Desktop Syths? which to go for


Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
88
Reaction score
19
So - Id really like to replace my FA07 with a Prophet X.....has both the synth and orchestral sounds Im looking for on my top board. HOWEVER, price means that wont happen for a while.

Im OK with the orchestral stuff the FA has until then, and the synth stuff is OK as well - though lacking real time controls, mod matrix and the like.

I dont have space for a 3rd board - which rules out things like the system 8, sledge etc.

From what I know - Id down to:

Deep Mind 12 - looks pretty comprehensive in the most part and cheap, BUT one Osc fixed to square wave, no mixer, and no sine wave.... Not sure.

Peak - again lots of control options and great FX section - but on ly 2 Mods, and 8 voice... Neither may be enough.

REv-2. The 8 voice version again - is it enough. The 15 more costly. Has its own downsides - relatively week FX and Oscilators.

Thats about it..... the Prophet and OB 6 are too costly.

I guess a Virus Ti2 is an option - but the real time control looks less appealing than the others...how much menu diving (yes I know the Peak and DM have some as well).

So - thoughts, recommendations? Needs an apr and either a step sequencer OR programmable arp.
 
Ad

Advertisements

Joined
Jun 26, 2010
Messages
370
Reaction score
157
Confusing post. What exactly are you looking for? Are you looking for a second board to use with an FA-07 as the bottom board, or are you looking to replace the FA-07 with something else, above some other unmentioned bottom board? And what makes a Deep Mind or a Rev 2 okay, but not a System 8 or a Sledge?
 

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
8,236
Reaction score
3,484
Location
GTA, Canada
He's looking at analog and VA desktop sound modules to use with the FA-07 as a controller.

My advice is to study a lot of youtube demos and tutorials and visit a few music stores to compare the sounds and operating ease of each unit if he can.

It sounds to me like he's doing his homework well enough already and is trying to decide which individual features or lack thereof are dealbreakers.

The Sledge and the System 8 are not available as desktop modules so that rules those two out.

On the other hand he might want to consider adding the Waldorf Blofeld Desktop to his list as well.

Of the units listed I currently own a Blofeld Desktop, a Deepmind 6 and a Studiologic Sledge and I'm very happy with all three of those.

I don't find the 6 voice limit of the Deepmind a problem since it only comes into play if you trying to do some crazy multitimbral things with it.

The Blofeld is very similar to the Sledge, but sound programming is mainly handled thru software or else deep menu diving while the Sledge is very much a hands on instrument.

To be honest I don't think any of his suggestions are bad ones and he should let his budget and his gut make the decision for him.

I occasionally see some of the modules listed selling at a discount on Ebay and craigslist so he could save even more buying used.

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
8,236
Reaction score
3,484
Location
GTA, Canada
He also may want took at an older Nord Lead Rack on the used market.

Gary ;)
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
88
Reaction score
19
Gary has it right - I did kind off miss of the "desktop" bit....

But yes, my bottom board is an RD2000. Im more than happy with that as my weighted action board, and for piano, EPs, Clavs, Organs, Mallet type sounds etc. It also have more than adequate strings and pads for layering (though not good enough for solo or evolving sounds).

I bought the FA07 as a stop gap, as it was really quite cheap compared to alternatives (Montage, Kronis, Stage 3 etc). Again its decent. Has better orchestral stuff then the RD (with EXP banks), and a better synth sounds (with the SNS sounds). It is limiting a little on the synth end (mod matrix's, LFOs etc) and control (just the 6 rotaries and a couple of switches).

The Prophet X (which wasnt available when I got the FA - or I might have just bit the financial bullet at that point) completely solves the orchestral and synth side of the equation - and Im not that bothers about the sequencer (not used it in a year) - Im more a hands on live player, and rarely even record (though I want to). So, that is a longer term goal.

Shorter term, I want to add a desktop module to cover the synth sounds the FA doesnt do (so more Modulation options, more LFOs, and the hands on control the FA lacks) - and Ill use the FA for an unweighted controller (for both the desktop synth and the RDs organ tones) - and for Supernatural synth sounds that dont need much real time or Modulation control. This does mean the desktop polyphony count isnt as important as a stand alone board - If need large layered synth sounds I can do that on the FA.

Sound wise....Im not into dance music stuff really. Im more into 70s/80s synth stuff, and the desktop will be for evolving pad type soundscapes (real time manipulation of filters and envelopes), and arpeggiate'd runs (though once I start playing around that might change a little).

Of the modules Ive suggested - they all have pros and cons from what I can see (though Im not that sure which fits my needs best sonically even after checking videos).

The Deep mind....its the LFOs. One fixed to square wave, no sine wave options, no mixer. Seems like a Juno type synth (though with more options) - and Im pretty sure the FA will do that already (so maybe a lot of cross-over despite the better real time control).

The Peak seems quite modern sounding - though the FX and LFOs are creat. The main issues I have I guess are 8 voice poliphony (probably not a problem actually) - and only 2 Modulation slots. Thats quite poor for how Im thinking - but you never know.

The Rev 2 would also be 8 voice (16 is too much, along with the Prophet 6 and OB 6) so the same polyphony doubt is there - along with a poorer FX section. It also its a less versatile sound thatn other options - though if its the right sound thats not an issue.

The Virus Ti2 - A lot more real time control than the FA but still a lot of menu diving (though the Deep mind and peak also have some of that - on the Rev 2 doesnt). Its also an old design, and not ongoing support really (as the Kemper seems to take all the development stuff rather than the synth stuff).

The Seep Mind is by far the cheapest. ll the others are twice the price (though there are a lot more used Ti2s than Peak's and Rev 2s - which takes the cost nearer to the DM.

I guess this post is about seeking other options I havent considered, and ruling out some I have if there obviously not the best suited to what Im looking to do primarily. Im in no rush really, its a Jan/Feb purchase plan. The only other consideration - is that once I DO get a Prophet x (still my long term goal) to replace the FA, I can still use the module - so some consideration to redundancy (as well as what I loose when the FA07 goes that the X cant replicate) should be given (another down side to the Rev-2, as Im guessing it will be VERY similar to the synth side of the X).

Hope all that clears up what I seeking.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
88
Reaction score
19
Oh - forgot to say. Im in the UK. Finding a Virus to try is NOT easy, and the nearest place to try a Rev 2 is an 8 hour round trip. My more local stores dont stock the DM or Peak either - so even that means a trip. Id rather narrow it down to a couple of options, THEN make the trip as I can spend more time with each synth while in store. Looking at 4 or 5 in a relatively short time (and really only having one visit) isnt ideal.

Im also MORE than happy buying used, or ex demo - though none of them come up that often in the UK.
 

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
8,236
Reaction score
3,484
Location
GTA, Canada
If you're open to cheaper options perhaps take a look at a Novation Bass Station or a used Moog Sub Phatty.

These provide the types of sounds you are looking for with a smallish footprint.

Since this is a temporary measure until you can afford a Prophet X it would be wiser not to blow too much on gear you may end up selling later anyway.

Gary ;)
 

SeaGtGruff

I meant to play that note!
Moderator
Joined
Jun 6, 2014
Messages
2,683
Reaction score
1,105
What about Behringer Model D?
 

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
8,236
Reaction score
3,484
Location
GTA, Canada
Yeah the Behringer Model D is looking nice these days and I believe the Deepmind series was originally designed as a knockoff of the Roland JV-80 or JV-90 so it's not surprising that it sounds and acts like one.

Gary ;)
 

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
8,236
Reaction score
3,484
Location
GTA, Canada
You might be right. The exact model number eludes me. But it was definitely an old Roland VA synth that was the basis for this unit.

Gary ;)
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2010
Messages
370
Reaction score
157
Thanks for all the clarification Paul. Yup, once I clicked the thread into a background tab, the word "desktop" had kind of left my brain by the time I later just read the post, and it wasn't mentioned that you had an RD2000, so now with the full context, it all makes sense!

Okay, so the FA-07 gives you a few things:
... supernatural synth
... unweighted action to play RD2000 organ from
... exp cards that give you better orchestral sounds than what's in the RD2000
but the synth isn't as flexible as you'd like, nor does it give you enough real-time control.

Here's a whole different approach you could consider:

Replace the FA-07 with a JD-XA and an iPhone/iPad. (Obviously, more cost effective if you happen to already own the iPhone/iPad.) My thinking is that the i-Device can give you lots of strong orchestral sounds, while the JD-XA gives you the things you can only get in hardware: a great control surface and a true analog synth. You also get to keep the same SuperNatural VA synth you already like except now it has full hands-on control, and it's paired with a full true analog synth, and it has aftertouch. It still gives you an unweighted action for organ (as long as you're okay with 4 octaves for that instead of 5). The JD-XA also has strong MIDI functionality, so you can use its controls even for iOS soft synths that might interest you, if you choose to take the i-Device beyond just the orchestral sounds.

Basically, I think the JD-XA can give you what you're looking for as well as everything you're using the FA for, *except* the orchestral sounds... and while those SRX-based orchestral FA expansions are nice, I think you can better those sounds with an iOS device.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
88
Reaction score
19
Pretty much sums it up. The FA synth is fine, so 80% of synth tones Id like - general pads, leads and the like are fine. What it lacks is a comprehensive mod matrix to automate evolving tones, and real time control to manually evolve tones.

I considered the JD-XA before I bought the FA. I prefer at LEAST 61 keys - and really dont like the "mini" keys on the JD-XA (same reason why I went for the FA07 rather than an 06). I think the Exp Orchestral stuff on the FA are good enough for live work - If I need anything better for recording (which I do little of) I can experiment with plug ins for orchestral sounds.

Nice out of the box thinking - but its not going to work.

Such a shame so many things have keys. a JD-XA module, System 8 module, sledge module etc etc etc would all be very appealing.

I think Im down to 2 choices. Id lover a DSI synth - but the REv 2 is what it is. Stunning at what it does, but is more niche. The Peak just doesnt have the modulation matrix I really want.

So the 2 being:

1. DM 12D. The more Youtube clips I see - and Ive watched a lot of patch building ones, the more I like what I hear. Using the Mod envelope as a pseudo 3rd LFO opens things up a lot - I didnt realise there was a "deep" option which adds a pseudo sub osc. Id still rather have 2 Osc with all the wave options and a proper mixer - but I guess at the price point its OK.

2. Virus Ti2. Need some hands on with one first - but there does seem to be enough real time control on the front surface. Bu far my favourite "electronic" band is Depeche Mode - and they use (or at lest did) Virus Cs for a LOT of their live set work - and they also have an RD 2000 on the last tour. OK there are more than 1 of them, but if an RD2000 and Ti2 is good enough for them - it really should be for me.

To be fair, Im also a big Duran fan (earlier stuff admittedly) and Nick uses several JD-XAs in his rig. I think if they made that in a desktop/module Id go for that - but they dont.....

The Ti2 is a lot more new - but there seem to be a few kicking about in the UK at the £800 mark, v £550 for a new DM12. Not a huge leap (OK I need cash nor a credit card but that should be achievable).

Still considering more "out of the box" thinking - one or two of Rolands mini modules or Yamaha reface units for instance, but things are clearing in my mind. Id also considered a full blown synth to replace the FA - which opens up the sledge, as well as a proper REv 2 board - then adding an Integra 7 for the orchestral stuff (and extra synth stuff) - but thats quite an expensive route. If I went Rev 2 plus integra I may as well just get a Prophet X - theres only 200-300 difference between the two set-ups - BUT it does open up a few more options for the pure synth side.
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
88
Reaction score
19
Oooh - thought. Need to investigate - but how do the JD-Xi's stack up? Probably small enough footprint to use like a desktop - adds a few small keys should I need (triggering arp key changes and the like). I have no idea how capable the actual synth engine part is though as well as how much real time control it offers.. Hum.
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
88
Reaction score
19
Let me clarify WHY Im looking for a desktop synth. Its purely space logistics. Height wise - Im not a big fan of 3 tiers live (I struggle with reach really) but its not a deal breaker. My keys sit under a coupe of shelves in my room so I dont have the height really needed for a 3rd tier. I COULD take one shelf down and create enough height - but theres nowhere else to mount it and Id loose "shelf space". More importantly - the depth. Adding a 3rd tier means bringing the bottom tier/stand out - and my room is thin. There just isnt the space.

The desktop (or small footprint board) will sit on the same arms as the FA - behind it. I Will make a plate/shelf that sits under the FA on the arms, with a riser at the back for the desktop to sit, that is just below the top of the FA - using the FA as a "stop". I can tilt things slightly should I need.

Basically the "unit" can be as long as it likes (up to FA07 length) but depth wise needs to be no deeper than 2/3 of the FA. Maximum depth would be 10" (I I angle the synth) to fit my room but Id prefer to keep in under 6.5" if possible..
 
Last edited:
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
88
Reaction score
19
OK - Looks like Peak is back on the table. All the videos ive watched showed in the "mod" menu just 1 and 2. I think I got confused thinking there were only 2 slots. Reading a proper review - seems it has a 16 slot matrix. I think the Mod 1/2 refers to the 2 Mod envelopes (ie which envelope the front panel sliders are controlling - and selecting env 1 or 2 for the matrix).

Makes the Peak quite appealing as well.
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2010
Messages
370
Reaction score
157
Such a shame so many things have keys. a JD-XA module, System 8 module, sledge module etc etc etc would all be very appealing
If replacing the FA with the JD-XA + i-Device would have worked except you want 5 octaves of full-size keys, then maybe replacing the FA with a Sledge + i-Device would work, if the Sledge fills you synth requirements.

Id also considered a full blown synth to replace the FA - which opens up the sledge, as well as a proper REv 2 board - then adding an Integra 7 for the orchestral stuff (and extra synth stuff) - but thats quite an expensive route.
You could start with using an i-Device instead of Integra as the full-blown synth adjunct, and consider going to the Integra at a later date if you still want it. You could also look at a used module for the orchestral sounds, like a Roland Sonic Cell, Fantom XR, or XV-something with a used SRX card or two (to get the same orchestral sounds you can get in the FA), or one of the Yamaha Motif racks.
 

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
8,236
Reaction score
3,484
Location
GTA, Canada
I owned a JD-Xi once. Like most boutique synths it made some really bad compromises on MIDI capabilities and I ended up selling it off for a Novation Ultranova.

The JD-Xi is stuck in only assigning each engine to 1 non adjustable MIDI Channel each.

ie. The two ROMplers were stuck on Channels 1 & 2 and the Synth Engine was fixed on Channel 3.

If Roland hadn't cheaped out on the MIDI I would probably still own one.

Gary ;)
 
Joined
Feb 14, 2018
Messages
88
Reaction score
19
Had some other discussions - and have a more complex, but cost effective possible solution.

Cheaper than both the Peak, and the Rev 2 8 voice:

a DM 12 AND a Waldolf Blofeld.......Gives me the following set-up.

1: RD2000 - weighted action, all Pianos, organs, EPs, Clavs - and basic layering Pads/strings.

2: FA07 - synth action control board, sequencer, Programmable Poly Arp, Orchestral sounds, Basic Synth sounds (those needing only 1 effect, or 1 modulation source).

3. Blofeld - complex evolving patches (3 complete Oscillators and complex capable Mod Matrix) that doesnt require real time manual manipulation, with decent FX, 2nd Programmable Poly Arp

4: DM 12 - patches requiring complex modulation, that can be achieved with more limited Oscillators, but that has greater FX capability and real time manipulation. 3rd Programmable Arp.

Im struggling to see a downside here (as they will fit side by side behind the FA07) with the exception that Id need a Midi splitter (the Blofeld doesnt have Midi through meaning I cant daisy chain from FA to DM to Blofeld to RD) and small audio Mixer (No audio ins on the DM or Blofeld). Adds a little cost BUT:

Deep Mind 12 D - £550. Blofeld £380, Midi Splitter £40, Audio Mixer £80. Total £1050.
DSI Rev 2, 8 Voice £1080
Peak £1035.

Given that setup is the same total cost as either other option........ Does that sound like the most complete package?
 
Ad

Advertisements

happyrat1

Destroyer of Eardrums!!!
Joined
May 30, 2012
Messages
8,236
Reaction score
3,484
Location
GTA, Canada
I own a Deepmind 6 and a Blofeld Desktop and I will agree that they each bring a different soundscape to the party.

I am curious however, as to what sort of music are you planning to create that you are so eager to drop a couple of thou on the hopes that you have built a Swiss Army knife of sound? :)

Gary ;)
 

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question

Top