The factory preset conundrum

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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by Black Tomorrow » Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:21 am

Presets do have their place. If I'm working on a new idea that's coming along quickly, I don't always have time to noodle around with my own sounds. The idea has to be put down quickly before it gets lost. So I'll use presets as placeholders to get the job done. Afterward, I can tweak my own sounds and replace. But even that isn't always necessary. Sometimes the preset works perfectly.

When I get a new synth that has presets, I'll go through them pretty much as soon as I get it out of the box. Some of them inspire an idea, so they're useful that way. Others I'll file away mentally knowing "if I tweak that sound a bit this way or that, I'll be able to use it."

Then some days, I'm content to tweak away for hours. Having both options is great, and in the end, it's all about what works for me to reach an end goal of making music.
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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by meatballfulton » Fri Apr 11, 2014 12:19 pm

I was going to post again but I think I'll wait for next month's thread about whether presets are good or bad :banghead:

BTW I think the OP's original question had nothing to do with pros and cons of presets:
More often than not, the synth manufacturers enlist some of the biggest names in the industry (and likely pay big money) to create their factory presets. Yes, it always seems they rarely showcase the synth's unique capabilities in both the basic sounds, and modulation options. For example (to me) one of the greatest things on the NL series is the ability to map unlimited modulations to the modwheel, aftertouch, velocity etc....Yet, not a single preset demonstrates this.

It seems to me, in the software world it's quite the opposite. The presets generally do a good job of saying "This is what this synth can do".

I'm interested to hear other opinions on this, and the possible "why" behind the wealth of lackluster presets.
Anyone want to get back onto that topic? ;)
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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by Rezisehtnys » Fri Apr 11, 2014 12:45 pm

I had started there, but somewhere along the line bullshit and egos came along. It was as if a lead singer or guitarist had entered the room. Anyhow, should I digress. I think my original statement holds true, they make presets they think the prospective buyer will want. It's why the first analogue polysynths were full of acoustic instrument imitations, almost more so when samplers first came about. Of course FM, PD, and additive followed suit as well. It's why the first virtual analogues are full of 90's dance, house, techno, etc... sounds. If someone were to make an analogue or virtual analogue full of acoustic guitar, piano, trumpet, etc... sounds today people would ridicule them, but 30 years ago it was the norm as it's what the vast majority wanted. So, blame the majority and the companies that cater to them.

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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by meatballfulton » Fri Apr 11, 2014 1:53 pm

sensorium wrote:For example (to me) one of the greatest things on the NL series is the ability to map unlimited modulations to the modwheel, aftertouch, velocity etc....Yet, not a single preset demonstrates this.
Many vintage synths fix the mod wheel to vibrato depth but on a Vermona Perfourmer, the mod wheel is fixed to filter cutoff :shock: The only way on a Perfourmer to vary vibrato depth is using the LFO knobs. For some players this is a major disconnect, although if you are a filter sweep junkie it's pretty cool ;)

When I owned my SQ80 I found that very few patches made use of poly AT simply because it was difficult for players to control it. :(

On my Motif XF, mod wheel might be mapped to a timbre change (filter cutoff, other parameter morphing), vibrato (esp. on vintage style mono patches), rotary sim on organ patches, etc. You never know what you are going to get until you move the wheel :thumbsup:

The manuals for DSI synths explicitly tell you to try aftertouch and other controllers on the factory patches because they are programmed to do something...it might be something weird, but hey it's fun.

So it varies from mfr to mfr. I'd agree that most preset banks fail to make use of the deeper features of the instrument...sometimes SFX patches are the only exception.
Rezisehtnys wrote:I think my original statement holds true, they make presets they think the prospective buyer will want.
Synths today have so many patches that many offer category searching. Yamaha has used the same categories for two decades: piano, organ, keyboards (clavs, etc.), bass, strings, winds/brass, synth pads, synth leads, synth comp (chord stabs, etc.), choir, chromatic percussion, drums, musical FX, SFX. Right away that tells you the kond of sounds most users are looking for.
Rezisehtnys wrote:It was as if a lead singer or guitarist had entered the room.
How do you know when your band's singer is at your front door?

They can't find the key and don't know when to come in.
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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by ninja6485 » Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:03 pm

sensorium wrote:I have noticed a pattern, where the vast majority of complaints about a synth's sound are typically followed by comments such as:

"Have you dug into the synth's programming to tweak and get the most out of it?"

"Are you just using the presets? The presets suck. You really need to learn the instrument and create your own sounds"
Part of the conundrum stems from a possible misunderstanding of the quoted exchange. Often when these comments come up, the intention is to suggest that when someone says they don't like a particular synth, maybe it's actually just the presets that the person doesn't like - that they're giving a negative judgment too quickly. In other words, these comments are often not so much a statement about the quality of the presets, but about how in depth the critic's experience with the synth actually is; coupled with the suggestion that the presets - as many have noted - may simply not be to the critic's taste. Abstracted away from their original context and considered en masse, it may certainly seem as though there is this conundrum. Otherwise, I think the rest is accounted for by Griffin Avid's post early in the thread.
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by pflosi » Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:13 pm

meatballfulton wrote:How do you know when your band's singer is at your front door?

They can't find the key and don't know when to come in.
And how do you know it's the drummer?

The knocking is getting faster... :mrgreen:

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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by Rezisehtnys » Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:18 pm

meatballfulton wrote: When I owned my SQ80 I found that very few patches made use of poly AT simply because it was difficult for players to control it. :(
I noticed the same with the VFX. Come on people it's not that hard, any keyboardist worth their salt has enough muscle dexterity to utilize poly after-touch. It's like getting used to mini-keys, give it 30-60 minutes and it's like you've been doing it all your life. Slighty off-topic yet still can be tied in, I can't wait to get a Micro Q/Blofeld and wipe its presets to make lots of patches that use poly after-touch. They keyboards in the older Ensoniqs are fantastic. Not only are they weighted with poly after-touch and use the most ingenious and fool proof triggering system, but the flat/sharp keys are rounded on the backs as well which I can't begin to say how much of a joy that is. Why others never followed suit I'll never know, they were just meant to be played.

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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by Jabberwalky » Fri Apr 11, 2014 2:43 pm

My Eps16 has been my master controller for years. Unfortunately, the PolyAT has pretty much died, and takes all my strength to get any reaction. The An1x actually has much better response to AT, but shittier key feel.

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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by Rezisehtnys » Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:54 pm

Jabberwalky wrote:My Eps16 has been my master controller for years. Unfortunately, the PolyAT has pretty much died, and takes all my strength to get any reaction. The An1x actually has much better response to AT, but shittier key feel.
That's strange, the implementation for velocity and after-touch is based on magnetism. Only thing I know to say is to open it up and look for weak connections and such. Yeah, that's the only thing I really hate about my AN1x...

Almost forgot. It's probably the bushings as they are what stops the key and being the after-touch and velocity is based on distance of the key from the circuit, any bad bushing will cause a problem.
Last edited by Rezisehtnys on Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:15 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by Re-Member » Fri Apr 11, 2014 8:55 pm

I've owned a few romplers throughout the years and have noticed they seem to be less guilty of having genre specific presets as opposed to VA synthesizers or even modern analogs with patch storage. My current live rig is just a Korg R3 and microSTATION which I use to avoid lugging around all my analog gear, but everything on the R3 has been completely unusable and I'm constantly having to redesign everything from scratch for even the most basic of sounds. My microSTATION, on the other hand, has an entire bank dedicated to dozens of lead synth sounds alone, many of which are not too bad. Strange that I have to put more work into a VA than a rompler.

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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by commodorejohn » Fri Apr 11, 2014 9:09 pm

Re-Member wrote:I've owned a few romplers throughout the years and have noticed they seem to be less guilty of having genre specific presets as opposed to VA synthesizers or even modern analogs with patch storage. My current live rig is just a Korg R3 and microSTATION which I use to avoid lugging around all my analog gear, but everything on the R3 has been completely unusable and I'm constantly having to redesign everything from scratch for even the most basic of sounds. My microSTATION, on the other hand, has an entire bank dedicated to dozens of lead synth sounds alone, many of which are not too bad. Strange that I have to put more work into a VA than a rompler.
I think this is because ROMplers' heyday was the early-to-mid-'90s when the hot new thing was weird fusion styles and "world music" and so anybody trying for broad market appeal would need a suitably broad-but-eclectic range of sounds, while VA took off concurrent with the mainstream popularity of techno/dance music, which had been heavily reliant on "synthy" analog or analog-style sounds all along.
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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by dswo » Sat Apr 12, 2014 11:37 am

I enjoy crafting sounds. I'm not broke hearted that my "new" Juno 6 can't save patches, much less load presets. But I'm also aware that whoever made the Tetra presets is better at it than I will ever be. Rolling my own sounds is satisfying, but Vangelis (who used presets extensively) has made much better and more original songs. I'm loath, too, to tell another grown-up how he should play his own instrument, anymore than I would tell him what books he must like or which movies. It's not that I don't like to talk or argue about these things; as an English professor, I love to. But there are so many good things and good ways to enjoy, it seems a pity to insist on one (and possibly not in the spirit of synthesis itself).
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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by EmptySet » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:13 pm

What I don't like are synths that have like half the preset slots taken up with things that can't be overwritten, seems a waste to me, especially if I never use any of them. What is the point of even doing that?

Maybe back then ROM was cheaper than EPROM?

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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by Infinity Curve » Sat Apr 12, 2014 1:40 pm

I was more referring to modern synths like the Gaia; no excuse in that case.

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Re: The factory preset conundrum

Post by sensorium » Sat Apr 12, 2014 6:14 pm

I think 99% of the responders misunderstood my question... :|

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