First hardware synth

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
KVRist
150 posts since 4 Jul, 2020

Post Sun Apr 04, 2021 1:14 pm

Okay, I know there is already some other threads (which I all read off course) about getting a first hardware synth. My budget is limited to $500,-, and some usual suspects on the list:
- Behringer Deepmind 6
- Roland JD-Xi
- Korg Minilogue
- Korg MicroKorg XL

I have a tiny studio, so size is an issue (hence this list) and would really like to get more familiar with sound design. Have been doing some stuff in VSTs, in particular TAL U-No-LX and Helm. Nevertheless, I get easily disconnected working with software, and want to try fiddling with physical slides and knobs.
I have a preference for 80s and 90s music, not too
much into ambient, trance or real EDM.
I am a quite decent keyboard player, but just getting into synth and sound design.
What pros and cons do the above synths have, and any other suggestions I should look at? Thanks so much in advance :tu:

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KVRAF
1948 posts since 15 Aug, 2012 from Australia

Post Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:49 am

See if you can find an Audiothingies Micromonsta (no keyboard, it’s a tiny eight voice virtual analog). It’s discontinued now so 2nd hand only.
I'm tired of being insane. I'm going outsane for some fresh air.

KVRist

Topic Starter

150 posts since 4 Jul, 2020

Post Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:18 am

Thanks, I will check that out although I have a preference for one with a keyboard. I also have added the Mininova to my shortlist, also looks like an interesting option. Any opinions?

KVRAF
28091 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Post Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:25 am

I'd throw Waldorf Blofeld in the ring. Note that it is a bit limited in terms of physical controls though, so, it requires some menu diving. There's some serious synthesis power under the hood though, and it sounds great (I had it for a couple of days).

There's also the Novation Mininova, but, frankly, I don't think it sounds that good really. It's unfortunate, because, if it sounded as good as the Supernova, for example, it would be a really great alternative, but, their tweaks to the sound engine were quite counterproductive IMO.
Plugins and a DAW. On an operating system. Which runs on a computer.

KVRAF
1826 posts since 11 Aug, 2012 from omfr morf form romf frmo

Post Mon Apr 05, 2021 11:51 am

Good list!

I love my Micromonsta. VA poly in a very compact package. Wavetable, but loading your own is a process. Comes with some great wavetables built-in though. Very versatile, easy to program, just the right amount of encoders, sounds fantastic. Look up YouTube videos.

IK Uno is another option, very low cost, can buy an additional synth with what's left over. 2 fat analog oscillators, digitally controlled, with presets. A hybrid with the best of both worlds. There's a VST you can control it with in a DAW. Capacative keyboard, good for on the go but in the studio you'll want something with velocity sensitivity. There's also a newer IK Uno Pro coming soon.

Behringer Neutron if you want to dabble with semi-modular patching. Unique analog oscillators, you'll want to run it 24/7 so you don't have to wait for the oscillators to stabilize. No presets, this is fully analog, you'll want to make patch sheets. There's a website where patch sheets can be edited and shared. Delay is dirty in a nice way. Easy to make characterful sounds, weird modular sequences, bread and butter sounds. There's an editor that makes accessing features easier, and it'll tune the oscillators for you as well. I swapped the big knobs so the oscillators could get them.

KVRist

Topic Starter

150 posts since 4 Jul, 2020

Post Mon Apr 05, 2021 12:39 pm

Thanks for your input, appreciate it! What is also important for me is the “fun” factor. In the past period I have spent a lot of time fiddling with VSTs, setting up midi controllers and learning to work with my DAW. One of the reasons I am looking for a hardware synth is because I also want to have a better balance between working “in the box” and just pounding away on a synth and being creative

KVRist
246 posts since 14 Oct, 2018

Post Mon Apr 05, 2021 2:46 pm

JD-Xi is basically a VST in a box so I wouldn’t bother with that one to be honest. (Well, it has 1 analog OSC tacked on)

Do you want poly or mono? Analog or digital or hybrid?

Keyboard required or module only ok?

What’s the budget?

I just went through this myself. Had a Minilogue XD for a while but I just didn’t get into it. 4 voice was a bit limiting too.

I now have a Prophet Rev2 8 voice on the way.

I know a lot don’t like the DCO sound of the Rev2 but honestly, I really like it.

I had my heart set on a P6 but I felt the Rev2 offered something I didn’t already have in VST (and the price of course) Keybed is nice, can do split layers etc.

I’m happy with my choice.

I would suggest listening / testing the ones on your shortlist because they are all quite different and provide different options and end results.

KVRist

Topic Starter

150 posts since 4 Jul, 2020

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:44 am

I had the same impression of the JDXI, looks really fun but a lot in menus.
I have a preference for a synth with keyboard, poly, budget up to $500.
The Deepmind 6 looks like an interesting option, also because I really like the sound and ease of use of the Juno upon which it is said to be based. Any thoughts on this synth?

KVRAF
28091 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:22 am

Just wanted to say that, for the "fun" factor, my suggestion, the Blofeld, will probably not be the right synth either. Very few controls, so, there will be a lot of menu diving.

Actually, that's basically the whole reason why I parted with it again... if you have Largo in the box, the operating is a breeze, compared to the Blofeld, and, the sound is 98% identical.
Plugins and a DAW. On an operating system. Which runs on a computer.

KVRAF
6230 posts since 19 Jun, 2008 from Seattle

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:53 am

I'm not a musician, but I've designed sounds that others use to make music. http://soundcloud.com/obsidiananvil

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KVRian
1312 posts since 21 May, 2004 from Serbia

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:23 am

LocalTrack19 wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 12:44 am
The Deepmind 6 looks like an interesting option, also because I really like the sound and ease of use of the Juno upon which it is said to be based. Any thoughts on this synth?
I played with it in a shop and it's a great synth. As you pointed out it is based on the Juno, but expands on it and adds excellent FX. Out of the synths from your list, Deepmind 6 would be my choice. Amazing value for money

KVRAF
28091 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:38 am

Shabdahbriah wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 1:53 am
https://youtu.be/eWIfDz_vYwQ
I wonder why this hasn't been on my radar for so long. Seems a really nice synth.

I only wonder why none of those mono synths ever have a separate amp and filter envelope. Is it that expensive to build in another envelope?
Plugins and a DAW. On an operating system. Which runs on a computer.

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GRRRRRRR!
11392 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:51 am

werp wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:49 am
See if you can find an Audiothingies Micromonsta (no keyboard, it’s a tiny eight voice virtual analog). It’s discontinued now so 2nd hand only.
It's not discontinued, just superceded by MicroMonsta 2. But if the OP is after a more hands-on experience, I don't think this is a suitable suggestion. (If it was, I'd try and sell him mine.)

If you are into Junos, a Roland JU-06 might be a good option. There are plenty for sale on eBay, some of them are brand new. This one has the optional keyboard attachment. They are handy things, they can run on batteries, have a built-in speaker and can be used as an audio I/O device.

From your list, I think any of them are decent options. I had a Minilogue but I thought the Monologue was a better, more enjoyable instrument. It's not polyphonic, though. The only question I'd have is whether or not you will enjoy mini-keys. If that's an issue, then Deepmind 6 is definitely the best option.

Another option, a bit out of left field, is the Modal Skulpt. It' s a 4 voice V/A with lots of hands-on control but its keyboard is absolute rubbish.
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KVRAF
1948 posts since 15 Aug, 2012 from Australia

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 5:33 am

BONES wrote:
Tue Apr 06, 2021 3:51 am
werp wrote:
Mon Apr 05, 2021 4:49 am
See if you can find an Audiothingies Micromonsta (no keyboard, it’s a tiny eight voice virtual analog). It’s discontinued now so 2nd hand only.
It's not discontinued, just superceded by MicroMonsta 2. But if the OP is after a more hands-on experience, I don't think this is a suitable suggestion. (If it was, I'd try and sell him mine.)

If you are into Junos, a Roland JU-06 might be a good option. There are plenty for sale on eBay, some of them are brand new. This one has the optional keyboard attachment. They are handy things, they can run on batteries, have a built-in speaker and can be used as an audio I/O device.

From your list, I think any of them are decent options. I had a Minilogue but I thought the Monologue was a better, more enjoyable instrument. It's not polyphonic, though. The only question I'd have is whether or not you will enjoy mini-keys. If that's an issue, then Deepmind 6 is definitely the best option.

Another option, a bit out of left field, is the Modal Skulpt. It' s a 4 voice V/A with lots of hands-on control but its keyboard is absolute rubbish.
I’m aware of the Micromonsta 2, I’m on the email list in case another batch is released.
The original has been discontinued, I was on the Audiothingies website only yesterday to grab a copy of the manual for 1. I needed to look up the MPE details. :-)
I'm tired of being insane. I'm going outsane for some fresh air.

KVRian
632 posts since 9 Aug, 2018

Post Tue Apr 06, 2021 5:41 am

If I were looking for a new, small synth with that budget in mind, the Korg Modwave would surely top my list. It looks, and sounds (from what I can tell so far) excellent.

Incredibly versatile, but with that hardware immediacy and appeal.

OTOH, not sure when it actually comes out ..


edit: Might also be higher than $500. Damn..

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