A Seasonal Gift/Wish List for the Synth People

Rorate is tomorrow, and to reference Bon Jovi, Christmas this year seems to have come seven days too soon. And with that, I think about a few gift/wish ideas for the synth folks among you…

Note that I’ll only mention things I haven’t reviewed already – which means these recommendations are often based on hearsay, personal interest or at maximum spending a short time playing with the thing. For some in-depth reviews of sometimes desirable things, simply look at my past posts.

Synths (new/current ones)

I already mentioned my love for what Korg is doing, so I had to keep myself from recommending tons by them today, but still:

The #1 Recommendation: Korg Volca Kick

Korg’s Volca series continues to surprise with its sheer bandwidth: in a small box which looks like a toy but always includes a pattern sequencer with automation options, we have an analogue drum machine (Beats), an analogue monosynth (Bass), an analogue three-voice parasynth (Keys), a sampler (Sample), a DX7-inspired FM synth (FM).

And now we have a kick synth. If you think that’s kinda odd, make no mistake – several other companies have already something like this in their repertoire.

With this most expensive beast among the Volcas so far (still, being short of €150 for a fully analogue synth is still affordable), you get only kick drum sounds – or do you? Korg points out that you also can do “kick bass” sounds, which essentially are tuned bass drum sounds.

Parameter changes can be sequenced, or controlled via MIDI, the thing is cheap…how can you go wrong here?

Does this work? Via this matrixsynth post, here’s one of two videos:

Only virtual analogue – but how: Roland System-8

With the System-1, Roland had introduced the concept of the plug-out synthesizer: essentially using a digital synth and then being able to load different synth models (aptly based on analogue Roland classic) into them.

The new System-8 has a bigger keyboard (which, with 49 keys, is still too small by a pianist’s standard) and a bigger user interface – it’s endless encoders and some ugly 90s SF rings around it – but it looks kinda cool. Connection-wise, it aims at being a monotimbral synth (which it is).

Models? In addition to the onboard System model, you get a Jupiter-8 and Juno-106 one – and are able to add SH-101, SH-2, System-100 and Promars models – for additional coin (ranging between roughly €100 and €200 each).

Right now, there’s only the keyboard version – but will it be unreasonable to hope for a module version, just like the System-1m one?

Considering the positive comments I have received from users of Roland’s boutique series synths, as well as of the System-1, this looks truly interesting to me – on the other hand, considering that with the additional plugouts I end up in excess of €2k, I could also get a lot of funny other things – I’m really not sure. Considering the fact that according to Roland’s website we still will have to wait for them to succeed in porting all of the models safe for the System and Jupiter ones to this synth, we might just postpone this…until early next year or so.

Software Stuff

Wavelab Pro 9 – an audio editor for the future

I used it for the mastering of my Erlanger Programm album, and for some other tasks since. If you like WaveLab in general over other audio editors is of course up to you, but what I can say is this: with improvements mainly focusing on workflow and available plugins and audio editing topics, WaveLab 9 essentially addressed all of the issues I had with my dated version 6. Nice one! The spectral editor is such a powerful tool. Highly recommended!

Effects

Real Analogue Delay Real Cheap – Behringer VD400

I will receive instant bashing from some for mentioning the B-word here – but here’s what it is:

Analogue delay pedal with classic three-knob layout (time, feedback, mix), additional dry output, a sound that according to some reviewers sounds “more digital in the sense of clean, except for huge feedback settings”, but some trimmers in the box if you decide to open it to allow for some high.shelving.

And its twenty-five bucks. For a true analogue 300ms delay. Varispeed! Can you go wrong there, even if it fails after the album after the next?

That’s it for now.

If you don’t read from me until then (and there’s a good chance for this, considering I never get to write all the posts I intend to), have a wonderful holiday season!

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