First serious piece of gear

Hi everyone,

I’m going to have a few bucks to spend pretty soon and would like to invest in a decent machine, one that I would keep for a few years and that’ll keep me inspired. This will be my first serious piece of gear so pardon me in advance if any of the below sounds amateur.

I currently have a Microkorg XL, a Volca Beats and an RS7000. I just sold the RS as the sound really didn’t suit me, it just felt old and BIG! I’m willing to sell the rest if it means starting from a cleaner base, my ideal setup being to have just one or two synth and something like an OT to sample and control the rest. Keeping it simple and minimal. Soundwise, my influences are Regis, Terrence Fixmer and Thomas Heckmann styles of industrial techno, with a hint of Housy soul.

So here’s the deal. I’ve been GASing for a while now narrowing my choice down to a few machines based on what I read here and on a few other websites :

[li]Elektron MDUW: good centerpiece, sequencer and “simple” (not simplistic) drum synth, sampling is apparently from another age though and I’m afraid it sounds dated to my taste.[/li]
[li]Elektron OT: great centerpiece, sequencer and flexibility, bit afraid of it being too technical but I will put in the time needed if I love it.[/li]
[li]Waldorf Blofeld: great sound apparently, super flexible multi-timbral synth, least expensive. Not so familiar with wavetable synth however and no sequencer.[/li]
[li]Waldorf Pulse 2: great analog sound, not expensive but limited to one voice mono and no sequencer.[/li]
[li]Moog Mother 32: moog analog sound, good sequencer, OK price, extendable through patching. VCO a bit limited (no sub)…?[/li]
[li]DSI Evolver: similar to Pulse 2, bit less intuitive maybe.[/li]
[li]Analogue Solutions Leipzig S: really fell in love with the sound of the Youtube videos, but it seems to have some important limitations (unquantised, low resonance, NO PATCH MEMORY!)[/li]

I’m pretty hands on and would like to keep OTB, except maybe for a bit of recording and mixdowns. To be honest, I have a preference for analog and a machine that’ll get me started on both drums and synth (bass, leads…).

I’m planning on visiting a local shop very soon to make my own ideas for the sound of each module, but I’m really interested in having your advice. I’m open to other suggestions, but please limit yourself to one if possible!

Thanks for your help!

The OT is the only thing on your current list that would meet your requirements for replacing the RS7000. The MD would be extremely fiddly to use as your main sequencer. You can make a lot of music with an OT and a MicroKorg.

The Blofeld is a virtual analogue synth (with wavetable capabilities) and could replace the MicroKorg if you are dissatisfied with it.

You might also consider an MPC1000 or similar instead of the OT as your sampler/controller.

Whatever you prefer, I would advise you to get one new instrument at a time and learn it thoroughly before buying more. And listen to the sound of each synth for yourself rather than relying on other peoples’ personal taste.

[li]Elektron OT: great centerpiece, sequencer and flexibility, bit afraid of it being too technical but I will put in the time needed if I love it.[/li]

Those are all very different devices with their own personalities/idiosyncracies/strengths/limitations. The one thing I might say is that this comment about the OT sounds a little troublesome to me. You will only love the OT if you put in the time. It is definitely the least “plug and play”-friendly of the bunch.

MPC would be indeed a very good alternative to OT.

Did you look at an ANALOG RYTM? It has good sampling capabilities and the analog filter + compressor make everything sound very good. It would be a good match for industrial techno. Plus it is quite compact, with a very powerful sequencer, performance oriented and overbridge makes it convenient to record your tracks.

OT is not that hard, it’s just that it’s very capable.
But if you try to master it piece by piece, you’ll see it become a very versatile weapon.
And actually, the different pieces are not that hard to learn.
Plus there is an active community to help you in the process.

It’s really solid hardware and the sound of it is quite OK, even if the Analog series has analog filters + better (but fewer) FX. I actually like OT filters and reverb btw.
And you can make both very powerful beats or ambient music and progress from one to the other in a way that is live-compatible.

But before you get a fluid workflow on it by assembling the different personae of the machine, it will take some time and maybe you’ll encounter some hate/love periods…

In the end, learning the machine is not that awful, there are quite a lot of matter on videos and documents to teach you every obscure detail.
But first you’ll have to digest the entire manual, no way to pass through this.

Aye aye to this!

… except that:
[li] the AR cannot sample by itself, it needs to have samples loaded from a computer in order to play them,[/li]
[li]Overbridge is not much use if the OP wants to have as little computer use as possible, and[/li]
[li]the AR sequencer only sequences its own sounds and cannot sequence other equipment.[/li]

So it might make a very nice standalone or secondary instrument, but not the hub of the system.

I second this! Analog Rytm was my second major synth purchase, but if I were to go back in time it would have been my first. I was originally a tracker and used to have a very formulaic way of putting in drums - Rytm not only has me tapping way more complex beats - It also has me finally using more organic samples alongside my synthey stuff. Not to mention the warm fuzzy thumpy power.

Aye aye to this![/quote]
i agree with zfigz, perhaps you can go up to 2 instruments at once but that would much depend on how deep the device/s is/are/ // / :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye:
from the list you posted i would probably choose the OT+Blofeld or OT+Mother32…or OT+MD (mm…or… :smiley: )
making the OT the centerpiece of your setup, you can sample, re-sample and do all sort of things with what you record in it (and not only). an AR wouldn’t be bad as well, it has sampling capability so it could, up to certain extent, substitute the OT bbbut…so, it’s an hard choice, and that’s without considering all the other gears :slight_smile:

i also think the Rytm would be a good start. Not that difficult, very powerful, can be used to create full songs. possible to add a simple synth next to it

If you have a need to sequence external MIDI devices, OT would be the best choice. Analog Rhythm or A4 can’t sequence external midi devices.

I know some would say it’s difficult to learn but unless you are a total noob using electronic music equipment, I think you’d be fine. There are plenty of tutorials on the web to get you started.

You can also create a whole track just using the OT. Add a simple multi-timbral synth (Blofeld, Electribe 2, etc) and you can create some nice tracks all OTB.

OT isn’t very difficult! You have to just understand its architecture and remember some shortcuts. Just remember that OT is a sampler (some people don’t like use samples which have to be prepared somewhere) and you have to put something into it or use its midi sequencer to control other gear. Midi sequencing is very easy with OT.

Thanks a lot for you answers.

I understand the machines I listed are quite different, that’s why I wanted an opinion because I think they point to different directions.

I was already leaning towards OT and although I feel the RYTM could also be a great start it’s also more expensive and less of a setup brain. Plus I’ve already got a good base in MIDI sequencing thanks to the RS so that would be something familiar in the OT.

It looks like the OT is closing fewer doors to me since I’m not set on a particular sound or workflow yet.

Youll hit some bumps learning OT and have to reach for the manual or forum but it’s not so complicated really. Just deep. You don’t need to use EVERY feature right away. Apparently Roland have some kind of OT/Maschine/Push 2/mpc killer dropping early next year, so maybe hold off a little while and see what that’s all about if this is going to be a big purchase for you. Apparently Roland are going to release details etc for Namm in a few weeks…

Also maybe worth demoing the Waldorf Largo plugin, if I remember correctly I think it’s very similar to the Blofield for sound etc. Could be an easy way to see if you like the vibe. I had a Blofield but sold it cos it was so flakey. Rotary knobs had a mind of their own. Same thing happened with my band mate’s blofeld. That was a long time ago though so maybe they’re less buggy now.

I agree with some of the other comments, that you should really try stuff out, but not always that simple, and it does take a while to get to grips with a new instrument anyway.
From my experience (I have / have had most of the items on your list) I can tell you this :
MDUW - Great drum machine, but it really is just a drum machine, I don’t think this will ever leave my side
DSI Evolver - Nice sound, but found it lacking in bass, and would have been a luxury to keep.
Pulse 2 - Wasn’t so keen on. Just couldn’t get the sounds I was hearing in my head. Lasted 1 week in my studio
Blofeld - Was considering it, but have been using my iPad instead for VA type stuff. Animoog is great, and will be buying Waldorf Nave soon, which has the blofeld sounds in. This with an Alesis control hub for £30, and I have an awesome sound source for my OT
OT - Still learning it, but looks like it’s going to replace my MPC and Ableton as the control hub of my studio. I think it sounds great, the filters and FX sound really good to my ears, and the machine is TIGHT (as Tuco Salamanka would say)
I also have an AK and MnM. One of which will have to go soon, just can’t figure out which.
Good luck with your choice. I reckon an OT and a synth is all you really need. Possibly an A4 ? The drum sounds in it are great, and you would have an all elektron workflow, which I reckon is a good thing :slight_smile:

Good point about an Ipad being a valid option for VA stuff. I got a mini 2 a couple of months ago and have made tons of great patches since then using ios Synths/samplers/drum kits. It’s pretty great at anything digital. A lot to be said for being able to pick something up and get straight to it during little half hour windows of free time. It all adds up :slight_smile: and the blofeld main selling point as far as I can see would be it being multi-timbral. Which the Ipad is as well and it allows you to mix and match what synth/sampler/Drums you have on your midi channels or combine them etc. Very powerful paired with OT + midi…

Sounds like you need an A4. Most of the suggestions in the initial list are melodic synths. Add a MBase/MBrane combo on the CV outs sequenced by the FX track and the CV track and you basically need nothing else for doing a proper liveset, except maybe a 909 ride/hh.

The OT crushes everything else on your list, when considering that your aim is to have a minimalist setup that gets you into drums, bass, leads, etc etc etc. The OT is the only device that can do all of that, plus sequence and control external gear like a champ. It can even be a synthesizer, if you load some Single Cycle Waveforms into it.

The OT is unbelievably versatile, and that is the real reason people say that it is “complicated to learn”. For sure, it will be days before you’re even half way comfortable on it, but it’s mostly about coming to terms with just how much power is in that little box! All that said, you might be disappointed with the OT if you’re looking for something more “playable”, like a synth.

Also consider that the OT requires you to feed it samples or sounds to be usable. Creating or hunting down samples can be tedious when all you want to do is get to jamming.

I think you would be quite spdisappointed with an AR. It plays samples, but does NOT record them. Also, the synth machines on the AR are VERY limited. I think you would also be disappointed with a Mother32. It’s only one voice/one oscillator, AND, Hal’s of its appeal is being a gateway into modular (not minimalist or inexpensive).

Ended up going for the OT and reaaaaally glad I did :wink: