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378 posts since 21 Nov, 2005

Postby Topiness; Mon Jan 21, 2013 4:30 pm What is the best thing for my dad to use to learn about synththesis?

He's in his 60's - not too non-technical, but gaps in his knowledge which frustrate him (and me!)

I've tried a couple of times to set up some VST's for him, but he's got confused about the routing, messed up the folders, etc etc.

Obviously one way would be to get him a physical VA keyboard, but anything with reasonable capabilities is going to be a bit big (he has a young family and a small house!)

so something

- easy to set up and hard to get lost in
- teach some basic and not-so basic synthesis - if it would be possible to go through the SOS synth secrets tutorials (http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/allsynthsecrets.htm), cool.
- not to expensive, and ideally free to try (hardware can be free to try as you can buy it and sell it!)

Probably a bit of a tall order, has me beaten! Could be software, hardware, VST, non-vst... even a flash app on someone's webpage somewhere.

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1337 posts since 2 Mar, 2010

Postby bharris22; Mon Jan 21, 2013 5:25 pm

How about an Arturia Minibrute? I don't think he would have a hard time selling it if he ever wanted to.
444 posts since 6 Mar, 2011, from Pleasanton, CA

Postby wesleyt; Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:03 pm

If he likes reading, Simon Cann's book on analog synthesis is good. I've worked through it using FabFilter Twin 2. He has sequels on FM and sample-based synthesis as well.
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5397 posts since 8 Dec, 2004, from The Twin Cities

Postby herodotus; Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:19 pm

Does he have a PC? Is it equipped with ASIO? Or is he using a Mac?
72 posts since 8 Aug, 2012

Postby joeinternet327; Mon Jan 21, 2013 6:40 pm

I suggest trying out the demo version of Reason Essentials or Reason.

Reason Essentials has less devices, so it would be a bit less confusing from the start. Once he understood what was going on, he could take a look at Reason proper.

The upside of doing this is that Essentials is really simple to start with. Open a file, add a Subtractor to the rack, and hit F4 for the on screen keyboard. Start pressing keys to make sounds, hit the big red button to record the key presses. Save the file when you feel like it needs to be saved.

From there, just keep repeating the process, making changes to stuff along the way. When he wants to get more complex, he can learn how to build layered instruments inside Combinators, CV control, advanced routing, or whatever.

The downside of this is that saved files can't be re-opened in demo mode, so he wouldn't really be able to re-visit a project without purchasing a license. However, the files would still be there, so it's not that it's a loss, just an inconvenience.

It would probably take him all of a hour to decide whether or not Reason worked for him, and at that point, if it did, you can probably find a copy for sale in the KVR marketplace.

I don't generally recommend the boxed version of Essentials because of the upgrade costs, but if you can find somebody that is selling a copy that came bundled with the Balance interface, then buy it... it will upgrade for a reduced cost, just like Reason proper.
All DAWs sound alike... except when they don't.
394 posts since 21 Sep, 2011, from Northern California

Postby Panphobia; Mon Jan 21, 2013 9:57 pm

IDK what his goals are, but...

Some people have the knack for programming synths. Sure maybe he can learn to get around a synth, but why not take advantage of the fact that there are extremely talented people out there who excel at synth programming?

So go get him a (free) copy of synth1, and the (free) 8-10 thousand presets available. Easy to install and set up, easy to browse presets, and even easy to customize the colors of the gui (yay!)He should explore them and see how they are set up. After hearing certain timbres a few hundred times, he will get to know the ins and outs of adsr, different wave forms, etc, by observation, and he can experiment with modifying existing patches. You know just twiddling knobs to see what they do. Its a great synth for learning the basics; and learning that you can perform miracles without the bells and whisltes of fancier synths like absynth.

Once he gets bored with that there are limitless free synths out there. Some of my favorite are the ones by Angular Momentum and Uhe. IDK why they give this stuff away for free but what the heck I'll take it.

And if you want to go payware, there are too many excellent options to list. Many have demos so he can check them out and see what he likes in his price range.

And if he has trouble setting up the vst's within the host program, maybe he needs to find a more user friendly host. They usually have a computer set up at guitar center with major programs installed so you can try them out. Most also offer demos online. Its strange but what one person finds user friendly in a daw another finds perplexing. So he should just try them out for himself.

Good luck! And when he makes some music please post a link here at KVR so we can check it out.
663 posts since 18 Apr, 2011

Postby stillshaded; Mon Jan 21, 2013 10:19 pm

I'm going to suggest getting him an analog polysynth.

Yeah I know.. that's crazy.

Get him a juno-106 or something.. or the akai equivalent (can't remember what it's called right now)

I learned a lot about synthesis with the juno 106. The limitations cause me to really understand what I could do with it. I really got some great patches out of it IMO.
163 posts since 2 Oct, 2008

Postby dixie237; Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:17 pm

bharris22 wrote:How about an Arturia Minibrute? I don't think he would have a hard time selling it if he ever wanted to.

contemporary.small.easy to integrate into DAW world. you cant help but get good sounds out of it. can be used standalone with headphones. great fun. easy to sell on as and when.

juno 106 could be problematic unless you buy in the flesh and all working 100%

perhaps a juno could be added later?

hope he has fun :)
1102 posts since 4 Aug, 2004, from Copenhagen, Denmark

Postby mkastrup; Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:25 pm

Used Juno or a Roland GAIA, something with sliders is a good learning tool and gives a good perspective on what you are doing.
www.xsynth.com - Sound Synthesis with Vintage flavour
1491 posts since 17 Apr, 2004

Postby sjm; Mon Jan 21, 2013 11:33 pm

If you want software, but no hassle, I'd go with something like Synth1 and a mini host like SaviHost or Toby bear's MiniHost.

Then you can set it up for him and all he needs to do is click on the icon. He can then mess about with the synth to his heart's content and doesn't have to worry about folders etc.

That does presuppose he has a keyboard controller and PC of course. If he's actually looking to make full-blown songs rather than muck around with the synthesizer this might not be the ideal setup, but then neither is a hardware synth on its own.

The advantage of a hardware synth is obviously that it will have dedicated controllers for each of the parameters, but you could probably set up a default mapping for the one or two synths so that any sliders or pots on his keyboard control the most common controls while the rest requires mouse input. You can always put stickers next to the pots so he knows what does what

The software is either free or donationware IIRC, the keyboard and PC obviously aren't, but an old hand-off PC will easily suffice for Synth1. That just leaves a MIDI keyboard that needs to be sorted.
663 posts since 18 Apr, 2011

Postby stillshaded; Tue Jan 22, 2013 12:11 am

As above stated... the juno could be problematic due to the common voice chip problem.. I forgot to mention that, sorry.

The roland GAIA seems like a good alternative, or maybe the sh-201, maybe a nord lead?

How comfortable is your old man with computers in general? If he's not, then he is actually learning two things at once: computing and synthesis. From my teaching experience as a guitar instructor, I can tell you: it's always better to isolate concepts as much as possible. In other words, learn one thing at a time.

If he's very comfortable with computers, then yes, learning on a soft synth might work well. Personally, I feel like hardware has an edge for most people.. something about staring at something that emits light while you're trying to use your ears seems to effect your focus.

In any case, good luck.. hope it works out.
378 posts since 21 Nov, 2005

Postby Topiness; Tue Jan 22, 2013 1:47 am

Thanks a lot guys.
I think I will ask him if he would prefer HW or SW and take it from there, bearing in mind your suggestions. Yes, I should have mentioned what computer he has - he's all PC, he has a couple that should do the job; one has MIDI and I can give him an interface for the other.

He's a bit weird in his ability as he could build a computer from parts but has trouble coming up with a workflow that works for him - one step always goes wrong and then he gets all fixated on that and loses perspective on what he's trying to achieve...

Spot on about the Juno-106 being a great synth - was lucky enough to have one at school - though one of the lessons it teaches is how important a bit of chorus is to analogue sounds! The GAIA looks great from the front panel, will check it out some more.

On the SW side, interesting that synth1 is still a recommendation - it's one that sprung to my mind but I've not been in VST land for ages. Thanks for the pointer to Reason too.

Was also thinking 'Audiomulch' - anything similar to that spring to mind?

Thanks :)
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535 posts since 24 Nov, 2010

Postby psychoxkps; Tue Jan 22, 2013 5:51 am

tell father to read manuals.. native have detaily writed ones.. where iam without manuals....
trust analog.... (owner of digital)
David Carpenter Wind Core
223 posts since 16 Dec, 2008, from Boulder CO

Postby David Carpenter Wind Core; Tue Jan 22, 2013 6:33 am

Manuals and the kvr forum are a good place for someone to start who already knows how to use a computer.

Tell your dad to start with a basic information systems textbook. Learning about how the computer works and basics of an operating system he can better grasp more advanced computer use.

I struggled with this for years until I finally broke down and told my mom to just learn from the ground up. She took my advice and now I don't get phone calls about how to send an attachment over email etc.

Once they learn about how to approach software any program can be used. Without a good base nothing can really be built to high.
The sleeper must awaken.
378 posts since 21 Nov, 2005

Postby Topiness; Tue Jan 22, 2013 2:24 pm

The problem isn't one of not understanding the computer - for him the problem is that a computer is a distracting place. Bit like a Kid with ADD :) Also English isn't his first language, but he really likes to operate in English, so again, he gets distracted learning all the jargon, and considering all the principles... he never gets on to the "Actually doing it" bit!

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