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1st synth recommendation?
Old 9th August 2017
  #1
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Thread Starter
1st synth recommendation?

I've toyed with an ensoniq keyboard sampler for years, and currently going through about 200 floppy disks of sounds from the early 90s, which is quite fun, but the machine itself doesn't lend to adjusting parameters easily, and i'm ready to sculpt my own sounds - so looking to get an actual synth for once.

played around in a buddies studio with a mininova recently, which was a lot of fun, but I found a lot of the presets rather plastic and cheesy. otherwise it seems like a nice machine. did a bit of research and seems the minilogue also comes highly recommended.

so far, only considering these two. any others you might suggest? pros and cons between the two? any other advice? definitely trying to keep it under $500, if not $300...

thanks!
Old 9th August 2017
  #2
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Budget not big enough for good quality hardware. (IMHO).
But if you must have it now and if you are ok with just 4 note polyphony and a small keyboard (you could probably drive it with your SQ), then go for the Minilogue.
It has a bit "funky" envelopes that click over a pretty wide range of attack parameter knob, some people seem to like it this way though.
Old 9th August 2017
  #3
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Go maschine second hand if you have a PC/Mac.
ensure it has v2 software license and i think that is a great buy.

Pros:

Lots of sounds
Free Massive
Sampler
Superb for putting ideas down quickly.
Load in VST plugins into it - filters etc.
V2.5 software is really very very good.
Play VST synths.
Sell it on for little loss.
USB powered hardware.

Cons
No keyboard
Old 9th August 2017
  #4
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by swiller View Post
Go maschine second hand if you have a PC/Mac.
ensure it has v2 software license and i think that is a great buy.
I had that, hated it, sold it a while ago. felt the magic in my buddies studio, looking for a fully hardware synth now.
Old 9th August 2017
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by middleWave View Post
I had that, hated it, sold it a while ago. felt the magic in my buddies studio, looking for a fully hardware synth now.
fair enough.
Old 9th August 2017
  #6
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BassX's Avatar
A good second hand VA like Roland JP8000, Clavia Nordlead, Korg MS2000 or Yamaha AN1X
Old 10th August 2017
  #7
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Get an Ultranova instead of the Mininova.
Old 10th August 2017
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Perplexo View Post
Get an Ultranova instead of the Mininova.
why the ultranova? it looks a bit pricey for my budget.
Old 10th August 2017
  #9
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Stevism's Avatar
They're a steal used. Got mine for $250 in mint condition. Same engine pretty much as the mininova, but with full keys and a much better interface
Old 10th August 2017
  #10
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If we are recommending hardware virtuals, then why not just a good MIDI controller keyboard plus few of the best software virtuals ?

Pretty sure the Nova can't touch Diva on sound quality and closeness to the old analogs and Zebra on versatility.
Old 13th August 2017
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Stevism View Post
They're a steal used. Got mine for $250 in mint condition. Same engine pretty much as the mininova, but with full keys and a much better interface
i guess i have my Ensoniq for full keys which i can link to the nova. so smaller keys would be great for portability in live setups.
Old 13th August 2017
  #12
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
If we are recommending hardware virtuals, then why not just a good MIDI controller keyboard plus few of the best software virtuals ?

Pretty sure the Nova can't touch Diva on sound quality and closeness to the old analogs and Zebra on versatility.
i had the NI maschine for a while but i just didn't like working with a computer. had a 9 hour jam session in a friends studio with hardware, and it was a revelation.
Old 13th August 2017
  #13
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MinoCan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Mutantt View Post
If we are recommending hardware virtuals, then why not just a good MIDI controller keyboard plus few of the best software virtuals ?

Pretty sure the Nova can't touch Diva on sound quality and closeness to the old analogs and Zebra on versatility.
I would recommend a good interfaced VA.

Nord Lead 2/2X: Programming doesn't need menus, only controller adjustment expression etc. and unison detune needs a little menu diving) Super easy to split and layer if you get keyboard version. Portable too (4.5 kg)

NL2 has 24 knobs for control, I didn't see a MIDI keyboard bundle like that (except BCR2000 support etc.)

I can't recommend the power of user interface enough, my friend bought and sold many synths, only to realize that he needed one with a good interface.
Old 13th August 2017
  #14
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atma's Avatar
 

to be totally honest--get either a MiniBrute or Microbrute, depending on your budget.

Why? because essentially every adjustable parameter on either 'Brute is isometrically 1:1 with a knob or slider.

IMO this is the absolute best way to learn this type of synthesis (classic subtractive synthesis).

No presets, no "menu-diving" to find specific parameters to adjust; everything you need to shape sound from raw electrical voltage is right at your fingertips as a knob or slider. you'd have real-time control over every parameter of a basic subtractive synth.

good luck!
Old 13th August 2017
  #15
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atma's Avatar
 

the other synth that comes to mind is the Korg minilogue or monologue. I don't have first hand experience with either, but either would be perfect for your needs, i think.
Old 13th August 2017
  #16
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babbGR's Avatar
Ultranova for the excellent keybed and better UI. Otherwise mininova and ultranova are basically the same synth. At that budget I would have a look at Roland JDXI. I think it's the best small factor synth/groove box atm. Sounds really big, UI is OK, drums are usable, sequencer is very intuitive and you get a decent monosynth in the same footprint as the mininova
Old 13th August 2017
  #17
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The mini or microbrute might be one knob per function. Soundwise I think they're cheap, harsh, cold and not musically to the ears for my taste.
And while the one knob per function is great, it's not always a problem having a synth that goes deeper as long as the most important features are on the front panel I think.

Also those are mono synths, I'm guessing most people want a poly synth as their first synth.
Old 13th August 2017
  #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by middleWave View Post
i had the NI maschine for a while but i just didn't like working with a computer. had a 9 hour jam session in a friends studio with hardware, and it was a revelation.
You set up this controller with your favorite VSTi once and then you will never have to touch the mouse again:
https://www.music-group.com/Categori...CR2000/p/P0245
And you can jam even for 10 hours as if it was all hardware.
A good example of them being used just like that:
https://digitaldj.files.wordpress.co...ft_pyramid.jpg
But then... A keyboard controller plus the BCR would eat your whole budget...
Old 13th August 2017
  #19
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Deep mind 12- fantastic first synth
Old 13th August 2017
  #20
In no particular order. The ones with a * in front are the ones I'd recommend personally.

Polyphonic with keys:
*Korg Minilogue (Great sound, excellent allrounder, 1:1 interface, flexible, nice mini-keys)
*Yamaha Reface CS (Fast, simple, fun, robust and nice mini-keys)
Roland System-1 (Comparable to the Minilogue, just doesn't sound or feel as nice imho, but worth a look, crap keys)
Novation Ultranova (Very flexible and capable allrounder, good matrix/menu editing but not nearly as nice as a 1:1 interface, nice keys)
If you can find a cheap 2nd hand MicroKorg it's not bad at all, but the other synths are generally better, so it has to be cheap. (pretty good matrix editing, fairly flexible)
*It might be out of your budget, but a 2nd hand Waldorf Blofeld keys. (nice screen-supported matrix editing, very flexible and capable allrounder, nice sound, great keys)

Polyphonic modules:
*Waldorf Blofeld (same as the keys version, just without keys)
Roland Boutiques (simple, good sound, portable, small but good interfaces)

Monophonic with keys:
*Novation BassStation 2 (flexible and good sound, good interface and keys)
Korg Monologue (great sound, nice mini-keys)

Monophonic modules:
Waldorf Pulse 2 (flexible, pretty good matrix editing)
*Dreadbox Erebus/nyx (great sound, 1:1 interface)
Vermona Mono Lancet (great sound, 1:1 interface)
Doepfer Dark Energy (great sound, 1:1 interface)
Old 13th August 2017
  #21
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Reface cs, minilogue, deepmind 6 depending on budget.
Old 13th August 2017
  #22
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string6theory's Avatar
SAVE some more money and GO FOR IT with a fully featured, modern analog VCO synth, like the MatrixBrute (or a Sub-37 as a 2nd choice).

Your revelation isn't going away, it's just going to expand further, guaranteed. And, generally speaking, you get what you pay for with analog hardware.

Instead of rushing in for a cheaper (just ok) synth that you will outgrow in a few months, be patient and get a real modern classic that WILL stand the test of time, while providing you with YEARS of musical sounds, just awaiting your inspiration.

Be very selective and patient is my advise, while bypassing the cheap entry level - which I'm going to venture you're already gone beyond in your head.

Just saving you some time, if not $$$ up front. Except time is money, so take the long view. $1400 to $1800 gets you a real analog powerhouse.

Good luck!

Old 19th August 2017
  #23
Gear Head
 

Thread Starter
thanks for all of the recommendations.

a good friend/producer/live musican recommended the Novation Circuit to me as a good solution to get started. it looks a bit simplistic but perhaps could be fun. thoughts on that one?
Old 19th August 2017
  #24
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fiddlestickz's Avatar
Bass Station 2
Nord Lead 4
Old 19th August 2017
  #25
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AlchemicalAudio's Avatar
If you keep your eyes on Craigslist, depending on where you live, you could probably find a Roland JX3P, an Akai AX60, a Juno HS-60 (same as the Juno 106), Kawai K3, Yamaha AN1X, Ensoniq ESQ-1/SQ-80, or a Korg MS2000 for close to your budget. All sound great, not all of them are knob per function but editing is going to be easy on any of them. Good luck!
Old 20th August 2017
  #26
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I'm really intrigued by the Waldorf Blofeld myself. Listened to some demos, really liked what I've heard.

So ambient and lush. Surprised these aren't talked about more
Old 23rd August 2017
  #27
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atma's Avatar
 

honestly it probably doesn't matter much. pick something in your budget that seems interesting
Old 23rd August 2017
  #28
Just general advice but I would find a polyphonic VA that has OSC sync, 2 LFO, 2 OSC plus noise. Ideally also pulse width modulation and a reasonable mod matrix. Three OSC or a sub is a bonus.

Make sure it has as many knobs as possible, sounds good, and is not overly complicated with options but also not too basic on mod options. The Nord series is a great example of this simplicity and power. Some analogs too but they are expensive and some 2000s era synths since they are more limited in features.

VSTs are great but having to deal with something like Zebra when you are learning.. Option overload. Get something that sounds nice and push its limits.

TBH I think learning on the new novas (though I like mine) would be overly complicated and fairly painful due to the interface. I think a mono synth would be too boring and limiting. I would get something in between.

If you are on a budget look for something used.
Old 24th August 2017
  #29
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Hazmatic's Avatar
300-500? Save up and get something that isn't a toy.
Old 24th August 2017
  #30
Get a Casio XW-P1. It's got alot of bang for the buck and everyone's 1st synth should be a Casio!
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