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Arp's avatar

I am finally looking into getting my first hardware synth, any advice?

Asked by Arp (3516 points ) May 13th, 2010

I have been using fruityloops (demo) for about a year and a half, but I think it is time I get my first hardware synth or toy keyboard… I am very excited, but I dont know where to start, because there are so many options!

Analog synths seem more like something I would like, but I would like to know more about them. Also, what is a good price estimate for a quality, first time synth? I am a youngin’ with a small allowance, so maybe you could suggest some good, cheap hardware synths?

A few I am looking at:

http://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/369617-REG/G_Force_9910_40678_00_Oddity_Virtual_Synthesizer.html

http://jacksmusicstore.com/catalog/computer-music/recording/arturia/cmp-rcd-art-c~aa-mim-h

Do either of those look good? I would also love a moog synth, but the one above is the only one I could find in my price range after a quick search.

Thanks in advance, audiophiles!

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11 Answers

dpworkin's avatar

I wish I had a Moog, but then I have always wished I had a Moog, since the first time I saw one, long, long ago.

Arp's avatar

Ok, looks like both of those links in the post are virtual/software synths! I really need help, come’on guys!

Response moderated
Arp's avatar

I have done further research, and found that the best one in my price range is the “Alesis Micron”. It looks very nice, and seems like something I will enjoy. Wish me luck in saving up! (It is around 350 dollars!)

DeanV's avatar

@Arp I was just going to suggest the Alesis Micron. It’s a nice little synth. If you don’t mind not too many keys.

the100thmonkey's avatar

Personally, I don’t see any reason to buy hardware synths. Softsynths do the same job, are generally cheaper and you have greater flexibility.

For your price range (assuming $400 for the Micron – Google isn’t that useful for searching products outside your own country; so I can’t be sure) you can buy FL Studio 9 Fruity Edition and the Novation V-Station – which is one of the most awesome synths I’ve ever used.

Arp's avatar

@the100thmonkey One of the reasons I am making the switch to hardware is because I am going to be playing live eventually, and another is that I just recently made the switch to linux, and Linux doesn’t have much professional audio software :\

dpworkin's avatar

Also, I find there is something very satisfying about remaining within the Moog tradition. It is merely psychological, but I am of the age where software synthesis feels like an inadequate replica of the real thing.

Arp's avatar

@dpworkin You aren’t the only one! I have been using soft-synths for a while now, and I have always felt as if something is missing…

A side question, if you don’t mind… How does the sound work? Do I have to set up and amp and cables, and what are some good suggestions? Will it be expensive? :o

the100thmonkey's avatar

Good on you for switching to Linux! What distro are you using? I’ve a little experience using Ubuntu Studio; it’s pretty solid, as far as Linux goes, for audio production.

However, as much as I love Linux, I find it lags far behind Windows and Mac for audio production.

At least I understand why you’re going for a hardware solution now!

OTOH, I’d suggest that the “something missing” feeling is probably one of these issues:

> An inadequate soundcard
> A home stereo amplifier
> Home stereo speakers

A hardware synthesizer will deal with the soundcard problem, but it won’t necessary sound good if your amplifier and speakers aren’t up to the task.

Moreover, you’ll find that the biases of general consumer hardware will lead to problems with your mixdowns. Consumer amplifiers and speakers are biased towards the midrange to make music sound ‘warmer’ and to bring out the voice in songs and soundtracks. For music production and mixing, you really want a frequency response that is as flat as possible – flat frequency responses are brutal to poorly mixed music, which is what you want: if you can make it sound balanced on monitors, it’s much more likely to sound balanced on reasonable consumer audio set-up.

You’ll also likely need a hardware mixer if you plan to go down the hardware synth route – you need to record the output from the synth somewhere.

Moreover, you’re going to need a midi controller – that synth is only capable of 8 note polyphony, so you’re going to need synthesised audio for the other tracks, which implies something to manage them all.

I’d still recommend a software synth option backed up with decent sound equipment and a more suitable operating system (Windows XP Home is all you need). You will notice a difference, and you will retain the flexibility of a computer setup. You can buy an ASIO/MIDI controller later and play the computer directly using that.

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