The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20, BS

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roaring_blood
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The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20, BS

Post by roaring_blood » Tue Oct 13, 2015 5:21 am

Hi everyone.
I have very little synth experience so any advice would be much appreciated. I have looked through the forums and mostly see posts about electric music. not so much what I am looking for.

I am want to buy a analogue synth as an early Christmas present for my keyboard player wife. We have also been asked to play a special one off cover band night and we think The Rentals would be a lot of fun.

I want to get something on a budget and relatively new. I need to avoid vintage since this is meant as something for her not another project to sit on my work bench.

Any thoughts on the Bass Station II, MiniBrute, or MS-20 getting that sort of tone?

for reference:

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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by Rokk » Tue Oct 13, 2015 8:00 am

I'd go with the Minibrute. The MS20 is great, but has serious noise issues and no pulse width modulation which is a great con in my book, although it has lots of character and is quite flexible being semi modular.
Bass station 2 could be a great synth. But the omission of one very important parameter - variable filter tracking - is preventing it to be a great synth. If you can live with that, then fine. I can't.
Minibrute has a very simple, what you see is what you get interface. No presets, but really, it's quite a simple synth and tweaking it is fast. The oscillator section is amazing with four waveforms present simultaneously, plus noise, plus audio input. It has lots of unique tricks up its sleeve like ultrasaw, triangle metalizer and brute factor, plus a switch for fast or slow envelope which can be really handy and creative.

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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by natrixgli » Wed Oct 14, 2015 5:23 am

For The Rentals you need two syncable oscillators so that rules out the Brutes. Out of the three you mentioned, the BSII is closest. I dislike it personally for the same reason as Rokk, fixed key tracking is a sin. ("please let that be you" will never sound right!)

I would go with a Novation Ultranova. Two octave keyboards will be a pain to play stuff on, and the Ultranova can emulate the h**l out of a Moog Source or Prodigy which is I believe what most of their stuff used. Unless you're prepared to pony up for a Sub 37, and if your wife is a keyboard player and not a synth geek, polyphony and patch memory will probably be well appreciated.

It's not analog but it's damn good and can be had cheap. Loads of fun too, as it has aftertouch, wave tables, interesting LFO shapes, external inputs, a built in audio interface, lots of FX, etc. Its a often overlooked synth that really does a lot and sounds great.

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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by Rokk » Wed Oct 14, 2015 7:57 am

Minibrute can do a "sync" sound in it's own way with the metalizer. It's different, but cool.
The Ultranova is a good suggestion, but beware of minikeys and if you want real analog, the Ultranova it not.
The only analog monosynth that comes next up the price range is DSI Mopho and then the Korg Odyssey.
I dislike DSI sound, apart from the Prophet 6 and Evolver. And I find the interface on the Mopho kb clumsy.
The Odyssey would give you a lot, but...beware of those minikeys again. But reportedly they are quite good and not so mini.

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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by roaring_blood » Thu Oct 22, 2015 8:11 am

Thank you for the responses, you have given me a few things to think about.

I actually was expecting the MS-20 to be the top contender since it has a simple layout, 37 keys and is a more traditional mono synth in terms of functionality. My biggest reservation up to this point was no arpeggiator not that we need it to play the Rentals but in the past I have played with a few hardcore bands that had a Roland Juno and the arpeggiator was used more than anything else.

I was able to do about a short demo of Microbrute, Bass Station II, Ultra Nova, and Sub Phatty Each one had its own strengths and weaknesses. I only had enough time for about 10 minutes per unit so not enough time to really try and dial up a specific tone but get a general impression.

Bass Station II,
Seems to try and cram too many features into too small a foot print. I thought switching between the OSC I and II was a pain since it meant that the rotary knobs would at some point be hanging out in no mans land. Same complaint when switching presets makes it kind of hard to get the feeling of just turning it on and playing. Once I got a little use to the interface there are some nice sounds available.

Microbrute,
Similar complaint as the Bass Station II, just seems like it tries to do everything possible on a budget with limited foot print. Instead of the dual function controls there are clever controls like the metalizer and multiple waveform voices for the one oscillator but because of that it didn't feel as intuitive as I would have hoped for. I was able to dial up some usable sounds pretty quickly but everything sounded kind of tinny and small.

Ultranova,
This is a very cool keyboard and thank you for the recommendation. I think between the menus and polyphony just not the sort of instrument that she wants to add to her collection.

Subphatty,
Out of the 4 I tried out I got the least amount of time although in the 5 minutes I already was getting some really nice tones. The panel is simple and logically laid out, when I made adjustments they felt immediate. By that I mean that I always had a sense of what I was manipulating and how it was effecting the sound, something the Bass Station II, Ultra Nova, and to a slightly lesser degree the Microbrute didn't give me. Downside is that it costs twice as much and is out of my price range.

So the short of it is that all things considered the Bass Station II is the closest so far to what I am looking for in terms of features, functionality, tone, and price. Not exactly the clear winner I was hoping for but not the worst in any category either.

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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by Ollimac73 » Thu Oct 22, 2015 10:53 am

I agree with the above short-review; personally, I have chosen a SubPhatty...it is an immediate synth to twist-play-have fun...with the iconic Moog sound. If you are willing to look at the second-hand market, there are many SubPhatty on sale (many people sell it to pass to a Sub37).

The BS2 is complete, nice sound...but it drive me crazy, not knowing "where I am".

PS. give a try to an Arturia Minibrute ;) , it is a well respected synth I ve seen in many studio. It s in the MS20 price range, and it gives you great opportunity to use it (one day) with a Microbrute ...and you will have an incredible duo.

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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by Rokk » Thu Oct 22, 2015 9:36 pm

roaring_blood wrote:Thank you for the responses, you have given me a few things to think about.

Bass Station II,
Seems to try and cram too many features into too small a foot print. I thought switching between the OSC I and II was a pain since it meant that the rotary knobs would at some point be hanging out in no mans land. Same complaint when switching presets makes it kind of hard to get the feeling of just turning it on and playing. Once I got a little use to the interface there are some nice sounds available.

Microbrute,
Similar complaint as the Bass Station II, just seems like it tries to do everything possible on a budget with limited foot print. Instead of the dual function controls there are clever controls like the metalizer and multiple waveform voices for the one oscillator but because of that it didn't feel as intuitive as I would have hoped for. I was able to dial up some usable sounds pretty quickly but everything sounded kind of tinny and small.

Ultranova,
This is a very cool keyboard and thank you for the recommendation. I think between the menus and polyphony just not the sort of instrument that she wants to add to her collection.

Subphatty,
Out of the 4 I tried out I got the least amount of time although in the 5 minutes I already was getting some really nice tones. The panel is simple and logically laid out, when I made adjustments they felt immediate. By that I mean that I always had a sense of what I was manipulating and how it was effecting the sound, something the Bass Station II, Ultra Nova, and to a slightly lesser degree the Microbrute didn't give me. Downside is that it costs twice as much and is out of my price range.

So the short of it is that all things considered the Bass Station II is the closest so far to what I am looking for in terms of features, functionality, tone, and price. Not exactly the clear winner I was hoping for but not the worst in any category either.
BASS STATION II: True, having one set controls for two sets of parameters like in oscillator section and envelopes is indeed frustrating, unless there are endless rotary encoders or any kind of feedback that let's you know the value of the parameters. Novation did use knob pickup mode on their older synths that used one set of controls and that was helpful, but they somehow didn't implement this in BS2.

MICROBRUTE: I politely don't agree ;) It does have many controls on a small surface, but everything is nicely layed out and is not confusing, plus there is a knob/slider/switch for every single parameter and no memories so you always have full visual feedback of what is going on.

ULTRANOVA: Yeah, the interface might work well, but...I just don't like it's over plastic feel and the fact that it uses endless rotaries for everything and these are notorious for going bad.

SUB PHATTY: If you were frustrated with BS2 interface you might be frustrated with SP interface too as many of the parameters are hidden under the hood and are accessed with rather cryptic combinations of button pushes unlike the BS2 where you at least have them labeled next to the keyboard keys. In order to control these parameters you either have to memorize the mysterious button pushes or use the software editor and I totally dislike using any kind of editor or controller in order to edit an analog synth.

Try Minibrute, you might like it. It just might have what you're looking for. Imho you can't beat Minibrute in this price range.

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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Oct 23, 2015 1:29 am

Rokk wrote:ULTRANOVA: Yeah, the interface might work well, but...I just don't like it's over plastic feel and the fact that it uses endless rotaries for everything and these are notorious for going bad.
Just FYI, I've been gigging my Ultranova for around 4 years and have had zero problems with the encoders. It does feel plasticky, but the upside of that is that it's nice and light for a board with such a nice keybed. In my opinion it's the best polysynth under $1000 by a big margin.

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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by SSquirrel » Tue Nov 03, 2015 8:45 pm

While small and tinny is a possible sound out of the Microbrute, that hasn't been my experience for a majority of my use of it. Then again, while I occasionally venture into softer sounds, I am generally playing something messy and aggressive on the micro and I never have problems making it sound thick. I haven't used the other 3, but the micro is cheap enough you could easily pick up some other gear as well.

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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Nov 03, 2015 10:41 pm

To me, the "patch panel" of the Microbrute is a deal breaker. It really makes controlling modulation clumsy and if you will not be integrating with modular gear what's the point (the MS20 also suffers from this). I found the maximum times for the ADSR to be much too short for my tastes.

I agree about the BSII flaws. Having no catchup or pass through mode for the pots makes live tweaking of presets a real adventure and not in a good way. I'm not sure which is worse, no filter tracking at all (like MS20) or a fixed 100% like BSII.

roaring blood you'll just have to decide what feature compromises you can live with or else kick up the budget.
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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by megamanx » Wed Nov 04, 2015 1:12 am

the dsi mopho might be a good choice, they are being heavily discounted.

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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by Rick N Boogie » Thu Nov 05, 2015 8:38 pm

Yup, I'd take a look at the DSI Mopho KB, as a real contender. It's not perfect, but it is analog, and has more features than most at this price point.
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Re: The Rentals tone with new budget synth (Minibrute, MS-20

Post by Stab Frenzy » Fri Nov 06, 2015 12:51 am

Rick N Boogie wrote:Yup, I'd take a look at the DSI Mopho KB, as a real contender. It's not perfect, but it is analog, and has more features than most at this price point.
Tonally it's nothing like the Rentals tone the OP wants though.

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