Analog, digital or hybrid synth for retro-tones?

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by bassteban, Jan 8, 2009.

  1. I've searched here & not seen my questions addressed; I've also lurked/studied at, but I'm much more comfy here. :)
    I'm jonesing BAD for a synthesizer. I had a Yamaha CS-5 in 78 or so, so I'm fairly spoiled for analog tone. I also like knobs, DON'T like menus, interfaces, etc. I'm looking for ARP Solina-type sounds, early Cars, Devo, Kraftwerk- that kind of thing. I will very likely never use it live; it's more for home-indulgence/composing.
    So after a bit of reasearch, I like the Juno 6 & 60, some of the old Korg, Akai & Kawai stuff, but I'm also intrigued by new dealios like the MicroKorg, Micron(& Ion)& K-Station.
    Lastly, I grabbed a Kawaii K-3, but it needs repairs. On that note, should I gamble the $85 bench fee to get it fixed, hoping it doesn't eat up my entire limited budget($400-500)or try & find something that's useable right now?
  2. Ok... I'm a terrible synth player, and I'm not very knowledgeable, but Korg always seems to have some good retro sounds. I use a MicroSynth (the one with a built in vocoder) right now. The keys are small, though, which puts off most players. Also, there's no sensitivity in the keys - they're either on or off.

    However, I've seen a few good local electronica bands play them quite a lot. They run about $400 new, but you can surely find one used for well under that.

    Korg's got some other stuff, too, that might be better suited for you.
  3. sarcastro83

    sarcastro83 Guest

    Jul 27, 2007
    Toronto, ON
    buddy of mine also swears by his Microkorg... tiny keys be-damned.
  4. Thanks, guys. I need to check out the MicroKorg; right now I'm weighing a 90 mile drive(although the seller said he could meet me somewhere)to check out a Juno 106. Thoughts?
  5. ukwarrior

    ukwarrior Guest

    Jan 7, 2009
    Personally I've found that the Alesis Ion definitely was the best sounding of the all of the virtual analogue beasts.

    the Ion's range of Moog, Oberheim, Roland and ARP sounds is very convincing and for what you should be able to pick one up for should be much more reliable than an ageing model. It's also easy to program and store sounds.

    Hope this helps.

  6. Very much so, thanks- reliability is certainly a part of the equation.
  7. Damakun

    Damakun Guest

    Dec 18, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    If you cannot get a hold of the Ion, don't forget that the Micron will do the same thing, as it has the same sound engine. Also, it is still available as new. It is not as knobby as the Ion, as it is much smaller...
  8. Yeah, that one really winks at me due to the price, but I'm very much a knob-turner, so that's a big part for me. is the Ion still in stores? That way I could go do a test-drive.
  9. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    I haven't tried many of the newer "vintage emulating" digital synths, but the ones I have tried were pretty good. Not good enough for me though, not at those prices. ;) If I'm going to shell out some serious coin, I don't want an emulation. IMO the only reasons to buy an emulation are cost savings and the physical unreliability of ancient electronics. So if cost to me is not saved, that only leaves reliability. And a well-maintained, not abused vintage keyboard is about equal in reliability IMO to the typical SMT+DSP made in China plastic box. About the only exception I can think of there is if you bought a new device with a good warranty.

    Hybrid keyboards are cool, I have a lot of nostalgia for time spent using hybrids, but a lot of them are surprisingly disappointing insofar as they may be too clean and predictable for a really fat vintage tone, yet way too limited in function to take full advantage of the benefits of DSP. The Korg DW8000 was a good example of that. Just because a keyboard has a "real analog filter" does not mean it will sound like a Minimoog. :) Just saying don't make any assumptions, especially for a long-distance purchase.

    If I was shopping for a real vintage keyboard today, just for playing around with some fun sounds, not wanting to spend a ton of $$, I would probably get a Roland SH101, especially with the optional hand grip.

    If I had more money to blow, I would skip keyboards altogether and build a modular rack like TecX did. I've owned and used several modular systems, and there is no substitute for an organic creature with patch cords for veins and nerves. :D
  10. bongomania

    bongomania Supporting Member Commercial User

    Oct 17, 2005
    PDX, OR
    owner, OVNIFX and OVNILabs
    Oh, and sad as it may be, I would not spend the money to repair the K3. I've seen them sell for under $100 in perfect working condition. If it was me, I'd use the broken K3 as a platform for learning do do my own electronic troubleshooting and repair, and also for circuitbending. :bassist: The K3 was pretty cool sounding in its day, though.
  11. Right on, Bongo- I'm trying to edumacate myself as much as possible here.
    The Juno 106 I'm checking out is 90 miles away but the dude is meeting me halfway.
    I've looked at a couple of DW-8000s, they look pretty promising.
    As for the SH-101, it's monphonic, right? I gotta go poly.
    Appreciatin' the input.
    BTW, if anyone's looking to unload something, let me know. :ninja:
  12. Damakun

    Damakun Guest

    Dec 18, 2008
    Columbus, OH
    Sadly, no - although it is rumoured that they may re-introduce it soon. I am awaiting Winter NAMM for the latest details...
  13. CRAP. I've already *worked* on it myself, to no avail. I am no solder-surgeon.
    That helps too, though. I don't need to toss my money down a hole.
  14. Well, I just missed out on a Juno-60. Budgeted $450, it went to $465. I tried to throw down $500, but moved too slow...
    Next option is an Ensoniq ESQ-1 via CL; anyone here know much about these guys?

    Edit:11 hours later, the ESQ-1 is mine. Micro-review and/or pleas for assistance to follow. :)