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DavidKmusic
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28th October 2006
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What do pros use for synth pads?

I mostly record/produce rock, metal, funk pop and folk. I use Synthogy Ivory triggered from a weighted Korg for piano, and I have a Hammond XK3 for organ. What I need is more options for backround pads. I'm lookiing for stuff more toward the organic end - synth strings, warm pads, etc,. Not so much on the spacey pad nor distorted lead end.

I do have the virtual instruments in DP 5 and Logic 7 which, I may not have explored enough yet to know that they can't do what I want them to do. But, I'm wondering what some of the more popular choices are on pro productions for backround pads, synth strings, etc. Ivory has a couple pads but nothing extensive. What, for example, do bands like Coldplay use?

Would Absynth be a good investment?

I'm also interested in Scarbee's VKC package for Wurli piano and Clave, etc. but last I checked it won't run on a new UB intel mac. Anyone know of any alternatives, beyond of course, buying a 200A and D6.

Thanks
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29th October 2006
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Nobody uses synth pads?
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29th October 2006
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For pads, I think Atmosphere is the industry standard (at least with softsynths). Plenty of ambiences, analog pads, fm pads, string pads.... Everything.... www.spectrasonics.net

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Nobody uses synth pads?
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29th October 2006
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Atmosphere is the best for pads and ambient sounds but unfortunately it doesnt run on Intel Macs yet and there is no official release dat for a UB version available!
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The scarbee stuff is available for Kontakt 2 which is much more capable and loadsa lot faster than the Halion version.
It also comes without a stupid Syncrosoft dongle and Kontakt UB is just around the corner!
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29th October 2006
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Most definitely Atmosphere for big wide pads. Hardware wise a Yamaha motif.
The old Roland JD800 is easy to program for pads with a difference. Forget Absynth.

PJB
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29th October 2006
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Spectrasonics Atmosphere is excelent for pads !
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.Wu View Post
The scarbee stuff is available for Kontakt 2 which is much more capable and loadsa lot faster than the Halion version.
It also comes without a stupid Syncrosoft dongle and Kontakt UB is just around the corner!
Thanks, that's great news. I'm really not familiar with Kontakt. I'm assuming it's a sampler/instrument plug-in that you can load the Scarbee pianos into? Am I right?
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29th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by PJB5060 View Post
Most definitely Atmosphere for big wide pads. Hardware wise a Yamaha motif.
The old Roland JD800 is easy to program for pads with a difference. Forget Absynth.

PJB
The Motif rack unit sounds cool. Would you say the pads are "Atmosphere quality"? What about the other sounds in the Motif... Strings, drums, etc? I wouldn't want to spend money on those other features/sounds if they're not usable.


Thanks
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DavidKmusic View Post
Thanks, that's great news. I'm really not familiar with Kontakt. I'm assuming it's a sampler/instrument plug-in that you can load the Scarbee pianos into? Am I right?
if you dont have kontakt or kompakt that would significantly add to your cost.
www.nativeinstruments.de

do you run logic?
there used to be a version of the scarbee rhodes and wurlitzer for the exs24 sampler.

motif sounds great but is a pain to program.
unfortunaly the same is true for the fantom xr from roland.
my fav hardwaresynth module for pads, digital synth and general bread&butter stuff is the xv5080 from roland.
get one at ebay for 700 bucks.
sounds great and is a breeze to program thanks to its big screen.
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29th October 2006
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[QUOTE=DavidKmusic;942969]The Motif rack unit sounds cool. Would you say the pads are "Atmosphere quality"? What about the other sounds in the Motif... Strings, drums, etc? I wouldn't want to spend money on those other features/sounds if they're not usable.


The motif is also great with meat and potatoe sounds such as Rhodes, wurlies, A pianos, basses etc. I'm sure someone with playing chops was responsible for their inclusion. It has a great arpeggiater and the sounds are very hifi. But serious, if its pads you are after Atmosphere is the plug. Has a variety of stuff (atmospheric, stringy, choir, bell tones) for all situations.
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I would say Roland Jupiter 8. Maybe a tad expensive and hard to get, but that wasn´t the question, right?
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I'm a bit surprised to see a lot of thumbs up for the Athmosphere software.
Its a great softsynth and very easy to programm with a lot of presets (so you don't really need to programm at all....) but, I feel it lacks the depth and harmonic richness that hardwaresynths (even the VA's) have.


gr. Tom
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For pads I use the Yamaha AN1X and the good old Ensoniq TS12.

For Hammond I use the Hammond H100 tonewheel organ with a Leslie 122 (yammy) and for Rhodes I use a MK1 73, the real thing baby.

As soon as I need a Wurlitzer, I will get a Wurlitzer, simple no?

Oh, by the way, for piano sounds I use a grand piano, call me stupid.
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30th October 2006
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glad you brought up the AN1X Han, great synth

I use a waldorf microwave xt for organic moving pads, hard to beat for that, the micro q is great too ... if you mix its comb filters with the low pass filter you can get very good pads, the nord modular is also a killer pad synth, in plug land the malstrom synth in reason can get some very cool atmospheres
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30th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Tom Sigmond View Post
I'm a bit surprised to see a lot of thumbs up for the Athmosphere software. Its a great softsynth and very easy to programm with a lot of presets (so you don't really need to programm at all....) but, I feel it lacks the depth and harmonic richness that hardware synths (even the VA's) have.
Yeah, I kind of agree with this. I think Atmosphere is a GREAT soft synth with really nice presets (a rarity), but it can come off a little anemic in a mix sometimes.

The solution is easy though: Lay down beds with Atmosphere, then augment that with any hardware synth pad. The results will be great.

My two cents.
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30th October 2006
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Quote:
Originally Posted by chrispick View Post
Yeah, I kind of agree with this. I think Atmosphere is a GREAT soft synth with really nice presets (a rarity), but it can come off a little anemic in a mix sometimes.

The solution is easy though: Lay down beds with Atmosphere, then augment that with any hardware synth pad. The results will be great.

My two cents.
I don't understand the distinction between any hardware synth and a soft synth like atmosphere, with the notion that the hardware synth is always better.

Atmosphere is essentially a set of samples with an interface that makes them easy to manipulate and play. Atmosphere = stored sounds + computer + keyboard you hook up to it. Most synths these days are essentially the same thing, stored sounds + computer + keyboard (already hooked up to it and hiding the computer).

If anything, one of the reasons why atmosphere is good is that it surpasses the sound quality of its hardware cousins.

I guess you could make an argument that analog synths cannot be absolutely reproduced with a sampler (or sampler soft synth) using the same argument that digital recording is not as good as analog.

But that's really a red herring. The real issue is what the new sounds are like and how different and comparitively richer they are from typical synths. If anything, the worst part of atmosphere is that too many of its sounds are replications of classic synths (alhtough its useful to have them all in the same place). But where atmosphere really shines is with the patches that are more 3 dimensional than what you get from traditional synths and have an almost organic un-synthy quality.

Looking forward to version 2.

-matt
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I recently got atmosphere and it definitely has some amazing presets. I really haven't dug deep into it at all yet. I still can't figure out how to layer to presets or "layers" together into one sound. lol. Anybody know if theres a site where people have put together user presets? Reaktor has some great stuff and if ur a digi user then I think most people are surpised at how good Hybrid sounds.

By the way, the waldorf user, I love waldorfs,,, Whats the closest thing in soft synths to waldorf, nord, and virus synths?
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Han View Post
For pads I use the Yamaha AN1X and the good old Ensoniq TS12.

As soon as I need a Wurlitzer, I will get a Wurlitzer, simple no?

Oh, by the way, for piano sounds I use a grand piano, call me stupid.
You're stupid..j/k

I too am a big believer in using the real thing, and i do in the case of drums, guitar and bass and My XK 3 with a real Leslie is pretty undistinguishable from a B3. Unfortunately, I've run out of space in my room for the time being and can't accomodate a grand piano and one of each electro. I almost won a nice Wurli on Ebay but dropped the ball.

Plus, I hate tuning guitars, let alone pianos (lol)
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I just got Atmosphere and love it.

It doesn't have the edge that you might be able to get from a true analog synth, but if you sift through the 1000+ presets you are almost guaranteed to find something excellent.

I just started using it on some piano/acoustic guitar recordings to add background ambiance, and it really hit the spot.

While it may not be the perfect replacement to some hardware synths, I think it is by far the best soft synth for the job. Absynth sounds like an old anorexic lady compared to this!
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to go along with Atmosphere and Hybrid I've been enjoying the demos I'm hearing from the Rob Papen soft synths like Albino and Blue..

Anybody had good experience with those synths? They sound pretty huge. But then again I do mostly rock, alternative rock, indie, ballad, and funk and jam type stuff and don't really have a place for those...yet I always love the sounds...Guess I better do some more film scoring to justify them
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I appreciate all the input. All things considered I think Atmosphere could do the job for me. Unfortunately though, as noted, it won't be available in UB for an undetermined amount of time. Which, in my experience translates to approximately one week after I've purchased something else. In light of that I guess I could speed up it's availabilty for everyone else by spending a bunch of cash on an alternative :-)

I'm going to check out all your recommendations. Any other suggestions/ seconds on above suggestions for great organic synth pads?

Kompakt 2 sounds pretty good. Are we sure that it can play Scarbee librarys on UB macs.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dr.Wu View Post
if you dont have kontakt or kompakt that would significantly add to your cost.
www.nativeinstruments.de

do you run logic?
there used to be a version of the scarbee rhodes and wurlitzer for the exs24 sampler.
.
Yeah, Kompakt 2 may be a good longer term investment though given it's versatility, yes?

I do have Logic 7 but I've yet to even install it. I've been a DP guy for a while and I'm hesitant to deal with a learning curve right now.
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Originally Posted by MattiMattMatt View Post
I don't understand the distinction between any hardware synth and a soft synth like atmosphere, with the notion that the hardware synth is always better.
Who said hardware is always better? I said Atmosphere can sound thin in a mix, so adding some hardware synth can help give it some meat. Doubt me? Try it and see. Just pumping a synth through a preamp can give it some girth.

Quote:
Atmosphere is essentially a set of samples with an interface that makes them easy to manipulate and play. Atmosphere = stored sounds + computer + keyboard you hook up to it. Most synths these days are essentially the same thing, stored sounds + computer + keyboard (already hooked up to it and hiding the computer).
There are plenty of synths, hardware and software, that aren't mere sample players; many of them generate their own tones (via subtractive, FM, granular and other methods). Moreover, many of them are built to enable a high degree of user-definability. Although Atmosphere has some flexibility, there are plenty of synths that smoke it in the tweak department.

Quote:
If anything, one of the reasons why atmosphere is good is that it surpasses the sound quality of its hardware cousins.
This is a fact?

Look, I like Atmosphere a lot. I use it all the time. But that doesn't mean it's without deficiencies. Sometimes it needs help. That's all I was saying.

I'll close with this though: Many of Atmosphere's presets sound lush and beautiful on their own, but can sit weakly in a mix. They often have reverberation and delays and stereo spreading that either get cancelled in the mix or murk it up.
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Quote:
Originally Posted by StrykeBack View Post
to go along with Atmosphere and Hybrid I've been enjoying the demos I'm hearing from the Rob Papen soft synths like Albino and Blue..

Anybody had good experience with those synths? They sound pretty huge. But then again I do mostly rock, alternative rock, indie, ballad, and funk and jam type stuff and don't really have a place for those...yet I always love the sounds...Guess I better do some more film scoring to justify them
I use Blue (along with Atmosphere) and like it a lot. It's great for sequenced, arpeggio material as well as supplemental bass line stuff. I think it could find a place in plenty of pop or dance or electronic music endeavors.
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Yeah, Kompakt 2 may be a good longer term investment though given it's versatility, yes?

I do have Logic 7 but I've yet to even install it. I've been a DP guy for a while and I'm hesitant to deal with a learning curve right now.
Kontakt2 sure is a great investment as it offers a lot of cool features that are hard to find on other sampler plugs like real time timestretching etc.
It also comes with a rather nice library of its own including some small but cool sounding collection of classical sounds from the VSL library.

NI just announced that the UB version will be released in november and since the Scarbee stuff is just a bunch of data that runs in Kontakt2 it will do so with any version of it so you can be confident that it will run OK in an intel mac.
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Most of polyphonic hard- and softsynts are capable of making big pad sounds.

HW: Try Roland V-Synth (XT), Korg Triton, Roland JX8P/JX10/MKS70.

SW: Virus Indigo, Arp 2600, Yamaha CS80, Korg Polysix/Legacy cell, NI Pro 53/Absynth

Though I like the sound of Atmosphere, I find that it takes to long to load patches..
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Who said hardware is always better? I said Atmosphere can sound thin in a mix, so adding some hardware synth can help give it some meat. Doubt me? Try it and see. Just pumping a synth through a preamp can give it some girth.
You said lay down some atmosphere tracks and then augment that with *any* hardware synth for a better sound, as if there's something inherently better about hardware synths over software synths. The point I was making is that at this point, there is no real difference between hardware and software synths, as if *any* hardware synth (all it has to be is hardware) can improve the sounds of this software synth. The distinction is really between different synths - not whether it's hardware or software since hardware synths are software, just with the computer inside. So if you think an atmosphere track is thin or needs something else to sound good (and I'm not questioning your opinion on this) then it's a matter of adding that good sound to it that you think will improve it from whatever source.
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There are plenty of synths, hardware and software, that aren't mere sample players; many of them generate their own tones (via subtractive, FM, granular and other methods). Moreover, many of them are built to enable a high degree of user-definability. Although Atmosphere has some flexible, there are plenty of synths that smoke it in the tweak department. .
Absolutely. Atmosphere is really about the presets and the work that Eric Persings has already done. The sounds are off the shelf, not do it yourself.

One thing I often feel is that for many highly tweakable synths, the sound still sounds like that synth. The DX7, for example, as revolutionary and amazing as it was, still sounded like a DX7 no matter what patch. Many synths are like that. I remember hearing a Kurzweil 250 for the first time and being surprised that one synth could create so many sounds that didn't all sound like they were coming from the same box. Where atmosphere is good, I think, is where it doesn't just sound like another flavor of a recognizable synth. For me, I care less about tweakability and more about having rich organic novel and untraceable sounds (you know, that don't sound like they come from recognizable synths).

Today, for example, I will be using atmosphere on a project. I will definately be staying away from the classic analog synth sounds in it that will make my music sound synthy and dated, just like I'll be staying away from those cool new sounds in it that have been used to death and will make the listener think they're watching a re-run of "Lost."
Quote:
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Look, I like Atmosphere a lot. I use it all the time. But that doesn't mean it's without deficiencies. Sometimes it needs help. That's all I was saying.

I'll close with this though: Many of Atmosphere's presets sound lush and beautiful on their own, but can sit weakly in a mix. They often have reverberation and delays and stereo spreading that either get cancelled in the mix or murk it up.
I agree. It would be nice to have those things more tweakable. It's also getting long in the tooth and ready for an update. The library that comes with stylus is twice the size of the library that comes with atmophsere, and the manual for atmosphere is still geared towards OS 9, as if OS X is a curiousity on the horizon. I'm sure they sell more stylus, so I guess that's more of a priority for them. But the whole point of atmosphere was for Persings to exploit computer storage and horsepower to make better, richer sounds than what he was making for Roland synths with the limitations of typical synth memory and power at the time. But now computers are more powerful, and atmosphere is lagging. It could really be kicked up a notch.

There's all this interest in a next-generation UB version of it, but I'm guessing (hoping) that the next version will be not only UB but much bigger and better in general.

-matt
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Find a decent Juno 60. They sound great for pads. We have a half dozen fancy synths and we always come back to the Juno 60. Sits in the mix too.


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