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Hardware Synths for Psybient / PsyChill / Downtempo

Hardware Synths

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#1
Delightful Imperfections

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Hey y'all, I'm looking to explore hardware synths for the first time, & was wondering if anyone out there has any recommendations for hardware they've used successfully when making psychill / psybient / downtempo. With so many out there its hard to know where to start! Would love to hear about some of your experiences.

Thanks :)

 



#2
Iacchus

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I use the Virus TI as my main workhorse, use FM VST plugins a bit for growl and stuff but for warm squelchy psychedelic noises, can't beat the Virus.  


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#3
Moebius

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I think it doesn't matter which synth you choose for making psychill / psybient / downtempo. You can use mostly any synth for these styles.

More important is the question what you want to do with your setup:

 

Do you built up a studio environment or a live set?

Do you need keys and direct parameter control?

Do you want to use MIDI?

What sound you plan to create with your hardware (drums, leads, Pads, bass, Arps, FX)?

Do you need a mixer?

Do you use external or internal FX?

Do you use a sequencer?

 

In these days its quite easy to find cheap hardware like Volca from Korg, Reface from Yamaha or Circuit from Novation.

Just find out if you like the sound, usability and workflow of a synth and try it out.

If money matters there are a lot of possibilities to buy used hardware and test it in your studio. If you don't like it you can sell it for the same price afterwards and buy something else instead.

I hope this helps! :)



#4
Delightful Imperfections

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Thanks guys, this is all really useful.

I think workflow of the synth is a big one for me. I'm really looking to infuse more playfulness into my workflow, & get away from the 'mouse clickliness' that can saturate my process at times. I want to stop programming sound so much, & start playing more. I already have a midi keyboard so this isn't required. The Nord Rack 3 looks & sounds really interesting but is kinda pricey for a starter synth. I think this is the kind thing I'm looking towards. Something where I can have a lot of fun & make some really interesting unique sounds.

Just gotta finish my current project first & then it'll be time for the upgrade :)



#5
Iacchus

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I wouldn't bother with starter synths, I got an electribe, then a novation supernova, I outgrew them both quickly and it was just a bit of a waste of time and money, only the best hardware synths outperform VST's now anyway.  Consider a Virus TI Snow as a cheaper option, it has the same sound engine as the full model, it just runs less instances, so you are not compromising on sound.



#6
Gagarin

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I wouldn't bother with starter synths, I got an electribe, then a novation supernova, I outgrew them both quickly and it was just a bit of a waste of time and money, only the best hardware synths outperform VST's now anyway.  Consider a Virus TI Snow as a cheaper option, it has the same sound engine as the full model, it just runs less instances, so you are not compromising on sound.

 

Iacchus,
 
can you recommend a Polyphonic with ability of save patches :
- Second hand is fine 
- Rack version Without keyboard is ok, I can run with ableton sequencer
 
A) < 500 USd
b ) < 1000 usd
 
main use "bass" / squelch synth

reality is a creation of your mind


#7
Iacchus

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Iacchus,
 
can you recommend a Polyphonic with ability of save patches :
- Second hand is fine 
- Rack version Without keyboard is ok, I can run with ableton sequencer
 
A) < 500 USd
b ) < 1000 usd
 
main use "bass" / squelch synth

 

I wouldn't recommend spending <500usd on a synth, I think its a waste of money.  Save up and get a good one, and for 1000usd I would get a Virus TI desktop. 
Fully integrates with your DAW, you dont even need to save the patch on the synth, saving your DAW file does it for you, and it will run 16 instances at once, thats 16 synth patches running live at the same time in your track.  You can even leave the dust cover on, as long at is it powered up, it will work and you can control it through the VST user interface.
There are other synths that sound great too but, becauese of the total integration and the effect it has on your workflow, the Virus TI is and will always be my recommendation.. until something better comes out, been waiting 10 years for that to happen though...



#8
Iacchus

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That's just my experience of gear progression and acquisition :) others will have a different story and a fondness for other synths that may be cheaper.  I just feel you have to bring out the big guns to outdo soft synths these days.



#9
Delightful Imperfections

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The more I hear about this Virus Ti, the more appealing it sounds. Really like the idea of seamless integration with DAW too, without this I couldn't see me using the hardware so much 



#10
Iacchus

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The more I hear about this Virus Ti, the more appealing it sounds. Really like the idea of seamless integration with DAW too, without this I couldn't see me using the hardware so much 

 

I don't actually use the knobs on it, the VST UI is better - tabs, modulation matrix with dropdowns, waveforms you can drag with the mouse, etc.   Some prefer to twiddle knobs but I prefer the UI.

You are basically buying a ton of DSP boards and an exceptionally good analogue modelling algorithm, fine tuned and coded for the circuit boards it runs on.






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