Beginner (First) Synth

Whizzinby

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TGF Recording Artist
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School me lords of the synth.

Subtractive, additive, FM, wavetable, digital vs analog, (not this debate again with another instrument) mono, Poly o_O

What are the features that count, brands I should be looking for? (Or avoiding)

Looking for something relatively compact, and decent for a beginner with some room to grow so I’m not churning too soon.

Preliminary dive into this is pointing to something like the Korg Minilogue XD. Thoughts on it as a starter synth?
 
I have that korg. It's cool. Sounds good, pretty easy to learn. fairly good amount of ways to tweak the sounds. The size is nice. Def a good one to start on.

I also have an arturia microfreak that is fun. Touch pads instead of keys. Its pretty straight forward to get started but there are still more things I need to learn on it. Very cool sounds even without knowing everything and it was cheap too.

Something else to look at is a groovebox/sampler that can control and run your synths. I'm just getting started in this area too but it's tons of fun to get even a basic beat started and then have your synth right there to play a melody or solo over.

So many cool devices out there. I wish I had ventured into this realm sooner. Very fun way to get lost for a bit.
 
Something else to look at is a groovebox/sampler that can control and run your synths. I'm just getting started in this area too but it's tons of fun to get even a basic beat started and then have your synth right there to play a melody or solo over.

I’ll do some YT “research” on grooveboxes.

Is sampler sorta the equivalent to a looper in guitar-verse? I wasn wondering about that, because it would be cool to layer some stuff.
 
I'd recommend getting something polyphonic. You'll want to play with more than one
finger and chicken pecking the thing to death at some point. :LOL:

Yeah I don’t know much, but I do know I want something polyphonic. The minilogue XD is 4 poly.
 
Holy crap @ grooveboxes.

I was watching a demo of the Roland MC 707 and sweet jeebus. That looks amazing. I sorta like the idea of actually playing, and with real keys, which is the only turnoff for something like that, but being able to shortcut in chord mode, create drum loops with the pads with the moving track bar. That basically looks like a complete electronic production box. Badass.

Everyone in the comments though was talking about Deluge, so I looked at that, and that is mind blowing. Like a physical representation of a DAW with the fully colored moving grid. Truly stunning, but it seems like electronic music manifestation of (relating back to guitar) the Meris LVX, a dork pedal you have to read a 732 page manual to figure out. Awesome but I need to stay far away from jumping in with something like that.

I almost don’t want to go back to looking at “boring” synths after looking at those grooveboxes :ROFLMAO:

It’s truly amazing the gear that is out there.
 
Sampler means you can take a sample of something and play it back on command. I guess the word i should have used is sequencer which is like a looper but you can actually lay out what you want for every beat of the loop either by tapping it out or programming it in. I'm still new at all this too so take everything i say with a grain of salt and know it could be wrong lolololol.

The groove box I just got which was pretty cheap has a polyphonic synth built in which is pretty cool, albeit probably not the best one ever, but it's still nice to have in something so small that can also control 2 other synths and that also has a drum machine.


I agree though, the level of crazy good products out there and all the millions of things they can do is amazing. To be able to think of all that is amazing let alone program and design it into a device. Really interesting stuff!
 
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I picked up a Hydrasynth recently and it's been hours and hours of fun. The UI is a nice combination of menus and physical controls and the signal flow is layed out on the front which is very easy to udnerstand. The built in effects are excellent as well. They recently released a mini version called the Explorer with all the same sounds but a smaller key bed, and the retail price is around the same price as the minilogue.

 
Whizzin in 6 months-

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I picked up a Hydrasynth recently and it's been hours and hours of fun. The UI is a nice combination of menus and physical controls and the signal flow is layed out on the front which is very easy to udnerstand. The built in effects are excellent as well. They recently released a mini version called the Explorer with all the same sounds but a smaller key bed, and the retail price is around the same price as the minilogue.


Yeah that’s what my “research” is pointing to, the Minilogue XD or Hydrasynth Explorer. The latter seemingly a touch more broody and vintage digital.

I’m thinking of pairing either with Novation Circuits Tracks, for drum beats and sequencing. (Which of course immediately goes beyond “a simple first synth”, apparently my guitar gear degeneracy applies to other mediums. :ROFLMAO: )
 
the tracks is amazing. its my new favorite thing. i bring it to work and use it on my lunch break. if you get one make sure to head over to the novation page, there are additional free packs you can download with more sounds than just the factory ones.

That’s awesome. Sounds like I’m on the same path you were on.

Do you know if it has a “chord” mode? I’d be looking to sculpt on a dedicated synth, but that might be cool to be able to lay a base melody quickly. (Which was something I loved in the Roland MC 707 demos, but going that hard on a synth + groove box out of the gate is venturing into “new guy buys a JCM800 + Full Stack before learning to tune his guitar” territory)

I’m wondering with this setup Minilogue/Hydrasynth + Tracks, how to export. Do you have to run it to a DAW or can you export via MP3 from the Tracks?
 
That’s awesome. Sounds like I’m on the same path you were on.

Do you know if it has a “chord” mode? I’d be looking to sculpt on a dedicated synth, but that might be cool to be able to lay a base melody quickly. (Which was something I loved in the Roland MC 707 demos, but going that hard on a synth + groove box out of the gate is venturing into “new guy buys a JCM800 + Full Stack before learning to tune his guitar” territory)

I’m wondering with this setup Minilogue/Hydrasynth + Tracks, how to export. Do you have to run it to a DAW or can you export via MP3 from the Tracks?


to hook up a synth to the tracks you just need one instrument cable and one midi cable (and maybe a 1/8th to 5 pin midi dongle depending on what your synth has for midi inputs). you only send audio out of the tracks but you can play the synth as normal or play it on the tracks on one of the midi tracks. I haven't yet got to the point where I am exporting complete songs, just got it last week but I don't think a DAW is required but I may be wrong. I think you can just hook it up to a computer and drag projects off like you would add packs. i am not sure what format they would be in so maybe something is needed to convert to whatever format you prefer.

here is a good vid. also i like gabe miller a lot too.


 
If you've never dabbled into synths and really want to learn what makes them tick, I'd recommend something that has no or near no menu based UI and is 1 knob per function. Mono synths are better at this than polys. IMO, a mono synth is better to learn on. Keep it simple and really learn how to use it.

A Moog Grandmother, Arturia Minibrute, Novation Bass Station all fit this idea and have keys.
 
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