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the watmm GAS thread


modey
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Here's one under $300 (but shipping would be steep):

https://www.ebay.com/itm/Rare-Red-Sound-Dark-Star-XP2-Analog-Synthesizer/153952276902

 

Unlike the Elevata, Dark Star updates are easy, tons of people selling EPROMs for not much money.

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My take: multitimbral is a pain in the ass and not worth it. This is what DAWs are good at. If you absolutely need this, get a groovebox - MPC, Elektron, maybe one of those Rolands that came out this year. Textural precision is at odds with the convenience of having everything in one place. But if you want this for live performance, get something nice like the aforementioned Argon8 plus a sampler/sequencer (Octatrack, MPC, Digitakt, SP404, etc.)

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2 hours ago, e-mertz said:

I want !multi-timbral!

though I appreciate the tip and think it's a sweet synth

edit: ok realized the ms-2000 is bi-timbral. Would rather have 4 parts tho :))

Roland SH-32 will do 3 and a drum track. Those synths are fun as shit too. 

edit:  And a ton of oscillator types (the oscillators are PCM-based), including spectral

Edited by Taupe Beats
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Don't forget JV modules, D50, ROMplers etc, lots of multitimbral stuff out there if you can handle no knobs or standard synthesis. You could hook up a decent low-cost controller to your computer and MIDI learn it to a homebrewed CTRLR app for whatever device you end up with. There are cheap enough modules and midi controllers out there for this to run under €500. Go full ham with a K1m, Proteus or 05r/W.

Edited by chim
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5 hours ago, sweepstakes said:

My take: multitimbral is a pain in the ass and not worth it. 

Yeah was gonna say this. Unless it has sequencing built in (like the Elektrons) I find it to be really hard to keep track of. It's not so bad on a rompler or when using presets, but switching between channels and tweaking the individual sounds on a knob per function synth like the Nord Lead is a bit painful. 

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10 hours ago, e-mertz said:

I want !multi-timbral!

though I appreciate the tip and think it's a sweet synth

edit: ok realized the ms-2000 is bi-timbral. Would rather have 4 parts tho :))

So I have two multitimbral synths: Roland XV-5080 rack module and a Korg MicroX. They are not knobby and since both are digital romplers, that are really really deep in terms of architecture and parameters, but due to that it's basically impossible to have a one-size-fits-all set of knobs that will be useful. I use them more as expressive preset sound sources (with some filter and release modulation) rather than going deep into sound design and architecture (I use the MS2000R for that).

I think if you want a synth where you can have 4 parts (or more), and it has a knobby and immediate interface, and $500, then I would buy a MIDI control surface and map it to with some VSTs. Or just have a collection of separate synths.

My experience is that it's quite a headache to get a comfortable workflow with a multitimbral synth, mainly for two reasons:

  • if the hardware has just one stereo out, you have to juggle muting different sounds and you can't easily have a dedicated track for each part. It's an interesting limitation to work on a single stereo pair so that you build a whole track with no DAW effects or EQ until you get it finished and then it is somehow way more easier to mix it.
  • the are only a limited amount of parameters that you can change over MIDI - for anything deeper you need a librarian/editor VST that does sysex. I have 0 experience with that last part but the official editors for MicroX and XV5080 don't work on my laptop natively and I don't think there is a good 3rd party replacement.
    Due to this, saving any automation or knob fuckery you do into the project so that you can open it later for editing and mixing, is a huge pain. I use some M4L MIDI CC device for managing some basic parameters but I do no deeper sound design than that.

That said, I have been enjoying working with the synths I have, and even though I can't really do any really deep sound design, it's nice to have all those good-sounding presets to play around with.

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6 hours ago, thawkins said:

My experience is that it's quite a headache to get a comfortable workflow with a multitimbral synth, mainly for two reasons:

  • if the hardware has just one stereo out, you have to juggle muting different sounds and you can't easily have a dedicated track for each part. It's an interesting limitation to work on a single stereo pair so that you build a whole track with no DAW effects or EQ until you get it finished and then it is somehow way more easier to mix it.
  • the are only a limited amount of parameters that you can change over MIDI - for anything deeper you need a librarian/editor VST that does sysex. I have 0 experience with that last part but the official editors for MicroX and XV5080 don't work on my laptop natively and I don't think there is a good 3rd party replacement.
    Due to this, saving any automation or knob fuckery you do into the project so that you can open it later for editing and mixing, is a huge pain. I use some M4L MIDI CC device for managing some basic parameters but I do no deeper sound design than that.

Yep. I like the challenge of squashing to stereo, but you'll generally end up with a cartoonish, unbalanced mix. Even where the Monomachine provides a handy 1-band EQ, this is a bit of a riddle. And frankly even with an audio interface that can handle it, I can't be arsed dealing with more than about 4 outputs at a time.

I used to think software librarians were great for "unlocking" these parameters. But for me they're an existential crisis waiting to happen, i.e. "why am I using hardware again?"

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22 minutes ago, d-a-m-o said:

New preen FM 3 is very tempting, the separate outputs for the 6 parts, built in seq and various type of filters would make this a great FM drum machine !

Capture d’écran 2020-11-06 à 15.02.40.png

 

ooooooooooooooh thanks! Preenfm2 was on my list but it might be too complex with it's 6 operators 28 (?) algorithms operated from a small led-screen. This looks like a step up!

15 hours ago, sweepstakes said:

My take: multitimbral is a pain in the ass and not worth it. This is what DAWs are good at. If you absolutely need this, get a groovebox - MPC, Elektron, maybe one of those Rolands that came out this year. Textural precision is at odds with the convenience of having everything in one place. But if you want this for live performance, get something nice like the aforementioned Argon8 plus a sampler/sequencer (Octatrack, MPC, Digitakt, SP404, etc.)

9 hours ago, modey said:

Yeah was gonna say this. Unless it has sequencing built in (like the Elektrons) I find it to be really hard to keep track of. It's not so bad on a rompler or when using presets, but switching between channels and tweaking the individual sounds on a knob per function synth like the Nord Lead is a bit painful. 

I think it all depends on how you use it in which workflow. I'm not expressing that wish from assumption. I have a Zynthian, which is a great sounding multi-timbral synth but there are just a lot of things you can't edit for the plugins I use, including enevelopes. Hence I'm looking for a replacement.

For the workflow I have, combining an Alesis mmt-8 and an Arturia Keystep, a multi-timbral synth is great. It's like having a tape recorder for midi and switching a channel on the keystep is done super-easy. I don't have to get into a new interface constantly with different functionalities and oddities of a different synth. It's all physically centered in one device.

Last but not least the synthesizer interface itself is also an important factor. The synths that handle it best, like the digitone or the nord lead 3 with encoders and very clear display of what's going on are for the moment not in my price range.

Here's a track I made only on the Zynthian using an MMT8 and keystep to record. Great to have one synth do all that.

Oh and Pametex' tracks where all made with only a nord lead 1, 808 and an MMT8 :))

@TubularCorporation@Taupe Beats@chim thanks for your recommendations

Edited by e-mertz
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@e-mertz That track is super good and I wish I could like your post many more times than once - this hardware sequencer workflow seems super neat.

Also "thanks" for making me to think about getting a KeyStep again! I thought I had cleansed my mind of these urges... :catnope:

Anyway one last suggestion I remembered is the Yamaha Motif workstation line. I have a Yamaha MO6 which is not with me at the moment and I remember that it has a simple eq for lo/mid/hi for every sound in addition to a tweakable filter too. And the MO6 is a basic model, you can get a Motif ES rack for 500EUR which is a more badass model https://reverb.com/p/yamaha-motif-es-rack

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1 hour ago, sweepstakes said:

Yep. I like the challenge of squashing to stereo, but you'll generally end up with a cartoonish, unbalanced mix. Even where the Monomachine provides a handy 1-band EQ, this is a bit of a riddle. And frankly even with an audio interface that can handle it, I can't be arsed dealing with more than about 4 outputs at a time.

I guess what I had in mind is more like first working on stereo messing with what you got in the hardware: choose the right sounds, right levels, panning, note velocities and arrangement in general. Later you can just record the timbres one by one and do the final mix and cleanup like you would anyway.

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Yeah it's looking like a slam dunk. Some PR blurb/spec stuff:

True six-operator FM synthesis

- FM exploration, easier than ever

- Full editing with the DATA ENTRY rotary encoders

- Five operator modes that expand FM synthesis

- 40 preset algorithms and user algorithms

- Three EGs, three LFOs and 12 virtual patches offer an extensive range of modulation.

- Eleven powerful filters, including MS-20 and Polysix.

- Three series of 30 types of high-definition effects.

- Visually-satisfying editing with a spectrum analyzer and oscilloscope.

- Powerful 16-step polyphonic sequencer

- Adding unpredictability to sounds with the Randomize feature

- Favorite and smooth sound transition (SST) functions.

- Compact design featuring a 37-key keyboard.

True six-operator FM synthesis, and more

The opsix is a new digital synthesizer that features our newly designed six-operator sound generator. Although the instrument has a six-operator FM sound structure like classic FM synthesizers, the opsix doesn't just reproduce their sounds—it totally reimagines them! With a diversity of waveforms, operator modes that go beyond the realm of FM, and a filter that brings together a fusion of subtractive synthesis,  opsix makes tames complexities of FM so that you can focus on exploring sounds instead of programming them. Simply put, opsix offers the editing simplicity of analog synths to control the power of arguably the deepest type of digital synthesis.

FM exploration, easier than ever Musicians today use hardware-based digital synthesizers to achieve a level of operability that just cannot be found with software-based instruments. The six sets of knobs and sliders on the opsix panel, as well as the operator mixer, are symbolic of this fact. Korg’s volca FM was the first FM reimagination that helped to bring the most dynamic parameters of FM to the surface, and we expand upon that with opsix’s workflow. 

The knobs and sliders with two-colored LEDs on the opsix let you quickly and clearly see the relationships between operators, whose roles change with each algorithm. This lets you make direct changes to the pitch and volume for carriers, and to the brightness of the sound or the strength of the harmonics for the modulators. These controls give you sonic control over the unpredictability of FM just by subtracting and adding sounds as if you were using a mixer or drawbars!

Full editing with the DATA ENTRY knobs

To add to the six operator mixers, the opsix features several knobs on the right side of the panel. Use the six DATA ENTRY knobs for full editing without minimizing or summarizing any information. Taking a look at these controls, you might think back to the days when traditional FM synths were more difficult to operate. Back then, you had to move through massive numbers of pages, and couldn’t figure out where you were in the overall scheme of things. Rest easy—with the opsix, we’ve taken away these worries. You can now edit without getting lost, thanks to the combination of six graphical parameters on the large OLED display at the center, and the rotary encoders.

The HOME/ALGO page is the starting page for everything on the opsix, and features major parameters including algorithms, EGs, and effects. Use this page with the operator mixer to get started with everything you need to do.

Five operator modes that expand FM synthesis

Of course, the opsix is a collection of everything appealing about FM synthesis... but that’s not all. Aside from sine waves, the opsix offers an expanded list of diverse waveforms in pursuit of sounds with even more complex harmonics, which can also be used as a subtractive synth offering simple filtering.

Operator modes on the opsix are used to generate sounds that are completely outside what a traditional FM sound generator can make. The operator modes let you create sounds using modulation other than FM. The opsix offers you a much wider range of sound creation, letting you combine the five operator modes (FM, ring modulation, filter, filter FM and wavefolder) and select from a wide range of waveforms.

40 preset algorithms and user algorithms

An algorithm is a combination of different operator roles and connections. The opsix goes far beyond classic FM synthesizers by offering 40 preset algorithmsand then goes on to offer a user algorithm function for exponentially greater sound possibilities which lets you construct and arrange an algorithm from scratch.

Wide range of modulation

The synthesis offered by the opsix is made even more powerful with the processors that come at the end of the signal chain. The MOD section works separate from the operators, with three EGs and three LFOs; and 12 virtual patches make a wide variety of routing possible. Use these features for a huge range of modulation to create swelling or add rapid motion to your sounds.

Powerful filters

In contrast to FM, the FILTER section follows your creation of sounds by offering analog synthesizer-like subtractive synthesis. Select from a full range of filters you want to use, from the radical MS-20 low-pass/high-pass filter, to the powerful yet soft Polysix low-pass filter that gives your sound a “vintage” feel; as well as two- or four-pole low-pass, high-pass, band-pass and band reject filters with resonance.

A treasure-trove of effects

The high-definition effects you’ll find on the opsix can be used right away in recording. The instrument offers three series (which can be used simultaneously) of 30 different effects; from including standard effects like a compressor, EQ, chorus, flanger, phaser and stereo delay, to distinctive effects like rotary speakers, grain shifters and more... as well as shimmering reverb effects that add a new dimensions to already awesome sounds.

Spectrum analyzer and oscilloscope

The analyzer built into the opsix is a must-have feature for visualizing FM synthesis. It shows output levels for each frequency band, so that you can see the distribution and changes to the harmonics at a glance that are caused by modulation. The opsix also features a built-in oscilloscope that lets you check the output waveforms. The colorful changes to the sound and visual feedback are sure to draw you into a deep “synthesizer vortex”!

Powerful 16-step polyphonic sequencer

The 16 buttons on the bottom right-hand part of the panel glow green with the colors that evoke FM synths, while providing you with a multipurpose 16-step sequencer. With this onboard polyphonic note sequencer, you can record up to six notes per step, and edit the velocity, gate time and playback timing for each note. This lets you create long phrases or make subtle shifts in timing to emulate strums or drum rolls, something that’s not possible on a typical 16-step sequencer. Also, the motion sequencer of the opsix lets you record changes of up to six parameters, creating smooth motion changes in sound within a phrase, or building rhythms that change dramatically with each step.

While the opsix has an easy-to-use 37-note keyboard, it also features a sequencer that rivals that of grooveboxes. Just press the PLAY button—you’ll be floored by the power that this sequencer lets you unleash.

Adding unpredictability to sounds with the Randomize feature

Use the Randomize feature as found on the wavestate  if you’re in the mood for unexpected sonic discoveries. Press the button marked with the die icon to generate a newly randomized sound. You can use the Randomize feature for the entire sound, or just for the operators, the algorithm or the sequences. Use the randomized sounds as-is or edit them as you like—the sky’s the limit.

Keyboard: 37 keys (velocity and release-velocity sensitive)

Maximum Polyphony:32 voices (or a max. of 24 voices, depending on the settings)

Sound generating system: Altered FM sound generator

Structure: 6 operators, 1 filter, 3 EGs, 3 LFOs, 3 effects, step sequencer, arpeggiator

Algorithm: 40 presets + user algorithm (unique to each program)

Operator: 5 modes (FM, Ring Mod., Filter, Filter FM, Wave Folder)

Oscillator waveform: 21 waveforms (Sine, Sine 12bit, Sine 8bit, Triangle, Saw, Saw HD, Square, Square HD, Additive Saw3, Additive Sqr3, Additive Tri3, Additive 12345, Additive 1+2, Additive 1+3, Additive 1+4, Additive 1+5, Additive 1+6, Additive 1+7, Additive 1+8, Noise S/H, Noise White)

Filter: 11 types (LPF 12, LPF 24, LPF MS-20, LPF POLY6, HPF 12, HPF 24, HPF MS-20, BPF 6, BPF 12, BRF 6, BRF 12)

EG: ADSR

LFO: 23 waveforms (Triangle, Saw Down, Saw Up, Square, Sine, Sample&Hold, Guitar, Exp. Triangle, Exp. Saw Down, Exp. Saw Up, Step4 Triangle, Step6 Triangle, Step4 Saw Down, Step6 Saw Down, StepRnd:Time, StepRnd:Lvl&Time, StepRnd:Level, Random:Time, Random:Lvl&Time, Triangle + , Saw Down + , Saw Up + , Square +)

V.Patch: 12 routings

Effect: 30 types (Chorus, Unison Ensemble, Phaser, Phaser (BPM) , Auto Pan, Auto Pan (BPM), Flanger, Flanger (BPM) , Rotary Speaker, Auto Wah, Exciter, Enhancer, LFO Filter, 3-Band EQ, Distortion, Guitar Amp, Decimator, Grain Shifter, Master Limiter, Compressor, Delay, Delay (BPM) , Autopan Dly, Autopan Dly (BPM), Tape Echo, Tape Echo (BPM) , Early Reflection, Reverb, Shimmer Reverb, Spring Reverb)

Sequencer: Step Sequencer (up to 16 steps, up to 6 notes per step) , Motion Sequencer (up to 6 lanes)

Arpeggiator: 7 patterns (MANUAL, UP, DOWN, ALT1, ALT2, RANDOM, TRIGGER) fault)

Number of programs:500 (250 preset programs and 250 user programs as the factory-set de

FAVORITE: 64 (16 Slots × 4 Banks)

Controllers:MODULATION wheel, PITCH wheel, RATIO OP 1–6 knobs, LEVEL OP 1–6 sliders, DATA ENTRY A–F knobs

Inputs/outputs: Headphone (6.3 mm stereo phone jack), OUTPUT L/MONO and R (impedance-balanced 6.3 mm TRS phone jacks), DAMPER (6.3 mm phone jack, half-damper not supported), MIDI IN and OUT connectors, USB B port

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sequencer looks decent, basically it's an SQ-1 trying to be a Beatstep Pro (3 melody lanes with 1 beats lane, designed for live patterns not more complex song creation). the 4x16 grid is dope tho, had toyed with that idea for a while when brainstorming a hardware sequencer project...not sure how good it would work in practice tho? probably pretty good for some, i'm sure.

opsix is gonna be good i'm sure. weird seeing that Digitakt/Elektron style UI screen on a Korg tho. 

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I'm eager to see what they do with the UI on opsix. The copy in that press release is right; the envelope controls on the volca FM make for one of the most intuitive layouts for FM I've used.

That sequencer is a little goofy, yeah, seems just like a BSP to me. I like the simplicity of the concept, though, and if it has some kind of controller mode, it could be pretty interesting. 

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^looks like they're getting the PreenFM more user friendly and more powerful with that 3. still a good price, even assembled. hopefully they do an even larger, more knobby expansion in the future as that's where it's trending towards.

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