OT: shopping for a synth/seq desktop module

  • I want a small form-factor (backpackable) stand-alone sound module that sounds great and is easy to use. My budget is ~ $500. I've been looking at the DSI Evolver desktop unit, seems pretty feature-rich and I've heard some nice demos on utube. It has a lot of the things I want: sequencer, audio inputs, software editor. People seem to either love it or hate it. Anyone have experience with this, or other suggestions? I have an Alesis Micron that I like okay but I don't need/want the keyboard and it's a little obtuse to program the sequencer. This is for live as well as studio use. I have Reaktor and love the way it sounds but I want a separate sound source from the computer for more variety and sometimes I hate that glowing screen.

    Requirements:
    small
    MIDI-controllable
    tweakable live
    sounds good
    ~ $500

    I've looked a bit at the new Roland SonicCell and it seems intriguing but maybe they're trying to solve too many probs at once - and it's butt-ugly.

  • I've gotten TONS of mileage out of my Nord Micro Modular, which basically fits your profile. I think it's the single greatest piece of equipment I've owned (well, aside from the 40h ;)).

    The problem is, unless you know a lot about modular synthesis, the learning curve for programming is STEEP. And you have to be interfaced (via midi) to a computer to program the sounds, and they stopped updating the software some time ago, so if you have a fairly new computer you're sort of out of luck. So even though I seriously love it, it may not be the best solution any more, unfortunately. I already have a sh*tload of patches I've programmed, so I'm pretty set in that department for a while, but for a new user it may be a waste unless you want to stick to 'factory' patches, or those created by other users.

    I've thought about getting the little Evolver, because it seems to me to be the most comparable thing (in size/sound quality). It may not be AS deep in the editing department, but you can edit right on the unit (unlike the Micro), and the sound quality is better IMHO, due to the analog components. I actually nearly bought one a few weeks ago, until I took another look at my budget and decided it wasn't the best time for me to be spending $500.

    Another similar little device that has caught my eye is supposedly coming from Waldorf, called the Blofeld. There's been some hype for some time, but as of right now it's really just vaporware, and I've not heard any sound samples. But they talk a big game, and have a decent reputation for quality synth products.
    http://www.waldorfmusic.de/en/products/blofeld

  • I looked at the Nord Micro - one's on eBay right now. I didn't like that it was only programmable from computer, and that it's no longer supported. But I was still tempted by what I read about it - seems pretty great.

    Hmm, just found this:

    http://seismo.blogspot.com/2007/06/n2cc-vs-dsi-evolver.html

    The evolver is looking better all the time.

  • Oh man. What a killer 'hack'. That sound sample is amazing.

    Geez, I may have to try harder to find that $500 after all.

  • That Waldorf looks killer. Supposed to be shipping in a week.

    http://www.sequencer.de/blog/?p=2277

    Check out http://vintagesynth.com
    forums for other ideas of desktop synths.
    Its a friendly helpful community of synth nerds.
    I think the Nord Micro is programmed from the computer but after you setup your presets you can unhook it an recall them anywhere. I've thought about getting their Modular for a while but I already have a Nord Stage and It'll be years before I tire of creating new patches on that.

  • the only hardware synth out there i am considering buying (and can afford / under 1000$) is the evolver. thats it. my brother has one, its the most fun and inspiring synth ive seen in a long time, outside of software.

  • I just got a micromod and I am really in love with it. I am using the audio inputs on it for triggering sequences, and that is really what I was interested in when I bought it.

    but dang, that evolver is looking sweet.

  • Yeah, my Micro is my baby, and I'll never get rid of it. I use it for vocoder so often it is sickening. I haven't heard anything that can match that sound. And yes, you can store 99 patches for un-hooked playing. Although it will suck when that one day comes where I won't be able to load or edit new patches. I may have to keep around a junk computer forever just for that.

    But seriously - you guys are totally convincing me I do need that Evolver now. I was already 2/3 of the way there, but now it's getting irresistible... The little red guy and little blue guy would look so perfectly cute on either side of the 40h ;)

  • yeah that would be a sick combo

  • I used to have a Jomox XBase09 - that was an amazing lil drum machine /seq.

  • Personally, my Access Virus is my favorite possession. Probably more than $500 still for the older ones, but I'd try and find one to demo before you rule it out. Sounds like bliss.

  • Hmmm..the blofeld looks like awesome value for $$$.

  • Well I finally pulled the trigger on the evolver. I think it will be fun.

  • I know this is a bit off

    I got the monome and a Minimoog which i paid 500 USD for back when dollars was a currency with value (which it thankfully isnt anymore).

    Now if only i could figure out how to use the 256 =)

  • yer all set, now all you need is time

  • i have a yamaha cs15 i bought for about $500 … no midi though. I'm hoping to get a midi kit for it and install it and then control it with my 40h of course :)


    what that has to do with desktop modules i have no idea. ignore me.

  • Anyone used a x0xb0x (303 clone)??

    http://www.ladyada.net/make/x0xb0x/

  • @bolig Get a Kenton MIDI>CV box like the Pro Solo or Pro 2000 if you have more analog gear. http://bigcitymusic.com/product.asp?cat=New&pid=1000021
    That way you don't have to install anything and it keeps it vintage charm. Yamahas take the HZ/V scaling format.

    @Finn are you serious you bought a Minimoog for $500!?! oh my.

  • By the way, on the software side, I adore Native Instrument's Massive. If you have a relatively new laptop I would consider that, as well. Try the demo.

  • @c1t1zen good call… i guess the midi kit appealed to me just because its self contained but the idea of drilling a hole in the side was a bit alarming to me even tho i do alot of circuit bending. the analog synth seems too sacred for such treatment.

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