First steps for getting into hardware synth...
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Old 07-08-2017, 06:35 PM   #1
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First steps for getting into hardware synth...

I am pondering if I wish to buy a synth or not, any feedback welcome.

My aim would be to make some techno/electro, mostly to have fun with it first.

A budget of under 500.

I have been looking at the Korg monologue and then maybe try a drum machine with that as well. Is this a good place to start?

My questions would be on recording, can I use a Midi interface to my laptop to record and what other bits may I need to do this?

Cheers.

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Old 07-08-2017, 07:14 PM   #2
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

Techno/Electro/Fun
Drums and synth on the fly
or samples
As for recording I started with one of these. Cheap and did the job, and I still use it for extra inputs when needed.
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Old 07-08-2017, 11:59 PM   #3
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

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Originally Posted by DoomBrain View Post
I am pondering if I wish to buy a synth or not, any feedback welcome.
It depends on what you want out of it. Software is cheaper, of a mostly similar quality, and much more flexible. What it isn't is tactile and limited, which are the two things that people usually cite as reasons for liking hardware.

Quote:
I have been looking at the Korg monologue and then maybe try a drum machine with that as well. Is this a good place to start?
Sure, could be. They come around pretty cheap on the used market and people around here seem to like them. A bit higher end, an MS-20 would be a cool investment as you'd really get to dive into modular/analog, but with modern conveniences. Or you might opt for a couple of Volca units on the cheap - they're surprisingly powerful for what they cost. Lots of options out there, you should dig around the Hardware thread and see what people are into.

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My questions would be on recording, can I use a Midi interface to my laptop to record and what other bits may I need to do this?
Getting things in and out will depend on the specific piece of hardware. The Monologue has MIDI in/out which means you can both send and receive note information from it (ie you can play it with notes you programmed in your DAW). It also has a USB connection, so I'd probably use that instead of a MIDI cable unless you were connecting it to other hardware. To actually record the sounds it makes it you'll have to run the line out to a preamp/interface of some kind, just like a guitar or mic or whatever.

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Old 08-08-2017, 08:53 AM   #4
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

I got an MsS-20 mini and a DX7 (on kijiji) and they are so simple so things like that can be a good starting point. Coincidently these are also the main synths on the first apex twin albums. They obviously won't give you the versatility of all the synths like in reason but they give you the hands on approach of playing with knobs in real time.
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:16 PM   #5
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

Good advise so far guys cheers, looked at a few of the hardware mentioned.

The sway to use a synth or hardware of some kind would spark my interest more I feel to actually make some music, although I understand it is the more expensive rout and probably more time consuming to structure a track. The other option is to get some decent DAW instead of the ancient version of Reason I have.

It sounds obvious but I can't help but notice how expensive it all is, they really hold their value even for old gear, I guess that is a pro against spending a few hundred on software that will be out of date in a year.
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Old 08-08-2017, 07:34 PM   #6
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

i used to have both korg electribes, and man i do miss them and loved them. they were fun and easy to use. im looking em up now on ebay lol... i want them back. so, me too... i want to get a synth or two...

was looking at the prophet ... or some kind of analog synth, modular perhaps.

problem is, where the hell am i to put that damn things?

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Old 08-08-2017, 09:09 PM   #7
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

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Originally Posted by Lotus_Jewel View Post
i used to have both korg electribes, and man i do miss them and loved them. they were fun and easy to use. im looking em up now on ebay lol... i want them back. so, me too... i want to get a synth or two...

was looking at the prophet ... or some kind of analog synth, modular perhaps.

problem is, where the hell am i to put that damn things?
y

The electribes looks like fun, is it possible to create a whole track on it?

I think that aside from making music these are play things, toys or entertainment objects... if that's a bad term then maybe someone has a different outlook. You see, I think if you can enjoy these things as a fun and interesting hobby, then music and pro skills can come second.

Also, with hardware, is it a more beneficial and enjoyable experience to involve someone else? Obviously there have been many bands and electro groups who have jammed together, is it worth creating a band, if so, what would one jam with another?
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Old 09-08-2017, 03:06 AM   #8
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

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Originally Posted by DoomBrain View Post
y

The electribes looks like fun, is it possible to create a whole track on it?

I think that aside from making music these are play things, toys or entertainment objects... if that's a bad term then maybe someone has a different outlook. You see, I think if you can enjoy these things as a fun and interesting hobby, then music and pro skills can come second.

Also, with hardware, is it a more beneficial and enjoyable experience to involve someone else? Obviously there have been many bands and electro groups who have jammed together, is it worth creating a band, if so, what would one jam with another?
Yes. You can make a whole track. You can even make a whole set on them.

I wouldn't describe them as toys. They are music workstations, known as groove boxes. I have 2. The new Electribe 2, which I feel to be a bit of a misfire by all accounts, hence I posted the EMX and ESX, which I feel do a better job for what you want to do. Electribe 2: Max 4 bar pattern length and no song mode. Horrible to sequence notes, as you have to menu dive and scrfoll the note values in manually, instead of just pressing the key you want. Can't use the pads in a keyboard configuration, too much menu diving. EMX max 8 bar patterns. Song mode. Don't have to menu dive to put note values in just press the key. Pads set up in a standard keyboard config. And the sound.
My other groove box is an old Yamaha RM1x, but it's a completely different animal. The Electribes allow you to keep going building you track without stopping. The RM1x, is a lot of stop starting to record your parts, but has pretty much unlimited bars per pattern, different time signatures, a partern chain that works like the EMX's song mode, and a song mode where you just hit the record button and record the whole track in one go. It's more of a sequencer really, one style has 16 patterns that can have different lengths and time signatures, each pattern has 16 tracks, for what ever instrument you want to use or sequence via midi, but once everything is in, you can play it in the same fashion.

As for creating a band, I'd say that's more personal preference, or having like minded people around you to do so. It's possible to be a one man band with hardware, with a good way of sequencing.
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Old 09-08-2017, 03:14 AM   #9
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

The electribes have a long history of being great budget concious, but useful music creation tools. They are fun for sure and it is possible to create pretty complete dance music tracks on the original red and blue as well as the two newer electribes.

Also, do yourself a huge favor and do not buy a DX7 (one poster mentioned it specifically) as a first synth. Programming it is an absolute nightmare.

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Old 09-08-2017, 03:45 AM   #10
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

I would recommend to ask why it is that you want to go the hardware route.

Very few things cannot be reasonably done in the box.

If you want to have knobs and buttons, get a MIDI controller. Personally, I like Maschine and despite having a shitload of gear now, it still offers me the least distracting creative environment. A happy in between is what Elektron has been doing with their hardware. With Overbridge it can be fully integrated into your DAW of choice. Conditional trigs is something that, much to my chagrin, hasn't been implemented ITB, yet. I've always liked gear, so I get my kicks that way, even though it's not doing much for my creative output.

Without USB transmission of audio, you're going to need an audio interface and for many solutions you also need a MIDI interface (others can do MIDI via USB).

I would suggest to take a look at Maschine, see if that solution resonates with you (computer required), or to take a look at the Elektron Digitakt (8 voice digital sampler and 8 channel MIDI controller, Overbridge to be implemented later this year, or whenever).

Also not half bad are the boutique series by Roland (909 and 303 clones, JU-60 clone - should get you set up for some nice techno). Korg Volca Series is nice. Should be able to snag a sampler there and their drum box for your budget. Behringer Model D will start shipping in October for $299 - a full on Moog Model D clone. Korg MS-20 mini should also be on your radar.

Regarding portability... the Roland boutique can be battery operated, as do. the Volcas. So, you can take them wherever and hook em up.

Although well beyond your stated budget, the one unit I'm having the most fun with is my Analog Rytm. 8 voice analog drum machine / sampler hybrid. Maybe prices will come down a tad now with the MKII out. I'm betting folks are going to want those OLED screens.

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Old 09-08-2017, 07:13 PM   #11
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

Quote:
Originally Posted by liquid_air View Post
I would recommend to ask why it is that you want to go the hardware route.

Very few things cannot be reasonably done in the box.

If you want to have knobs and buttons, get a MIDI controller. Personally, I like Maschine and despite having a shitload of gear now, it still offers me the least distracting creative environment. A happy in between is what Elektron has been doing with their hardware. With Overbridge it can be fully integrated into your DAW of choice. Conditional trigs is something that, much to my chagrin, hasn't been implemented ITB, yet. I've always liked gear, so I get my kicks that way, even though it's not doing much for my creative output.

Without USB transmission of audio, you're going to need an audio interface and for many solutions you also need a MIDI interface (others can do MIDI via USB).

I would suggest to take a look at Maschine, see if that solution resonates with you (computer required), or to take a look at the Elektron Digitakt (8 voice digital sampler and 8 channel MIDI controller, Overbridge to be implemented later this year, or whenever).

Also not half bad are the boutique series by Roland (909 and 303 clones, JU-60 clone - should get you set up for some nice techno). Korg Volca Series is nice. Should be able to snag a sampler there and their drum box for your budget. Behringer Model D will start shipping in October for $299 - a full on Moog Model D clone. Korg MS-20 mini should also be on your radar.

Regarding portability... the Roland boutique can be battery operated, as do. the Volcas. So, you can take them wherever and hook em up.

Although well beyond your stated budget, the one unit I'm having the most fun with is my Analog Rytm. 8 voice analog drum machine / sampler hybrid. Maybe prices will come down a tad now with the MKII out. I'm betting folks are going to want those OLED screens.

i dont even know why i want to spend all that $$$ but they sure are pretty!!!

Quote:
Originally Posted by relic View Post
The electribes have a long history of being great budget concious, but useful music creation tools. They are fun for sure and it is possible to create pretty complete dance music tracks on the original red and blue as well as the two newer electribes.

Also, do yourself a huge favor and do not buy a DX7 (one poster mentioned it specifically) as a first synth. Programming it is an absolute nightmare.
yea my thoughts exactly... they were easy to setup and get going... I still have the sx and ex manuals somewhere @ here.


say, what about that roland setup... I really like that. its a revamp of the 909? iirc? or had 808 or 909 samples in it... was influenced somehow... the system 1 was it?

came with three pieces? or is there more now?

tbh though idk why i want a synth. idk if i do want a synth... everyone else is doing it...

seriously though, what are the benefits of having one in gear that you cannot get with software? is it easier to move a synth to a friends house party or a whole damn computer? lolz

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Old 09-08-2017, 08:08 PM   #12
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

I don't have anything against the Botique series from Roland, but it has never interested me. For a drum machine I think the best value for one's money these days is probably the Electribe Sampler, just load it up with your favorite drum samples, export the loops to the SD card, pop it in your computer and load the files up in your DAW. It will even export to an Ableton project. And you can use it as a jam box/sketch pad, or if you are up to the challenge no reason you couldn't make whole tracks with it. I forget what the song mode situation is like on its OS, but I remember whole songs being doable.

NI Maschine is another good option, though you have to be tethered to a computer.

The DrumBrute is also good, but very dry and sometimes harsh/noisy (to me in a good way!). I also really liked the TR-8 (with the optional sound packs).

As far as synths go, I always recommend any knob per function (or near it) analog mono synth. I think OP mentioned the Korg Monologue. I don't own one, but I have a bit of a monosynth fetish and might let myself get one this fall/winter. It lets you record knob movements to the sequencer...also IT HAS A SEQEUNCER :p

The entry level to very useable drum machines, samplers and synths as never been lower. We are spoiled for choice in such a way it is hard to make a decision!

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Old 10-08-2017, 05:16 PM   #13
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

A lot of useful posts and good advice, so much choice but if money was limitless I would buy everything.
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Old 11-08-2017, 11:20 AM   #14
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

Although I don't have one anymore, I second the Electribe.

A used EMX would be great, but you can get a new Electribe Sampler and it's tons of fun.
Or a Novation Circuit.

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Old 13-08-2017, 07:29 PM   #15
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

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Although I don't have one anymore, I second the Electribe.

A used EMX would be great, but you can get a new Electribe Sampler and it's tons of fun.
Or a Novation Circuit.
Narrowing this down a bit to either Monologue, Eelectribe 2 sampler or the cheaper option of the Launchkey 25 which is on Ebay for only 79.99.

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The plus side of the electribe 2 sampler is it comes with Ableton lite as with the Launchkey but multi use of hardware analogue option I guess, but at a higher cost of 379 on Gear4music.
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Old 13-08-2017, 07:34 PM   #16
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

Actually the Novation Circuit would be a really good option as well. Similar to new Electribe (not the sampler version, the other one...).

Personally I've never gotten much out of MIDI controllers, but many people do.

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Old 13-08-2017, 09:45 PM   #17
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

The MS2000. It's best intro to hard synths for the money if you're patient. You can get a cheap enough keyboard with MIDI out if you go the MS2000R route. It's basically the original Microkorg, but WAY quicker to program, and will keep you occupied for a good while.

For completely in-the-box, I use the RM1X. The sounds have a bad rep, but I think they're great, and you can get it really cheap. I agree that the DX7 is a cunt to program. I have a DX200, and you really need to knuckle down if you want to hone in on a particular sound, but it's an incredible synth, and probably the only FM synth you'll ever need.

If I'm being honest, I don't really know what techno or electro is outside of the song "Put A Donk On It."

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Old 14-08-2017, 02:41 AM   #18
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

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For completely in-the-box, I use the RM1X. The sounds have a bad rep, but I think they're great, and you can get it really cheap.
I assume you mean computerless, and yes the RM1x is a great sequencer. It does take a bit of getting use to, but so easy to re-route midi to different channels, whist keeping the tracks in the same order. I wouldn't want to be without mine, unless it was for an RS 7000. The only downside is the stop starting, which was the reason for my EMX suggestion. This is the video that sold me on the RM1x though.
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Old 14-08-2017, 01:45 PM   #19
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Re: First steps for getting into hardware synth...

Yeah, no computer. The only thing that's missing for me is a sidechain gate, I don't mind the stop-start way of composing, but I can understand why it would drive others nuts. These days, I see a lot of people just use it as a sequencer for other gear.

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Try a lowpassed square wave, moron.

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