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"bread and butter" knobby, digital hardware synth?


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65 replies to this topic

#1 Paega

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 12:10 PM

Hey all

Pretty new here...thought this might make a sort of introduction thread...so anyway...I run a hardware/software setup...at the moment I have a MicroBrute, Anode MeeBlip and Volca Keys...so I have analog territory well covered as far as my needs go. As versatile as I find these synths combined with my other hardware and later manipulating them in my DAW I feel like I am wanting a knobby, polyphonic digital synth.

The top contender on the list is a Nord Lead 2x but I am also looking into perhaps a JP 8080 or MS2000R. I dont require a sequencer or keys on any of them. Im looking for a knob per function, as little menu diving for synthesis tasks as possible, polyphony, multi timbral would be nice, but not needed. I guess my budget is up to 800 USD. I dont really have room for a full keyboard at the moment although that may change by the time I can afford to seriously start looking into purchasing something.

And just as a final thought...something like an Access Virus seems too complex for myself. I am a pretty simple guy when it comes to sound design and I prefer working with audio I have recorded myself. Really complex modulation and routing options arent really my thing. The Nord is the top contender because it offers up immediate access to all functions and is a pretty straight forward subtractive synth.

#2 Rbrmyofr

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 01:45 PM

I used to own a JP8000, pretty good but I ended up selling it. I currently own a Nord Rack 2X and use it quite a lot. I've got a Nord Modular also, those older Nords sound really good in my opinion, and the 2X is really easy to use. The Nord Lead not so much these days as there is no official OSX patch editor for it.



#3 Paega

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 05:27 PM

I used to own a JP8000, pretty good but I ended up selling it. I currently own a Nord Rack 2X and use it quite a lot. I've got a Nord Modular also, those older Nords sound really good in my opinion, and the 2X is really easy to use. The Nord Lead not so much these days as there is no official OSX patch editor for it.

 

Thank you. I think I *know* that the Nord Rack 2x is the best answer to what I'm after, but since it'll be months until I could afford one; a combination of GAS/curiosity has sent me looking at other options. I don't think one ever really becomes totally satisfied with a hardware setup, but the Nord Rack 2x would round out a setup in which I wouldn't *need* another synth. Wanting is another matter entirely.

 

I think I want to go in a direction where I have fewer synths, just a few I know really well, and more timbre and tone shaping options. If anyone else has any suggestions I'm all ears : )



#4 Braintree

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 09:03 PM

If you're going digital, why not just buy some Native Instruments plugins? I use the FM8 for almost all of my patches. I love it.

 

But if you're really dead set on a physical synth, you could look into the Nord Modular G2. It's a real beast. Any one of their virtual analog synths is far more capable than just subtractive synthesis.



#5 Paega

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 10:27 PM

If you're going digital, why not just buy some Native Instruments plugins? I use the FM8 for almost all of my patches. I love it.

 

But if you're really dead set on a physical synth, you could look into the Nord Modular G2. It's a real beast. Any one of their virtual analog synths is far more capable than just subtractive synthesis.

 

While I appreciate your concern for my wallet, I don't get much out of doing sound design with a mouse and VSTs. I do use them and have bought and sold many of them over the years. I currently use Alchemy if I choose to work in the box. Maybe I am being esoteric and foolish, but I really just prefer a physical instrument in front of me.

 

I will have to have a closer look at the Modular G2. Seems to be something like that new Roland box in the Aira series, though I suspect much more flexible.



#6 psn

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 10:37 PM

korg_ms2000_angle_lg.jpg
 


Edited by psn, 14 July 2014 - 11:06 PM.


#7 Mesh Gear Fox

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    not even going to read the thread lmao but check this out →

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 10:42 PM

nord modular is like having max or reaktor in a hardware box. there isn't one knob per function, but I assume you can tie the knobs to any parameter in whatever patch you make.

I know you're after something really hands on but I would ask you to consider a Roland jv 1080 or something in that series. really handy bread and butter modules that have a slightly lofi vibe which sets them apart from modern software vsts. you can edit them with a computer patch editor so you could use a midi controller to automatically map to any params you need.

#8 Kcinsu

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Posted 14 July 2014 - 11:40 PM

The Lead 2x is a classic sound, and you can't go wrong, but the Nord Lead 4 and A1 both sound fantastic too, and are worth checking out. The A1, I believe, is marketed as the more user friendly/quick to program type instrument, which sounds like what you seem to want. 

 

The Modular is definitely not what you want. I have 2 and love them, but you'll spend most of your time using the software.

 

I have a Virus TI which I like a lot, but the menu diving and range of capabilities can be too much at times. I like, and am used to the Virus too much to sell it, but if I did, I'd replace it with a Lead 4.


Edited by Kcinsu, 14 July 2014 - 11:42 PM.


#9 Mesh Gear Fox

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    not even going to read the thread lmao but check this out →

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 12:01 AM

do you think virus synths are overpriced, kcinsu?

Edited by Mesh Gear Fox, 15 July 2014 - 12:01 AM.


#10 BCM

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 12:09 AM

Alesis Ion

#11 Guest_volg4_*

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 11:14 AM

try some of the novation stuff... i've got an a-station and a super bass station - i wouldnt get rid of either of those

 

something like a novation nova or supernova might be what you're after

 

 

you could also pick up a cheap akai or yamaha sampler and use single cycle waves or synth samples, maybe not as knobby as you want but something like a BCR2000 would fix that....



#12 Kcinsu

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 03:26 PM

do you think virus synths are overpriced, kcinsu?


Yes and no. They surely are not cheap... But they are extremely well built, have tons of features, sound great, integrate very well as a plugin, and access has great customer support... Updating OSes even after the a model is out of production... So I'd say they are good and dependable investments. That said, I got a good deal ($1600) on a TI desktop because it had a blemish (side wood panel had a dent on one corner) so I never felt like I paid too much.

Mine is the first version, and while I would love to upgrade to a TI2 darkstar, I really can't justify spending $3000 on something for effectively more voices and a keyboard, when I can already make the same sounds.

#13 John Ehrlichman

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 06:54 PM

roland Jd800 all the way, but not if you're after anything remotely 'analog' sounding. 

Roland_JD-800.jpg



#14 Paega

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Posted 15 July 2014 - 09:22 PM

I'm heading out on a vacation tomorrow morning...but thank you for all the responses! I will take all of these suggestions into consideration. I appreciate the warm welcome in the form of these responses. Quite a few options here I didn't even know existed, I'm excited to research them and listen to the demos! 



#15 poblequadrat

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 04:49 PM

It's not knobby at all but I got an ESQ-1 today and I definitely recommend it. It does bread and butter and much more. It's also got a pretty special sound which I like a lot: it's bright and harsh like FM synths but at the same time it's smoother and sounds get less disfigured at either end of the keyboard. Also very big sounding (looks like 3 oscillators are no joke) and lots of modulation options.

 

It's not entirely digital though, but it still sort of has a digital feel (in a good way, and there is some analogueness in that its brightness isn't coarse or glitchy but lush.)

 

Oh, and it's bloody huge so if you don't have room maybe it's not the best option (I know I don't have room and I don't know where to put it...) At least it's pretty solidly built, all metal case and weighs a ton.

 

Paid 250 eur for it so it definitely fits your budget (you might even get a second synth and a good effect box).


Edited by poblequadrat, 16 July 2014 - 04:53 PM.


#16 MisterE

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Posted 16 July 2014 - 05:02 PM

has analog filters so it could be considered a hybrid, and it seems to be geared towards sounding analog, but i think the prophet 12 looks interesting and for me the reason is because of the non-analog sounding sounds i've seen it make in youtube vids. and i think stuff like the wavetable crossfade is a pretty digital thing and i'd really like to play with that. on the other hand dave smith seem shit about supporting products they make on the software side



#17 poblequadrat

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 08:18 AM

It's not knobby at all but I got an ESQ-1 today and I definitely recommend it. It does bread and butter and much more. It's also got a pretty special sound which I like a lot: it's bright and harsh like FM synths but at the same time it's smoother and sounds get less disfigured at either end of the keyboard. Also very big sounding (looks like 3 oscillators are no joke) and lots of modulation options.

 

It's not entirely digital though, but it still sort of has a digital feel (in a good way, and there is some analogueness in that its brightness isn't coarse or glitchy but lush.)

 

Oh, and it's bloody huge so if you don't have room maybe it's not the best option (I know I don't have room and I don't know where to put it...) At least it's pretty solidly built, all metal case and weighs a ton.

 

Paid 250 eur for it so it definitely fits your budget (you might even get a second synth and a good effect box).

 

After a couple of days with the ESQ-1 I'm not sure I recommend it as a basic synth anymore. Its engine allows for it, but despite its depth and its relatively simple interface, it's not an easy synth to use. You've got to tweak the patches a lot until they sound good, and you always need an idea of what you're going to do, you can't just try and see what will come out. I'm a bit of a weirdo but I find it easier to get sounds from a Yamaha DX than the ESQ-1.

 

So it sounds brilliant and it can do pretty much everything but I think you've got to get to know it more than with other synths.

Also, it's got two drawbacks: you can't change the pulse width of the oscillators (although you can get PWM by using osc sync and modulating OSC2) and the noise waveforms aren't neither an emulation of a white noise generator nor a credible sample of white noise.

 

I do recommend it (beautiful digital sound and very cool filter) but you've got to be the type that will become friends with it!


Edited by poblequadrat, 20 July 2014 - 08:19 AM.


#18 futureimage

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 09:31 AM

Alesis Ion, Novation K or X Station



#19 Mesh Gear Fox

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    not even going to read the thread lmao but check this out →

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 06:43 PM

ion could be the thread winner actually. fits the description almost perfectly and the jd800 probably is harder to find and costs a lot more. but just look at that beast! Jesus Christ that was an ambitious design

#20 John Ehrlichman

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 06:52 PM

you can get jd800s for around $400 - $700 pretty easily, they aren't very rare. The Jd990, the more advanced rack unit version of the 800 you can snag for super cheap, i bought one at guitar center used last year for $200 



#21 Mesh Gear Fox

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    not even going to read the thread lmao but check this out →

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Posted 20 July 2014 - 07:23 PM

the jd990 runs at a higher sample rate than the later jv series, yeah?

#22 RFJ

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 03:13 PM

The Ion, in my opinion, takes up way too much real estate. Also if what he really wants is a Nord Rack 2x he should just save up and get it. I mean bottom dollar for an Ion on eBay is about 375.00. And that's BOTTOM DOLLAR and isn't going to be readily available at that price. Average for a NR2x is about 550. Take $550.00 minus $375.00 and what you're left with is a number small enough to justify not looking for anything else and saving the few duckets it is to get what you really want. Might as well save and get what you really want as opposed to buying something that might make you wish you had saved when you had the chance.



#23 MisterE

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 03:25 PM

it doesnt qualify as being really knobby but i still think the m-audio venom seems pretty cool. especially for the price



#24 Mesh Gear Fox

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    not even going to read the thread lmao but check this out →

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Posted 21 July 2014 - 08:03 PM

I've heard the venom had a lot of problems?

also I'm sure the nord sounds nicer than the ion but it's far less flexible, right?

#25 poblequadrat

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Posted 22 July 2014 - 02:10 AM

you can get jd800s for around $400 - $700 pretty easily, they aren't very rare. The Jd990, the more advanced rack unit version of the 800 you can snag for super cheap, i bought one at guitar center used last year for $200 

 

Hmm. You know, I think I might want a JD990, actually. I could use some softer sounds, and besides that it looks like a crazily flexible synth. How difficult is it to edit from the front panel?