Slave to the Preset

I’ve recently been trying to identify a single, highly versatile synth to buy that might meet all my synth needs (“less clutter, more productivity”) - but one thing that’s become apparent is that just about any synth becomes more versatile if you know how to program it. Thing is I’m a preset tweaker. My interest is more in making songs than patches (I’m a guitarist who also loves synth sounds) - but the impression I have is that many folks here on AB forum program their own sounds(?) so I’m getting to the possibility that maybe I already own the synth I seek, I just need to learn how to program it. Here’s what I have;

Micrologue (part of Cubasis)
Lorentz (AU)
iSEM (AU but no longer actively maintained)
SynthMaster Player
Magellan
Kauldron (AU)
SynthQ
Yamaha AN 2015 (from Synth Book)

Because a slick workflow is key for me I plan to stick with AU/native if possible. Wondering if any of the above worth doubling down on (ie learning to program and then using it exclusively)? Alternatively I would consider something like Zeeon (its AU and recommended by many).

Bit paralysed by this hence the post - not sure how tricky/time consuming it would be to learn to program sounds (any good resources out there?) but adding more synths to my iPad just to widen the preset smorgasbord doesn’t seem the way forward. Or maybe it is I dunno lol

Thanks for reading, any thoughts/guidance/opinions appreciated!

Comments

  • Which one of those do you actually like?

  • edited March 8

    Magellan has the best sounds - but I don’t think it has much future as Yonac has moved on.
    Micrologue as well

  • edited March 8

    I learned how to program synths and have been doing so for years aaaaaaaand.... now I just want a single, versatile, preset machine to just grab some great sounds and slap them together for songs. I find it’s weird with music like that, once you know how to do one aspect and do it well, then you’re like “welp now I just want to spend less time on that”

  • @zeroG said:
    Magellan has the best sounds - but I don’t think it has much future as Yonac has moved on.
    Micrologue as well

    I reckon Mood or Zeeon would fit the bill nicely.

  • edited March 9

    If you learn to program one VA synth, you're 90% there to program them all. It's not like computer programs, or languages.

    Of those on your list, Lorentz is the easiest to program, and it's hard to get a bad sound out of it. From there, the more complex synths would be in reach.

  • Get the free Syntronik and FM Player. Use those with the Synthmaster Player you already have and you should be set for the most part, and you won’t need to make your own.
    Making your own is only critical if you need a specific sound to fit in with what you are doing and can’t seem to find it in any preset. Preset tweaking like you already do will usually suffice.
    Only get into programming if it interests you, or if you suddenly develop a taste for the more experimental, but honestly less useful sounds. Or maybe get into it if you get a sense of pride from being able to roll your own sounds. But it ain’t really that big of a deal. I would say what your music sounds like overall is important, but where your sounds came from is not so important, just interesting.

  • Oh, and since you are a guitarist, you probably have a good knowledge of effects. You could try using this knowledge by applying effects to synth presets. You can use effects to help tailor the synth sound, or to develop a more original, unique sound.

  • From purely programming them perspective, I personally like Kauldron and iSEM. I’m going mostly from a perspective of how easy the UI makes the experience, which is a totally personal thing. Zeeon doesn’t quite do it for me compared to those two in pleasure to tweak, but there is no doubting it’s potential for wonderful sound creation.

    Also I will never leave one of these threads without saying - PPG WaveMapper!

  • I’m not a fan of iSem or a real SEM purely because of one thing, the combined decay and release. That’s all. And I own three real Oberheim analogue synths, so I’m not anti Obi.

  • I’m a tweaker, not a sound designer. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel when I need an instrument or sound to play a part. There’s always something close where basic settings can be altered as needed - filter cutoff, envelopes, more or less FX, etc… If your compositions are electronic or synth-based, and rely on evolving sound rather than melodic, harmonic and rhythmic development, then obviously it’s a different story. In that case, from my inexpert perspective, a simple subtractive synth would probably be the place to start, then learn the various types of synthesis. Once you have some programming background, you can choose a synth based on what you like best.

  • See, I have this idea that when guitarists come to synthesis, they often start out wanting something like a guitar but with a wider palette of noises. Nothing wrong with that and I made/am making the same journey. But there is a whole lot more to creating music with electronic synthesizers. Manipulation of waveforms to create something similar to the instrument you came from is one approach but for my money I don't think you beat Gadget. It is such a great introduction to learning to create your own sounds sounds, textures, rhythms and other sonic torture. You can create incredible things with only the base Gadget sans IAPs and you can stack all sorts of different flavours of synthesis alongside rhythm machines and samplers. They often have 50% off sales too, wouldn't surprise me if they had one at Easter..

  • @zeroG said:
    Magellan has the best sounds - but I don’t think it has much future as Yonac has moved on.
    Micrologue as well

    I'd concentrate on Micrologue.....if you can program that then you will have a good grounding which will enable you to program more VA synths...also Micrologue comes with a good range of presets that you can use to learn how certain types of sound are built. It is also well laid out without having lots of hidden settings or tons of modulation options which will only confuse you to start.
    The downside to Micrologue is that it is only available within Cubasis...maybe not an issue for you.

    Another option is Groovebox, if you get the synth IAP's then these are great for learning to program for the same reasons as with Micrologue.....

  • @db909 said:
    I learned how to program synths and have been doing so for years aaaaaaaand.... now I just want a single, versatile, preset machine to just grab some great sounds and slap them together for songs. I find it’s weird with music like that, once you know how to do one aspect and do it well, then you’re like “welp now I just want to spend less time on that”

    That’s interesting that you’ve gone full circle ... what’s your go-to preset machine?

    @syrupcore said:

    @zeroG said:
    Magellan has the best sounds - but I don’t think it has much future as Yonac has moved on.
    Micrologue as well

    I reckon Mood or Zeeon would fit the bill nicely.

    Another endorsement for Zeeon, getting harder to resist...

    @Jocphone said:
    See, I have this idea that when guitarists come to synthesis, they often start out wanting something like a guitar but with a wider palette of noises. Nothing wrong with that and I made/am making the same journey.

    Maybe subconsciously lol
    Do you mean keyboard solos (e.g. like Jordan Rudess dualling with John Petrucci)?
    There’s is a place for that certainly but I really like artists like Carbon Based Lifeforms and Ulrich Schnauss and aspire to combine some of their moods and textures into a “space rock” framework

    @lovadamusic said:
    I’m a tweaker, not a sound designer. I don’t want to reinvent the wheel when I need an instrument or sound to play a part

    Very very good point

    @AndyPlankton said:

    @zeroG said:
    Magellan has the best sounds - but I don’t think it has much future as Yonac has moved on.
    Micrologue as well

    I'd concentrate on Micrologue.....if you can program that then you will have a good grounding which will enable you to program more VA synths...also Micrologue comes with a good range of presets that you can use to learn how certain types of sound are built. It is also well laid out

    Yes this may be a sensible starting point - this or Lorentz. “Suck it and see” and if it’s not happening then presets it is. Any good learning resources?

    Cheers for the input

  • @zeroG said:

    @AndyPlankton said:

    @zeroG said:
    Magellan has the best sounds - but I don’t think it has much future as Yonac has moved on.
    Micrologue as well

    I'd concentrate on Micrologue.....if you can program that then you will have a good grounding which will enable you to program more VA synths...also Micrologue comes with a good range of presets that you can use to learn how certain types of sound are built. It is also well laid out

    Yes this may be a sensible starting point - this or Lorentz. “Suck it and see” and if it’s not happening then presets it is. Any good learning resources?

    Great point about Micrologue. Lorentz is a fantastic synth but I'm not sure it's the most representative. That is, I'm not sure how much you'd get with regard to skills transfer.

    FWIW, Mood ain't as pretty (or as instantly lovely, generally) as Zeeon but I reckon Mood is the more powerful synth in terms of palette. Especially if space rock is your aim—you get modulators for every control in the app.

  • @zeroG said:

    @Jocphone said:
    See, I have this idea that when guitarists come to synthesis, they often start out wanting something like a guitar but with a wider palette of noises. Nothing wrong with that and I made/am making the same journey.

    Maybe subconsciously lol
    Do you mean keyboard solos (e.g. like Jordan Rudess dualling with John Petrucci)?
    There’s is a place for that certainly but I really like artists like Carbon Based Lifeforms and Ulrich Schnauss and aspire to combine some of their moods and textures into a “space rock” framework

    No, not at all, I was thinking more about the idea of the studio as instrument

    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Recording_studio_as_musical_instrument

    With something like Gadget, or AUM with a bunch of AU synths and effects etc.. you can quite quickly build up layers of sound that really move into new realms, if that is what you want to do. The combination of multiple great sounding but texturally different synth modules makes this a breeze to almost create the synth that you want yourself. By copying a set of notes to several tracks occupied by different synths you get to construct sounds, the bass of a sound from an analogue synth, maybe the a sampler for the body. Gadget really opened my eyes to all of that a few years ago.

  • edited March 9

    @syrupcore said:

    @zeroG said:

    @AndyPlankton said:

    @zeroG said:
    Magellan has the best sounds - but I don’t think it has much future as Yonac has moved on.
    Micrologue as well

    I'd concentrate on Micrologue.....if you can program that then you will have a good grounding which will enable you to program more VA synths...also Micrologue comes with a good range of presets that you can use to learn how certain types of sound are built. It is also well laid out

    Yes this may be a sensible starting point - this or Lorentz. “Suck it and see” and if it’s not happening then presets it is. Any good learning resources?

    Great point about Micrologue. Lorentz is a fantastic synth but I'm not sure it's the most representative. That is, I'm not sure how much you'd get with regard to skills transfer.

    FWIW, Mood ain't as pretty (or as instantly lovely, generally) as Zeeon but I reckon Mood is the more powerful synth in terms of palette. Especially if space rock is your aim—you get modulators for every control in the app.

    I like both so much and each can do things the other can’t, so I balked at the idea that mood has a wilder range of sounds than Zeeon. I’d say mood is EASIER to get wild with, in fact I think it’s a great beginner synth because it shows you how crazy things can get so easily, but Zeeon can match it and then some once you modulate the right parameters.

  • @oat_phipps said:

    @syrupcore said:

    @zeroG said:

    @AndyPlankton said:

    @zeroG said:
    Magellan has the best sounds - but I don’t think it has much future as Yonac has moved on.
    Micrologue as well

    I'd concentrate on Micrologue.....if you can program that then you will have a good grounding which will enable you to program more VA synths...also Micrologue comes with a good range of presets that you can use to learn how certain types of sound are built. It is also well laid out

    Yes this may be a sensible starting point - this or Lorentz. “Suck it and see” and if it’s not happening then presets it is. Any good learning resources?

    Great point about Micrologue. Lorentz is a fantastic synth but I'm not sure it's the most representative. That is, I'm not sure how much you'd get with regard to skills transfer.

    FWIW, Mood ain't as pretty (or as instantly lovely, generally) as Zeeon but I reckon Mood is the more powerful synth in terms of palette. Especially if space rock is your aim—you get modulators for every control in the app.

    I like both so much and each can do things the other can’t, so I balked at the idea that mood has a wilder range of sounds than Zeeon. I’d say mood is EASIER to get wild with, in fact I think it’s a great beginner synth because it shows you how crazy things can get so easily, but Zeeon can match it and then some once you modulate the right parameters.

    I didn't mean to imply Zeeon wasn't powerful (it was one of the two synths I recommended earlier in the thread). But once you get your head around the modulation and sampler in Mood, it can go to places most other synths just can't.

    On the flip side, even if Zeeon can't travel quite as far (though plenty far!) I'd say that it's almost hard to make Zeeon sound bad. Similar to Model 15 or a hardware OB-6, pretty much every where it goes sounds subjectively "good" to my ears. That's not the case with Mood for me.

  • @syrupcore said:

    @oat_phipps said:

    @syrupcore said:

    @zeroG said:

    @AndyPlankton said:

    @zeroG said:
    Magellan has the best sounds - but I don’t think it has much future as Yonac has moved on.
    Micrologue as well

    I'd concentrate on Micrologue.....if you can program that then you will have a good grounding which will enable you to program more VA synths...also Micrologue comes with a good range of presets that you can use to learn how certain types of sound are built. It is also well laid out

    Yes this may be a sensible starting point - this or Lorentz. “Suck it and see” and if it’s not happening then presets it is. Any good learning resources?

    Great point about Micrologue. Lorentz is a fantastic synth but I'm not sure it's the most representative. That is, I'm not sure how much you'd get with regard to skills transfer.

    FWIW, Mood ain't as pretty (or as instantly lovely, generally) as Zeeon but I reckon Mood is the more powerful synth in terms of palette. Especially if space rock is your aim—you get modulators for every control in the app.

    I like both so much and each can do things the other can’t, so I balked at the idea that mood has a wilder range of sounds than Zeeon. I’d say mood is EASIER to get wild with, in fact I think it’s a great beginner synth because it shows you how crazy things can get so easily, but Zeeon can match it and then some once you modulate the right parameters.

    I didn't mean to imply Zeeon wasn't powerful (it was one of the two synths I recommended earlier in the thread). But once you get your head around the modulation and sampler in Mood, it can go to places most other synths just can't.

    On the flip side, even if Zeeon can't travel quite as far (though plenty far!) I'd say that it's almost hard to make Zeeon sound bad. Similar to Model 15 or a hardware OB-6, pretty much every where it goes sounds subjectively "good" to my ears. That's not the case with Mood for me.

    I know you didn’t mean Zeeon ‘wasn’t powerful’. And with everything you just said, I think we’re in complete agreement. I think both are the best synths released since Model 15, and I rarely even bother with any other subtractive synths these days.

  • Micrologue or the free Syntorial synth are the most basic virtual analogue synth apps. Start with basic. The fewer frills to distract, the more you can focus.

  • @syrupcore said:
    FWIW, Mood ain't as pretty (or as instantly lovely, generally) as Zeeon but I reckon Mood is the more powerful synth in terms of palette. Especially if space rock is your aim—you get modulators for every control in the app.

    Dunno I’ve just been looking at Mood and I think it looks pretty cool. For some reason this app never hit my radar. Hmmm...

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