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What to do with a synth (noob alert)
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

What to do with a synth (noob alert)

Hi all
I'm probably the biggest noob ever to have posted here, so here goes

I'd like to get into synths, but I have 0 musical background, so even when I'm watching begginer videos, every other word is something that I have to spend forever googling and trying to understand. The idea is to have fun, maybe in the future when I've mastered it a little bit to play ambient/techno for friends in my bedroom, no big ambitions. I'm a student so my budget is fairly limited, second-hand stuff is the way to go for me. I'd like to know the answers to these questions:

1. Do I need active speakers for the synth - or rather, what would I have to get to go along with a passive set to make it work?
2. What other gear do I need, what kind of cables to connect the synth to the speakers?
3. Is that the most basic setup possible to create sound out of a synth: a synthesizer, a set of speakers, and cables to connect them? (btw, I dont want to do it with earphones)

Thanks for any answer!
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Save us all the trouble and post your max budget. From there we can perhaps better guide you.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Lives for gear
 
spaceman's Avatar
 

I suggest you forget about getting gear and stuff for now, and start with a basic all-in tool like the free GarageBand if you have a Mac, or the same app on an iPad. All you need to do then is simply plug your device exactly the same way you already do to listen to music, plug it in your amp, headphones or whatever you're doing already.

Garageband is pretty powerful, yet easy to use. It's got plenty of good sounding synths, with limited controls so that you wouldn't be paralyzed by too many options and spend forever googling on what they mean.. It's got also a basic sequencer to record what you're doing, and simple but good sounding effects to spice up your sounds for mixing.
This will let you concentrate on on getting a grasp first on the basic fundamentals of making music : rythm, melody , chords (even if very basic ). Whether you're doing ambient, punk, or hip-hop, you'll need a fundamental grasp of these basics first. Garageband has just enough controls to let let you modulate and play with the texture of sounds so that you'll understand what making sounds with synths means.

Once you feel you've outgrown this, and made a few tracks you can show your friends, then you can step up and start financially ruining yourself by getting more hardware, plugins, mixers, etc..
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 

1) active speakers/monitors. Passive speakers need an amp to drive them.
2) audio cables.
3) yes

Oh - and BTW - it's a money pit.
Old 1 week ago
  #5
Lives for gear
If you're a complete newbie you could use an audio system or PC speakers you own already to amplify your synth. You'd just need cables to connect them... most pro synths use single or dual 1/4" mono outputs (dual for stereo), some cheaper ones use the 3.5mm stereo headphone jack like on your phone/iPad. Although the connector is different, most synths are line level like a CD player or other component you'd connect to your audio system.

Once you have a synth or two and you get more serious about making music or recording, you could invest in a good set of studio monitors and/or headphones when you are ready.

But like others have said, I'd start with something simple like an app or PC software to get more familiar with synthesis and music production in general, before dropping cash on hardware. Do some research, watch some introductory videos that explain and demonstrate what each feature of a synth does and how you use it, etc.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
Gear Maniac
 
Rezisehtnys's Avatar
I won't repeat what's been well said, but I think a knob per function(or close to it) synth with keys would be a good first start. Maybe something like the Micrologue and Minilogue or Bass Station II, since I think presets are good for a beginner to have and you can learn how certain sounds are made by deconstructing the patches.
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Gear Maniac
 

First try some app or software for free and have fun with it.

https://www.kvraudio.com/plugins/win...e/most-popular

Maybe after some months you better know what feels good for you and buy a cheap midikeyboard secondhand and learn to play and try some free software synths or buy your first hardware.
Take a look on youtube to see some clips and tutorials and you will find your way.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Lives for gear
 

Get Tracktion (free version) as a DAW on your computer, find freeware soft synths OR inexpensive right now on sale, like the TAL U NO LX Juno emulation for $40 USD and then maybe an inexpensive pack (or free) of drum samples. Then spend your money on a decent MIDI controller that isn't more than 37 keys - as a non-piano player, you really don't need that. You can start at the low end with a 25 key AKAI MPK 2, or step up a notch from there that has controllers you can map from the hardware to the softsynths (make sure those softsynths can be mapped to).

Then... play. And do it more. And then some more.

Are you more inspired by throwing a ton of synths and effects around at a moment's notice to compose something you like? Does playing the keys, and turning the knobs or moving the sliders spark your creativity more?
Old 1 week ago
  #9
Gear Guru
 
fiddlestickz's Avatar
If you have a computer buy a small mixer that has USB interface built in, (this means that the mixer passes audio to your computer from mixer and from computer to mixer ie speakers via USB ). Then connect the USB to your computer and the active speakers to the outputs of the mixer, one left one right. Get yourself a copy of Reason software from Reason studios website, and start playing around with the internal sounds, once you've mastered this, only then you can start buying synths and patch them into the mixer.

go forth..!!
Old 1 week ago
  #10
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by newtoeverything View Post
1. Do I need active speakers for the synth - or rather, what would I have to get to go along with a passive set to make it work?
There are not that many passive nearfield monitors left.

That's a lot of words! So:

Nearfield: https://www.harmonycentral.com/artic...-for-you-r620/

Monitor: a different term in this case for speakers. The reason they're called that is because they should be absolutely honest about the sound; if your mix lacks bass, your monitors should convey this information to you. Compare with any speaker or stereo that has bass boost; it'll try to cover up things for you.

Quote:
2. What other gear do I need, what kind of cables to connect the synth to the speakers?
You generally don't connect them directly, though there's no law against this.

Generally speaking, you need cables that have a jack plug on one end and whatever the speaker accepts on the other end. This can be https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XLR_connector or https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RCA_connector or also a jack plug.

Also generally speaking, you probably want to hear more than one thing at a time, so if you ever buy a drum machine, you're going to need a (modest) mixing desk.

Quote:
3. Is that the most basic setup possible to create sound out of a synth: a synthesizer, a set of speakers, and cables to connect them? (btw, I dont want to do it with earphones)
That's the most basic setup possible, but generally speaking, not the most useful, or even cheapest.

Unless the synth you want to buy can make all the sounds you want simultaneously, you're going to have several pieces of equipment for each role you need.

Last edited by Yoozer; 1 week ago at 06:57 AM..
Old 1 week ago
  #11
This is about about a girl idn't it?

Full size keys, whatever you decide on.
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by newtoeverything View Post
. . . Is that the most basic setup possible to create sound out of a synth: a synthesizer, a set of speakers, and cables to connect them? (btw, I dont want to do it with earphones).
Yes, that's basically it: a pair of powered monitors and two cables for a synth with 'L' and 'R' outputs (i.e., "stereo"). You want "active speakers," otherwise known as, "powered monitors" (typically, "near-field" monitors). Then you need two 1/4" mono cables. These are the same cables you would use to plug a guitar into an amp, otherwise known as unbalanced "TS-to-TS" cables. The JBL 5" monitors linked below are currently $50-off, plus another 10%-off for CyberWeek (you need to buy two for stereo), and are probably your best bang for the buck.

If on a budget, you can get a pair of ProSonus 3.5" powered monitors instead for a total of only $99 for both, but you won't get the bass-response of the 5" JBLs. The Hosa TS cables linked below are inexpensive and work fine (you need to buy two for stereo):

JBL 5" powered studio monitor.
Hosa 5' TS-to-TS 1/4" cable.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Lives for gear
 
spaceman's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MixedSignals View Post
This is about about a girl idn't it?

Full size keys, whatever you decide on.
If it is, i strongly suggest the OP picks up a guitar instead.
Old 1 week ago
  #14
Lives for gear
 
Bad Machinery's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by spaceman View Post
If it is, i strongly suggest the OP picks up a guitar instead.
I liked your first comment, then you posted what I came to say.

If you play zero music I would get a guitar first. Possibly one of those Spanish numbers with the soft nylon strings (nothing else to buy.) Learn to put a few chords together first. You'll figure out what you want to plug into what along the way. It's a lifelong journey.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Gear Maniac
 
Rezisehtnys's Avatar
Psshh, all things being equal I'd jump the keyboardist before the guitarist.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newtoeverything View Post
1. Do I need active speakers for the synth - or rather, what would I have to get to go along with a passive set to make it work?
2. What other gear do I need, what kind of cables to connect the synth to the speakers?
3. Is that the most basic setup possible to create sound out of a synth: a synthesizer, a set of speakers, and cables to connect them? (btw, I dont want to do it with earphones)
Hi.

1. Yes, you need some way to amplify the synth line level output, it can even be as simple as connecting the synth to your home audio system, or a computer that has speakers - but of course some good professional active speakers would be better.
2. Just a line level cable with proper connectors, it depends on the synth if it requires big or small jacks, stereo or mono, balanced or unbalanced (don't mix these or it will sound very bad) - you need to check the manual for that.
3. IMHO it will sound like crap if the synth doesn't have any onboard effects - only the biggest synth nerds (many of us here) can appreciate a dry (without effects) synth sound.


BTW If you want to learn synthesis without spending a dime, download some free or trial ware VST host/DAW and some good free VST instruments.
https://www.hermannseib.com/english/vsthost.htm
http://reaper.fm/download.php

https://daichilab.sakura.ne.jp/softsynth/index.html
Not the best, but the most popular one.
Here it is in action:


https://www.kvraudio.com/plugins/ins...e/most-popular
Old 1 week ago
  #17
eb7
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by newtoeverything View Post
1. Do I need active speakers for the synth - or rather, what would I have to get to go along with a passive set to make it work?
Do you have a stereo with an aux input or a decent set of computer speakers? Either one would work to start.

Quote:
Originally Posted by newtoeverything View Post
2. What other gear do I need, what kind of cables to connect the synth to the speakers?
Let's figure out exactly what you'll be connecting first, but the short answer is cables.


Quote:
Originally Posted by newtoeverything View Post
3. Is that the most basic setup possible to create sound out of a synth: a synthesizer, a set of speakers, and cables to connect them? (btw, I dont want to do it with earphones)
Yes, I'd say it is. Right now, I have a smaller setup in my living room where I'm running a 3.5mm cable out of whatever synth I put down there's headphone jack (which sometimes requires an adapter) into the aux input on my stereo. It works just fine.
Old 5 days ago
  #18
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by studio460 View Post
Yes, that's basically it: a pair of powered monitors and two cables for a synth with 'L' and 'R' outputs (i.e., "stereo"). You want "active speakers," otherwise known as, "powered monitors" (typically, "near-field" monitors). Then you need two 1/4" mono cables. These are the same cables you would use to plug a guitar into an amp, otherwise known as unbalanced "TS-to-TS" cables. The JBL 5" monitors linked below are currently $50-off, plus another 10%-off for CyberWeek (you need to buy two for stereo), and are probably your best bang for the buck.

If on a budget, you can get a pair of ProSonus 3.5" powered monitors instead for a total of only $99 for both, but you won't get the bass-response of the 5" JBLs. The Hosa TS cables linked below are inexpensive and work fine (you need to buy two for stereo):

JBL 5" powered studio monitor.
Hosa 5' TS-to-TS 1/4" cable.
I have the 5"JBL's and I'm satisfied with them, decent speakers for a reasonable price.
Just look on the internet, lots of good reviews.
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