Some help on a possible new instrument

Dear lazyweb,

As you know, it’s not in my style filling PlanetKDE with non-KDE related stuff, but this time I really need some help from the community, as I know that there are some good musicians around you.

I’m about to buy a synthesizer, since we’re adding some electronical influences in our band (we’re mostly playing rock music). So, here it comes. I need something on a decent budget, with good action on the keys (I’m quite choosey as a pianist), and decent piano, strings, and lead sounds (square and sawtooth are the sounds that intrigue me the most at the moment, but I’m opening to a new world in which I’m quite ignorant).

I would use it with piano sounds, and with synth sounds, mostly to harmonize guitar parts (such as solos). I would let you taste a sample of our latest work but it’s still in the studio. Anyway, this synth should be suitable especially for live performances and optionally for composing.

At the moment, my choice for budget and everything is the roland Juno-G. It fits my budget and it looks like it will fit my needs as well.

Here’s the question: any advice on this being a good/not bad/worst ever choice? Any other synths you would recommend me?

~ by Dario on 23 June, 2009.

7 Responses to “Some help on a possible new instrument”

  1. Ok, here’s the big question: Are you willing to use real hardware synths ?
    If is not the only option, as your pianinst background, and knowing you’re a computer guy, today i would go for a a heavy key/semi weighted speed pressure with piano like controller + external audio card and soft synths. I would go to a m-audio ProKeys Sono-88 that already have the audio part for you, or if you need blngs and bleeps as a modern eletronic live show, AxiomPro61 that have more resources than we you would need and would be cheaper enough related to Juno to spare a few bucks to the external sound card. The magic bahind this setup is that you have plenty of free high quality soft synths on the internet, even piano, so you would not be stucked with Roland sounds only.

    But, if you want a hardware based one, Juno-G is really a good choice. At same price level there’s the Yamaha MO-6 and Korg X-50, first one being a production synth, and second one a more a gig synth packed with features.
    A third option, very good one i would say, is going to used keyboards. If USB is not a required thing, you keyboard is named Ensoniq TS-12. Is tour ready, solid rock construction, heavy weight keys and you can find cheap anmd in a good shape in the used sales place.
    Hope i helped.

  2. Depending if you’re having another workstation or not with pianos i would recommend you a Virtual analog synthetiser like the Nord Lead 2x or a Waldorf Blofeld, they are really good synthetizer and have functions dedicated to synthesis. I myself am wondering to buy one of those 2 to put with my Kurzweil PC3X. You can get with me in email and I will help you. If you have a bigger budget you can also look at the Nord Wave, Virus Ti and DSI Prophet 08.
    This is all depending if you have another workstation to fullfil the pianos, organs, strings, etc…
    The Nord lead 2x as a great pitch stick everyone praises about it. And The waldorf blofeld is the most advanced budget virtual analog synth, you can even put samples into it which is a great thing.
    There are also other more budget synths like the korg x-50, alesis micron ( which is great btw ), Roland sh-201, Korg Radias, Korg microKorg, novation XIOsynth.

    The thing is that you have to try them. But i still say get more money and buy one of the first 2 since when you will get into more advanced sound you will want to do advanced thing it will be easier to do and more fun to work with ( and getting into advanced thing is not long ).

    To Use VST on stage you must make sure your computer is really stable, but it is another avenue but i do not recommend it.

  3. Wow, thanks for your answer. Ok, so.

    Going software is something I thought as well, since it would give me a lot of flexibility for the money. Also, I already own a nice FA-101, so I’d go for MIDI routing to the FA-101, HW processing and audio signal back from the FA-101 to the stage. Although, going hardware is a bit more fascinating. But again, the Axiom Pro 61 looks really cool. Decisions, decisions.

    I’ll surely look into & try the X-50 and and the Ensoniq.

    Well, Pierre, that would be my only and first workstation (consider thatt I’m not looking into a complete solution, more a nice addition to some rock stuff).

    I have already looked into some of your suggestions (Xiosynth and microKorg) so I’m happy to know I’m on the right path 🙂 Surely, the solution of waiting another bit and get more value for more money is definitely clever. So I’ll go ahead and try each of your suggestions. Thanks also for the advice on the VST.

  4. (I meant SW processing)

  5. Roland’s sample based synths are absolutely brilliant at reproducing sounds and I think my band would lynch me if I ever so much as thought of getting rid any of my roland gear. The pianos and strings are just superb. They’re not so good making inventive electronic wobbles, but are ok at reproducing classic synth sounds.

    A heavyweight hammer action keyboard is often more of a hindrance if you’re playing patches that don’t sound like piano, so a semi-weighted waterfall action (like the Juno-G) may be the better choice if it doesn’t feel cripplingly alien.

    The Korg X50 is thinner sounding than the Roland, but can cut through the mix better. The X50 and its big brother, the Triton, seem quite popular with more contemporary sounding bands. IIRC Dragonforce’s Vadim Pruzhanov uses an X50 both for its own sounds, and as a controller keyboard for MIDI equipment. I think the X50 is a bit cheaper than the Juno-G so you could put the difference towards an analog modelling synth module and control if from the X50, as that’s where square/triangle wave heaven can be found.

    Having stuff running on a PC during a live performance is a bit risky, so avoid it if you can, we tend to leave PC running rosegarden to drive the drums and whatever synths we don’t have enough hands to play, and keep whatever synths are being played live and their controller keyboards on a separate midi chain.

    Keep an eye out for midi synths being sold for relatively small amounts, especially by small shops that aren’t really sure what they are or how to make them work, the Waldorf MicroQ pretty much everything Novation ever made, Korg MS200Rs and sometimes roland JP8080s can be stumbled on if you keep your eyes open.

  6. I had a Roland keyboard, I don’t remember the model but it cost about $1200. The sound was great but the keyboard and push buttons were crap. I was constantly tearing it apart and trying to clean the little rubber contacts but the way the whole thing was constructed it was almost impossible to get apart and put together. The boards and ribbon cables were all entwined with each other and the keyboard. They may have improved, but I will never buy another roland instrument. They work great in the store, not so great a year later.

  7. How about going software and FOSS? ZynAddSubFx is free and very capable. (hope I don’t miss your goal completely by suggesting this) Try it out to see what it can do, its already in most repositories.
    Also, it has just been revived from a long hiatus, and is getting a code cleanup and new Qt GUI (done by me) in the near future. Just thought I’d grab the chance since the topic of synths came up.

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