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Analog synth recommendations?

tmm

Senior Member
I'm looking for a <$1k analog synth (VA if it's really good), stretching to $1.5k for the right unit. I've owned both the Analog Four (loved the tone, HATED the interface) and the MiniBrute previously, and I'm not against picking up another (would be Analog Keys if I go Elektron again).

Requirements are simple: just looking for best tone, filters, and routing options. Polyphony is a nice-to-have, but not necessary. Same for on-board fx... I can do far more fx-wise with my plugins than any synth's built-ins anyway.

Please don't suggest any soft synths; I have and regularly use nearly all of them. Just looking for another tool to experiment with, possibly to run through some interesting pedals.

What would you recommend, and why?
 

stonzthro

Senior Member
Moog Sub 37 comes to mind - I don't have that one, but I have several Moogs and they never disappoint. Also, the Boomstars are quite nice. Be sure to buy from a place with a good return policy as analog synths are a 'taste' thing.
 

pdub

Active Member
I was going to say the exact same thing! Sub37 is awesome and you get a lot for the money. I love mine. The Boomstars win for out and out sound but no programability but plenty of sound design options. I have the 4075 and SE80 as well as a Sub37. The SE80 has more sound options with the additional HP filter and the best sync.

I've owned both the A4 and AK in the past and while you can do a lot with them if you are into the Elektron way of things the raw sound never thrilled me.
 

EC2

Member
There´s a ton of great synths out there to be recommended. What are you planning to do with it? Straight forward playing? Sound design? Do you need it for basses, pads, leads...? You mentioned polyphony - how many voices would you need? What about MIDI I/O? Do you want to be able to save your sounds?
 

Wes Antczak

Senior Member
Another +1 for Sub37. Most of the controls are on the front panel, which I really like. The build quality is overall really good and the keyboard is really nice (and also has aftertouch). It may be a little more than what you mentioned, but imo this kind of synth (unlike say some plugins) is not something that you purchase for just one year or two. I have since gotten a Mother32 and I like the sound of that even better... it has to me more of the vintage Moog vibe, whereas the Sub37 is perhaps leaning more towards the more modern Moog sound. But both are great.
 
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tmm

tmm

Senior Member
Thanks for the Sub 37 recommendation(s)! I actually hadn't heard of it until this thread (I'm admittedly uninitiated in the world of Moog). I've heard of the Sub Phatty before... Similar? Better? Worse? Good but less versatile?

I've owned both the A4 and AK in the past and while you can do a lot with them if you are into the Elektron way of things the raw sound never thrilled me.
Glad I'm not the only one who thought that, and exactly why I brought up the fact that onboard fx weren't as important. The A4's verb and delay are awesome, but anytime I tried to build something from scratch, and had to deal with the raw tone, I found myself totally uninspired. I like Diva's raw tones better than the A4's - but not better than the MicroBrute's.

There´s a ton of great synths out there to be recommended. What are you planning to do with it? Straight forward playing? Sound design? Do you need it for basses, pads, leads...? You mentioned polyphony - how many voices would you need? What about MIDI I/O? Do you want to be able to save your sounds?
Plan? All of the above. Re: polyphony, as noted, at least one ;) MIDI I/O? USB would be nice-to-have, but not a necessity. Save? Also nice-to-have. I have a camera in my phone for documenting things that don't otherwise connect to a computer.
 

pdub

Active Member
The Sub37 and Sub Phatty share the same sound engine but the Sub37 came after has some great additions like being paraphonic, larger keyboard, aftertouch, sequencer, arpeggiator and pretty much one knob per function. As Wes stated it has a more modern sound than the classic Minimoog. A bit brighter and cleaner but not in a bad way. It's still capable of that huge Moog sound. The Feedback and Multidrive circuits can easily grit it up nicely. It's right at the top of your budget range at $1499.
 
Well, all of the new ones are expensive for what you get. Analog is popular now. If you want the best, you have to go old. I would look for an Oberheim Matrix 12 on ebay or go down in models, if that price is too high, like an Oberheim Expander. Tom Oberheim is building his first model in his garage with his wife these days, but they are expensive also. Roland Juno 6 old models are going for 5 grand these days, but you may be able to find a better price for an old Oberheim and his were always the best. For your price, find any used Oberheim that you can afford. You will not regret it. My humble opinion.

 
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tmm

tmm

Senior Member
Been researching DSI, too. Are the Tetra or Mopho any good? Or do you need to get into Prophet territory to really get a feel for DSI?

Just searched Oberheim... seems that may be out of my price range, even second hand.

From what I can tell, the Sub 37 meets pretty much all my requirements, and I'm seeing some used units at just over $1k, so they also fit the budget.
 

Ned Bouhalassa

Senior Member
The only thing that kept me from buying a Sub-37 was the lack of a multi-filter. FWIW, I bought a Pro-2 instead, which I have found to be an amazing synth.
 

Baron Greuner

Senior Member
Both the Sub 37 and Pro-2 have paraphonic capabilities.

If I was forced to get either one of those, I would probably get the Pro-2 because I have a Prophet atm and like the sound. Either way they are both good (played them both).
 

dgburns

summer of pickles and IPA beer
having alot of fun with the sub37,but need more time in to get to know it fully.what I can say is that it takes to fx in LPX rather well and can instantly sound more modern with ,say a soundtoys crystallizer or echo etc.the low end is solid in a way the virus ti is not.The virus would be my first choice for a first time hardware synth due to the plugin libarian editing functions and is maybe a bit more mature software wise.
very intrigued by the pro2,it's one of those things that just mystifies me with it's unique architechture.I want one,but went for the moog because it's so classic.Some sounds on the pro2 sounded like a cross between absynth and massive with a sequencer thrown in.
I do score work mostly,so how a synth integrates into the workflow is the biggest concern.I need a good librarian editor so I can recall patches for specific cues.With the moog I'm finding myself printing all the midi which I don't do anymore with the virus ti.Saves time.just something to think about.
also was sort of intrigued with the nord lead 4.It had some nice spacey arpegiated stuff going on.I'm sure it can crossover into both moog and pro2 territory.maybe that's the thing in the end,test drive them for a bit and see which one pulls out inspiration the most for you.Funny enough,the first time I played the sub37,I walked away saying "meh",but the second time I had my bearings on it and ideas just started coming out of every patch I futzed with.The knobs just invite you to play around and alot of the interesting stuff happens when you play with the basic sound.I think that's it in the end,the sound is by itself deceptively simple,it's the movement of the basic sound that creates the interest,and all the while keeping it simple due to the max two notes.It has been forcing me to think in terms of more simple lines that hold more space in the overall context of the music.
not sure any of that is useful to you,but there it is...
 

Wes Antczak

Senior Member
For a nice analog paraphonic (8 voices) at a fairly cheap price I would also suggest the Waldorf Pulse2. It's a nice small module and sounds great. It's virtual cousin would be the Blofeld. Some people have said that the Blofeld doesn't sound as deep as the Microwave and in fact perhaps it doesn't. Personally, I tend to agree... it sounds maybe more towards Largo than towards the Microwave (I've had an XTK for quite a while now), but it sounds pretty good, imo. Might not be your cup of tea, but maybe something to consider depending on your budget. A Virus is yet another beast altogether. I only got as far as a C, but the Ti series is fantastic if you wish to go that route.

Keeping only to analogs, there is also the Novation to consider. BassStation2 is all plastic, but feels pretty solid.

There are quite a few options out there these days, depending on needs and wants.

The Pro-2 is certainly an excellent choice and has plenty of sound options. But I believe it's about $2k? At which point you are also getting into the Prophet6 range. ($2200 for the module, $2800 for the key version) On the cheap (as far as DSI goes) there is also the Evolver.
 

Ryan

Senior Member
As for the Evolver; Love it!

Tetra is a kind of a 4 voice Prophet 8.
Mopho = 1 voice Tetra


Do you like to turn knobs?
I like the option to have full control with the VST support of the Moog, DSI stuff. But also all the other analogy gear that's around.
http://ctrlr.org/ is a great place.

Best
Ryan
 
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tmm

tmm

Senior Member
Thanks for the Ctrlr link! Will check that out.

As I'm listening to demos of all the instruments you guys are suggesting (and thank you so much for all of these!), I feel like I should add a little more context -

I tend to use synths for one of 3 things:

1) Atmospheric sounds - not necessarily pads, but sounds that create the canvas for the rest of the paint

2) Instrument-like sounds - those tones that sound like a real, physical instrument that you just can't identify

3) Basses - thick, punchy, deep bass. Think one of 2 use cases: modern hip hop / rnb / rap, or cinematic / expansive.

All of the above with the caveat of NOT EDM, dance, or classic synth oriented. If it sounds like Genesis, Sonic the Hedgehog, dubstep, the latest club hit, or pretty much any of the earlier synth albums / soundtracks, it's not at all what I'm looking for. The one exception is that I've got a thing for tight, percussive, tonal trap sounds.

I totally realize that all synths (or at least most... some just have that tone) can be tweaked for any type of music, but some have features that help with one type of tone more than others, or are typically used for _______ genre. But it's so tough for me to envision using a lot of these synths the way I'd want to use them when all the demos I hear of the instruments (mfg's site or users') sound like Jump, or at best Blade Runner.

Literally ALL the DSI site demos were total turnoffs for me, though I'm reasonably certain I'd like the instruments. The Moog demos were half and half... I was able to pick sounds out of them that I liked.
 
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pdub

Active Member
I never been a fan of the new DSI sound for analog stuff. I still have a vintage Pro One and Prophet V which are just awesome but they are getting expensive. The new Pro 2 is cool and a different beast with its digital oscillators and Multiple filters. It's a bit out of your price range though. DSI doesn't have a great track record for updates. They tend to just come out with new stuff.

As I mentioned previously also check out the Studio Electronics Boomstar SE80. It's old school through hole components not SMT and one of the best sounding and flexible modern analog synths IMO. It just doesn't have patch memory.
 
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