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One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #40 on: March 22, 2016, 09:07:02 AM »
Here's the larger picture.  For one weekend, I was an enthusiastic Analog Solutions guy.  I had known of the company, but, based on their instrument names, I presumed they were a German company, and therefore, were beyond my reach in the US (like MFB).  So, I didn't look any further into their instruments.  But at Paul's suggestion, I decided to take a look anyways.

With my initial research, I became quite enthusiastic about the Telemark Keyboard and the Nyborg Module.  It seemed like the keyboard, combined with one or two modules, would make a superb multi-timbral instrument with a rich lush analog sound.  They would also look sharp, due to their clean white uncrowded panels and wooden end cheeks - even on the modules.  Sure, they would require some compromises from my initial requirements, but I'd still have four DSI synthesizers to meet these, so that I could compromise on this one instrument for the sake of the most important requirement - the classic analog sonic character. 

For one weekend, I thought I had found the instrument of my quest.  Then I noticed a shocking omission - the glide.  How could anyone produce a synthesizer without portamento?  It's so fundamental to the mono synth sound.  Jeepers, even acoustic and orchestral instruments can glide to one degree or another; even a pipe organ can slightly bend a tone if the stop is pulled out very slowly. so that the pipe slowly fills with air.  So, that was the end of that combination.  I decided to hold out for Analog Solutions, though, by considering the Leipzig Keyboard and Module.  For a while, it looked like these would save the day.  Rather than an Oberheim sound, they had a Moog sound.  Excellent.  They have one glide knob for each oscillator, as well as four-stage envelope generators.  One minor shortcoming: no wooden end cheeks on the module, but only goofy-looking rack ears.  But even worse, I found what I think is the fatal flaw in this synthesizer as well: the square waveform sounds much like a narrow pulse - fairly reedy.  I still have to look into this further, but it does seem to be the case.  I like a pure hollow square waveform for clarinet and flute-type sounds.  So, at this point, it looks as if I'm out of Analog Solutions solutions.  What a disappointment.

Naturally, I've begun considering the Sub 37 again.  I do like its sonic character very much, being a long-time fan of the Moog sound.  One minor strike against it: I hate the appearance.  I've always thought the Little Phatty frame had an asymmetrical dumpiness to it, and so it seemed well named!  But the major issue is Moog itself.  Moog is in a strange state right now, having a huge gap in their instrument line.  From the $1,500 Sub 37, the next step up is the humungous $5,000 Voyager XL, and then from there, into the ionosphere with the modulars.  The synthesizer I have in mind would fit right into that gap - say, in the $1,800-$2,800 range.  In addition, I'd like an instrument that I could grow over the next year or two with modules, and I'd prefer that each unit be from one company and have a unified sound and design.  This is why I was willing to compromise somewhat on the Analog Solutions instruments - for the benefit of having the modules all ready for the next step.  So, if I bought a Sub 37, I'd be without a clear next move.  The Mother-32 is too limited and awkward a design for me, and is obviously sequencer-oriented.  That would be wasted on me.  But if Moog made a module form of the Sub 37, that might change my view.  So, right now a solo Sub 37 looks unlikely, but I'll continue thinking about it.  It does have an excellent sound and plenty of parameters

Presently, the synthesizers that have my attention are the Vermona Perfourmer Mk II, which could make a superb composite instrument when controlled by a Vermona 14, as well as the Oberheim SEM.  I've considered controlling two SEMs with my four-voice Poly Evolver Keyboard, with the possibility of later controlling them with perhaps an OB-6.  I'm also still considering a Prophet-6 Keyboard and Module combination, which would give me a fine analog tone, but with limited control. 

My four DSI synthesizers have me well-covered for polyphonic analog and monophonic digital synthesis, but it seems as if I will have to look beyond DSI for the classic analog monophonic instrument I have in mind.  Unless, of course, there's a one-voice version of the P-6 about to appear, but I doubt that's the case.  Besides, isn't this one going to be another collaborative instrument?  So, my hopes are modest for this soon-to-be-announced synthesizer.  My last idea would be a DSI Pro 2 combined with a couple of SEMs or Boomstar 4075s, but I'm not presently too impressed with the Pro 2's own sonic character.  It seems rather stiff and dry for my taste.

So, the quest for the perfect mono synth goes on.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2016, 10:15:45 AM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #41 on: March 22, 2016, 12:38:27 PM »
How about one of these: http://www.anyware-instruments.de/tinysizer/

My favourite mono synth, SEM style, the oscillators and filter are wonderful.

chysn

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #42 on: March 22, 2016, 04:00:47 PM »
One minor strike against [Sub 37]: I hate the appearance.  I've always thought the Little Phatty frame had an asymmetrical dumpiness to it, and so it seemed well named!

The tilted panel is one of my favorite things about the Little Phatty. I play it standing up, and the panel keeps me from having to hunch over, which is probably good for my back. It would be bulky to travel with, and wouldn't be very good on the lower level of a tiered stand, but it's quite functional and--in my opinion--very handsome on an antique side table.

To my eye, the Sub 37 panel does look a bit busy, while the LP panel seems crisp and concise. But I'm sure it's easy enough to get used to once you dive in.
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Moog Little Phatty w/ CV Outs, Arturia MicroBrute, KMI QuNexus
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #43 on: March 22, 2016, 04:06:05 PM »
To my eye, the Sub 37 panel does look a bit busy, while the LP panel seems crisp and concise. But I'm sure it's easy enough to get used to once you dive in.

Funny, I always perceived it the other way around: I thought there's too much hidden on the LP. If you know your way around a couple of shortcuts (like assigning alternative mod destinations for example), there's almost no reason to use the Sub 37's display at all, except for a couple of sophisticated CV routing options and of course MIDI related stuff.
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

chysn

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #44 on: March 22, 2016, 04:25:45 PM »
Funny, I always perceived it the other way around: I thought there's too much hidden on the LP.

Moog generally made good choices. Like, if you look at the Leipzig-SK's panel, all that same stuff is right at your fingertips on the LP. A filter pole selection button would have been a considerate touch, but it's an effective interface overall.

I guess we get used to what we have.
« Last Edit: March 22, 2016, 04:50:14 PM by chysn »
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Moog Little Phatty w/ CV Outs, Arturia MicroBrute, KMI QuNexus
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #45 on: March 22, 2016, 04:30:59 PM »
I guess we get used to what we have.

Definetely. I remember that I was slightly confused when I first got the Sub 37, since I was so used to the DSI-way of doing things, and the Moog approach is slightly different when it comes to modulation routings.
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

chysn

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #46 on: March 22, 2016, 04:50:29 PM »
By the way, I've been meaning to ask this, and it's probably not too off-topic here. The Little Phatty's pots are analog, and when you have a parameter selected, they're wired directly to the circuitry of that parameter. The pot values are only digitized when you save the sound. In 2006, this was apparently quite a feat of engineering, which is why we only got four knobs. Do the Sub 37 knobs work like this? I'd imagine that ten years later, it would be much easier, but I haven't been able to find the answer.
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Moog Little Phatty w/ CV Outs, Arturia MicroBrute, KMI QuNexus
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #47 on: March 22, 2016, 04:54:19 PM »
It is my understanding that everything is digitally controlled, so I would assume it works just as on DSI's instruments.
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #48 on: March 23, 2016, 02:29:42 PM »
If you're willing to compromise on keyboard length for the Leipzig-SK, then why take the Sub 37 off the table? Seems like a better value, what with the patch memory, etc. Is it because of the module situation?

In terms of synthesis resources, the Leipzig looks very, very similar to the Little Phatty, except with a sequencer instead of an arpeggiator, and no patch memory. And you'll still be stuck with one LFO. It seems like the Sub 37 hits more of your marks.

Now I'm curious why you haven't done the same, Chysn.  If it were financially feasible, would you swap your Little Phatty for a Sub 37?

chysn

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #49 on: March 24, 2016, 10:31:57 AM »
Now I'm curious why you haven't done the same, Chysn.  If it were financially feasible, would you swap your Little Phatty for a Sub 37?

It is, in fact, an option. I'm budgeting to purchase a CP-251. If I were to sell my Little Phatty, and combine it with my CP-251 money, I'm pretty much at the point where I could buy a Sub 37. I understand that it may seem ridiculous to some, but I'm pretty sure I'd have more fun with the LP/CP-251, with the prospect of more semi-modular gear, than I would have with a Sub 37. I don't think the Sub 37 has a sound advantage over the Little Phatty, but I'd have to give up my CV outs.

Right now, I think I'm about to get really interested in CV-based synthesis.

But as I mentioned before, I'm going to wait until April to do anything, in the unlikely event that we see the single-voice Sequential.
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Moog Little Phatty w/ CV Outs, Arturia MicroBrute, KMI QuNexus
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #50 on: March 29, 2016, 09:58:49 PM »
This, to my ears, is a fabulous sawtooth lead sound coming from the lower synthesizer, an old Maxikorg.  It also shows how effective is a programmed delayed vibrato.  You could never get this effect so perfectly consistent with aftertouch.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wNaIIZaiSkE&ebc=ANyPxKoib4XMfS_Zh0fd7zpphk0h56WIAjRZhRbkbBJ8rWa6YdWLl8oQbG_c7lABlxZXfV0Bi8M1iDd1DW4P0_9lJh7DlC3Y4Q
« Last Edit: March 29, 2016, 10:07:55 PM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #51 on: April 01, 2016, 07:13:26 PM »
Thus far, it seems as if DSI alone can possibly meet my mono synth requirements.  Otherwise, the instruments of greatest interest are the Dominion 1 and Oberheim Two-Voice Pro.  The former is a bit small in size, but also, not attainable in the US as far as I can tell; the latter is obviously a two-voice instrument, and is overly expensive for my interests, due, in part, to the sequencer, which I don't need.  That leaves the Pro 2, which scores well by my needs, except that I have a hard time thinking of it as an analog synthesizer.  To me, it just seems overly digital in tone, so that it would have to be supplemented by modules - which is my intention anyways - not to improve the tone, but to compensate for it.  Except for keyboard sizes, I would almost prefer a Mono Evolver Keyboard.  I'm also still considering the Analog Solutions Leipzig.

As for modules, the SEMs will probably always be on top for sound and in the middle for features.  Second to these, I've come to appreciate the Doepfer Dark Energy.  This little box has a nice warm sound, rich PWM, and, as small as they are, also have two LFOs.  This is just barely enough for a mono synth, but it will suffice.  Third is the Vermona Perfourmer Mk II.  That's where my quest stands at this point.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2016, 03:29:14 PM by Sacred Synthesis »

chysn

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #52 on: April 02, 2016, 03:23:44 AM »
I know that you're interested in new synths and, generally, you like to avoid the hassles that you associate with vintage instruments.

But.... what if, for one instrument, your monophonic synth, you made an exception. You've got these big, new(ish), reliable, modern analog instruments, so you're not going to be caught high-and-dry if something goes wrong; but then punctuate that setup with something really special, like an actual Odyssey or a Pro One.
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Moog Little Phatty w/ CV Outs, Arturia MicroBrute, KMI QuNexus
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #53 on: April 02, 2016, 03:31:24 PM »
It's tempting, it's very very tempting; but fortunately, the astronomical prices prevent me.  I'm still hoping something new will strike me.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2016, 05:00:01 PM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #54 on: April 02, 2016, 05:55:33 PM »
You can get the Pro-One for free on Monday. All you need is enough CPU power.  ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnHof-2bIfA
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

chysn

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Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #55 on: April 02, 2016, 06:01:40 PM »
Quote
It's tempting, it's very very tempting; but fortunately, the astronomical prices prevent me.  I'm still hoping something new will strike me.

I mentioned Odyssey and Pro One because they usually sell in the sub-$2000 range in April 2016, financially in the ballpark of the other instruments you're considering. Of course, you're always going to be dealing with spotty tuning and other limitations, and I think you have the same been-there-done-that attitude towards vintage that I have.
DSI: DSM03; previously: Mopho Keyboard, Desktop Mopho, Evolver, DSM01
Hardware: Eurorack, Moog Little Phatty w/ CV Outs, Arturia MicroBrute, KMI QuNexus
Software: macOS, Ableton, MuseScore
Modular Grid: https://www.modulargrid.net/e/racks/view/354385
GitHub: https://github.com/chysn

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #56 on: April 02, 2016, 06:19:48 PM »
The real ARP Odysseys in good condition that I see on Ebay are closer to (or more than) $3,000.  Regardless of the price, I wouldn't risk the vintage dilemma.  Perhaps if there were no other options, I might, but today it's moreoften a matter of searching the internet for months.  I think I'll come up with something, but I'll need to let up on my requirements a bit.  Outside of the DSI domain, the architecture I want hardly even exists.
« Last Edit: April 02, 2016, 06:21:48 PM by Sacred Synthesis »

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #57 on: April 02, 2016, 06:20:16 PM »
I was hoping to see some new videos of the Matrixbrute from the Superbooth16, but for some reason there are none yet. I would definitely keep an eye on that one. I've heard that it won't be released until late summer (August/September), which might be a good sign in terms of quality control, dunno.
Ableton Live 9 Suite & Push 2 (macOS) | Arturia BeatStep Pro | DSI Pro 2 | KMI QuNexus | Korg Volca Beats | Moog MF-104M Analog Delay | Moog Minitaur | Moog Model 15 App | Moog Sub 37 Tribute Edition | Sequential Prophet-6

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #58 on: April 02, 2016, 06:25:26 PM »
I know of one guy who got hold of a Matrixbrute.  He said the build quality was excellent, but it was full of bugs.

Re: One Man's Quest for the Perfect Mono Synth
« Reply #59 on: April 02, 2016, 06:28:56 PM »
You can get the Pro-One for free on Monday. All you need is enough CPU power.  ;)

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QnHof-2bIfA

But, as you know....