Some advice building my soft-synth studio?

Discussion in 'Digital Audio' started by txa1265, Jun 14, 2010.

  1. txa1265 macrumors 6502a

    txa1265

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Location:
    Corning, NY
    #1
    Hey all - been a hobbyist musician for ages, and have a decent MIDI studio setup (Emu Proteus MPS+, Roland JV-880, Kurzweil K2000R, Roland drum machine, Yamaha FB-01, etc) with MOTU Micro Express interface and Digital Performer software (which I keep upgrading but still operate more or less like original Performer 5 from ~15 years or so ago!).

    My younger son is a very good pianist and has been using my setup more and more ... so I want to get him set up. Since he plays more than me and is much more interested in exploring the hardware, I was going to have him use all of my hardware.

    I have a M-Audio Axiom Pro on the way now, and will interface that with Digital Performer. I already know how to interface DP with Garage Band and use those sounds, but am really looking for some help getting some software synths - and that is part of the reason I noted the rack gear I have.

    My music is some mish-mosh of jazz/fusion/minimalist classical stuff, and so I like a wide array of realistic small band and orchestral sounds mixed with digital and analog synth sounds.

    I had a really old version of Reason on PC, and that was pretty cool. I have also seen that Korg has some soft-synths that encompass their M1 and Wavestation synths (loved the Wavestation!). I would like something that would work like the Roland synth (which I largely use for a bank I made to recreate my fave Juno-106 patches and also for the Vintage Synth add-in board), and also the classic FM sounds of the FB-01 (basically a budget partial DX-7) ... and whatever else.

    Any thoughts for me? Thanks in advance!

    Oh - running on a unibody dual-core Macbook Pro 15".
     
  2. howard macrumors 68020

    howard

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2002
    #2
    sounds like you want a synth that does a lot, or a lot of synths! What is your budget?

    There are tons of synths that will get you the synths sounds like your roland, but then you mention mostly playing jazz/fusion/classical. When it comes to real instruments you'll want to get a sample library for the best sounds.

    It will really be a sliding scale between how much you want to spend and how good you want the sounds to sound. Reason, as you mentioned using before, has pretty much everything, but the real instrument sounds aren't the best. Well, the keyboards and piano are fine, but for example woodwinds, brass and strings leave something to be desired. Still, if you still have it you might be able to upgrade for a much lower price.

    You could get a sampler like kontakt which comes with a variety of great sounding real instruments, plus the option to expand your library, but then you are missing out on the synth sounds.

    I would be able to give a better recommendation based on what exactly you'll be doing with these too. As in just playing them for fun, for live, for recording, etc.
     
  3. MowingDevil macrumors 68000

    MowingDevil

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2008
    Location:
    Vancouver, BC & Sydney, NSW
    #3
    Virtual Drummers

    Anyone have any experience and opinions on any of these sample based drumkit plug-ins?

    Stuff like Addictive Drums, EZ Drummer, Superior Drummer, Steven Slate, Drum Core etc
     
  4. txa1265 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    txa1265

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Location:
    Corning, NY
    #4
    Well ... it is home only.

    And I know I need to come up with a balance.

    In my current config, the Emu and K2000 have really good 'realistic instruments', with the Emu having the Symphonic module added in.

    The Roland, Yamaha and K2000 are great for my more synthy stuff (both Roland and K2000 have analog synth add-ons).

    I know I will need to drop at least a few hundred, but honestly would rather stay below say ~$500 total for now. For that, if I could get a couple of things I would be happy.
     
  5. howard macrumors 68020

    howard

    Joined:
    Nov 18, 2002
    #5
    I have Addictive Drums and I like it a lot because of the quick load times and ease of use. I also actually prefer the limited sample set. I'm not a drummer and don't have a good palette when it comes to drums sounds, I don't want to audition 20kits and get lost in that. I also don't want the sample set to take 3 mins to load every time I open the session. Thats why I like addicitve drums to sketch things out and then record real drums later or try and get close enough with addictive drums. That being said if you want the best sounding closest to a real kit as possible, look into steven slate or ocean way drums. But your computer and your bank account may suffer!

    Try and dig up that old copy of Reason if you can! For only $130 upgrade fee this will get you most of what you want. It will definitely fill in your synth needs and it will at least have ok sounding orchestral instruments.

    Otherwise I'd split it up, and get something like garritan personal orchestra 4 for orchestral instruments and then any soft synth for the synth stuff. Thing is there are SO many soft synths out there with a wide variety of opinions on what they do well. I've only tried a small percentage of them. Luckily a lot of demos so you can try before you buy most of the time. For what its worth I've enjoyed using the fabfilter synths. Anything from Native Instruments will also get the job done.

    I just remembered that you use Digital Performer. They also include some basic synths which might be a good starting point before you spend money on something else.
     
  6. That-Is-Bull macrumors 6502

    That-Is-Bull

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Edmond, Oklahoma
    #6
    FYI, Reason 5 is coming out in a few months. If you find your old copy of Reason and register on the website you might be able to get into the beta.
     
  7. txa1265 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    txa1265

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Location:
    Corning, NY
    #7
    Thanks for that - I noticed that this morning ... we moved a couple of years back and I had moved all music to the Mac before then and haven't found my copy of Reason (or Cakewalk for that matter) yet ... could be another expensive moving expense ...
     
  8. txa1265 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    txa1265

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Location:
    Corning, NY
    #8
    Well ... thanks for pushing the Reason upgrade - it is pretty awesome, and the way ReWire automatically hooks into Digital Performer is great - just barely touched it last night but it looks great.

    Also, the Korg Legacy Digital Edition (with full 256-note poly M1 and Wavestation) is just too sweet to pass up ... but now I need a USB hub because it has a USB dongle for security ...

    Might also bite on the IK Multimedia 'Buy 1 Get 2' deal I found at the MOTU forums ... and if enough folks grab it everyone gets the fourth one free as well!

    Hopefully this weekend I'll have a chance to really work with all of this stuff and get it going, import some old tunes in and see how they play.

    Thanks again for all the help!

    [edit] Oh - as a sign of how cluelessly I've been upgrading Digital Performer (and the fact that I still use it like Performer 5) I have just started to discover the cool set of virtual instruments included with DP7! (would perhaps if I RTFM rather than just playing around and searching help when I got stuck!)
     
  9. That-Is-Bull macrumors 6502

    That-Is-Bull

    Joined:
    Sep 29, 2007
    Location:
    Edmond, Oklahoma
    #9
    You should also check out Record. It's Propellerhead's recording app, if you have Reason installed it can access all of the instruments and effects from that. It's basically like Reason but with a badass new mixer window and some awesome UI improvements.
     
  10. txa1265 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    txa1265

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Location:
    Corning, NY
    #10
    I will keep that in mind when the Reason/Record upgrade bundle comes around ... but I am quite invested in Digital Performer ... and really like working directly in MIDI.
     
  11. ChrisA macrumors G4

    Joined:
    Jan 5, 2006
    Location:
    Redondo Beach, California
    #11
    If you are on a Mac, look into Logic. Logic Express is $199. It comes with a load of very nice virtual instruments including drum machines and softsynths and a samplers too.

    That said one of the best soft synths I've seen, I just discovered and have the demo now. I'm using it inside Logic as an AU plug-in. more here: www.applied-acoustics.com check out Tassman, and Ultra Linear. I'm using their "lounge Lizard" with my Yamaha P155 keyboard.

    For playing and recording I don't think you need much more then a good keyboard with good keyaction, Logic express and some good software instruments. I'm hapy with the P155, logic and now the Applied Acustics stuff.
     
  12. txa1265 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    txa1265

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Location:
    Corning, NY
    #12
    Again ... Digital Performer is extremely deep and comprehensive - some like certain features of Logic Pro better, but as someone who has used Performer since the early 80's 1.0 days, the way it handles MIDI data is ingrained in my brain at this point. Not looking for a new MIDI software ... just the soft-synths.

    That said - thanks for the Applied-Acoustics link ... since they have a demo I will definitely check it out!
     
  13. txa1265 thread starter macrumors 6502a

    txa1265

    Joined:
    Aug 15, 2002
    Location:
    Corning, NY
    #13
    Played with these last night - they work great in Digital Performer and while I still wait for my Axiom Pro to arrive (supposedly today) I used my old setup and found the sounds to be really good, but the responsiveness felt a bit lacking compared to some others ... but I've barely scratched the surface./
     

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