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Thread: Synthlust! (Or, how to make music without your computer)

  1. #211
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    Would one of you be kind enough to tell me (I don't know shit about synths) which is better (in sound and in variability/options) between the KORG MONOTRIBE ANALOGUE RIBBON STATION ($199 on amazon) and any one of the KORG VOLCA SERIES SYNTHS ($160 on amazon). Maybe it's not even close? The analogue ribbon station is on the left and one of volca synths on the right.

    Last edited by GoodSoldier333; 03-09-2015 at 11:36 PM.

  2. #212
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodSoldier333 View Post
    Would one of you be kind enough to tell me (I don't know shit about synths) which is better (in sound and in variability/options) between the KORG MONOTRIBE ANALOGUE RIBBON STATION ($199 on amazon) and any one of the KORG VOLCA SERIES SYNTHS ($160 on amazon). Maybe it's not even close? The analogue ribbon station is on the left and one of volca synths on the right.

    It's best to watch some Youtube reviews to get an idea of the sounds each can make. The Monotribe is probably the most limited, but it sounds great. Good for acid-y type of stuff. The drums on it aren't great. You can also process external audio through the Monotribe's filter, which is based on the Korg MS-20. It only has an 8 step sequencer.

    The Volca Bass is...well a bass synth. You get a 16 step sequencer, 3 oscillators, larger ribbon keyboard, glide. It's probably the closest to the Monotribe in terms of sound, but it's way more versatile and you can coax way more sounds out of it.

    The Volca Keys is great as well. Has 3 note polyphony...meaning you can play 3 notes at the same time (chords).

    The Volca Beats and Volca Sample are more for percussive/rhythmic stuff.

    I've owned with/played with all of these, and my favorite is probably the Volca Sample, followed by the Volca Keys. Definitely check them out on Youtube, and you will get a clear idea of what they can do.

  3. #213
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    I built my first synth kit last weekend. An Audiothingies P6.

    I hadn't soldered in years, so I practiced on a few blinky light kits from RadioShack the week prior. I have to say, the whole project was quite fun, though it took a lot of patience and will power. I ran into a few issues, most notably installing a DAC pin the wrong way and incorrectly soldering one of the encoders. The thing sounds great and is easy to tweak/come up with patches.







    The encoders aren't aligned perfectly... oops

    I've definitely been bitten by the DIY bug. I've purchased my next kit, which is a standalone MIDI sequencer. I also have plans to do a Sonic Potions LXR drum machine, but I'm waiting on kits to be in stock (should be sometime this week).

  4. #214
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodSoldier333 View Post
    Would one of you be kind enough to tell me (I don't know shit about synths) which is better (in sound and in variability/options) between the KORG MONOTRIBE ANALOGUE RIBBON STATION ($199 on amazon) and any one of the KORG VOLCA SERIES SYNTHS ($160 on amazon). Maybe it's not even close? The analogue ribbon station is on the left and one of volca synths on the right.
    I haven't played with the Monotribe enough to really offer an informed opinion on it (seen some cool DIY mods of v.1), but I do own all the Volcas... The only one I have yet to really dig into is the Sample. These are great units, but they're not without problems. For starters, the fact that the only way to get the audio out is via the 1/8th" headphone jack is a bummer for me. Even in contained scenarios, these are noisy units. True, you can mostly fix this with a gate when you're recording them, but...

    Also, these are very dedicated bits of hardware, and the only one that feels really "true" the original that it's emulating is the Bass. I love the drum machine and the keys, but these are seriously limited bits of hardware that do specific tasks very well. For instance, on the drum machine, you cannot control velocity of steps. This makes for a very old-schoool "machine-gun" sound at times. I've been using the Beats more unconventionally lately, and I've been playing around with the shuffle function a lot to get some drifty swing hi hats. I love hats on this thing... and it provides a good crunchy snare bottom... not so sure about snare top. And I've never been a fan of those "classic" 808 standards like the cowbell and the clap, though it's got those.

    The biggest killer for me on all the Volca units, and I hate having to work around it, is the limitation of 16 steps on the sequence. Am I missing something here? Is there a way to program a 32 step (or larger) sequence on these things that I haven't figured out?

    SIDE NOTE: got my MIDI pal and about to finally mess around with it. Maybe I'll plug it into the Volca Keys.
    @blackholesun if building kits appeals to you (wish it did for me, I'm terrible at soldering) check out the Shruthi kit from Mutable. These are going to get phased out soon I guess, which is a bummer. Also, I broke mine while trying to build it, but if you're good at this stuff, make a x0xbox!!! http://www.willzyx.com/collections/x0xb0x
    Last edited by Jinsai; 03-11-2015 at 12:50 AM.

  5. #215
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    @Jinsai The Volca Sample allows you to chain patterns together in a "song mode", but then you can't tweak the samples themselves. The best option I've found is to use an external sequencer or change patterns manually, but that can be a pain.

    I've indeed heard of the Shruthi and x0xbox, though I hadn't seen the x0box being sold in the States as a kit, so this is awesome! I may have to dive into that. It sounds like the Shruthi will live on through Laurentide Synthworks. With Mutable's blessing, they are sort of repackaging the Shruthi and the Ambika. I will definitely get to those if I keep doing the kit stuff, plus they are way cheaper and in the States.

  6. #216
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackholesun View Post
    @Jinsai The Volca Sample allows you to chain patterns together in a "song mode", but then you can't tweak the samples themselves. The best option I've found is to use an external sequencer or change patterns manually, but that can be a pain.
    I'm very excited to really dig into the VSample. I downloaded the app but still haven't loaded any samples into it...

    On a side note, and probably equally relevant to this page as to the Computer Music thread, making music with an iPad is a great and amazing thing. The number of unique and incredible cheap (and free) instruments and workflow methods is staggering. I'd always kind of dismissed the idea of making music with an iPad as kind of a novelty.

    I'm starting to think this is the future. The fact that you can buy a five dollar synth on your phone that is just as powerful and fully featured as something you could still pay $1k+ for is mind blowing. Then there's stuff that is really inventive and takes the touch interface to heart, and you get some really new and unique ways to create music.

    For anyone with an iPhone or iPad who hasn't dabbled in iOS music apps, the following will cost you a grand total of less than my tascam cassette 4 track:

    Auria - basically a fully functioning DAW, with iap plugins... one of which is Fabfilter's Pro Q... which is in and of itself insane.
    Audiobus - lets you route audio from app to any other compliant app (like Auria). Most of the apps are compliant now.
    SAMPLR - seems simple at first, then it blows your mind
    Lemur LIINE - turns your iPad into a Lemur... which is/was a customizable control interface for MIDI and OSC messages.
    Earhoof - The best five dollars you will ever spend period
    Sector - sheer madness. What the fuck is even going on. Instant autechre.
    Sunvox - deep as all hell, modular sound design environment.
    Impaktor - sampler that uses the mic to build rhythmic loops. Yields awesome results while you ride the bus. Literally.
    Borderlands - amazing granular sampler
    Bebot - cute robot theremin
    Korg Gadget - a collection of groove boxes,drum machines and synths with a simple sequencer. You can build a whole song in here, and it could be great.
    Rebirth - Propellerhead's original modular rack of classic gear that was the precursor to Reason.
    Animoog - not what you'd think of w/ Moog... but you can pull some really great metallic sounds out of this
    Electribe - great little drum machine / groove box... not a replacement for the hardware, but it's twenty dollars.


    Then there's the collection of "classic" synths... The iMS20, Thor (from Reason), Z3TA+, Sunrizer, Korg Polysix, Arturia iProphet. It's only recently occurred to me that the iPad is a serious musical instrument. Soon Audiomux is coming out, so with Audiomux and Midimux apps you can connect to your DAW on your computer and route the audio and MIDI there. It's almost scary how fast it's developing.

  7. #217
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    @blackholesun and @Jinsai , huge thanks for the help. I just wanted to see what somebody else had to say.

  8. #218
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    Quote Originally Posted by GoodSoldier333 View Post
    @blackholesun and @Jinsai, huge thanks for the help. I just wanted to see what somebody else had to say.
    Another thing to consider? The Meeblip Anode synth is on sale for 100 bucks for the rest of the day... http://www.synthtopia.com/content/20...le/#more-62536

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    I'm probably going to purchase a Teenage Engineering OP-1 in the near future. I always wanted to go the path of portable music recording, especially with the ease of the iPad and small interfaces and instruments now. That path seems really inspiring and personal.

    For a while, I wanted the Minimoog Voyager but I can't afford to shell out 3000 plus dollars for a synth since I'm just now building up my own recording space. I have the Minitaur though and was blown away at the quality of it for it's price and size.

  10. #220
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    Quote Originally Posted by catiua View Post
    I'm probably going to purchase a Teenage Engineering OP-1 in the near future. I always wanted to go the path of portable music recording, especially with the ease of the iPad and small interfaces and instruments now. That path seems really inspiring and personal.
    I do some of my best work when I've extracted my Tempest from it's spot in my setup and have dragged it somewhere else in the house. That's not quite the battery-portabilty an OP-1 affords you, but it's definitely important to get away from even the best laid-out routines. And there are enough quality iPad music apps out there that finally bring it into the realm of something I should maybe own. Funnily enough, I own a few iPad apps, mostly because there were stupendous deals I couldn't pass up. I got Animoog for something like $5, figuring someday I'd get an iPad to use it on.

    For a while, I wanted the Minimoog Voyager but I can't afford to shell out 3000 plus dollars for a synth since I'm just now building up my own recording space. I have the Minitaur though and was blown away at the quality of it for it's price and size.
    Forget the Voyager, get a Sub 37.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Leviathant View Post
    I do some of my best work when I've extracted my Tempest from it's spot in my setup and have dragged it somewhere else in the house. That's not quite the battery-portabilty an OP-1 affords you, but it's definitely important to get away from even the best laid-out routines. And there are enough quality iPad music apps out there that finally bring it into the realm of something I should maybe own. Funnily enough, I own a few iPad apps, mostly because there were stupendous deals I couldn't pass up. I got Animoog for something like $5, figuring someday I'd get an iPad to use it on.



    Forget the Voyager, get a Sub 37.
    How's the Tempest? It looks really awesome. You are right about getting away from your normal routine and recording environment - something about that becomes exhausting to one's creativity. The iPad is really a surprisingly powerful musical tool. I will definitely buy one once I scrounge up enough cash.

    Honestly, I was going to buy a Sub 37 but I decided against it, thinking the Voyager would be a better investment. I understand they're both very different instruments but I wanted a synth that would give me leads to use. I use the Prophet '08 and Minitaur for bass a lot already. People keep making it seem like the Sub 37 is mostly good for bass but I've also heard it do other nice sounds. I think the Sub 37 has a more modern sound than the Voyager even though it is much more affordable.

    Side note - I have a love/hate relationship with the Prophet '08. There are a few great sounds that I've been able to get out of it, but sometimes I can't get away from the retro/80's/vintage tone it naturally has and it frustrates me. Someone please convince me that this synth is worth keeping. I admit I'm still a noob to analog synthesis so there's an aspect to this I have to patient with.
    Last edited by catiua; 03-15-2015 at 02:16 PM.

  12. #222
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    Quote Originally Posted by catiua View Post
    How's the Tempest? It looks really awesome.
    Best piece of musical equipment I've bought. Maybe tied with the Sub 37, which is fantastic, but more focused in purpose.

    Honestly, I was going to buy a Sub 37 but I decided against it, thinking the Voyager would be a better investment.
    If you want to make investments, work with a financial adviser and put money in the stock market. I bought a Sub 37 to make music with, not to make money. In the unlikely scenario where my electronic music makes me money, that's just a bonus.

    I understand they're both very different instruments but I wanted a synth that would give me leads to use. I use the Prophet '08 and Minitaur for bass a lot already. People keep making it seem like the Sub 37 is mostly good for bass but I've also heard it do other nice sounds. I think the Sub 37 has a more modern sound than the Voyager even though it is much more affordable.
    The Voyager, which was debuted as a prototype 15 years ago, is obviously a nod to the Minimoog, which is over 40 years old. It goes well beyond the capabilities of a Minimoog Model D, and is no doubt, a beast. But I think the Sub 37 is Moog really hitting its stride - particularly once the 1.1 firmware comes into play.

    Side note - I have a love/hate relationship with the Prophet '08. There are a few great sounds that I've been able to get out of it, but sometimes I can't get away from the retro/80's/vintage tone it naturally has and it frustrates me. Someone please convince me that this synth is worth keeping. I admit I'm still a noob to analog synthesis so there's an aspect to this I have to patient with.
    My suggestion whenever someone expresses frustration with a complex synth is to practice, practice, practice. Treat it like a musical instrument - 45 minutes a night, every night. I say this out of my own experience with the Tempest, which came with really terrible preset sounds and patterns, and which has deep programming capabilities. The first year or two I had it, I was on and off with it. Kind of disappointed, especially having forked out for a pre-order. But I set up a rule for myself - no new gear until I use the gear I have. I put aside time to work with the Tempest... a lot of that time was spent doing sound design. I was disappointed in the handclap samples that came with the machine, but knew it had a signal path that would let me program my own analog handclaps, so I learned how to do that. I thought the kick drums sucked, so I studied the design of 808s, 909s, and my 606, and came up with a nice range of weird analog kicks. Likewise with snares, and with different synth sounds. Usually after a week of just making sounds, I'd have enough together that I could write a pattern of music with it. This is the very first thing I did with my Tempest three years ago, and about a year ago, after a couple of weeks of 'practice' I put this together in a night using the sounds I'd made. A couple of weeks later, after practicing bass synth sound design, this happened. You have a very powerful machine in the Prophet 08. Get to know it.

    I went through a similar period of, "Huh. This seems really beefy but I can't get good sounds out of it" with my Poly Evolver Keyboard when I got it. Started up a practice regiment just doing sound design ("I want to make... a burbling, evolving atmospheric sound"), and this happened. If you're getting retro sounds out of the Prophet 08, focus on doing things retro synths can't do - which usually means learn about the modern modulation options you have. Analog polysynths lend themselves very easily to the kind of sounds popular in the 80s because that's the easiest thing to do with them. Same thing with a 909 - sit down in front of one of those and you accidentally make four-on-the-floor dance music. Or you can use the same machine and , something a la Squarepusher, or something like . So, yeah, make your Prophet work harder.

  13. #223
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    I hear that these synths aren't immediately pulling out "modern" sounds, but they are capable of it. It's just they're built around very similar designs of the classic gear, and the sounds appealed to people in a certain way during the synths' heyday. So, in keeping with those "classic sounds," the presets frequently cater to that.

    You can absolutely pull out a very modern growling bass sound out of the Voyager. You can make a squealing grinding lead sound too. You can also make those classic tones that have been played to death.

    For me, lately I'm mashing up everything. Maybe I'll want a round classic wave lead from the Moog, but I'll make the top end of the sound in a different synth so I can get an evolving rhythmic distorted layer. Also... the Voyager can pull out some truly explosive end-of-the-world sounds, especially if you're taking advantage of the aux CV ins.

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    Thanks, Jinsai and Leviathant. I nearly returned my Prophet '08 but decided against it after spending so much time making patches on it. It's starting to reveal its capabilities and beauty already. I know you can't judge a synth by its' presets but I use them as a glance at what the synth is capable of. It seems that the Prophet name is kind of catering towards people who want that vintage analog sound, so they decided to make presets hinting at old Sequential Circuits instruments. The Prophet is amazing though if ones works towards making it so. I am writing music very differently now because of it. The design and interface also lends itself to more creativity. I have a Nord Lead A1 which I haven't spent much time with because I was trying to deal with the frustration the Prophet was giving me. I think the two synths will compliment each other nicely though.

    I've seen a handful of videos showing the true capabilities of the Voyager and the instrument is stunning. One of the main reasons why I'm attracted to it, as Jinsai said, is because of the CV ins. I know many synths have CV ins but through the Voyager, things have an especially unique sound.I'm interested in the sound of that classic Moog sound with other synths you mention.
    Last edited by catiua; 03-16-2015 at 01:04 PM.

  15. #225
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    So i got a Yamaha QY-70 and i fucking love it, but i'm having a bit of a rough time with some of the midi programming.

    It doesn't have a knob or a wheel so you have to input a LOT of events one by one, as opposed to creating several by the turn of a knob.

    Does anyone know of a good tutorial or guide for this sort of programming?

  16. #226
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    Quote Originally Posted by elevenism View Post
    So i got a Yamaha QY-70 and i fucking love it, but i'm having a bit of a rough time with some of the midi programming.

    It doesn't have a knob or a wheel so you have to input a LOT of events one by one, as opposed to creating several by the turn of a knob.

    Does anyone know of a good tutorial or guide for this sort of programming?
    Hmmmm, I've never heard of this thing. It looks kind of cool though.

    If you wanted to avoid menu diving and assign a bunch of controls, you could do it with any MIDI controller... just get the CC mappings and assign them to the knobs, wheels, and sliders on your controller

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    @Jinsai , the thing is awesome. i used a qy-22 for years. this one is a step up...519 voices, 20 drum kits, 16 tracks, and plenty of jobs to move things around, plus quantize functions and such. It does a LOT of the work of a big programmable keyboard, but you can work on it in bed.

    but even to just program a pitch bend, jesus. have you ever looked at all the midi data associated with a long pitch bend? you have to insert those pieces of data one by one on this thing. there IS a "continuous change" function that does it like a curve on a graph, but it's trial and error, you know?
    and i'm trying to go hard like year zero, goddamnit. year fucking zero!

    so ohhhhhhh ok.

    if i get another machine with knobs and wheels, then i could assign the cc's to those knobs and wheels and use THEM to create the data?
    i feel you.

  18. #228
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    Quote Originally Posted by elevenism View Post
    if i get another machine with knobs and wheels, then i could assign the cc's to those knobs and wheels and use THEM to create the data?
    i feel you.
    Yeah, you just need to dig up a list/map of the different CC assignments on the QY-70. They usually have the CC list in the instruction manual.

  19. #229
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jinsai View Post
    Yeah, you just need to dig up a list/map of the different CC assignments on the QY-70. They usually have the CC list in the instruction manual.
    i've got that.

    so let me ask you this...what's a good, cheap, bare-bones midi controller. i don't even need a keyboard on it...just knobs.

  20. #230
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    Quote Originally Posted by elevenism View Post
    i've got that.

    so let me ask you this...what's a good, cheap, bare-bones midi controller. i don't even need a keyboard on it...just knobs.
    Hmmmmmm... well, advantages could depend on what software you're using.
    If you're using Ableton, this could be a good option

    Also, I'm not a big fan of Behringer, but I've used one of these and I thought it was pretty solid

    I've also got one of these that I was looking to sell. The led light on the second fader is dead, but otherwise it's in good shape


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    Quote Originally Posted by catiua View Post
    https://soundcloud.com/tvilaysack/prophet-demo

    I tested the Prophet '08 today in Live using a simple reverb and delay. Going to trade in one of my synths so I'm going to give them all one go before I decide which one it is.
    well, the qy doesn't interface with the computer at all. it's a completely stand-alone sequencer from the nineties.
    it DOES have midi jacks.
    i just wish it had a couple of knobs on it.


    edit:actually, it DOES interface with a computer, i'm just not sure how.
    it came with a data filer on a floppy disk.

    what i do is record patterns into my r24, then export them to an sd card as wav files, and arrange them with guitar, vocals, and wav files from on fl studio, on audacity
    Last edited by elevenism; 03-30-2015 at 01:40 AM.

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    @Jinsai , i will buy that UC 33 from you.

    hit me up!

  23. #233
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    Quote Originally Posted by elevenism View Post
    @Jinsai , i will buy that UC 33 from you.

    hit me up!
    ok cool. I just need to get it back from a friend that I've been lending it to.
    Last edited by Jinsai; 04-05-2015 at 01:37 PM.

  24. #234
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    sorry @Jinsai , i didn't mean to blow you up. i just didn't want you to sell it to somebody else.

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    So, I was interested in new Roland JD-Xi (SuperNatural - though not complete Integra-7, drums, sequencer, and - after many years - analog in one affordable package? great!), but... somehow the demos don't impress or inspire me very much. But, something else does... Roland System-1, now cheaper maybe because of new "modular" digital System-1m. Finally something that sound really good to me, both on its own and also with the "plug-outs" SH-101, SH-2 and ProMars, with hopefully more coming. Price 499 €... I don't NEED it, but kinda I want to. ;-)


    (This is of course not real-time, analogs - DSP modelled using so-called "ACB" in System-1 - are not multitimbral.)

    I owned Roland Alfa Juno 1 (should have kept this one), D-110, XP-10 (mistake), XV-5050, but I am Roland-free now and it seems that's going to change soon... Generally, Roland is on the roll recently. And where is Yamaha??
    Last edited by Substance242; 04-17-2015 at 01:48 PM.

  26. #236
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    Quick note about the System-1: The keyboard version is on sale, and comes with the SH-101 plugout for free, but they're no longer packaging the SH-101 plugout with it starting in May.

    Quote Originally Posted by Substance242 View Post
    (This is of course not real-time, analogs - DSP modelled using so-called "ACB" in System-1 - are not multitimbral.)
    ACB or no, the discerning ears at MuffWiggler have done blind tests and preferred the SH-101 Plugout over an actual SH-101 by a large margin.

    I gotta say, between the JDXA, the System-1m, the AIRA modules, and heck, even the System 500 stuff (even though I avoid modular), Roland is killing it. Especially the AIRA effects modules. If you could buy that entire rack they have at Messe for $3000, I would actually be tempted. I don't know where I'd get the money because I'm pouring it all into the my new place right now, but that's a lot of power they're packing.

  27. #237
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    I've been working a lot lately and saving up, and I think I'm about to make the plunge and start assembling a eurorack modular. Kind of terrifying, but really exciting.

  28. #238
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    I played with the Aira System-1 at Guitar Center (ew) a few days ago and it played and sounded way better than I thought it would. I can't get over that ugly green design that the Aira stuff has, but Roland isn't messing around.

    Was also thinking about Eurorack stuff recently, but it's just too damn expensive for me right now. I'm mostly interested in the kind of innovative stuff that Mutable Instruments and Bastl Instruments have been putting together. Bastl's entire line of instruments look and sound extremely fun.

  29. #239
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    So I bought an Octatrack. I think I need all the Elektron stuff now. This should hold me over for a few months while I save

  30. #240
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    Quote Originally Posted by blackholesun View Post
    So I bought an Octatrack. I think I need all the Elektron stuff now. This should hold me over for a few months while I save
    Octatrack is awesome...

    Elektron stuff is amazing, but I don't know about needing it all. I personally am not that big of a fan of the Analog 4 (I know, heresy)...

    I'm really interested in that new analog drum machine they're making though. Also, that Overbridge software integration sounds really interesting... but maybe that's for the "computer music" thread...
    Last edited by Jinsai; 05-09-2015 at 11:54 PM.

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