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The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)

Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #40 on: May 19, 2018, 08:05:04 AM »
I'm thinking it's all about the user interface. The OP-1 has a terribly simplistic synthesizer engine, but it's easy and fun to access, and it sounds good. I suspect that the Yamaha QY was not so strong there. On the OP-1 you can get up and running quickly.

I suspect the Synclavier had a decent UI too, but as the instrument has a ton of depth, it would take a while to get good at using it.

Regarding the iPad, the power of the iPad is amazing, but the UI is not. All of the different apps are designed by different people. The iOS design guidelines do not unify the UI in all of the apps at least compared to the OP-1 interface. I find this terribly difficult to work with. Maybe if I stay within Korg Gadget I'd enjoy using the iPad more. I used Caustic on Android and was terribly unimpressed.

Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #41 on: May 19, 2018, 08:39:43 AM »
I must be having a bad day. Lots of "terriblys" in my last post.  :D

@dsetto, I sold my MoXF to get the Prophet '08. Are you using the sequencer on your Motif? I wonder if the workflow is the same as on the MoXF. I felt the MoXF was designed by committee to save the company money. Every operation took too many button presses, required me to go back and forth between the soft buttons and the buttons on the front panel, and didn't make sense. Such a shame really. Some of the sounds were hauntingly beautiful. I'll bet Yamaha put much more effort into their flagship.

dsetto

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Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #42 on: May 19, 2018, 09:23:24 AM »
I'm not using the sequencer. ... I find audio faster & more effective.

And I think this is at the core of this thread's truly significant question.

-- How many people want a production sequencer integrated into their instruments?
-- And why?

LoboLives

Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #43 on: May 19, 2018, 10:02:42 PM »
I'm not using the sequencer. ... I find audio faster & more effective.

And I think this is at the core of this thread's truly significant question.

-- How many people want a production sequencer integrated into their instruments?
-- And why?

I think it depends on the instrument in question for me. Something thatís multitimbral then yes. Why? Because itís nice to get away from a computer and not have to rely on a DAW. Same reason why I dig hardware midi sequencers.  I guess I just want to have a hardware midi sequencer and controller built into one system. Not having to hook an external controller up to a Carbon or Engine or whatever. In fact one of the main reasons I decided against the Montage is because of its lack of sequencer. For me I want the computer to or hardware recorder (be it reel to reel or digital) to record the audio. I just want to hit play and play some leads or chords over top while the sequence is gong, manipulate the hardware gear (filter cutoff etc) and adjust the mixer levels on the Soundcraft all while itís being captured as audio. Thatís why I likely wonít buy a synth without some kind of built in sequencer on board.

Iím not adverse to using a DAWís midi sequencer such as Ableton or Digital Performer but I just prefer to have it on board something like a Kurzweil or just anything multitimbral. Even if itís just 8 or 10 tracks.


Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #44 on: May 21, 2018, 04:47:34 PM »
I thought a lot about your question @dsetto and wondered if I had anything to add that I haven't said already.

I think that when I get inspired by a certain sound I first wonder what it would be like layered with some other voice. So I split the keyboard. Usually I soon want to lay down an arpeggiated line and combine it with a melody. The bitimbral DSI synths since the P12 have an onboard sequencer that can do that quickly.

Now if I want to chain sequences to form a real composition I need to switch to a DAW or start recording in audio or both. The disadvantage if working with audio directly is that it's not easy to seamlessly concatenate the individual sequences end to end. Using a DAW means I need to turn on my computer. Both can get in the way of the flow of ideas.

Having a production sequencer on the board can keep me on the keyboard longer. It doesn't eliminate friction, however:  you still need to specify the tempo and time signature.

If I have acoustic instruments, I'm going to make the transition to audio sooner than later. However if the synth is can handle more timbres than two, I can possibly finish the entire piece on the synth. If so, this is the experience with the least amount of friction, especially if the sequencer user interface is well designed.

Having said all of that, the best keyboard sequencer I have used was on the Ensoniq MR series and ZR series I mentioned earlier. I was writing music within minutes after first starting it up. The downside is that you couldn't edit the sounds from the front panel! What a shame.

LoboLives

Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #45 on: May 21, 2018, 09:51:26 PM »
I thought a lot about your question @dsetto and wondered if I had anything to add that I haven't said already.

I think that when I get inspired by a certain sound I first wonder what it would be like layered with some other voice. So I split the keyboard. Usually I soon want to lay down an arpeggiated line and combine it with a melody. The bitimbral DSI synths since the P12 have an onboard sequencer that can do that quickly.

Now if I want to chain sequences to form a real composition I need to switch to a DAW or start recording in audio or both. The disadvantage if working with audio directly is that it's not easy to seamlessly concatenate the individual sequences end to end. Using a DAW means I need to turn on my computer. Both can get in the way of the flow of ideas.

Having a production sequencer on the board can keep me on the keyboard longer. It doesn't eliminate friction, however:  you still need to specify the tempo and time signature.

If I have acoustic instruments, I'm going to make the transition to audio sooner than later. However if the synth is can handle more timbres than two, I can possibly finish the entire piece on the synth. If so, this is the experience with the least amount of friction, especially if the sequencer user interface is well designed.

Having said all of that, the best keyboard sequencer I have used was on the Ensoniq MR series and ZR series I mentioned earlier. I was writing music within minutes after first starting it up. The downside is that you couldn't edit the sounds from the front panel! What a shame.

One thing that always puzzled me....if DAWs are so popular...why does something like RADAR exist?

http://www.izcorp.com/products/radar/

I have an old Roland VS-2480 recorder and let me tell you it's pretty nice to have a dedicated system for recording. It's clunky but it still works. Still....Radar is well over $20-30k for it's system....is there a market these days for a dedicated computer system/recorder that has it's own synth engine/on board sounds and dedicated controller?

megamarkd

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Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #46 on: May 21, 2018, 11:44:11 PM »
There is something about a purpose made music product that keeps the user in the zone I guess.  I found using computers almost distracting due to them having so many purposes.  I like to have a box-per-function.  Sometimes two boxes.  Was running two of those Zoom 8 channel recorder until recently; replaced them with an AW4416.  I know I'm in the minority with my workflow, but meh, different strokes for different folks.  Funny thing the box vs boxes is a mate gets me around with my Microgranny for sampling sessions coz he's too cheap to pay for a granular synth plugin.

Thinking about the Synclavier, I remember Zappa made big deal about going around buying up all the bootlegs of his shows and digitally remastering them for rerelease.  I'm wondering if he used the Synclavier for the remastering?  I have a couple of copies of bootlegs from the Filmore East days and also bought a few of the Beat The Boots release and in my opinion a lot of the original bootleg recordings (even my tape copies) were better, though that's as much an indication of the ability of the engineer as it is the quality of the AD converters on whatever device they used.

Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #47 on: May 22, 2018, 04:31:57 AM »
Mike Thorne's got a few Synclavier production anecdotes on his site: https://stereosociety.com/production-commentaries
Sequential / DSI stuff: Prophet-6 Keyboard with Yorick Tech LFE, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Mono Evolver Keyboard, Split-Eight, Six-Trak, Prophet 2000

dsetto

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Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #48 on: May 22, 2018, 03:13:59 PM »
tumble - I hear you on keeping workflow friction low. Thatís probably one of the key aspects thatís at the heart of this threadís question.

For kicks, I just spent some time exploring my motif sequencer with a quickly on-board sampled/prepped piano I made last night. ... I get close to neat things. With a template ready to go, or if you're quick with finding sounds, it's great for super quick in-the-moment capture. Sequencer tempo change in that environment is fun. And then there are 2 banks of 8 mute buttons & volume sliders. So, that becomes fun for performance & re-envisioning. (I suppose this could be recorded and used from there.) ... But, I don't know how to edit & arrange with it. And, I don't want to learn. Seems like a chore. ... If I were to actually rely on this as a capture workflow, I'd need to learn how to properly track out using the 16 outs. ... And yet, there truly is a unique feeling to playing & capturing & adding in one box. I don't how to explain it. And a 16-part keyboard sampler allows for capturing a wide set. And while it's a good feeling, the drag of my ineptitude of arranging with it or exporting the isolated tracks keeps it - for me - as an alternative approach for another day. Ö At this moment, Iíd rather begin & end with the same arranging platform. Iím sticking with my XF because I enjoy its sound design features. I think Yamaha was smart with their evolution of the Montage: less arranging sequencer, more synth. And strangely, Iím wanting to keep my relic. ... Though Iím not one of them yet, Iíd imagine there are folks that make good use of in-board keyboard sequencers. I do pretend mine is a primitive Cubase on an midi-interface-specced Atari with a primitive screen, pre-mouse Texas Instruments era. So I go do audio on my DAW.

A hardware sequencer is kind of like a monophonic synthesizer. The comparitive limitation can be an opening. And its strength can be spellbinding.
« Last Edit: May 22, 2018, 03:23:54 PM by dsetto »

megamarkd

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Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #49 on: May 23, 2018, 03:23:14 AM »
A hardware sequencer is kind of like a monophonic synthesizer. The comparitive limitation can be an opening. And its strength can be spellbinding.

Bingo!  That's another reason for not wanting an all encompassing wonderbox (ie: music-computer).  That said, I got way too much hardware, or so I'm told ;)

I've wondered, with a maxed-out E-Mu Ultra if you couldn't do what a Synclavier?  128MB of ram is enough for about 10min of stereo in 44/16 and I have tried to master a track on my e5000 years ago.  Not that I really knew what I was doing and all the sample processing is not in realtime, so it was very much trial and error.
The on-board sequencer is terrible though, no editing at all in the box, it was what prompted me to get the Q-80 (I do miss that little black box).

dsetto

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Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #50 on: May 25, 2018, 09:21:21 AM »
Yesterday when taking a key sound in my workstation to the next level, I stumbled on an idea. Perhaps inspired by this thread, I said*, let's build a quick track to check out the sound in context. I repeated & built on what I'm comfortable at. I was able to quickly get a solid, good feel & sound thing going - with a midi sequencer. ... In a micro sense, I think the 480 ppqn quantizes my groove in a fine pop way. ... The next thing I personally have to get going is to steer clear from cheese. ... Cheese can't be inherent in the machine. Must be the man.

* to absolutely no one.

chysn

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Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #51 on: May 25, 2018, 09:41:31 AM »
What do you mean by "cheese" in this context?
Pro 3

Previous: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01, DSM03
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore2, Serum, Pianoteq
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

dsetto

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Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #52 on: May 25, 2018, 11:28:02 AM »
Cheese. Corny. Hackneyed. Not in a good way. Says the ego... ever battling Id, wants, tools & methods.

It relates to this thread's subject of modern versions of Synclavier, presets, and allocation of tools & 3rd parties in our creative processes.

Specifically: My workstation has its strengths and weaknesses. I have had to and continue to put in effort to attenuate multi-source cheese resonance. (From Man, machine, and folks that have populated "creation" morsels.)

However, integrity and commitment eclipses cheese criticism.

Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #53 on: May 25, 2018, 05:50:04 PM »
A hardware sequencer is kind of like a monophonic synthesizer. The comparitive limitation can be an opening. And its strength can be spellbinding.

Bingo!  That's another reason for not wanting an all encompassing wonderbox (ie: music-computer).  That said, I got way too much hardware, or so I'm told ;)

I've wondered, with a maxed-out E-Mu Ultra if you couldn't do what a Synclavier?  128MB of ram is enough for about 10min of stereo in 44/16 and I have tried to master a track on my e5000 years ago.  Not that I really knew what I was doing and all the sample processing is not in realtime, so it was very much trial and error.
The on-board sequencer is terrible though, no editing at all in the box, it was what prompted me to get the Q-80 (I do miss that little black box).

The E-mu Darwin was the HD recorder equivalent (though to be fair, the architecture was a bit different than the EIV); if you consider the requirements for a block-storage based audio sink, they're quite different than those required for a samples-in-RAM player.
Sequential / DSI stuff: Prophet-6 Keyboard with Yorick Tech LFE, Prophet 12 Keyboard, Mono Evolver Keyboard, Split-Eight, Six-Trak, Prophet 2000

Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #54 on: May 27, 2018, 08:38:35 PM »
@dsetto, thank you for writing up your impressions of using the Motif to capture ideas. I'm trying to remember what the MoXF was like, and I seem to remember having troubles with setting up the sound for each track, and that killed my flow (like, totally dude!) You had mentioned that "if you're quick with finding sounds, it's great for super quick in-the-moment capture." I don't believe I ever got to that part. I watched a Youtube video of this incredible musician laying down tracks on a Motif, but he had the sounds set up already.

This is where the Ensoniq MR was incredible. Normally you audition sounds using category selector and patch selector knobs. When you find a sound you like you tap "Send Sound" and then tap the track number. That assigns the sound. Then you hit Record + Play to record the part. That's pretty natural and doesn't require a lot of training.

Arranging was crazy simple too. You get a number of sequences. You can select which sequence you're working on by tapping the corresponding sequence button. When you want to create a song you hold down the song button and tap the sequences in the order you want, for example 1 2 1 2 3 1 2 for a standard ABABCAB form. Again, not a lot of training necessary.

I've heard people complain that you can't edit the sequence on the Ensoniq, which is something that I don't really care so much about as long as I can punch in, punch out, and step record. There's nothing like MIDI event editing to kill that flow.

Anyway I feel the Ensoniq MR was a high point of a UI for music composition. An additional feature was that the keyboard would remember all of your noodling (up to 32KB), and if you decided that something you just played was worthwhile you could send it to the sequencer and build a composition based on it. Brilliant!

I find your comments on "cheese" very interesting. You're taking full responsibility for the cheese factor while at the same time acknowledging the Motif's role. The MoXF had a bunch of arpeggiators that were pure cheese. I had a ball discovering all of the different arpeggiators for the different patches. Then I got tired of them. When I wanted to create my own stuff they just got in the way. I think arpeggiators sell a lot of keyboards, but a great instrument needs to have great sounds not great arpeggiators. Just having them associated with a patch pulls the musician in a trite direction. So I blame the machine not the man!

Sorry this post had nothing to do with the Synclavier. The only thing I can say is that when you take something like the Ensoniq and add sampling, audio recording, and mastering you get a very complex beast indeed. The UI for that used to be a recording studio. Now it's a DAW.

Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #55 on: July 20, 2020, 01:08:05 PM »
Sitting in the train, I just hat time to read about the Synclavier.

Am I missing something? But I can't see what this sing does, that a Kronos couldn't do? A Kronos has a Sequencer, it can do Sampling, FM, you could produce Songs with it to that point where you burn your title on a USB-CDROM drive.

I really don't get it. Please enlighten me ;-)

Yes, the Kronos is particularly suited to emulate a Synclavier!

(Been researching on the Synclavier for a couple days now, and ran across your unanswered post).

1) One special aspect to designing sounds on the Synclavier is its implementation of additive synthesis.  You have up to 24 harmonics to dial in, although many patches use far fewer than that.  This was because of a more interesting way to alter a sound's color:  Each of those harmonics can be subject to FM... in other words, each additive harmonic is basically a 2-op FM unit!  And for each carrier or modulator, you can choose waveforms other than sine (tri, squ, saw, pulse).  Moreover, you can select the phase for each of them... changing the phase of an FM modulator significantly affects the resultant sound.  And of course there was an envelope for each modulator so the partials can evolve over time and via real-time controllers.

2) But besides using simple waveforms when designing a patch on the Synclavier, you can also use samples.  There are 12 "partial timbres" (oscillators), per Syn patch.  If you assign a sample to one of these oscillators, you yet have the ability to apply FM to it.  Sound familiar?  (It's Yamaha's RCM synthesis found on the SY/TG77).

3) Another nifty trick is the use of "frames" in its partial timbres.  The manual refers to the frames in a movie as an analogy, but you can also see them as "steps" in a parameter sequencer.  For each partial timbre (oscillator), you can sequence the individual harmonic volume or FM amount, and choose how long to crossfade between each step into the next.  Outstanding control of a timbre.

 :o

All of the above synth techniques can be done in the Kronos MOD7 engine! 

What a Kronos cannot do is render MIDI in music notation or analyze then resynthesize a sample using additive FM. 

But to be fair, even NED's own Synclavier Go! app cannot do these...
Moog One <> Prophet Rev2 16V <>  Andromeda <> Kronos 61 <> Nord Stage 2 HA76 <> Integra 7 <> Minilogue XD module <> Blofeld desktop <> Behringer Model D <> Minitaur <> Slim Phatty <> Matrix 1000 <> Micron <> Privia PX-5S <>  MODX7 <> TG77 <> ASM Hydrasynth <> Perform VE <> FCB1010

jok3r

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Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #56 on: July 20, 2020, 04:31:08 PM »
Wow, I already forgot about this post from two years ago  ;D

So I'm not completely wrong, when I say, the Kronos is the hardware instrument that comes closest to a Synclavier?
Prophet Rev2, Novation Peak, Arturia DrumBrute Impact, Korg Kronos 2 88, Kurzweil PC 361, Yamaha S90ES

Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #57 on: July 22, 2020, 07:59:19 AM »
psionic11,

Is such additive technique you describe hard to do on the Kronos?  Those workstations always looked intimidating to me  ;)
 So I've tried with some limited success getting the additive sounds I want with the P12 and making use of the 8 oscillators in stack mode to get the first 8 most important partials.  But the process of doing that is sort of a pain.  I noticed Novation recently added the ability to add in partials (and phase) into their new wave editor for Summit.  You just draw them in.  If you carefully draw in the relative heights (as that which you would see in an oscilloscope spectrum of a particular sound you crave) then you end up with a reasonable representation of that sound.  It's a little tedious as well, but pretty neat.
DSI Equipment: Poly Evolver Keyboard, Evolver desktop, Prophet 8,  Pro-2, OB6, P-12
 

https://Soundcloud.com/wavescape-1

Re: The Synclavier (are there any modern equivalents?)
« Reply #58 on: July 22, 2020, 01:33:14 PM »
It may be possible on a PC4 or Forte (with the new FM engine) to emulate a Synclavier... I'm going through the manuals to see, as I don't own either.

As well as watching videos, I just got Synclavier Go! for my iPad Pro, which is connected via USB to my Kronos.  Makes it easy to play the Go!, to compare its sound to the Kronos, try out FX, and to examine the partial timbre parameter values to guide my emulation attempts.

I'm using the MOD7 engine in the Kronos. This is the FM engine that can also load in 6-operator DX7 patches, but the individual oscillators don't have to be tied together into an algorithm.  Each program has 2 engines, so that means a MOD7 program can generate 12 different sine waves. I made 6 programs called

Add 1-12
Add 13-24
Add 25-36
Add 37-48
Add 49-60
Add 61-64 (engine only goes up to 64th harmonic)

An oscillator's ratio goes from 1 to 64, which correspond to the natural harmonic series.
In those programs, the 12 harmonics are assigned to 6 sliders and 6 knobs.

In order to have access to all 64 harmonics at once, I arranged the programs in a Combi.
In that Combi, each program has its own volume slider, making it an additive monster, a kind of hyper drawbar organ.  For example, I can lower the volume of just the Add 25-36 program, etc. 

And yet, I can still access each program's own individual sliders and knobs while in the combi,* so I have pretty quick access to all 64 harmonics. 

(*For Kronos owners, go to the combi's Control Surface and select the Tone Adjust tab/button.  On the upper right of the screen, you can choose which Timbre (program) to make active so that the sliders and knobs now control those parameters.)
 
=======

I made a MOD7 UI in MidiDesigner, and I know that each phase parameter has its own SYSEX value, but I didn't include that in my UI because it's not something you'd normally want to access in real-time.

Or so I thought until now.

Watching various Synclavier videos has inspired me in the usual way... "ooh, can I do that on the Kronos?". Now I'm entertaining the thought of making another MOD7 UI, but based on the Synclavier layout. MOD7 has most all the ingredients, even going so far as using the step sequencer to emulate the Synclavier's frame by frame option. For FM'ing samples by frame, I'll have to step outside MOD7 and use the Wavesequencer piped into a MOD7 engine (which can receive audio IN). Thankfully the WS also spits out SYSEX.

I think I'll call the UI...... Synkronos.  Or maybe Synkronier is better?  What do you think? ;)

« Last Edit: July 22, 2020, 01:51:34 PM by psionic11 »
Moog One <> Prophet Rev2 16V <>  Andromeda <> Kronos 61 <> Nord Stage 2 HA76 <> Integra 7 <> Minilogue XD module <> Blofeld desktop <> Behringer Model D <> Minitaur <> Slim Phatty <> Matrix 1000 <> Micron <> Privia PX-5S <>  MODX7 <> TG77 <> ASM Hydrasynth <> Perform VE <> FCB1010