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How much is enough?? Desktop Synthesizers
Old 29th December 2010
How much is enough??

SO my gear list is pretty modest..
MPC 3k
virus B
symetrix cl-150 comp
turntables and shedloads of records to sample
Mackie cr-1604
midi controller
and some old JBL monitors..

I find myself GASsing for a
1. preamp to shape sounds. Im looking at a eureka due to its price and features and good reviews ive found online, but its gotten a lil bit of a bad rap due to Guitar Center employees pushing them on everyone due to high profit margin etc...I do want to sample some of my own sounds (using sm57) but primalrily i want to give my limited synth and drum sources a way to add some different sonic variety..

2. Another cheap comp (3630) or something similar so i can have more than one channel of compression going.. I want something pumpy as all my music is 'dance' etc..

3. outboard fx. DP-4 seems like a solid choice for the money, a couple of channels and well reviewed product..and i dont have much (if you can count the delay on the mpc3k and the onboard fx on the virus B).

4. rack filter. Sherman or possibly the akai that used to be paired with the 2kxl, havent done too much research in this area yet.. but i do know that the filter on the mpc3k doesnt really perform all the taks im after, the virus's filter is rockin' but id like something i can apply to drums/samples on the way in to the mpc, filter sweeps to particular busses etc..

5. Slim phatty. I want some analog synthesis in my life. maybe a freq-box or similar routed after the virus would satisfy my craving for the time being..

6. Ananlog drum synth. Create my own drums, vermonaq or mbase idk which yet..

My question to all you GSers is does this seem unneeded? am i just lusting after that which i dont yet own?? What of the gear listed seems redundant from your point of view?? Im not trying to collect gear for the sake of it, frankly i cant afford to... Perhaps im looking for a little justification that my wants are well founded and maybe this is gear i really could use to expand my sound and sound quality..any suggestions on what pieces to get or not get would be very much appreciated! thnx!!

Last edited by incurablebeatlus; 29th December 2010 at 06:47 PM.. Reason: spelling due to feeding a child and typing at the same time..
Old 29th December 2010
"Only those who risk going too far can possibly know how far they can really go." - T.S. Eliot

I'd go for the Moog myself thumbsup and maybe new monitors if the old ones aren't cutting it.

A used 3630 for the price they go for isn't really an issue, if you don't like/need it you can use it as a door stop, or sell it to someone who thinks they want to sound like Daftpunk heh

Buy a few used guitar pedals.

Old 29th December 2010
Lives for gear
wax808's Avatar

I know you know this already since you have some older gear, but buying used is a smart move. So drop any feelings of guilt you might have for splurging on gear. If you think of it as a sort of investment you can't go wrong, it's actually the responsible thing to do from a money management standpoint.

If I were you I would think about the Phatty. I had one on order but rescinded when I had an opportunity to get a Mopho and a Micro Q for a few hundred less than the SP here on GS. I kind of wish I got the SP because they look so rad.

Analog is fun though, the Mopho is balls out madness, I played about 20 minutes a few weeks ago in a hip-hop show with a live drummer. As soon as I busted that Mopho through the PA you could see peoples heads turn, it's pretty loud and aggressive in a PA system. It really cuts through more than my other synths.

I have a Virus Rack B, and the Mopho is a great compliment to it, I imagine the Slim Phatty is too. I don't think you can ever go wrong with a nice piece of analog gear.
Old 29th December 2010
So guitar pedals instead of a rack fx? I seem to remember my mackie manual recommending not running them on the auxes due to low output?? srry ive NEVER used a stompbox..

Im def GASsing for a slim phatty, its the most expensive item on my list so itll be the hardest one to save for.. Im really trying to justify my purchases so i thought getting some pieces that will broaden the sounds i allready have would be money better spent.. having said that im DEF GASSING HARD for a SP..The thought of running the SP through some moogerfoogers etc and having a mini-modular rig makes me GAS even harder..
As far as the mopho, i played one at a shop and i didnt have time to really get into it, but the build quality seemed weak, wobbly knobs, cheap aesthetics..

What about a pre to run my synth/drums/sample percussion/sample small voc snippets with? id love something decent and mulitchannel but all i really know in my price range is the Eureka due to its fairly large interweb fanbase..

Thnaks for the replies so far! thumbsup thumbsup thumbsup
Old 29th December 2010
really id like to add an EMU 6400 to the list for the filters and classic crunchiness (esp for dnb) as the 3ks sample engine is not much to write about...

7. EMU 6400.

Combining these listed items and my current gear (which is plenty!) i think i have enough gear to last a verrrrrry long time.. Dont you think?? SOmething i may have missed??
Old 30th December 2010
I don't think your going to get any "crunchiness" out of a 6400. You need to look at older samplers, Akai 950, EPS, Emax, Emulator, FS1, etc. And it really is a question if the time/effort required is worth the results...

You know you want a Moog. We all do heh

Definetly go used on most everything except monitors/mics. The Ensoniq DP series are overpriced imo, this site probably has something to do with that. Anyway most of those machines are not going to last very much longer... all my Ensoniq gear is flakey. Have a look instead at cheep 80's digital fx, Midiverb, Zoom, Yamaha, etc. Most are nasty but characterful and cheep, so if it breaks your not out too much money. Or you could kill two birds with one stone and get an ASR which has a DP-2 in it. No problem running a few pedals from your auxes, thats what I do.

Old 30th December 2010
I had a 950 it was cool and gritty but nothing too crazy for sample ediiting.. Maybe an ensoniq eps16+ would give me some better sample manipulation tools..

What about a nice rack eq for cutting and boosting freq's?? i know painfully little about what freqs and what they do to sound so a two channel 15 band eq could gert a lot of use and be a good tool for sculpting my sounds.. any recommendations there??

Preamp for synths/drums (mpc) and occasional vocal/drum sampling hasnt really been adddressed yet.. am i on the right path with an Eureka?? Something better in that general price (or a wee bit more $) range??
Old 30th December 2010
What audio interface are you running at the moment? Asking as regards the pres.

For eq I believe you'll get better results itb with plug ins compared to using cheep outboard. If you have the budget BlackLion Audio just released a somewhat affordable pultec style eq.

I have no experience with the Eureka, but I wouldn't expect any miracles. You get what you pay for. A pre that gets a lot of love around here is the GAP 73, but its mono, or maybe the BlackLion Auteur. I suggest when you have the money to invest go for the real deal and get a Great River, API, Neve, etc.

Old 30th December 2010
I dont have an audio interface. Im totally otb. The only thing I use the comp for that's music related is this websiteheh. Im looking for a means of recording but right now its so secondary to my focus on writing and developing my sound that I havent given it any real consideration.. Im a hobbyist and when the urge strikes I record on my lowly Mini-disk or better yet I have a friend with a laptop and interface come over to record. This is not the final solution to my recording needs by a loooong shot, Im headed back to college so hopefully ill get a new laptop with that in mind and have it do double duty as a recording rig. Long story short I want to be as OTB as humanly possible. Right now focus on creating, everyone (except me) seems to have a recording set-up so when the time comes I imagine a solution will present itself.. Inexpensive roland Vs or akai dp or similar seems likley..

In the past my tracks have been almost 100% done in the mpc 60, so taking that to a friends house (who has a semi-pro recording rig) was super simple, just cart the mp over there, load floppies and record..

SO, itb eq is not out of the question but id REALLY rather not. Having said that I know that I can't afford $1000 for a stereo pair of eq channels so I'm going to be making some sacrifices.

This may come off as over-dramatised but i think limitations make me more creative and my best tunes have been done with only the mpc 60 and records. And no im not talking about looped samples either.. Theres alot that can be done on the 60 for those that dig deep, my mpc3k was just the next logical step..

I hear a lot about cutting such-n-such freqs to clear up bass, or boosting that freq to get kicks to punch harder. I hoped to find something outboard that I could learn from and use creatively in that regard.

As far as pre's go, all I have now is my mackie cr1604's (dont laugh!) stock preamps. I understand the wait and get what you really want the first time, but im not really recording long vocal passages, I just want to be able to record my wife and a vocalist friend putting down little vocal bits for beats.. Not 16 bars of lyrics just lil hooks and such if that makes sense.. I also want to use the pre to fatten up potential percussion one-shots as they go into the mpc3k.

Im also looking for a pre that can add some warmth and character but Im not expecting too much at the price point im shopping.. The Eureka has eq, comp, saturation, and a few other lil features that make it attractive to me, but Im ALL EARS about what might be a good buy for the money.. long story short again here, Im not a recording rig Im just trying to add a nice creative tool for use on my sources (mpc3k and virus b) thats not going to eat my budget alive.. Yes I do know good things dont come cheaptutt so Im kinda chasing my tail here..

Lurking the bay super hard for best pricing it will still take me some months if not a year or two to build up the following additions;

slim phatty
mf 105
asst gutiar pedals
midi verb/dp4 (still undecided)
dbx 160x (or similar im undecided here as well, i need more comp fosho!)
Eureka (or similar pre in the sub $600 range)
outboard EQ (not mega $$ but hopefully not straight garbage either)
analog drum machine (not sure i want/afford a seq based machine maybe just -a drum synth)

Looking at this list now it seems like alot. I REALLY dont want to have stuff I dont have the time/desire to learn to use. I think this plan gives each piece of gear a particular job to do w/o too much redundancy... I used to do a 'live pa' type EDM type set loooonng ago with total crap hardware before my mpc days and I really want to get back to that with my new set-up...

MSL thanks for your replies, I have taken your advice to heart (even if my responses to it are baffling you lol), Im just facing the common dilemma of trying to stay OTB without selling bone marrow to finance my rig. Thanks for reading this!
Old 30th December 2010
Lives for gear
shaft9000's Avatar

Originally Posted by incurablebeatlus View Post
This may come off as over-dramatised but i think limitations make me more creative and my best tunes have been done with only the mpc 60 and records.
keep in mind that Gearslutz is about accumulating as much gear as possible - whether needed or not.

So take our advice with caution
ask me for gear advice and you're asking for financial ruin
Old 30th December 2010
Gear Guru
Yoozer's Avatar
Originally Posted by incurablebeatlus View Post
This may come off as over-dramatised but i think limitations make me more creative and my best tunes have been done with only the mpc 60 and records.
It's not just the gear. Never just the gear. Compare the way your life was at the time of those tunes with what it's like now.

It's harder to recreate the situation than the setup

I made my best stuff (or more correctly: I made stuff heh) when I was still studying and had 2 synths and a MIDI-only Cubase. I can go back there, but I can't exactly drop my obligations to the wife and kids, which back then I didn't have to worry about.
Old 30th December 2010
imho, the EMU 6400 is a great bit of kit - not crunchy at all. Moreso "warm".

Agree that the MPC's sampling engine aint the best, but you could look at an S3000...... a much more gritty sound (imho, Akai's, well the older S range anyway, do nothing to improve the sound, unlike the the emu & korg)

The DP4 is good, but it IS noisy. MV4 is well...... a workhorse. A quadraverb+ or GT would be really cool.... cheap but some interesting sounds can be made.
Yamaha FX500? Roland DEP 3?

DBX is good, as is the 3630 (for the money) - I'd also be looking at the TLA fatman (again, interesting sound).
Maybe even the Focusrite platinum compressor.
Personally, I'd steer clear of Behringer - lots of lights, and very little effect!! heh
The only thing to consider is the Behringer gtr pedals - you can get a shedload for not much money..... daisychain the buggers together!!

The Filterbank IS good though.

Just some additional food for thought.

Old 30th December 2010
1. Preamp:
- preamps don't really shape sounds that much that they would be essential gear in a synth based studio.

2. Cheap compressors:
- to get a good sounding compressor, you need to buy a bit more expensive unit than a cheap one (probably 1000+ euros/dollars for a mono unit).
- really good sounding and usable software ones are on the market at the moment; save your money

3. Outboard FX:
- these could be a good idea
- go for real hw analogue fx units
- digital fx can be done perfectly using plugins

4. Rack filter:
- this is something that would probably give something extra to your sonic palette
- try out different units if at all possible
- sherman is a well respected one, but probably a bit over used already (since 5 years ago...)
- Ebbe Und Flut might fit your bill
- Niio Analog Iotine Core isn't over used atm. Try it out!

5. Slim Phatty:
- definitely try out a real analogue synthesizer, since you already have Virus B to cover all the virtual analogue sounds you might think of
- this synth is also a monster in the bass department when compared to Virus line of synths

6. Analog drum synth:
- no opinion here, since it all depends on the style of music you're making
Old 31st December 2010
Lives for gear
ctrlshft's Avatar
Preamp - If you are recording vox/guitars/mic'ing synths, getting a nice one will be worth it. I bought a Great River ME-1NV and a Radial JDI for synth use and it has been a blast. Fairly subtle tone shaping though, so if you're only using synths I'd skip getting a preamp altogether. A cheap one will probably make everything sound worse on the whole unless you abuse it as an effect, which still probably isn't worth the scratch (on that note a good colored one will often saturate nicely before clipping).

Compressor - FMR RNLAs are probably the best low-cost colored compressors on the market, I highly suggest a pair. Otherwise consider saving up for a Distressor or Fatso. I ended up getting a Fatso and run basically everything through it to great effect. I went through a lot of compressors before I finally took the dip, including a Distressor. Ultimately I decided the Fatso fit the bill the best since I don't really need an ultra flexible swiss-army knife type compressor as much as just a leveler. After that you get tasty broadband saturation, high freq limiting, and a very colorful transformer to boot. It's great!

Analog synth - Slim Phatty is fantastic, I have one and love it. BTW... it is a rack filter, so you'd have a 2-for-1 with that. LPF only, sure, but for 800 bucks that's awesome.

Analog drum synth - Overrated IMO in this day and age. Get some GoldBaby samples and Driven Machine Drums library. The DSI Tetra is 4-part multitimbral if you're looking for something to make a kit with. Much more useful than a dedicated drum machine. I'll leave that with the exception that the Jomox MBase11 is insanely great for kicks of all kinds, and if you were to buy anything for analog drum bliss that'd be a good one. M.Brane11 is pretty neat too.
Old 31st December 2010
focusrite platinum looks like a reasonable option, i dont expect miracles at that price but i NEED more compression channels.. my one comp gets tied up squashing my synths w/ the kick sidechained, i really need something to make my 909 (and all other drums) samples bang harder..

Im kinda letting go of the preamp fixation, that eureka just seems tasty as it has eq, comp, saturation, etc all in a inexpensive rack..not to mention i wanna sample thru it some small vocal snippets..

guitar pedals i have no clue whats good or bad, what brands aren't ****?? this seems like a fun and tactile way of getting alot more sonic variety..

midiverb is goin on the must-get list i think, kinda a no brainer given how cheap and usable it is..

as far as filter the shermans have a rep for being kinda distorted, i want something a lil smoother.. im gassing for the mf105 pretty hard..

slim phatty is def on the list, gotta save up!

Thanks for the great responses from everyone!
Old 31st December 2010
Gear Guru
Great setup!!

You just need a vintage monosynth IMO...
Old 31st December 2010
Originally Posted by incurablebeatlus View Post
This may come off as over-dramatised but i think limitations make me more creative and my best tunes have been done with only the mpc 60 and records...
I can totally understand that, its true for a lot of us. Then again for the recording side of things it does sound like a lot of hard(er than it needs to be) work heh

See if you get a computer even a cheep one (eg with reaper) just to use as a glorified tape deck it will allow you mix much better, eq, etc.

Originally Posted by incurablebeatlus View Post
I hear a lot about cutting such-n-such freqs to clear up bass, or boosting that freq to get kicks to punch harder. I hoped to find something outboard that I could learn from and use creatively in that regard.
See above. I'm hard pressed to name a cheep good eq that will be any better than your Mackie.

Originally Posted by incurablebeatlus View Post
Im also looking for a pre that can add some warmth and character but Im not expecting too much at the price point im shopping..
Not on the cheep your not. BLA Auture or maybe a used DAV BG-1 are probably your best bets. They are clean though, but will be a significant improvement over the Mackie.

Originally Posted by incurablebeatlus View Post
Im just facing the common dilemma of trying to stay OTB without selling bone marrow to finance my rig. Thanks for reading this!
No need to sell marrow, kidneys are in high enough demand!

+1 a used Focusrite Compounder is a good choice
+1 getting both a SlimPhatty and a mf105 is overkill, look for another filter. what about the Akai MFC42 that attaches to the mpc
+1 on getting a cheep pc for recording, if your only doing audio even an older machine will work well.

Anyway generally my philosohpy is to build up your set up slowly and learn each piece, I made the mistake of buying loads of stuff all together and didn't know how anything worked for ages, just saying.

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