Keys Players - Advice Needed

Discussion in 'Miscellaneous [BG]' started by agreatheight, Jan 31, 2014.

  1. So I am trying to put together an 80s cover band in Maine, and it seems there are no keys players up here. Ug. So I am looking to cover some easy keys as I can. I have an Oxygen 8 midi controller that is USB so I am thinking about that plus a laptop running a soft synth engine.

    Thoughts? Product suggestions? Conan, what is best for 80s?

    Any help appreciated!
  2. FreshTrooperXBL


    Jul 24, 2011
    I've never run soft synths in any of my bands, but I have seen others do it. Here is my advice:

    look up some synths typical of the 80s and get soft synths that are based off of or are digital equivalents of synths of that era. Examples would be FM8 (for DX7), Korg Legacy Collections (for Wavestation, MS-20, Polysix, and Mono/Poly), or some of the Arturia synth-specific programs (Prophet V or Jupiter 8V).

    Get a hum remover for your laptop power supply (or a power conditioner if this is technically what it does). Otherwise you'll likely get occasional "digital hiss" that is very audible coming from the frequency fluctuations in the power.

    Run all sound through a guitar amp (like a Fender Twin) that has lots of headroom. Turn down the Bass knob or use a para EQ to remove the low frequencies that will easily destroy your speakers and simultaneously clash with the bass synth / bass guitar. Try running in stereo if you can find a pair of small amps that are powerful and light as well. If none of the above run through a bass amp and EQ the lows out again.

    Have a NICE chorus pedal! The computer soft synth chorus is likely tweakable and MIDI-able, but its nice to have instant foot control of this part of the sound. If you are the one keyboardist in the group then often times both hands will be busy so its an advantage to have control parameters at your feet.

    I usually can get by with two keyboards: a digital (Yamaha DX7) and an analog poly (Alpha Juno, JX-3P, or similar) and have most sounds ready to go come gig time. If your rig isn't working its nice to have backup keys or a rack module to rely on at the very least.

    And ...all members have long hair! :bassist: :p
  3. Well hell, it turns out that I cannot use my USB keyboard with my laptop as they don't have any Windows 8 drivers for it, so I'll need to get a MIDI to USB box if I want to go that route, or get a newer controller. This puts me closer to ground zero than I had thought. So...

    If I am starting at scratch what should I do?

  4. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    Have you tried the windows 7 driver yet? I have some legacy gear whose drivers haven't been updated since Win7, but the driver still works on Win8.

    If you do start looking for an 80's software synth, I highly recommend this one. It is a great emulation of the Ensoniq SQ-80.
  5. Frank Tuesday

    Frank Tuesday

    Jul 11, 2008
    Austin, TX
    One more thing, if you do end up getting a new controller, try to get one that is "class compliant", which basically means no drivers are necessary. With this, you can use it with any operating system, including Android and iOS.
  6. I just tried that and it seemed to work, the instrument loads in Kontakt at least, but I can't make the controller actually control anything - key presses don't trigger any events. I may not be selecting something correctly, tho, so I'll keep plugging away with it.
  7. This is good to know. I was thinking about this - using a tablet instead of a PC. Are they apps any good? Does anyone have any experience?