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Fraser Shredwards

Synth

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I'm looking for a reasonably cheap synth/keyboard(up to 400). I don't really understand all the technical side of how they work but i just want one that can create the usual sawtooth and square sounds etc aswell as orchestral sounds e.g. strings. It also needs an arpeggiator.

Can anybody give me any advice?

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Guest lime ruined my life

novation k-station or bass station or X station? you could spend the extra cash on more than one synth and connect them up?

i dont know of many decent synths with full size keyboard that are cheap and still decent synths, the best way to go is buy a seperate 61 key controller and connect it to synth modules.

if i had 400 quid to blow on synths id think about it modularly. you could get rack mounted k-station + bass station + a decent midi controller keyboard for around that money if you shopped about. Once you have all that, you could get a patch bay on your rack, and you'd have a world of connectivity to all your synths, you're then set up to start expanding later on by adding seperate effects modules and midi controllers set up to control certain functions.

if your looking to get a single unit you can get the non rack k-station. other decent synthesisers are alesis micron (i own this, its exactly the same capabilities of the alesis ion for much cheaper, but has quite a frustrating interface)

or the ever popular microkorg?

if you go the modular route make sure the midi contorller has actual midi connections, recently they're becoming usb only, which is fine if you want to use it with a pc, but not so much if you want to use it on it's own.

nice big weighted controller eBay.co.uk: Axiom 61 MIDI Controller (item 250070156588 end time 15-Jan-07 11:04:54 GMT)

x station

Novation X Station 25 | Dolphin Music

k station

eBay.co.uk: NOVATION K-STATION PERFORMANCE SYNTHESIZER/SYNTH (item 110073592091 end time 08-Jan-07 13:54:20 GMT)

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Guest lime ruined my life

i havnt played with the microkorg a lot, but when i was looking at the specs of the microkorg against the alesis micron i decided on the micron because it blew the microkorg out of the water as far as features are conserned.

personally, i wouldn't spend my money on a microkorg because you can get a lot more out there for the money. You should try them out first.

Sound control in edinburgh has a synth department with a microkorg (but not micron or ion) where all the synths are set up to play with.

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Can you try them out in RnB? If i got a MIDI controller could i then get a sound thing for it to go into- like an effects pedal- or did i just make that up? Sorry i don't really understand the technicals.

And yea the alesis micorn does seem to be alot better, cheers.

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We use a Microkorg for gigging, and it does us just perfectly.

Obviously it wouldn't be the most powerful synth of that size out there, but its extremely light, portable and cost very little buying it 2nd hand.

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Guest lime ruined my life
Can you try them out in RnB? If i got a MIDI controller could i then get a sound thing for it to go into- like an effects pedal- or did i just make that up? Sorry i don't really understand the technicals.

And yea the alesis micorn does seem to be alot better, cheers.

i got my micron in excellent condition second hand for 200

i'll try and explain what i think you need to do a bit better. you're unlikely to find a cheap,good synth that has 61 keys so you need to understand a bit more about midi...

What you could do is buy a good synth with a crap keyboard (the microkorg has a pretty shit keyboard but its a really good synth), and then buy a good 61 key semi weighted midi controller. what you then do is connect the "midi out" port of the controller to the "midi in" port of the synthesiser. You can then play the synth with a much better keyboard. The sound will still come out of the "audio" port of the actual synthesiser. A midi controller doesnt make any sound, you can think of it as a way to "extend" the keyboard built in to the synth. you'd probaly need to read the manual etc in order to understand whats going on a bit better, but it should be pretty simple to set up straight away.

What i'd reccomend however, is using your money more effectively to buy many synthesisers ( like the rack mounted k station, bass station, micron, microkorg). You can then control all these synthesisers with one decent keyboard.

In order to add effects...

once you have several synthesisers and you want to start adding seperate effects (like a guitar pedal) then you start having much greater routing requirments. this is where a logically prepared patch bay is brilliant. Instead of getting on your hands and knees looking over a rats nest of cabeling trying to plug your delay into your synth and then out to your amp, you can simply plug a cable in the "microkorg out" jack, connect the other side to the "delay in" jack, and thats it.

In all honesty, a patch bay an rack is proably a bit over board at this stage for you. I just thought i'd say what i'd do if i had 400 to blow on synths.

i hope that makes sense.

if you can i reccomend a trip to sound control in edinburgh though, they have a really good synth department and should be able to explain what you need (just dont let them sell you a massive 500 keyboard, you'll be able to buy a MUCH better midi controller and hook it up to your synth)

p.s welcome to the world of rick wakeman

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i have a micron also and find its a very useful, great sounding synth for the money... but agree about the frustrating interface.

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OK i'm thinking of getting a micron and then when i have a bit more money maybe getting a roland AX-7 as a midi controller.

i just realised how big 61 keys is, i actually just need about 4 octaves.

If 4 octaves is all you need, have a look at the novation xiosynth which came out fairly recently, for 299 new and has some cool features like an XY pad and a built in usb audio interface with an XLR mic jack. http://www.dv247.com/invt/33913/. Have a look here for an interesting promo video ;)XIOSYNTH.

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I haven't seen any keyboards with 64 keys. 61 keys is standard.

Maybe get a Korg Triton LE second hand on ebay?

Or a Yamaha motif rack or Roland fantom rack second hand on ebay. Then get a super cheap midi controller and upgrade it later when you have more money.

Also, ask yourself where you are likely to use this? live, band practices, studio, jamming etc.?

the best money/price ratio workstation available at the moment is the Alesis Fusion. It contains 3 synth types, samples, FM and VA (virtual analogue). All are meant to be strong. The sample section is apparently improved by new sample downloads and upgrading the RAM.

It is available in 61 keys (6HD) or 88 weighted keys (8HD). Alesis

The 6HD is around 800. Probably out of your price range.

They are hurgely cheaper in the US, as with most gear.

Also concider that winter NAMM is less than 10 days away and more synths will be released then.

The Yamaha Motif XS (replacement for ES) will drive the price of Motif ES down conciderably. That could be worth concidering.

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Also forgot to mention

The Korg X5 is of exceptional value also. I got my korg X5DR second hand for around 80. My uncle got his one with a keyboard for around the same. quite rightly titled a 'pro keyboard' on the korg website. Main critisms are the lack of good analogue synth lead sounds, lack of individual patch volumes in combi mode i.e a volume control for the entire preset rather than adjusting it individually. It maybe actually exists but I never found it.

The editing screen is also tiny, but so is the Motif ES screen. Brass also sounds naff, but i think just about all synth brass sounsd naff. If you are a beginner to keyboards, that is the way to go. I think. I admit not everything in the triton is a genuine upgrade.

Yamaha are about to release the Mini Mo (Minature Motif)

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I use a Roland JP-8000 which I enjoy playing with. If I had 400 squid to spend I would look at a rack Nord Lead II + control keyboard. These are really good and coming down in price as new models come out. Always remember with synths, new is not always better. Depending what you want to do with it, it might be worth your while going back in time and picking up something that would have cost a bomb several years ago but has been edged out of the market by newer versions.

That Roland on the first page of the thread looked nice, how much you selling it for (if you still are)?

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disclaimer: my explanations probably are probably not technically correct

Nord Lead is mainly a virtual analogue synth (it does digital and FM emulation also). It can make wonderful sounds but it is also quite a specialised piece of kit. It probably would not cover all your synth needs by itself.

I suspect most keyboard players would also want a strong sampled based synth in addition to it.

As an explanation. There are various types of synthesis but the main ones are

Analogue mono synth - producing sounds through oscilators and filters and such i.e MiniMoog

FM synth - creates sounds through wave forms generated by electronics i.e Yamaha DX7

Sampled Synth - creates sound from recorded samples i.e just about any synth made in the last 20 years by 'the big 3'

Generally all workstation style synths have a sampled section. Some have a virtual analogue section and some have an FM section.

There is also 'digital emulation' style synths which are increasingly popular with software and such. They aim to emulate the sound of a synth without using samples

note that it is impossible to achieve realistic piano sounds without samples.

Also note that each type of synthesis often tries to emulate the other.

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i have a microkorg and a juno synth (cant remeber but i think its a 60)

next time we are soundchecking you are welcome to come down and have a play on either as theyll both set up

i havent investigated the micro korg fully yet bar a few home recordings becasue ive been busy but it seems very full of potential for the sounds i need.

anytime you want a go, just PM me

i always feel trying stuff before helps a decision

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I am not an expert but I really suspect there are better analogue synth emulations than the micro korg, even for the money. Download all the demos of software VA's (virtual analgoues) first. The microkorg is marketed as a 'consumer' product. Some consumer products can create nice sounds but rarely are as good as those aimed at professional musicians. Usually also lack practicality of use.

I really wouldn't recommend an analogue synth as your first synth. Something to concider adding at a later date.

It is unlikely to cover all your synth needs.

Even in the 1970s i.e before digital synths, a lot of professional keyboard players had a hammond organ and/or mellatron, piano (electric and/or acoustic) and multiple analgoue mono synths. One synth usually didn't cover all the sounds they wanted on it's own. Hammond organ was really the only keyboard that people seemed to use

Also, analgoue mono synths by definition can only play one note at a time. Assuming you wish to play this in a rock band, the chances are you will wish to play chord pads throughout much of the song.

You need to get used to playing keyboard first. Analgoue synths come with many many dials which are likely to distract you from practicing.

Best to get something general purpose in the format of a workstation/pro keyboard. If you would like to expand on your sonic posibilties at a later date, concider a virtual analgoue or real analogue synth.

Also, ALL analogue synths go out of tune. You may find it wondering out of tune in the middle of a song, you can do so much of the tuning yourself but ideally they should be serviced every so often. Few people have the expertise to do that these days.

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What you going to be using it for?

Not really for any live playing, more to practise basic keys, get an idea of sound design, use as midi keyboard and perhaps for some recording.

I realise you can do all this with a basic midi keyboard and a soft synth but this would not be much cheaper (if you actually buy the software) and somehow it does not feel real. Also, would the sound from a hardware synth not be better than from a software synth?

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One synth usually didn't cover all the sounds they wanted on it's own.

Also, analgoue mono synths by definition can only play one note at a time.

Analgoue synths come with many many dials which are likely to distract you from practicing.

Also, ALL analogue synths go out of tune.

Not all analogue synths are mono. Modern "analogue" synths are actually digital modelling synths, handle polyphony and don't go out of tune. Some of them even model that behaviour too though if you want it. With a bit of skill and use of effects you would be surprised at the range of sounds it's possible to get out of even a 2 oscillator analogue synth.

Don't fear the controls, the more controls the better, what's especially important is the flexibility of the internal routing system which lets you make proper use of LFO's and other modulation techniques.

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