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Synth Hardware and Software Emulation

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I'm in the market for some sort of keyboard/synth. My budget is flexible, but there are a few things that are definitely out of reach, such as the Korg OASYS. Having test-run a TRITON Studio I know that it has sounds of the sort I'm after, and superficially (as I didn't spend a lot of time at the store trying to edit presets) appears to be very programmable. There was no TRITON Extreme for me to try out, unfortunately; nor did the store have pricing information for me, but from the looks of things it seems to be something of a reduced version of the Studio, which might be easier to afford, but also might not do everything I want. I'm assuming because both the Studio and the Extreme list under specs as using Korg HI synthesis that they both have the same tone-generation capabilities. The unfortunate caveat with these products is that both of them have workstation functionality that, in the context of my current setup, is essenially redundant. For pure MIDI data it might be handy to have a sequencer on-board, but the impression I get is that these are basically gimped DAW setups. The TRITON Rack might be ideal, but I'll still have to purchase a keyboard controller. I have one, currently, but it doesn't belong to me, and lacks a hammer-based action. Other options under consideration would be something from the Yamaha Motif series (I can't currently access the site to view specs; but I've heard some impressive demo-tracks), or something from the Roland Fantom series; although generally I've been turned off of Roland products as being overpriced and underfunctional. (With a couple of exceptions being the GT-PRO and their Cube-30/60 practice amplifiers) Finally, the alternative is doing it in software. Reason has been on my list of things to buy for a while, or perhaps Native Instruments Reaktor is more suited to my task of having a complete synthesis engine on my PC. In this case, I see myself spending just as much money purchasing a synthesis/sampling program, and a number of sample CDs without having the benefit of well-crafted presets, and there's still the issue of a keyboard controller. Whatever route I end up taking is going to cost a fair chunk of cash; so I want to feel very confident in whatever decision I make. Without being able to actually take the instruments home for a couple weeks and see how they integrate into my current system, it's very difficult to tell how good a piece of gear will be by scanning spec-sheets. So; what would you buy? Here are my ideal specs:
  • High Quality Presets
  • I realize this is goal is somewhat in conflict with the idea of a more DIY approach, i.e. Reaktor and Sample CDs. Ideally, I'd have a good library of quality presets that I could tweak around to get the sounds I'm after.
  • Reasonably Economical
  • Like I said, the OASYS is out. It seems perfect for what I want (with the exception of the integrated DAW type features) but is just too much money. That being said, I'm still expending to spend a few grand, at least.
  • No integrated DAW
  • I'm not opposed to the idea of a hardware DAW; it just seems redundant. Sonar lets me accomplish tasks far quicker than any hardware studio I've worked with, and I choose to work with it instead of a hardware unit. I've looked at workstation keyboards simply because they seem to be the units with the best sounds and features.
  • Digital Output
  • This is pretty standard these days; but I don't want to buy a high-end synth just to have my signal colored by patch cable noise.
  • Built in high quality effects
  • Fairly self explanatory. Delays, modulators, and reverbs being the big ones. Distortion and compression are a bonus.
  • Good controller
  • I want something with 76 or 88 weighted/hammer-action keys. This might not become a reality, but it would be ideal. If something doesn't have it, I'd rather go for a rackmount unit, and get a better controller. One thing I've noticed from my research is that a lot of synths are still using 16bit samples. Is this considered the norm? I thought for sure we'd be using 24bit samples by now. Anyway; If anybody has any personal experience with any of this, has any reccomendations, I'd be overjoyed to hear your thoughts.

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    How about getting a Muse Receptor, a few great soft synths that install on it (there's a few ones included, and stuff like Absynth and FM7 will install on it) and a CME UF8 Weighted Hammer Action Controller Keyboard?

    Best of both worlds: expensive, but not debilitatingly so, independently usable "hardware synth", and the versatility of soft synths and an upgradable system.

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    Quote:
    Original post by MadKeithV
    How about getting a Muse Receptor, a few great soft synths that install on it (there's a few ones included, and stuff like Absynth and FM7 will install on it) and a CME UF8 Weighted Hammer Action Controller Keyboard?

    Best of both worlds: expensive, but not debilitatingly so, independently usable "hardware synth", and the versatility of soft synths and an upgradable system.


    The Receptor looks great; but not really what I'm after. At least, from what I've read it seems if I want to create something similar to the number of preset-voices available in a Korg/Yamaha/Roland product, I'll be doing a lot of work, purchasing some more soft-synths/samplers, and generally be subject to a lot more frustration then simply booting up a synthesizer with a bunch of fully-realized presets that I can then tweak.

    Thanks for pointing it out though; it looks like a really nifty unit that I'd have an application (and eventually, hopefully, a budget) for.

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    Guest Anonymous Poster
    try the virusTI

    http://www.turnkey.co.uk/web/productAction.do?dispatch=showProduct&SKU=ACCE-VIRUSTIK&context=WEB

    i cant recommend reaktor enough though.

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    Quote:
    Original post by Anonymous Poster
    try the virusTI


    I've been a fan of the Access Virus synths since the first Virus hit the market. They have absolutely great sounds. The I haven't had the chance to play with the recent TI, but when I looked at it's software integration, it was the first time I felt compelled to sell my Virus b and upgrade. Almost everybody I know working in Hollywood has a Virus synth somwhere in their studio.

    I've also been pleasantly surprised by many of the free software synths included with Logic Pro. Some of the sounds are surprisingly good and of a reasonably wide variety.

    If you really like the Korg Triton sounds and know that they are what you want, then you might even consider the Triton Rack. That way you don't get the redundant sequencer and you also have some expansion options.

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    I have Reason 3 and love it. It can do alot of great stuff and is worth the cash. I'm also a fellow Sonar user and agree with your stance on that. A DAW would be redundant.

    Lately, I've really gotten into East West. They are expensive- but completely worth it! I have been using their Quantum Leap Symphonic Orchestra for a while now and am completely pleased with it. Sure- it doesn't capture the entire ability of a real pro orchestra...but its the best thing I've been able to work with in a one man studio.

    I just purchased their Colossus package and that is a great set of everything. Check it out- they are having a great sale (50% off!!) Colossus right now on soundsonline.com

    I would recommend getting these two packages- and then you only really need a keyboard with good feel and action. Sonar and these sound libraries will take care of everything else.

    Best of luck!!

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