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2286 posts since 25 Jan, 2009, from Forgotten Realms

Postby IncarnateX; Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:28 pm What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

Just curious.

Apart from a sound that I like,

1. I want it to have as many of it's controls in front of me and as few menus as possible. Jp8000 (and some classic analog I have owned) and to some extent MC909 live up to that, whereas my Mopho module didn't. It has great sound and features though, but hidden in menus requiring editing programs or alternative control surfaces. Waiting for my minilogue to arrive and it certainly hits the spot. Volca Bass is lovely too in all it's simplicity. Menus became a trauma to me in prime 90s, so a good synth to me is one that doesn't have too many of them.

2.I prefer analog to digital sound but in a forced choice I'd go for sound scope like when I had to choose between my JP8000 and Juno106 and the latter had to go.

3. It has to be solid, look good to me and fit into the rest of the gear. More aluminium, more wood panels, more metal, more quality controls plz. Too much plastic already (another 90s trauma) like my JD-Xi, which is a great synth/vocoder but unfortunately looks like a Christmas present from Toys R us. JP8000 is more sturdy in this respect though it is plastic too.

I never search for knowledge about components and wouldn't have a clue anyway. It is what it sounds, looks and feels like to me that matter.

Plz share some similar thoughts on your preferences
4983 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Postby ghettosynth; Fri Jan 29, 2016 2:36 pm Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

Hardware must fit into a workflow in some manner that transcends the cost of obtaining it and fitting it into an environment. This is often easier to justify with live performance pieces than in the studio.

So, for a live piece, I'm looking for something that improves the live aspect of a performance. Here it might not be about sound, in fact, even though I like analog stuff, I often find that the audiences are less critical than I would be and I'm more concerned about workflow.

Currently on my radar for example is Circuit.

In the studio the same rules apply, except that it has to be about studio workflow. Most weak analog synths, for example, wouldn't improve the workflow or the sound so I wouldn't bother with them anymore. In the 90s, they would have given me polyphony, so that's why I still have a few of them.

The only synths that I have considered for my studio, that aren't DIY, have to be amazing. For example, the latest DSI synths are on my very long distance radar.

Mostly, I don't think that synth hardware improves the studio workflow anymore.
1395 posts since 17 Apr, 2005

Postby JCJR; Fri Jan 29, 2016 3:36 pm Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

Hard to say. I don't buy much lately. In the old days for live use, it had to be quick to change sounds, zones and layers, not likely to crash, etc.

Could care less whether a keyboard is digital or analog so long as it sounds good.

Expectation of a long trouble-free service life, which is difficult to predict. Some keyboards looked built like a tank inside and out but were annoying service problems. Wheras other keyboards had cheap written all over them but simply refused to die.

Maybe someday I'll get over being so cheap, but there's things I could probably afford but wouldn't buy because it just seems too wasteful or self-indulgent. That solaris synth for instance. If I would let go of the cash, then that solaris would probably be a fun no-regrets axe. Assuming quality gear which is not useless bad-sounding crap, a closeout bargain or naturally low price provides a psychological excuse to go "waste more money".

Knobs and sliders are nice but if the sound is good I don't mind pushing buttons and staring at a tiny LCD screen.

I just like hardware. Well made hardware that will hopefully last awhile. If I like a product enough to buy it, don't want it failing on me later on.

Thats the problem with softsynths. Even if the sound is great and overall a good bang for the buck, it is just too annoying when a softsynth gets so old that it can't run on the latest computer-- This would be the ultimate in planned obsolescence, except that software developers don't necessarily plan it thataway. Developers don't know what features that Microsoft or Apple will break next year. Developers get bored maintaining old products that probably won't make em any more money even if they do bother to update old products to run on new hardware.

I understand the motivation behind copy protection but simply despise copy protection. Except the least intrusive variants such as typing in a license serial number. No dongles and no web authorizations, thanks very much. Desirable softsynths tend to be copy protected, but I can live fine without buying intrusive copy protected software. If I need to plug a hardware keyboard into a different amplifier-- It is not necessary to look up my user account and password then go online and re-authorize the axe! Sorry, but you forgot to de-authorize your old amp so you have to buy a new keyboard! :)
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1694 posts since 14 Aug, 2012, from Australia

Postby werp; Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:27 pm Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

Keyboard feel. I onsold a korg kronos because the aftertouch required too much pressure. I didn't like the menu diving either.
Moog sub37 is fine and the solaris is ok. My Novation Ultranova is just about perfect except for the 37 keys, wish it had 61. The best feeling keybed was the Arturia Origin. Wish I hadn't sold that but it was annoying in other ways.
I'm tired of being insane. I'm going outsane for some fresh air.
1152 posts since 20 Dec, 2004

Postby Wormhelmet; Fri Jan 29, 2016 4:41 pm Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

The last 6 synths I bought:

Waldorf Blofeld - love the sound and structure, hate the matrix editing and buried sub-menu's. Keep it for small size, great sound, and ability to edit with ipad patch morpher blofeld editor.

M-Audio Venom - yuck, another matrix edit and not even full edit functions without software. It was cheap and has great sound when you can get in and start tweaking it. I use TB Midi Stuff on ipad to edit most of the time. I like it's sound and features, but hate its lack of controls and tedious editing.

Arturia MiniBrute - Semi-Modular. This is no menu's and all knob/slider settings. Love it.

Blue Lantern Salamander Expanded Synth - an expanded version of the earlier Salamander synths. Fully modular, 3xVCO, 3xVCF (Polivoks, Ladder, SEM), 2xTADSR's, 2xMultiples, 3xAttenuators, 1xRing Mod, Sync, Clock with slew+distort, 2xLFO, 2xVCA, 1x3to1 Mixer, 1x Multiple Noise, 1x Midi to CV. This is awesome control and have to patch to get any sound. Love it.

Moog Mother 32 - 32 patch points, semi-modular, 32 step sequencer. Can patch in and out of MiniBrute and Salamander. More on the way on backorder now.

Korg Minilogue - one to one control, limited menu/sub-menu, easy editing all on surface controls. Sequencer, multi-modes, super easy to get great sounds out of. Preset abilities are cool. Love this thing.

Plan on any more synths being fully or semi-modular with one to one controls or very limited menu editing as most controls and editing accessible on front panel.

No more limited access to synth parameters.
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9550 posts since 7 May, 2006, from Southern California

Postby justin3am; Fri Jan 29, 2016 7:56 pm Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

Priority 1 - Something interesting/weird.
Priority 2 - Real-time controls that do cool stuff.
Priority 3 - If it sounds bad, it has to sound bad in a unique way.

I like stuff I can fix, if something goes wrong.

Deep MIDI implementation is a plus, CV is a double-plus.

I appreciate well made and aesthetically pleasing gear (when I can afford it :hihi:) but it's not that important to me. I also have a lot of fun with the type of stuff other people throw away. The pawn shops in LA are filled with cheap rack FX, old Casiotone tablehooters and drum machines sold "as-is" because of the failing power connector...
3663 posts since 7 Mar, 2005

Postby keyman_sam; Fri Jan 29, 2016 8:09 pm Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

Inspiration. Within a few minutes I must be making music that I like. I must feel inspired and create something cool that i wanna continue working on.

I've found the moog lil phatty did this. Workstations like moxf8 and kronos also did this. However I'm completely off hardware synths at this point. Its all 100% itb now and I don't regret it.
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DJ Warmonger
1275 posts since 7 Jun, 2012, from Warsaw

Postby DJ Warmonger; Sat Jan 30, 2016 12:14 am Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

I still don't own hardware synth, but hope to get one by the end of the year.

It must allow stuff I can't (easily) do with plugins:

- Hands-on control
- Analog voices
- A lot of possibilities in sound crafting / complete solution
- Connectivity & integration with (future) gear: MIDI in/out, hopefully CV in/out
- Good value for money

For now I consider Minilogue or new Waldorf KB37 + Roland System-1M to jumpstart eurorack.
Tricky-Loops wrote: (...)someone like Armin van Buuren who claims to make a track in half an hour and all his songs sound somewhat boring(...)
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1377 posts since 1 Mar, 2010, from Paris

Postby Carbonflake; Sat Jan 30, 2016 1:16 am Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

I own little HW but sound quality and versatility have always been essential to me.
These days, I only have a cheap Yamaha QY70 and a Korg Radias which is IMO one of the best digital synths ever made.
I don't need/want anything else (except an OB-6)
Vincent @ Ghostwave Audio | ghostwaveaudio.com | @carbonflake
Soundsets for Diva, Synplant, Sylenth1, Ultra Analog & more ...
13 posts since 18 Jan, 2016

Postby mikefellh; Sat Jan 30, 2016 1:37 am Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

- An instrument that I really, really want due to its use by other musicians; I'm an Enya fan so I wanted a Roland D-50/D-550 especially for the Pizzagogo patch.

- But primarily, something that's different than everything else I already own like the V-Synth GT I got on Boxing Day, but more than that some of my unusual controllers like my Omnichord, Roland Handsonic, and right now I'm checking out the Zoom Arq that was just announced at NAMM.
5154 posts since 6 Aug, 2003, from San Francisco Bay Area

Postby deastman; Sat Jan 30, 2016 1:41 am Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

For me to buy a hardware synth, it has to be one that I don't already own. If I don't have it yet, chances are pretty good that I'll get it. :help:
Incomplete list of my gear: 1/8" audio patchcord (mono)
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3166 posts since 9 Jan, 2003, from Saint Louis MO

Postby foosnark; Sat Jan 30, 2016 7:54 am Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

It has to be relatively inexpensive (to fit in my budget) and small (to fit in my workspace).

It has to overcome inertia. I have some amount of gear that I almost never use because it doesn't do this -- my theremin, my Wavedrum, the big heavy DS-8 still sitting in my closet. If I can plug it in easily (or just leave it hooked up constantly) and just reach over and start playing with it, it's a winner.

Other than it's basically down to whim.

I often pore over eBay and then don't buy anything. One of these days I will pick up a Kaossilator, I still have my eye on the Atmegatron, and I suspect Volca FM will be a day one purchase.
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15690 posts since 11 Aug, 2008, from Alto Icon

Postby Aloysius; Sat Jan 30, 2016 7:58 am Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

Should I get a TAXI or can I carry it on the BUS?
Roll on 2017
1395 posts since 17 Apr, 2005

Postby JCJR; Sat Jan 30, 2016 9:05 am Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

Aloysius wrote:Should I get a TAXI or can I carry it on the BUS?

Hey, it depends on how young'n'dumb a fella happens to be. Long ago living in a third floor college dorm, no elevators, just stairs. Bought a Leslie at rhythm city and took it back to the dorm on the bus, then toted the stupid thang up three flights of stairs.

For gigs would mooch off other bandmates cars, but that leslie, several big amps, combo compact, an old tube wurlie that weighed about double the more modern transistor wurlies, went up and down those flights of stairs more than once a week. :) Dumb. Dumb.
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3716 posts since 4 Jul, 2001, from Prattville, AL

Postby SJ_Digriz; Sat Jan 30, 2016 10:00 am Re: What are your criterions when buying hardware synths?

The only reason I get hardware is realtime, hands on control and as close to 1 for 1 knob per function as possible. I also lean deeply in the analog direction.

For example the Volca stuff does absolutely nothing for me as the real time control is awful even though they can sound good. Same thing with the Roland boutique and Yamaha Reface series. Those things certainly have a place, and can sound great, but far too limited from a control standpoint, even though they can be integrated into other controller setups.

MatrixBrute, DSI OB-6 and Prophet 6 and MU modular are my speed. I have several Moog synths.

The ones that I'm interested in but because of design choices remain on the backburner, MS-20 and Odyssey re-issues.

I have a hard time with digital offerings these days because VSTi are getting so damned good. I know that's not a straight up comparison because of the breadth and depth of digital synths out there. All the workstation stuff like the new Montage don't even register a tickle on my GAS nerve even thought they are absolutely stunning instruments.
I'm not insane. I'm reality challenged.

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