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"bread and butter" knobby, digital hardware synth?

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I think you'll find it pretty easy to edit. those old romplers still hold their weight, they're really really good at pad sounds

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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?

Venom is cool and all for what it is but, let's face it, it's just a glorified midi controller. Also, being as it only has, what like 4 knobs, it doesn't really fit the criteria of "knobby" at all in my opinion.

 

I'd think the only thing the Ion has going over the Nord is probably efx being as the Nord doesn't have any. Both have 4 analog outs and both have 4 part multitimbral capibilities. The efx I don't really see as an issue because I know he could handle that with other outboard he has and various efx within his DAW.

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I had an MS2000 a long time ago, didn’t really dig the sound

 

Don’t sleep on older Virii—I have a Virus B rack which was fairly affordable and it sounds dark and DOPE

 

Ion / Micron is also a great recommendation. Obviously the features are different but I think they have a similar (to the Virus B) “darker” sound.

 

I also have a Nord Lead 2x. It’s awesome, but I think it’s a much more distinctive sound than those other synths. To me, it ALWAYS sounds like a Nord—bright, clean, and deep. But sometimes I have trouble finding sounds I like on it because I always hear NORD NORD NORD NORD NORD when I’m using it. Beautiful instrument tho

 

 

EDIT: sorry, the point is: the Nord sounds radically different—IMO—than some of the other synths mentioned. So, if you listen to enough demos and get an idea of the sound, it should be clear based on your taste what synth to get. Just because they have similar features and are digital polysynths, I would not consider them interchangeable. Make your decision based on your ears and what you’re looking for sound-wise, not feature-wise, or else you may be sorry!

Edited by Ascdi

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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?

 

pretty difficult but I use Sounddiver to edit it and the editing via that is extremely smooth. Only problem is you cant do it on a mac past Snow Leopard and the windows version of sounddiver is fucky.

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I had an MS2000 a long time ago, didn’t really dig the sound

 

Don’t sleep on older Virii—I have a Virus B rack which was fairly affordable and it sounds dark and DOPE

 

Ion / Micron is also a great recommendation. Obviously the features are different but I think they have a similar (to the Virus B) “darker” sound.

 

I also have a Nord Lead 2x. It’s awesome, but I think it’s a much more distinctive sound than those other synths. To me, it ALWAYS sounds like a Nord—bright, clean, and deep. But sometimes I have trouble finding sounds I like on it because I always hear NORD NORD NORD NORD NORD when I’m using it. Beautiful instrument tho

 

 

EDIT: sorry, the point is: the Nord sounds radically different—IMO—than some of the other synths mentioned. So, if you listen to enough demos and get an idea of the sound, it should be clear based on your taste what synth to get. Just because they have similar features and are digital polysynths, I would not consider them interchangeable. Make your decision based on your ears and what you’re looking for sound-wise, not feature-wise, or else you may be sorry!

yeah i get the impression a lot of effort was put into making the nord sound fantastic. i've never had a chance to play with one but i'm just judging from the music i've heard it in and people's comments on it.

 

the ion / micron can sound fantastic but at certain settings can sound quite harsh and digital.

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the ion / micron can sound fantastic but at certain settings can sound quite harsh and digital.

 

But it does both really creamy analogue modelling stuff well and then really thrashy brutal digital stuff well too... I see it as the best of both worlds :wink:

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absolutely, but sometimes it warps between the two when you don't want it to! I'm making it sound worse than it is though

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I had an MS2000 a long time ago, didn’t really dig the sound

 

Don’t sleep on older Virii—I have a Virus B rack which was fairly affordable and it sounds dark and DOPE

 

Ion / Micron is also a great recommendation. Obviously the features are different but I think they have a similar (to the Virus B) “darker” sound.

 

I also have a Nord Lead 2x. It’s awesome, but I think it’s a much more distinctive sound than those other synths. To me, it ALWAYS sounds like a Nord—bright, clean, and deep. But sometimes I have trouble finding sounds I like on it because I always hear NORD NORD NORD NORD NORD when I’m using it. Beautiful instrument tho

 

 

EDIT: sorry, the point is: the Nord sounds radically different—IMO—than some of the other synths mentioned. So, if you listen to enough demos and get an idea of the sound, it should be clear based on your taste what synth to get. Just because they have similar features and are digital polysynths, I would not consider them interchangeable. Make your decision based on your ears and what you’re looking for sound-wise, not feature-wise, or else you may be sorry!

 

Yes. I know what you mean. I think all synths digital/analog, hardware/software usually have a "sound" to them. I have listened to all kinds of synth demos over the years. I do agree this is good homework, but I feel like I never really know until I get something in the studio whether I really like it or not. But my ears are demo bound (once again).

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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?

 

pretty difficult but I use Sounddiver to edit it and the editing via that is extremely smooth. Only problem is you cant do it on a mac past Snow Leopard and the windows version of sounddiver is fucky.

 

 

oh well. the price in Europe seems closer to $450 than $200 so I guess I'll have to pass anyway - maybe it's rare around here or something... actually JD-800s with some defect seem to sell for less than JD-990s!

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Sorry for the stupid question but what, if any, is the difference between say the Nord Lead 2x and the Nord Rack 2x? Is it literally just the keyboard?

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I believe that is the only difference, yes.

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I just wanted to put my 2 cents in on the Micron. Sounds OK (but just OK) for certain things. On paper it looks awesome, and there's all sorts of goodies in there. Once you start digging in though, the interface is absolute shit (it makes the TX81Z feel like a breeze, no joke, I could elaborate but just flip through the manual to get an idea of what editing is like - the step sequencer is a nightmare to edit), the MIDI spec is garbage (you get like 3 CCs and a hellscape of NRPNs), the multitimbral functionality is wack (if I remember right it may have only supported ONE MIDI channel despite being like 8-part multitimbral), the sequencer is bizarre, and the chinsy little screen is in the most awkward possible position, not to mention the lilliputian spider egg for editing the thing. I wasn't a fan of the funky horizontal sliders, either, and the light-up pitch bend annoyed me after about an hour, although that idea has apparently found its way onto much more expensive hardware.

On top of that, there's a weird lo-fi kind of flanging sound to a lot of its high-frequency timbres, especially those with lots of modulation. The hi-end was just generally not right, really did not whet my whistle. The effects are pretty lame, especially with the stingy delay times; and this would be minor complaint but to put it in perspective, this is an ALESIS product and they kept their lights on making effects processors in the 90s. There's way too many filter models, and a lot of them sound the same and only a couple sound good. But worst of all, the envelopes had this fuzzy attack with no snap to it. I forgive that on the TX because it sounds so good but that was the nail in the coffin for me and I couldn't get rid of it fast enough.

 

All that said, some people, apparently much more patient than I, have done some pretty decent stuff with one. 11hzrobot did a whole bunch of stuff including some pretty crazy drone. There's a couple wizards on YouTube too doing some pretty bizarre FM with one. And of course there's that famous Dorian Concept video. So, it can be done.

 

I would really only get this as a first synth and even then it would be a pretty cruel introduction. It might function best as a litmus test to see whether a person has a real love for synths. It really made me question mine.

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Guest chunky

ms2000

used to own one, was ok, good for learning. interesting patches, versatile.

but they are old now, easily bricked. easily faulty these days. so be careful with those. if you really want one try to find an unopened boxed one. it's funny how small the pcb is inside.

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Virus TI is actually pretty easy all things considered. Plugin + knobs etc

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I just wanted to put my 2 cents in on the Micron. Sounds OK (but just OK) for certain things. On paper it looks awesome, and there's all sorts of goodies in there. Once you start digging in though, the interface is absolute shit (it makes the TX81Z feel like a breeze, no joke, I could elaborate but just flip through the manual to get an idea of what editing is like - the step sequencer is a nightmare to edit), the MIDI spec is garbage (you get like 3 CCs and a hellscape of NRPNs), the multitimbral functionality is wack (if I remember right it may have only supported ONE MIDI channel despite being like 8-part multitimbral), the sequencer is bizarre, and the chinsy little screen is in the most awkward possible position, not to mention the lilliputian spider egg for editing the thing. I wasn't a fan of the funky horizontal sliders, either, and the light-up pitch bend annoyed me after about an hour, although that idea has apparently found its way onto much more expensive hardware.

 

On top of that, there's a weird lo-fi kind of flanging sound to a lot of its high-frequency timbres, especially those with lots of modulation. The hi-end was just generally not right, really did not whet my whistle. The effects are pretty lame, especially with the stingy delay times; and this would be minor complaint but to put it in perspective, this is an ALESIS product and they kept their lights on making effects processors in the 90s. There's way too many filter models, and a lot of them sound the same and only a couple sound good. But worst of all, the envelopes had this fuzzy attack with no snap to it. I forgive that on the TX because it sounds so good but that was the nail in the coffin for me and I couldn't get rid of it fast enough.

 

All that said, some people, apparently much more patient than I, have done some pretty decent stuff with one. 11hzrobot did a whole bunch of stuff including some pretty crazy drone. There's a couple wizards on YouTube too doing some pretty bizarre FM with one. And of course there's that famous Dorian Concept video. So, it can be done.

 

I would really only get this as a first synth and even then it would be a pretty cruel introduction. It might function best as a litmus test to see whether a person has a real love for synths. It really made me question mine.

agreed for the most part...used to have a micron - decent synth engine, shit interface. the ion on the other hand has the same synth engine and a great hands on interface.

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sweepstakes: great post! even though i don't think it's as useless as you make it sound there are defs some faults that don't get discussed enough.

 

i think the cardboardy high freq sound is my biggest sadface with the micron. nothing that sounds that digital can be considered 'analogue modelling'

 

i haven't noticed the envelope attack thing much but i mainly leave attack alone for short 10-50ms times with my patches just out of habit, so maybe my subconscious picked up on this ha.

 

i think all the filters are at least ok, none sound 'bad' to my ears at least. i wish they hadn't given them stupid names hinting at what the model is though, jeeze, i really don't care! they don't even sound like the models they're supposed to if you wanna get dicky about it.

 

but the micron defs has a place for me, it's not a super clean digi va like the microkorg but can cover more ground and is a better choice for experimentalists. you can get some good boccy sounds in the low-mid register. really good ones, in fact. it shines in that range but go higher and you'll get that chalky sound (i'm guessing aliasing of some sort?)

 

never looked into the performance mode but if there is just one channel then yeah that sucks hard ha. there's a rom update for the micron, maybe that fixes it?

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Yeah, I know there's some coolness in there and I might have even found my own slice of it had I stuck it out. I just didn't have the patience for it. At the time, it replaced an SQ80 (mostly as a keyboard controller) which was a breeze to edit despite only having the one data entry knob and standard mod wheel & pitch bend. So it may just have been a rude transition and a case of maladjusted expectations.

 

Yeah I remember checking the firmware thinking the envelope had to be a bug, but at the time (2010) it was the latest firmware. I'd be surprised if there's been a new update since.

 

It was weird. I'm seriously not usually this surly about gear. I had a Matrix 6R for a while and let that go for similar reasons but the thing sounded great, I just felt at the time that its character was too similar to the SQ80.

 

If I got a hankering for another cheap mini VA, I'd go Microkorg, or maybe one of those older Novations - I think it was the K-Station that I played with at a store years ago and really liked the sound and interface.

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Also multitimbral/performance mode seems to suck in general. It sucked on the Micron, it sucked on the MicroQ (which the Blofeld is based on), it sucked on the Matrix 6R. It seems to be generally decent on hardware samplers because that's what they're made for. Also the TX81Z has a decent performance mode although it's annoying to edit. And it was alright on the SQ80 although iirc you had to use the sequencer to set it up, and then if it ran in sync with the sequencer you were controlling it with, it would reset the mod wheel on each channel to 0 on restart of the SQ80's internal sequence length.

 

OK rant over.

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I've been playing with an SQ80 vst and it's great. Would love to get my hands on the real thing some day.

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Oh yeah Buchty did a GREAT job on that VST. It's seriously close enough that I wouldn't even bother hunting down the real thing. If I remember right he even got that weird sync bug right where you can make it play the drum wavetable in a loop.

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korg_ms2000_angle_lg.jpg

that was my first baby (although mine was the b). thought it sounded awes at the time (been about 8 yrs since i owned it). never had any issues with it at all. it's pretty big though.

Edited by juiceciuj

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Oh yeah Buchty did a GREAT job on that VST. It's seriously close enough that I wouldn't even bother hunting down the real thing. If I remember right he even got that weird sync bug right where you can make it play the drum wavetable in a loop.

sweet, never heard of this vst thing gonna look it up.

 

one last thing with the micron: were you aware of the keys acting as menu buttons when you hold down the program button? because it took me a couple of months to realise and man that saved me time. my biggest gripe with this was that the text for the functions should have been written on the top of the panel, not in a place that requires you to lean back to read what each key jumps to. and if you had it tilted on a rack the normal way, game over man.

 

i feel like the micron was probably rushed or designed in a relaxed way cus they already had the ion. for me the micron is a 8/10 for explorability but 6/10 for ease of accessibility and sound quality.

 

i slaved over a max editor for the micron and it works fine but man the midi cc nrpn or whatever it was that changed the values inside the synth was a nightmare, and totally inconsistent. the manual for the micron is pretty good but it doesn't mention any of that stuff.

 

fyi the tx81z is so friggin crystal clear, i love it to bits. i feel like they must have been using some crazy good tech for the time..maybe why the midi buffer sucks haha

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Here's the shruthi XT by mutable instruments. digital sound generation and analog filter. But it's mono and DIY

 

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one last thing with the micron: were you aware of the keys acting as menu buttons when you hold down the program button? because it took me a couple of months to realise and man that saved me time. my biggest gripe with this was that the text for the functions should have been written on the top of the panel, not in a place that requires you to lean back to read what each key jumps to. and if you had it tilted on a rack the normal way, game over man.

 

i feel like the micron was probably rushed or designed in a relaxed way cus they already had the ion. for me the micron is a 8/10 for explorability but 6/10 for ease of accessibility and sound quality.

 

i slaved over a max editor for the micron and it works fine but man the midi cc nrpn or whatever it was that changed the values inside the synth was a nightmare, and totally inconsistent. the manual for the micron is pretty good but it doesn't mention any of that stuff.

 

fyi the tx81z is so friggin crystal clear, i love it to bits. i feel like they must have been using some crazy good tech for the time..maybe why the midi buffer sucks haha

 

 

I knew that you could use the keys to switch between "categories" (ugh I hated that too, and deleting the hundreds of crappy factory patches to reduce clutter was such a chore). I don't remember using them for moving through other menus.

I thought the same thing, that it must have been rushed. It really could have been a great synth, there were just a few too many flaws and I just couldn't roll with it.

 

I'm kind of glad I had it though. I felt like I learned from someone else's design mistakes, trying to cram as much functionality as possible into a tiny space. It's a noble but treacherous endeavor. For similar reasons I'd like to get a MicroKorg sometime, just to compare how Korg did it. Flipping through the manual and having played with one once it seems similarly awkward but they labeled everything really well and it doesn't hurt that it's cute as a button.

 

Yes, the TX's MIDI control is brilliant. I've had a few other Yamaha synths besides the TX81Z and one thing they've almost always seemed to do right is MIDI. Although in some cases they went WAY overboard. Check the manual for the CBX-K1 sometime, it's hilarious.

 

Here's the shruthi XT by mutable instruments. digital sound generation and analog filter. But it's mono and DIY

 

I love the Shruthi. I have the smaller acrylic case one with a digital filter board, built from a kit. It's such a good time and a pleasure to tweak.

 

That said, it's nothing near what I'd call a "bread and butter" synth. This is more a "the odds are good but the goods are odd" synth. You put on your explorer's cap and venture into the jungle and you are bound to discover some interesting species. You can dial in, say, a serviceable PWM bassline. You can even make some snares in it. But if you're remotely as anal retentive as me, you'll get annoyed at it sounding a bit off when trying to do this stuff. There's so much cheap real analog now you'd be better off picking up one of those for that kind of thing.

 

For example when you mix the oscillators, you can really feel the 8-bit mixing shaving off a lot of detail from the waves. Especially when you mix the waves 50/50ish and also add in the subosc. Also it makes no qualms with zippery, steppy parameter changes - I became very conscious of the little 8-bit pipes all the data is flowing through. But the way it works with (not around!) this is so charming.

 

Also it's monophonic and I might be making an assumption but when I hear "bread and butter" I think poly.

 

It's such a good time. It's as good as something with that hardware can get - "the simplest synth that could rock". If you're fairly open minded you'll probably really enjoy it, it just doesn't sound like anything bread-y and buttery. More like an ESQ-1 from Mars or a modular synth made out of overclocked gameboys with a fairly fat filter at the end of the signal chain. It doesn't sound like much anything else (especially with the crazy digital filter board) and it's got bite to it too. It's a joy.

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i actually meant more the sound of the tx is crystal clear. i guess the midi implementation is good in theory, just the buffer getting full lets it down.

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