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Getting started with virtual synths?
Old 7th May 2006
  #1
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Matt Grondin's Avatar
 

Getting started with virtual synths?

So, as I cry myself to sleep knowing that I'll probably never be able to afford a real Mellotron or Yamaha CS-80, which are two of my favorites keyboards ever, I was thinking that I could at least tide myself over for now with some virtual instruments.

I have a new Minimoog Voyager and Roland JP8000, which is quite digital, but capable of some cool sounds nonetheless... the Moog pretty much has me covered for leads (say some it's not as good as old Mini's, but I love it), but I really want some polyphonic synth action.

I was wondering what I need to get started with some virtual synths... just a controller (who makes a really good one?) and a comp (computer not compressorheh )? I'm running an older version of PT's that these synths wouldn't work on probably, but I also have a kickass, very powerful Dell in my studio that has an RME soundcard in it... I bet they would run great on that.

I'm a total newbie with this stuff... are there any other good ones besides the ones I've mentioned already? On another note, how's that Nord stuff, like the Lead 3? I've heard some really good things from them, including the pads and chordal stuff that I'm looking for, but if I'm going to spend that kind of money, I'd rather hold out for the real deal analog machines. Thanks. Later.
Old 7th May 2006
  #2
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Dave Peck's Avatar
 

If you are like me and have really bad karma with computers, you may want to check out the Muse Receptor: http://www.museresearch.com/receptor_overview.php

It's a rack mount hardware box with a dedicated computer, I/O, and system software that does nothing but run plug-ins so they behave like rackmount hardware synth modules. I've been checking it out recently and I've seen a demo, but I don't have one yet so I can't give first-hand info about how well it works.

DP
Old 7th May 2006
  #3
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Matt Grondin's Avatar
 

Hmmm, maybe I should post in the Music Computers section? Any takers?
Old 7th May 2006
  #4
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Rufuss Sewell's Avatar
Do you mean a hardware Virtual Analog like the Nord stuff? Or Soft Synths that run on your computer?

I'm only confused because you mentioned the Nord and your computer/controller.

For hardware poly synths I really like Roland Juno's (60 is better, but 106 has midi) and the JX-8P so long as it has the PG-800 controller. These can be found for around $300. I actually paid $100 for my Juno 60 and $300 for my JX-8P with PG-800. Plus they're real analog filters and amps, only the oscillator is digital.

As for soft synths, use your JP8000 as a controller and download a bunch of free demos onto your Dell until you find something you like. Arturia has a CS-80 clone you could check out.

For Mellotron there are some great samples out there. Mellotrons didn't have too much expression so they're perfect for samplers. Just straight samples off a Mellotron end up sounding like the real deal. I use Pyramid Sounds MelloKurz on my Kurzweil K2600, but I'm sure there are plenty of others to choose from.

Good Luck.
Old 7th May 2006
  #5
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Matt Grondin's Avatar
 

Hey man, yeah, I was referring to software synths, until the end when I mentioned the Nord. What would I need to run the JP-8000 as a controller? Just a MIDI interface for the computer? Thanks.
Old 7th May 2006
  #6
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Matt Grondin's Avatar
 

Cool! I got the CS-80 demo up and running... it sounds pretty decent... does anyone make a controller with polyphonic aftertouch so I can get the real CS-80 feel? I know it won't quite sound the same, but still. I wonder if I ran it through my Pendulum Quartet if it would give it a much more analog sound. Just a thought. Thanks man!
Old 7th May 2006
  #7
Gear Maniac
 
DaveH's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Dave Peck
If you are like me and have really bad karma with computers, you may want to check out the Muse Receptor DP
I received a muse sent it back same day.

The idea is good but for me there were major “holes” in the implementation.

1. There is no way to back-up the system. There are no recovery disk(s).
And if you lose the hard drive (through hardware, OR software problems)
your only choice is the have Muse send you a new preformatted hard drive.
(I received this info directly from their tech support).

2. There are too many plug-ins that the unit does not really support.
One example: Arturia Brass. First they supported it and then
later they did not. (It uses an “ilok” type device made by another company for
Arturia). Muse does NOT support this key. And this type key is used on more than
just one software package.
This information is from Muse and was found on the receptor support forum.

3. Depending on the quality of converters you are use to the Muse converters
may not be to your liking. (There is ADAT out).

I really needed this unit to work.
Old 8th May 2006
  #8
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Dave Peck's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DaveH
I received a muse sent it back same day.

The idea is good but for me there were major “holes” in the implementation.

1. There is no way to back-up the system.

2. There are too many plug-ins that the unit does not really support.

3. Depending on the quality of converters you are use to the Muse converts
may not be to your liking. (There is ADAT out).

I really needed this unit to work.
Bummer. But thanks fo the update. I had been especially interested in it since they got the ADAT outs working, as I was planning to use it with an ADAT converter for groups of softsynths on four stereo outs going into my analog console. Even if it supports the synths I'm interested in, item #1 is the deal breaker. I was just assuming you could connect a USB drive or something. Crap.

DP
Old 8th May 2006
  #9
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octatonic's Avatar
My soft-synths list has shrunk over the last few months.
Now I only use the following:

Native Instruments: B4, Absynth, Reaktor, FM7, Pro53
Rob Papen: Blue, Albino
Spectrasonics: Atmosphere, Trilogy
Access Virus TDM
Korg Legacy Bundle

You can cover an awful lot of ground with these.
I still use a lot of hardware synths, but I find installing fewer soft-synths is better for creativity and stability.
Old 8th May 2006
  #10
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Your options are limited and expensive with PT. VST for PC is definately where all the fun virtual synth stuff is going off, and a lot of it is freeware.

Grab a free copy of Reaper or Krystal, or some other PC VST host software. Then check out all the amazing free stuff. I've bought plenty of commercial stuff, and trialled demo's, but I end up prefering certain freeware instruments that will never be available for Mac or Protools. That's just the way it is.

There's a lot of free crap too. But there is some amazing stuff being done for free, not because it's inferior but because the developers simply are young or looking for work, or simply done for love and not money.

For example - I have a paid up copy of Albino, a well respected soft synth. I basically can't use it, because my ears can't tolerate the bad aliasing noises in every patch. I have some freebie Synth Edit creations, that many people would despise on principle (being ignorant for ignorance sake) - but the sound quality is far superior to the commercial one. Far superior.

I've owned and used real voltage controlled synths, and the 1980's Roland and Sequential stuff. You can't beat the real deal, tuning problems and all. But I have plugins that are close enough for rock'n'roll, and most of them are free.
Old 8th May 2006
  #11
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max cooper's Avatar
 

I really dig the Arturia Moog Modular. CPU hog, though, but with good converters, it sounds good.

Also like the impOSCar.
Old 8th May 2006
  #12
Gear Addict
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by richmondjames
My soft-synths list has shrunk over the last few months.
Now I only use the following:

Native Instruments: B4, Absynth, Reaktor, FM7, Pro53
Rob Papen: Blue, Albino
Spectrasonics: Atmosphere, Trilogy
Access Virus TDM
Korg Legacy Bundle

You can cover an awful lot of ground with these.
I still use a lot of hardware synths, but I find installing fewer soft-synths is better for creativity and stability.
I think these were some words of wisdom without doubt! Great synth collection right there.

The Korg legacy bundle (The analog edition!!!) is a given! This gives you the MS-20 with as a good an analog bite as any softsynth could at this point. Plus there's more to it, but I won't go on about it here. In any case, an absolute bargain, and comes with cool little controller that replicates the original. Some say this is a bit of a toy, but for getting your hands dirty and shaping sounds it's really useful. You can then just use a full size midi controller to play the part into your sequencer.

Native Instruments are rockin' it as well. Reaktor 5 gives you unlimited scope, and there's a great community for new Reaktor synths that give you endless options. For pads, Absynth 3 is the ultimate, and Kontakt 3 (their sampler) gives you real power to manipulate sounds and achieve results in a sampler environment.

Rob Papens Albino is awesome! Really easy to get great results, and Spectrasonics are great for a huge range of sounds right out of the box.

I think this collection right here is an amazing soft synth collection! That's what I'm aiming at (minus virus coz I'm not on Pro-tools) and it covers all bases. Obviously personal preference plays a big part, but you can't question any of the above for their potential.

As stated in the quote, you wouldn't want too much more than this, or it just knots up yor creativity and you get snowed under with all the options you have. It's better to know 5-10 instruments really well then have 20 you can't use properly.

As to a controller, the 'Novation Remote SL' series... end of story. Can't be beat IMO if you're looking for synth and sequencer control and you play mainly ITB.

You're question on the Norld Lead 3 is a whole nother story. Obviously an amazing synth, but many like the Lead 2 better (different design team - more raw sound). This is just personal preference though.

It is pricey as well (though good value at the same time), but remember this. It has no on-board effects, which means you need to buy good outboard effects or great plug-in effects as well! There's no point having a Nord lead, and then ruining it by using crappy plugin effects.

I think, go with soft-synths, and use the money you save for Good Studio Monitors, some room treatment (not foam - go the DIY path), and maybe some outboard gear you can use to run your soft synth signal through using the RME converters you already have (eg EL Fatso Jr, Culture Vulture) or whatever works for you.

Sorry for the huge post/diatribe. I got a bit carried away there but I went through a long process of making these decisions myself over the past few months and this is the point I came to.

Cheers - Rez
Old 8th May 2006
  #13
I second the impOSCar. and the korg wavestation
both originally digital oscillators/wavetable heh

the "real" MS-20 is nothing like the emulation.
the filters in the software are not nearly as mean and dirty.
that said, the software is absolutely useable in a production.
filter thing also true for the Oscar, but the original is way too unstable to use on a regular basis IMO

for a nice software allround I would recommend the Reaktor, and Absynth.
that and the Apple Logic stuff. ES-2 for instance. which is actually very very good.
Old 8th May 2006
  #14
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Ricky's Avatar
 

I have set up a seperate PC as a Softsynth server with a Maudio delta 1010 in it running Stienberg Vstack. I trigger it via midi from logic 7 on my Mac running a mix cube. I connect the digital out of the Synth PC to the digital in of the protools 1622 and and 2 pairs of analoge outs to 2 pairs of analoge ins on the 1622. When I like the sound I print it to audio for processing or whatever in Tools (Logic 7 front end). I have about 52 softsynths but only use about 6. I also have replicated some of them in Logic on the Mac with AU versions.

Atmosphere
Trilogy
Golden
Blue
CS80v
Arp 2600
Plugsound (anything that uses the UVI engine)
Sampletank
Korg collection(I got an ms 10 & wavestation and am impressed)
Kontact
Mach 5 sampler (UVI engine)

Why dont you buy logic pro as a starting point and you get a ****load of synths, a drum machine, good sampler and a synth host in one hit. Then just add the softsynths u like.

PS: the Virus used motorolla dsp's the same as mix cards for tools, so the TDM tools version sounds identical to the hardware. I dont know about the indego and HD though.
Old 8th May 2006
  #15
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catfish11's Avatar
 

I too, have a pc for synths, though I use a emu 1820m
which comes w a sampler

sampletank
kontakt
imposcar
absynth
korg legacy
z3ta
arturia
minimonsta
spectrasonics

i use chainer to play the vsti's

and virus indigo on my protools rig

never have a problem and it allows me to stay w a apple G4
for my HD rig, more cards, more hard drives

I generally like my fantomX and my motif better than
soft synths, they just sound better and work in a mix better

that said if you are interested in soft synths check out KVR
it is THE site for vsti, as someone said there are lots of cheap and free ones, and more on pc (windows)
a dell or some such would work fine for softsynths

cheers
Old 8th May 2006
  #16
Gear Maniac
 
ericzang's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dobby12
does anyone make a controller with polyphonic aftertouch so I can get the real CS-80 feel?
I recall reading that some Ensoniq keyboards have polyphonic aftertouch. Ask on www.kvraudio.com or perhaps check the ensoniq profiles at www.vintagesynth.com
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