Suggestions for table top synths?


#1

since i got my pyramid my taste has dramatically shifted; i now look at synthesis and synthesisers totes different. kudos to squarp.

now i am looking for small table top boxes that produce deep sounds. they dont need to have a sequencer inside (why would i need one anymore haha?)

so i am thinking of selling my volcas to get boxes such as:

  • audiothingies micromonsta and double drummer
  • benjolin and blippoo by rob hordijk
  • cwejman s1 mkII (i know it is ridiculous to lump a cwejman with other synths a tenth the price, but so what)

can you suggest me more like this? i am especially interested in lush soundscapes, precision, weirdness, craftsmanship, eccentricity, and avant-garde sounds

i am also interested in supporting obscure, niche, and/or boutique makers (such as squarp, audiothingies etc)

what i am NOT looking for: heavy, plodding, fetishistic stuff

cheers - and yay to squarp!


#2

Howdy again!

Long story short. It is impossible to recommend a stranger a synth.
Its as asking someone to pick you a husband/wife.

Every synth is unique in some strange way. May it be sound or otherwise. And the describing words you gave are very non-specific. Easier if you just say what genres you are into :wink:

But from your earlier posts and this one, I think I would recommend you the Waldorf Blofeld. It is a very deep synth. 16-part multitimbral. Can be had for cheaps used. It will surely get you going on that synthesis train and if it turns out you dont like it, you can flip it quite easily. :wink:


#3

i…i don’t like the way the blofeld looks


#4

Haha, your loss then. I’ve owned lots of synths over the years and the blofeld remains one of the deepest and most rewarding synths I’ve ever encountered. I’m constantly amazed at the sounds that I can get out of the thing. I agree it’s not the most beautiful looking thing in the world, but if you don’t like the look of something, then just change it. I often switch knobs out, sand ugly logos off, or give a quick coat of spray paint if it’s not to my liking. I would hope that sound would be more of a concern to looks when it comes to making music :sunglasses:


#5

Micromonsta is on my birthday present list (a list I’ve made to pretend I’m treating myself and not giving in to GAS).

You are aware they are modular synth modules and require a skiff and psu to use? Expensive stuff.

They look wonderful, but are out of production. You’re going to need to hunt one down on one of the 2nd hand sites.

A self-contained modular is a good way to get a modular without as much expense and I’ve toyed with the idea myself. 0-Coast is something I will own by April next year, don’t you worry about that!
Only draw-back to a standalone modular is it’s essentially a semi modular with no way to expand other than putting together your own fully modular synth (or buying another semi-modular).

And that is a grand ideal. I am all for supporting those with vision and the balls to dive into making them reality. But remember, as much as Squarp have a wonderful relationship with their users, it’s not always the way. I bought a BCR-2000 and almost paid for Zaquencer, until I checked up on support. And although I want another Wave Ideas Bitstream 3x, the company owner abandon the product a long time ago leaving us with a rather buggy programming application that likes to crash. My Microgranny came with a bung mic input and the manual sample record trigger button puts a “tock” at the start of ever sample made in that manner. I should send it back really.
The good bit about sometimes being stung is letting the bigger makers know we want something not so traditional. The big Japanese three have all heard the message too.

LOL, I know looks determines a good amount of first impressions for most things in life; KISS had to wear make-up to overcome their hideous au naturel appearance (well that is how I interpreted it when the took the make-up off). As much as I loath the iSynth white my Blofeld is in, it’s still sounds wonderful, not to mention it’s vastly more tweakable than most synths at the same price point. Sure it’s not analogue but once you have a decent analogue bass and some analogue percussion (such as the Volca Beats), the Blofeld’s digital nature nicely complements the circuitry sound. The lack of knobs can be remedied with a Novation SL or something similarly encoder emblazoned.

If you want a sexy desktop synth, hunt down a Waldorf XT. All orange, bedazzled with dials and sporting a big red knob, I had impure thoughts about my XTk (keyboard vers) when I bought it. Technically the XT is a rack synth, but it’s just as at home on a table top due to the in’s and out’s all being on the top panel, making it quite the rack hog really.

Both the Blofeld and the Microwaves (1, 2 and XT’s) are your machines for soundscapes, eccentricity weirdness and also deep programming. But so are the DSI Evolver and Tetra. Both the Waldorf and DSI synths have extensive parameter control via MIDI, with Waldorf using simple CC’s and DSI going the more complicated NRPN method (necessitating a controller capable of sending them), making the Waldorfs more tweakable via a Pyramid, but binding certain universal MIDI controllers such as breath or expression to a parameter within the synth using the modulation slots, you can still route Pyramid modulations to a DSI synth.

Something to keep in mind is there is a fad on right now. Analogue is the new black and it’s being used as a way to insinuate a synth can sound wild and crazy more if it is analogue. This is true to an extent, it all depends on your definition of wild and crazy. For example, there are Moog synths made for lead players which can make some wild and crazy leads, and there are Moogs for the sonically deranged that can communicate with alien motherships! Some would have you believe that the MiniMoog sound is the pinnacle of mono synths, but for your desires, the cheaper Mother 32 will send you into ecstasy with it’s provisions to create truly experimental programs by patching things in ways not possible on Moog’s hardwired synths.

Using both analogue and digital tech is the the Novation Peak. All touchy-feely, it offers close to a knob per parameter and has the ability to but out of the subtractive synthesis mould the other companies making neo-analogues are using.

Finally, I’d mention the Deep Mind 12. It’s got a desktop version. I think it sounds rather nice. If I was to make criticisms, it could have more oscillator wave shapes and the controls could be a little bigger.

I hope I actually helped with that wall of text above!


#6

Love my Micromonsta. You won’t regret.


#7

i wanna support audiothingies but their support seems slow to respond? also micromonsta is sold out?

should i get a micromonsta or a blofeld? cant decide


#8

MicroMonsta will be in stock again.

Blofeld: sounds awesome, not very fun to program (I didnt like the encoders), 16 part multitimbral (sometimes depends on dsp usage) but with only one stereo out is a bummer. Very powerful, nice digital filter implementation

MicroMonsta: sounds phat, pleasure to program, lots of options but not overly complicated. Support the little guys.


#9

I love the Blofeld for digital sounds and the Korg Arp Odyssey for an analogue duo voice. The Odyssey has become one of my all time favorite synths in the few months I’ve owned it.


#10

this question is so general that has almost no sense


#11

It is also available in black (The blofeld I mean)


#12

I love the black Blofeld :wink:


#13

What does the additional sample unlock do for Blofeld? Is it worth the extra €€?
And those of you that use it with Pyramid…easy to program and stable?

Thanks


#14

I use the sample section for drum samples, old sampler sounds (fairlights and mellotrons and the like) vocal samples, etc. I personally think it’s worth the money. quite nice to be able to use the lfos, mod matrix, filters, envelopes etc on the samples using the blofeld’s brilliant engine. The main drawback is that the more complex the patch, the fewer voices it can handle at once. It’s mainly only a problem when running in multitimbral mode. Theoretically one can run 16 polyphonic patches concurrently, but sadly voice allocation gets a little wacky (note stealing) when those patches contain too many samples, effects and wavetables. 4 patches on my preenfm2 and 4 on the blofeld gives me enough voices to work with and keeps things from glitching out.

The blofeld is fun to program in my opinion - pretty deep with not much of a learning curve. The samples just show up in the waveform section and you can load as many as will fit in the small allotted space (64mb! but for things like drums and short, looped waveforms that can go a long way). Things such as adding user wavetables and loading user sample content can be a little tedious, but once everything’s in there it’s super stable. Just get a more recent model. I think the earlier ones had some build issues. I have the more recent black model and it’s been totally solid for the several years I’ve had it.

what I love about using the blofeld with the pyramid is that it makes the multi mode come to life. Previously, I’d have to load banks into a multi preset manually which is a bit menu divy. Now, I just have a blank multi patch with 4 or eight slots and then just select the patches from the pyramid. so I only ever need that one preset and individual program changes are stored in the pyramid’s patterns on their own channels. works seamlessly.


#15

Thanks a lot @palm. Very good description. I am seriously considering getting one for Pyramid just for the reason that it is multi timbral, small size and affordable.

:beers: cheers :clinking_glasses:


#16

wow @palm that sounds good … although what is multi mode?! havent seen it discussed before


#17

multi mode allows you to run the blofeld multitimbrally (up to 16 patches concurrent) - each patch can be assigned to any midi channel, with splits, arps, pan, volume control for each independent of one another. Sadly, only one stereo out though…


#18

Waldorf are little guys too, just been doing it for some decades now. The company was bankrupted in the early 2000’s trying to chase user’s desires, releasing products that satisfied the want’s of their existing user base more than those which would bring in the returns to keep them afloat. Sorta hard to sell a 16 voice digital/analogue hybrid multitimbre synth with 52 knobs on it in a market was all about grooveboxes, virtual studios and softsynths. That era brought on the demise of a few hardware companies. Stefan Stenzel pulled Waldorf back to life somehow and they rushed the Blofeld out the door as their phoenix product (though they will never admit it was a rush job). For a rushed product, it’s pretty good.
They are still a small company with less then 20 employees, just their products don’t come in laser cut acrylic boxes and run on Arduinos (something that sorta irks me considering the open source philosophy behind Arduino). Audiothingies aren’t using Arduinos at least.
Enough of the Waldorf fanboy babbler.

I went to buy a MicroMonsta about a month ago but they were out of stock so I joined the subscription list. When the “back in stock” email arrived I didn’t have the money available for about a week or so, though when it was, the synth was sold out already! Gotta be quick!


#20

Modor NF-1 of the NF-1m. Not the cheapest option, but an incredible synth, incomparable with other stuff. I hardly touch my XT these days…


#21

Agree with you about acrylic boxes - those things need to die - but why do you care if it was coded on an Arduino, a Spin FV-1, or even a Basic Stamp, if it does what you want?

(Keep in mind too, that even if it uses an atmega328P, it’s not necessairly Arduino - it could just be C code).

The Ming Qi Voltage Memory for instance was done with an Arduino. It’s an awesome touchpad controller, and you can get the easy-to-modify Arduino source code with it. (In fact, the SW updates were Arduino source code). What’s not to like?