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Synth for Space Ambient
Old 1st July 2020
  #1
Synth for Space Ambient

Hi there,

I'm currently looking at picking up my first synth, ideally one which will enable me to create space ambient music with trance and synthwave influences and also to control virtual instruments via MIDI/DAW.

After much research I've looked at the Korg Minilogue XD, Wavestate and Prologue. Also the Prophet Rev2, DeepMind 12, Argon8, Nord Lead, Hydrasynth and Novation Summit to name a few. In general the 'wavey' synths seem to make the sounds that tickle my fancy, particularly the Wavestate and Blofeld.

I will be using a DAW eventually to record but would also like to just plug and play and create layers, so believe I'd also need a sequencer if one isn't built in as the arpeggiators can only do so much?

As you can see from what I've been looking at so far my budget is from €500-2000ish so quite flexible and am willing to pay for something that is really worth it in the long-term. A dream machine like Prophet X or Quantum is a stretch too far at the moment.

Thanks for any suggestions on all of this, I'm taking my time to choose the right machine and taking on board all advice.
Old 1st July 2020
  #2
So, the value option is typiclaly going to be building out the core gear to run a DAW foremost. The computer, the software, the audio interface, cables, the monitor speakers, headphones and your input methods - which could be a controller and/or keyboard for electronic and a mic or mics if appropriate. Putting your money here first makes sense. However, once you get that far you can experiment with virtual instruments to find out what sort of synthesis you like and use all the time - then you know what to buy in hardware and why.

But, I realise that's a boring answer and that this is Gearslutz. You made a fair list of candidates there. Each individual will have their favourites. There's hundreds more equally valid options too. How to choose? I don't really know. I find YouTube incredibly helpful since it lets me hear and see the operation of stuff - I can zone in on UIs and sounds that make sense for me and my intended usage without having to buy them just to try them.
Old 1st July 2020
  #3
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tricera's Avatar
 

Just my opinion, but the Korg -logue series seems to me to nail the clean futuristic analogue sound if that's what you're after.

For example ..

Old 1st July 2020
  #4
Quote:
Originally Posted by ambiguous signal View Post
So, the value option is typiclaly going to be building out the core gear to run a DAW foremost. The computer, the software, the audio interface, cables, the monitor speakers, headphones and your input methods - which could be a controller and/or keyboard for electronic and a mic or mics if appropriate. Putting your money here first makes sense. However, once you get that far you can experiment with virtual instruments to find out what sort of synthesis you like and use all the time - then you know what to buy in hardware and why.

But, I realise that's a boring answer and that this is Gearslutz. You made a fair list of candidates there. Each individual will have their favourites. There's hundreds more equally valid options too. How to choose? I don't really know. I find YouTube incredibly helpful since it lets me hear and see the operation of stuff - I can zone in on UIs and sounds that make sense for me and my intended usage without having to buy them just to try them.

Thanks for the input, that makes sense and yes I'm currently looking at monitors, interface and DAW first (hoping my current PC setup can handle recording) but a decent hardware synth is inevitable and starting to research early so I pick the right one.

Last edited by Ethereality; 5th July 2020 at 05:02 PM..
Old 1st July 2020
  #5
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John Difool's Avatar
 

I would start with the Wavestate and learn that..

But also look at the Roland JD 990

And the NLDR is a great inspiration tool https://conductivelabs.com
Old 1st July 2020
  #6
Quote:
Originally Posted by John Difool View Post
I would start with the Wavestate and learn that..

But also look at the Roland JD 990

And the NLDR is a great inspiration tool https://conductivelabs.com
Yeah, even though according to some opinions, the Wavestate seems to be a bit of a 'menu diver' so maybe not the ideal to learn on, it seems like it could be a good one. The sounds I've heard on YT are what I'm looking for... then again the Waldorf Blofeld is a similar price and again according to some opinions, in another league to Korg gear.
Old 1st July 2020
  #7
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John Difool's Avatar
 

Ohh yes...the Waldorf Microwave XT(K) is a God in my world..
Old 1st July 2020
  #8
Lives for gear
 

I am pretty sure Dreamstate Logic uses Virus and/or Blofeld.
But i don't remember where did i read about it or if i got the idea just by listening.
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChL...YgW7Cu9AwLNYjA
Old 1st July 2020
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by Chronic777 View Post
Hi there,

I'm currently looking at picking up my first synth, ideally one which will enable me to create space ambient music with trance and synthwave influences and also to control virtual instruments via MIDI/DAW.

while boring and predictable answer, from personal experience i would go grab this first, as cheapest option with big bang for the buck:

Virus TI(1)


if you have a budget to want to grab hybrid or analog, then id recommend looking at:


Ensoniq ESQ1 - perfect character for late 80s synth pop/wave/soundtrack genres from the era..and for recently in vogue hollywood's synth wave style soundtracks.

Prophet 600 Gligli - same applies here, but its the vco analog counterpart to the above. more expensive but still relatively cheap for first class analog sound. can do those dark menacing carpenter drones, bass sequenes, sparkly pwm stabs, cem strings, and also does pretty well with organic ambient beds, given the right dly/reverb treatment.


in this case, you might want to completent with TI type sound in the box as there are some VSTi that aim for that. tho i largely prefer the TI's hardware character and hands-on inspiration.

Last edited by clusterchord; 1st July 2020 at 04:56 PM..
Old 1st July 2020
  #10
Gear Addict
 
bftucker's Avatar
 

Personally, I would buy the best 61 key keyboard controller you can afford, “best” being something only you can subjectively determine. Maybe a Native Instruments
Komplete Kontrol S61 or Novation 61SL MKIII. Then learn how to use it with your DAW of choice while watching Craigslist for used classics. Others will strongly disagree but the first analogue synth I would add would be the Deepmind 12d.



This might be a mistake but it will not be an expensive mistake! And it will provide some kind of benchmark for comparison.

Old 1st July 2020
  #11
Gear Maniac
 
AlchemicalAudio's Avatar
Used synths to look at (that are still relatively cheap)

1. Novation X-Station!!! - Lots of hands on control and can act as a audio interface and robust MIDI controller. On board effects are useable and has an arp, too. Class compliant and works with iPad.
2. Ensoniq ESQ-1 - Sounds great, great interface despite not having any dedicated knobs/sliders. Easy to use sequencer. Lots of options for sound design and very flexible.
3. Roland JP-8000 - great interface, sounds good
4. Korg DW-6000 or DW-8000 not so great interface but sounds great.
5. Kawai K3 - cheapest way to get an SSM filter, I love the sound. Also has user programmable additive wave that can produce some interesting tones if you look into it.


Pedals -
Hologram Electronics Microcosm - super amazing, check out all their pedals
Eventide H9 - does a whole lot with a very small footprint
Strymon Big Sky - Ambient machine, right here!
Alesis Quadraverb - was used a lot by Warp records artists back in the day
Old 1st July 2020
  #12
Gear Head
I have been using a PRO 2 w/ the Eventide SPACE pedal lately and getting some very spacey ambient-type sounds from the combo. Probably a bit more than your budget, though. The other synth in that rig (for my E.M. project) is an OB-6 (MIDIed to an M-32).
Old 1st July 2020
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by bftucker View Post
Personally, I would buy the best 61 key keyboard controller you can afford, “best” being something only you can subjectively determine. Maybe a Native Instruments
Komplete Kontrol S61 or Novation 61SL MKIII. Then learn how to use it with your DAW of choice while watching Craigslist for used classics. Others will strongly disagree but the first analogue synth I would add would be the Deepmind 12d.



This might be a mistake but it will not be an expensive mistake! And it will provide some kind of benchmark for comparison.

Thanks for the advice. I don't have room for a lot of equipment so I'm thinking to either start with something 49 Key+, a dedicated MIDI controller is a possibility but ideally an epic synth which is a decent enough MIDI controller, has a sequencer so can build layers without a DAW, then maybe add something small in the future, or the opposite - start with something small to learn on like the Wavestate then move on to something more substantial.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AlchemicalAudio View Post
Used synths to look at (that are still relatively cheap)

1. Novation X-Station!!! - Lots of hands on control and can act as a audio interface and robust MIDI controller. On board effects are useable and has an arp, too. Class compliant and works with iPad.
2. Ensoniq ESQ-1 - Sounds great, great interface despite not having any dedicated knobs/sliders. Easy to use sequencer. Lots of options for sound design and very flexible.
3. Roland JP-8000 - great interface, sounds good
4. Korg DW-6000 or DW-8000 not so great interface but sounds great.
5. Kawai K3 - cheapest way to get an SSM filter, I love the sound. Also has user programmable additive wave that can produce some interesting tones if you look into it.


Pedals -
Hologram Electronics Microcosm - super amazing, check out all their pedals
Eventide H9 - does a whole lot with a very small footprint
Strymon Big Sky - Ambient machine, right here!
Alesis Quadraverb - was used a lot by Warp records artists back in the day
Thanks for the recommendations.

I have a Bigsky and Timeline which are great. At the moment I've only used them with guitar though can hear the potential. I've never heard of hologram electronics, looks like some good gear.
Old 3rd July 2020
  #14
Ok so I've bought my first synth - the Waldorf Blofeld!

I won't have an interface/monitors/DAW setup anytime soon and wanted to get going on some keys and felt this was a good choice.

I understand this may not be the easiest synth to learn on but I'm going to give it a go. The consensus seems that for the price it's one of the most capable synths for the money and seems to do very well from spacey ambient atmospheres to full on psy trance judging by the videos I've watched, which is exactly what I'm going for. I don't generally go for dark/cold sounds which seems to be a common feature mentioned, however it doesn't seem to be limited to this vibe at all.

I am basically a total noob to synths so will start with the manual which seems to have quite a good section on the basics. I'm just wondering if there's any other resources which would serve me well given how wet behind the ears I am when it comes to synths?

It should be arriving tomorrow and needless to say I'm excited for it. I've heard the presets aren't the greatest so won't get my hopes up for total satisfaction through plug and play out the box but sure it will be fun to play around with none the less.

Thanks for any advice
Old 3rd July 2020
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
Ok so I've bought my first synth - the Waldorf Blofeld!
Nice.

Some good soundtrack to your waiting for the delivery:


Old 3rd July 2020
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
Chandro Ji's Avatar
 

Congrats!
The Blofeld is a very nice Synth!

Here’s another great demo which shows how versatile this Synthesizer is...

Old 3rd July 2020
  #17
Lives for gear
 

If it's the keys version, you can straight away load your own sounds into it, which is nice, and something I've always looked for in (digital or hybrid) hardware synths.

Nice keybed too, IMO.

Good choice!
Old 3rd July 2020
  #18
Thanks for the vids, there's a few there I haven't watched yet...

Quote:
Originally Posted by pimket View Post
If it's the keys version, you can straight away load your own sounds into it, which is nice, and something I've always looked for in (digital or hybrid) hardware synths.

Nice keybed too, IMO.

Good choice!
Thanks

I don't actually have any sounds to upload as I'm new to all of this but do have my eye on a few of the soundsets available on Waldorf's website.

I'm looking forward to learning how to tweak the synth to make the sounds I'd like but am basically starting from scratch so have a lot to learn.
Old 3rd July 2020
  #19
not being snarky, but anything you have listed would be great and inspiring for ambient music.....if you are new to this, just pick the cheapest one and go from there, build up your skills and upgrade based on the process you devolop.
...

the affordable music technology out there today is all pretty amazing.... watch the Nick Batt synth demos.... he makes great ambient music with every kind of synth
Old 3rd July 2020
  #20
Lives for gear
 

One of my favorite Space Ambient tracks:
Old 3rd July 2020
  #21
Lives for gear
 
muziksculp's Avatar
 

The Prophet REV2 (16 Voice) paired with a nice reverb i.e. Eventide H9 Would be my recommendation.
Old 3rd July 2020
  #22
Quote:
Originally Posted by muziksculp View Post
The Prophet REV2 (16 Voice) paired with a nice reverb i.e. Eventide H9 Would be my recommendation.
I can see why...



I decided to go ~€500 for the first synth and the Blofeld seems like a good option. At the moment I'm playing with Synth1 software and Reaper DAW to learn some basics about how the different parameters affect the sound.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
One of my favorite Space Ambient tracks:

That's beautiful, I'd love to make similar music.

This is one of my all time favorites...



If I had a patch I could play with those deep bass notes and the high freq arp I'd be in heaven.

Last edited by Ethereality; 3rd July 2020 at 10:18 PM..
Old 3rd July 2020
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
This is one of my all time favorites...

Nice.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
If I had a patch I could play with those deep bass notes and the high freq arp I'd be in heaven.
The bass is pretty easy with Synth1.
OSC1 pulse.
SUB -1 octave saw.
OSC2 Same octave saw.

Filter 12dB tuned pretty low, very small amount of envelope modulation.

Modulate pulse width with 1st LFO medium amount and filter frequency with 2nd LFO small amount at exactly the same rate (both optionally synced to tempo).

Mono unison detuned and stereo spread 4-8 or chorus.
Delay, reverb.
Old 3rd July 2020
  #24
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muziksculp's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
I can see why...



I decided to go ~€500 for the first synth and the Blofeld seems like a good option. At the moment I'm playing with Synth1 software and Reaper DAW to learn some basics about how the different parameters affect the sound.
Cool, and interesting choices.

Synth1 is a Free VST Synth that emulates the Clavia Nord Lead 2, How do you like Synth1 so far ?

I'm tempted to download it, and see how it sounds, since I own a Clavia Nord Lead 2X-Rack.
Old 3rd July 2020
  #25
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by muziksculp View Post
I'm tempted to download it, and see how it sounds, since I own a Clavia Nord Lead 2X-Rack.
It doesn't sound as great as current gen soft synths, but it doesn't have to.
I think it still is the most popular free VSTi.
Some 20000 or maybe even more patches for it floating on the web.
Old 4th July 2020
  #26
Quote:
Originally Posted by muziksculp View Post
Cool, and interesting choices.

Synth1 is a Free VST Synth that emulates the Clavia Nord Lead 2, How do you like Synth1 so far ?

I'm tempted to download it, and see how it sounds, since I own a Clavia Nord Lead 2X-Rack.
It's interesting, it's literally the first time I've touched a synth and was just playing with the raw interface a QWERTY keyboard last night, then realized this morning thanks to Mutantt that I can download free patches to play with, what a noob.

I do think that I'll prefer having a hands on approach of hardware, without having to use a mouse or even switch on my computer. Which does make me wonder if I'd prefer having more knobs rather than a menu matrix system of the Blofeld. That being said I've done a lot of research on the Blofeld and the most commonly used paramaters seem quite easily accessed, I also really like that you get the image of the wave so you can actually see what you're doing.

The Blofeld should arrive in an hour or so
Old 4th July 2020
  #27
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
It should be arriving tomorrow and needless to say I'm excited for it. I've heard the presets aren't the greatest so won't get my hopes up for total satisfaction through plug and play out the box but sure it will be fun to play around with none the less.
If you liked Jexus demos shared in this thread, you can download his presets from his website here:
http://syntezatory.net.pl/wcog_synth_patches.htm
Old 5th July 2020
  #28
Thanks for the link, unfortunately staying true to form being a bit of a gear slut, I won't be staying in a relationship with the Blofeld.

Its a great piece of kit and I'm sure after a while I would warm to it but she just isn't for me right now. I actually found it quite easy to navigate the menus and liked many of the pads, which showed much potential, I just didn't fall in love with it so not ready to commit. It also arrived with a scratch and the knobs look used, although they could just be machined with imperfections. I could easily overlook these flaws if I'd fallen for the Blofeld, I just have to be true to myself and admit that I haven't.

Where to go from here I'm not certain... I'm not disappointed though. If anything I am excited to I know that I don't know and open to all possibilities. There are plenty more fish in the sea!

My wandering eyes are already enamoured with a few other synths, namely the DeepMind 12 for something around a similar budget, or if punching above my weight, dreaming of a Summit.
Old 5th July 2020
  #29
Lives for gear
 

Any synth + reverb will do lets face it, but the sound of the Juno has always said "space" to me over all other synths.

The S8 has a sequencer, a Juno 106, reverbs and a great interface for control.
Old 5th July 2020
  #30
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Ethereality View Post
Hi there,

I'm currently looking at picking up my first synth, ideally one which will enable me to create space ambient music with trance and synthwave influences and also to control virtual instruments via MIDI/DAW.

After much research I've looked at the Korg Minilogue XD, Wavestate and Prologue. Also the Prophet Rev2, DeepMind 12, Argon8, Nord Lead, Hydrasynth and Novation Summit to name a few. In general the 'wavey' synths seem to make the sounds that tickle my fancy, particularly the Wavestate and Blofeld.

I will be using a DAW eventually to record but would also like to just plug and play and create layers, so believe I'd also need a sequencer if one isn't built in as the arpeggiators can only do so much?

As you can see from what I've been looking at so far my budget is from €500-2000ish so quite flexible and am willing to pay for something that is really worth it in the long-term. A dream machine like Prophet X or Quantum is a stretch too far at the moment.

Thanks for any suggestions on all of this, I'm taking my time to choose the right machine and taking on board all advice.
Congratulations on the Blofeld, it's a great synth. For your second synth, I'd advice the Yamaha MODX, Korg Wavestate or Access Virus TI or TI2.

All are awesome and capable of some lovely, lovely sounds.
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