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Synths and Similar - an electronic music gear thread


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3 hours ago, Blunted said:

 

I lurk on eBay, gumtree and Facebook marketplace mainly, hoping to spot underpriced stuff before anyone else. Sound on Sound readers ads are worth watching too.

 

Off to see/probably buy that Poly 800 tomorrow evening. Ended up down a YouTube rabbit hole  in bed last night and have now convinced myself I need a Cazio CZ101 too though...

 

I yet to find a decent deal on facebook or gumtree, its always overpriced I find or when I find something its either missing parts or broken from experience.

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We used to have a lot of synth talk in the Audio Club thread, but that's largely devoted to actual music tracks these days - which is great. So I thought I'd see if there's enough interest in synths a

Been having a pretty rough time recently with family and work stress, but I woke up a couple of days ago to find someone had paid a few quid for the short pay-what-you-want ambient EP I put up on band

Current incarnation of my music room...       Couple of new additions since that pic, including Behringer K-2 and a Volca Nu-Bass, and currently winging their way from Thomann are

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And in news that would surprise no one that knows me in real life, I present in meme form this evening's synth based activity:

 

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Picked up a JX-03 for 200 instead, which I think is the sensible choice. I don't have to revise my entire setup to fit it in for a start...

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All this talk of bargains on Gumtree just made me check on spec, where I found a just-listed mint Roland A300 Pro for £45. Looks like a pretty superior compact midi controller which I could use with Volcas or other desktop bits, and quite a bit cheaper than a new Keystep.

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…and just like that, I have a midi controller. Boxed with all the cables and manuals. Dude even delivered for free.

 

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Haven’t had a chance to plug it in yet (still getting my kids to bed), but it looks and feels mint, if a bit dusty. 

 

EDIT: All working. Nice action, need to tinker with the velocity curves a bit. Setup looks utterly bewildering.

 

EDIT EDIT: Just spent half an hour bashing out buzzy two-hand versions of Rydeen in Helm, this thing is lovely to play, even if I don't understand 90% of it.

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Just bought a Korg SQ-1 sequencer, largely because I have an order in for an Onde Magnétique cassette synthesiser. Most of what I've been fiddling with since getting into this earlier this year has been based around tape, electroacoustics and field recordings, so I quite like the idea of being able to manipulate raw material through an instrument connected to a nice effects chain. The sequencer isn't essential but it's reasonably cheap and possibly quite useful for other things, like the Koma Elektronik Field Kit.

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Does anyone use the cheapo Kenable MIDI cables from Amazon? Are they alright? At £2 a pop for a 1m one, they're a lot cheaper than the amazon competition.

 

MIDI's digital data, so I know cable noise and all the audiophile hokum here isn't an issue - more interested in things like the din plugs fitting properly and the cables not wearing out. Although I guess decent shielding might be a good idea to prevent them causing audio interference, even if the MIDI signal itself is unaffected.

 

I confess being slightly tempted by the fancy orange and black Roland cables with the lifetime guarantee, which are only £1 more than Amazon's best-selling cheapish cable.

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16 hours ago, Alexlotl said:

Does anyone use the cheapo Kenable MIDI cables from Amazon? Are they alright? At £2 a pop for a 1m one, they're a lot cheaper than the amazon competition.

 

MIDI's digital data, so I know cable noise and all the audiophile hokum here isn't an issue - more interested in things like the din plugs fitting properly and the cables not wearing out. Although I guess decent shielding might be a good idea to prevent them causing audio interference, even if the MIDI signal itself is unaffected.

 

I confess being slightly tempted by the fancy orange and black Roland cables with the lifetime guarantee, which are only £1 more than Amazon's best-selling cheapish cable.

 

All my MIDI cables are cheap junk that's still working after 20 years, so I'd just go for it. Actually I do have a fancier long one for special occasions, but otherwise it's reliable crap all the way. Of course crap from 20 years ago might be more robust than today's modern crap, I couldn't say.

 

One consideration is that some cheaper MIDI cables can be wired just for MIDI, which means they don't work if you later want to use them for DIN sync.

 

17 hours ago, DeciderVT said:

Just bought a Korg SQ-1 sequencer [...] The sequencer isn't essential but it's reasonably cheap and possibly quite useful for other things, like the Koma Elektronik Field Kit.

 

Do you have a Field Kit? I'm sorely tempted by it, more so than the FX version. I've got an Ears in my modular rack for contact mic experiments, but the Field Kit would expand all that significantly.

 

The SQ-1 is a gem IMO - I've also got a Doepfer Dark Time, which in many ways looks like a premium alternative, but in practice the SQ-1 is far more usable and malleable, and a quarter of the price. The Doepfer delivers on connections and ergonomics - it's far better equipped to interact with a modular rack, for example, and the knobs are great (the switches are fiddly, though) - but it has nothing to compete with being able to 'play' the SQ-1 buttons, for example. This is all from a CV perspective, I understand it's more limited with MIDI.

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4 hours ago, Rowan Morrison said:

 

Do you have a Field Kit? I'm sorely tempted by it, more so than the FX version. I've got an Ears in my modular rack for contact mic experiments, but the Field Kit would expand all that significantly.

 

The SQ-1 is a gem IMO - I've also got a Doepfer Dark Time, which in many ways looks like a premium alternative, but in practice the SQ-1 is far more usable and malleable, and a quarter of the price. The Doepfer delivers on connections and ergonomics - it's far better equipped to interact with a modular rack, for example, and the knobs are great (the switches are fiddly, though) - but it has nothing to compete with being able to 'play' the SQ-1 buttons, for example. This is all from a CV perspective, I understand it's more limited with MIDI.


I don't have a Field Kit yet. It's on a small shopping list but I'm trying to be reasonably strict with myself and use whatever I happen to buy before getting more kit. I liked the look of the Dark Time but I just can't see myself paying £400 or so for one- the SQ-1 is cheap enough for me to not worry about underusing a big investment and small enough to keep on my (ever-crowded) desk.

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56 minutes ago, DeciderVT said:


I don't have a Field Kit yet. It's on a small shopping list but I'm trying to be reasonably strict with myself and use whatever I happen to buy before getting more kit. I liked the look of the Dark Time but I just can't see myself paying £400 or so for one- the SQ-1 is cheap enough for me to not worry about underusing a big investment and small enough to keep on my (ever-crowded) desk.

 

Yeah, for most sequencing requirements the SQ-1 is an excellent choice. The DT has loads of inputs and outputs for more sophisticated cross-patching (e.g. reset in/out, and CV in for transposition), and is as well-engineered and robust as you might expect from Doepfer, but I'd say it's very much a product from the pre-SQ / Beatstep era. It's in an awkward middle ground now, halfway between the budget options and stuff like the Cirklon. I probably wouldn't buy one nowadays, but I keep it because sequencers are always useful.

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Had a chance to have a proper play with the JX now, it's lovely. I don't think I'd have a chance of identifying it from the real thing tbh. A couple more notes polyphony (like the original) would be nice, but 4 is enough for the vast majority of my cack handed keyboard mashing.

 

I think I'm now pretty much sorted with my setup. Synth-wise anyway.

 

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Evolver on bass/lead

Preen on assorted FM duties

JX on pads/arps/non-FM 80s noises

KS Rack (off to the side) on general purpose stuff

MPC sequencing and drums

 

The only slight* issue I have now is that my wee mixer only takes 8 inputs and I need 10 (or 12 if I'm using both sets of outs on the KSR). Just waiting to break it to the Mrs that I'll be spending yet more cash on what was "finished" a couple of months ago...

 

* - not slight

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Well, thanks to Rowan’s old Volcas, my journey has now begun. Grabbed the Tony Horgan guidebooks for them, as the manuals are pretty inadequate. I can’t help but be amused at how each Volca has made necessary UI compromises to fit the form factor, but those compromises seem to be completely different on each unit, so there’s almost no transferable knowledge. 

 

I’ve mainly been playing with the Beats so far, it’s stupidly fun. Step programming is really intuitive, and it’s just great fun layering a rhythm up. It’s also capable of being surprisingly melodic, if you tune the toms and give them a long decay, or individually motion sequence the speed of some of the PCM sounds (Claves and Agogo in particular).

 

The snare is a disaster, though. Found this article which shows the waveform with/without the C78 fix, which shows why it’s so damn crackly. They also advocate replacing a bunch of resistors, but that seems to be about making it more 808-like - no need for that, I’m happy for it to have its own character, provided that character is not a mouse farting down an old telephone. Time to buy a soldering iron.

 

Oh, and it turns out kids love drum machines.

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Received an Earthquaker Devices Avalanche Run delay/reverb pedal through the post this week and I've been feeding the Monotron Delay into it and idly noodling around while browsing the internet. It's basically Symphonies of the Planets in two small boxes- a huge, creepy, alien sound that ranges from immense, bassy drones to screaming squeals of harsh, abrasive feedback, making even the slightest sounds from the Monotron absolutely monolithic. I think I'm going to record some of it to 1/4" or cassette tape and screw it up a bit.

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That pedal looks amazing. 

 

I'm fiending for a shimmer reverb just now but just can't afford either of the Strymon ones. Tempted to order a Mooer shimverb pro to play around with until I can save a few hundred quid.

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BlueSky and BigSky? If so, what steers you toward them over something like the Eventide Space?

 

The Mooer (and Donner) pedals are really interesting for the price. A cheap boost pedal is tempting as the Monotron Delay's output is a bit quiet, though there does come a point where buying pedals to specifically compensate for the shortcomings of a £40 pocket synth might be a bit silly.

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I just adore the sound of them in the audio demos I've heard. Not heard so much of the Space, but if I was going to buy a Bigsky I'd definitely want to try one out first.

 

Unfortunately, most likely it'd be a Bluesky and there is a pretty significant price difference. Trying to explain to the wife why I've spent £250 on a tiny metal box will be hard enough!

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2 hours ago, Blunted said:

FFS @DeciderVT, spent the evening listening to Space demos and now I'm totally convinced it's the one for me :lol:

 

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Haha, Blackhole is the stuff of dreams. You can buy some of the algorithms as VSTs of you want to save on the pedal but I like the idea of having them all in a tweakable box.

 

There are loads of really interesting reverbs around at the moment, so the choice is agonising if you're sticking to a budget. I'd love to buy a Space but I'd also have a bit of trouble justifying that sort of expenditure right now!

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