The Official Sequential/DSI Forum

OTHER DISCUSSIONS => General Synthesis => Other Hardware/Software => Topic started by: Strange Quark Star on October 19, 2015, 11:41:36 AM

Title: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Strange Quark Star on October 19, 2015, 11:41:36 AM
I'm always interested to see and learn from other people's music setup and their reasoning behind it. Instead of trying to piece together a whole picture from posts about individual instruments/gear, why not have a topic dedicated to this?

I'll start with my little music corner:

Synthesizers
Drum machines
Effects
Recording
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Strange Quark Star on October 19, 2015, 11:42:40 AM
continued from the previous postÖ

The Prophet and DX7 sit on a K&M 18953 keyboard stand with its second tier extension; the D-50 and the microKORG on a K&M 18810. The latter's second tier extension is also perfect for holding a laptop, so whenever I record the microKORG has to leave ;) Both stands are exceptionally sturdy; there's almost no perceivable wobble when playing.

The mixer, MS-20 and all effects find a place on narrow, metal 4-tier shelf in between the two keyboard stands.

Most instruments are permanently wired into either mono or stereo inputs on the mixer, leaving a few free inputs for less frequently used stuff. The Lexicon takes its input from the "Group Out" and feeds into a stereo effect return on the mixer. All other effects are patched in when needed.

That's about it; I'll post a picture when I tidy it all up a little and there's better sunlight available.
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Soundquest on October 19, 2015, 08:06:29 PM
This will be a nice section.  I hope to sit down this weekend and catch up on this new forum. 
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Razmo on October 20, 2015, 01:30:20 AM
I'm actualy in the process of changing my setup... in the past I had all my synths connected via a MIDI interface to my computer running SONAR, and played/recorded them via MIDI only... all synths connected to an analog mixer's channels. Two MX400's for delay and reverb on a pair of AUX sends... that's basicaly it... preset browsing and editing was done using my trusted old SoundDiver program with editors for all my synths.

But recently I've started harddisk recording instead, and changed to a more ambient styles of music, so my synth needs has changed a little, and so has my setup, and thus I cannot give a finished picture of how my setup will look, but I have a pretty good estimate:

I'll be getting a compact 8-stereo channel rack-mixer to get all sound sources mixed down to a single stereo output for recording in SONAR thru my E-MU 1212m soundcard. I don't need fancy EQ, AUX or the like for this, just a simple mix because all EQ/FX will be handled inside the computer.

When the stereo mix is in the coputer, it goes thru the E-MU's FX blocks which is rather flexible, and here I can route the signal digitaly out to an FX machine, and back... this FX box is currently a Lexicon MX400, but I'll replace this with a Lexicon PCM92... with this setup, I'm pretty darn well covered with FX, and can choose them individualy for each synth as I see fit, because I record in layers, with FX included.

SONAR only handles the recording, much like a harddisk recorder would... an ocational EQ'ing may happen, but other than that, nothing else.

The synths I'm using (and going to get) is changing at the moment... I'm selling my monophonic synths because I really need more polyphonic ones instead... this means that my Waldorf Pulse, Pulse2 and MOOG Slim Phatty are going.... also my Waldorf Microwave are going, simply because I'm tired of older quirky synths.

This actualy leaves me with only DSI instruments currently, exept for my Yamaha EX5, which I still use as a master keyboard, but it'll eventualy go as well, as I want only analog/hybrid polysynths in my setup from now on.

So my synth lineup (now and future) will look like this:

1. DSI - Tempest
2. DSI - Poly Evolver Rack
3. DSI - Prophet 08 Module
4. DSI - Prophet 12 Module
5. DSI - Prophet 6 Module/keys (don't know which yet)
6. DSI - Pro2
7. ?
8. ?

Some of the above I do not have yet... but will in time... I hope to see some sort of sampler hybrid synth someday from DSI to add to that list, because my setup is in need of a sampler... but I want it to be a hybrid, not a 100% digital synth. I know that Pro2 technically is not a poly-synth, but paraphonic gets close enough for me, especialy because each oscillator has it's own AMP envelope.

My setup will be limited to 8 stereo polysynths, mainly because I really don't need more when I can layer record those 8 synths as many times as I want... I have to take care, that my setup does not get too big.

That's basicaly it... a little room left for a few more synths, as Dave decides to tempt my GAS  ;D ... who knows... I might end up being a DSI only user... especialy if Dave decides to make that sample oscillator hybrid I've been rambling about for some time now.
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Paul Dither on October 20, 2015, 12:19:54 PM
Cool idea, Strange Quark Star!

Well, most of my synth stuff is already in my signature, but I'll try to follow a more holistic approach here.

Recording
After years of using primarily ProTools, I was experiencing a couple of compatibility issues at some point. What also always annoyed me was the fact that you used to need specific hardware (I think that's a bit more flexible now) and a dongle. Due to reliable live experiences with Live, I eventually decided to switch to the latter. I switched to Studio One simultaneously, but Live is really my main DAW. The addition of the Push controller makes the biggest difference for me, as it consequently follows the approach of treating the studio as just another instrument amongst others, which is something I wouldn't wanna miss anymore besides the option to record basically anywhere with a laptop.

My current audio interface is a Focusrite Saffire Pro 40.
I also use a Focusrite VRM headphone preamp and speaker emulator, since I'm mostly working under headphones due to my current living situation. It's not ideal, but it can help.
This leads to my two AKG headphones: K240 MK II and K271 MK II.
Finally, I use a Mackie 1202 VLZ4 to enhance my inputs and for live purposes.

Plug-Ins
Beyond everything that's included in Live 9 Suite, I use the following plug-ins:
In general, I moved away quite a bit from plug-ins these days. The ones I use most regularly, are u-he Satin, the Valhalla DSP reverbs, and The Mangle. I'm not too fond of using synth plug-ins anymore - when you sit on a computer all day already, it's nicer to tweak non-virtual knobs. I also recognized that I did barely built sounds from scratch with plug-ins. That joy came back with moving to hardware again. But I guess, I'm preaching to the converted here anyway.

Microphones

Synthesizers
I still have my very first one, a Korg Wavestation EX. But I left it behind in Germany as well as a Kawai MP8 II stage piano.
Apart from these two, my current setup consists of an Evolver Desktop, a Pro 2, a Moog Minitaur, and a Moog Sub 37. Until very recently, there used to be a Prophet '08 as well, but I sold it in order to help funding a Prophet-6, which is yet to be ordered - kind of a bittersweet interim situation right now, i.e. without a poly-synth.

The Minitaur might be often described as a one-trick-pony, but it does what it does brilliantly and in my opinion, its sound is distinct enough from the Sub 37, which is why I kept it. I kept the Desktop Evolver over a MEK in a masochistic attempt. Not really. I like that itís portable and forces me to think out of a keyboard synth context. In that sense, I kept it for rather philosophical reasons. The Pro 2 and the Sub 37 complement each other well. Different sounds, different approaches. Even the fact that both models use sequencers doesnít make anything redundant, as the one of the Sub 37 mainly follows a note sequencer model, while the one of the Pro 2 is mainly built around the approach of using a sequencer as a modulation source. Both machines are a joy to program, although the complexity of their architecture couldnít be more different. I tend to use the Pro 2 a lot for sequences, but also for paraphonic pads. Thereís just something special about the superwaves and the variable state filter that begs for hitting more than just one note.

The desktop units are on a desk (surprise), while the Pro 2 and the Sub 37 are placed on an On-Stage KS7350 Pro Z-stand with an additional 2nd tier.

In conjunction with my now gone Prophet í08, I used a Moog EP-2 expression pedal and a Roland DP-10 sustain pedal. I use both pedals with the Pro 2 now, but will eventually plug them into the Prophet-6, since the Pro 2 has plenty of onboard controls already (with its touch sliders).

Controllers

Drum machines
I can only offer the Korg Volca Beats in this category. Itís super simple and sometimes I just like to fiddle around with it by itself in order to record some crazy automations, etc. I have a soft spot for its lo-fi-sound. I MIDI-mapped it for my Push controller, which makes a few things more flexible, and I customized a couple of EQ settings for my Volca Beats template in Ableton.

Hardware Effects
Currently, thereís only the Moog MF-104M Analog Delay. I got one of the very last ones. A purchase I always delayed until Moog announced its discontinuation this spring. It was damn expensive, but it also sounds like that. I tend to use the Mix Out (mixed signal) and Delay Out (only wet signal) outputs for faked stereo purposes. With a EP-3 expression pedal I mostly control the feedback amount.
As for everything else in the category delay and reverb, Iím happy with my plug-ins. But Iím planning to add a Strymon Big Sky at some point.

Guitars & Bass

Miscellaneous
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: dslsynth on October 22, 2015, 03:28:21 PM
[...] this means that my Waldorf Pulse, Pulse2 and MOOG Slim Phatty are going.... also my Waldorf Microwave are going, simply because I'm tired of older quirky synths.

Well Razmo if I was you I would keep these synthesizers and use what you got. Lots of GAO happens in your studio and soon you will find that you miss these instruments. As for the two old Waldorf machines you may even find them to be hard to get again. I would suggest thinking twice before selling them.
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Strange Quark Star on October 23, 2015, 05:48:46 PM
Wow, thanks for the interesting in-depth replies!

First, a few addendums since you brought up things besides strictly electronic instruments:

Electric Guitar
In February, I started playing guitar again and went electric this time. Having listened to Queen almost exclusively for a couple of months at that time, I chose the following:
Microphone
Headphones
Acoustic
Foot Controllers
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Strange Quark Star on October 23, 2015, 06:01:31 PM
@Razmo:

A setup consisting of almost the whole DSI/Sequential range! Can't wait to hear your future compositions on these  ;)
But I have to agree with dslsynth; perhaps you should keep one of you other synths for diversity's sake and to keep the remaining inputs filled until something truly better comes along?

You mentioned two MX400s for delay and reverb, but isn't one MX400 basically two MX200/300's in one? How do you use the four in-/outputs per unit? I'm also very curious about how you will compare the PCM92 to these. At six times the price of an already very good reverb, it should be in a whole other league.
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: BobTheDog on October 23, 2015, 11:08:57 PM
@Strange Quark Star

How do you find the Brian May guitar? I have always wondered what they are like.
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Razmo on October 24, 2015, 12:40:43 AM
@Razmo:

A setup consisting of almost the whole DSI/Sequential range! Can't wait to hear your future compositions on these  ;)
But I have to agree with dslsynth; perhaps you should keep one of you other synths for diversity's sake and to keep the remaining inputs filled until something truly better comes along?

You mentioned two MX400s for delay and reverb, but isn't one MX400 basically two MX200/300's in one? How do you use the four in-/outputs per unit? I'm also very curious about how you will compare the PCM92 to these. At six times the price of an already very good reverb, it should be in a whole other league.

I've thought about having the others until something else comes up, but hey... DSI equipment is darn expensive, so something has to pay for the Pro2 and Prophet 6  :D ... that's basicaly the reason. I'm close to being ready to get the Pro2, and have now finaly sold my EX5 too, which is almost the rest of the funds needed, and what I have left when the Pro2 have been paid, I'll keep until other stuff replace it.

For some reason I don't think my Microwave will go... nobody reacts on it though I've set the price about one third of what they go for on Ebay (when any are there at all!) ... it's backlight in the display has died, but I cannot believe that this should be the reason... so if this remains, I'll probably invest in a new display... just recently saw an OLED replacement on Ebay that I may buy and then replace it... when and if it'll be sold I'll just have to wait and see... I'm not lowering my price.

About MX400... yes... it basicaly is two modules in one, but one thing not so obvios is, that the MX400 can be set into "stereo" mode, which gives it the possibility to chain two stereo modules in parallel or serial routing... the MX300 only have one such engine... the Stereo configuration gives you many more parameters to work with, and that's the reason because I like to put reverb on my delay, or other combinations of FX... this configuration is not very clear in the manual, so I bet very few recognize the difference until they've actualy tried an MX400 out  ;)

With that said, I'm actualy selling one of them now because I'm doing layer recording... I only need one, as I can just switch FX on the fly when recording.... that's also why I want a PCM92... I want a prestine reverb for one, but also the PCM92 has a separate EQ after the FX which the MX400 do not, and I find this very important to shape the frequency spectrum of a reverb or delay... mostly to filter out too much lowend rumble that quickly add up in a mix... I could do that in SONAR allright, but I just want a PCM92... mostly for the better reverbs, more parameter control and 96KHz samplerate. I know it's expensive, but it's not more expensive than a DSI product, and I think it's wise to get as good an FX engine I can afford, when it's to be used on every synth I've got.
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: chysn on October 24, 2015, 08:19:54 PM
Having tons of gear never suited me, so I keep a minimalist studio.

My red Little Phatty sits upon my dear late grandma's antique side table. It goes through a Hall of Fame pedal into a Crate keyboard amp. This amp is 20 years old, but is peerless in tone. I love it.

Next to the side table, my Desktop Evolver sits on a Manhasset music stand, where its height and angle are fully adjustable. A Manhasset stand makes a beautiful Evolver platform; and in a pinch it can function as, you know, a music stand.

From here, usually standing, I play casually and work on sounds. I compose in Finale on a MacBook Pro. When I need to record, I export a MIDI file from Finale and drag it into Reaper, where I make one or more recording passes for each monophonc track.

I have a MicroBrute, which lives on my work desk, and is sort of a Swiss Army Knife of note entry for Finale, iPad soft synths, and CV sequencer. A snare-modded Volca Beats handles any drum duties, and usually gets paired with the Brute. I also have an Alesis MMT-8 for emergencies, because I think the MMT-8 is probably the best piece of non-synth MIDI gear yet conceived.
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: cr73645 on October 25, 2015, 04:40:26 PM
I'll try my best to keep this post small. A few of you made a very accurate overview of the whole setup, which is great, but I'm not making music for anything other than fun.

- Moog Little Phatty, Moog Sub Phatty, Mutable Instruments Anushri: mainly used for mono-synth lines, played either live, MIDIed or sequenced internally (Anushri). My favorite is surely the Little Phatty, and although there's an overlap with both Moog, I'll keep them. The Anushri is more of a jam box, with good Rolandish/SEM filter tone, a drum machines and some CV connectivity.

- Dave Smith Prophet 08 PE: my only analog poly. It does some pads, polysynth tones and a few other exquisite sounds. I once wanted to sell it to fund a P12, but not anymore. Just a little bit of reverb and chorus and this thing sings beautifully.

- Mutable Instruments Ambika: the most incredible synthesizer I own and played yet. It is capable of doing everything... I'm always amazed with it. It can act as 6 individual monosynths, a single 6 voice poly, or anything in between, with a very beautiful tone. It's the ultimate jam box. I can picture it inside an Analog Four-like box, selling millions!

- Novation Bass Station 2, Volca Bass and Volca Sample: this will be my portable synth setup. Will be, because I'm still waiting for two of them to come. Until now I only have the Volca Bass, an amazing synth for the size and money. Great aggressive filter with high resonances, which distorts with a very nice tone. Limited sequencer, but good enough!

Everything is connected with MIDI and audio, and recorded with Logic X. I also have a tiny controller (Keystation Mini) that allows me to use a few VSTs and an iPad (mainly Animoog and Loopy). In the end, I have a lot of toys for an enthusiast, but everybody knows that our only limit is space.

Cheers!
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Strange Quark Star on October 28, 2015, 07:42:04 AM
@Strange Quark Star

How do you find the Brian May guitar? I have always wondered what they are like.

Well, having started really playing electric guitar just this year I am not really in a position to judge on how it feels/handles/sounds in comparison to other guitars as this is my only one.

What I can say, though, is this: the guitar appears to be very well made, from the woodworking to the really solid hardware. No flaws that I can notice. It was almost perfectly in tune right out of the box and I can play it for weeks without retuning, even when using the tremolo arm a lot.
The pickup switches are a faithful reproduction and provide the full functionality of the original. When picking up a friend's guitar I feel that mine is much nicer to play, but the biggest factor in this seems to be the very light gauge strings mine came with, maybe the thicker neck. I went to the local music store recently and from my purely subjective and inexperienced view only the Gibson LP's starting from the Traditional series and up felt as nice or nicer; the few Strats I tried did not.

Anyway, it is a beauty to behold and I have much fun playing it. The still innovative coil switch wiring provides a huge flexibility in tone, allowing me to play lots of different styles.

Another thing worth mentioning is the chambered body. It makes the guitar sound very nice even when unplugged! Almost like an acoustic, just quieter.

So yes, I like it very much in my totally uneducated opinion.
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Strange Quark Star on October 28, 2015, 07:54:41 AM
Mutable Instruments Ambika: the most incredible synthesizer I own and played yet
It's a huge shame they stopped producing their stand-alone synths, especially this incredible Ambika. Would have loved to build one myself some day and tinker with its software!

Quote
Everything is connected with MIDI and audio[Ö]
Do you connect them all once? If so, do you have a MIDI interface with many ports, or use the MIDI-thru or perhaps a combination of MIDI and USB for the Moog synths?

I only have one simple USB/MIDI interface cable with one input and one output, and only one of my synths supports MIDI over USB, so instead of creating a complicated and inflexible mess of wires I usually only have one instrument interfaced with the DAW at a time.

Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Razmo on October 28, 2015, 08:59:05 AM
Shruthi-1 and Ambika are still being made, just by another company... search on Google for "TubeOhm", and you'll find both of them purchaseable  ;) ... even with some new filter boards available, like the MOOG filter for example, and also the Steiner Parker filter.
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: Strange Quark Star on October 28, 2015, 10:41:49 AM
Didn't know that, thanks! I'll be sure to take a look at their offerings.
Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: BobTheDog on October 28, 2015, 01:50:50 PM
@Strange Quark Star

How do you find the Brian May guitar? I have always wondered what they are like.

Well, having started really playing electric guitar just this year I am not really in a position to judge on how it feels/handles/sounds in comparison to other guitars as this is my only one.

What I can say, though, is this: the guitar appears to be very well made, from the woodworking to the really solid hardware. No flaws that I can notice. It was almost perfectly in tune right out of the box and I can play it for weeks without retuning, even when using the tremolo arm a lot.
The pickup switches are a faithful reproduction and provide the full functionality of the original. When picking up a friend's guitar I feel that mine is much nicer to play, but the biggest factor in this seems to be the very light gauge strings mine came with, maybe the thicker neck. I went to the local music store recently and from my purely subjective and inexperienced view only the Gibson LP's starting from the Traditional series and up felt as nice or nicer; the few Strats I tried did not.

Anyway, it is a beauty to behold and I have much fun playing it. The still innovative coil switch wiring provides a huge flexibility in tone, allowing me to play lots of different styles.

Another thing worth mentioning is the chambered body. It makes the guitar sound very nice even when unplugged! Almost like an acoustic, just quieter.

So yes, I like it very much in my totally uneducated opinion.

Sounds good, staying in tune is always a good indication that everything is set up well. This is pretty unusual nowadays straight out of the box!

I'm thinking of getting one for myself for Christmas so it is good to hear you are getting on with yours.

Title: Re: Share and discuss your electronic music-making setups!
Post by: cr73645 on October 28, 2015, 03:28:07 PM
Mutable Instruments Ambika: the most incredible synthesizer I own and played yet
It's a huge shame they stopped producing their stand-alone synths, especially this incredible Ambika. Would have loved to build one myself some day and tinker with its software!

Quote
Everything is connected with MIDI and audio[Ö]
Do you connect them all once? If so, do you have a MIDI interface with many ports, or use the MIDI-thru or perhaps a combination of MIDI and USB for the Moog synths?

I only have one simple USB/MIDI interface cable with one input and one output, and only one of my synths supports MIDI over USB, so instead of creating a complicated and inflexible mess of wires I usually only have one instrument interfaced with the DAW at a time.
I try my best to keep the mess organized. I rarely use all of them connected with MIDI, but when I do, usually is with MIDI Thru and USB MIDI with the ones available (now only my Moog synthesizers, and also a Nord Electro 4 73, used as a controller and piano/organ).

I also have a space problem, so I usually exchange what I'm using in my space. Sometimes I don't really need the Nord or even the DSI, and keep them in my closet. Sometimes I only need one of them. The cables are there, I just need to move the heavyweight guys. ;)

Nowadays,I'm trying my best to imagine what I need before I start recording. Sometimes, less is more.

As for the Shruthi and Ambika boards, I have to say that they're really amazing. My Anushri has a perfect filter sound, very similar to old SEM units. It's a beautiful tone. The Ambika is extremely versatile and powerful... I'd say that it is almost as good as the Prophet 12 on the oscillator section, but way better filter-wise, although it has some limitations. The Shruthi was the one I didn't have time to get... I really wanted one, but they were gone before I could get them from Mutable Instruments. I'm sure that I'll get one from TubeOhm soon......