Analog Bass Synth - which one?

A forum for discussing the pros & cons of buying a particular synth and for advice on buying synthesizers.
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Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by f__p » Wed Apr 28, 2010 10:30 am

Hi guys, first post here.. Basically I'm looking for an analog synth to play mainly basses, both some minimal stuff (tuned very low with very little resonance and super snappy envelopes) and some more acid-style squeaks. I would like to remain under 500 euros (buying used, of course ;) ), but in case I could go up to 8-900. The fact is, there are really a lot of choices which I can't try first (here in Italy synths are not so common in stores) and so I have to judge on samples.
These are the possible choices, in no particular order:
  • DSI Mopho - I heard lots of positive reviews regarding its bass abilities, but somehow the samples never really impressed me. Maybe I never found a sample of the bass sound I have in my mind (this actually refers to maybe all these synths btw)
  • Waldorf pulse - ditto as above, lots of people swear by its basses, but the samples never really hit me.. well, maybe a little more than the mopho, but its filter seemed to me too much polite
  • Spectral Audio Neptune - in mp3 it sounded even shrill sometimes, but I heard some bass drums made with it which sounded great, so probably it would work for me more than the others
  • SE ATC1 - ok, this one impressed me a little more than the neptune, especially with the 303 filter card, but I read some so-so reviews regarding the raw sound of its oscillator. Even the interface bugs more than the waldorf or the mopho, but in the end the old moog source was the same, and now we have midi + controllers, so programming the ATC1 should not be such a problem
  • Doepfer Dark Energy - another one which somehow impressed me, even if it could be a bit limited with only one osc. But in the samples it sounded quite good, and the possibilty of starting a modular from it really appeal me
ok, these are the ones I'm currently thinking of, even if maybe I should invest more and buy a vermona perfourmer (which sounded really good in the samples I heard, quite 303-alike in some cases) or a new oberheim.
So what do you guys think? I desperately need opinions from people who owns/have owned some of them.. Should I buy one of these, or should I go vintage instead and get a ms10 or a mc-202 or....
Thanks, and sorry for the super long post :D

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by monolith » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:07 am

I've not played any of the synths you've mentioned (but the Dark Energy seems very cool) so I'l comment on synths I know of that might be suited... 8-)

The Roland SH-101 can deliver bass and is also known as an acid weapon. As you probably know is the same sound as the MC-202, though the 202 will get you closer to the 303 vibe because it's sequencer has Accent.

You cant go wrong with the Roland SH-2, especially for bass sounds with lower resonance. It rattles the walls with bass. The SH-09 will do the job too, it's a 1 oscillator version of the SH-2.


Both the 101 and SH-2 have very snappy envelopes too.

If you're not h**l bent on a keyboard, maybe check out the Future Retro Revolution, which is a 303 clone. I've had one for a couple of weeks, and though I dig it's 303 emulation I find myself using it for fat, almost bass guitar like sounds with the resonance about halfway, the cut off almost all the way down and the envelope knob at zero. Sounds like fat '70's funk bass.
The revolution also has a killer sequencer which you could use on other synths.

However with a 303 clone you will have less control over the envelope, and no sub oscillator.


I'm not sure how much synth 8-900 Euros can buy, but an SH-09 and a FR revolution would make for a killer combo IMO.
Last edited by monolith on Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:29 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by Taxidermy » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:18 pm

I can speak first had towards the mopho; Great synthesizer, a little brite at times but otherwise sounds fantastic. Very classic.

If your looking for an acid box, why not look at a future-retro revolution?

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by f__p » Wed Apr 28, 2010 12:53 pm

First of all, thanks for the super fast replies!

I thought about the revolution, but the fact that its filter cannot be controlled via midi doesn't get me too excited, I would control it mainly from ableton live.
Maybe I gave the idea that I'm looking for a 303 clone, which I'm not.. I'm more looking for a synth which could sound very big with a strong filter character, when asked..

however, thanks for the suggestion, I really appreciated it!

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by rharris07 » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:13 pm

perhaps look at the prophet '08? i use it for bass ALL the time.

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by f__p » Wed Apr 28, 2010 2:31 pm

rharris07 wrote:perhaps look at the prophet '08? i use it for bass ALL the time.
I think it's a bit out of the price range.. but this is a +1 for the mopho, I guess!

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by redchapterjubilee » Wed Apr 28, 2010 3:10 pm

I like the Mopho when I want the bass to be a little leaner. The sequencer is handy as is the sub-bass. I usually go Moog for bass. Since you are looking at modules for this I'd suggest a Technosaurus Microcon if you can find one. I had one for awhile and it definitely had that same in-your-face ballsy twang that the Moogs have.
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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by memory cords » Wed Apr 28, 2010 7:24 pm

I would get the Doepfer Dark Energy. It sounds good, it's portable and the build quality seems strong. It seems easy to control and intergrate into any kind of setup. Plus I think it has a built in midi-CV converter so you can use it to control old-non midi synths. Also, Doepfer has mentioned they are building more Dark Energy related devices such as a sequencer and maybe an expander so that will widen the Dark Energy's functionality in the future.

You didn't list it but I think the new Oberheim SEM would also be a good choice.

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Apr 28, 2010 11:57 pm

Why's nobody suggesting the Little Phatty? The budget's 500 Euros, not 500 US dollars.

Anyway, that's the direction I'd be looking in.

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by f__p » Thu Apr 29, 2010 12:26 am

Thanks for your attention, guys, you're really helping me in this difficult decision..

@ redchapterjubilee: I found a (very cheap) microcon at 180 €, which unfortunately doesn't have midi (and I don't have any midi to cv converter).. I'm going to look for some samples and see.. Thanks for the suggestion!

@ memory cords: I listed the SEM, even if it's out of the price range.. It's really appealing to me, but not so cheap.. I also considered a semblance, but from the mp3s I found it quite disappointing..

@ Stab Frenzy: I thought also about the LP, but again it's a bit out of the price range - here in Italy they go used for at least 800€..

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by prophei » Thu Apr 29, 2010 8:17 am

this is a really easy one. buy the original SEM. if you can't, buy a new SEM.

i have arp2600's, minimoogs, all sorts of modulars...etc. if you want basslines, buy the SEM. i personally have an oberheim tvs... and i have barely turned on the minimoog since i got it years ago.

it is the best machine for basslines... hands down... EVER.
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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:09 am

f__p wrote:@ Stab Frenzy: I thought also about the LP, but again it's a bit out of the price range - here in Italy they go used for at least 800€..
Well you did say you'd be willing to go up to 800-900. :)

They look like a great deal to me, really nice sounding and have USB connectivity which would make it easy to control from Live, and you could use it as a controller.

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by f__p » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:03 pm

I'm trying to remain as cheap as possible ;) right now I found some other samples/videos, and I have to say that the revolution, dark energy and microcon are in my top three.. Too many choices!

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by space6oy » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:27 pm

microcons don't turn up too often though, & dark energy is available brand new for 400€. be forewarned, go that route & you're almost guaranteed to become a modular junkie.

revo's capable of some awesome bass, but i run mine through an EHX LPB-1 booster pedal to beef it up. none of those have midi control over their filter though...

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Re: Analog Bass Synth - which one?

Post by f__p » Thu Apr 29, 2010 9:32 pm

space6oy wrote:microcons don't turn up too often though, & dark energy is available brand new for 400€. be forewarned, go that route & you're almost guaranteed to become a modular junkie.

revo's capable of some awesome bass, but i run mine through an EHX LPB-1 booster pedal to beef it up. none of those have midi control over their filter though...
You read exactly my mind, I think the doepfer could be an excellent start for a small modular system, but that's another story.. I heard some samples and I really like its filter, it seems to be quite acid in a nice way. And it actually can be controlled via midi (it has some kind of midi learn function, if I'm not mistaken)..

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