Old 02-17-2016, 05:29 PM   #41
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TAL Noisemaker is pretty easy to learn with.
Ha, that is exactly the one I was going to recommend! Very nicely laid out GUI and still sounds incredible. Charalatan is another good beginner choice, but Noisemaker has more modulation options and sounds much better IMO. has incredible sounding filters for a free synth.

https://tal-software.com/products/tal-noisemaker

When you feel you have those 2 down, then go and buy Diva and then eventually Zebra. Hopefully Zebra3 will be out by then
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Old 02-17-2016, 08:34 PM   #42
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Forget the synths, and get a good soft sampler

Especially if you're a guitarist.

OK, I'm joking ..... Kind of
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Old 02-17-2016, 09:27 PM   #43
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I made a tutorial on this one and I think it's the last synth any of us need.

https://www.xferrecords.com/products/serum

https://www.groove3.com/Xfer-Records...erum-Explained

Sorry for the shameless plug.
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Old 02-17-2016, 10:06 PM   #44
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I think the Charlatan interface is cleaner and would be less confusing for a beginner, having fewer controls and controls that are standard stuff. And it has sync and unison, which should be standard stuff on any synth.
Yes for the beginning, but Brainstormer allows to learn the more advanced stuff and it's interface is still super clean imho.
Charlatan is for the undergrads, and Brainstormer for the grads

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Old 02-17-2016, 10:47 PM   #45
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I'd say Charlotan is the best to learn on.

There's not too much going on to get confusing.

I actually use it a quite a lot simply because I can get to grips with what it's doing. Most other synths leave you trying every knob, vainly trying to make it less wobbly sounding or whatever.
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Old 02-18-2016, 12:24 AM   #46
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And for learning other kinds of synthesis ?
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Old 02-18-2016, 03:05 AM   #47
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Originally Posted by Aeolian View Post
Forget the synths, and get a good soft sampler

Especially if you're a guitarist.

OK, I'm joking ..... Kind of
I'm leaning on that direction, facing the fact that I'm not compatible with synths
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Old 02-18-2016, 03:14 AM   #48
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Forget the synths, and get a good soft sampler

Especially if you're a guitarist.

OK, I'm joking ..... Kind of
Ding ding ding, we have a winner

Nah, seriously. It'd be the easy way out (actually, even easier would be getting omnisphere and patch-surf my way out of it) but I really want to understand this. Specially because I'm itching to try some random variable parameter modulation and it's pointless if I'm clueless about the things I'm trying to operate in the first place.

Lots of food for thought in this thread. And obviously I can't reach any conclusion without trying all the sugestions, but damn that ClearSynth gets A+ for GUI design.
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Old 02-18-2016, 04:53 AM   #49
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Charlatan is nice, it has a simple UI (relatively speaking), all functions on a single page.
It lacks sine waveform, though it can me emulated somehow by the OSC shape, but a beginner will not appreciate this. It also lacks a sub-osc and fx.

Some might say it's for the better, because you will have to focus on the basics to make good sounds out of it.

Synth1 offers a lot more (including all the above missing from Charlatan). Still on a single page, but the UI might seem daunting to a beginner.

However you can create more complete, impressive and production-ready sounds with Synth1, so you can have a lot more fun and reward with it.

TAL Noizem4k3r seems like a good proposal, but I dislike the panels UI, you cannot see everything at once.

My opinion is that you don't have to use just one synth to learn synthesis on. You can focus on one synth at a time, yes, but why stay there?
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Old 02-18-2016, 05:37 AM   #50
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Since no-one has mentioned it, OBXD Based on the classic Oberheim OB-X/OB-8
https://obxd.wordpress.com/

There's a link to a basic manual and patches on the page (grab the factory ones at least).

It also sounds awesome. What's not to like
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Old 02-18-2016, 05:40 AM   #51
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My opinion is that you don't have to use just one synth to learn synthesis on. You can focus on one synth at a time, yes, but why stay there?
To avoid synth hopping and preset hopping. Look in this thread alone, and there must already be over a dozen synths mentioned as being the best beginner synth. A beginner reading this thread will probably download one, jog through a bunch of presets (maybe finding some sounds (s)he likes, maybe not), maybe make some music with it, download another looking for different sounds...presets...etc. Having multiple synths on hand isn't conducive to focusing on learning basic synthesis, much less learning the sound of a particular synth, imo. Limitations can be a good thing.

Btw, something that I don't see on any of the synths mentioned in this thread is some indication in the gui of how the parts are routed, which is something that experienced synth users take for granted. Knowing how a synth is routed is helpful in understanding how the parts work together. Even in a daw, understanding routing seems to be a major beginner hurdle.

Another thing is that none of the soft synths that I have seen (outside of Reason and modular environments) have manuals (or a video series) that explains what the parts are, how they work, how they work together, what the parameters are, and how to create even basic sounds, i.e., fundamental synthesis stuff. It is assumed that the user will already know how synthesis works and how to design sounds, or will just resort to using presets. There is even a whole market built around selling presets.

It is no wonder that syntorial seems like such a good idea.
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Old 02-18-2016, 06:06 AM   #52
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There is a good series of articles about subtractive synthesis here:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/allsynthsecrets.htm . It's general information which will apply to any subtractive synth and also touches on other forms of synthesis. Well worth a read in conjunction with the synth of your choice.

I agree that charlatan is a good choice for a simple synth to start with, but there is also the option of going with a fully modular synth like Sonigen ( http://www.sonigen.com/ ), because you get experience with assembling the basic components of sound synthesis.
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Old 02-18-2016, 06:37 AM   #53
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To avoid synth hopping and preset hopping. Look in this thread alone, and there must already be over a dozen synths mentioned as being the best beginner synth. A beginner reading this thread will probably download one, jog through a bunch of presets (maybe finding some sounds (s)he likes, maybe not), maybe make some music with it, download another looking for different sounds...presets...etc. Having multiple synths on hand isn't conducive to focusing on learning basic synthesis, much less learning the sound of a particular synth, imo. Limitations can be a good thing.

Btw, something that I don't see on any of the synths mentioned in this thread is some indication in the gui of how the parts are routed, which is something that experienced synth users take for granted. Knowing how a synth is routed is helpful in understanding how the parts work together. Even in a daw, understanding routing seems to be a major beginner hurdle.

Another thing is that none of the soft synths that I have seen (outside of Reason and modular environments) have manuals (or a video series) that explains what the parts are, how they work, how they work together, what the parameters are, and how to create even basic sounds, i.e., fundamental synthesis stuff. It is assumed that the user will already know how synthesis works and how to design sounds, or will just resort to using presets. There is even a whole market built around selling presets.

It is no wonder that syntorial seems like such a good idea.
This. So much this. Especially the bolded part. I'm less concerned with the quality of the sounds at this point than being able to understand what exactly am I doing to the sound when I move a knob. At this point I'm not even touching the presets. I just want to figure out what exactly am I oscillating when I mess with the LFO.

Quote:
This is a good start for learning synthesis: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atvtBE6t48M
15 minutes into it and it's turning out much better than it had any right to be. A keeper right here.

Thanks everyone for your input, lots of stuff to chew on in this thread, keep 'em coming
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Old 02-18-2016, 06:41 AM   #54
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There is a good series of articles about subtractive synthesis here:
http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/allsynthsecrets.htm . It's general information which will apply to any subtractive synth and also touches on other forms of synthesis. Well worth a read in conjunction with the synth of your choice.

I agree that charlatan is a good choice for a simple synth to start with, but there is also the option of going with a fully modular synth like Sonigen ( http://www.sonigen.com/ ), because you get experience with assembling the basic components of sound synthesis.
I never heard of Sonigen until now. How cool is that thing? Not to be pessimistic, but I'm thinking that it must have some major flaw, not ever having seen it mentioned in the many threads on free synths. But my first impression is very positive, as in forget every other free synth.
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Old 02-18-2016, 07:42 AM   #55
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15 minutes into it and it's turning out much better than it had any right to be. A keeper right here.
It does have some pretty corny jokes involved, but all in all, I think the series is a good intro to synthesis that I haven't seen matched anywhere else.
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Old 02-18-2016, 07:45 AM   #56
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Off topic:

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but there is also the option of going with a fully modular synth like Sonigen ( http://www.sonigen.com/ ), because you get experience with assembling the basic components of sound synthesis.
Do you use this synth much? How do you disconnect a patch cable? Also, I'm not sure what is meant on the site and in the manual by 'static effect'.

Quote:
It seamlessly combines polyphonic voice and static effect processing. You design the signal flow for voices and use a VoiceMixer to convert that into a single stereo signal that can then be processed by a single static effect section.
I'm intrigued by this thing. It is modular, has a user editable wavetable oscillator (and other osc types), a nice patch browser, the width and height of the gui is user changeable, and it sounds very decent so far for a free synth. Of course, I need to check it out more, but the main reason I am still rewiring Reason on occasion is for Thor and Malstrom, and I could see this possibly replacing it. Reason doesn't even allow for building your own wavetables but here it is in a free synth.
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Old 02-18-2016, 08:08 AM   #57
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I think the trick is to learn one section at a time. So start with tone generators, learn what the different wave shapes sound like, learn how to use ADSR amplitude envelopes, detune oscillators etc.. Then move on to LFO's and filters, then finally matrix routing to see how LFO's and envelopes can affect each component.

Methodical playing and exploration is the way to go, I reckon.
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Old 02-18-2016, 08:18 AM   #58
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Btw, something that I don't see on any of the synths mentioned in this thread is some indication in the gui of how the parts are routed...

Another thing is that none of the soft synths that I have seen... have manuals (or a video series) that explains what the parts are, how they work, how they work together, what the parameters are, and how to create even basic sounds...
Valid remarks, but not terribly severe. A synthesizer won't help/teach you how to make sounds, much the same way a piano won't teach you how to play a song.

Most synths mentioned here, use typical subtractive synthesis (from now on referred to as SS). It's the most common form of synthesis, and there is a ton of information on the basic principles. If you learn these well, you can find your way on most SS instruments with little trouble.
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Old 02-18-2016, 08:22 AM   #59
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Valid remarks, but not terribly severe. A synthesizer won't help/teach you how to make sounds, much the same way a piano won't teach you how to play a song.

Most synths mentioned here, use typical subtractive synthesis (from now on referred to as SS). It's the most common form of synthesis, and there is a ton of information on the basic principles. If you learn these well, you can find your way on most SS instruments with little trouble.
I'm talking from a beginner standpoint. Starting out with synthesis in a world of soft synths - even if only sticking to subtractive synths - with so many different layouts, features, varying parameter names, no routing indications, no good documentation geared toward beginners, etc. is more than dizzying. It's a bit like getting dropped off in China, not speaking the language and not knowing anything about the history or culture - here you are, figure it out.
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Old 02-18-2016, 09:01 AM   #60
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Problem with Sonigen is that in the end it's just a normal subtractive synth with a more cumbersome UI- it doesn't allow any interesting CV routings or have mult/mixer style modules. It's well done and sounds ok, but you get same results without that cable mess with many other synths with good mod matrixes.

Also development stopped at beta almost two years ago.
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Old 02-18-2016, 09:07 AM   #61
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I never heard of Sonigen until now. How cool is that thing? Not to be pessimistic, but I'm thinking that it must have some major flaw, not ever having seen it mentioned in the many threads on free synths. But my first impression is very positive, as in forget every other free synth.
My post below is OT (like a few of the posts here, I suppose) :

As far as I understand it Sonigen is free because it's a Beta release.

Reading through kvr, it's plain that the developer Chris Jones started this project years back partly in the hope that he might eventually have the option to release it as payware, but his other commitments have led to him not having enough time to devote to Soningen's development.

The last comment I see from Chris on kvr is to that effect - that he's busy working to support his family, and that he can only continue development sporadically in his spare time, and that was around a year ago.
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Old 02-18-2016, 09:14 AM   #62
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Default Helm is worth a look

It looks more complicated than it is but I find the graphical display of the envelopes useful while learning, to see what is changing when you're twiddling helped me understand things a bit better.

http://tytel.org/helm/downloads/
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Old 02-18-2016, 09:22 AM   #63
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Off topic:

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Problem with Sonigen is that in the end it's just a normal subtractive synth with a more cumbersome UI- it doesn't allow any interesting CV routings or have mult/mixer style modules. It's well done and sounds ok, but you get same results without that cable mess with many other synths with good mod matrixes.

Also development stopped at beta almost two years ago.
I'm not a big fan of spaghetti routing, but I think it has it's merits, especially for someone starting out - you actually see how things are routed, which I think is one big attraction to Reason. Considering that Sonigen has adjustable opacity for cables and that cables can be pulled out the way, I think it is fine. Also, I like that modules can be placed where you want them. I also think that it has a decent amount of modules, especially considering that it is a free synth - various oscillators, filters, and controllers. On cv, most people seem to be getting by fine without it in vst synths. Honestly, I hardly ever use it in Reason, either. It isn't make or break for me. But that editable wavetable oscillator is looking like something worth exploring. That has been a feature request for Malstrom and Thor for a long time now.
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Old 02-18-2016, 09:48 AM   #64
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Off topic:

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My post below is OT (like a few of the posts here, I suppose) :

As far as I understand it Sonigen is free because it's a Beta release.

Reading through kvr, it's plain that the developer Chris Jones started this project years back partly in the hope that he might eventually have the option to release it as payware, but his other commitments have led to him not having enough time to devote to Soningen's development.

The last comment I see from Chris on kvr is to that effect - that he's busy working to support his family, and that he can only continue development sporadically in his spare time, and that was around a year ago.
I read a bit at kvr, too, and it seems that he intends to add a distortion/saturation module at some point before making it payware. I think it is a cool free synth as it is. It is too early to tell, though. I may run into some bug that is a major problem, but so far everything seems to work fine.
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Old 02-18-2016, 10:11 AM   #65
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Off topic:



I'm not a big fan of spaghetti routing, but I think it has it's merits, especially for someone starting out - you actually see how things are routed, which I think is one big attraction to Reason. Considering that Sonigen has adjustable opacity for cables and that cables can be pulled out the way, I think it is fine. Also, I like that modules can be placed where you want them. I also think that it has a decent amount of modules, especially considering that it is a free synth - various oscillators, filters, and controllers. On cv, most people seem to be getting by fine without it in vst synths. Honestly, I hardly ever use it in Reason, either. It isn't make or break for me. But that editable wavetable oscillator is looking like something worth exploring. That has been a feature request for Malstrom and Thor for a long time now.
No right or wrong in choosing synths seeing the routing as cables could well be beneficial in the beginning, and Sonigen is clear enough for sure.

For me personally CV is the main selling point of a modular, normal synthesis is almost always more efficient and practical with a fixed architecture synth.

Zebralette has incredible wavetable oscillator btw.
https://www.u-he.com/cms/zebralette
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Old 02-18-2016, 10:18 AM   #66
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Off topic:

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Originally Posted by noise_construct View Post
No right or wrong in choosing synths seeing the routing as cables could well be beneficial in the beginning, and Sonigen is clear enough for sure.

For me personally CV is the main selling point of a modular, normal synthesis is almost always more efficient and practical with a fixed architecture synth.

Zebralette has incredible wavetable oscillator btw.
https://www.u-he.com/cms/zebralette
The most cpu use I saw while moving through the presets was less than 4%, which doesn't seem too bad. Any way, *so far* I would use this thing over any free synth I have tried.

One thing that I have ran into is that some presets are silent. They don't have an oscillator in them! Hopefully that isn't a bug with saving/loading presets, but I don't see how someone could create a patch and forget the oscillators.

Edit: I found a silent preset (Binge Drinker) that does have an oscillator but wasn't routed correctly to allow for output. Who knows if that could have happened somehow in making the preset, or if it is caused by a bug.
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Old 02-18-2016, 12:32 PM   #67
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Here's another free modular synth to play around with...

http://www.g200kg.com/en/software/kamioooka.html.


Enjoy.



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Old 02-18-2016, 12:34 PM   #68
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Off topic:


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How do you disconnect a patch cable?
I answered my own question. I thought that right-click + delete was only for deleting modules, but right-clicking on an input (not an output) also allows for deleting a patch cable. Intuitively, I would think that you could right-click + delete from either end of the cable.

Also, when routing, you typically right-click the module that you want to route to and select an input. I would inuitively right-click the module that I want to route from, but whatever.
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Old 02-18-2016, 12:38 PM   #69
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Here's another free modular synth to play around with...

http://www.g200kg.com/en/software/kamioooka.html.


Enjoy.



I have tried that one. Unless something changed recently, it aliases pretty bad. Also, it is much like Sonigen, being modular. If you want a modular synth, I think Sonigen is a better way to go.
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Old 02-18-2016, 01:10 PM   #70
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I have tried that one. Unless something changed recently, it aliases pretty bad. Also, it is much like Sonigen, being modular. If you want a modular synth, I think Sonigen is a better way to go.
That's cool. Wasn't aware of the aliasing, so it might still be there.

It didn't spend much time in my VST folder, cause I really don't need another synth.



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Old 02-18-2016, 02:20 PM   #71
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That's cool. Wasn't aware of the aliasing, so it might still be there.

It didn't spend much time in my VST folder, cause I really don't need another synth.



I hear you on not needing another synth. So far, I'm thinking that Sonigen will cover my wants for an all around synth, which will free me from Reason, but I have much more exploring to do before nailing it down. I don't want alot in a synth (I'm a guitar player), but I haven't been content with any of the free synths I have tried, in one way or another. I did like the approach of Kamioooka, but the aliasing killed it for me. So for me, Sonigen is like a better Kamioooka, with a wavetable oscillator, which was on my want list already. Btw, I looked at the current version of Kamioooka, and it is the last version that I tried.
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Old 02-18-2016, 02:27 PM   #72
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I learned doing synthesis with Massive actually. I still haven't tried ding that in Zebra ( but it's about time ). Massive is not as hard as it seams at first. It is a very good sounding synth too. The only gripe I have with it, and a minor one, is that it doesn't have a even notes sequencer, and instead it has bars, which is difficult to set to even pitches unfortunately.
Hold down the Alt key
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Old 02-18-2016, 04:24 PM   #73
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I never heard of Sonigen until now. How cool is that thing? Not to be pessimistic, but I'm thinking that it must have some major flaw, not ever having seen it mentioned in the many threads on free synths. But my first impression is very positive, as in forget every other free synth.
Dammit, I concur, this is one hell of an overlooked gem !

I found I need to put a limiter after it as a couple of presets are buggy/unstable, and also the knobs are hard to see in Auto mode (but this can be easily corrected as the skin is just a bunch of PNG files. Also, no 64 bit version and no possibility to increase the window size (but you can scroll). Apart from that, it is an absolute keeper. Maybe the most versatile of all free synths I know, very CPU efficient. Plus it's one of the best sounding free synths, right up there with TAL Noizemaker.

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Old 02-18-2016, 04:53 PM   #74
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Really I think you should consider, if it's an in-budget thing for you, looking into one of the decent new hardware synths that have been coming out lately. I sort of hovered around software synths for years without managing to get very interested, had a paid project reason to get into it seriously, picked up a MicroBrute first, got the basics down (it was perfect for that), sold it, upgraded to one of the new Korg MS-20 minis, way more complex, and since then have become synth-proficient enough to do everything I need. Got an old JX-10 and a few other old junk synths to mess around with also now. It's a blast. All in, I've spent like $1000, not rich, but worth every penny. The MicroBrute was like $350 Cdn and they're out there used for like $200 Cdn now.

I mention it only cuz I spent years trying to get interested in software synths and just couldn't. Wouldn't click. Hardware was very much the way to go for me, I guess I learn better hands-on. The software-only guys have a point, it's easy to argue hardware is passe, but for me it's night and day, just can't get very into software synthesis.
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Old 02-18-2016, 05:32 PM   #75
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Originally Posted by lolilol1975 View Post
Dammit, I concur, this is one hell of an overlooked gem !

I found I need to put a limiter after it as a couple of presets are buggy/unstable, and also the knobs are hard to see in Auto mode (but this can be easily corrected as the skin is just a bunch of PNG files. Also, no 64 bit version and no possibility to increase the window size (but you can scroll). Apart from that, it is an absolute keeper. Maybe the most versatile of all free synths I know, very CPU efficient. Plus it's one of the best sounding free synths, right up there with TAL Noizemaker.
You should probably just pull the output down for those loud presets, or change the velocity (might need to add a velocity module). For 'auto' mode, I think that is something that you would only want to flick on to take a quick look and flick back off. If you go to file > preferences, you can change the window height, and switch between a width of 3 or 4 modules. I could see the 64 bit thing being an issue for some people, but I'm still running 32 bit Reaper, as I don't use big sample libraries and every plugin I use is available as 32 bit but not 64 bit.

I agree that it is about on the same sound quality level as Noizemaker, with the bonus of being much more flexible.

A couple of observations so far:
I like the comb filter.
I tried loading some single cycle waveforms, and it was a no go on that (error message said the wav file is too short).
I crashed it once while playing with the fft size parameter in the wavetable editor with a MIDI loop running.
As mentioned earlier in the thread, some of the presets are silent and/or not routed correctly.
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Old 02-18-2016, 06:52 PM   #76
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Quote:
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Off topic:

Do you use this synth much?....
I must admit that I don't. It's one of the items on my list of things to get around to. I found it quite a while ago while searching for a (free) modular synth and I thought it looked pretty impressive. I understand synths reasonably well, so I'm happy enough to use simpler semi-modular or pre-patched synths with some understanding of their relative strengths and limitations. I just think that if you really want to learn about sound synthesis, it's better to have the freedom to configure the modules any way you want.
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Old 02-19-2016, 05:07 AM   #77
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Even to someone that uses commercial synths Sonigen seems like a great synth. I would not recommend a modular as a starter synth though. More a product for users wanting to go to the next level.

Of course you could use Sonigen or similar to play with the controls on existing patches to see how the sound changes. Learning other peoples patches is a useful way to learn. Build from there.
Sonigen comes with lots of great presets, this could be a hindrance for learning!

Synth1 doesn't come with great or inspiring presets. I suppose if you download other peoples patches then that changes but that would defeat the exercise.

I started with synth1 and after investigating the factory presets made my own. I like synth1 because of it's modulation possibilities: aftertouch, ribbons, expression pedal, breath controller all easily mapped.

I watched a few of this guys ancient video tutorials too:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=atvtBE6t48M

Another (CPU light) VA synth worth investigating is Steinberg Retrologue. Two months free evaluation last time I looked.
Sadly they have recently doubled the price of this synth and increased its complexity, removing mark 1 version which I suggest is better for this as the GUI is less cluttered than the Retrologue 2 and was less pricey.

Every version of Retrologue is easy to use though. You could learn a lot in the two month evaluation period.
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Old 02-19-2016, 11:31 AM   #78
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I just wanted to say thank you to every person who has provided input/links/valuable info on synths. I have taken notes of all of these VSTs and will download them tonight. I'm excited to try them out one at a time.

Also, I saw someone's signature said Go Bernie Sanders. Good fucking job!
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Old 02-19-2016, 05:54 PM   #79
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If you don't mind spending $60, the Tal Juno clone is great. Sounds good, easy to use, lots of good sounding patches and you scale the size (of the paid version only) up so you can easily see it.

https://tal-software.com/products/tal-u-no-lx

The free version is good, but the paid version is well worth it. Download the original Roland Juno manuals too. It licenses like Reaper and he has good support, should you need it.

If you want to try hardware, the Korg Volca Bass is analog and pretty cool for $150.
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Old 02-19-2016, 07:51 PM   #80
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Synthesizer with 2 oscilators and filters, adsr, lfo and fx. There is many of them in net. Most of them are good to learn and good enough to stay with them FOR a longer while in many purposes. There is another form of synth good to play with - modular/hybrid - with a ton of links between moodules of this synths - but this is another step and more advanced routing experiments - if you get a lot exp with synthesizing stuff - just then play with their spots - otherwise dont touch them at first cause can be confusing - anyway you can try what you want in any order - things that i introduced is just my conclusion.

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