Your synths and their function/place within your setup

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
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Jack Spider
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Post by Jack Spider » Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:33 am

I used to buy synths with the intention that they filled a particular role, or provided a sound that my others could not. I've since trimmed my list down to three keyboards and a module. Their roles are pretty interchangeable.

Moog Little Phatty Stage - it's the best at bass out of my current gear and ideal for lead sounds and effects.

Roland Jupiter 6 - strings, brass and pads primarily, although I like using it for cheapo electronic piano sounds. It does a nice warm transistor organ also. That said, I've used it for bass and leads also.

Ensoniq ESQ-1 - bit of a jack of all trades this one, thanks to its hybrid nature. I've used it for digital sounds that I can't achieve with the Jupe but also organs, pads, bells and was quite surprised at how usable the pianos are. It controls...

Roland MKS-20 - pianos, EPs, clav and an excellent vibraphone. There's nothing in terms of programming, and the 'patches' are actually EQ and FX settings.
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Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:54 am

Oh, so that's how it works...

Evolver - Monophonic lead stuff, also crazy digitalism, arpeggios, fuzzy basses with the filter wide open, acid, dirty processing.
V-Synth - Solid basses, pads, sample f**k, clean processing.
Computer - Anything else.

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Post by killedaway » Thu Jan 17, 2008 1:31 am

braincandy wrote:What is it that most of you expect from synths these days? Is it that a synth should cover most sounds relatively well or excel at very specific sounds?
i don't care for "all in one" type thinking, even though a lot of my synths are marketed with that as their big selling point. if you can get everything you need from one machine, awesome, more power to you. in fact, a machine that's great at several things is always a boon when it comes to creativity and having everything at-hand that you might need. i just find those types of machines to be a little hard to come by. my tastes in sound-making vary so much that i can't help but buy lots of different stuff, even if they're only for one or two things -- i just make an effort to exploit those one-or-two-trick ponies often. if i can't, then i will consider purging them from my studio. here's what i use, and what i use it for:

Electribe EMX-1: sequencer for other synths, a handful of drums. it excels at cutting trance-y leads, some low rubbery basses, and other random stuff. gets sampled into the ESX-1 a lot. the 8-measure length on the E-X 'tribes make them nice for longer and deeper patterns than my other stuff. they make fantastic X0X sequencers, so they push a lot of my sequencer-less gear.

Electribe ESX-1: movie/speech samples, drums sampled from my other gear (to free up "spots" on my EMX, MM, etc..), any other sample-centric needs.

Electribe ER MkII: some hard ring-mod/distorted kicks, the hats (for some reason, i just love the way they sound coming out of the ER-1), and some geeky blippy drum stuff. also gets sampled into the ESX-1 often.

Electribe EA MkII: sequencer for other synths, leads, basses, noises. limited, yes, but extremely inspiring. a lot of my "big ideas" start life on the EA -- it's programming limitations force a lot of bizarre thinking, and sometimes, cutting a sound or melody down to its bare essentials can lead to more powerful results than a coked-up super-synth. NOTE: contrary to popular belief, you cannot emulate the EA on the EMX-1. you can get in the ballpark using the dual OSC machine in the EMX, but you won't nail it. for this reason, i've bought my second EA, after realizing this fact a little too late and selling off the first.

Electribe EM-1: this might be my only redundant 'tribe. a lot of the drum sounds have been reused in the EMX-1, and most of the synth patches can also be very closely approximated. however, the converters or fidelity or something lends the EM-1 a slightly dirtier, rounder, and warmer sound though, so it stays. it also shares most of the EA's limitations so i also use it often to work out new ideas. lastly, it's black, and that says awesome. it's also used as a sequencer for other synths.

Elektron Monomachine SFX-60 MkII: everything: sequencer for other synths, drums, basses, some thin pads, video game chaos (the SID emulation is awesome and quite convincing), leads, noises, and vox-synth stuff... my new pride and joy. for a big-time Electribe fan, this thing feels like a well-loved, well-worn teddy bear, to me. within a day, everything felt familiar and functional. i initially expected this thing to be a big-time glitch and blip machine. in fact, it's much more. you can squeak and chirp with the best of 'em, but i've also found it excels at crunch and roar. so now, it shares the spotlight with my EMX-1 at the center of my music.

Alesis Ion: leads, basses, strings, pads (for sure!), bells, syn-choirs (the vocal formant filters are tops!). it's also my only full-sized keyboard currently plugged in, so i use it to play alot of my other boxes.

Yamaha DX200: FM duties. i use it for drums, clang-y synths, Sega Genesis madness, and carrier for my vocoders.

Korg microKORG: leads, basses, pads, strings. deep editing, lots of expression, battery power and portability means this little guy stays. i also use the vocoder from time to time.

if you can't tell, i won't sequence on a PC, so most of the above gear gets quite a workout for song construction. so that's it. these are my mainstays right now. my FR Revo hasn't found its place just yet in most of my tunes, but when i really get an ear for it, it will. my other stuff makes small appearances here and there, but aren't usually hooked up 24/7, so i left them out.

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Post by mis psiquicios y yo » Thu Jan 17, 2008 6:08 am

I recently put away my MS2000 and Microkorg from my studio and the truth is: it sounds better, well back into topic

NOVATION K STATION: Clicks, Pads, basses, sometimes leads too.
JUNO 60: That's the one i play live most, pads, like pianos, leads, noises, everything
SCI PROPHET 600: Pads and noises
MODULAR ( by now just basses and mono sequences sounds.
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In electronic music, sequencers are as important as synths, they all modify your composition and playing

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Post by Carey M » Thu Jan 17, 2008 7:41 am

Basically, I have my gear divided into my live rig and to my studio synths, but these roles are somewhat inter-changeable.

Studio tools:

JoMoX SunSyn: polysynths, pads, strings, bass, crazy stuff
Macbeth M3X: leads, occasional bass, some weirdness and fx
Korg PE-2000: strings and choir


Korg R3: vocoder, some analogue emulation
Oberheim Matrix-1000: polysynths, some leads
Roland MKS-50: pads, polysynths
Yamaha Motif6: master controller, electric pianos, sampled analogue sounds, some analogue emulation

At the moment I've been gigging with just the Motif and R3.

- CM

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Post by Shleed » Thu Jan 17, 2008 7:45 am

Doepfer: Sound effects, sound processing, sequences and leads, along with the odd simple acid line (not sure about you lads, sounds a bit roland-esque to me.)

MFB Synth II: Sequences, bass sounds, leads.

Akai S2000: Sample manipulation and pads... strangely enough.

Microkorg: Sound effects, pads, vocoder.

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Post by michael stein » Thu Jan 17, 2008 8:10 am

i like this thread, it's a; more natural, great synth review. Without sound samples this has managed to widen my range of what synths might be good at doing what. I like to take on the idea that my synths take on semi-specific roles in my set-up.

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Post by piRoN » Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:22 am

My Usual Suspects are:

Evolver - Bass, aggressive analogue, drones.
KS4 - Pads, EPs, modern VA sounds.
S3000XL - Percussion, general sampling duties.
D-10 - Horror film ambiances.
X7000 - Gritty, textured sampling.
ASM-2 - Bass, "modular sounds", drones, signal processing.
R-5 - Instant drum fix without arsing about.
CS15 - Simple analogue sounds, blippy basses. (Unless I'm using the feedback trick, in which case it's a different animal entirely...)
TR-606 - Uh... 606 sounds, I suppose.
S-50 - It's my controller keyboard.
EPS-m - Beefy drum sounds, loop-point modulation madness.
MKS-7 - Squelchy Roland basslines, big sine basses.
Prophet 2000 - Haven't figured this one's place out yet.
TQ5 - FM Pads and ambiances that don't take up much spectral space.
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Post by Tyler2000 » Thu Jan 17, 2008 9:27 am

Joey wrote:The Virus is definitely the main/favorite synth in my rig, I find myself going to it the most for everything, though lately I've been using the more digital aspects of it (wavetables, grain tables, etc), to really get deep in the programming.

I really like to use the MS2000b's vocoder more than anything else on it, though the DWGS, cross mod, and vox waveforms are pretty cool as well.

The Juno 106 is my bread and butter synth for polysynth sounds.

The TX81z functions as a paperweight, and as soon as I sample the few patches I like I'm going to put it up for sale.

The CZ5000 is really only used as a midi controller because its voice chips are f**k beyond repair.

The only synth I'm really having trouble finding a spot for is the NL2x, I have everything it does covered with other synths. I can even mimic the morph function it has with clever programming by the virus. I really like the way it sounds, I just can't find a clear spot it covers that I'm missing in my setup.
Wouldn't the Nord make a better midi controller than the CZ, and then just sell the CZ?

Roland HS-60: Bread, butter, and it makes really nice sounds when using the self-oscillating resonant filter as a waveform to make trippy bells, etc.

Moog MG-1: Bass, lead, fx, some poly, and between the continous mode and env. re-trig I can get some really interesting patterns going in all sorts of time signitures.

Ensoniq ESQ-1: Realistic sounds (not that I use those much), fx, some lead, some drums, fun/wierd stuff.

Commodre 64: Bass, lead, cuteness, drums.

Korg EA-1: Not much really. I do some little acid jams here and there. Sometimes I use it as a lead synth via midi.

Drum machines: Drums.
so what do I put down here now?

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Post by ipassenger » Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:12 am

Machinedrum SPS 1 : Kick, electronic drums sounds and weirdness. Plus occasional note sequencer or controller sequencer for other gear

Electriber ER1 : Seriously clicky, weak n sneaky electro weirdness or massive clang sounds.

Waldorf Pulse Plus : Severe Bass or squeeky acid, really nice plain analog sounds too.

Electribe ESX : Just about anything, really depends what you put in it. Great for making something out of nothing.

Nord Modular G2 : Strange sequenced sounds, atmospherics, some pad sounds, lazers, sounds never before imagined or heard, effects for above machines. Plus occasional note sequencer or controller sequencer for other gear

Yamaha CS15 : Jungle bass tones, n general tomfoolery.

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Post by spookyman » Thu Jan 17, 2008 11:31 am

My Gig-Rig :

Fender Rhodes : for...Fender Rhodes sound
Clavia Nord Stage : hammond, clavinet
Moog Prodigy : basses and lead
Korg Polysix : polyphonic brass sounds, strings, sometimes arp shemas
It is much easier to be a good equipment purchaser than to be a great musician.

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Post by fletriste » Thu Jan 17, 2008 12:13 pm

Vermona perfourmer – spongy square wave basses, organic dr who style basses, organic wormy sfx, non-sync multiple osc. Sounds.

SE1 – moog acid squelch, mid-low cut off string lines, D Ramirez electro lines

OAKLEY ORBITAL – Squelch, sfx, acid lines, v /exiting synth.

OSCar – saw tooth stabs (a la orbital - out there somewhere pt1), SAW II style organic sfx, much more (only had for a few weeks), that double square wave detuned chicago sound...

DB9 – cold as ice glass acid lines and drum tracking acid.

MB33 – squelchy acid, nice for mixing the oscillators for harmonic stepping acid lines, short decay biting acid stabs.

SH-09 – spongy basses, organic PWM basses, PWM anything, SFX.

Pss-795 – preset heaven.

vermona DRM2 + JMX airbase = drums.

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Post by Sir Ruff » Fri Jan 18, 2008 3:54 pm

Ok, I'll weigh in here with the disclaimer that 90% of what I'm about to list has never actually been used in a song! :lol: or :shock: maybe

SQ-80: the grandaddy... big synth sounds and grittiness/duttiness
Octave Cat: straight mono bass/lead and FM fx
CS30-Add N to X style ring mod bandpass weirdness
PSR-41-simple but great sounding FM
DS-8 - more complicated and nasty FM
MKS-80 - ubiquitous analogue pads/strings and blips
MC-202 - blip bass
s-612 - noise
juno-1 - hoover!

sh-5 is almost out the door. but if not it would be THE lead synth.
Same for poly-6 - but it would be THE mid-range brass machine/tight bass
Do you even post on vse bro?

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Post by MrFrodo » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:33 pm

spookyman wrote:My Gig-Rig :

Fender Rhodes : for...Fender Rhodes sound
Clavia Nord Stage : hammond, clavinet
Moog Prodigy : basses and lead
Korg Polysix : polyphonic brass sounds, strings, sometimes arp shemas
Hi spookyman,

It's always good to know that someone is still using instruments like those onstage (except for the Nord Stage, which is still pretty new).
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Post by gfriden » Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:36 pm

mis psiquicios y yo wrote:JUNO 60: That's the one i play live most, pads, like pianos, leads, noises, everything
Wow! Must have been love at first sight then! I mean, it's only been a month and a half since you bought it!

OK, so this is my list:

Axxe MK I + Little Brother - FAT FAT FAT Basses!

Odyssey MK II - Leads

D-50 - Pads

EPS-16+ - Samples (Well, not yet. Still haven't had time to sit down and learn it! :oops: )

Mono/Poly - Sooo many things (All the above except samples but also great for insane f/x) but mainly because of the arpeggiator. It's been my favourite function on any synth since I first heard 'Geisha Boys and Temple Girls' back in the early 80s. (Damn, there is no emoticon for 'sentimental'!)
Last edited by gfriden on Fri Jan 18, 2008 4:38 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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