkey is out of business, their web store may be up and running again (under new owners), but currently I wouldn't touch them.

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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by replicalex » Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:01 pm

I have a JX10 + PG 800. 12 voices (24DCO's) give a really lush sound. Pads are its speciality and with the PG fully tweakable. I'm actually considering selling it, so if youre interested let me know.
There are other mid range old analogues and hybrids, like a korg DW/EX 8000, Matrix 6r/1000 (already mentioned)or a microWave maybe for new agey pads too...all of which fall within your budget. As does my JX10 :D

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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by Johnny Lenin » Thu Jan 08, 2009 4:27 pm

+1 Roland JXs.

For deep, lush, evolving pads, it just doesn't get better. I've had a Juno-D and have a Juno-G, and they're great synths for what they are. You can get some very good sounds out of both and the sound engine of the JG does a really good job of analog-y pads. But they're not as deep or lush as anything you'd get on a JX. The Juno-G uses the Fantom X sound engine and, to give you an idea of the difference.

A track recorded using a Fantom X6

The same track (with some changes) recorded with a Roland JX-8P and Akai AX60

AX60s can still be had for less than US$300. JX8Ps tend to go for @ US$300.

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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by cornutt » Thu Jan 08, 2009 9:26 pm

That's right, I had forgotten that the JX10 is a 12-voice synth. That's a good choice. Shouldn't be too expensive either.
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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by plikestechno » Thu Jan 08, 2009 11:15 pm

Considering what you have and what you are going for I would go for a JX (8p or 10) or a Matrix 6 (rack or otherwise) or a SixTrak. Or one of Roland's MKS racks (50 or 70.)

Buy something old. You will really love its sound.

I have a JX10 with PG800 and the best thing about that era of Roland is that they are built so well. If you buy one in nice shape it will stay that way forever.
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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by modular » Fri Jan 09, 2009 2:13 pm

Thanks for the input guys. My eyes and nose are looking for stuff at eBay, since I haven't managed to find any of those 'vintage' synths for sale here in Portugal.

One more thing: excluding vintage/old/used synthesizers, what would you advise me to buy? Anything new?

I've read some bad reviews about the Korg M50, but what about the Roland Juno-G? Can anyone give me some insight about this synth?

For the people that said Sequential Circuits would be a good choice. Well.. I think I have more chances of finding a gold jar standing in the middle of the street than a SCI synth in Europe for sale :(
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Re: A new polysynth somewhat on-a-budget... or not?

Post by Johnny Lenin » Fri Jan 09, 2009 3:40 pm

modular wrote:... but what about the Roland Juno-G? Can anyone give me some insight about this synth?(
The JG is an outstanding budget workstation. It is based on the Fantom X engine, and excels at acoustic sounds like pianos, organs, etc. It does some very good pads and strings as well. As budget workstations go, it's loaded for bear. It has a fairly easy-to-use 16-track sequencer, sampling and four-track audio inputs, so you can use the JG as a rudimentary DAW, with a RAM upgrade. As the centrepiece of a studio, it's great.

On the down side, as good as it sounds, and it sounds great, it isn't an analog polysynth. I don't use mine for [most] pads and strings because I have the JX8P and AX60 for that. It doesn't have great front panel controls for shaping sounds. There is a lot you can do in menus, but this does not give you much in the way of subtractive synth control. And, it's got a strange keyboard -- the keys are 3 mm shorter than standard. Nothing to write home about but, if you're coming from piano, it takes a tiny bit of adjustment.

So to summarize, the JG is a great ROMpler, and budget workstation, with a whole raft of features. But it is not an analog polysynth.

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