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The most "unstable" VA?
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Author The most "unstable" VA?
the19thbear
So i am looking for a VA hardware synth.
I am very much in to the very old Roland stuff. SH1000. Jupiter 4 etc. In my world the jupiter 4 was the last real beefy sounding polysynth. (I dont want to start a discussion on my taste or lack thereof, just want to let you know what i am looking for:)

So, what i really like:
Roland sh1000.
Arp oddyssey
Roland Jupiter 4
Roland system 100.

I guess i like synths up until 1982 or so. Everything after that, is beginning to sound too cold and sterile. The juno60s and 106s, jx3ps are fun and all, but not the sound i am looking for.
Im more after the sound of the 60s and 70s. No hint of 80s.
Think of bands like Portishead, Stereolab, Broadcast, bob hund... kind of krautrock/sample and hold stuff.

So i guess this adds up to this:
-VA
-Sample and hold
-NO stepping when adjusting any parameters.
-Naturally unstable oscillators. Well at least a parameter that mimicks it:). An extra "wow" thing would be if i can somehow adjust octave tracking and not have perfect octaves.
-Memory
-Doesnt have to have knobs per function, since i have a midi controller with lots of knobs. But i guess it never hurts to have knob per function:)
-Small would be nice
-Budget price would be nice
-polyphony. At least 4 notes. Adjustable polyphony would be nice, to mimick the J4 voice stealing stuff.
-Doesnt have to have any on board effects, but i guess an old school chorus would be nice.
-no bad aliasing (i know you will always get some with VAs).


I have used creamware/sonic core stuff in the past. It sounds great, but the oscillators are simply to perfect in tracking/stability etc.

What i am looking at so far:
Alesis micron:
Seems to have the osc drift function and many filter to choose from. Actually it might have too many choices for me in general, but it seems nice. uses NRPN, which can be a problem for me when it comes to controlling it from a midi controller (all though i think my controller supports this).

Akai miniak: The same as the above?? It has osc drift too. Still the same, nprp.

If there are any alternatives i would like to get a synth with standard midi CC instead.

Any thoughts?
Thanks!smile
Devilwidget
In my experience, you won't find what your after. I haven't used any hardware VA that even comes close to that sound. You could get closer by using a chorus or delay effect that emulates that sound, of which there are many - I would highly recommend the Strymon Deco, as it adds a really authentic drift to whatever goes through it, far more so than any alternative (though it is not cheap).
Synthwise, the only thing in hardware (the arturia plug ins can get pretty close at times) I have found is the Roland System 1. I absolutely didn't think it would, an you wouldn't know by the presets or by its architecture, but there is something about the way its oscillators are implemented that can manage that sounds (especially through the Deco).
sonicwarrior
You can mimic osc drift with random/chaos stuff or LFO waveforms. A Clavia Micro Modular or Modular v1 would come in mind for budget prices.

But I guess if you like drifted sounds you are better off saving up for a Jupiter 4.

Reading your description I doubt you will be happy with any VA if you already dismiss analog classics like the Juno 60.
the19thbear
Thanks!smile
Tell my more about the system 1. What plug out did you load? I saw that they have the system 100 emulation, and the promars (which is a 1 voice j4). Its sad that its only monophonic when in plug out mode though..
BugBrand
Wouldn't the Roland JU-06 potentially be interesting?
SB-SIX
If you consider a miniak/Micron, have a look at the ion too, its basically a Micron with knobs.
It has a certain distinct sound, a bit like the novation KS series. But I would not consider it analogue-sounding. Maybe an ms2000 gets closer to sounding analog. But when you think a Juno60 is too sterile, I dont think youll find more organic variants in VA.
the19thbear
Thanks. Im pretty impressed with the plug out system 100. Monophonic though. But i guess if you want a polysynth you just dont use the plug out feature and just use it as a normal digital synth. Might be worth a try:)
wiperactive
Almost inevitably such requests often end up with an ever broadening list of suggestions that don't seem to fit.

My suggestion would be, consider a second hand Waldorf Q rack (not the under powered Micro Q). It has great programming depth, a big beefy 'present' sound and... although initially it doesn't seem to typically lean toward that more rounded sound... could be programmed to have many of the qualities of those older Roland synths. Haven't had mine long, but when I first fired it up I got some great epic Roland-like pads and bass sounds (with good internal movement) after some parameter re-adjustments. It can do much else besides of course.
the19thbear
Thanks! Great input. Does it have any osc drift etc features?
Devilwidget
To counter/affirm an above sugggestion, stay well away from the novation synth. They are good (particularly the Ultranova), but they will never sound like what you are after. The roland boutiques might be worth a shot - though its a shame they didn't to a JU-08 as the JX8P sounds much more 'old analogue' that the JX3P. JX8P's are also weirdly unpopular, so you could pick one up pretty cheap.
Dimitree
don't know if it would fit your needs, but on Novation Ultranova/Mininova you can set "oscillator drift" and you can also set the phase of the oscillators (from 0° to 357° or free running)
Selador
I think you would be incredibly happy with a DSI P6 or the rack version, or the new OB6, you'll get seventies analogue sound (with loads of drift options) with contemporary reliability and features.
fac
SB-SIX wrote:
Maybe an ms2000 gets closer to sounding analog.


Actually, the MS2000 sounds very digital and has a relatively wimpy filter.

No VA sounds like an early (pre-MIDI) analog polysynth. You can get close to some extent by adding slight random modulations to oscillator pitches, pre / post-filter overdrive, and maybe a bit of external processing, but it still won't be the same.

Personally, I think the Nord Lead 3 is very capable for this kind of thing, it can sound fat but it doesn't really sound like an old analog.
wiperactive
the19thbear wrote:
Thanks! Great input. Does it have any osc drift etc features?


This is in relation to my mention of the Waldorf Q rack, right?

As mentioned haven't had it long and I'm currently 'grounded' from any serious synth activity until I relocate. As far as I remember the Q rack doesn't have that specific user feature other than what's built into the VA emulation models. However it has great and varied modulation facilities for each of the three oscillators. It also has sub-harmonic oscillators. The best sounding and most versatile VA I've ever owned.

A large part of homing into what you're after lies in your programming ability and hearing acuity as much as the chosen platform. As you probably know, the 'default' tendencies of a particular synth aren't always the full story.
J KAY
Yamaha an1x is the most interesting VA to me....I just had to return one I bought off Ebay because it was damaged in shipping waah ( gotta love royal mail)

edit: just realised it said unstable, I read usable Mr. Green
Jason Brock
OP - based on your high standards, don't waste time and money looking for a VA to sound like that. Save up for real analog. Listen to some demos of the Vermona Perforumer, it might work for you since you get four voices that will all be slightly different from one another. You'd have to give up patch storage of course.
the19thbear
Selador wrote:
I think you would be incredibly happy with a DSI P6 or the rack version, or the new OB6, you'll get seventies analogue sound (with loads of drift options) with contemporary reliability and features.


I have been drooling a lot over the p6 in the past. Trust me! I have only heard youtube stuff, but it sounds VERY promising! Too expensive for me though. But thanks for the input:)

wiperactive wrote:
the19thbear wrote:
Thanks! Great input. Does it have any osc drift etc features?


This is in relation to my mention of the Waldorf Q rack, right?

As mentioned haven't had it long and I'm currently 'grounded' from any serious synth activity until I relocate. As far as I remember the Q rack doesn't have that specific user feature other than what's built into the VA emulation models. However it has great and varied modulation facilities for each of the three oscillators. It also has sub-harmonic oscillators. The best sounding and most versatile VA I've ever owned.

A large part of homing into what you're after lies in your programming ability and hearing acuity as much as the chosen platform. As you probably know, the 'default' tendencies of a particular synth aren't always the full story.


Yup. I was referring to you:) I'll look into that synth. Thanks
the19thbear
Deleted:)
SynthBaron
Devilwidget wrote:

Synthwise, the only thing in hardware (the arturia plug ins can get pretty close at times)


The Arturia Origin hardware sound module exists, so it is an option (and I do think Arturia's stuff sounds the closest).
renny3c
If you really "NEED" analog, buy analog...

+ 1 for the Jx-8P
Real deal analog sound, for a great price... the only catch is controlling it. if you dont get the controller, you will need to go through the trouble of buying a Behringer brc2000 to use the midi knobs.


Comment:
I Love the MS2000B/microkorg engine... its exactly what a 2000´s era digital VA synth trying to sound like a real analog should sound like... To my ears it it THE sound of the 2000s... wow, that engine is almost 15 years old !
the19thbear
Jason Brock wrote:
OP - based on your high standards, don't waste time and money looking for a VA to sound like that. Save up for real analog. Listen to some demos of the Vermona Perforumer, it might work for you since you get four voices that will all be slightly different from one another. You'd have to give up patch storage of course.


You might be rigth. It might be something that cant be done digitally (yet).

Are there any boxes that i can configure in a modular environmet and the unlpug and use it stand alone? I know Nord was doing stuff years back, but its long gone.
The closest thing i can think of is axoloti, but its seriously underpowered.
I'm just thinking, if i cant find a solution now, maybe i could do a lot of stuff with modulating oscillators etc to get the drift etc. So a computer in a box would be great. Any other options than axoloti and old Nord stuff? (Not arduino. Thats a bit too low level for me).
gruebleengourd
the19thbear wrote:

Im more after the sound of the 60s and 70s. No hint of 80s.
Think of bands like Portishead, Stereolab, Broadcast, bob hund... kind of krautrock/sample and hold stuff.

So i guess this adds up to this:
-VA
-Sample and hold
-NO stepping when adjusting any parameters.
-Naturally unstable oscillators. Well at least a parameter that mimicks it:). An extra "wow" thing would be if i can somehow adjust octave tracking and not have perfect octaves.
-Memory
-Doesnt have to have knobs per function, since i have a midi controller with lots of knobs. But i guess it never hurts to have knob per function:)
-Small would be nice
-Budget price would be nice
-polyphony. At least 4 notes. Adjustable polyphony would be nice, to mimick the J4 voice stealing stuff.
-Doesnt have to have any on board effects, but i guess an old school chorus would be nice.
-no bad aliasing (i know you will always get some with VAs).


Well, you're not going to find all that in a VA synth. The only stuff that really tried to model real analogue behavior and not just be 'virtual analog' is the roland boutiques (80s rolands), the yamaha plg-an (prophet 5) and creamware (roland/moog/sequential). The micron -- maybe but I was never convinced by the sound, however, I never owned one that worked for more than 10 minutes.

A lot of that funky vibe older synth sound is from the instabilities and non linearites in circuit design and component choice, that just isn't really modeled in a VA. Getting that just from a modern synth is not going to happen. You'd do much better adding a weird old mixer and a spring reverb than picking the most vintage of VAs (which btw strangely enough the most 'old' sounding VA I know is the redsound darkstar, much more like a yamaha cs10 or korg ms10 in tone than prophet 5 / roland but it's not the easiest synth to work with).

If you have a sonic-core system (and not the ASBs) you could worse than checking out Celmo's devices. Best stuff for vintage tone on that platform.

A new inexpensive thing that can take you into the weird unstable sounds a la later broadcast is the twisted electrons AY-3, but it does sound 80s too, but 80s arcade cabinet sfx not 80s synths. It also certainly doesn't meet all of your specs.

Another thing to remember is that people really weren't using polysynths back in the 70s so much. There really weren't any of them till 77 or so and not at all common until 78/79.

It was mostly divide down organs and their string machine variants that made the polyphonic sounds.
the19thbear
The darkstar looks cool but still has a pretty weird layout though:) But i would like to try it! The AY8 looks cool as well, but its a different genre:) I love the CS30, so the CS10 is no bad source of inspiration!
I'll keep looking. Might have to buy an axoloti board just for experimenting and then see what i can do with that (not expexting to be able to to make an amazing VA, just to see how far i can get with making things unstable).
Scories
The Korg Z1 has 4 lfo's per voice, including random vectorial waveshapes.
I've nailed many BoC types of sounds with it back in the days.
gruebleengourd
the19thbear wrote:
The AY8 looks cool as well, but its a different genre:)


It does seem different genre, but it does weird pulse organ sounds and strange efx that made me say 'tender buttons.' It's actually easy to program those then the proper games sounds.
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