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My interest in synthesizers started with seeing those interesting instruments Daryl Dragon used on TV. About 1984 I was able to buy an Arp Axxe, Arp string machine and old Roland electric piano. With some pedals that was my rig so I was trying to cover Rush tones on that, very poorly.  It was not until I graduated college and bought a shiny new DX7 II. I tried to make a go of playing keys in bands but I realized I just didn't have the keyboard skills but I loved exploring the technology behind it. So it's been a real passion. I lived thru the death of analog and I'm looking forward to it happening again :)  That's how I ended up with that Juno 106.  These days I prefer modern workstations like the Fantom & Kronos but I still keep a couple analogs around for fun. The Voyager at the top of the stack is a pretty serious rig. The pedals are gone replaced by Axe FX II.  Pic is a little old there's been some cleanup and the Fantom is in the shop :(

ruGCG8X.jpg

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Tomita's "The Planets" triggered my interest in synths as a kid. Switched on Bach, pretty much everything ELP, Stevie Wonder, Floyd, early Mannheim Steamroller stuff (Fresh Aire II specifically), Jan

I love synthesizers. They scare the shit out of me. Subtractive is reasonable easy, and analog modeling has brought prices down and capabilities up. I took a stab a FM synthesis, never got anyw

My interest in synthesizers started with seeing those interesting instruments Daryl Dragon used on TV. About 1984 I was able to buy an Arp Axxe, Arp string machine and old Roland electric piano. With

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Posted (edited)

I started getting into synths in the 80's, a time when synths were moving from analog to digital. Early in my career after a stint as a defense contractor I designed synth editor/librarian software for MOTU, including for synths like the Korg O1W and Wavestation, Kurzweil K2000, Roland JV1080, the E-Mu Proteus family, Ensoniq, Yamaha, Alesis, and many others. It was a cool job, and I had a brand new synth on my desk every week to mess around with. Some industry guys I worked with went on to be pretty big deals, for example, I worked with Marcus Ryle to develop editors for Alesis when he was working there, before he went on to co-found Line 6. I did some early work with the Tech21 guys, particularly Lloyd Schwartz, who we lost in January. I kept doing projects for Ensoniq long after I'd left MOTU and gone on to be a development engineer for telecomm. FWIW, I'm a patent lawyer now.

These days I mostly work with soft synths, although I'd love to get a Korg Kronos or a Roland System 8.

Been through several guitar synths, including Axon, Roland, and now Boss (just got an SY-1000 that I'm only starting to mess with). 

Even though I designed software tools for soundware designers, I was not much for designing sounds myself. But I got my son started down that road, and he now loves working with soft synths to come up with his own sounds. I recently set him up with three Korg Volca synths that my drummer was selling, and he's been getting some great sounds out of them. 

These days I make most of my synth music using the Korg Gadget App on my iPad (and also Mac). I got it as a lark, but have found it super intuitive and inspiring, and now have around 40 pieces I've composed with it, for example:

and

Anyone looking for an affordable, fun, and friendly introduction into making music with software synths should give Korg Gadget a look.

Jonathan

 

Edited by jwhitcomb3
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21 hours ago, Devnor said:

My interest in synthesizers started with seeing those interesting instruments Daryl Dragon used on TV. About 1984 I was able to buy an Arp Axxe, Arp string machine and old Roland electric piano. With some pedals that was my rig so I was trying to cover Rush tones on that, very poorly.  It was not until I graduated college and bought a shiny new DX7 II. I tried to make a go of playing keys in bands but I realized I just didn't have the keyboard skills but I loved exploring the technology behind it. So it's been a real passion. I lived thru the death of analog and I'm looking forward to it happening again :)  That's how I ended up with that Juno 106.  These days I prefer modern workstations like the Fantom & Kronos but I still keep a couple analogs around for fun. The Voyager at the top of the stack is a pretty serious rig. The pedals are gone replaced by Axe FX II.  Pic is a little old there's been some cleanup and the Fantom is in the shop :(

ruGCG8X.jpg

I love how almost every home-studio dweller I know has seen the light about trackballs and everyone else looks at me like I've got 3 heads when I pull one out for work.  :) 

Also...  dude ...   That's an awesome setup.  (Editor's note:  The author is working on experiencing joy for other people vs. being jealous or envious.  It sucks and it's hard.)

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21 hours ago, jwhitcomb3 said:

I started getting into synths in the 80's, a time when synths were moving from analog to digital. Early in my career after a stint as a defense contractor I designed synth editor/librarian software for MOTU, including for synths like the Korg O1W and Wavestation, Kurzweil K2000, Roland JV1080, the E-Mu Proteus family, Ensoniq, Yamaha, Alesis, and many others. It was a cool job, and I had a brand new synth on my desk every week to mess around with. Some industry guys I worked with went on to be pretty big deals, for example, I worked with Marcus Ryle to develop editors for Alesis when he was working there, before he went on to co-found Line 6. I did some early work with the Tech21 guys, particularly Lloyd Schwartz, who we lost in January. I kept doing projects for Ensoniq long after I'd left MOTU and gone on to be a development engineer for telecomm. FWIW, I'm a patent lawyer now.

That's super cool.

Quite a pivot at the end too.  :D 

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I bought this because it was on sale. Learning curve is kind of high for me since I don't enjoy turning knobs on a simple stomp box. But, it has a lot of presets and a few I have written down to use for something in the future. The only knobs I mess with are the pitch bend and modulation.

96821564_991663761252082_572628919920885

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Great thread. A lot of cool stuff to be seen here.

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Posted (edited)
On 5/8/2020 at 7:29 AM, killerteddybear said:

Isao Tomita put out Mussorgsky's "Pictures at an Exhibition" and Stravinsky's "Firebird Suite" in the '70s, in the days when everything was done manually. It must have been an enormous task.

Tomita's "The Planets" triggered my interest in synths as a kid. Switched on Bach, pretty much everything ELP, Stevie Wonder, Floyd, early Mannheim Steamroller stuff (Fresh Aire II specifically), Jan Hammer Group, Herbie, Chick, etc.  I'm sure I'm forgetting a lot... but hearing those sounds emanating from my dad's LPs when I was 7-10 sent me on mission to figure out what was making all that noise.

At about 12-13 I started getting into electronics via Polyphony/Electronic Musician mags, Craig Anderton, etc. Spent most of my lawn mowing money mail ordering chips from PAiA and buying parts from local shops. Eventually that led to me building my first synth, as I lusted for the Prophet-5, Obie FVS or Minimoog that I had no hope in being able to afford... 

When the DX-7 hit, I did manage to find my first real couple of synths  - Sequential Circuits Pro-one, and Moog/Realistic MG-1 (the Radio Shack synth). With the DX out, those were suddenly cheap old dinosaurs... but with four track in hand, I got a lot of enjoyment out of 'em! 

That hobby came and went over the years, and for a while there I had a motherlode of keys, old effects, guitar synths, drum machines... most of which were sweat equity projects (buy cheap, fix, play). When I was back in school, I also started an LLC to make my plans for a ribbon controller product real. Did everything from the business plan to the circuit design, PCB layout, CAD stuff (Eagle, FPD), lean six sigma process - you name it. That was a lot of fun, and I somehow managed to run that operation on the side for about five years.

After the career took different shape and my sons got older, I just didn't have time anymore to keep up with that stuff. I've sold off most everything.

Still have my Moog format modular (mixed vendor- Synth.com, COTK, STG, Moon, Hordijk, Cynthia, etc.), a nice '74 Minimoog that I had restored, a Casio CZ-5000 that my younger son uses now, and... the trusty Pro-one that started it all.

Some various pics below... mostly of the ones that got away.

The beast:

N9syh3n.jpg

 

Circa '76 Oberheim FVS w/sequencer, and one of many Space Echos to come and go there under the scope...

dwTgE11.jpg

 

Pro-one, Yamaha CS-40M, Obie OB-8, and Multimoog on the floor... (kept the Gibsons!)

KH0RubF.jpg

 

Had a Roland GR fetish for a while... and dabbled with some other guitar stuff like the Hammond Innovex, Maestro "synths", Korg X-911, etc.

jhBo1QS.jpg

 

Yamaha DX-5. Basically a DX-1 without the cool enclosure, keybed and displays... What an absolute bit*ch to program!

7yyoSmd.jpg

 

Solina and old Hammond M101 w/Leslie 145

sBIf6bm.jpg

 

M-3 with Waldorf Q. Kind of regret selling the latter (which actually went to Hans Zimmer's studio - ex Simply Red guitarist bought it from me, and was apparently a film music composer there at the time)

SX6vdmB.png

 

'74 Minimoog w/ribbon controller (keepers!)

m1yUVDI.png

Edited by chromium
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23 hours ago, chromium said:

'74 Minimoog w/ribbon controller (keepers!)

m1yUVDI.png

That's nice - esp the walking stick. I've never seen that before.  

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5 hours ago, Devnor said:

That's nice - esp the walking stick. I've never seen that before.  

Thanks - that was my minuscule contribution to the cottage industry analog synth resurgence.

It has been cool seeing that evolve. Ten years ago, I never would have thought that we'd be able to buy a brand new Moog modular or Model D online, that Tom Oberheim would be cranking out a modern Two Voice, that Korg would re-release the ARP 2600, or that the Polyfusion modular would re-emerge.

That ribbon above was the last model I produced. I have a nice successor design that never came to be (no time these days), and would require me re-doing the PC board design and moving to to the modern era surface mount devices. Someday maybe!

Some of the final batch...

YLvPTw1.jpg

 

Couple of older prototypes...

XPtGyWW.jpg

NtaFkca.jpg

qiXrNTp.jpg

Edited by chromium
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13 hours ago, chromium said:

Thanks - that was my minuscule contribution to the cottage industry analog synth resurgence.

It has been cool seeing that evolve. Ten years ago, I never would have thought that we'd be able to buy a brand new Moog modular or Model D online, that Tom Oberheim would be cranking out a modern Two Voice, that Korg would re-release the ARP 2600, or that the Polyfusion modular would re-emerge.

That ribbon above was the last model I produced. I have a nice successor design that never came to be (no time these days), and would require me re-doing the PC board design and moving to to the modern era surface mount devices. Someday maybe!

Some of the final batch...

YLvPTw1.jpg

 

Couple of older prototypes...

XPtGyWW.jpg

NtaFkca.jpg

qiXrNTp.jpg

Cool. Is this you?:

https://www.matrixsynth.com/2009/03/walking-stick-dual-cv-ribbon-controller.html

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20 hours ago, chromium said:

Yep. Funny too - that was the start of my modular synth. Built that small desktop cabinet thinking "I'll NEVER need more space than this..."

Famous last words... :D

Very cool! I'm a guitarist, but I got one of those Behringer Model D Mini Moog clones, and it's really a lot of fun to play with. Your setup looks incredible. A lot of cool sounds in there.

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I started as a piano player as a kid. My mom was a musician as well, so I had access to her gear. The first synth I got that was all mine was a Roland SH-3a as a Christmas gift when I was about 12. I got a set of Taurus Pedals a couple of years later (for $450) and over the few years that followed I had access to a Juno-60, OB8, DX-7, and a Korg CX-3 organ. I also had a Rhodes Stage 73 and a Wurlitzer model 200.

Eventually everything was sold off except a Roland XP-50 that I kept around to cover most sounds I would need. About 10 years ago I found another Juno 60 on Craigslist for $550, a lot of money at that time for that unit. I drove out to see it and I discovered that the lady who owned it had bought it new to play Christmas Carols on. She had sewn a cover for it herself, and her husband built a stand out of Teak for it so it would blend in with the Dining Room furniture. She had everything that came with it-the cassette with the patches, all of the paperwork, you name it. It was literally a time capsule. I bought it and played it until it suffered the dreaded noisy chorus. It took me 5 years to find the ICs I needed to quiet it down. That’s the problem with the old stuff-serviceability is hit and miss. 

Now I’m trying to find an original CX-3.

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I snagged a used Novation Circuit from reverb the other day.  Should arrive tomorrow night.

My principal use for it is actually as a control surface for ZOIA (my other relatively recent purchase).  ZOIA is super cool, but for real-time tweaking (as most of you are clearly aware) it's always nice to have more than one knob to turn.  :D 

That said, I'm psyched to make some grooves on it and also to try using it to sequence the Model D and ZOIA together too.  

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3 hours ago, Navigator said:

Can any of you synth folks recommend an inexpensive sequencer that would work with my Behringer Model D? I was thinking about the Korg SQ-1, but maybe there's a better way to get into sequencers. Here's the Korg SQ-1: https://www.korg.com/us/products/dj/sq_1/

How about a software sequencer and a USB-MIDI converter? There's probably a free sequencer somewhere out there...

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9 hours ago, killerteddybear said:

How about a software sequencer and a USB-MIDI converter? There's probably a free sequencer somewhere out there...

Thanks for the suggestion ktb. Free is appealing.

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On 5/8/2020 at 11:21 AM, burningyen said:

Another Yamaha fan here. I don't know much about the range of current tech out there but have really enjoyed using my MX49 in my Radiohead tribute, in terms of how easy it is both to customize sounds and to cart around. The MIDI side of things was kinda painful to figure out, but I eventually got my Helix talking to it for switching banks and presets and using the Helix's expression pedal to control filtering:

 

As I skimmed over the early part of this thread on my way to the new posts, I wanted to stop and call out this particular sound/tune.  I think it's one of the precursors to what got me into synths (finally). 

There's something terrifyingly close about the timbre of the recording that's somehow comforting and awe-inspiring at the same time. 

It's like if you found out that some Lovecraftian cosmic horror had arrived and instead of eating you wanted to cuddle.

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On 5/20/2020 at 9:20 PM, Navigator said:

Can any of you synth folks recommend an inexpensive sequencer that would work with my Behringer Model D? I was thinking about the Korg SQ-1, but maybe there's a better way to get into sequencers. Here's the Korg SQ-1: https://www.korg.com/us/products/dj/sq_1/

If you're using some kind of DAW from GarageBand on up, my guess is that it will have some ability to send MIDI to the Model D too.  Plus as KTB said there's almost certainly every kind of freeware sequencer you can imagine available as a plugin from 808-style to the truly bizarre.

If you want hardware/dawless there's a new generation of controllers being released right now that all have pretty capable sequencers right in the box:  BeatStep Pro was one of the first, but KeyStep Pro now has that plus there are several new devices from Novation (incl. the LaunchPad Pro Mk3) that include a pretty capable sequencer.

The Novation Circuit that I just got will also work in that capacity as will the Empress ZOIA (which sort of falls on the truly bizarre side of things), so there's a bunch of devices on the market where you get sort of a twofer.

Edited by sixesandsevens
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9 hours ago, sixesandsevens said:

If you're using some kind of DAW from GarageBand on up, my guess is that it will have some ability to send MIDI to the Model D too.  Plus as KTB said there's almost certainly every kind of freeware sequencer you can imagine is available as a plugin from 808-style to the truly bizarre.

If you want hardware/dawless there's a new generation of controllers being released right now that all have pretty capable sequencers right in the box:  BeatStep Pro was one of the first, but KeyStep Pro now has that plus there are several new devices from Novation (incl. the LaunchPad Pro Mk3) that include a pretty capable sequencer.

The Novation Circuit that I just got will also work in that capacity as will the Empress ZOIA (which sort of falls on the truly bizarre side of things), so there's a bunch of devices on the market where you get sort of a twofer.

Thanks sixesandsevens. All I've done so far is plug a midi keyboard into the Model D and explore the sounds a bit. I usually use Pro Tools for recording, but I have Logic too, which I think is really set up more for midi stuff. I'll have to research a bit. Thanks for the suggestions.

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6 minutes ago, Navigator said:

Thanks sixesandsevens. All I've done so far is plug a midi keyboard into the Model D and explore the sounds a bit. I usually use Pro Tools for recording, but I have Logic too, which I think is really set up more for midi stuff. I'll have to research a bit. Thanks for the suggestions.

I'm pretty sure you could record a midi pattern into Protools or Logic, set it up to loop, and voilá! you have a sequence.

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The free Kontakt player brings a few instruments in. May it's got a sequenzer in it.

Or check Reaktor free player.

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The new Logic update included loop based sequencing and 808 style step recording. I think the brush was updated to allow a user to draw in patterns of notes - like you would an automation curve. Don't forget about the midi plugins you can apply to external instrument tracks....arps, data filters, ect. 

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7 hours ago, Navigator said:

Thanks for the suggestions guys! Cool to learn about the options.

Have you heard about Rotor by Reactable on iOS?

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