Where to start?

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Where to start?

Post by oshihari » Thu May 17, 2018 11:31 pm

Hello everyone!

As the title says, I'm new to the topic of synthesizers, at least mostly. I know basic stuff, but I can't get into too much detail. Anyway, know-how is something that's free for everyone, so I can work on that. If you are reading half through this and you think:
"God, this guy talks nonsense! You better go off this forum and play videogames again"
I am, except watching like two thousand videos and listening to hundreds of songs, new to the topic of synthesizers. Not to the music, but to the system, to the instrument and to the way to play.
If you catch any grammatical or spelling mistakes, please be tolerant, english is not the language I grew up with :mrgreen:

My question to you guys is: Where do I start investing?
In the previous year I've been looking at synthesizers more and more, specially at Moog machines, and I was impressed from the beginning. I was fascinated of fiddling knobs and pressing switches since I was a little kid (my granddad was an electrician), so I keow exactly when I saw my first modular, this is it, this is what I want.

So I love minimoogs, like the Voyager and of course the Model D (correct me if those aren't minimoogs?), because like all Moog synthesizers they are awesome instruments. But what really hit me from the beggining where the modulars, especially the Model 15, system 35 and system 55. The Voyager XL is a great compromise between a minimoog and a modular, because it has patching options, what is really great I think. Doe the digital display is kinda bothering me, because you know... I don't know what it is, but it kinda doesn't fit (just my two cents!) Another option would be the Moog Mother 32, or even more Mothers! Three mothers in a stack, together with a nice wooden keyboard to connect (I don't know which one tho!), would at least give somehow an modular feeling to it. My dream, a real modular, like a System 35/55 stands in the stars. I'm 16 years old, I don't have 22 grands (or more) to spend on a synthesizer. Even if I had, my parents would scream at me to use them for an instrument! They would force me to get a car, although I would prefer the moog. and if it would mean to live at my friends house, I would get it anyway^^

So what's your thoughts on my problem? I have birthday soon. An option would be to fire all my savings, together with my birthday money, into an iPad and then getting the Model 15 app, which seems to be great for beginners. Do I miss something out? Should I inform myself more? Do I make any major mistakes that are maybe commonly for beginners to commit? I could also save all my money, wait for christmas, search for a weekend job and make the money for more than just an App. The thing is, I doubt I would use the iPad for more than watching videos and using the Model 15 app. And the question is, is it worth to spent 480+30 bucks on an app? Anyway, what's your thoughts?

Thanks for reading!

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Re: Where to start?

Post by IgorCristo » Fri May 18, 2018 9:04 am


Some things are not exactly quite clear yet. One of the things that matter, is this: do you play keyboard instruments?

If you do, although an iPad might seem like an interesting approach, you’ll still need a MIDI controller (150 for a good one) and a CCK (from Apple, to connect it to the iPad, for more 30 bucks).in the end, you’re paying 700 for the whole kit.

I’m an iPad user since beginning of its time, but I’m using it as a computer and not only as a synth/YouTube. I’d say, that if you’re really interested in learning synthesizers and playing, the iPad is not the way to go.

As I see, you have two options to go: Sub Phatty and Grandmother.

The Sub Phatty is a really decent self-contained synthesizer, with 25 keys, full of knobs, a very good list of features, good quality build. The drawback for you is that it isn’t modular at all, so you’ll have to live with its limitation. The good side is that it has some digital controls for extra features and is capable of saving presets. It isn’t exactly in the sound realm of the modulars you like, it can get quite distorted if wanted, and sonic wise it’s away from the Minimoog sounds you probably enjoy, but that distortion might be a good thing for you.

The Grandmother is just out of the bake from Moog. It has the quality of being semi-modular, and in the future might be used as a centerpiece for an ever growing eurorack you could build. It’s currently 900 dollars, but I’d say it would be better as an investment if you’re really into modular. You could later add a Mother 32 to it, and really interconnect stuff, just like on the modulars you’ve listed. The drawback here is lack of patch saving (although you could always write your presets on a piece of paper), fewer features (as standalone), but it comes with 32 keys (which is something much better than 25, much better) and adds an internal spring reverb.

I’d say that in the end, the only thing I wouldn’t recommend if you want that sound you’ve heard, is an iPad. The iPad is a cool gadget, I love using musical apps, but it isn’t a musical instrument. You’ll miss the physical connection that a real synthesizer would give you.

These analog monophonic synths are not only about the “sound you expect”, they have some life on their own, a special magic happening in the circuits, and I’d certainly recommend one of these. I would run away from beginners catchers like the Monologue (which is good for what you pay, but you’ll grow tired of it quickly if you want some modular action).

I’ll be around if you have any questions...

Moog Minimoog Voyager Performer Edition and Little Phatty Stage II | Elektron Analog Four and Analog Rytm | Mutable Instruments Ambika | Korg Minilogue

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Re: Where to start?

Post by ummagumma » Sat May 19, 2018 1:58 pm

I would start with the grandmother, myself

great sound, some good patching possibilities, not too expensive, and will always be useful in the future since it has so many patch points

ps if you are *really* on a budget, get a used Korg MS-20 mini for $400 or so. they are great IMO

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Re: Where to start?

Post by EricK » Sun May 20, 2018 7:40 pm

Welcome to the forum.

One thing you can do is consider the used market also. There are the Little Phatty synths that you can probably find for under $1000, and there are a couple of vintage Moogs like the Micromoog or the Prodigy that might be also under that price if you are patient and willing to research first.

If you are interested in the Moog modular look and functionality, you can always get the modular you want from another company like Moslab's System 15 (4000 euros) or Synth-Werk's versions of the System 10 and 12 for more than 5k euros each. But either of those brands are as close as possible to the original Moogs for a fraction of the price. Then there is synthesizers.com which are different from Moog in sound and looks and much more affordable. Those are the modular options.

There have even been times when you could get a Minimoog Voyager Old School for under 2k, but you have to really watch the market fluctuate. Or you can find a Slim Phatty and just get a Midi controller.

There are a lot of routes that you can go but you have your whole life to acquire the coveted stuff. This is a great time to be into synths though because a lot of classic stuff is being reissued, and the coveted Model Ds will always be around.

Good luck!
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