Control Synthesis Deep bass Nine
I wasn't holding my breath when I got one of these but now i love it. Its a very simple analogue monosynth designed to replicate or get close to a TB-303. It is pure analogue and with midi control. Yes I did get some nice acid squelches but there seemed to be much more warmth in the sound than a tb-303. Its kind of like the SH-101 in terms of the waves but more deeper. It has a nice full square wave and sawtooth wave. It's as if theres a couple going at the same time. It laughs at cheaper virtual synths and VSTs. It is very punchy and you control those glide/slide/portamentos, some frequency control and accent control via midi controller changes. The frequency cutoff is a little underhelming. It doesn't go low enough. This is also true with the midi contol for this using modulation controller. You can control the accent with pressure sensitivity so with that and the glide controls you can teak away while its looping on your sequencer. Its really sturdy and the knobs are very robust. Theres something about this that works very well in the mix. It's also got a CV and gate connections at the back so you can use it to control your old vintage synths. It also has an audio input to use the filter. I recomend this if you can find one. They are rare though.
More info here: http://www.vintagesynth.com/misc/db9.php
Eko Synth P15
A rare mono synthesizer using basic electronic components. It is a bit quirky, not that versatile compared to other synthesizers but very warm sounding. It is fun to play with. It sounds like a Moog at times. Deep self resonating filter. You an choose from the pre set sounds that obviously do not sound realistic. You can change the synthesizer controls to manual and then use the pre set buttons to select from the wave shapes stored in the pre set locations. These range from square waves, sawtooths and a mixture of others in various octaves. There does not seem to be a sine wave. There is no noise generator. There are two basic envelopes. One for the VCA and the other for the VCF. There is no decay or release but the sustain acts like one. If you leave the note on it stays playing. The "sustain" will decay when you release the note. You can have a long attack on both of the envelopes. You have one LFO which can control FCF, VCA or VCO. You vary the amounts using the musical terms of "wah wah", "tremolo" and vibrato "intensity". You can control the speed and this goes very fast as to almost self oscillate. You can choose from sine wave or square wave for the LFO. There is no midi and no CV or gate connections although It is probably not too difficult to mod it. It comes in a built in case. Its looks 70s and sounds 70s.
More info here: http://www.vintagesynth.com/misc/ekosynthp15.php
My first synth that i bought for £30 in 1988. No one really cared about this back then. I bought it from a friend who used it as a guitar backing sequencer. It has one VCO but that controls the square wave, pulse, saw and sub oscillator. Each wave can be mixed in together to your satisfaction. It has a nice slow LFO which has triangle, square, random and noise shapes but this can go quick enough to almost self oscillate. It has a nice sharp envelope. I loved it and learnt a lot about synthesis with this. I plugged it into an echo chamber and made weird LFO sounds with LFO speed on low. I didn't really play it as a keyboard back then. I will always remember the sound being pure. Theres something about a pure square wave thats really thick and can rumble through the speakers. This is is what software just cant do. The sub oscillator is nice and deep too. Playing with the mixer setting to adjust the waves amount is a nice touch and you can get that sound just right. Of course i used this as some acid house sequencers and you cant go wrong with this. Much more versatile than the TB303 and the ver warm. I would like another one but not at the price they go for. Great
Roland Alpha Juno 1
This was my second synth and although I had no way of recording music, i used to run it through a tape to tape deck whilst recording tape to tape plus overdub. I would layer tracks with this and improvise. I have this tape still and i still like listening to it. Editing isn't the most straight forward and it takes a few days to remember where everything is but its no too bad. Once you have used it for a bit, you can fly though the menus with the alpha dial and you know and its not too far to look. Its pretty basic. Really nice chorus on this which adds a nice spacial quality to all the sounds. The chorus can be set to really low speed so its ncie and subtle. The pulse width modulation is nice too. The filter is not as deep as the SH101 but it has some other nice element on it with pads, especially when filter keyboard tracking is used as chords make the keys filter out with diferent levels. Its that juno sound. Great
This is big and bulky. Sounds are solid and sparkly. Can use the multiple envelope to come back at you like a delay but you can set each point differently so its not so repetitive like an echo, IE come back 2 seconds later faded out then come back again louder. I didn't know much what i was doing but kind of got it. I just experimented and changed settings. Its not really that much hassle just need to spend an hour or two seeing what does what. One thing i didn't like about this was that when you pressed a button to change a setting the sound restarted each button press. This means you cant adjust in real time without the note stopping. You couldnt make a who track with this but it would add a nice couple of layers to a track. I would recommend this but if space is an issue, go for the CZ101Good
This was my first proper multitimbral synthesizer and it changed my music forever. This was when I learnt about sequencing. The sounds on it were so sharp and clear. The effects were really nice too. I found a way of using the EQ assigned to mod wheel on a bass sound and made it like a TB303. A lot of the sounds gel together but as they are all sharp and clear some layers got lost. This would be great for using maybe 3 sounds at the same time at the most. Its not smooth but its punchy. Good
Well what can I say. I hated this. I tried to get into it but the sound quality just never impressed me. The filters were so bad that they distorted with resonance. You had to keep the levels down. It just didn't have a thickness. It was like joke after having proper synths before. Some of the other standard sounds were okay. I had hopes for this but I sold it promptly after. I dont have much more to say about this. You are better off using a sampler with better filters. This is after all not a proper synth. Boo Yamaha. Bad
This was a big step for me. Suddenly I had a workstation. I thought it was great at first. The sounds were great. It also had the Moss board in it. One thing bothered me and that was the filters seemed to be cold which is great for reverbs and echoes but the phasers and chorus weren't warm enough. Also I really got impatient with the menus. I longed for instant control. It does so much. It made me experiment less as you had to go through so many menus to change something. Was nice knowing it but I didn't miss it when I sold it. This made me realise that i need individual synths for individual needs. Good
Now this was what i was looking for! WELL, i thought so, all these knobs. Plus it was 4 part multi timbral so I can layer sounds or sequences. The idea of tweaking the sound in a performance without needing to save that sound again as it was stored in the performance was genius. This looked like a really nice synth with an easy workflow. One problem though was the sound. It was great for cheesy overdrive lead sounds but as soon as you put filters down to get a nice pad or really deep resonated bass, the filter would go all weak and tinny. It couldn't handle midi controller information very well and would often miss or skip information which i though was bad on Novation for letting this released like this. Its a shame but wasn't what I was looking for. Average
This is a real masterpiece in design. Nice sold metal finish with shiny knobs and a loverly display which showed pictures of waveforms and enveloped in real time. I bought this thinking it was analog but i realized after that it wasn't. I found this really hard to get some deep low end bass. It was similar to the Novation but not as bad. It just had that digital feel. The flexibility and effects were nice on this. It was a joy to use and experiment on but I found it a bit buggy. Things like not being able to change the master volume unless the song stopped and the knobs were too sensitive sometimes and you missed pages. This is good for leads, Drone sounds and pads as long as you don't want warmth. Its strange and chilly. Good
This is in my mind one of the best sounding virtual analogue synths in terms of that warm, analog feel. Its just that editing is so tedious. The editing is the same as the Alpha Juno 1 but with many more pages to go through. The patten generator was interesting but didn't need it. I wish I got the Ion. I wish Alesis carried on making synths. If sound quality over function is more important then get this. Its also small and compact and very funky looking with a glowing bender! Very retro. Great
Access Virus C
Loverly sound. Nice thick and deep. Excellent effects especially the phaser. I prefer sliders but that's okay. This is the sound that can be found on those great psy trance tracks. This is so far the best and most versatile synth I've used. Its fairly easy to set up as multitimbral mode. I just wish they could follow Novations idea of synth sounds stored in the performances. It handles lots of controller change information well and smoothly. The layout is a bit odd and weird to get used to but its very flexible. It does smooth or punchy and the effects are possible the besy ive heard built into a synth.
Novation Supernova II
I haven't had enough time to play this properly but it looks more fun than the Virus C and thankfully sounds much warmer than the KS synths. This could be a keeper. I really like the layout and the fact that the modulation routings are fixed actually helps the workflow.
This is a nice real analogue monosynth with 3 oscillators. Its a joy to use. No menus and really easy to access the functions. The only one gripe is that when resonance is on high the bottom end isn't strong enough so you don't get those howling resonance basses. You can add a sub oscillator and EQ it up a bit. Its nice to fiddle with the sync and modulation destinations. Its great for basses and leads or bass/lead assists/inbetween bits. It handles realtime midi control of every paramater easily. I realy like the layout. Its very direct and its all in front of you. I will keep this.
This is the rack version of the Super JX-10 but improved to handle sysex info. I haven't played this enough. Editing isn't too bad but I really do prefer easy access to the controls. Its even more time consuming as you have two layers to work with at the same time. Its handy for 2 channel multi-timbral use as you can set each of the layers to a midi channel. Each layer has 2 DCOs. It has a nice chorus. Its analogue but sounds a bit too accurate since I had an SH-09. I have tried many sysex editors as thats how you can change the parameters. None of them work that well. I could do with the programmer pg-800 but at a cost of £250+, I will pass on that. I think I will sell this or try getting the eprom updated to handle sysex better. I dont have much patience with menus even though its not really that hard on here. I prefer quicker workflow. You can load sysex files onto it though. Well some didnt work but I managed to find some JX-10 sounds which loaded up well and sound pretty awesome. Pretty good.
Ahhh yes. This is what synths should be like. Big fat and warm. It sounds more organic than the SH-101 I had years ago. Its a slight shame theres no sequencer but then I am forced to use it as an instrument more. It can sway a bit which I really like and sounds a bit like Boards of Canada. It self resonates and stays fat all the time. Recommended
Korg Poly 800
This is quite cool. I like it. I don't like push button values very much but then you are forced to make a sound that's interesting to play. The unaltered waves sound thick and pure like the MKS-70. Not very organic but with some stacking up the octaves and detuning with chorus it sounds warm. Its the sort of synth you can doodle with it as its fairly easy to use and its actually quicker to use with the diagrams on the top. ou just press the correct parameter number and then the value button. Again, just like the MKS-70 but the MKS-70 doesn't have a diagram to help you which slows you down a bit. Im not trynig to compare thje MKS-70 as that's far superior to this of course. It has an interesting chord memory and pattern generator which i haven't tried yet. It has a nice retro sound to it. Chorus basses are great as are slightly detuned and wavery lead/pads like Boards of Canada.
Okay so this is not a proper analogue synth or a vitrual synth but its a rompler based one meaning that you have syntheseizer functions but they work on samples. You can use the rom sounds as samples and apply filters and modulation to them. You can layer 4 of these samples together to make a "patch". This means you can make quite complex sounds. You get the basic sound-set from the JV-2080 which can sound a bit dated but remember you can change these. You also get three built in expansion cards which are far better quailty. This gives you a huge library of patches or rom samples to make you own sounds. It has some nice classic synth sounds to choose from like Jupiters and Moogs but also the strings, keyboards and pads are great too. When I purchased one of these, I felt very connected to the music. It was easy with no complications to set up performaces with 16 simultaneous tracks. This made a nice easy workflow, which is what you need when you are creating. You don't need complications. This is probably the best thing I ever bought. I created a new track every three or four weeks. These were like Gary Numan style songs. I had so much motivation that I could make a track with just this but I did end up getting a virtual synth as well just to make more custom sounds and effects. The only two downsides of this keyboard is the effects which although are very good are limted to just three for the whole performance. Dedicated effects on each track would be better. This also wouldn't be so bad if there were more outupts other than just left and right. Then I could route the drums or pads to seperate outputs and apply effects to those. Still, it wasnt that much of a big deal and having too many effects can stop you thinking more of the tune i think. Defnitely recommended, especially on a budget or for a central keyboard for your studio as the keyboard has a nice feel too.
Yamaha AN-200 Loop Factory
Well this looked good on paper. Reviewers said it was the same virtual analogue engine as the AN1x and that was supposed to be great. Im thinking Yamaha die-hard fans are kind of over stating it a bit. It sounds okay but the fact that you can only use the synth functions on one of the four tracks while the other three tracks are very basic drum samples using Yamaha's AWM2 standard sounds. I think the synthesizer sound is good and filters are good too but what this is, is a drum and bass machine. You can use the key buttons to transpose the synth sequence. One things that that really annoys me about this and some other synths is when the manufacturers decide to have hidden extras that can only be edited using a PC. If I wanted to use my PC to edit the sounds then there are far better things to use like a Nord Modular. There a quite a few hidden things in here like an extra LFO that would have been handy on ghe front panel. You could use this as a virtual analogue sound module but again there are better things you could use. IE the cheaper Novations are not too bad and much more versatile. Reviewers compare this to the Korg Electribes but I think the Electribes are much better and do the job properly with nothing hidden away. I have had four of them so I know them well. The AN-200 is like a toy that can do very cheesy acid or cliche psy-trance loops. The sequences are short too. I only recommend this is if you plan to make repetitive bass/acid tracks. Actually I don't recommend this. Boo Yamaha... again
I was after 'that' FM type sound and had already tried a few VST plugins thinking that would be good enough as its digital and although some of the sounds were cool, something was missing. I saw a TX81Z so decided to try one out. I was very happy with this. At first there were the same old presets, sounds that remind me of my Roland MT-32 and old portasound keyboards but more depth and not tinny. I looked for that famous "Lately Bass" sound and there it was. It was good as a good all round bass sound but in todays world it is nothing special anymore. I found some much more interesting sounds online which i uploaded to the module one by one and these were excellent. This was what i was looking for - those funky FM stabs of bass that explode using velocity contol. These sounds took me back in time to the late 80's and reminded me of Beverly Hills Cop and Axel F. Some of the bass sounds were great on their own but others were great for filler sounds inbetween other bass sounds. A bit like a slap bass but in FM. I found some other sounds too like once called "polymoog". This was lovelly and has a nice filter effect. Reminded me of some John Carpenter soundtracks. I didn't go through the editing process much. I looked at it and felt it wasn't worth it now I had my sounds which was all i needed. The quality of the sounds were much beter than expected and had no noise or hiss and the bass was low and thick. It was a nice EQ balance and fits in well with my other synths. This is without a doubt worth having, not just for the basses, and FM stab sounds but for the weird FM pad type sounds. It is multitimbral too so you could cover a few layers at the same time without needing two machines. These are pretty cheap but will probably go up in value so I would grab one now.
Vermona Mono Lancet
I had been on the look out for one of these for a while. On paper it sounds perfect. A simple monophonic synthesizer with two VCOs and midi control. I have used a few of these before, often claiming to be TB303 clones (yawn) I really don't want a TB303 but a good sounding synth that has its own sound. I miss my SH101 so something like this would be nice. Anyway, when i plugged it in and turned it on (using the "overkill" button weirdly), I was very pleasantly surprised. All the wave types sound great amd pure. Theres some gritty sawtooth sounds and the square waves are up there with the best but not quite as thick as the Deep Bass 9. If you want a TB303 sound then this will come very close. It performs well with the glide and filter keyboard tracking. As it has two VCOs you can detune one of them to make a nicer fat sound a bit like what pulse width modulation does at times. Okay so there isn't pulse width modulation as standard (you need the extra addon), but it makes up in other ways. There is one LFO and one envelope but you can invert how the envelope works on the filter or oscillator for warp warp type sounds or slides. You can create bass and snare drum sounds with the white noise on VCO2, fat detuned bass sounds and moog type lead sounds. The box is small and compact and the knobs are big and chunky which i like. I would put this inbetween an SH09 and the Deep Bass Nine in terms of what it sounds like. I need to inspect the Midi contol as this should make sequencer control much more interesting. I am very happy with this. Its fun, meaty and will defnitely keep this. Definitely recommended.