How familiar are you with synth stuff?

Are there any keyboard geeks on here that could walk up a basic standard subtractive synth (Voyager, Rob Papen, or Arturia etc) and know what they’re looking at?

Who here would humbly but honestly consider themselves pretty familiar with the basic concepts?

…If I remember correctly, Brandon actually had a pretty handle on this. But I can’t remember who the others were that knew their way around this area.

My primary axe is keys. There are a lot of subtractive synths out there, but they share a lot of similar controls and workflow.

Yeah, I could put my hand up to consider myself familiar with the concepts.


Yeah mate, they are all pretty similar when you get into them.
I grew up on hardwarw synths and i think they are easyer to learn as when you’re actually turning and setting controls by hand you tend to learn more as appose to clicking and dragging a mouse on a confusingly laid out plug in.
Basically you start with the oscillator and choose the wave you want either sine, saw, square etc. turn everything else off.
You now have a soundwave .
Now by adding filter and cut off you essencially are carving the frequency of the wave to get a sound you like.
Then you can use the LFO Etc to shape the sound further.
Also you usually have an arpegiator and a few effects.
The most important thing to remember on a synth is that the frequency control on the oscillator controlls the pitch and tone of the soundwave, its amplitude.
The frequency control on the filter controls the frequency of the filter only (like an eq) and doesnt effect to pitcj of the actual soundwave only the timbre.

Its best to start with a basic tone and have a sound in your head that you want to achieve. All synths are different and some very complicated for behinners but when you break them down into their individual sections they soon open up to you.


Yup. That’s pretty much it. General signal flow is 3 osc -> 2 filters -> Env. Then you route LFO’s, pitch and mod into the specific sections.

I just wondered. Mostly people talk about guitars on this forum for whatever reason. Nothing wrong with that. Always interesting how guitars get so much more attention than keyboards. Maybe because there’s only a handful of flagship keyboards out there, and they’re all literally identical? Like…all Yamaha Motifs XS or XF’s are EXACTLY the same. Same computer chip. Same tone. So the lack of uniqueness and lack of options doesn’t make for very good discussion? Hmmm.

I think there should be a dedicated synth section on this site.
There are LOADS of differences with keyboards/synths, especially the older ones.
It predominantly comes down to the filter, thats what gives a synth its trademark sound.
When people say the ‘moog’ sound or the ‘ms’ sound that they want. They are without realising it talking about the filter.
Thats why modular synths are amazing, the ability to add an ms style filter to a moog set up or another filter after the arpegiator etc. I used to have a few old synths but sold them.
Built a few filter modules too . Still got one somewhere :slight_smile:yeah i love synths.
We should have a synth section!!!

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What I meant was that you can play 10 Gibson Les Paul Standards and they’re all unique. If you play 10 Korg Tritons, they’re exactly the same.


Yeah but i dont class a korg trition as an analog synth.
A trition is good but its just a digital sampler.

Every modular synth and most hardware synths of an older generation i have fiddled on have all been different and all had their own personality.

Comparing a les paul to a triton os wrong.
A les paul is more like the early moogs and believe me they are all very different.

A triton would be more like a dreadnaught guitar. All the same

The wiring, capacitors used, resistors, trimpots all make a difference to the sound.
Even models of the same synth can sound and feel different just like guitars.
Plus with older synths things have been replaced, altered, upgraded or swapped and you end up with a unique piece of hardware giving a unique sound.
Even things down to the type of solder used make a difference, length of wires etc.

However in the digital world be it plugin or digital hardware yes you are right, all the same.
But you cant compare a guitar to a piece of digital gear.

Miscommunication. The triton is certainly not an analog synth. :smiley:

My statement about Triton vs LP was contrasting the collectability value. Its no fun (and completely pointless) to sit around and collect 61 key tritons, specifically because they are all the same. So I agree with you that vintage boards have their own personalities. And a keys player can go nuts with the modular designs like a guitarist does with their pedalboards. lol.

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Yeah i sort of went off on one about analog gear lol.
Back to the op though, and synths in general we should have a dedicated synth section and build up a library of info, setups, methods etc maybe even a section for people to upload midi sequences and also settings to share. That would be cool

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I’ve only been able to get to know how a prophet, minimoog, polysix, ms20, jupiter etc… work by studying the workflow on the v.i. plugin versions. But I do greatly appreciate the authenticity of a real one. And some that I would love to have around (like an Alesis Andromeda) which doesn’t come in a plugin version just costs too much.

On the digital end I love Zebra and Omnisphere. They’re a cacophony of additive, granular, subtractive, wavetable…and everything else. But the learning curve is pretty crazy…to really get your moneys worth out of them. I’m revisiting Massive right now…but won’t spend too much time on it.

All the machines you have mentioned so far are all digital be it hardware or software.
To truely understand and get to grips with a synth people need to get hands on with analog gear.
Otherwise Its like learning to drive in a simulator , its totally different when you get out on the real road…

Oh, I know. And you won’t get an argument from me that they’re as cool as the real thing. :smiley:

…do you think the fair market price value of some of those units is warranted? Or is it just hype in your opinion?

You mean on the digital stuff nowadays or the older saught after analog?

For the stuff like the tritons, motifs etc i thing they are quite highly priced but i suppose they are big pieces of hardware, a lot of building, designing, sound generating etc. All that adds up to an expensive product. But yeah a bit over priced.

The analog stuff even more over priced as the rarer sonething gets the less units are around so the price goes up.
Plus there’s a lot of nostalgia surrounding them and the recognisable sounds from peoples fav records of the 70s and 80s.
The newer moogs are very highly priced but you are paying for the name, its like buying a ferrari. If u want a ferrari go pay for one.
Doesnt mean you cant drive to the shops in abother car, it doesnt make the ferrari better. Its just a market for people who want a ferrari. The same with the likes of moog.

Digital synths and plugins can be just as good its like anything, you need to learn how to use all its features.

But honestly, i feel the price sort of makes us believe high quality. Isnt that how most things in life appear? If its very expensive and unaffordable to the masses then it must be ‘the best’ lol
Personally i’m as happy messing on a £100 novation a station as much as a mini moog.
But given the choice i’d opt for a mini moog…but i cant afford one lol

Done :thumbsup:


I was wondering what your thoughts were on the older stuff.

I think those are pretty cheap compared to what they cost new. And low in demand.

…I was referring to the authentic analog vintage stuff. Take an 808 for example.

@holster, would this be better as a split topic under recording/ axes and ivories?

I renamed “axes…” to instruments as a main category. Synths is a subcategory of Instruments, as is guitars, etc.

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The 808 is a bit of a cult hero!
Its like anything, if it becomes fashionable it becomes saught after and therefore expensive.
The 808 was a revolutionary drum machine with total analog circuiry and users were able to sequence great sounding beats fairly easilly.
Since its popularity in many hit records, especially the 80s and 90s hip hop era, it became expensive!
Plus they are getting older so good working ones are rarer.
But its like the moog.
Once famous bands start using it, another band thinks oh we like that sound too, lets ise that as well.
Before you know it loads of famous artists are making hit records using the moog or the 808.
So joe public looks up to these hit tecords and thinks… If i buy a moog or an 808 i will sound just like ‘whoever’

So fashion and fame again dictate the price of gear.
Plus the fact that the 808 and mini moog are top drawer gear, great sounding and good to use and well built.
But yeah its mainly due to their useage on so mamy records that people feel the need the shed out thousands of dollars on second hand gear. There is nothing wrong with it if you have the spare money, but its nothing you cant replicate on a daw and plugins.
Technology has moved on but the nostalgia and cult heroism keeps the price of analog gear sky high.

Have you seen this documentary on the 808? The thing I think that gets missed on any “808” software/plugins that I’ve come across is that they only really get some of the sounds. They don’t really get the groove thing that they do correctly.

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