So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

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YamsforBreakfast
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So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

Unread post by YamsforBreakfast »

Hi Everyone,
I hope I am posting in the right forum.
I have wanted a YAMAHA keyboard synthesizer since I was young. I know nothing about them at all, no experience but have decided that my current mid-life crisis is the perfect time to consider buying to learn and have fun with! I thought it would be great to have some synth in some guitar songs I am writing (punkish stuff), as well as explore one as a hobby and maybe make some weird music. for fun.
When I first thought about it I was hooked on "otherworldly" analog sounds and that is something I still want. I began researching and almost bought a CS 10, but it sold, and then found a CS-15 and it sold, too.
I also discovered I really like the sounds on a DX 7, so I went down that rabbit hole. When I contacted a few msuically inclined people I know, I found one has a friend who is selling a Model called a DX-27. I know little about it.
Buying vintage I am also need to be concerned about electronic malfunction, and I have know knowledge of any of that!

Then I stumbled on the MODx series, thoughts? Would that be a better purchase? I think my budget is around $1800 total.

Anyway in my area, I have found the following vintage around for consideration:

Cs 10
DX 7
DX 27
SY 77
EX 5
Just found out there is a CS6x(?) someone is selling, is this a good one?

Basically, I want to bleeps bloops otherworld, 80s sounds, trance/techno, and modern. Like a true noobie I want all of that in one unit!
Are any of those vintage ones worth considering or should I invest in new technology like a MODX or something?
Any help appreciated as there is so much information overload and I have no idea where to begin!! Soory for the noob questions that are probably equivalent to asking if anyone has heard of a Ford Escort.
Thanks!



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SeaGtGruff
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Re: So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

Unread post by SeaGtGruff »

Welcome to the forums! And what a deep question. :D

If it were me asking for myself, I think I'd go with a MODX, and maybe get a Behringer Model D or other inexpensive analog synth to go with it.

But it really depends on what you feel you'd be happiest with. Just be sure to get something you won't outgrow too quickly, and I'd recommend something that can be easily connected to a computer for recording, sequencing, and controlling virtual instruments.
Michael Rideout
Current keyboards: Yamaha YPT-400, PSR-E433, PSR-E443, PSR-EW400, MX49 BK
Current controllers: M-Audio Axiom 61-II
Previous keyboards: Farfisa Matador 611; Casio CTK-710

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Rara
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Re: So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

Unread post by Rara »

If I was a noob and had the hind sight I have now I would not touch any of those listed.
because repairs to them are sometimes more difficult and technicians are becoming very expense so you need
to learn those skills as well. I was quoted repairs on my SY77 for its motherboard, seriously it is
cheaper to replace the whole synth with another and keep the old as a spare unit.

Being new to the music, as above has mentioned, get something new like modx which is a lot more friendly with a computer.
Later when you become better acquainted with keyboards, then venture into headachesville with vintage gear.

Rara 0-)

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Re: So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

Unread post by parametric »

GOOD advice from Rara . . . . . .

The MODX represents amazing value AND capability and will work straight out of the box . . . . .

The older Synths ARE wonderful, but many are now 30 years old - and the electronics WILL be starting to have problems

which will require getting inside and having the tech skills to attempt to sort out . . . .

NOT probably what you have in mind in buying your first Synth . . . . .

Synth-tech has moved along enormously in 30 years and I think you'll be gob-smacked at what the MODX is capable of . . . .

Add to that the ease of interfacing with a Computer and a DAW - if that is where you want to go . . . .

LOTS to look forward to . . . . (Y)

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Re: So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

Unread post by Saul »

I would just echo what others have said. Get yourself the MODX. The combination of extended FM and AWM2 results in a superbly versatile synth. There really isn't much in the way of "out there" sounds you could not create.

The other way to go is a MIDI controller keyboard and software. And with your budget, you could put together a powerhouse synth whose limits are unbounded!

For example Native Instruments Komplete Kontrol series:

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Re: So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

Unread post by puremusic »

If you go the software synth route, there's stuff like Arturia's CS-80 to get you your Yamaha sound fix. :D
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Re: So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

Unread post by Derek »

I personally would say there is nothing wrong with the "vintage" route for Yamaha synths of some of the models you mentioned. The SY77 and EX5 still represent a good slice Yamaha's high water mark in my opinion, and they still sound amazing today. The reliability and stability of these digital synths is still fine, and not the same as old genuine analogs. And Yamaha kit is built to last. I've never had problems with Yamaha gear other than a failed PSU on one of my EX5s.

If what you want is the sounds you mentioned, then you might also want to consider an AN1x - Yamaha's virtual analog modelling at its finest. These still sound great today and can usually be found for good price

The MODX also represents a good choice, but it really depends on what you want. As a good general purpose AWM and FM synth then it ticks all the boxes, but if you want to make sounds that rely on more esoteric synth patching like oscillator sync and cross modulation then AWM does not cut it so well there (it may have samples of those techniques but it is not the same), and this is where a VA option might be better.

And then there is the soft synth route, which is now so good these days it is geting hard to tell the difference (certainly when the sounds are in a mix). If your interest is in bleeps and bloops I would probably go more for the Arturia V collection though as it has a huge array of modelled analog and digital emulations.

What is for sure is that you have plenty of choice!

I would say of you budget can stretch for it, go for the MODX as that will give you a very good keyboard and sound source in its own right, and then couple that with the V collection to expand it further - possibly also a second controller keyboard (controller only or something else that makes a sound) as and when you need it.

Or if you want to be a bit more selective VST wise, then U-HE's soft synths like DIVA, ZEBRA, HIVE and REPRO 1/5 (Sequential Pro-One and Prophet 5 emulation) sound utterly amazing.

That is essentially what my gig rig is. I have a Montage 7 and a Korg Kronos as my two keyboards, but I also have a small NUC PC for stage use, hidden in my gig rack (along with a Nord G2 engine for good measure!) that is powerful enough to run any soft synth that I have in my collection. So I have the best of all worlds.

That works for me! :)
Regards
Derek Cook

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Re: So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

Unread post by YamsforBreakfast »

Thanks for all the input guys! I must admit a lot of it went over my head! Derek, I'll look into some of the things you mentioned.
I am looking into the MODX series and perhaps new might be a better option, at least initially, Most likely the MODx 6 as it is within budget and I *may* have a line on a used one!
A quick question, since it has no speaker, is just using a guitar amplifier okay? I have a THR 10. Or do I have buy speakers for this?
Thanks

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Re: So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

Unread post by SeaGtGruff »

My understanding is that you can use a guitar amplifier for a keyboard, but a bass amplifier is better because it's designed for a wider range of frequencies. In a pinch, you can even use computer speakers, although you'll need a 1/8"-to-1/4" stereo adapter.
Michael Rideout
Current keyboards: Yamaha YPT-400, PSR-E433, PSR-E443, PSR-EW400, MX49 BK
Current controllers: M-Audio Axiom 61-II
Previous keyboards: Farfisa Matador 611; Casio CTK-710

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Re: So, Where Do I Start with Synthesizers? Vintage? New?

Unread post by Derek »

YamsforBreakfast wrote:
Fri Jun 12, 2020 3:50 am
Thanks for all the input guys! I must admit a lot of it went over my head! Derek, I'll look into some of the things you mentioned.
I am looking into the MODX series and perhaps new might be a better option, at least initially, Most likely the MODx 6 as it is within budget and I *may* have a line on a used one!
A quick question, since it has no speaker, is just using a guitar amplifier okay? I have a THR 10. Or do I have buy speakers for this?
Thanks
Hi, regarding the amp question, normally I would say NO, as guitar amps and speakers normally have limited bandwidth to suit the guitar and filter out unwanted harmonics, which means a keyboard put through a guitar amp will sound quite muddy with no top end. Then there also the issue of input impedance and voltage input range of the amp, which is designed to match the tiny levels and passive output of a guitar, not active line level outs of a keyboard. So if you put a keyboard into a guitar amp, you normally have to have the keyboard volume set really low.

However, the THR series is a modelling amp, so when you look at its specs it says it has a "full range" speaker. The THR10 amp options also includes a "flat" mode which gives a
Flat response clean input for line sources, tone and effect controls allow shaping of non-guitar sources
And when you look at the input specs, the guitar input is quoted at -10dBu which is "consumer line level", so it looks like the amp must be designed to take both guitar level and line level signals

So you should be able to run the MODX or similar into the THR amp via its main input and the amp model set to flat and it should sound OK, but note that when you look at the trouble shooting section of the manual (it was by the specs) one of the causes of no sound is being in flat mode with all the tone controls set to zero!

But then when you look at the AUX input on the block diagram, as expected, it bypasses the amp model. SO I would recommend that you could connect the keyboard this way and it leaves the guitar section alone for your guitar. The AUX input is 3.5mm, so you will need an adaptor or lead to convert from the MODX 1/4" jack output to the amps 3.5mm input.

Also looking at the manual you may be able to use USB as an audio input, but, as the MODX audio USB port is also USB A you would need a USB A to A lead which are not common, and USB A ports tend to be host ports, but in this case it might work as they are both bi-directional devices in terms of passing audio. So assuming they are fully class compliant it might work.

If you are using USB to get the guitar sound into your computer, the only thing to note is that if you do use the AUX signal input that it does not appear to get routed to the USB.

But you certainly have options to use the THR until you need to do something else as and when your setup grows.

Hope that helps.
Regards
Derek Cook

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