Getting into Synthesizers

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clothbox
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Getting into Synthesizers

Post by clothbox » Tue Mar 04, 2014 4:37 am

Hi guys. I'm new to this forum and actually, new to synths. I have basically no musical talent. But I really love the way the synth sounds, and I would really love to learn how to properly use one as a hobby. Is there a particular synth that is entry level, for beginners? Are there books, videos, anything that is recommended here? Or do you guys recommend actually learning the keys and what not first, with something like a cheap keyboard from radioshack or something? Any and all constructive input is appreciated, and thanks in advance!

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Re: Getting into Synthesizers

Post by ryryoftokyo » Tue Mar 04, 2014 2:19 pm

Hello! First off, welcome to the forums! As for your questions there's a lot of variables when it comes to which synth is right for you. I could rattle off a full list of questions that would make it more like filling out a census form, but I'll just stick to the real basic ones.

1) What kind of sounds are you after? If you can't really name anything in particular, that's fine. Tell us what bands that use synths that you heard that made you want to use synths in the first place.

2) Is space an issue? Would you prefer a mini synth or a desktop/rack type synth?

3) How much are you willing to spend? $200 $500? $800? $1000? $1000+?

4) Do you want something to integrate with a computer or do you not care about that?
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clothbox
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Re: Getting into Synthesizers

Post by clothbox » Tue Mar 04, 2014 9:37 pm

I listen to some Com Truise and a lot of synth covers. It's a little cramped in my room, but if having a full synth is worth the space, I think it can be a viable option. I'd like to keep it no higher than 400, and I'm not really sure about the computer intergration. I understand synth are pretty expensive, so should I pick up a keyboard and learn how to play first, in case it turns out that this isn't my thing?

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Re: Getting into Synthesizers

Post by synthroom » Tue Mar 04, 2014 10:30 pm

Not a hardware synth, but inexpensive and it does a lot:
http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/KeyLab49/

It has a nice keyboard and it will get you down the road into electronic music and synths. And with all the different soft synths that come with it, you will get an idea of different synth styles.
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Re: Getting into Synthesizers

Post by clothbox » Tue Mar 04, 2014 11:47 pm

Oh, cool. What is a hardware synth? What are the differences? Are they important for a beginner? (Sorry for so many questions, this is all pretty new to me and I'm not sure where to start all the learning that's to come.)

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Re: Getting into Synthesizers

Post by Percivale » Wed Mar 05, 2014 4:28 am

The world wide web is a hearth of both useful and meaningless information. Start by increasing your time to research your interest, i.e. synthesizers. At least learn what is MIDI and how keyboards work. Maybe check out your local store and speak to some knowledgeable people. Essentially, keyboards could come with/without a "sound engine", just in case you rush out to buy. Besides VSE (which is great), other forums I would recommend are GearSlutz and MuffWiggler.

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Re: Getting into Synthesizers

Post by shaft9000 » Wed Mar 05, 2014 2:59 pm

maybe you have a friend that can loan you a synth for a weekend or so - before you take any plunge(s)

These synths are entry level, yet sound good and are flexible, so you can focus specifically on learning synthesis and not be distracted by specific features that make some synths so different from the next:

- korg: MS-20, polysix, mono/poly .
whatever you do don't get a microkorg or any dinky little synth with barely any knobs/sliders on it, to learn synthesis; it will stunt your growth. you want what's called "knob-per-function" meaning little to no trawling through pages or menus to make the sounds - most every control is right on the surface panel. Most every synth has a bit of a gimmick involved somewhere, so it's wise at this stage to keep the silly/gimmickry to a minimum.
an MS-2000 is like the microkorg but with lots of knobs. still, you must page through menus to access many functions. it is a very good 2nd synth but perhaps not such a great 1st one.

- roland: any SH-series, JP-8000

-small basic modular such as Doepfer or Pittsburgh *yes, this is certainly entry level and is also the best way to learn, i feel. but it also costs the most money, and will lack any modern conveniences such as memory.

-arturia minibrute or microbrute
2600.solus.modcan a.eurorack.cs60.JP8.Juno6.A6.sunsyn.volcakeys.jd990.tb303.x0xb0x.revolution.
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shaft9000.muffwiggler.com <- singles & mixtape
shaft9000.bandcamp.com <- spacemusic album
youtube.com/shaft9000 <- various synth demos and studies

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Re: Getting into Synthesizers

Post by pmh » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:28 pm

Always a difficult one to answer, as there will be many varying opinions, none of which are wrong.

I would agree in getting something like the Arturia Microbrute to learn the fundamental basics, and to get a real time feel as to what the varying knobs and sliders do.

Once you have understood the basics you need to work out what you want to do. Do you have a particular band whose songs you want to learn, do you want to write your own, do you just want to spend all evening making weird noises?

I don't tend to make my own sounds anymore, as I can always find a preset that I like.

I always think it worthwhile to have music lessons, not only to teach you good technique, but it's so good to download the sheet music for a song, and just crack on playing it.

After a few months you may then have a better idea of direction and start to narrow down other synths you are interested in.

As space is becoming an issue for me, I have one synth and several desktop modules/rack mounted synths to play with. Had I some spare room to store this one synth, I would replace it with a midi controller such as the M-audio Axiom, and use this.

I say one, the other 20 odd are stored around the house. :mrgreen:

Kind regards,



Phil

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Re: Getting into Synthesizers

Post by commodorejohn » Wed Mar 05, 2014 8:48 pm

As people have said, something with a full complement of physical controls for its functions is absolutely the way to go for learning synthesis; there are plenty of worthy synths that don't have that, but you'll appreciate those a lot more once you've gotten to use something knobby to learn your way around. I'm a fan of the MS-20 Mini, but the Microbrute looks pretty good as well and is about half the price.

As for musical education, a basic grounding will get you far. I took two years of piano lessons in my teens, and while I never got that good at playing (though I've been working on it again in the last year or so,) it gave me enough of a baseline knowlege of music theory that I was able to spend the twelve years since then getting regular exercise in songwriting, and now I'm actually not half bad at it.
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Re: Getting into Synthesizers

Post by Swayze » Sat Apr 19, 2014 11:06 am

Totally agree that either a Minibrute or Microbrute would serve you well in learning the basics. I'm not just saying that cause I own one. They're genuinely great sounding synths at an affordable price. One difference between them is the Mini has an arpeggiator while the Micro has a sequencer. You probably want to look those terms up as well as the other features available on each to see what might suit you better. But either way, you can't go wrong with a Brute.

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Re: Getting into Synthesizers

Post by Weirdofromouterspace » Fri Apr 25, 2014 8:14 am

Hi,
Swayze wrote:But either way, you can't go wrong with a Brute.
I totally agree with that. However, there is one thing not yet mentioned, and perhaps you (clothbox, that is) are not aware of it: The Brutes are not vintage units that were built decades ago, and thus might be prone to being faulty (have a look in the 'Polysix Repair' thread if you're not sure what I'm on about ;) ).

The Minibrute was first introduced in 2012, and the Microbrute even after that. So even if you buy a used one, they are young ones :) . And they do not require much space in your room.
Swayze wrote:the Mini has an arpeggiator while the Micro has a sequencer.
There is now also a Mini with a sequencer, the Minibrute SE :).

You'll find detailed info about them on the Arturia site (www.arturia.com -> Products -> Hardware Synth). And no, I am not related to Arturia at all :D . But I have a Minibrute and can definitely recommend it!

When it comes to vintage synths I'm adding a Moog Prodigy to the 'worth looking for' list :) .
Don't forget to TURN ON THE SYNTHESIZER. Often this is the reason why you get no sound out of it. - ARP 2600 manual, 1971

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