Synthesizer's ... what's a good one, and why?

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~ Synthesizer's ... what's a good one, and why? ~

Lots to define in that, -- "good", "synthesizer", whom for and for what purpose? -- All good variables to consider too!

I've looked into the:
Korg MS-20 Mini Analog Monophonic Synth


Studiologic Sledge 2.0 Polyphonic Synthesizer (about 2x's price, but Polyphonic)

I can buy whatever I want, but have never believed the "best cost the most", -- ever. And, I'm not spending much more than the cost of the Studiologic for any first instrument I have no knowledge of as benefit of "owning", -- one learns much after the purchase.

The Korg appears to may have a learning curve and I don't want to disappear for 6 mo's Smile -- however, it has a great rating for a analog Monophonic. (Seems like has a lot of support for use, learning.)

The Studiologic has many nice compromises it seems and I can "leave it out" in the house for others to play.
(We have a keyboard setup, but hard to justify the "space" for it if never diligently used, -- like the Cello I wound up making my own too Wink for the same reason, --use. The Keys were leaned in a corner for holidays, and stays there now... just kills me Wink anyway... )

So, -- I am not a "keyboard-ist" but can play keys... (as anyone who knows me, knows), and yet I wonder if motivated I may finally dive in, left/right handed, and even run the Bass/Guitar through it (to drive it) ... though seems as nothing more than a very BIG pedal Smile in that regard since I only have two hands, -- so far. But, anyway, it looks like a great compositional instrument. Again, I do not need a new hobby and don't want another cupboard-instrument/device.

---- So, I was thinking maybe it may not be much more than what a "regular keyboard" offers, that I have already, -- with many voices for what I may use it for. -- Opinions?

I know we have formal music educators here whom I assume then, that means, they get exposed to "lots" of stuff like this and etc?

So, infer away from what I comment.

And, too, -- why does one buy a synthesizer (one can only listen to so many space sounds Lol )?

I'm wondering the same thing, but I'd like to introduce the matter of cost, as well

Years ago I bought a Korg M1, it took me into so many musical landscapes. I don't use a synthesiser now because I want to concentrate on other more traditional instruments but I did enjoy exploring the sounds it made.

I've heard a lot of good things about Korg Minilogue, smallish size, 4 voices (but I'm a primitive keyboard player, so that might work for me).

If you want to try a lot of things, you could also get a MIDI keyboard of any kind and load your computer with software synths, lots of options.

My wife has the MS-20 and it's versatile and fun. I have a Moog Mother 32 mono synth (that led me down the rabbit hole of modular synths, I have 20 or so synth modules that have consumed my brain. Not used in 5090 YET this year).

But polyphony, if you just want one synth, might be better. Korg, Dave Smith Prophet?

My gateway drug into all of this was several years ago were the Korg Volca synths, they're battery operated, about the size of a paperback book (or VHS tape), and relatively cheap. Can be played with a full-size keyboard that you plug in.

Sold those on Craigslist as my tastes evolved.

Edited to add: If a mono synth sounds like fun AND you want to get weird, ahem @Fuzzy, take a look at the Make Noise 0 Coast. And Behringer just started making some relatively cheap analog synths, Model D (Moog copy) and Neutron. And I'm not even all that up to date or a serious synth head.

I agree with @standup...get a MIDI keyboard and you can prolly get every synth ever created and even more that have never existed outside a computer!

I've got a room full of synths acquired during a fascination with the things that has lasted nearly four decades. That Korg M1 that @Roddy mentioned is a sweet piece of kit (and I have its successor, the M3) but it's overkill for most people's needs. These days, you can get a bucketload of vintage synths from Arturia that'll run as a VST in your DAW and all you really need is a decent MIDI keyboard for input.

Seriously; when you can have a virtual Fairlight CMI for under five hundred bucks, *and* a Synclavier, a Jupiter 8, a Yamaha CS-80, an ARP 2600, Oberheim Matrix 12 and a Yamaha DX7 thrown in for good measure, why would you even think about spending money on hardware? (Answer: if you're a synth nerd, and can't kick the habit...)

Incidentally, Behringer have just released a cheap modular synth called the Neutron which several of my fellow synth nerds are buying in multiples (!) and going into ecstasies of delight over the results they're getting with them...

Get a MIDI keyboard preferably with controller knobs. My M-Audio Ozone, a couple of decades old and in excellent working condition, cost $85 on eBay (2 octaves). My much younger M-Audio ProSono (61 keys) cost all of $35 at an auction. Get a fast computer. Win 7 will do. 8gig, 2 HDD. Shouldn't cost more than say $150 on eBay. Buy a good pair of earphones and if necessary a better soundcard eg audiophile 2496 (another $100) Download the now FREE cakewalk everything DAW. until the beginning of the year this was a premier and violently expensive DAW. It is now a premier, supported and FREE workstation.

At this point you haven't spent very much at all. NOW you can run wild and get or buy every synthesiser, as a soft synth, offered by (eg) Native Instruments, plogue, and all the amazing sample library people who also wave synths. Oh, and the free ones which are everywhere. You'll never run through the lot in your lifetime.

Ah. I've just seen the @headfirstonly said all this in less words while I was ranting.

Cheers @Tim Fatchen Smile

I'm trying desperately to not buy any more synths, virtual or otherwise. I could spend the best part of a year exploring the possibilities of Ableton 10's new "Wavetable" instrument, which produces a bewildering array of really first rate tones:

I'm starting to get into synthesis myself. I've done a lot of research. For me I'm going to start with a mono synth. I've narrowed it down to the novation bass station 2. It's a good price and it's got an arpeggiator and sequencer built in. Plus you can save your own patches which a lot of the other mono analog synths don't have for that kind of money. It also has a full adsr envelope for the filter and amplifier which is also pretty rare for the price point.

For a poly synth personally I really want a Dave Smith Prophet rev2. It's just ridiculously impressive. The modulation options are off the charts and the ability to split the keyboard and have multiple layers and effects just gives endless possibilities.

My current synthesis is taking iPad GarageBand presets and tweaking them. I know there's a new version out with a more powerful synthesis engine. I haven't played with it, yet. [My iPad mini can't run it]. Synths are not in my budget.

@ustaknow - you say you already have a keyboard you're not using? Check it. It probably has MIDI ins and outs. You can use it to control virtual synths.
Another option is to take a keyboard you have, and run it through an effects board to radically change the way it sounds.

Hey, as I hoped for, lots to read and consider and far more meaningful than from some "review". Thank you.

So, possibly an obvious, "stupid question", restatement nonetheless, -- the purpose of a synth "was", way back when to create sounds that then didn't exist, and all in one place, pre- "band in a box", so to speak. And possibly today, the "need" for a synth is like me wanting all 30+ guitars I own, -- functionally not necessary. "But", -- they do all have a feel, personality, way of recording (re-learn that every FAWM5090). So, folks who engage a synth just simply like it ("synth-geeks" ?). I realise that sounds like an "idiotic" question-statement, but sometimes I do miss the obvious.

Yes, my keys has a midi out. I guess I need to reevaluate my preconceptions of "midi", which was/is -- when I was first exposed to midi, they were used/voiced in Notation Readers and had that toy organ sound, no matter what. And as some may know about me, --I force myself to use the most stripped down, direct in dry track gear I can tolerate, real instruments. Then, once recorded, sounding as some may realize about me, --to get a nice "echo" or reverb, I will manually triple a dup'd track and milisecond time shift, L/R/L when I could just use a "feature" to do that. But, that is why I "sound" a certain way too. But, also, -- I do like that kind of "control" and manual analogism, -- so wondered about a Synth... which is why I thought to post this here.

I don't want to go TLTR hear, and since do appreciate all the input (don't want to annoy anyone), -- but, like, e.g. some guitarded folks Smile they (folks in the know), -- don't always say the obvious, "yes, that $200 Squire w/duncan PAF's, China gov made, will do quite/perfectly well", --no need to drop $1500 on xyz, etc. So, I guess that's where this is for now.

The keys I have, has many voices in it, drums, to Bass, -- but, just grabbed those those instruments, and never plugged in the Keys to do it. Also, e.g., for my Jon Lord sound, (a kick some time ago), -- ran a small Casio, direct in as he did (his hammond to marshall), to get that awsome soul boosting, chest crushing sound.

So, I realise it's a bit of a naive conversation on my part, but hey, -- folks ask me about guitars all the time and I don't let on... Crazy one student put an acoustic in front of her like a Cello to play (never understood that, since knew better), and asked why the "tuner" didn't work Smile -- that was pre-gibson "auto-tune" (referring to the built in tuner top bout).

-- I'd love to see this thread develop and redirect and get the heavy granular opinions I am sure are out there with the why's and hows.

@headfirstonly - After subtractive and FM synths were the focus, I guess it was a matter of time until everyone started revisiting wavetable synths - that Ableton synth seems to be in similar territory to Propellerhead's Europa (see the link in my profile for the web version). That's no bad thing; the original wavestation synths, like the FM ones, never really got used to their potential because of the horrible menu and button programming on the hardware. Computer GUI makes everything much more accessible and wavetable synthesis is great for sounds with lots of motion to them.

For someone starting with synths a cheap mono subtractive hardware synth is probably the best way to learn to program your own sounds, but once you want to get beyond those classic synth sounds most people will probably be better of with a selection of plugins covering the various synthesis types and a controller keyboard with a good selection of knobs, pads and sliders on it.

For me, synths are about doing a lot of weirdo sounds that I can't do with a bass, or guitar with effects, or acoustic. Just all the glassy wub wubs and 70s sci-fi sounds, that sort of thing. Especially if I can make those sounds for free or cheap.

I'm not a keyboard player (at. all.) but as I understand it, the virtue of a physical synth over software is you can twiddle the knobs more intuitively, and it feels like it feels, the same a Les Paul feels different from a Strat. I haven't really explored this. I have half an eye on the (used) $200-300 ish Microbrute, Minibrute, Monologue, Microkorg.

1) There are a zillion jaw-dropping free soft synth VSTs that run in your DAW (mine is Reaper). A great one to start with is Synth1. The Banks and Patches tab has links to thousands of presets.

2) I got my first iPad last year and pair it with the USB to Lightning Camera Connection Kit ($30) and a MIDI controller. There are ASTOUNDING free-to-$10 apps. The Moog apps sound amazing, and the free free free, open-source Synth One just came out.

I used to use the $50 NanoKey controller, but have since really enjoyed using either the Akai MPD218 (it can play notes, not just drum sounds) or the more expensive NanoKey Studio, which has Bluetooth.

If you've already got a keyboard with MIDI out, free VSTs are definitely the place to start, but if you've got even an old iPad in a drawer somewhere, there are a bunch of nifty music apps that still run. Animoog still works on my old Ipad 2.

I'm with the others on this thread saying just get a MIDI keyboard and use it for whatever synth VSTi you can find online. I've started a collection of them. My favorites are by AIR Music Technology. They have a hand full of really great sounding synth VSTs with a lot of presets.

Another great thing about using VST synths is that you can go back and automate them after you record giving you infinite possibilities for sculpting different sounds.