Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

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buddy_system
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Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by buddy_system » Tue Jun 12, 2012 4:26 am

Hey y'all,
I'm looking for a good synth module for performing live but specifically need something that is heavy on the synths. Seeing as how I use a Korg SV-1 I'm already well stocked on electric pianos, organs, clavs and pianos.
I'd also like to air on the side of vinatage (moog-esque kinda stuff) 'cause I'm a big fan of Tomita, Ray Lynch, Tangerine Dream, Rick Wakeman, etc and I'm looking specifically for those sounds.
Please help a brother out ;-)
Thanks!

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Jun 12, 2012 12:25 pm

Units currently in production

Analog:

Moog Slim Phatty, Voyager RME (both are monophonic)
DSI Prophet 08 module

Digital/VA:

Virus Snow, TI/TI2 desktop
Nord Lead 2X Rack
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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by Rick N Boogie » Wed Jun 13, 2012 9:38 pm

Lots of great synths currently in production. Do you want analog, or would virtual analog do? Do you want polyphony, or is a mono ok? Moog Little Phatty- analog/mono, DSI Prophet '08- analog, poly, Virus a/b/c/ti- virtual analog/poly, DSI Evolver- hybrid/mono OR poly.
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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by SSquirrel » Thu Jun 14, 2012 6:25 am

If mono is ok, the Arturia Minibrute is shipping "any day now (tm)" and Dave Smith also makes the Mopho (module or keyboard) and the Tetra if you want some polyphony. I know you said module, but the MB and Mopho KB are pretty tiny heh.

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by buddy_system » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:04 am

Thanks everybody for responding! Now that you mention it, I wouldn't mind opening up the conversation to tiny keyboards as well. I tried out the MicroKorgs, R3 Korg and UltraNova today and they were interesting.

Let's see
---Polyphony is a must! I'd really like to focus on pads and chord based synth sounds. That being said, I wouldn't mind getting a few must have mono leads (Parliament/Dr. Dre) but I'd rather that be the exception than the rule
---I don't want to go virtual. I do like some hybrids (like keyboards that come with Sound Editor Software) because then I can edit my sounds at home. But, other than tweaking the resonance, phasers, chorus, etc. I prefer to doing little knob work when performing.
---I'd rather stay away from LFO Oscillator Rhythms and Drum Machines.

Of the DSIs I think I enjoyed Tetra the most. Virus Snow was beautiful!

In the context of my band I think what I need are nice breathy pads, chord-based synth sounds, mono leads and maybe a few cool/weird sounds. Do any modules or small keys come to mind that emphasize these kind of sounds?
It doesn't even need to have a lot of sounds so long as it fits the bill on those first 3..

Thanks again! :-)

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by SSquirrel » Fri Jun 15, 2012 5:52 am

buddy_system wrote:Of the DSIs I think I enjoyed Tetra the most.

In the context of my band I think what I need are nice breathy pads, chord-based synth sounds, mono leads and maybe a few cool/weird sounds. Do any modules or small keys come to mind that emphasize these kind of sounds?
It doesn't even need to have a lot of sounds so long as it fits the bill on those first 3..
Well, it would be a bit more expensive, but there is always the option of Mopho KB poly-chained to a Tetr4. Normally that would be $1700, but Novamusik has a special going for $1400 right now. That's something I have been eyeing and wishing I had the money available heh. There is a demo of Dave Smith playing them chained together on youtube. He shows off chording just fine and mono leads and the cool/weird sounds certainly come out of it in the variety of vids I have seen on youtube. I like the idea of the Tetr4, but being able to edit more easily from the Mopho KB would make me much happier. They both have software available for patch editing as well as VSTs I believe.

I freely admit to no experience w/the DSI synths, just been looking at them for awhile and wanting :)

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Jun 15, 2012 6:26 am

buddy_system wrote:Thanks everybody for responding! Now that you mention it, I wouldn't mind opening up the conversation to tiny keyboards as well. I tried out the MicroKorgs, R3 Korg and UltraNova today and they were interesting.

Let's see
---Polyphony is a must! I'd really like to focus on pads and chord based synth sounds. That being said, I wouldn't mind getting a few must have mono leads (Parliament/Dr. Dre) but I'd rather that be the exception than the rule
---I don't want to go virtual. I do like some hybrids (like keyboards that come with Sound Editor Software) because then I can edit my sounds at home. But, other than tweaking the resonance, phasers, chorus, etc. I prefer to doing little knob work when performing.
---I'd rather stay away from LFO Oscillator Rhythms and Drum Machines.

Of the DSIs I think I enjoyed Tetra the most. Virus Snow was beautiful!

In the context of my band I think what I need are nice breathy pads, chord-based synth sounds, mono leads and maybe a few cool/weird sounds. Do any modules or small keys come to mind that emphasize these kind of sounds?
It doesn't even need to have a lot of sounds so long as it fits the bill on those first 3..

Thanks again! :-)
You say you don't want to go virtual, but the only non-virtual synth you mentioned is the Tetra. Do you know what virtual analogue means? There are plenty of great virtual analogue synths out there, I just went from using a Tetra to an Ultranova and I'm very happy with the decision.

Your third point is moot really, if you don't want to use rhythmic LFOs on your oscs then just don't assign them.

As far as breathy pads, chord-based synth sounds, mono leads and cool/weird sounds, I'd be looking at the Ultranova and Blofeld particularly, R3 if you want to save some money and a Virus if you've got a bit extra to spend. Tetra sounds good but the interface is a bit limited for making your own sounds, P08 rack could be a good choice too although the wavetables and digital waves in the first three I mentioned really improve the kind of pads you can get from them.

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by Ashe37 » Fri Jun 15, 2012 7:31 am

I think by 'virtual' he means softsynths.

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Jun 15, 2012 8:05 am

Ah ok, that makes sense. He must have misunderstood what Rick N Boogie meant by virtual analogue.

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by pflosi » Fri Jun 15, 2012 10:51 am

SSquirrel wrote:
buddy_system wrote:Of the DSIs I think I enjoyed Tetra the most.

In the context of my band I think what I need are nice breathy pads, chord-based synth sounds, mono leads and maybe a few cool/weird sounds. Do any modules or small keys come to mind that emphasize these kind of sounds?
It doesn't even need to have a lot of sounds so long as it fits the bill on those first 3..
Well, it would be a bit more expensive, but there is always the option of Mopho KB poly-chained to a Tetr4. Normally that would be $1700, but Novamusik has a special going for $1400 right now. That's something I have been eyeing and wishing I had the money available heh. There is a demo of Dave Smith playing them chained together on youtube. He shows off chording just fine and mono leads and the cool/weird sounds certainly come out of it in the variety of vids I have seen on youtube. I like the idea of the Tetr4, but being able to edit more easily from the Mopho KB would make me much happier. They both have software available for patch editing as well as VSTs I believe.

I freely admit to no experience w/the DSI synths, just been looking at them for awhile and wanting :)
Tetra + Mopho KBD is my polysynth for live gigs, it's great and works very well! The architecture on those DSI synths is really quite complex (especially for a poly), and I personally like the sound.

There's only one thing I'm not so happy about: firstly, you need a submixer or two channels on your mixer, it would have been awesome to include a post-vcf-input on the Mopho KBD to input a Mopho or Tetra (kinda like the input on the 303) after the filter. I prefer a submixer so I don't have to adjust everything twice on my main mixer in live gigs... Secondly, and connected to it, the Mopho KBD is much louder than the Tetra (I assume because it's mono and thus there's more headroom than for four voices), so there again you need a submixer (if the Mopho KBD is the master, the volume pot controls the Tetra as well, so you cannot just put down the volume on the Mopho - Tetra gets more quiet as well...). I think I'm gonna have my tech buddy build a small, rudimentary, cheap 2-1 mixer for me...

Apart from that specific polychain issue, I'd love to see DSI do a software update that brings a function to switch the sequencer from the current 'modular-style' to 'x0x-style' triggering / starting / pattern changes / etc. options (so that it starts just with the midi clock instead of midi notes)...

Aside from that - what's your budget?

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by SSquirrel » Sat Jun 16, 2012 5:54 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:There are plenty of great virtual analogue synths out there, I just went from using a Tetra to an Ultranova and I'm very happy with the decision.

As far as breathy pads, chord-based synth sounds, mono leads and cool/weird sounds, I'd be looking at the Ultranova and Blofeld particularly, R3 if you want to save some money and a Virus if you've got a bit extra to spend. Tetra sounds good but the interface is a bit limited for making your own sounds,

Ultranova is another synth that keeps turning up in my viewing too. Was contemplating an old Novation Nova desktop earlier this year, now wondering about the Ultranova. Curious how the 2 vocoders compare on the older one (42 band I believe) vs the current one's 12 band. Anyone have experience w/both?

Blofeld has some of the same problems as the Tetr4 really, but I don't like the matrix parameter setup at all. I don't like the DSI Evolver desktop for that reason either heh. The Tetr4's lack of full tweaking easily is also part of the reason if I get one, it will almost certainly be controlled by a Mopho KB. I'm happy to have the Mopho KB by itself, but I want to tweak freely and the poly modle doesn't accomplish that.


pflosi wrote:Tetra + Mopho KBD is my polysynth for live gigs, it's great and works very well! The architecture on those DSI synths is really quite complex (especially for a poly), and I personally like the sound.

There's only one thing I'm not so happy about: firstly, you need a submixer or two channels on your mixer, it would have been awesome to include a post-vcf-input on the Mopho KBD to input a Mopho or Tetra (kinda like the input on the 303) after the filter. I prefer a submixer so I don't have to adjust everything twice on my main mixer in live gigs...
Glad to hear that combo works well for you. Technically I have 2 poly synths already in the Juno 106 and the Jx-8P+programmer. The JX is huge tho and the Juno needs some work to be back in shape again. Minibrute, Minitaur, Mopho KB and Tetr4 (with options in the JX and Juno as well) sounds like a really fun setup to me. If I ditched one of the Roland's it would probably be the Juno.
pflosi wrote:Aside from that - what's your budget?
Best question yet. We can give ideas all day long, but focusing them in a certain price bracket would be best.





Summary of synths recommended (or brought u as examples by the OP) so far, at a glance:

Moog Slim Phatty (Rack/desktop)
DSI Evolver (Desktop)
DSI Mopho (Module/KB)
DSI Tetr4 (Module/Combo w/Mopho KB)
DSI Prophet '08 (desktop/rack)
Access Virus Snow (desktop)
Access Virus TI/TI2 Desktop
Nord Lead 2X (Rack)
Arturia Minibrute (small KB)
MicroKorg (small KB)
Korg R3 (small KB)
Novation Ultranova (small KB)

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sat Jun 16, 2012 6:08 am

SSquirrel wrote:Blofeld has some of the same problems as the Tetr4 really, but I don't like the matrix parameter setup at all.
The two are worlds apart in use.

Tetra = Press a button, turn a knob to scroll through the entire list of parameters for the synth, press another button, adjust to the value you want, repeat. The Tetra is quite possibly the worst synth to edit I've ever used, it seems to be designed for playing sounds on the module after you've programmed it on the computer. Even the Micron is better, cause you've got shortcuts to jump between the different sections.

Blofeld = Press a button for the section you want to edit, see the parameters on the screen with pictorial representations, turn the appropriate knob to change the value.

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by SSquirrel » Sat Jun 16, 2012 6:43 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:The two are worlds apart in use.
Aware that the tweaking is easier on the Blofeld, but in my defense, I did say "some of the same problems". :) Neither is a big pile of knobs, which some of us really enjoy a lot. Not saying you don't, just that personally, I'm happy sustaining notes or setting up sequences and then tweaking away at things. I wouldn't buy a Tetra if I wasn't hooking it up to a Mopho KB b/c I want the front panel easiness of a knobby synth. I probably wouldn't have bought my JX 8P 10 years ago if it hadn't had the PG 800 programmer along w/it either.

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by pflosi » Sat Jun 16, 2012 12:17 pm

With the Mopho Kbd, the awful Tetra Programming is gone. It's all there. Only the sequencer is still a bit awkward, but what do you expect :) BTW, I absolutely hated the Tetra editing software, don't use it at all...

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Re: Good Synth-Heavy Synth Modules for Performing

Post by GuyaGuy » Sat Jun 16, 2012 4:53 pm

For $1800 you could also get a used Poly Evolver keyboard and have the advantage of a full keyboard, analog and wavetable, and all of the other features. But it's a lot to handle if you aren't used to programming synths.

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