see that I regularly
get the same questions, like „which is the
best synth of these three”, or „which synth should I use to
make this sound”.
you’re about to read down below should answer any (or the
majority of) questions you have
1.The Best Synth
- understanding your needs
and your inner sensitivity / sensibility.
Before you ask anybody
about the best synth, try to ask about the best knife. First problem you
face is… who to ask? A housewife, a butcher,
a sadistic murderer,
a knife manufacturer, or a knife collector? The
housewife will tell you that the best knife is the one that prevents butter
from falling off its edge. The butcher will show you some large knife that
easily cuts through meat and bone. The sadistic murderer likes his
crescent-shaped knife to inflict as much pain as possible. And the
manufacturer will tell you that their best knife is the most expensive one.
The same is with any other item, including synths. So if you ask me which
synth is the best synth, I need to ask you what you want to use it for.
Practically speaking EVERY synth is the best synth. It just needs to get
through to its
/ user, strike a chord with his inner sensibility and inspire him to make
Oh, and the collector? He's bound to tell you that he appreciates
each of his daggers - that's why he keeps them all, even though he's rarely
making any practical use of them. Which brings about the realization that he
might be the worst person to come to with a question like that...
2.The Best Engine and
Sound / knowing the natural tone and the possible pointlessness of a vast
I don’t think there is
any synth whose sound is always the best sound.
Again, it's like asking which drink
has the best taste.
To give an answer to your
question, I really recommend playing the synths personally
(tasting all the drinks), or at least
listening to them as much as possible in various ways
(although consistency is needed; if you test a Blofeld in a shop and then go
and "test" a Nord Lead in a Youtube video and come to the conclusion that
lacks highs, you're not a noob - you're fucking stupid). When you've
been running, you drink cold soda. When you've been out on the ski slope,
you drink hot tea - you're optimally satisfying your needs. It's simple as
that. Let me continue with food analogy: there's a
book by Malcolm Gladwell called "Blink" and it's about subconscious
judgments. I'll re-tell you, from memory, some of the things I
remember from Gladwell's book:
People were tested for Coke and
Pepsi. They were given sips of both drinks and were asked to point at the cup
that tasted better. They pointed at Pepsi. So the bozos at Coke frantically
changed the Coke formula to make it sweeter to resemble the Pepsi taste
more. They introduced the New Coke to the market and... it was a gigantic
flop. Why? Because taking one sip of something sweet is perfectly
okay. But drinking an entire can is too much. The truth was that people
chose Pepsi when taking sips, but actually the market statistics showed that
Coke was selling better than Pepsi. Pepsi won only in the artificial sip
tests, not in real life. When you have to drink an entire can every
day, that is, when you have to spend a lot of time with your synth and make music with
it, you really need to have the right thing that will feel good all the
time, not the one that seems cool during 10 minutes of random use or during
someone else's performance.
Next: people were asked to pick one jam from a collections of various jams. And so they did. But when they
were asked to describe the jam's characteristic, or say WHY they liked them,
they were stumped. They were no longer certain about their choices. They did
not understand what it means for a jam to be slippery or have a texture.
Trying to explain your feelings about why you think a given thing is cool,
rationalize its coolness so to speak, may
result in fucking your mind apart. "I love this synth because it has a big
LCD"... whooow, great, who the fuck cares about LCDs? (I do, but that's
irrelevant). Or: "I love this synth
because it just sounds so lush"... oh yeah? What the fuck does "lush" mean at
all? We all know for ourselves what a tasty jam is, or what an enjoyable synth is. "You know what you are, I know what I am, we can only judge
ourselves" (this time it was a quote from Charlie Manson, not Gladwell, haha).
There are people who say that the Virus sounds analog and the Waldorf Q
sounds sterile, I and others say the opposite. There are people who say the
JP-8000 sounds terribly plastic, whereas I and others don't agree. We're
in a void here. All is relative.
engine is great, but equally important to that is the natural
tone. A deep engine can give you thousands of various patches, and patches
are translation of yourself and
that you want to achieve in music, but in my opinion the foremost aspect of
a synth that you should consider is
little use of a monster synth whose natural sound puts you off. So
get to know the
inborn, inescapable sound
of the synth
and decide if you like
it or not. You won’t be digging much in the engine if you constantly get
irritated by the
flatness / bigness / coldness / etc of the
and by the inability to achieve your sound. It's the 21st
century and all synths now have all the elements like FM, LFOs and Envelopes that
are needed to make this or that kind of patch. "Can this synth make pads?"
Of course it fucking can, it has the Attack and the Release setting which
you can set at high values. The question you should focus at instead is:
"do the pads sound convincing, and are they in any way special to me?
3.The Best Interface /
the highway or crashing
on every tree.
the interface. Assume you have a synth that sounds great and has the deepest
engine out there, but its interface and editing are tedious and frustrating,
and you don't have all the fucking time in the world.
For how long are you gonna get along with such a synth? It’s like
driving a Toyota down a highway, or, on the other hand, driving
Bond's V8 Vantage-Volante which has
joysticks instead of the steering wheel, and will start only if you
activate the windscreen wipers first. If the interface
software on a synth has some
quirks, it can seriously undermine your experience. Even one tiny thing like
encoders instead of knobs can render your synth frustrating and soon gotten
rid of. And of course you won’t be getting all of the power, or all of it
quick with an awkward interface, so basically you’ve wasted a portion of
your money. If the
same kind of weapon exists in two types, don't hesistate
to pay good money for good interface, because what you're doing by that,
is you're buying off the wasted future time.
And that time is your life.
do all your demos sound the same?"
Well, guess what? Guess who's
Besides, if it is true, does it say more about me, or maybe about the synths themselves and
their alleged differences in sound that are sooooo inimitable ?