Recommend me a keyboard synth

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mo
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Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by mo » Tue Jun 04, 2013 5:35 pm

I've always been a terrible keyboard player. When I was 9 I had piano lessons for 6 months and the teacher eventually told my parents, "just leave him with the violin. He just doesn't get piano."

So, a few decades later, I'm looking to get back in the saddle here with a keyboard synth, something preferably not too expensive. I don't care about piano sounds particularly and I do want a lot of ability to get really screwed-up tones. Sound is of course a higher priority than price.

Recommendations?
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by Generic » Tue Jun 04, 2013 9:00 pm

I use a Yamaha MM6, and I've been quite happy with it. http://www.zzounds.com/item--YAMMM6

It's about $400-$500 new. Is that too much for you? I could poke around for something cheaper, but it wouldn't be anything I've got personal experience with.
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mo
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by mo » Wed Jun 05, 2013 9:21 am

Ok, I'm interested and will look about a bit for one in China. I know that I can get my hands on the Roland Gaia, which actually appeals to me the most right now just because its interface is knobs and sliders and not so many menus, which is just more intuitive for an old codger like myself.
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by foobar93 » Wed Jun 05, 2013 7:31 pm

FWIW, I really found it hard to play on a standard unweighted-key synth after a childhood of piano lessons. My first synth was a digital stage piano (the Yamaha P80) with reasonably realistic key action. For a while I played it as a regular piano, but then I switched to just using it to drive MIDI on a laptop (originally using Garage Band, later with Native Instruments plugins). Although I've since upgraded to better gear, I still think that's an awesome and inexpensive setup.
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by HeuristicsInc » Thu Jun 06, 2013 9:37 am

these days i've been mostly using a keyboard controller and softsynths. the controller i picked up is the SL Mk II. Great, except the only problem is that they don't provide a wall-wart for US power. There is one for British power. So I have to power it via USB. Or buy something overpriced from Radio Shack.
The softsynth I use most is Massive. It's got lots of knobs and sliders, but you need to move them via mouse, or map them to knobs on the controller (which I am far too lazy to have done). Only thing I miss in Massive is arpeggiation (it has rhythmic stuff but not arpegs).
For hardware synths, I have a keyboard-less Access Virus that I control via the controller and that has great sounds and arpegs.
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by signboy » Mon Jun 10, 2013 5:20 am

I've had a blast with the Roland SH-201. very analogue feeling with the controls, very intuitive to program, and the optical "whammy" is cool as hell. The only downside is that there are some options on it that SHOULD have a little lcd interface with menus, such as the sequencer. Aw, crap. I just looked around, and it looks like they don't make it anymore. The Gaia might be close. One thing to consider with Roland synths- while you CAN get good/cool/dirty/freaky sounds out of almost all synths, a Roland will need some steering to constantly keep it from sounding like the synth in "Jump".
Also, have a look around on ebay for an Alesis Andromeda.
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by ken » Mon Jun 10, 2013 8:57 am

I suspect the GAIA is what you are looking for, but have you considered the new Roland Juno? http://www.musiciansfriend.com/keyboard ... izer-white
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by mo » Thu Jun 13, 2013 7:09 am

Well I know I can get the GAIA in China; they sell it at the local music chain. I've been looking for other options and it looks like they are pretty hard to get out here, so I might need to wait until the next time I'm in a musical instrument-friendly country. There are plenty of keyboards here but they are all mostly electric piano types and not really synths. I did get the iPad NLog Pro synth just to have something to learn how to use the synths with. You know I had Reason for years but only used it as a drum machine or not at all. But you know, I'm definitely still old fashioned enough to dislike the digital interface even if I acknowledge the sounds are pretty useful (But don't get me started on amp sims for guitars. Although they sound decent enough for mp3 recording, I find them totally useless live and uninspiring even for practice).

Anyway the point being that I like the iPad NLog one, it actually sounds pretty decent. I'll have to pop by the Apple Store and get an actual keyboard for it though.

Anyone actually played the GAIA and have opinions on it?
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by ken » Thu Jun 13, 2013 8:39 am

Aren't most instruments made in China? Seems like you would be able to get anything you wanted there.
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by mo » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:08 am

Yeah, but what's made here and what's marked for export vs. domestic market are two different things. So there isn't actually a lot of available choice, especially in terms of non mass-market things like synths. I mean, for example Boss and Digitech pedals are pretty available and cheap here, but even with MXR pedals that are made here, you don't have the full line of selection. T Rex pedals you see relatively frequently. It's hard to find a full line of EHX pedals, usually you can only find like a Big Muff and a couple of the Nano line. A lot of the stuff that's made here is made for export, so they have to import it back into China, which also means a 50-100% markup due to customs taxes. It's ridiculous. So for keyboards there are only a few pro stores in Shanghai and of those, mostly they don't have synths, just keyboards which have ok piano sounds and horrible synth sounds--and forget trying to go analog.
mo
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by mo » Thu Jun 13, 2013 9:09 am

And don't even get me started on amps....

But if you want an Epiphone, the price is probably better here.
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Re: Recommend me a keyboard synth

Post by obscurity » Tue Jun 18, 2013 10:49 am

For 'not too expensive' but 'sound quality is more important than price', and the ability to go get really screwed up sounds, I would head directly for a blofeld keyboard. Downside is that it isn't a 'one knob per function' synth so you might bounce of it's user interface, but you should definitely check it out first - the UI is very well designed and the screen is nice and clear with graphical representations of the changes you are making. I own one and it's a pleasure to use.

As for the GAIA, I think that's basically an updated SH201 with a 3rd osc, in which case it uses the same VA engine as the vsynth which I also own, but I always go to the blofeld over the vsynth for VA stuff as it's just so much better at it.

Having said that, if you want *really* screwed up sounds, you should go for a second hand vsynth. Nothing else will come close.
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