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The Bad Presets Defense
Old 29th April 2016
  #121
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realtrance's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
There's no guilt or second thought to be had with using presets, whether you're RZR or RZA. It's all just a question of where you want to put your focus, and the way you make music.

There are distinct presets used on some classic Janet Jackson albums I have, which I know from experience are from the JV-1080/XP-80. Doesn't make me Terry Lewis or Jummy Jam for being able to hold the key down to play 'em though.

The only presets I don't like are the ones that are kinda hold-the-key-and-you-get-a-whole-song types, simply because for me, it's more work to break those up into parts I can use than to make my own, and less fun to try to do so.
Old 29th April 2016 | Show parent
  #122
I much rather create my own sounds instead of using presets. True that presets showcase what the instrument is capable of doing but I terribly dislike when the manufacturer uses and bunch of trash just to fill up sound banks. I've also noticed that when previewing the presets, a few sound designers will take a preset and make one or two changes in resonance or with a filter and create another preset that sounds almost the same as the previous one. That just seems cheap to me.

I have never bought preset sound libraries and will never pay for something that I can create myself.
Old 29th April 2016
  #123
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shreddoggie's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
A classic example is the Voyager - I don't know how many times I've read, "I checked one out for 20 minutes and wasn't impressed" - but with the Voyager the presets and front panel are the traditional side of the equation while it's true awesomeness is in the way it goes beyond - there's all sorts of fun stuff like velocity mapping and VCF slope and contolling these dynamically with pot mapping. Each pot map has 40 sources and 40 destinations -1600 combinations for each map, and each one can have three values (25, 50, or 100%), plus each can be normal or inverted... I think I read somewhere that NONE of the presets use velocity - its like they thought it was not Model D-like so they left it to be discovered later.

The preset patterns on the AR are shocking - I remember thinking "Who'd buy this thing based on this?" when I got it, fortunately I had the consciousness to believe that it was the place I needed to explore and now the results are wonderful - same with the Moog.

I've got nothing against presets - the philosophical underpinnings escape me. I am just looking for a sound - if it makes one I can use right off - nice. If I gotta make one myself - OK fine. The Virus Ti has plenty of very useful presets and I have no qualms about using them.
Old 29th April 2016
  #124
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abruzzi's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Didn't read the whole thread, just the new posts, but...

Presets have two purposes. One is to sell the synth and the other is to give the new owner a starting point. This is why many people believe that presets suck. Because of #1 there are a lot of sounds that are over the top but ultimately unusable (think Wavestation Ski Jam.) Because of #2 there are a lot of bread and butter sounds that aren't particularly exciting, but fill a need for a new owner (think romplers with hundreds of strings, brass, woodwinds, electric pianos, acoustic pianos, bass, etc.)

The third reason is since they are trying to sell the synths with the presets they try to appeal to as wide a customer base as possible. For some synths out there, there is a good chance you aren't their target market. Thats the case for everyone. I'm not the target for electribes and volcas, others aren't the market for Motifs and Kurzweils.
Old 30th April 2016 | Show parent
  #125
RZR
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RZR's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by realtrance ➑️
There's no guilt or second thought to be had with using presets, whether you're RZR or RZA. It's all just a question of where you want to put your focus, and the way you make music.
+1

I'm all for experimenting, but it doesn't make sense to reinvent the wheel just for the sake of reinventing it. If something that fits your song was already laid down by someone else, just grab it and run with it. Sometimes it's actually interesting to hear certain (familiar) sounds used in a totally different context.

On a different note, I don't understand why certain synths come with a very limited number of preset slots (ex: Bass Station II / Gaia) ?!? I dont know, but to me it feels like the manufacturers thought "ppl won't be able to squeeze more than X distinct sounds out of this unit"... it gives me that sonically limited vibe - although most of these synths are very solid and capable units.
Old 30th April 2016
  #126
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realtrance's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I bet synth makers go back and forth on this as much as we do --- give 'em lots of presets to sell as widely as possible, oh wait, nobody's turning knobs and pushing sliders; limit the presets to make 'em use the synth more.

I know I can be easily intimidated sometimes into not really using a synth for awhile with great presets, which for me as a hobbyist feels like a waste, so I have to fight that on such an instrument to get myself to really learn it.

OTOH back in '99 when the Nord Modular was new to me, the existence of 20,000 user patches didn't stop me, but that was because it was so wild to be able to throw stuff together so easily in software with the endless modules available, just to see what would happen.

And a lot of those now 40k+ NM patches don't sound conventionally "good"..... so that was liberating, too.
Old 30th April 2016 | Show parent
  #127
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Here's some guesses about the limited number of preset slots/memory:

The more presets you have the more features you need to properly handle them (names, categories, sorting/searching, shortcuts, etc), this takes resources and adds UI overhead, keep that in mind.

Now, I think the question is "how many presets do they need within ready access (you can store more on the computer/program the same sound again) given how they'll use this?" Here I'd expect big differences between someone doing fast soundtrack work across many genres and many customers (top level workstation, loads and loads of space), a guitarist wanting to throw a few synth sounds into his mix (Microkorg, 128), and a synth wizard seeking the unheard sounds and dead set on never using the same sound twice (DIY modular, 1, but he tends not to use it anyway), if you see what I'm getting at.
Old 30th April 2016
  #128
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soundebler's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Got about 500 hardware presets all factory and i am very happy with these but use just a fraction of these . The amount of presets available on synths has increased dramatically and now there is the cloud with millions of presets for 1 synt . The thing it get difficult to name everything that matches the sound , normal presets are flute ,rhodes , trumpet and lot of these names , think Korg developed nice presets for M1 and Wave-station , the sound matches the name . These presets where used default often and made reputation by doing so , like the M1 magic organ sound . Know for sure without these presets they would sold less M1 , some where very nice there is a site that has all the famous presets used , do not know what site bu i have seen it

The funny thing is even by using limited amount of presets by using parallel effect chain it can but very difficult to recall certain sounds anyway . Total recall is is nice in professional environment or even in daw
Old 30th April 2016 | Show parent
  #129
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by enossified ➑️
I remember when I first encountered Kore where each patch could be morphed through a number of variations. Since then, I've run into other softsynths like that...Alchemy for example. These patches really show what good sound design is. I could never create a patch that could be reprogrammed into 7 other usable sounds as well as making all the possible morphs useful.

With hardware, it's always fun to start using performance controllers to see what the designer put into the preset. For example, for a Motif patch you have mod wheel, aftertouch, ribbon, two assignable knobs and two buttons for switching layers in and out. There's times I've sat for over an hour just sustaining a chord and messing with the controls because the results are so listenable...some are good enough that I could create an entire ambient track from one note

My hat is off to anyone that can program presets like that.
I made a lot of presets for Alchemy V1.0 factory Lib, and at that time, we were limited to part of what would become the v1.0 sample content ( You could add your own samples though for some patche). You can use the remix pads in several ways : Simple Variations, and Morphing. Simple variations are easy to do, its just 8 nested presets in one sharing a pool of components, and if you know your synth, no problem.

Morphing introduced some other possibilities though. Here are two possible ways of handling them - there are for sure many others-. Choose a start point, then a 'coherent' end point ( last remix pad), then build intermediate hopefully interesting and meaningfull transition points. This can be seen as a single giant morphing, and steps within this overall scheme. Or : Build point A, then imagine point B. From B now imagine point C. Then D. Until you start to think how to come back to A. ( Kind of circular journey). Both systems have their logical strenghts. 2nd solution is more adventurous and time consuming, but it can lead to spectacular transitions also.
Old 30th April 2016
  #130
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Interesting discussion. I would like to make 2 points- one is that many people have objectively argued that many NYT writers are terrible. Matt Taibbi has deservedly skewered Tom Friedman and David Brooks proves this point with nearly all his columns. They also have a business writer- forgot his name- who spends most of his time licking Wall Street CEO boots. You really have to judge by the quality of what is being produced and apply critical thinking to the product. Apply this to the NYT and you get a declining standard overall IMO. Just to name 2 columnists, Marcy Wheeler and Glenn Greenwald are far better writers than anyone on the NYT staff. There are many more. Second, in the earlier days of the internet, there were complaints on sites like this from "sound designers" about limited time to create presets, and os's in a primitive state when they received the machine, with maybe 2 weeks to produce something. In many cases the sound designers did not make their living exclusively by designing presets. This can be seen by looking over the credit lists for such things as the first set of Moog Voyager presets and the first set of desktop Evolver presets. In a few cases I was told that "payment" consisted of getting the synth to play with pre-release. Hard to extract a profession out of that.
All of this is why I really try to look at modulation options/matrixes when I evaluate synths. People buy synths for a lot of reasons and my own tastes veer from those of most so I am not looking for a synth that can recreate "jump" or " sweet dreams". So most of the time I ignore presets completely. That said, people buy synths for different reasons than me, which is fine and there are all sorts of reasons why, in a certain case, presets may not make the synth "shine". I have generally found it more true than not that presets do not accurately reflect the synth's unique strengths, if they are there.
Old 30th April 2016
  #131
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tehlord's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Fiend ➑️
Are we to believe that professional sound designers (who get hired to develop the preset libraries for various synths) are all incapable of programming good patches and that relative novices (the synth owners/customers) can do SO much better?
Here's the thing.

Creating patches for factory content often comes with caveats about not using too much DSP power or 'can you make a really nice EP sound?'

Often the sound designers hands are tied by backward thinking clients who still think people want to play Jump on more time.

Or they expect a months work in a week.
Old 30th April 2016
  #132
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realtrance's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
cf. OB6 thread.

Clearly, people want to play Jump one more time.

I'd also say, you get what you pay for, and I suspect most synth makers don't pay much for sound design.
Old 30th April 2016 | Show parent
  #133
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🎧 5 years
Interview with Phill Macdonald about his experience programming sounds for Korg through the 90s, and then for Novation to this day, which talks about things being brought up here.

He mentions other names, maybe there are more interviews to be found.

Quote:
Originally Posted by soundebler ➑️
[...] Know for sure without these presets they would sold less M1 , some where very nice there is a site that has all the famous presets used , do not know what site bu i have seen it
[...]
Synthmania?
Old 30th April 2016 | Show parent
  #134
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zerocrossing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by burnsjed ➑️
Though to be fair, that doesn't show how bad the programmers were, that was the original concept of the Jupiter 8, to emulate traditional instruments.
The fact that no one used it for that, and created their own sounds that now make the synth one of the most coveted out there is a totally different story.
It's no longer true, but someone once said [paraphrase] "Roland only makes cool instruments accidentally while trying to make lame stuff for progressive jazz."

Old 30th April 2016
  #135
Gear Guru
 
zerocrossing's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I think the presets of any synth, regardless as to if you like them or not, at least give you a glance as to the general character of the instrument. I think I'm experienced enough to see past that. I didn't like the presets that were on my used ATC-1 when I got it. I replaced them with the factory set... I didn't like many of them either. It's become one of my favorite analog monos. I really like the Prophet 6 presets. 12, not so much, but I ended up not liking the character of it much at all.
Old 1st May 2016
  #136
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Teknobeam's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Fiend ➑️
Are we to believe that professional sound designers (who get hired to develop the preset libraries for various synths) are all incapable of programming good patches and that relative novices (the synth owners/customers) can do SO much better? Isn't it far more likely that a given synth just doesn't sound very good if all 500 or so of its presets are terrible (or exhibit an inherently poor tone/sound).
Yes...you are to believe exactly that...because it's often true.

When a professional synth programmer is asked or commissioned to whip together some presets for a synth often that person has not spent any real quality time with the synth. The person may be a proficient synthesists, but as synths evolved, they became much more proprietary in terms of individual architecture. Much more time would be required or invested by a preset programmer if they were to fully understand or grasp the full capabilities and inherent strengths of any of these instruments. But.. they were only give a limited amount of time.

I really takes a very long time to fully harness many of the synths that the OP was talking about (he failed to name any).

I have experenced this on more than one occasion. for example..the Roland JX8P. Some terrible presets, a few really great ones. But generally, what was shipped in the box was nowhere near what is possible from that synth. Same goes for the MKS80, and I can say that about the Chroma Polaris too.

So, really what the OP is advocating is that you should judge a synth on it;s presets. That's a really bad idea IMHO.
Old 2nd May 2016
  #137
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synthguy's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Roland produced the JD-XA with a truly unique approach.
  • Create an extremely powerful synthesizer
  • Provide it with a goodly number of patch memories, 256, all overwritable
  • Load it wth only 64 presets
  • Make that 64 mostly bad presets
  • Release to market
Sounds like a recipe for disaster, doesn't it.

And actually, while the thing isn't exactly burning up the sales charts, it is doing pretty well. And this is one of the times I actually like the fact that a synth this powerful has almost no presets. Because the thing is pretty straightforward to program, like the Nords, Virus and Radias. But it can get clever with what you can do with it.

Still, what that is isn't like additive synthesis, FM or physical modeling. It's pretty much the same old X-mod/ring mod stuff from the Jupiter-8, though this time it uses a slew of digital waves. And voice layering like every rompler since the Trinity. So in that regard, it's very much like a JD-990 with four voices of Jupiter-8 soldered in. If you can't do something with that, you're a sad programmer.

And it rolls out a pretty lush red carpet to us programmers with a well endowed control panel, much like on the System-1. There are menu parameters buried in sometimes hard to find screens, but I'm all for more parameters than fewer.

And yes, for immediate gratification there are Axial libraries galore for it, with dozens of patches in several categories. And more in the Integra libraries. But this thing is built for us twiddlers, or even us non-twiddlers. Just grab some knobs and dig in! Soon you'll have scads of your own sounds. And if you want big... heck, you can stack 14 oscillators! Not much polyphony but 14 oscillators!

This is one synthesizer which is practically begging for you the musician to load it up with your own personal sonic DNA. I'm not sure if this is a good idea overall or not, time will tell. But I applaud Roland for taking such a bold step and giving me a chance to make one totally mine.
Old 2nd May 2016 | Show parent
  #138
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gadget Fiend ➑️
I will grant you that. The presets in the Nord 1 are likewise pretty god awful. But those were supposedly done in-house by the guys at Clavia.
You might feel like that in 2014, but in 1995 those presets were burning hot. The modwheel/sync sound have been heard on countless tracks.

Here is two tracks from 1996 that use a lot of NL1 presets:




And The Sync sound:
Old 2nd May 2016 | Show parent
  #139
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by El-Burrito ➑️
You might feel like that in 2014, but in 1995 those presets were burning hot.
Weren't many the NL1 factory presets recreations of the original Prophet 5 presets? Those were not so new in 1995 either.
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