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Desktop/Module synth recommendation

Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« on: March 02, 2021, 08:00:38 PM »
Here is one of the questions that has no real answer, but perhaps will provide some ideas for me to look at. On other forums (lookiní at you gslutz), this would be met with some, umm, cynicism, and probably rightly so. But people here are definitely a cut above.

Ultimately, this is really just a thinly disguised excuse to buy a synthesizer, so I think everyone can get on board with this. It would be cool, though, if it resulted in a synth that meets some desires/expectations.

I share synth duties at my church and would like to supplement the keyboard with some different sounds. The music at our church probably can be described as ďpopĒ in sound for the most part (think Chris Tomlin style for those into this genre). It is piano driven (very nice 7 foot Yamaha grand). A small orchestra sometimes (trumpet, trombone, French horn, a couple violins, clarinet). And a pretty decent Yamaha drum kit to keep things in sync. My wife plays the drums and is much cooler than I am (worthless bit of data here but just sayiní in case she reads this).

The keyboard at the church is a Yamaha S90 XS (88 keys, weighted, old motif type sounds). I helped pick it out some years ago, so even though I am not a fan of it now, I canít really complain. The synth player is really mostly expected to play big pad chords and fill in the base (and bass) sound behind everything. I sometimes bring in my Prophet 6 and use that to provide a different sound than what the S90 can do. I always end up just setting the P6 by my side but slightly out of reach and using MIDI to play it from the Yamaha S90. There really isnít enough space to do anything different. And changing up the workflow isnít practical given that it is a shared duty and the other synth players (while excellent musicians) are not really into the technical side of keyboards.

So the ideal synth would be some kind of smaller desktop style module that is portable and can do nice pads. My Prophet 6 is pretty great for this, but there are shortcomings. First, the keyboard version is not helping me in this environment. Plus I think it confuses most people in the church. WHY DOES HE HAVE THAT KEYBOARD THERE AND NEVER PLAY IT? The black magic of MIDI is beyond the average person as it turns out). But it also does make the transport that much more difficult (remember that I am looking for a synth buying excuse here). But there is also the tuning issue. Iím not sure if my P6 has issues, but this last week was a good of example of it being a PITA. We had a practice on Wednesday. And it was tricky to get tuned to the piano. I ended up working with it after (using a tuner app on my phone) and realized it the pitch wheel was whacked out. I recalibrated that and got it back to where it needed to be. Then on Sunday, I had to recalibrate the synth at the start of practice. And by the end of practice, it was off again. I ran the recalibration again and got it back on pitch. And I tested after the service and it was still on pitch ... but yikes. That is more pressure than I need. I donít have a good ear for pitch and so donít know if the keyboard is off while I am playing, but the other musicians there do. They are professionals (as in they make their living as musicians). I am a software engineer ... Ďnuf said.

So that entire previous paragraph was meant to convey my reticence with using an old school analog synth in this situation. I want something that I can be sure is going to be spot on with respect to tuning. But ... I really want someone to explain to me why the new Prophet 10 module is the exact one I need and wonít have this problem. :) You can see where my desires lead me.

So some of the basic needs/wants/requirements driving this:
 - Portable, keyboard not useful, so desktop/module unit
 - Pads are the main need. Perhaps a monster pipe organ sound for a hymn but not required.
 - Fit in with my P6 at home and my Nord Stage 88
 - Lots of blinking lights to look cool (hehe - just kidding ... well okay I do like lights)

I am, of course, really thinking that I want some kind of Sequential/DSI type of synth. I so love the sounds. Things I have looked at:
 - P12 module. I better hurry. Can I still get one?
 - P10 rev4. Mmmmmm. But will it have tuning issues in the middle of a church service?
 - Rev2 module. This seems like a solid choice.
 - Access Virus. Some of the pad sounds are pretty nice. But Armin Van Buuren doesnít go to my church.
 - John Bowen Solaris module. The idea of this is super cool. The sounds I have heard donít inspire me. But ... man this seems so super cool. Did I say super cool already? But it kind of sounds like my old Yamaha DX7.
 - Nord Wave 2 desktop. Sadly, this doesnít exist. I do like Nord products, though.
 - Sequential OB6. Wow this would be great, but Iím not sure it would fit in our church style. Maybe?
 - Your choice here. What would you recommend?
« Last Edit: March 02, 2021, 08:04:45 PM by markwilkins »

Re: Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« Reply #1 on: March 03, 2021, 05:15:26 AM »
Novation Peak should also make the list.

Re: Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« Reply #2 on: March 03, 2021, 06:29:27 AM »
I'd consider the Sequential Rev2, Novation Summit, or the Modal Electronics Cobalt 8M Module
The Musical Synthesizer YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLGwGiRVs7rlZXnOG9_mUw

The Musical Synthesizer Blog: https://themusicalsynthesizer.wordpress.co

Re: Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« Reply #3 on: March 03, 2021, 06:37:45 AM »
Novation Peak should also make the list.

This does look/sound promising. I have seen the name and am aware of it but had never actually looked at one (where "look" means search the interwebs and watch youtube videos). But it does indeed appear to be a strong contender.

Re: Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« Reply #4 on: March 03, 2021, 08:45:34 AM »
I meant the module forms, of course.  And the Peak, not the Summit.
« Last Edit: March 03, 2021, 08:49:53 AM by Sacred Synthesis »
The Musical Synthesizer YouTube Channel:
https://www.youtube.com/channel/UChLGwGiRVs7rlZXnOG9_mUw

The Musical Synthesizer Blog: https://themusicalsynthesizer.wordpress.co

Re: Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« Reply #5 on: March 04, 2021, 07:48:36 PM »
I'd consider the Sequential Rev2, Novation Summit, or the Modal Electronics Cobalt 8M Module

Thanks for the additional recommendation on the Novation (Peak). Iím glad I asked my novel-length question here. Otherwise I would not have looked at it; I am thinking the Novation might possibly be a really good choice for me. The only practical option for me to ďdemoĒ any of these is via the internet unfortunately. So I feel I am missing some of the appeal of the Rev2. I really want it to be my favorite, but all of the videos and sound clips are leading me to the Novation at the moment.

Assuming I do indeed buy the Novation (or something), I will follow up here with a rave review of whatever I end up with. It takes me a long time to reach a real verdict on anything, so my initial default reaction is to be super pleased with new things.

jg666

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Re: Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« Reply #6 on: March 05, 2021, 03:22:21 AM »
When I bought my Rev2 a few years ago, I also had a play with the Peak at the same time. My thoughts at the time were

1) The Rev2 factory patches sounded much better to my ears than the Peak

2) I found it a lot easier to create nice sounding patches myself on the Rev2. I hadnít played around with either before that day so it was an indication of the ease of getting a decent sound out of the Rev2 (for me anyway)

3) The Novation Peak is a much deeper synth which allows you to do a lot more in the long term.

4) They are both great synths :)
DSI Prophet Rev2, DSI Pro 2, Moog Sub37, Korg Minilogue, Yamaha MOXF6, Yamaha MODX6, Yamaha Montage6

Re: Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« Reply #7 on: March 05, 2021, 11:32:03 AM »

So some of the basic needs/wants/requirements driving this:
 - Portable, keyboard not useful, so desktop/module unit
 - Pads are the main need. Perhaps a monster pipe organ sound for a hymn but not required.
 - Fit in with my P6 at home and my Nord Stage 88
 - Lots of blinking lights to look cool (hehe - just kidding ... well okay I do like lights)

I am, of course, really thinking that I want some kind of Sequential/DSI type of synth. I so love the sounds. Things I have looked at:
 - P12 module. I better hurry. Can I still get one?
 - P10 rev4. Mmmmmm. But will it have tuning issues in the middle of a church service?
 - Rev2 module. This seems like a solid choice.
 - Access Virus. Some of the pad sounds are pretty nice. But Armin Van Buuren doesnít go to my church.
 - John Bowen Solaris module. The idea of this is super cool. The sounds I have heard donít inspire me. But ... man this seems so super cool. Did I say super cool already? But it kind of sounds like my old Yamaha DX7.
 - Nord Wave 2 desktop. Sadly, this doesnít exist. I do like Nord products, though.
 - Sequential OB6. Wow this would be great, but Iím not sure it would fit in our church style. Maybe?
 - Your choice here. What would you recommend?

Those are all overkill for this use case IMO.  I mean you can't go wrong with a Dave Smith synth ever, but I wouldn't lug one back and forth for a church gig myself.  Too many chances for it to get damaged/stolen/lost, and it's not like anyone but you will even care that it's a DSI.

Frankly you could run any number of very cheap apps from an iPhone/iPad that would more than satisfy your needs.  In fact, Alchemy within Garageband on iOS would be amazing for this, and you can use the touchscreen in it's morph pad to morph between 8 different timbres per patch.  If I were you, that's what I would do.

If you must have a non-phone/tablet device, then I'd suggest a Micromonsta 2.  Very affordable, very small, sound amazing.

If the church is paying for it and you just want an excuse to get a desktop synth on someone else's dime, then I'd go with the P10 rev4 or OB6 all day.  IMO the P12 really benefits from more knobs, even if the UI for the desktop is quite good.  And the Virus... I just can't recommend a product from any company that has sat on it's ass for 10 years.
« Last Edit: March 05, 2021, 11:37:48 AM by proteus-ix »

LPF83

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Re: Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« Reply #8 on: March 05, 2021, 11:52:45 AM »
  And the Virus... I just can't recommend a product from any company that has sat on it's ass for 10 years.

I got the impression the OP isn't interested in the overall Virus sound, but if that's even a consideration I'd look at the Waldorf Kyra.  They were on sale for $1999 some time back.  Then again maybe Iridium should be on the list.
Prophet 10, Prophet 6, OB-6, Prophet 12m, Prophet Rev2-16, Moog SlimPhatty, Korg Minilogue XDm, Roland SPD-30, Roland SPD-SX Special Edition, Roland KT-10, Maschine, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 3rd Gen + Octopre, Strymon Pedals, Cubase Pro 11.

Re: Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« Reply #9 on: March 05, 2021, 07:24:59 PM »
@proteus-ix regarding using iPad type of soft synth: That is a very practical and probably really good solution. I hadnít been thinking of that, so itís a good call out. However, Iím using this exercise partially as an excuse to buy myself another relatively good synth. So I like your recommendation for the P10 better :)  I do think that would be ideal for what I want aside from cost. But since I have a P6, Iím thinking something with a little less overlap makes sense in the near term for me (for use outside of the church gig). I do fully intend to eventually own a P10 rev4. Next time around maybe. And I will take a look at the Micromonsta; itís another one Iíve never heard of. I am apparently not well versed in what is available these days.

Re: Desktop/Module synth recommendation
« Reply #10 on: March 07, 2021, 04:32:06 PM »
I got the impression the OP isn't interested in the overall Virus sound, but if that's even a consideration I'd look at the Waldorf Kyra.  They were on sale for $1999 some time back.  Then again maybe Iridium should be on the list.

Thanks for mentioning this. Iíve been listening to various samples/demos of the Iridium over the last couple of days now. Iíve been vaguely aware of the Quantum but have never really investigated. This certainly has some appeal to me. Something to keep in mind in the future.

I have placed an order for a Novation Peak. It seems like it will fit the niche use I am targeting (church gig) but should also be a nice complement to my P6 and Nord Stage. Regardless of how it gets used, Iím sure I will have a wonderful time playing with it and tweaking sounds. Thanks to those who suggested looking into it.