A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500
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Old 08-19-2012, 06:22 PM   #1
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A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

im looking at getting my first hardware synth between now and probably before christmas, and want one that’s under 500. i may go 700 tops, but 700 is a little much, so unless its mindblowingly awesome, 500 is my max. right now im looking at a microkorg, mopho, or minibrute at the moment.

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Old 08-19-2012, 06:52 PM   #2
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

Those are all really, really different beats there. For one, two of them are analog and one is virtual analog (MicroKorg).

Check out the MS2000 or MS2000R (rackmount...doesn't mean you need a rack). You might also check out the Korg Electribe EMX...it's more of a groove box and lacks some typical sound shaping parameters, but it's a cool little groove box you can jump right into.

My argument against a Mopho as a first synth are a few:

Mopho: One voice and virtually no dedicated knobs.

The MicroKorg seems popular with a lot of folks around here and I'm less against them than I used to be. It's one of the few synths I've demoed live and it wasn't for me. But again, less dedicated knobs, but you are getting a keyboard which is nice.

I dunno about the MiniBrute.

Don't buy a hardware synth based on a budget. Buy the synth that you think is going to work for you. Additionally, don't buy a hardware synth because you think it will sound better or make you an instant super star. The difference between VA and a VST soundwise is non-existant. And there are VSTs out there that sound close enough to analog that it's not worth spending the money just for the sound.

Def. consider eBay and buying used, if you watch for a deal your money will go a lot of further. Check "The Hardware Thread" stickied at the top of the Studio sub forum as well.

I'm rehashing a lot of knowledge passed on to me from more knowledgeable people on this site. And I'm willing to bet a few of them will drop by to give you some advice.

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Old 08-19-2012, 06:57 PM   #3
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

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Originally Posted by relic View Post
Those are all really, really different beats there. For one, two of them are analog and one is virtual analog (MicroKorg).

Check out the MS2000 or MS2000R (rackmount...doesn't mean you need a rack). You might also check out the Korg Electribe EMX...it's more of a groove box and lacks some typical sound shaping parameters, but it's a cool little groove box you can jump right into.

My argument against a Mopho as a first synth are a few:

Mopho: One voice and virtually no dedicated knobs.

The MicroKorg seems popular with a lot of folks around here and I'm less against them than I used to be. It's one of the few synths I've demoed live and it wasn't for me. But again, less dedicated knobs, but you are getting a keyboard which is nice.

I dunno about the MiniBrute.

Don't buy a hardware synth based on a budget. Buy the synth that you think is going to work for you. Additionally, don't buy a hardware synth because you think it will sound better or make you an instant super star. The difference between VA and a VST soundwise is non-existant. And there are VSTs out there that sound close enough to analog that it's not worth spending the money just for the sound.

Def. consider eBay and buying used, if you watch for a deal your money will go a lot of further. Check "The Hardware Thread" stickied at the top of the Studio sub forum as well.

I'm rehashing a lot of knowledge passed on to me from more knowledgeable people on this site. And I'm willing to bet a few of them will drop by to give you some advice.
thanks for the advice! i know very little about synthesizers, but if what type of music i make/sounds i want help, then i'll tell you that i make a lot of house and trance, and leave dubstep and orchestral all to vsts. i want a synth that will be good for making house and trance leads, aswell as basslines. how about the roland gaia sh-01? also, i dont want a hardware synth to sound better or be a superstar, i want one because i like the feel of having hardware and it'll be a nice switch rather from vsts. i like the microkorg because it’s affordable, aswell as a good sounding synth. the minibrute i wasn’t too impressed with, and the gaia i havent really heard yet

Last edited by _Mystik_; 08-19-2012 at 07:02 PM..

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Old 08-19-2012, 07:23 PM   #4
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

I would definitely check out ebay regularly ,i picked up a blofeld desktop in excellent condition,for $400.00. the deals are there.
however vst's are very good now,and there are hundreds of them.
there are numerous free vst's that sound excellent.
try demos.you will find something you can work with!
you dont really need hardware.but it is fun!
whatever you choose,good luck!
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Old 08-19-2012, 07:26 PM   #5
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

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Originally Posted by Rixtr View Post
I would definitely check out ebay regularly ,i picked up a blofeld desktop in excellent condition,for $400.00. the deals are there.
however vst's are very good now,and there are hundreds of them.
there are numerous free vst's that sound excellent.
try demos.you will find something you can work with!
you dont really need hardware.but it is fun!
whatever you choose,good luck!
i want a hardware one because theyre fun lol, and its definitely a change from the vsts. i have komplete at the moment and man the synths with that are something lol. i checked out the gaia, and i really like it, just the only problem to me is the cost is a little expensive, but i should be able to make that by christmas (i do yardwork for my neighbors).

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Old 08-19-2012, 07:39 PM   #6
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

The Blofeld is one of the best digital synths around, especially for the price range.

I bought a new Akai Miniak for about £230 a while ago, which I highly recommend, especially as a first synth. It's a rebranded Alesis Micron (which itself is just a compact version of the Ion) with improved controls and an included mic for the vocoder. It totally baffles me that anyone would buy a microkorg when you can now grab one of these for slightly cheaper brand new.
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Old 08-19-2012, 10:14 PM   #7
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

Don't have all that much time to type the epic hardware post that I would like so here's a few quick tips:

Get a rack synth. You can get better quality for less $$$ than a synth w keys.

Suggestions: Virus B or Nord 1 both have rack mounted versions.

+1 with everything relic said.

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Old 08-19-2012, 10:22 PM   #8
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

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Originally Posted by RFJ View Post
Don't have all that much time to type the epic hardware post that I would like so here's a few quick tips:

Get a rack synth. You can get better quality for less $$$ than a synth w keys.

Suggestions: Virus B or Nord 1 both have rack mounted versions.

+1 with everything relic said.
cant seem to find anything called a nord 1. i found the virus b, but could you give me a link to the nord?

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Old 08-19-2012, 10:31 PM   #9
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

I recently got a Korg Microkorg (not XL), very cheap, very good presets (they are not everything, but something instead of starting from scratch you might just edit a good preset) and fairly easy to program.
It does not have many knobs, but the programming matrix feels quite, fast and easy to program.
It has a good and flexible arpeggiator.
Polyphony is somewhat limited, 4 voices normal, 2 in split mode and mono in unison mode. It's the same engine as tha above mentioned MS2000.

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Old 08-20-2012, 12:28 AM   #10
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

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cant seem to find anything called a nord 1. i found the virus b, but could you give me a link to the nord?
It's a clavia Nord lead rack mount synthesizer. They make a version 1, 2, and 3.

Do you have $77 more dollars you can squeeze out of that 500 dollar budget?

Because if you do the search should end...right...here:

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It's a the Clavia Nord Rack 2. Arguably one of the best VAs on the market.

Free shipping.

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Old 08-20-2012, 12:33 AM   #11
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

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It's a clavia Nord lead rack mount synthesizer. They make a version 1, 2, and 3.

Do you have $77 more dollars you can squeeze out of that 500 dollar budget?

Because if you do the search should end...right...here:

[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


It's a the Clavia Nord Rack 2. Arguably one of the best VAs on the market.

Free shipping.
oh thanks for the link! im not getting one soon (more saving up for one to get) so i could. basically my real maximum is 700, which is why i may even consider a gaia. however, i am really impressed with the microkorg, it has the sound im really looking for for my first hardware synth, i love the gaia, but i may wait on that one. i dont think my mom would let me dish out 700 either on my first hardware synth, lol.

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Old 08-20-2012, 12:44 AM   #12
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

Take a look at this:


Sounds pretty fucking ace if you ask me. All the controls are clearly laid out on the front panel. For every parameter there is a corresponding knob, and it's four part multi-timbral. Great for synthesized drums also and has the covited Nord percussion patches that they added on with version 2.

Edit: I just love the way those envelopes snap in that vid.

Last edited by RFJ; 08-20-2012 at 12:46 AM.. Reason: Snappy envelopes...

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Old 08-20-2012, 01:04 AM   #13
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

^ *droooooooooooooool* : )

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Old 08-20-2012, 01:09 AM   #14
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

Yeah that's my next synth right there man.

She's a beauty and that's all there is to it.

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Old 08-20-2012, 01:15 AM   #15
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

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Originally Posted by RFJ View Post
Take a look at this:

[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]


Sounds pretty fucking ace if you ask me. All the controls are clearly laid out on the front panel. For every parameter there is a corresponding knob, and it's four part multi-timbral. Great for synthesized drums also and has the covited Nord percussion patches that they added on with version 2.

Edit: I just love the way those envelopes snap in that vid.
dayum thats nice, definitely tempting

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Old 08-20-2012, 01:24 AM   #16
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

@rfj,did i mention i have a nord lead2 keyboard.......
@ the op,the rack is just as good!
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Old 08-20-2012, 01:26 AM   #17
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

Yeah I knee you had one you lucky bastard.

Was that question rethorical?


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Old 08-20-2012, 01:41 AM   #18
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

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@rfj,did i mention i have a nord lead2 keyboard.......
@ the op,the rack is just as good!
just a question, how would i go about using a midi keyboard with the nord lead? or using it with a computer? would i need an audio interface? and still, how would i play sounds without a keyboard?

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Old 08-20-2012, 01:44 AM   #19
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

You can connect any MIDI keyboard to the Nord or any synth with MIDI. Also, you can us a USB to MIDI cable to connect to your computer. I use one for my ESX to sync to my DAW...was super easy to setup.

Many rackmounts have ways to program sequences w/o additional controls, but it might not be intuitive or musical.

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Old 08-20-2012, 01:45 AM   #20
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Re: A Good Hardware Synth for Under 500

you can get these at bargain prices these days - perfect for trance.

although a nord is a bit more classy

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