what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

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cavalerox
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what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by cavalerox » Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:39 am

Hello all,
I need your opinion about the synthesizer that i want to buy as i do not have much knowledge;
-i can spend up to $600 or $700
-i can spend that money for a brand new (if anything exists in that price range) or used synthesizer
-i mainly want to play synth pop/new wave songs from the 80's (mainly Depeche Mode , Duran Duran , Alphaville songs)

There are so many alternatives but since i want to compose music , what would be your advice?

Thank you all for sharing your opinions with me
Much appreciated
B.

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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by CS_TBL » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:07 am

First things first:

Do you already have a MIDI keyboard? If yes: the synth could be a (rack/desktop) module.
Do you know how to program sounds or are you a complete n00b? If n00b: menu diving probably won't be your friend.
Do you already have other synths, or will this be your first one? If first one: this synth will have to be all in one: multi timbral, lotsa polyphonic voices, DSP effects.
Do you mind whether it's software or hardware? In case of software: have a go with freeware software, plenty of such around. This enables you to try 'n test different types o' synths before spending a dime on then.
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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by madmarkmagee » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:05 am

600 to 700 dollars? That's a bit of a dilemma for you and you will have to sacrifice something. I'm guessing you want polyphonic, so you options are either to buy a lower range new board or a used board(they come with the risk that something is wrong, or will go wrong with them in the near future and you will have to pay a tech large amounts of money to get it fixed and I get the impression you don't have that much money.) If you're a complete Nube as was said by CS_TBL, it might not be a good idea to buy something with lots of menus... Though, if you prepared to read manuals, menu driven synths can be the brutal tough learning curve you need to understand synthesis...

Anyway, the best deciding factor is your ears, in the end that's the only thing that counts...

Some suggestions (You can find more info on the reviews here and just copy and paste the name into youtube for more more demos and reviews (highly suggested exercise ).

Used

Roland JX-3p (80's 6 voice poly, analogue, old thus could blow up, hard to program without an external programer, usually go for 350-500 without programmer, programmers (Pg 200 or Kiwitech programmer, 300-400-500 dollars)

Roland Alpha Juno (80's 6 voice poly, analogue usually go for 400 dollars, again hard to program without external programmer. (pg 300 or kiwitech programmer 300 to 400-500 dollars).

Roland Jx-8p 600- 700 dollars, hard to program, same as above.


Think you can use a computer to program as well, with software, never tried it...

Digital stuff which is good

Ensoniq ESQ-1 menu driven, battery leaks + flat + other problems, get one in good nick with a new battery.

Korg MS 2000, 4 voice, lots of nubs digital 500-600 dollars. sometimes problems with sliders.


New

Micro korg like ms 2000 but really need to program with computer 400 dollars

Microkorg XL, different synth but with 8 voices, again need computer for easy programming

R3 900 dollars (though get heaps cheaper used) 8 voices, need a computer for easy programming

You can get all these cheaper used. If you have a midi controller you could also think of a Korg Radias used or a tetra used...

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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by Ashe37 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 8:18 am

R3s aren't $900... even new.

On the MS2000 you obviously mean pots, since they have no sliders.

Never heard of battery leak problems on an ESQ.

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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by SSquirrel » Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:12 pm

Also the JX 8P usually goes for about $400-$500 w/o programmer, but the PG800 goes for that much again. Makes it $800-$1000 for both usually.

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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by madmarkmagee » Mon Jun 18, 2012 5:35 pm

They're only estimates, and yes I meant pots, not sliders... Was in a rush...

R3 used to go shop retail in Australia for 900, (which is parody to a US Dollar value) like a year ago. Cheaper online and Alot less now. Also alot less in US and other less isolated countries where there is more competition etc. My mistake... just had that number in my head...

I've seen jx-3p's go for 500 with programer, I've seen jx- 3ps go at all different prices. You can buy pg 200's from Japan for 300-400, you can buy a used kiwitech programer for that as well...

Ok the batteries on esq's don't commonly leak was getting confused... they do die though...

http://www.phase4c2.com/pic101/ensoniq/faq.htm#4

knew I read that they did leak somewhere... don't know if they actually do... I thought hypothetically all batteries could possibly leak... they do have acid in them... Double A and Triple A batteries Etc definitely do.. experienced that a few times...

At least I was making some suggestions, which is what the thread is about...

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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by bouzoukijoe1 » Mon Jun 18, 2012 6:44 pm

if you can find one, definitely for what you need, a Supernova rack + midi controller like axiom 49 key or novation (better). best bang for your buck. don't try to get too many features in one synth, it will suck. eventually just get a couple more synths when you get more money.

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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by CS_TBL » Mon Jun 18, 2012 7:49 pm

Hm, I'm tempted to suggest a JV1080. They're cheap, offer decent multi-timbrality and polyphony, offer bread 'n butter sounds as well as plain synth sounds. A 2080 perhaps for better (more visual) editing. I've seen a 1080 for as low as €160 - in good condition, leaving some options for a keyboard and/or another synth.
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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by V301H » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:05 pm

Though not easily programmable something in the Oberheim Matrix 6/6R/1000 range will get you complex real Analog Synth sounds at the lower range of your budget.
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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by nathanscribe » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:17 pm

Korg DW-8000? Good range of waveforms, 2-osc, good envs & modulation, great analogue filters, velocity & AT, built-in chorus/flange/delay, and MIDI. They're common enough and easy enough to program and sound fab for the money. An underrated board, I think.

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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by Z » Mon Jun 18, 2012 10:24 pm

Akai AX60 - great, underrated synth. Can be had for under $500. No real known issues except missing slider caps.

Kawai K3 or Korg DW-8000 - inexpensive (under $300) with a wide pallete of sounds. Although you can only edit one parameter at a time, it's not a total P-I-T-A. No real known issues.

Roland Alpha Juno 1 or 2 - another vote here.

It would be helpful if you gave us more info on your synth knowledge and current gear as CS_TBL already expressed.

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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by elmosexwhistle » Tue Jun 19, 2012 10:39 am

Right, rather than chuck a load of models at him, let's have a look at the options.

There are Analogue synthesizers, and there are "Virtual Analogue" synthesizers. I assume you're gonna want something polyphonic (which can play more than one note at a time) so i'll explain them.

Back in the 80's Analogue was all they had (and FM, but that's another story) and all the sounds that were on those artist's records were made with Analogue synths. Sometimes, to cut costs, companies melded together Analogue bits and bobs (the bits that make the sound, like oscillators, filters, etc.) with digital control or computer chips, meaning that they could remember the sounds you programmed in a tiny computer memory. This was sometimes at the expense of decent control options though, and some 80's synths have a beautiful Analogue sound but no knobs or sliders to change the sounds up! Meaning you have to push lots of buttons, and program sounds using a tiny screen. Still, it means that they're cheaper today than the big knobby ones, examples are. Roland JX8p/JX3p, Akai AX60/80, Oberheim Matrix 6, Korg DW6000/8000, etc etc etc. All of these have "MIDI" meaning you can hook them up to a computer and use editing software to make the sounds, lots of sliders and knobs on screen, meaning you don't have to push buttons and scratch your head! Old synths didn't have MIDI they just had the knobs, and a really old standard called CV Gate, it probably wouldn't work for you as you need a load of extra kit.

Virtual Analogue came along in the mid 90's, they used computer chips and software to try and sound like Analogue instruments, modelling the filters/oscillators etc, i dunno how it's done, but they did it. For a first synthesizer, these instruments would be good enough for you i believe, the sound is about 90% there on most of them, the only things they lack are pristine, trebly high notes (the notes tend to have digital artifacts called aliasing) and smooth filter sweeps (they can sometimes "step" creating little digital glitches instead of smoothness). Not really anything to worry about if you're playing synthpop with lots of notes going on.

All these VA synths have MIDI aswell so you can edit by computer, but, what's great is, in the 90's they decided to put the knobs back on synths! Maybe not as many knobs, but plenty for live tweaking of sounds and making programming "on the board" alot easier.

Some great 2nd hand Virtual Analogue (or VA) synths include: Yamaha An1x, Roland JP8000, Nord Lead, i mean there's lots of them, Quasmidi's, Access Viruses, Korg Microkorg (a really diddy synth that people fell in love with) Korg MS2000, you name it!

Modern VA synths that you can buy new or maybe 2nd hand include, Korg R3, Alesis Micron, Akai Miniak (all with less keys than the Nords and Yamaha's but you may not need a lot of keys!) M-audio Venom, i mean, there's loads again.

You could make good synthpop on any of them, tell us what you'd like, real analogue? lots of keys or not that many? what kind of look do you want it to have? do you want a vocoder thrown in so you can make robotic voice sounds?You've come along at a great time for synths, there's so many cheap affordable options!

Finally there are Romplers, like the Roland JV mentioned above, these use samples of real instruments (and a couple of synths) to try and cover alot of different sounds, i wouldn't recommend them for your purposes though because they sound really 90's, and not 80's.

Anyhow, hope we haven't scared you! Oh yeah, there's always the option of buying a cheap little Midi controller (a keyboard which has no inbuilt sounds) and hooking it up to a computer, then using free software which pretends to be a synth, and makes the sounds for you. Some of them sound pretty decent.

Anyhow, i'm waffling, good luck!

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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by samuraipizzacat29 » Tue Jun 19, 2012 12:40 pm

cavalerox wrote: -i can spend up to $600 or $700
-i mainly want to play synth pop/new wave songs from the 80's (mainly Depeche Mode , Duran Duran , Alphaville songs)
the first thing that came to my mind was the jp8000. Lots of knobs and has that late 80s sound.

for what you're asking, some Kurzweil pc361's were on sale for like $750 recently. You could do just about any sound you want with those......

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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by CS_TBL » Tue Jun 19, 2012 1:26 pm

elmosexwhistle wrote:Finally there are Romplers, like the Roland JV mentioned above, these use samples of real instruments (and a couple of synths) to try and cover alot of different sounds, i wouldn't recommend them for your purposes though because they sound really 90's, and not 80's.
Question is: what defines the 90's? Here's my take: in the 80's consumer sounds were synthetic (Synclavier, Fairlight etc. are not consumer products). In the 90's acoustic instruments (like those in a JV) started getting better, but it was just not ideal - one might say it sounded fake even. The 00's and onwards saw a revolution in sample streaming technology, and by today a library of 100+GB isn't that extreme anymore. Quite a difference with the 90's, in which a whole bread 'n butter set o'sounds had to fit 4..8MB ROM chips. No wonder there'll be cutting on corners; short sample loops, few - if any - instrument-specific articulations, fake tricks applied to acoustic tones to soup them up, global reverb for the whole machine, oodles o' bright reverb to soup up bad samples, the machine gun effect, cheesy drums, distortion guitars that are just a sample, without a single distortion DSP being applied etc.. And exactly that is what we hear and what we now label "the 90's".

Skip all that nonsense, and just grab genuinely synthetic sounds from a 90's rompler. It's perfectly possible with a JV to create a sawtooth going through a filter. When done well there'll be no 90's in that sound.
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Re: what type of synthesizer do you suggest?

Post by bouzoukijoe1 » Wed Jun 20, 2012 4:09 am

except isn't it more work to get a "90's synth" to sound like a "80's synth" even if a 90's synth can actually do it? I remember spending months trying to figure out what I was doing wrong with digital synths until I finally tried some old analog then I instantly understood why things sounded the way they did back then. with a 90's programming interface I think it might be extremely difficult. especially a rompler. just my opinion. depends on the synth though I guess. maybe some romplers make it easier than others.

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