Synthesizers.com system

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syntheticsolutions
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Synthesizers.com system

Post by syntheticsolutions » Mon Feb 17, 2014 1:37 pm

Ok, I have been thinking about this long and hard. The prices of vintage synths, keyboards and analogue effects have gone absolutely insane to the point where I can not see myself ever finding any of the synths I desire at a bargain price again.

I have always been looking for a prophet 5 or a memorymoog however the current prices got me thinking. For the same price that I would be paying for either of these vintage keyboards, I could realistically make "the dream" come true and invest in a synthesisers.com modular system.

I would be looking at buying the studio-44 system with the intention of eventually adding the additional cabinet featuring the sequencer and reverb etc.

I am aware that the import tax and shipping costs to the UK are going to be incredibly steep but I am aware I will have to factor these into my decision.

I am here asking for any synthesizers.com owners to share there experiences, ups, downs, loves, hates and recommendations regarding this long term investment. Are the systems built to last, how often should they be serviced, how easy/expensive are the options of expansion, do you feel the value is there in comparison to the extorted vintage synths on the market, how do you find company support etc.

Many thanks in advance for any advice shared.

Ryan
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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by pflosi » Mon Feb 17, 2014 2:27 pm

My tip is to be aware of the huge moneypit this might end up being...

Apart from that, go for it! Modular is where it's at. Don't forget to check out the other manufacturers in MU as well!

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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Feb 17, 2014 3:21 pm

I've owned two dotcom systems, I recommend them highly. Definitely built to last and excellent customer support before and after the sale. They are on the Moog-ish end of the spectrum in terms of the module selection which was fine with me, I'm less interested in the "west coast" stuff like Buchla and Serge.

It's impossible to compare a modular to vintage hardwired synths because they are so different.

Starting with the MiniMoog and ARP Odyssey, synths focused more on live performance rather than studio explorations. The Prophet 5 gave us patch memory and the DX7 gave us instruments that responded to good old two handed piano technique. Love it or hate it, the 1980s were the turning point that really opened up synths to musicians (Yamaha sold 20 times as many DX7s as Moog sold Minis!!!)

Modulars by comparison are both extremely primitive (think about it) and the promise of the future. I guess that's because you can cobble together the exact instrument you want. If you're into DIY you can build your own custom modules to do things that off the shelf ones can't. As much as I love my Motif workstation it will never be able to do that...

In addition to dotcom I've had systems from pAiA and MFB as well as a small Eurorack setup. The dotcom was the one I liked the most. They take up way more space but the payoff is they are easier to navigate, the knobs have a better feel and the best sounding VCOs and VCFs in my opinion.
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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by fh991586 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 6:25 pm

There is a big difference between a poly synth à la Prophet 5 and a monophonic modular: the same amount of money will not bring you the same thing. You should consider what you are really looking for in the first place...
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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by syntheticsolutions » Mon Feb 17, 2014 7:49 pm

fh991586 wrote:There is a big difference between a poly synth à la Prophet 5 and a monophonic modular: the same amount of money will not bring you the same thing. You should consider what you are really looking for in the first place...
I know the difference between these machines as would anyone with 1/100th of a brain. A modular has always been a dream however has always seemed unobtainable until I realised you can quite feasibly get one for the same price as what I am being forced to spend on the old poly synths. I was using the P5 as a reference regarding price only, nowhere did I say that I wanted a modular to do or sound anything like a prophet or any other vintage poly..
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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by fh991586 » Mon Feb 17, 2014 9:45 pm

Your original post wasn't as clear when I read it, that's why I replied like that. You only listed vintage poly as example, and no vintage mono (like the ARP 2600)...
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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by shaft9000 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:19 am

a vintage poly and a modular are very different things (unless its a Korg PS-3xxx series)

modulars excel at all manner of random, 'playing' sequencers and creating psuedo-sequencers/influencers out of LFOs and sample&hold etc, huge timbral shifts and morphing, aletoric composition, FX processing etc

polysynths excel at quick execution of harmony parts, live performance, and whatever idiosyncracy the particular model brings beyond the standard 'polysynth sound' everyone knows.
a big part of the appeal of them is just having a living, esoteric miracle-that-it-even-works-at-all beastie under your fingers. to me, anyway.... i just don't get along with very many digital polysynths for whatever reason.
they're basically a luxury, since multitracking a mono is always viable, if not preferable, and softsynths that sound pretty good are free.

all said, a .com system is a great way to get in. they're affordable and better built than most anything you'll find.
analog polysynths are always more of a gamble, even the newer ones.
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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue Feb 18, 2014 4:41 am

meatballfulton wrote:In addition to dotcom I've had systems from pAiA and MFB as well as a small Eurorack setup. The dotcom was the one I liked the most. They take up way more space but the payoff is they are easier to navigate, the knobs have a better feel and the best sounding VCOs and VCFs in my opinion.
I don't think you can really say that unless you've heard every VCO and VCF in Euro land, which I doubt anybody has. Except probably Richard Devine. There's so many different things out there in Euro you can't really make any generalisations about it as a format, even though a lot of people like to.

syntheticsolutions: If going modular has always been a dream then I think you should do it. I haven't looked back from when I bought my first modules a few years ago, it's such a fun way of working. If the price of dotcom with shipping and import duties is putting you off then maybe have a look at Club of the Knobs or Moon Modular, they're both based in Europe and do 5U stuff.

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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by Hybrid88 » Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:09 am

I wouldn't really get a Dotcom looking to quash your interest in those 80's poly's, like apples and watermelons.

Dotcom is a great synth though no doubt :)

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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by syntheticsolutions » Tue Feb 18, 2014 11:40 am

People are misinterpreting my post, I was using old poly synths as a reference purely from a price perspective.

In no way, shape or form do I expect a modular to act, sound like or perform like a P5. I know the differences between the two formats and am not going into this blind.

As I have already explained, I have always wanted a large format modular and have only recently realised the affordability of these systems when comparing them to the vintage synth prices of late. Once again, using a vintage analogue poly away an example of value/money and had absolutely no reference to sound or behaviour.
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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by Stab Frenzy » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:45 pm

People are obviously not reading the thread before posting.

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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by pflosi » Tue Feb 18, 2014 1:50 pm

Yeah it's all cool, go for it.

Make sure that you do a lot of research before to make sure you have the right format and manufacturers.

And furthermore, start slow. I'd definitely not buy a whole Studio 44 at once. Go slow and buy a few modules that you want most at first, then learn those in and out. With your MS10, DE, DT and partially the VC10 and CS15, you already have some audio and CV sources to play around with.

Also check modulargrid.net

Cheers!

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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by syntheticsolutions » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:15 pm

pflosi wrote:Yeah it's all cool, go for it.

Make sure that you do a lot of research before to make sure you have the right format and manufacturers.

And furthermore, start slow. I'd definitely not buy a whole Studio 44 at once. Go slow and buy a few modules that you want most at first, then learn those in and out. With your MS10, DE, DT and partially the VC10 and CS15, you already have some audio and CV sources to play around with.

Also check modulargrid.net

Cheers!
Thanks for the great advice.

The only reason I was thinking about buying the system 44 was to save money. I haven't don't the math but I figured buying the equivalent system module by module would work out much more expensive in the long run?
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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by pflosi » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:27 pm

Yeah it's most likely cheaper than buying the individual modules. However, you might want to swap out some modules later and you would then lose cash again when selling those. For example, as Stabby mentioned, COTK and Moon Modular are in Europe, so maybe preferrable to you (I personally would mainly go for COTK in 5U - I have the Addac 701 which is a clone of the COTK Moog modular osc clone and it is pure gold). Anyways, mixing and matching manufacturers to get exactly what you need is one of the main advantages of modular to begin with IMO (e.g., do you need simple LFOs for which you won't want to "waste" a whole proper VCO? Want an LPG or other "West Coast" stuff? Then you already need something outside of DOTCOM.) - thus a full system from one manufacturer is a bit of a "relic" from times that had only a few manufacturers in each format (though there are lots of people especially in Euroland that try to stay within as little different manufacturers as possible). And finally, going slow has the advantage that you will realize every time you maxed out your current modules what it is precisely that you are missing.

One final advice: register over at Muffwiggler and read A LOT. Plenty of great info there.

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Re: Synthesizers.com system

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Feb 18, 2014 2:34 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote: I don't think you can really say that unless you've heard every VCO and VCF in Euro land, which I doubt anybody has. Except probably Richard Devine.
I did say "in my opinion" ;)

I have owned plenty of analog (not just modular) over the years and I have never come across anything that sounded better than dotcom.

It is highly likely that someone else might find other VCOs or VCFs better (I'd love to hear Cwejman some time) and in the Euro world there is plenty to choose from. In terms of pure variety, Euro has no equal right now.

Besides, only dotcom has these modules:

Image Image Image Image
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