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Old 06-04-2012, 06:10 PM   #14
iDoG
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Re: What kind of hardware synth to buy

first, you have to define what's important for you. is it sound/character? is it the tactile elements - knobs and sliders?

you also didn't mention the most important thing. what's your budget? not too expensive is relative. if all you have to spend is $200-400, then you don't really have a lot of options: microkorg, micron, ms2000, ion. and that's if you buy on craigslist, stay patient for a good deal, and bargain (talking about ms2000/ion here). used to see jp8000 in the 300-400 range too, though it's been a while since i've seen one.

but as others have mentioned, i think a midi controller + plugins is what you should stick with while you are defining what you want and learning synthesis. cause the concepts (oscilators, lfos, envelopes, filters, etc) are still the same, regardless if it's software or hardware. i went through a stage where i was gas'ing after hardware. it was pretty cool at first to have that physical response. but then i realized that even with knobby synths, you set the basic things up pretty quickly, but then when you want to get really interesting sounds with a lot of movement, you have to go menu hunting on this tiny-ass screen. so if you are going to do that, then why not do it on a big ass screen with a mouse. much quicker. and can get things to sound just as good.

you also have to think about ergonomics. you want to be able to switch quickly between the synth and your computer keyboard/mouse. depending on your desk or how you have your stuff set up, it might be awkward to do. if you put the synth on the side, perpendicular to your desk, then it also sounds weird cause your head is turned. i used to own Virus KC. 61-keys which felt really great. tons of knobs. lots of possibilities. but after a while, it just sat untouched. sold it. have a cheap oxygen 8 which works just fine for me. all you really need is a few knobs to record some automation. i love the fact that i can just put it on my lap or move my wireless keyboard away and put it in front of me with one hand. then move it away quickly when i'm done using it. don't underestimate the importance of things like that, your workflow, when gas'ing after more things which will probably complicate your set up or distract you from actually making music.

but i also can understand how working with a physical piece of gear can be inspiring. so it's really a personal thing. you just got to define what's important for you. there's little downside to just trying things out, as long as you hunt for good deals. if you do that, you can always sell things for the same amount you bought them. hell, i even made money when i sold my virus.

happy hunting.
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