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OTHER DISCUSSIONS => General Synthesis => Other Hardware/Software => Topic started by: LoboLives on January 11, 2018, 10:19:47 AM

Title: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on January 11, 2018, 10:19:47 AM
First Behringer's VC304.

and now Waldorf...

http://www.synthanatomy.com/2018/01/namm-rumours-waldorf-presenting-new-string-synthesizer-year.html
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on January 11, 2018, 01:33:08 PM
I've often wished someone would release one of those old string machines.  I'd like to have something like an Elka Rhapsody or an ARP Omni.  They're quite handy in the craft of electronic orchestration as dedicated instruments.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: megamarkd on January 11, 2018, 05:02:53 PM
That's sorta annoying...not that I really have anywhere to put another keyboard.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: chysn on January 11, 2018, 06:53:08 PM
The string machine is a class of instrument that I simply... don't... get. Why would anyone buy any string machine over a Prophet 08? Or... hell, over a Kawai K1, for that matter?

Sure, my experience with them is limited to like one; the store where I used to work had an ARP Quartet fifteen years ago, and that thing sounded just awful. But even if you could reasonably counter that I've never known the beauty of a good string machine, a polyphonic synth just seems so much better.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on January 11, 2018, 09:10:26 PM
I agree, the ARP Quartet sounded terrible, especially the organ.  But there have been a few string synthesizers that sounded quite warm and beautiful, such as the ARP Omni.  I had an Elka Rhapsody 490, and even that sounded beautiful when used judiciously.

I think what sets these string synthesizers apart from a Prophet '08 emulation is the paraphony, the built-in chorus, and the ability to combine sometimes three octaves of strings at once.  You just can't do that on a single P'08/Rev2.  But if you could, it still wouldn't be the exact same sound, certainly not regarding those wonderfully dreamy paraphonic attacks and releases.   

There's a very distinct effect these instruments have when they're part of an ensemble.  I admit, alone they don't sound too impressive - kind of buzzy.  But processed or in an ensemble something magical happens.

There's also much to be said for having a dedicated string synthesizer. 

Here are three example of serene string machine music.  I've always liked these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVdSQWGm53I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE6br0Myxvs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq6vVioZEF8

Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Razmo on January 12, 2018, 01:05:03 AM
I hope, that Waldorf did the most important thing: Make the ensemble ANALOG, and exchanged the digital FX section with an analog one, preferably a clone of the SmallStone Phaser...
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on January 12, 2018, 03:23:08 AM
I hope, that Waldorf did the most important thing: Make the ensemble ANALOG, and exchanged the digital FX section with an analog one, preferably a clone of the SmallStone Phaser...

Doubt it sadly.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on January 12, 2018, 03:51:59 AM
I agree, the ARP Quartet sounded terrible, especially the organ.  But there have been a few string synthesizers that sounded quite warm and beautiful, such as the ARP Omni.  I had an Elka Rhapsody 490, and even that sounded beautiful when used judiciously.

I think what sets these string synthesizers apart from a Prophet '08 emulation is the paraphony, the built-in chorus, and the ability to combine sometimes three octaves of strings at once.  You just can't do that on a single P'08/Rev2.  But if you could, it still wouldn't be the exact same sound, certainly not regarding those wonderfully dreamy paraphonic attacks and releases.   

There's a very distinct effect these instruments have when they're part of an ensemble.  I admit, alone they don't sound too impressive - kind of buzzy.  But processed or in an ensemble something magical happens.

There's also much to be said for having a dedicated string synthesizer. 

Here are three example of serene string machine music.  I've always liked these:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lVdSQWGm53I
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dE6br0Myxvs
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kq6vVioZEF8

Agreed. I think stuff like the Solina or Crumar Orchestrator do have a unique character to them that you really can't get out of analog synths. You can emulate it but it's still not accurate and there's nothing quite like an analog string machine or analog vocoder running through a nice analog reverb or delay or analog phaser.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on January 12, 2018, 03:57:47 AM
Actually it would be sort of nice to see Moog do a paraphonic string machine. They already have a paraphonic phatty with the Sub 37 but if they could somehow just add two more notes and include an on board 12-stage Moogferfoger Phaser and delay....drools...
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on January 12, 2018, 09:10:29 PM
I do think the paraphonic envelopes have much to do with the uniqueness of the vintage string machine.  And when you use a long release time, something else happens.  Even after the release has faded, there's still a ringing of notes, almost like a VCA Level is up a tad.  There's the sound, still shimmering softly in the background.  It's probably a flaw in the instrument's design that ends up being attractive, like the over-driven oscillators of a Model D.

I think many of us would find it useful if modern polyphonic synthesizers had the ability to emulate the paraphonic effect.  It seems to be getting popular again, but it would be nice feature added to a "normal" polyphonic instrument.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Paul Dither on January 13, 2018, 05:53:04 AM
I hope, that Waldorf did the most important thing: Make the ensemble ANALOG, and exchanged the digital FX section with an analog one, preferably a clone of the SmallStone Phaser...

The Waldorf STVC is based on the Streichfett with an added vocoder.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Paul Dither on January 24, 2018, 05:46:56 AM
The official STVC site is online now: https://waldorfmusic.com/en/stvc
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Shaw on January 26, 2018, 07:12:23 PM
The official STVC site is online now: https://waldorfmusic.com/en/stvc (https://waldorfmusic.com/en/stvc)
I was skeptical of the SVTC at first, but the more I hear, the more I like.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 06, 2018, 09:13:50 AM
and now...Solina....

http://www.synthanatomy.com/2018/02/solina-string-ensemble-string-machine-the-next-clone-by-behringer.html
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 06, 2018, 09:17:52 AM
Maybe.  Uli is playing that game of his.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 06, 2018, 09:57:12 AM
Maybe.  Uli is playing that game of his.

Maybe, maybe not. If anything good on him for doing something no other manufacturer is bothering at doing: Analog String Machines and Analog Vocoders.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 06, 2018, 10:00:26 AM
Maybe, maybe not.

 :D
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 06, 2018, 10:13:03 AM
Maybe, maybe not.

 :D

Did you see the UBXa video? Where they opened an OBXa and were talking about what makes it's sound and the interior workings of it.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Paul Dither on February 06, 2018, 10:19:59 AM
and now...Solina....

I once got one for free on top of a vintage Fender Rhodes MkII. I gave the Solina to a friend who ended up using it as a stage prop for an open air performance, where it eventually said goobye in the rain.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 06, 2018, 10:23:13 AM
Just as well.  Those old string machines sound terrible with a dry signal.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Shaw on February 06, 2018, 10:32:51 AM
Just as well.  Those old string machines sound terrible with a dry signal.
HA.  Good one.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Paul Dither on February 06, 2018, 10:56:21 AM
Just as well.  Those old string machines sound terrible with a dry signal.

Indeed, hehe.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Jan Schultink on February 08, 2018, 09:32:11 AM
Reading up a bit on the history of these, and the origins of the Solina in a Dutch organ company. This was my first encounter with electronic music instruments: electric organs in the 1970s that had basic strings and booom tsssss rhythm sections built in. They were very common in Dutch households around that time, my parents did not have one though... Some of these organs must have been Eminents.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 10, 2018, 08:53:49 PM
Iím sold...

https://youtu.be/5E2oumeL_-4
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Shaw on February 11, 2018, 06:53:24 AM
Iím sold...

https://youtu.be/5E2oumeL_-4 (https://youtu.be/5E2oumeL_-4)
That should have come with a cheese warning....
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Paul Dither on February 11, 2018, 07:26:50 AM
(http://blog.just-eat.co.uk/wp-content/uploads/2017/05/Eurovision-just-eat-cheese.jpg)
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Shaw on February 11, 2018, 07:32:00 AM
(https://i.pinimg.com/736x/07/e2/82/07e2829f5f8ddca35df5728956542047--big-smiley-face-smiley-faces.jpg)
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 11, 2018, 08:01:03 AM
Goodness gracious.  I worked through that video late last night.  It was hard, but I did it for the love of synthesizers.  I was about to post it here, but then I thought it might be cruel and unusual punishment for my fellow synthesists.  I tried to spare you, fellas, I really did, but in the end LoboLives got you.

No cheese warning known to man could have been sufficient.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 11, 2018, 08:28:25 AM
I wish he demoed some of the Choir and String sounds more but even still the break in the vocal section tells me that I'll be grabbing this one for sure.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: dslsynth on February 11, 2018, 12:18:03 PM
No cheese warning known to man could have been sufficient.

https://www.dk.com/uk/9781405312110-french-cheeses/ . o O ( ;) )
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: megamarkd on February 11, 2018, 11:10:39 PM
My favourite bit is when he starts to chat-up the synth towards the middle, bloody hilarious!
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 15, 2018, 03:11:10 AM
HOLY S***

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mvrDFdriTUc
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 15, 2018, 09:02:29 AM
Sounds good for what it is, but why on earth a three-octave keyboard?
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 15, 2018, 09:37:26 AM
Sounds good for what it is, but why on earth a three-octave keyboard?

Cause 5 isn't needed. If it is...midi 101.

Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 15, 2018, 09:40:08 AM
So you buy a three-octave keyboard so you can control it with a five-octave keyboard by MIDI?
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 15, 2018, 09:59:23 AM
So you buy a three-octave keyboard so you can control it with a five-octave keyboard by MIDI?

I don't require five octaves. It's not what I'd use it for.

I don't buy synth for the octaves I buy them for the sound. 5 octaves are only needed to me when it's bi-timbral or multitimbral.

Just a personal preference.

Mr. Firechild seems to get quite the bit of millage out of three octaves.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 15, 2018, 10:24:13 AM
And what else should he do?  He's limited to three octaves, and so he uses only three octaves as best he can.  I'm quite certain if there had been five available, he would have happily made use of them for a much fuller sound.  With only three octaves, the bass will obviously have to come from some other source. 

If a synthesizer is only a sound source, then let it be a module.  If it's a musical instrument, then fully equip it for music-making with a generous keyboard.  I mean, at least Roland gave the original instrument four octaves.  That was generally the keyboard length of string synthesizers.

This dumbing-down of instruments drives me crazy, as if the music itself was only an afterthought.  More parameters, more functions, more effects, more computers...and fewer keys.  It's materialism killing art. 

   
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 15, 2018, 10:34:35 AM
And what else should he do?  He's limited to three octaves, and so he uses only three octaves as best he can.  I'm quite certain if there had been five available, he would have happily made use of them for a much fuller sound.  If a synth is only a sound source, then let it be a module.  If it's a musical instrument, then fully equip it for music-making with a generous keyboard.  I mean, at least Roland gave the original instrument four octaves. 

This dumbing-down of instruments drives me crazy, as if the music itself was only an afterthought.  More parameters, more functions, more effects, more computers...and fewer keys.  It's materialism killing art.     

Just as a guitar doesn't HAVE to have 24 frets, it can have 22. It's HOW you use the tools you have, not the tools themselves. I don't require 5 octaves on my Prophet 6 or 4 octaves on my Two Voice.  I use those limitations as inspiration on how I approach each instrument as if they are part of an orchestra. But if you "MUST" have 10 octaves in order to be creative.

well

Midi 101-There is no "Must".

Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 15, 2018, 10:44:48 AM
But if you "MUST" have 10 octaves in order to be creative.

well....

Well what?  Would you like to lecture Bach and Mozart for "needing" so many keys?  You seem to be implying that wanting a generous supply of musical potential is a sign of a lack of talent!   The point is in always having as much as you may need in any given piece of music.  To state the obvious, if you need only three-octaves, then a five-octave keyboard will do just fine.  But if you've got only three octaves and you need more - what, an octave button?  Click, click, click in the beginning, middle, and end of a difficult keyboard performance?

What annoys me in this shrinking of synthesizers is that it makes it impossible to perform many full-fledged pieces of music on a single instrument.  Sure, you could do it if you had to, but it would sound miserably incomplete.  Bass is an important range and quality - I would call it a musical virtue - and it's frustrating to see it missing from a keyboard.  It means you've got to find your bass elsewhere.

Honestly, three octaves wouldn't even cover many of my melodies. 
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 15, 2018, 11:07:50 AM
But if you "MUST" have 10 octaves in order to be creative.

well....

Well what?  Would you like to lecture Bach and Mozart for "needing" so many keys?  You seem to be implying that wanting a generous supply of musical potential is a sign of a lack of talent!   The point is in always having as much as you may need in any given piece of music.  To state the obvious, if you need only three-octaves, then a five-octave keyboard will do just fine.  But if you've got only three octaves and you need more - what, an octave button?  Click, click, click in the beginning, middle, and end of a difficult keyboard performance?

What annoys me in this shrinking of synthesizers is that it makes it impossible to perform full-fledged pieces of music on a single instrument.  Sure, you could do it if you had to, but it would sound miserably incomplete.  Bass is an important range and quality - I would call it a musical virtue - and it's frustrating to see it missing from a keyboard.  It means you've got to find your bass elsewhere.

Again Midi 101. Get a controller.

If synthesizers weren't shrinking you most people wouldn't be able to afford them.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 15, 2018, 11:15:03 AM
If synthesizers weren't shrinking you most people wouldn't be able to afford them.

It's the keyboards that are shrinking.  And besides, I'm not so sure about that.  In working out a Trentassete synthesizer design with Mike from Artisan Electronic Instruments, I asked if I could have a four-octave keyboard instead of three.  He said he could design such an instrument and the extra keys wouldn't cost another penny.  So, adding keys need not add to the expense.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 15, 2018, 11:16:47 AM
If synthesizers weren't shrinking you most people wouldn't be able to afford them.

It's the keyboards that are shrinking.  And besides, I'm not so sure about that.  In working out a Trentassete synthesizer design with Mike from Artisan Electronic Instruments, I asked if I could have a four-octave keyboard instead of three.  He said he could design such an instrument and the extra keys wouldn't cost another penny.  So, adding keys need not add to the expense.

I find that hard to believe but I hope it works out for you.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 15, 2018, 11:19:48 AM
I found it hard to believe, too, but I won't argue with him!  But really - how much should another dozen plastic keys cost, plus a little metal and wood?  The sound engine is the same, regardless.  So, I think Behringer could have provided the four octaves at the same approximate price.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 15, 2018, 11:31:14 AM
I found it hard to believe, too, but I won't argue with him!  But really - how much should another dozen plastic keys cost?  Ten bucks? Plus a little metal and wood?  The sound engine is the same, regardless.  So, I think Behringer could have provided the four octaves at the same approximate price.

Possibly but I think they are also wondering about the market. A lot people (including) myself would simply have an analog vocoder as PART of a set up not as one of it's main parts. 3 Octaves is fine.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: megamarkd on February 17, 2018, 08:32:11 PM
Next vocoder I'd like to see this is one with band controls.  Don't care how many keys it has on it, as long as it has dials and sliders and MIDI IN.

I'm sure Mozart and Bach would have been able to write as creatively whether they were composing on a grand piano or a harpsichord or an ocarina.  Creativity isn't hampered by notes available on an instrument.  I can play Ode To Joy on a recorder.  It uses less than 3 octaves.  The less notes playable on an instrument, the more one uses other elements to be creative with.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 17, 2018, 10:30:09 PM
Next vocoder I'd like to see this is one with band controls.  Don't care how many keys it has on it, as long as it has dials and sliders and MIDI IN.

I'm sure Mozart and Bach would have been able to write as creatively whether they were composing on a grand piano or a harpsichord or an ocarina.  Creativity isn't hampered by notes available on an instrument.  I can play Ode To Joy on a recorder.  It uses less than 3 octaves.  The less notes playable on an instrument, the more one uses other elements to be creative with.

Agreed. Anyone who says they canít create due to an instrument simply isnít being creative.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 18, 2018, 09:19:55 AM
I'm sure Mozart and Bach would have been able to write as creatively whether they were composing on a grand piano or a harpsichord or an ocarina.  Creativity isn't hampered by notes available on an instrument.  I can play Ode To Joy on a recorder.  It uses less than 3 octaves.  The less notes playable on an instrument, the more one uses other elements to be creative with.

You're only proving my point.  First of all, a typical pipe organ - which was Bach's instrument of choice - covers many octaves, having pipes that range from 32' t0 1'.  Mozart, who could have composed exclusively for the little clavichord, chose instead the developing fortepiano - the most dramatic percussive keyboard instrument of his time. 

As I'm sure you know, the famous "Ode to Joy" melody is only one theme from Beethoven's massive Ninth Symphony, which includes full orchestra and a full choir.  Yes, a melody can consist of a limited range, and a fine one will sound fine even on a $3 tin whistle.  But appreciate the fact that such popular melodies are often derived from massive works.

There's no argument that a musical genius can write for a limited range.  But it's even more true that musical geniuses prefer a wide range of choices, from the narrow to the wide, from the miniscule to the gigantic.  But I guarantee you, if Bach and Mozart had limited their music to three-octave keyboards, we would never have heard of their names.  So, can you name one famous keyboardist of any style that confined himself or herself to three octaves throughout an entire career?  If your claim is true, there should be many such persons.

There's an Irish melody called "Slane" that is used for a hymn called "Lord of all Hopefulness."  The melody, which covers about a 1 1/2 octave range, is in E-flat Major and requires a B-flat - the note just below the lowest C on a standard C-C three-octave keyboards.  I like to arrange hymn tunes, playing them at various octaves.  In this particular case, it can't be done.  The three-octave keyboard can provide for only one mid-octave playing of the melody.  That's just one off-the-top-of-my-head example of the issues involved in diminutive keyboards. 

If you want to be confined in your composing, fine.  But sometimes inspiration requires more than a little keyboard can provide.  And what then?  Clickity-click with octave buttons while both hands are playing?  It's not an option.  A five-octave keyboard will allow to you play "Ode to Joy," just as well as will a three-octave keyboard.  But of course, if you want to play a rendition of the Ninth Symphony, lots of luck with the three octaves.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 18, 2018, 10:22:58 AM
I'm sure Mozart and Bach would have been able to write as creatively whether they were composing on a grand piano or a harpsichord or an ocarina.  Creativity isn't hampered by notes available on an instrument.  I can play Ode To Joy on a recorder.  It uses less than 3 octaves.  The less notes playable on an instrument, the more one uses other elements to be creative with.

You're only proving my point.  First of all, a typical pipe organ - which was Bach's instrument of choice - covers many octaves, having pipes that range from 32' t0 1'.  Mozart, who could have composed exclusively for the little clavichord, chose instead the developing fortepiano - the most dramatic percussive keyboard instrument of his time. 

As I'm sure you know, the famous "Ode to Joy" melody is only one theme from Beethoven's massive Ninth Symphony, which includes full orchestra and a full choir.  Yes, a melody can consist of a limited range, and a fine one will sound fine even on a $3 tin whistle.  But appreciate the fact that such popular melodies are often derived from massive works.

There's no argument that a musical genius can write for a limited range.  But it's even more true that musical geniuses prefer a wide range of choices, from the narrow to the wide, from the miniscule to the gigantic.  But I guarantee you, if Bach and Mozart had limited their music to three-octave keyboards, we would never have heard of their names.  So, can you name one famous keyboardist of any style that confined himself or herself to three octaves throughout an entire career?  If your claim is true, there should be many such persons.

There's an Irish melody called "Slane" that is used for a hymn called "Lord of all Hopefulness."  The melody, which covers about a 1 1/2 octave range, is in E-flat Major and requires a B-flat - the note just below the lowest C on a standard C-C three-octave keyboards.  I like to arrange hymn tunes, playing them at various octaves.  In this particular case, it can't be done.  The three-octave keyboard can provide for only one mid-octave playing of the melody.  That's just one off-the-top-of-my-head example of the issues involved in diminutive keyboards. 

If you want to be confined in your composing, fine.  But sometimes inspiration requires more than a little keyboard can provide.  And what then? Clickity-click with octave buttons while both hands are playing?  It's not an option.  A five-octave keyboard will allow to you play "Ode to Joy," just as well as will a three-octave keyboard.  But of course, if you want to play a rendition of the Ninth Symphony, lots of luck with the three octaves.

Use midi
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 18, 2018, 10:54:14 AM
Use midi

To what - a five-octave keyboard?  Exactly.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: chysn on February 18, 2018, 11:34:28 AM
Back when I paid attention to workstation synthesizers, they were usually offered in several sizes. You'd have pretty much exactly the same synth in 61, 76, and 88-key models. I just checked out Guitar Center to familiarize myself with the 2018 workstation landscape, and this seems to still be the case. There's Yamaha Montage 6/7/8, Roland FA-06/07/08, and Korg Kronos in 61, 73 (sic), and 88-key versions.

I realize that analog and specialty synths are different than workstations. They don't need to start at 61 keys like workstations do. But different musicians value different things, so I can see the case for providing 49 and 61 key versions of "flagship" polyphonic instruments. I think the Prophet 6 and OB6 definitely fall into this category. Korg is doing this with the Prologue, and it's a good idea.

We all have to balance available physical space against what's playable, and instrument makers should accommodate that.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 18, 2018, 11:52:06 AM
We all have to balance available physical space against what's playable, and instrument makers should accommodate that.

That's true, and it would send this discussion in a completely different direction.  Thus far, though, space hasn't been the main problem.  Perhaps key to the disagreement, however, is the issue of ensemble vs. solo vs. multi-tracking.  A three-octave keyboard would be adequate if the bass part is played by another musician, a sequencer, or an additional track, if accompaniment is added, and if other musical elements are added as well.  But that would only make my point.  I would then fully agree that a three-octave monophonic synthesizer might be more than enough...for that part.  Perhaps one octave might be enough for one part.  But the claim that if you need five octaves on a keyboard then you're obviously lacking in talent is absurd.

Please consider the format of a single synthesist performing a complete synthesizer composition in one play - no ensemble or band, no sequencer, no looping, and no multi-tracking.  In other words, nothing else to fill in the emptiness left by that one little mono synth.  This is the format I'm referring to, and it equally applies to a keyboard composition by a great classical composer.  Why on earth would such a musician in such a situation place unnecessary limitations on their composing or performing, such that the instrument, rather then enable them, would handicap them?  What is the objective in confining music that longs to stretch itself out?

Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: chysn on February 18, 2018, 12:11:43 PM
Sure, I made an assumption about space being one of the axes here, and maybe that's not the case. Maybe it's portability or cost, or something else. The point remains, there's value to choice for musicians.

Keyboard size has never been much of a concern for me. 61 keys is inadequate to play Scott Joplin, so I'll stick with my actual piano for piano-playing, and my synthesizer life is rapidly approaching zero-keys.

But I don't subscribe to the idea that Beethoven would have been fine with 37 keys. He might have been a genius, but he composed by improvising, and we wouldn't have, for example, Sonata Pathetique in three octaves. And there are no Beethovens here, anyway, with all due respect, so we need every advantage that we can get.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: dslsynth on February 18, 2018, 12:13:29 PM
This conversation about keyboard sizes sounds to me like an advertisement for modules.

Bonus points for such modules having USB hosting capability so a class compliant USB/MIDI controller can be powered and interfaced directly from the USB host port on the synth.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on February 18, 2018, 12:20:16 PM
Sure, I made an assumption about space being one of the axes here, and maybe that's not the case. Maybe it's portability or cost, or something else. The point remains, there's value to choice for musicians.

Keyboard size has never been much of a concern for me. 61 keys is inadequate to play Scott Joplin, so I'll stick with my actual piano for piano-playing, and my synthesizer life is rapidly approaching zero-keys.

But I don't subscribe to the idea that Beethoven would have been fine with 37 keys. He might have been a genius, but he composed by improvising, and we wouldn't have, for example, Sonata Pathetique in three octaves. And there are no Beethovens here, anyway, with all due respect, so we need every advantage that we can get.

I heartily agree with your points.  I'm all for variety in synthesizer sizes and prices (hence, I had a MEK), but I place a priority on music itself.  I've taken issue only with the claim that, in principle, little instruments are enough, and if they aren't, then someone is suffering from a paucity of talent.  That seems to presume that those with three-octave instruments are churning out masterpieces left and right, and I haven't seen or heard any proof if this.  And I don't mean short solos accompanied by a full band or ensemble; I mean complete compositions.

Heck, why should anyone need a full three indulgent octaves?  Why not set the standard at one, if it's only talent that matters?
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: chysn on February 18, 2018, 12:23:57 PM
This conversation about keyboard sizes sounds to me like an advertisement for modules.

Maybe that was the original idea, but I totally get wanting the keyboard and controls to be integrated. For one thing, the spacing of controls on modules is invariably worse.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: chysn on February 18, 2018, 12:30:35 PM
I've taken issue only with the claim that, in principle, little instruments are enough, and if they aren't, then someone is suffering from a paucity of talent.  If such is the case, then why not cut things down to one octave?  Why should anyone need three?

Right. I think that your reductio ad absurdum is sound here.

Reminds me of the old programmer's joke.

Old programmer: "Back in my day, we didn't have these fancy compilers. We did just fine with assemblers!"
Older programmer: "You had ASSEMBLERS? Back in my day, we did just fine with ones and zeros!"
Even Older programmer: "You had ZEROS?"
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: dsetto on February 20, 2018, 01:14:09 AM
Agreed on different sizes catering for different purposes. ... MIDI has a little latency, & supposedly, a little jitter. Sometimes, some folks don't want that.

When you're playing a piano-analog, one sustain pedal for what both your hands are triggering is essential. When the single keyboard can trigger 8, 16 voices, all the better.

And of course, small keyboards have their place. For "ensemble"-analogs. (Easier physical setups for these ensembles.)

I know I play differently if I'm playing two-handedly on one keyboard, one sound or duet-style on a multi-timbral or multiple keyboard setup.
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: megamarkd on February 21, 2018, 09:11:26 PM
String machines and vocoders....do you think that 2019 will be the year of cheap vocoding string machines on the 2nd hand market or will the trend solidify into a staple of popular music composition?  I personally can't stand the "do you believe in love" sound in any form of music, but am not too horrified by the vocoder.  Vocoders are fun as a musical effect too.  And as for string machines, will the fashion die out as it did 30yrs ago?  We don't seem to be have an imminent new form of synthesis on the way to kill the string machine's use as a separate sound generator to all others this time around.  I do like my Streichfett, it has a quality I don't get out of my M1's string machine patches so can't be replaced by it, but is it a phase I will soon be sick of?  I don't know, but has anyone else recently bought a string machines that is now sitting doing not a whole lot of sound making?
Title: Re: 2018 the year the String Machines/Vocoders came back...
Post by: LoboLives on February 22, 2018, 10:05:03 AM
String machines and vocoders....do you think that 2019 will be the year of cheap vocoding string machines on the 2nd hand market or will the trend solidify into a staple of popular music composition?  I personally can't stand the "do you believe in love" sound in any form of music, but am not too horrified by the vocoder.  Vocoders are fun as a musical effect too.  And as for string machines, will the fashion die out as it did 30yrs ago?  We don't seem to be have an imminent new form of synthesis on the way to kill the string machine's use as a separate sound generator to all others this time around.  I do like my Streichfett, it has a quality I don't get out of my M1's string machine patches so can't be replaced by it, but is it a phase I will soon be sick of?  I don't know, but has anyone else recently bought a string machines that is now sitting doing not a whole lot of sound making?

Not yet ;)

In all seriousness String Machines simply give a different texture or are another color in one's pallet of sounds. Same with Mellotrons, Lo-Fi Samplers, DX7 type tones, Combo Organs, it's all comes together for different things. Would I use it all the time? No. Would I use it as an element alongside by Moog, Prophet 6 or V Piano. You're darn tootin.