Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

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maverickbna
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Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by maverickbna » 09/01/2010 - 8:12

I'm interested in some time this year acquiring a digital synthesizer to jump start my remixing career. I'd like some opinions on several models that I've picked out:

[*] Yamaha DX-7
[*] Yamaha PSR-3000
[*] Yamaha SY-88
[*] Kurzweil K2000

Max I could justify spending right now is USD 250. What do you think? I'd love to get an Access Virus TI but that's WAY out of my price range.

Thanks in advance. :cheers:
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by Razmo » 09/01/2010 - 22:34

I assume that you want something with keys on?
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by maverickbna » 09/01/2010 - 22:41

Yes, a sequencer with keys would be preferred. I'd like the capability of both, as well as MIDI connectivity for computer control.
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by Razmo » 09/01/2010 - 22:49

Sequencers in keyboard this old are usualy useless... if you want to computer control it, then what do you want a sequencer in the keyboard for?

Also, do you want to make a whole arrangement on this ONE sole keyboard, or do you plan on using other instruments as well?
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by Razmo » 09/01/2010 - 22:59

From the models you've picked out, I'd probably go for the Kurzweil, as this is the only one that will allow you to make a whole arrangement on the keyboard itself... the DX7 for example can only play one instrument at a time, though it uses 16 voices... this would ONLY work if you recorded every track to harddisk on a computer in a "sandwich style" composing. Also the DX has no FX whatsoever, the Kurzweil does.

The two others I do not know about, but I doubt they will surpass the Kurzweil in power.

I think that if I were you, I'd definitely search for a used machine (those you picked are also out of production, so I believe you have thought on this too).

To be honest, I think you'd get a lot more used gear for the buck, if you found a used sound module, and got a cheap MIDI controller instead... in any ways, just tell me a little more about what you want to do, how you want to do it etc... then I'll see what I can dust up, as I've got quite some experience in this gear-field :wink:

At current, the best you can get for the least money (new) is a Waldorf Blofeld and a MIDI controller keyboard... that little devil machine is capable of rivaling the Virus in many ways... worth a look
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by Tonka » 11/01/2010 - 10:20

SY85 is a fantastic synth for the price. Decent sequencer, sample (wav) import, built in storage (floppy drive), good fx, nice resonant filters - good all round workstation. Was used extensively on Bjorks' 'Debut' and 'Post' albums.

I'd go for that one (well, I did)! :D

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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by maverickbna » 15/01/2010 - 0:37

I like those Yamaha SY series.

However, after looking into it, I may get an Alesis Micron to start with, branch out to the Alesis Ion, as well as the older synths.

I also want to get a Roland MT-32 for use in remixing, as well as playing retro DOS games (mostly from Sierra On-Line) that support it for music.

Thanks for all the replies! :cheers:
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by Razmo » 15/01/2010 - 21:33

maverickbna wrote:I like those Yamaha SY series.

However, after looking into it, I may get an Alesis Micron to start with, branch out to the Alesis Ion, as well as the older synths.

I also want to get a Roland MT-32 for use in remixing, as well as playing retro DOS games (mostly from Sierra On-Line) that support it for music.

Thanks for all the replies! :cheers:
Alesis micron is a very capable little synth-monster indeed... I had one once, and it sounds really good... just remember, that without purchasing an editor for it on your computer, editing will become a NIGHTMARE to program using those few controls... just a meager warning :)

Also remember that it's only got 8 voices even though it has 32 MIDI tracks... it will be hard pressed as a "one synth only", and expanding out to a fullblown Ion will not do you very much more, since they are actually almost the same... actualy the Micron has extras that the Ion does not... the only advantage of the Ion to my knowing is it's control surface.
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by maverickbna » 15/01/2010 - 21:39

Are standard computer-based MIDI sequencers unable to program the Micron? Or am I forced to use Alesis' specific software to program in that realm?

My ultimate goal is to have a keyboard-based synthesizer that I can use for a potential audio engineering degree from local university (they require a musicianship course for engineers as part of the program that requires a MIDI keyboard for equipment), use mobile for potential gigs or for recreation, as well as use in an overall computer-controlled studio.

This is turning out to be a great thread. Thanks ! :cheers:
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by Razmo » 16/01/2010 - 21:42

maverickbna wrote:Are standard computer-based MIDI sequencers unable to program the Micron? Or am I forced to use Alesis' specific software to program in that realm?

My ultimate goal is to have a keyboard-based synthesizer that I can use for a potential audio engineering degree from local university (they require a musicianship course for engineers as part of the program that requires a MIDI keyboard for equipment), use mobile for potential gigs or for recreation, as well as use in an overall computer-controlled studio.

This is turning out to be a great thread. Thanks ! :cheers:
The problem I had with the Micron, and also the reason I let it go was, that it did not have a MIDI implementation that allowed me to program an editor in SoundDiver for the PC... the only available options are editors that people want money for, and I simply did not want to do that... if you want to shed out more cash on an editor, then there are a couple available... one I recall is actually a VSTi editor so that you can integrate the Micron into your workflow.

Many parameters of the Micron can be controlled via NRPN I think it was... or Continous Controllers, but they do not support all of the Microns setting, for that you WILL need an editor, og use the miniscule controls on the device itself.

The Micron would do fine as a gigging keyboard, as long as you only play one sound at a time... but for studio use, it's only 8 voices... that would require some minimalistic approaches to composing (almost like on the real SID hehe), but it CAN be done... but if you need it to do drums also (which it does rather well!), then you will quickly become frustrated with just 8 voices.

If you have the money, I'd advice you DEARLY to check out the Blofeld Keyboard instead... I know it's pricy, but it's simply the best you can get currently for it's price, and also has a nice display and keys for performance. It's sound engine is vastly huge compared to anything else currently out there in the same price range.

As a sidenote, I may advice you to also hold your breath for a while, untill NAMM is over, cause E-mu will soon be selling their new LongBoard range of synthesizers... these are sample based, but usually E-mu's samplers are vastly synthesized with a deeeeep programming ability... and they will have 128 voices, huge effects and should according to them be launched at an incredible low pricepoint.... and they come with keys of course that even has aftertouch... worth a study I think.
Regards, Jess D. Skov-Nielsen (Razmo).
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by maverickbna » 14/02/2011 - 14:17

I've done some reading, and I may start out with a Roland JD-800. Anyone have some experiences with this one and want to give some feedback?

Thanks!
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by manganoid » 10/03/2011 - 21:51

Well, to be honest, I dunno the specs of those synths listed here, but I'd strongly suggest the Novation Xstation but the problem is they don't produce 'em no more. It's a synth, and MIDI/USB connectable, with semiweighted keys and aftertouch, 61 keys and more than 15 knobs n sliders, all for 250$ or so (in case you can find one, that is). I for instance tried to find this synth but with no success. However I've settled myself with a master keyboard instead: a CME UF-60 classic, for 275 euros, and I'm getting used to it but it's nice (my first keys :D).Hope this helped. Good luck with yer choice.

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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by Razmo » 05/06/2011 - 6:09

maverickbna wrote:I've done some reading, and I may start out with a Roland JD-800. Anyone have some experiences with this one and want to give some feedback?

Thanks!
I don't have any experience with the JD-800, but I once had a JD-990 which is the rack mount version of it, and I can say that it's one of the best sounding digital synthesizers out there, especially for atmospheric pads etc... these early Rolands have a sound to them that you just DO NOT get from modern synths, no matter how much they cost... I'd buy a JD-990 again if I ever got the chance... I regret having sold mine...

If you get/got a JD-800, please remember that it cannot be expanded with sample-boards like the JD-990... especially one board is very popular with the JD-990; Vintage board...
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by maverickbna » 29/01/2018 - 13:31

Thanks for all the feedback. I am returning to this thread a few years later.

I have since acquired a Roland MT-32, and would like to do more. Maybe I should get a MIDI controller to control my MT-32, or just do softsynths.

Cheers!
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Re: Digital MIDI-capable synthesizer on the cheap !

Post by omoroca » 30/01/2018 - 6:02

I bought a Yamaha SY-77 recently and can recommend it. Along with a MIDI connection to my PC and the software "SY Manager" by Jon Morgan, I never need to use the crappy display to program any patterns or sounds and can do everything on the big screen. The only problem of this synth is that you cannot use modern software saturators in your mixing/mastering process, as they will destroy the sound quality of most SY 77 voices rather than enhancing them. Plus, the drum samples are not so good. But there are thousands of wonderful custom sounds you can download for free, I just love this old-fashioned synth.
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