First synth- what should I get???
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Old 20-05-2017, 05:34 PM   #1
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First synth- what should I get???

I have a little cash set aside from my tax refund. So, I thought it might be fun to get a real synth. Just a little background- I play the piano- I'm pretty fluent I can sight read and play by ear. I still have a lot to learn with what I have, however, I will be setting everything up on a new computer and I want to set it with a synth as I will be set for a long time. What I have now in my studio:

Komplete11 (recent purchase)
Machine 2.0 (recent purchase)
Zoom H 1
Steinberg UR 44 interface
Reason 7 - upgrading to 9.5 ASAP
KRK 5's 3rd generation speakers
Novation SL MkII
Ableton lite
Shure SM58
Audio-Tech M50 headphones
An acoustic guitar
Piano (actual)

Future items I want: bass guitar, electric guitar, and an electronic drum controller.

So- top synth you would get and why. Thanks!

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Old 20-05-2017, 08:25 PM   #2
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

Honest answer? You don't need a synth, you just got Machine and Komplete, they will fill all your synth needs for ages.

But if you want a hardware synth, for the knobs the turn on and play feel, why not a Nord Lead?

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Old 20-05-2017, 09:03 PM   #3
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

depends on your budget and what you value. sound, features, flexibility, ease of use?

buy used. craigslist, reverb, ebay are your friends.
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Old 20-05-2017, 09:07 PM   #4
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

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Originally Posted by iDoG View Post
depends on your budget and what you value. sound, features, flexibility, ease of use?

buy used. craigslist, reverb, ebay are your friends.
I was looking for preferences of those who have experience with synths. What would you get if it was your first synth? I'm researching on my own to see what is out there but was looking for a where to start type thing.
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Old 20-05-2017, 09:08 PM   #5
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

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Honest answer? You don't need a synth, you just got Machine and Komplete, they will fill all your synth needs for ages.

But if you want a hardware synth, for the knobs the turn on and play feel, why not a Nord Lead?
Yeah, I was thinking the same thing in that with my purchases I have so much to explore. I just wanted something physical. I come from an instrument perspective with music so an actual synth appeals to me. Thank you for the suggestion!
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Old 20-05-2017, 09:22 PM   #6
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

I would get either a MicroBrute ($200 used) or an MS-20 mini ($300 used).

MB: much simpler and more immediate, perfect for learning the very basics of subtractive synthesis, sounds awesome, perfect couch synth due to it's size and weight, all the CV in/out can make it a great companion for modular gear or other synths that have the same. But also kind of limited, with only 1 VCF (though you have 3 modes: LF, BP, HP), 1 Envelop and 1 LFO.

MS20: a bit of a learning curve, but still pretty simple if you ignore the patch section; has a lot more standard features (2 VCOs, LP and HP filters, 3 LFOs, 2 envelopes) and you can get pretty crazy with the patching, which will keep you busy for many years to come. It's kind of cheaply made and somewhat noisy (which bothers some people, but most just accept it as part of its charm).

You didn't specify your budget, but those would be my choices for under 300 used. But there's been an explosion of good sounding and very affordable analog monosynths lately and you really can't go wrong with any of them.
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Old 20-05-2017, 09:23 PM   #7
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

I was thinking that as you already play piano you might instead explore something that is not keyboard based.
You could look into something more groove-oriented, like a Novation Circuit, Korg Electribe or even an Elektron Analog Rytm and explore a way of composing that is more loop based then use your skills to add something yours.

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Old 20-05-2017, 09:43 PM   #8
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

I guess I'd double down on software and buy a really nice full sized midi controller with a good keybed (MPK88, SL88, etc) as you'd be able to make use of it, what with you tinkling the ivorys and all. Unless you really need the immediacy of being able to turn on and just play you're never going to get the depth and variation of a softsynth.

If that's not up your alley I'd look at something that either does everything pretty well but has its own character like a Nord Lead or System-8. Something with enough variety to get a lot of great sounds but is reliable and easy to understand.

You could also go full on old school with a Juno or Moog. The truth is that most hardware synths are more alike than not these days in terms of quality. The little $300 jobs mostly sound just as good as the $5000 workstations, they just have 2% of the features. When you get back to the real vintage stuff from the 60s, 70s and early 80s is when you get very unique and specific character to the sound because of the underwhelming quality of parts (20% resistors and caps, clock drift, etc) and the individual circuit design. I don't care how tedious and precise the modeling is, anyone that's sat down with an original Minimoog from the early 70s knows what I'm talking about. You want a truly unique synth, buy something really old. They're incredibly limited by today's standards but they sound like themselves.
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Old 21-05-2017, 04:44 AM   #9
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

Have you considered the NI keyboard that pairs with Komplete? Seems like that might be worth looking into, expressive control over the software you own.

Otherwise, I agree with Auto that I'd consider something sequencer based that will make you think about music differently. Or even go way out there and maybe consider a desktop semi-modular. I know there are a lot of fans of the 0-Coast here...Auto...;p

If that idea isn't up your alley I'd probably get a Minilogue--seems pretty playable and has a lot of cool voicing options and delay--but wouldn't get you anywhere Komplete can't.

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Old 21-05-2017, 02:27 PM   #10
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

+ 1 for the komplete keyboard tbh, you would have all your soft synths open up to be used used almost like hardware.
Otherwise I was a big fan of the blofeld personally.
Or I really like the groove box idea too. Something to change you approach a little.
Good luck and let us know what u decide on.

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Old 21-05-2017, 02:47 PM   #11
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

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Originally Posted by relic View Post
Have you considered the NI keyboard that pairs with Komplete? Seems like that might be worth looking into, expressive control over the software you own.

Otherwise, I agree with Auto that I'd consider something sequencer based that will make you think about music differently. Or even go way out there and maybe consider a desktop semi-modular. I know there are a lot of fans of the 0-Coast here...Auto...;p

If that idea isn't up your alley I'd probably get a Minilogue--seems pretty playable and has a lot of cool voicing options and delay--but wouldn't get you anywhere Komplete can't.
The Kontrol keyboard from NI is really nice and would get more use if I actually had anywhere near the skills you have. Full Maschine Integration, so you can set both controllers to different play modes, which is neato.

If I was looking into a keyboard based synth, I'd be looking at a Prophet 6 (the 12 if digital doesn't bother you), Moog Voyager, but the Nord lead 4 isn't too bad either.

Best value for money in your current setup is, however, the NI keyboard. Bonus: no MIDI setup required, NKS getting traction with a lot of great VSTs.

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Old 21-05-2017, 08:19 PM   #12
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

I just want to second what the guys have already said about getting one of NI's Komplete Kontrol S series keyboards..as you know, I have the 61 key version and it's fantastic to use. As Auto touched on, seeing as you already have Machine and Komplete, you don't really need a synth, as they will take care of all your synth needs for a long time to come..and both work flawlessly in tandem with anything from the S series keyboard line.

Trust me, it's kinda hard to express clearly how much the S series keyboards really open up all the software that comes with Komplete, giving you this strange, but wonderful feeling of your PC / Mac transforming into one huge synth right before your eyes and at your finger tips!

All of that said, I think you really need to let us know what kind of budget you're working with here..as well as the kind of music you will hopefully be making in general, as both of these things are going to influence your choices when shopping for a synth.

Personally, as I've already mentioned on here before, it would have to be the Roland Jupiter 80. I know..it costs a lot and it's not strictly analog, but what a sound! Guess we can all dream, can't we.

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Old 21-05-2017, 09:47 PM   #13
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

I have a pretty nice controller/knobs already with 61 keys. So I don't think I'm in the market for a keyboard controller, especially as I have Maschine.

Budget I have some to work with, but I would like to stick with 500 or less.

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Old 21-05-2017, 09:51 PM   #14
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Automageddon View Post
I was thinking that as you already play piano you might instead explore something that is not keyboard based.
You could look into something more groove-oriented, like a Novation Circuit, Korg Electribe or even an Elektron Analog Rytm and explore a way of composing that is more loop based then use your skills to add something yours.
I really like your suggestion. I tend to get stuck in key mode sometimes and it would be nice to learn a new approach to making music.

Quote:
Originally Posted by iDoG View Post
I would get either a MicroBrute ($200 used) or an MS-20 mini ($300 used).

MB: much simpler and more immediate, perfect for learning the very basics of subtractive synthesis, sounds awesome, perfect couch synth due to it's size and weight, all the CV in/out can make it a great companion for modular gear or other synths that have the same. But also kind of limited, with only 1 VCF (though you have 3 modes: LF, BP, HP), 1 Envelop and 1 LFO.

MS20: a bit of a learning curve, but still pretty simple if you ignore the patch section; has a lot more standard features (2 VCOs, LP and HP filters, 3 LFOs, 2 envelopes) and you can get pretty crazy with the patching, which will keep you busy for many years to come. It's kind of cheaply made and somewhat noisy (which bothers some people, but most just accept it as part of its charm).

You didn't specify your budget, but those would be my choices for under 300 used. But there's been an explosion of good sounding and very affordable analog monosynths lately and you really can't go wrong with any of them.
Thank you. I will check both out. 300 would be great, I am trying to stay under 500.
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Old 21-05-2017, 09:58 PM   #15
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
I guess I'd double down on software and buy a really nice full sized midi controller with a good keybed (MPK88, SL88, etc) as you'd be able to make use of it, what with you tinkling the ivorys and all. Unless you really need the immediacy of being able to turn on and just play you're never going to get the depth and variation of a softsynth.
I have one, posted the pic above, its still in great condition and has weighted keys etc.

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Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
If that's not up your alley I'd look at something that either does everything pretty well but has its own character like a Nord Lead or System-8. Something with enough variety to get a lot of great sounds but is reliable and easy to understand.
Perfect, I will take a look at both.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Artificer View Post
You could also go full on old school with a Juno or Moog. The truth is that most hardware synths are more alike than not these days in terms of quality. The little $300 jobs mostly sound just as good as the $5000 workstations, they just have 2% of the features. When you get back to the real vintage stuff from the 60s, 70s and early 80s is when you get very unique and specific character to the sound because of the underwhelming quality of parts (20% resistors and caps, clock drift, etc) and the individual circuit design. I don't care how tedious and precise the modeling is, anyone that's sat down with an original Minimoog from the early 70s knows what I'm talking about. You want a truly unique synth, buy something really old. They're incredibly limited by today's standards but they sound like themselves.
Awesome, this was exactly the info I was looking for. I think I would really like something unique and vintage. With having Komplete and the software in the box it would be fun to have something vintage. Great suggestions!

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Originally Posted by relic View Post
Have you considered the NI keyboard that pairs with Komplete? Seems like that might be worth looking into, expressive control over the software you own.

Otherwise, I agree with Auto that I'd consider something sequencer based that will make you think about music differently. Or even go way out there and maybe consider a desktop semi-modular. I know there are a lot of fans of the 0-Coast here...Auto...;p

If that idea isn't up your alley I'd probably get a Minilogue--seems pretty playable and has a lot of cool voicing options and delay--but wouldn't get you anywhere Komplete can't.
I think you and Auto are definitely helping hone in that I want something different that will force me to think and create differently.
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Old 21-05-2017, 10:00 PM   #16
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

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Originally Posted by Muse-ic View Post
300 would be great, I am trying to stay under 500.
also keep in mind that those 2 synths i mentioned are monophonic. so since you play piano, that might be a bummer for you, in which case you should consider a poly, like Korg Minilogue. it should fit in your budget ($500 new or 440ish used).
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Old 21-05-2017, 10:03 PM   #17
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

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Originally Posted by liquid_air View Post
The Kontrol keyboard from NI is really nice and would get more use if I actually had anywhere near the skills you have. Full Maschine Integration, so you can set both controllers to different play modes, which is neato.

If I was looking into a keyboard based synth, I'd be looking at a Prophet 6 (the 12 if digital doesn't bother you), Moog Voyager, but the Nord lead 4 isn't too bad either.

Best value for money in your current setup is, however, the NI keyboard. Bonus: no MIDI setup required, NKS getting traction with a lot of great VSTs.
Thanks for the suggestions. I will look into the Moog, Nord and Prophet. I thought I remember RFJ having one of these??

Quote:
Originally Posted by A.M View Post
I just want to second what the guys have already said about getting one of NI's Komplete Kontrol S series keyboards..as you know, I have the 61 key version and it's fantastic to use. As Auto touched on, seeing as you already have Machine and Komplete, you don't really need a synth, as they will take care of all your synth needs for a long time to come..and both work flawlessly in tandem with anything from the S series keyboard line.

Trust me, it's kinda hard to express clearly how much the S series keyboards really open up all the software that comes with Komplete, giving you this strange, but wonderful feeling of your PC / Mac transforming into one huge synth right before your eyes and at your finger tips!

All of that said, I think you really need to let us know what kind of budget you're working with here..as well as the kind of music you will hopefully be making in general, as both of these things are going to influence your choices when shopping for a synth.

Personally, as I've already mentioned on here before, it would have to be the Roland Jupiter 80. I know..it costs a lot and it's not strictly analog, but what a sound! Guess we can all dream, can't we.
Yeah, at this time I think I'm sticking with my controller. Budget is 500 or less. And yes, we can always dream!
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Old 21-05-2017, 10:26 PM   #18
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

Second hand blofeld module then 100% recommend that. I wish I still had mine!

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Old 21-05-2017, 11:03 PM   #19
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

get a virus c / virus b module and go to town

what kind of music are you making ?

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Old 22-05-2017, 12:21 AM   #20
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Re: First synth- what should I get???

I was surprised to see the Korg Minilogue and some Moog syths for demo at the Denver Guitar Center. See if you can play around with some of these on a showroom floor. I was kind of meh about the Moogs until I actually got to mess with one.

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