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Best workhorse synth for beginner?
Old 22nd January 2013
  #1
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Best workhorse synth for beginner?

Hello gearslutz, new guy here looking for some input.

Just did my taxes and realized I'm getting a decent amount back, so I want to purchase my first hardware synthesizer. Basically if you could only have 1 synth in the $1,500.00 range, what would it be and why?

Alittle background, I've been DJing for about the past 5 years, started out analog with vinyl/turntables but eventually upgraded to digital with midi controllers and traktor/ableton software with vsti's. After 5 years of playing repetitive top 40 garbage for partys/venues I lost interest in it and decided to get rid of my equipment. Now I'm finding myself with free time on my hands and no creative outlet, I still have Ableton live and tons of software synths (Zebra, Massive, Sylenth, Omnysphere, ect..) but I never found my "creative flow" in the GUI environment. Page diving through vsti's and squinting at my computer screen while turning "virtual" knobs with my mouse just isn't very intuitive to me. I have owned several midi keyboards (M-Audio Axiom & Native Instruments MKII Keyboard) but was never satisfied with how they felt (cheap plastic knobs that click, poor key bed, problems with midi CC messages, issues with Automap, ect...). Not to mention software synths can be a real CPU hog on my system when running lots of voices (I have a 2012 Macbook Air with a i7 processor, and it still get's bogged down with heavy soft synths).

I played Piano for about 7 years, but that was a long time ago, so I also would like to re-teach myself how to read sheet music since I pretty much forgot everything I was taught 15+ years ago. So I need a keyboard with at least 5 octaves, preferably VA since I need it to be a "workhorse" doing the majority of my sounds. Eventually I'll invest in some Analog synths for bass tracks and the like, but for now I need something that can get me started.

As for the type of music I'll be creating, think Deep House ala Crosstown Rebels labels, but not limited to that. I may have some techno/electro stuff as well as funky breakbeat or even drum n bass.

I'm looking at used Nord's or possibly an Access Virus TI, but am open to other suggestions. I hear the Waldorf's are really fun too, so suggest away!
Old 22nd January 2013
  #2
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tehlord's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
The Virus Ti has got to be the best all rounder, especially in 61 keyboard version as it's a really nice keybed. It'll integrate nicely with your DAW as well which doesn't hurt.
Old 23rd January 2013 | Show parent
  #3
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tehlord ➑️
The Virus Ti has got to be the best all rounder, especially in 61 keyboard version as it's a really nice keybed. It'll integrate nicely with your DAW as well which doesn't hurt.
That's pretty much the same answer everyone has been giving me, for an all around sound-scape, the Virus is tuff to beat (in this price range anyways). And the fact that I use Ableton Live, the virus will integrate perfectly their.

I think I have my answer. Now to find one within 100 miles of my location
Old 23rd January 2013
  #4
Gear Guru
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
When I see Drum & Bass I always think Waldorf for some reason...
Old 23rd January 2013
  #5
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shponglefan's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by JuicePoofs ➑️
Page diving through vsti's and squinting at my computer screen
Don't get a Virus, then. Instead of a large computer screen, you'll be page diving while squinting at a tiny 3 inch screen. Despite being heavy on knobs, the Virus TI is very much a menu-diving synth. If you can get past that, it's a decent synth with nice effects and lots of depth. But it is very menu-driven.

Personally I'd go for a Prophet '08 PE edition if you can swing it. 61 keys, mostly knob-per-function, and nice sounds. Mopho 4x is a cheaper option, albeit with only 49 keys.
Old 23rd January 2013
  #6
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ohmicide's Avatar
Komplete 8

you get a sampler synth, drum sampler, fm synth, wave table synth, absynth which does a bunch of synthesis type and then reaktor which can do pretty much anything in the book
Old 23rd January 2013
  #7
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Stevism's Avatar
 
6 Reviews written
🎧 5 years
i'd say wait till namm hits.

the new King Korg seems pretty interesting. I think I read it even runs stuff through a tube circuit, so I think that's going to provide a lot of warmth that people won't expect from a VA

I have a vox amp that's solid-state but runs it through a tube circuit right before the output, and it really outperforms other amps in its price range.

not sure how much the king korg will cost though
Old 23rd January 2013
  #8
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kpsiegel's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
As much as I LOVE Waldorf synths (I have 6 of them) if I had to spend the money for a first synth based on your interests I would say to get a used Virus TI. I have a TI2 so this is based on some experience.

The Waldorf Q/Q+ and XTk, to me, have a fantastic interface which is far less menu diving than the Virus TI. However, the Virus is actively supported by Access and Waldorf support completely sucks. If it is your first synth you are going to want very active company/user support and continuing development of the OS. The latest Virus OS release is excellent. The keybed on the Virus is fantastic and it will function well as a controller for other keyboards if you want. Obviously, it integrates well with a PC and the editing functions work well if you want to tweak sounds on your PC. The effects on the TI are second only to the Kurzweil for synths that I own and that should matter a lot if it is your first synth. The latest OS improved an already excellent selection of effects.

Ultimately, I like using my 30 voice XTk more than my Virus TI2 but it is not my only synth so I don't have to make the same choices you would.
Old 23rd January 2013
  #9
Gear Addict
 
🎧 5 years
WELL a good all around rom style keyboard like a Jupiter 50 on the high end and a KORG PS60 on the low end. Next a good 49 or 61 key Novation controller to run your VSTi's on Ableton. These controllers have rotaries for real time editing, buttons to trigger clips, and sliders for mixing and bringing in things.
Old 23rd January 2013
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Just wanted to add that while the Virus TI is menu driven, the menu diving aspect is somewhat exaggerated. You'll be jumping in and out of menues all the time, but this wont slow you down much as it's implemented in a way that works well. Very little sub menues when you concider the synths comlexity. Sure some features could have been made more available, but all in all it's pretty fast to use. I'm NOT the kind of guy that isn't bothered with menu diving BTW. It's just not a problem for me with the Virus.

It may not have the best tone for everything, but it's quite versatile and has loads of good effects per channel, which is a huge + for a beginners workhorse. It's also a synth you might find worth holding on to if/after expanding.
Old 23rd January 2013
  #11
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Demokid's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I would go for an Access Virus Ti(x) or a Nord Lead Modular G2. Both are great synths but I think the G2 is even more flexible but you would need a PC running Win XP to patch it up.
Old 23rd January 2013
  #12
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divemedia's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I would personally go for something like a Roland JP-8000 or a Nord Lead 2- both are great synths to learn from, do mot have much menu diving, won't break the bank and sound great. For a newer model, i like the recommendation of a Mopho x4 or a Prophet '08.
Old 23rd January 2013
  #13
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by JuicePoofs ➑️
I'm looking at used Nord's or possibly an Access Virus TI
Get a Virus TI Snow, a Nord Rack 2X and save the left over cash for beer!
Old 23rd January 2013
  #14
Moderator
 
Reptil's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 15 years
for deephouse
Studio Electronics SE-1
get a midi keyboard with it (or sequence it from the DAW or iPad)

buy secondhand
other options:
Oberheim reissue
Minibrute (it's a bit eehm "harder")

why? These are monophonic but the focus is on analogue sound creation through knobs. that's very different from any plugin. A Virus is pretty cool to have as hardware synth, of course, if you want an alternative to the Virus, try find a Microwave XT or XTK
Old 23rd January 2013 | Show parent
  #15
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tehlord's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by shponglefan ➑️
Don't get a Virus, then. Instead of a large computer screen, you'll be page diving while squinting at a tiny 3 inch screen. Despite being heavy on knobs, the Virus TI is very much a menu-diving synth. If you can get past that, it's a decent synth with nice effects and lots of depth. But it is very menu-driven.

Personally I'd go for a Prophet '08 PE edition if you can swing it. 61 keys, mostly knob-per-function, and nice sounds. Mopho 4x is a cheaper option, albeit with only 49 keys.
I can't agree with that really.

There's some menu diving of course, but then it has at least 612,000 more options and parameters than a P08, so of course you'll have to dive in at some point.

The basic parameters that you'll use all the time (Envelopes, LFO's, filters etc) are all there on the front.
Old 23rd January 2013
  #16
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🎧 10 years
I think a G2 would be great.

It's easy to work with, with or without the editor (as long as the parameters are properly assigned to the knobs), and can do a ton of different things.
It allows you to understand more easily how effects can make your sound much more interesting.
And better than that, you can easily use it as a groovebox and make nice sequences with it.

The only thing it can't do is to make proper samples and looping (too short loop times).

Other than that, I think it's a fantastic machine and it would be the only all-in-one machine I could use for a whole performance.
And it works pretty well for that too
Old 23rd January 2013 | Show parent
  #17
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shponglefan's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by tehlord ➑️
I can't agree with that really.

There's some menu diving of course, but then it has at least 612,000 more options and parameters than a P08, so of course you'll have to dive in at some point.

The basic parameters that you'll use all the time (Envelopes, LFO's, filters etc) are all there on the front.
I suppose it depends on what one is doing. Building sounds from scratch and doing extensive modulation: lots of menu-diving.

Simple tweaking of things like cutoff, envelopes, etc: not so much menu-diving.

So YMMV.
Old 24th January 2013
  #18
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jaxxson c. fran's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Roland Juno 106 is a great beginning synth, easy to tweak an get immediate results. Super user friendly. Has midi if you feel like hooking it up to other gear.
Old 24th January 2013
  #19
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skinnypete's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Nords and Virus are great, I think you should check out DSI stuff as well.

Sent from my Droid
Old 24th January 2013
  #20
Registered User
 
🎧 5 years
Get the Blofeld. You can do samples, wavetable and VA and do a lot of multi-timbrality so you can essentially sequence everything from it. You can get a feel of almost everything save for dedicated FM synthesis, and you can branch out from there. End up loving wavetable? You'd already be set with a great synth, but can experiment with software or other wavetable synths from Ensoniq or Waldorf as well. Want a stronger sounding analog? Your tastes would be solidified since you could post here asking for what you're lacking from the Blofeld and go from there. The Virus is good, but I never took to the sound. I pretty quickly took to the Blofeld, and this is from someone who appreciates mostly vintage monosynths.
Old 24th January 2013 | Show parent
  #21
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tehlord's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by shponglefan ➑️
I suppose it depends on what one is doing. Building sounds from scratch and doing extensive modulation: lots of menu-diving.

Simple tweaking of things like cutoff, envelopes, etc: not so much menu-diving.

So YMMV.

Building from scratch will still involve some mouse tweaking for sure, or at least would be quicker.
Old 24th January 2013
  #22
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
If you go with a Virus, I'd take a Virus B over a Ti as it has less menu diving (except for the FX section, which you shouldn't worry about since you're learning synthesis). Also, B will be cheaper than TI and will force you to learn about Sysex and NRPI numbers etc.

Otherwise, a Nord 2 is another option as others have said.
Old 24th January 2013
  #23
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Juno 60 w Kenton and x2 guitar pedals



Sonically better than a Virus. Great for a beginner.
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