Overview of available hardware performance "toys"?
Old 27th August 2013
  #1
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Overview of available hardware performance "toys"?

Hey guys,

TL;DR

What other pieces of hardware similar to the Monotribe/Korg Volca series are available that will let me immediately start making and screwing with electronic music with minimal setup?

Longer story:

I've been lurking on this forum for a few months. I found it while searching for information on Korg's new Volca series. Anyway, you guys seem like experts with an encyclopedic knowledge of the synth scene and I figured this was the place to ask.

I have made electronic music (mostly gothy shoegazing stuff) for a little over a decade, but always using a computer, plastic MIDI controllers, and Reason (although I've dabbled in a couple other software things). I don't have much around in a shareable format, but here's a silly little thing I made a while ago if you're curious:

https://soundcloud.com/isaac-vanduyn/whatever-you-like

I recently bought a Korg Monotribe mostly out of curiousity after seeing it in a store and absolutely love it. I'm also making danceable music for the first time.

Specifically what I love about it is that I can almost instantly start playing sweet analogue beats and loops, mess around with them, and get people dancing. Previously I would spend hours diddling around in Reason trying to find the perfect sound or synthesizer setup or whatever, and would only occasionally get around to actually writing music, and when I did I was perfectionist about it, setting up the perfect variation on each note in my sequencer and yadda yadda yadda.

The Monotribe gets rid of all of that. I just put a few notes in using the crappy ribbon controller, and all of a sudden I'm jamming. I've whipped it out at a few parties with the Monotron Delay and those two together with a big speaker are basically enough to literally get a room of people dancing.

So although I've spent hundreds of hours making electronic music with software and I sort of know and understand some of the terminology and stuff, I'm very new to the hardware world and am looking for some advice. I'm specifically interested not so much in recording and ultimate flexibility and power, but more in sheer fun and immediacy.

Any recommendations? I bought the Analog Four and while it's cool and powerful, it still has a lot of setup to be something I can use at parties to make off-the-cuff loops. I've already go the new Volca series preordered, but I figure that there must be other gear out there that will scratch this itch.

Thanks!
Old 27th August 2013
  #2
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaacvanduyn View Post
Hey guys,

TL;DR

What other pieces of hardware similar to the Monotribe/Korg Volca series are available that will let me immediately start making and screwing with electronic music with minimal setup?
Slight tangent, but this is interesting.
This is exactly how someone I did some stuff with described the Monomachine/Machinedrum combo. He's in a massive band and does a lot of this stuff on the side and on his countless solo records.

At first, you might disagree with him due to expensive the two boxes are, but they're exactly what you said. You push them together, turn them on and mess around.

I'm glad Korg's going this direction. It's a beautiful thing and needs to be an option for people who don't mind it being "toys".

Plenty of iPad apps are made for this purpose (don't underestimate them, I've seen them creative many a smiles) and I've seen people bring small modular rigs as well. That's usually pretty fun. Wait a year or two and there'll be more Monotribe-like alternatives. Until then, we'll have to rely on good old Korg to make some fun stuff.
Old 27th August 2013
  #3
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Thread Starter
Thanks, that's good feedback. I'm not too price sensitive, if something meets my needs.
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Old 27th August 2013
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaacvanduyn View Post
Thanks, that's good feedback. I'm not too price sensitive, if something meets my needs.
Honestly, I know I'm sending you down a weird path - but a SUITABLE AND SMALL (how's that for being emphasized?) modular system would be absolutely perfect to you.

The main thing you need to figure it is your sequencer, then you'll just have fun mixing and matching filters/oscillators/modulation sources. Easy to swap out and start fresh as well.

Actually, come to think of it, if you can use your Monotribe as a sequencer - that'd be unbelievably perfect.
Old 27th August 2013
  #5
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by tastyfake View Post
Honestly, I know I'm sending you down a weird path - but a SUITABLE AND SMALL (how's that for being emphasized?) modular system would be absolutely perfect to you.

The main thing you need to figure it is your sequencer, then you'll just have fun mixing and matching filters/oscillators/modulation sources. Easy to swap out and start fresh as well.

Actually, come to think of it, if you can use your Monotribe as a sequencer - that'd be unbelievably perfect.
So I'm interested in this, but this is a topic completely outside the bounds of my experience. Where do I go to learn? Any books? Web resources? Do you want to just give me an intro? I know literally nothing about modular systems. I've browsed some sites where you can buy/build them or whatever, but still feel way out of my depth.

I feel like I need a primer.
Old 27th August 2013
  #6
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Stevism's Avatar
check out this thread i recently asked a lot of questions on. at the end of it you'll see the small system i'm saving up to buy piece by piece.

So I think I'm done with my initial modular planning...feedback please?

join muffwiggler and proceed directly to this thread:

N00bies, spend some time here!!! Very helpful.


spend a lot of time planning out your perfect modular here:

Plan your modular synthesizer rack on ModularGrid




....otherwise, i would get the volcas/monotribe/monotrons, a small mixer, some 1/4->1/8 cables, and sell the a4 to fund an octatrack, that you would use to sample/manipulate/effect//gel together the korg gear
Old 27th August 2013
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaacvanduyn View Post
So I'm interested in this, but this is a topic completely outside the bounds of my experience. Where do I go to learn? Any books? Web resources? Do you want to just give me an intro? I know literally nothing about modular systems. I've browsed some sites where you can buy/build them or whatever, but still feel way out of my depth.

I feel like I need a primer.
You know what? PM me.
You don't want to be steered wrong here. I am outspoken against the modular community and I am definitely not suggesting that you'll get "a small 6U (two row) system).
Old 27th August 2013
  #8
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OP1
Old 27th August 2013
  #9
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Any Electribe would do.
The er-1 might be what you're lookig for... Cheap, dead easy to use and fun as hell. Yamaha DX200 and AN200 are also great toys.
Old 27th August 2013
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sclr View Post
OP1
Considering the cost, built quality, functionality and just downright sophistication, I would never think of the OP-1 as a toy.
Old 27th August 2013
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by laikenf View Post
Considering the cost, built quality, functionality and just downright sophistication, I would never think of the OP-1 as a toy.
Doesn't seem that deep for the price, imo.
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Old 27th August 2013
  #12
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Originally Posted by offki View Post
Doesn't seem that deep for the price, imo.
It's pretty deep, they managed to cram in LOADS of functionality into it (You can do entire tracks with plenty of layers on them, that's deep enough). I do agree though: it is pricey indeed, and it reeks trendiness (doesn't bother me, but some people are put off by pricey, trendy stuff); but give credit where it's due, the thing is pretty well conceived from a functional point of view.
Old 28th August 2013
  #13
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Originally Posted by laikenf View Post
It's pretty deep, they managed to cram in LOADS of functionality into it (You can do entire tracks with plenty of layers on them, that's deep enough). I do agree though: it is pricey indeed, and it reeks trendiness (doesn't bother me, but some people are put off by pricey, trendy stuff); but give credit where it's due, the thing is pretty well conceived from a functional point of view.
Sure, it's definitely still a toy though.
The synthesis is laughable and all other functions are gimmicks.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with toys, hell, most men buy toys 10-30 times as expensive and I like the OP-1 just fine - but it's a toy and totally fits what the OP is talking about.

That's not a bad thing.
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Old 28th August 2013
  #14
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I've had a blast running a small rig using an Alesis Air Synth, Air FX, and Korg KP3 for looping and FX.

The Alesis Air units are basic, but you can get some really interesting textural and tonal things out of them. Visually, if you're performing live, people tend to notice that you're making sounds by moving your hands through the air, which adds a little something if you're otherwise focused on turning knobs. They're dead simple to use, and a lot of fun. It's a shame that Alesis hit financial trouble soon after and the technology wasn't developed further. I'd love to use them for midi control.
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Old 28th August 2013
  #15
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Originally Posted by Accent View Post
I've had a blast running a small rig using an Alesis Air Synth, Air FX, and Korg KP3 for looping and FX.

The Alesis Air units are basic, but you can get some really interesting textural and tonal things out of them. Visually, if you're performing live, people tend to notice that you're making sounds by moving your hands through the air, which adds a little something if you're otherwise focused on turning knobs. They're dead simple to use, and a lot of fun. It's a shame that Alesis hit financial trouble soon after and the technology wasn't developed further. I'd love to use them for midi control.
Totally agreed.
Those were great and were big on the fun-factor.

I recently figured out a way to use them in a live setting as well! Very happy about that because I've spent a lot of time with them over the years without being able to incorporate them into my actual music.
Old 28th August 2013
  #16
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Guns N Dope's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by isaacvanduyn View Post
Any recommendations? I bought the Analog Four and while it's cool and powerful, it still has a lot of setup to be something I can use at parties to make off-the-cuff loops. I've already go the new Volca series preordered, but I figure that there must be other gear out there that will scratch this itch.

Thanks!
Id recommend you learn the a4 instead of buying more toys. If you can't get groove from scratch in under a minute you're not doing it right. I've only had mine for about six months and have already played live gigs both solo and with a group using just the A4. Including some shows where I've not relied on any preprogrammed patches or patterns and just built everything live from scratch. It was built for this kinda thing.

It's the perfect box for what you want to do an you already have it. Spend some time with it.
Old 28th August 2013
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tastyfake View Post
Sure, it's definitely still a toy though.
The synthesis is laughable and all other functions are gimmicks.

Don't get me wrong, there's nothing wrong with toys, hell, most men buy toys 10-30 times as expensive and I like the OP-1 just fine - but it's a toy and totally fits what the OP is talking about.

That's not a bad thing.
OK (it seems we all have different takes on what instrument qualifies as a toy, not gonna argue that), but before I leave this conversation: why do you think it's other functions are gimmicks? Those gimmicks are what the OP-1 does, it's how it works; the tape recorder, the FM radio, etc., it's all part of the package, all tools for creating a track; are they peculiar? yes; are they quirky? yes; are they; Unorthodox? sometimes; but the point is that they are not gimmicks because those functions are precisely what makes up the engine and just because the workflow and the tools are unconventional it does not mean the device is a gimmicky because they serve different purposes (and do so pretty well).
Old 29th August 2013
  #18
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Guns N Dope View Post
Id recommend you learn the a4 instead of buying more toys. If you can't get groove from scratch in under a minute you're not doing it right. I've only had mine for about six months and have already played live gigs both solo and with a group using just the A4. Including some shows where I've not relied on any preprogrammed patches or patterns and just built everything live from scratch. It was built for this kinda thing.

It's the perfect box for what you want to do an you already have it. Spend some time with it.
That's great advice, and I'm definitely not going to abandon my A4. I really like it. It just doesn't, so far, seem like it has enough limitations for me to be comfortable with it as a live improvisation tool. That being said, I've been spending an hour or so (at least) most nights noodling around with it, and could see that I could get some presets set up that would be fun to improvise on. I'll keep playing!
Old 29th August 2013
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by NAWAX View Post
Any Electribe would do.
The er-1 might be what you're lookig for... Cheap, dead easy to use and fun as hell. Yamaha DX200 and AN200 are also great toys.
It is unfair to recommed it I want it myself! No single unit is sold on ebay, where do you get it?
Old 29th August 2013
  #20
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Originally Posted by laikenf View Post
why do you think it's other functions are gimmicks?
...Because they were intended to.

That's really it.
Old 29th August 2013
  #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tastyfake View Post
...Because they were intended to.

That's really it.
Well then they failed at it ...
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Old 29th August 2013
  #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by isaacvanduyn View Post
That's great advice, and I'm definitely not going to abandon my A4. I really like it. It just doesn't, so far, seem like it has enough limitations for me to be comfortable with it as a live improvisation tool. That being said, I've been spending an hour or so (at least) most nights noodling around with it, and could see that I could get some presets set up that would be fun to improvise on. I'll keep playing!
Awesome man. Good to hear! It may seem daunting at first but programming performance macros is the ticket for live improv. Once you've got a kit just dig in and see all the things you can do to it.
Old 30th August 2013
  #23
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Omnichord? It's a synth. How it would fit into music with other synths, I have no idea.
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