Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

A forum for discussing the pros & cons of buying a particular synth and for advice on buying synthesizers.
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Rayek
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Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by Rayek » Fri Dec 14, 2012 9:00 pm

I've become enamored with the late-80s choral presets present on a lot of albums, and was looking for something similar to add to my own setup. For an example, the oft-ignored Kraftwerk Electric Café displays at least 2... What synth are they using? (1986)



I have been listening to Yamaha FS1r demos and they're excellent, exactly what I want, basically. The only problem is that, at 1,000+ USD it breaks my bank, especially just for a few sounds. Did Yamaha ever use the synthesis engine in anything else? Is there any other synth that's well-known for it's "ooh ahh"s?

What was next on my buying list was the Roland JD-800 because of the hands-on controls, and was wondering how close I could get to making a few different 'choral' presets just by tweaking. Or a good way to fake voices on the Korg DW-8000 (which I have) and/or any other analog poly.

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by BlackGnosis » Thu Dec 20, 2012 4:50 am

As to what synths they're using, I always thought of Electric Cafe being: a New England Digital Synclavier, a E-mu Emulator and a Linn Electronics LM-1, a little talking TI translator thingy and a gigantic vocoder rack. I might be wrong on that but its what I think KW were using back then. I always think of the kitted synthesizer stuff they started out on too but I couldn't guess that gear. Google would likely have a fanboy site somewhere where some one has all that info listed.

if you like the Yammie FS1r, why not just save up for it and get it if that is what you're heart desires.

If you need a FM synth to fill in between now and then, there is always using a Yammie Tx81z, awesome little module with a dx7 sound alike engine.
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Ashe37 wrote:I find it funny that you're a guitar pedal snob and yet don't own a single analog synth.

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by Z » Thu Dec 20, 2012 11:02 pm

I'm pretty sure the "oohs" and "aahs" on Electric Cafe are sampled.

The JD-800 is probably the most used synth in my rig. It is capable of some good synthetic choirs, but the Roland D-50 would probably be a better synth for synthetic choir sounds. Team the D-50 (or D-550 rack version, which is what I have) with a PG-1000 programmer and you'll be tweaking away in no time.

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by Rayek » Sat Dec 22, 2012 10:43 am

Thanks. I would like to just save up, but, being a student, money comes every 4 months, not every 4 weeks ;)

The JD-800, as far as I know, has the same synth engine as the D-50? On vintagesynth (here) it says the sounds are modeled after the D-50 but with multimode filters. Is "sounds" in this context the preset patches or is it the sound-generating architecture? I have heard a few choral sounds from a D-50, it would be nice if I could create a bank of patches on a JD-800 based on one tweaked patch (as I have done on the DW-8000). Plus, a D-50 with a PG-1000 is about the same, money-wise, as the FS1r.

I'd like to get some hands-on with a JD-800 before I really know if it'll do for this.

The TX81z is gorgeous, even though I haven't been able to find a good demo with some voice-y patches. It's really Sega Genesis, and that's something. And damn is it cheap...

Are there any others? I should think that late-80s cheapy boxes should be full of the fake preset voices I'm dreaming of.

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by Z » Sat Dec 22, 2012 3:43 pm

The D-50 and JD-800 have different synth engines. There are some similarities between the two, but both have features lacking in the other.

Personally, I do prefer the JD-800 as I use it as a virtual analog synth even though it is not a true VA since it uses PCM waveforms in its oscillators instead of software algorhythms that emulat analog circuits. The other night after repsondin to your thread, I went into my music room and experiments with the choir and vocal PCM waveforms on the JD-800 and came up with some nice sounds, escpecially using the JD's Time Variant Filter.

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by CS_TBL » Sat Dec 22, 2012 4:34 pm

Let's for a change not reply with the obvious..

Aren't there multi-filters that can be controlled over midi? As in, you send output to an audio-input of such a device, while you link like 5 controllers to its 5 internal bpf's? Then you could let any synth talk as long as the output is a rich sound like a sawtooth..
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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by Rayek » Sun Dec 23, 2012 4:15 am

Z wrote:Personally, I do prefer the JD-800 as I use it as a virtual analog synth even though it is not a true VA since it uses PCM waveforms in its oscillators instead of software algorhythms that emulat analog circuits. The other night after repsondin to your thread, I went into my music room and experiments with the choir and vocal PCM waveforms on the JD-800 and came up with some nice sounds, escpecially using the JD's Time Variant Filter.
Thanks for checking that out for me. Yeah, the JD seems to be the closest thing "on my list" while not getting too concentrated on one sound. I've been slowly collecting polysynths, I have an analog Roland JX-3p, the 'hybrid' Korg DW-8000, and I'd love to get a digital synth that isn't a modeling synth so I can pretty much cover all bases there. The demos of the JD that I've heard rip pads up like nobody's business, they're sharp, clean, and huge. Making pad sounds on the JX is kind of a mixed bag, they sound great, but they're too "warm"; even with the HPF up the sound gets thinner, but not "colder", if you catch my drift. Likewise, on the DW, it's hard to get the sharp clarity of a good sweeping pad, but its possible.

So, JD it is. I'd still like to be able to toy around with one, or hear the "choral" possibilities of it, but...

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by ryryoftokyo » Sun Dec 30, 2012 5:38 pm

Unfortunately when you're talking anything Kraftwerk, it's going to either be some obscure toy they made 40 of or some crazy expensive gear. Oh, and btw, I'm 20 minutes down the way from Worcester!
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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by blavatsky » Thu Jan 10, 2013 10:57 pm

Although it's not in the right timeframe (or FM), for cheesy 80s/90s choir type presets I'm pretty sure you can't go wrong with the JV stuff (1080, 1010, 880)
Add some bit crushing/filtering/low end reverb to taste

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by desdinova » Fri Jan 11, 2013 8:27 pm

Z wrote:I'm pretty sure the "oohs" and "aahs" on Electric Cafe are sampled.
They used the Orchestron heavily in the past and I wouldn't be surprised if it was used / [re]sampled into NED.
OP, I like the blofeld for this kind of stuff. It's also pretty damn cheap these days. If you get the sample option you can feed Orchestron/JD/JV/FS1r/foo partials through its engine.
rerum concordia discors | genre: wankery

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by Rayek » Wed Jan 23, 2013 10:07 am

It's been a bit, but I haven't abandoned this idea.

Seeing as bills have piled up this quarter, a JD seems out of my range, but I happened upon a formant filter/guitar pedal by Electro Harmonix that seems to have enough 'shaping' to turn what I already have into a nasty "Ah" synth.

Not interested in the "yah-yah"s or the "ow-wee"s, but it does have an "ah" and an "oh" setting. Has an envelope follower, too (kind of a must for something like this).

Couldn't find any polysynth demos (the worst part of 'shopping' for effects units online is that everyone plays a guitar through them) but here's one with a TB-303.



The thing I'm wondering is, first, if anyone has experience using formant filters on "analog synth" sounds and if it will effectively help to give me what I want (cheesy "ah" choruses), and if something like this will function properly with a slow attack (both guitars and this 303 demo have sharp attacks, wondering if the envelope follower will trigger modulation on a sweeping, slow attack). Also if this isn't really what I'm looking for, if there's a better, maybe rackmount version that's more tuned to 'synth' sounds.

For more info on the module here's the Sweetwater page.

Edit: This is just a theremin and the module above, and it sounds gorgeous:

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by pflosi » Wed Jan 23, 2013 12:27 pm

Half a year ago, I have ordered this nice guy here to do (among other things) vocal formant pads and I hope it will be ready to ship any week now:

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It's probably out of your price range, but there's other (also cheaper) things in the modular world that should be able to pull off the trick, e.g. Doepfer A104 or Analogue Systems RS 360...

Cheers!

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by Z » Wed Jan 23, 2013 1:59 pm

That's my EHX Talking Machine video you posted. The pedal sounds best with monophonic lines. When I first received the pedal, I hooked it up to my Yamaha CP-70 electric grand piano. It sounds OK when playing polyphonic lines, but it really shines with monophonic lines.

A few weeks ago, I received my Strymon Mobius that I ordered. I made a demo of a few of its effects, including its formant filter, all using my Roland Jupiter 6. While I mainly play monophonic bass lines during the formant fitect part, there are a few polyphonic "Synth stabs" mixed in. The formant filter part starts around 2:25


The Strymon Mobius is 3 times the price as the EHX Talking Machine, but does every modulation effect known, plus a few new ones. If I find the time, I'll try to make another video of the Talking Machine using a polysynth.

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by Pro5 » Thu Jan 24, 2013 2:12 pm

Z wrote: JD-800.....


.....Jupiter 6
So you use your JD-800 more than your Jupiter 6? Do you find any overlap in those light/bandpass pad sounds - something I feel the JD does well and reminds me a bit of what i've heard from the JP-6 (only in videos though). Never been lucky enough to have a Jupiter 6.

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Re: Looking for a good 'Voice' FM synth

Post by Rayek » Thu Jan 24, 2013 10:12 pm

Wow, Z, thanks for everything this go-round. I'd be lost... ;) I'll check out the Mobius demo as soon as I get home.

pflosi: I have been going to school in Washington the past year and the school I'm at has, among other things, a huge euro modular, an ARP 2600, a Moog Voyager, a Buchla 200e and a huge old Buchla 200. I've taken two classes and have gotten to know the faculty a bit and I've been recommending modules for a new system they're building for a new lab. This will definitely be one of them, among a LOT from Intellijel.

So I take it I'm not 'barking up the wrong tree' with this formant filter idea?

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