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Sian G



Joined: 28/08/11
Posts: 18
Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new
      #943105 - 25/09/11 04:56 PM
Gonna be getting a synth, soon. With a litle help from mother on the funding dept, so it'll have to be brand new. She won't pay £500 ish for a 2nd hand instrument.

Anyway, i had a play with an SH-01 in a local shop for about 20 mins just twiddling knobs and sliding sliders and loved it. I loved the sounds i was getting, though i wasn't sure how i was getting them. I then had a quick go of a Novation Ultranova and a Korg R3. I say quick because i found i wasn't really getting anywhere fast wih the whole noise making process. Menus and things bother me, i can barely navigate a mobile phone these days. I haven't been able to try out a Mopho keyboard as knowhere local sells them, but i have seen vids and it sounds cool with lots of knobs for instant tweakery albeit with a certain amount of menu searching.

I therefore have rounded my choices the Sh-01 and Mopho key. The music i will be attempting to make will vary, but i envisage quite a few big SciFi rock type tunes with deep rumbling basses as well as lots of wooshes and lasery type stuff. Real acoustic drums will be used and electric guitars too, and probs some bass. There is also the project my friend and i are working on which will be a kind of electro punk sound. I will poss be trying to emulate the sounds of some of my favourite Japanese bands, Buffalo Daughter, Boom Boom Satellites and Cornelius etc. I am a beginner though so it will take me some time.

Getting to the point, which will be best for the job in your opinions? I don't wanna go the soft synth route as i'm struggling to work DAWs an interfaces, let alone virtual instruments. Live playing ability will be a plus point, so the ability to be able to make stuff up on the fly should i feel like improvising. When funds allow i would be willing to expand with a module of some kind and poss use a keyboard with a couple more octaves if needed, so whichever is most suited to that will also be strongly considered. For the moment though, £500 ish is the budget i have. I can stretch to the extra £40 or so needed for the Mopho.

All opinions and views will be appreciated, biased and unbiased. Remember though, i am a beginner and ease of use is a high priority.

Ta Sian G X

--------------------
Can i make music? Maybe....


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johnny h



Joined: 24/07/06
Posts: 3387
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: Sian G]
      #943110 - 25/09/11 05:22 PM
Quote Sian G:

Gonna be getting a synth, soon. With a litle help from mother on the funding dept, so it'll have to be brand new. She won't pay £500 ish for a 2nd hand instrument.

Anyway, i had a play with an SH-01 in a local shop for about 20 mins just twiddling knobs and sliding sliders and loved it. I loved the sounds i was getting, though i wasn't sure how i was getting them. I then had a quick go of a Novation Ultranova and a Korg R3. I say quick because i found i wasn't really getting anywhere fast wih the whole noise making process. Menus and things bother me, i can barely navigate a mobile phone these days. I haven't been able to try out a Mopho keyboard as knowhere local sells them, but i have seen vids and it sounds cool with lots of knobs for instant tweakery albeit with a certain amount of menu searching.

I therefore have rounded my choices the Sh-01 and Mopho key. The music i will be attempting to make will vary, but i envisage quite a few big SciFi rock type tunes with deep rumbling basses as well as lots of wooshes and lasery type stuff. Real acoustic drums will be used and electric guitars too, and probs some bass. There is also the project my friend and i are working on which will be a kind of electro punk sound. I will poss be trying to emulate the sounds of some of my favourite Japanese bands, Buffalo Daughter, Boom Boom Satellites and Cornelius etc. I am a beginner though so it will take me some time.

Getting to the point, which will be best for the job in your opinions? I don't wanna go the soft synth route as i'm struggling to work DAWs an interfaces, let alone virtual instruments. Live playing ability will be a plus point, so the ability to be able to make stuff up on the fly should i feel like improvising. When funds allow i would be willing to expand with a module of some kind and poss use a keyboard with a couple more octaves if needed, so whichever is most suited to that will also be strongly considered. For the moment though, £500 ish is the budget i have. I can stretch to the extra £40 or so needed for the Mopho.

All opinions and views will be appreciated, biased and unbiased. Remember though, i am a beginner and ease of use is a high priority.

Ta Sian G X




If you are a beginner, something which is quite simple but powerful, with a good interface is what you need.

I haven't done any indepth listening to either synth you describe, but I have played a lot with the Prophet 08 which is the polyphonic big brother of the Morpho. I'd say the sound was very good, as its analogue. For me, the envelopes and filter are the weak points. This translates into the snappiness of the sound and the variety of sounds you can produce out of it.

So really you should just play with both and see which you like the sound of best - but make sure you play with the sliders / knobs and try and get into the heart of the instrument. You'll get a better feel for it this way than flicking through the presets.

Also check out the Waldorf Blofeld Keyboard - it is capable of a very large range of sounds and has a significantly better keyboard than other synths in the price range. If you are going to use it as your main keyboard this may become very important, though i think it is a bit more pricey.

Good luck..


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nathanscribe



Joined: 19/01/07
Posts: 818
Loc: Yorkshire, by 'eck.
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: Sian G]
      #943115 - 25/09/11 05:42 PM
Personally, I'd go for the Mopho over the Gaia any day of the week. Do bear in mind that the Mopho is monophonic, and will only play one note at a time. The others you mention are all polysynths and will play chords. The DSI stuff is nice kit, I had an Evolver for a few years, they sound good and are very capable. If you need to play more than one note at once, have a look at the Tetra, but with that one you lose the immediacy of the interface - you'd also need a MIDI keyboard to play it. They can be had cheap though, so no worries there.

I've dabbled a little with the new Novation, and thought it a good compromise between immediacy and functionality - very few modern synths come laden with controls like in the old days. And you pay for the privilege. On a budget of £500 for something new, just about the only other stuff I can think of that isn't a Microkorg is the Vermona Lancet (again, you'd need something to play it with) or an MFB (likewise). As the previous poster mentioned, there's the Blofeld - personally I dislike their pitch & mod wheels, but even so you get the desktop version and a separate MIDI keyboard for less than the price of the Blofeld keyboard itself. Waldorf do sound good. Maybe not as easy for a beginner to figure out, I don't know. I'd recommend a beginner at synthesis to go for the most obvious interface possible, and something relatively simple functionally - something you can tinker with without ever feeling lost or like you're missing most of it out.

--------------------
my nerdy synth tech blog

Edited by nathanscribe (25/09/11 05:46 PM)


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Sian G



Joined: 28/08/11
Posts: 18
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: Sian G]
      #943130 - 25/09/11 06:39 PM
Thanks for the prompt replies. I have looked into the possibility of a Tetra and a midi keyboard. I think i'd prefer something with more preassigned controlls so there's less to learn to use. That's why the mopho key appeals. I assume adding another module will make it polyphonic, or does it depend on the type of module? I do like the Gaia, though i know it seems to get knocked by seasoned synth users. To me though it's probs the closest i'll get to a knob/slider laden analogue synth by the likes of Moog, DSi, Korgs old stuff etc for not a lot of money. It sounds good enough to me from the brief tinker i had on it, though probs nothing like the old school synths i like the sound of but you get what you pay for. The next closest for the money seems to be the Mopho key, but as you say it's monophonic. Not that i know how much difference that really makes. The Blofeld seems like it needs too much faffing to find sounds etc. I was gonna order one this weekend, maybe even tonight as i like to do things on impulse as girls do. The longer i spend trying to decide the more i'll put off the idea of getting one and might just end up abandoning the idea. And that CAN'T happen! But anyway, i'll either leave it for a couple of days or get mother to order one tonight before i retire to bed. I'm sure i'll let you know when the deed is done.

Sian G X

--------------------
Can i make music? Maybe....


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Sian G



Joined: 28/08/11
Posts: 18
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: Sian G]
      #943160 - 25/09/11 07:21 PM
Hows about a Doepfer Dark Energy with a controller keyboard? Will be just as cheap, could be made polyhonic i assume by linking modules (if polyphony is necessary), and it makes some great noise and is true analogue. I wonder.

--------------------
Can i make music? Maybe....


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nathanscribe



Joined: 19/01/07
Posts: 818
Loc: Yorkshire, by 'eck.
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: Sian G]
      #943180 - 25/09/11 09:07 PM
OK, well also look at the interfacing method here. If your chosen synth has MIDI, with a standard 5-pin DIN socket (the black round one) then you can hook up almost anything made in the last 28 years and it will work with it to some extent or other. MIDI hasn't really changed since its inception but these days you often see gear with MIDI over USB too.

Anyway, that's probably not very relevant - traditionally, analogues have CV/Gate interfacing, mostly older gear or funky modern stuff like modulars, etc. To interface MIDI with that you need another device, which would set you back anything from £50 to £130 or so depending. So if you're starting out I recommend something with standard MIDI connections and then you can hook up another keyboard, modules, computer, whatever, most easily.

The Mopho has MIDI and you can chain them. People I know have have chained DSI kit like this - Mono Evolver with Poly Evolver, Tetra plus Mopho, etc. MIDI itself doesn't care, success lies in how the synths are set up to talk to each other.

Anyhow, one immediate concern is: do you want to play chords, or are you going to be doing leads, basslines, weird noises...? As soon as you need a chord, a monosynth will feel inadequate. However, I personally find monos to be great fun and have had several, and they tend to be the ones I go to when I power up. If you can ever push to it, the Moog Little Phatty is great fun, sounds good, and is easy to work with, for example.

I can't speak about the Mopho from direct experience except some shop-based noodling, but it felt like a refined and condensed version of the Evolver to me. I liked the Evo but it was more complex than I needed and I didn't get the best from it. The Mopho seems very easy to get on with though, and it's as similar to the old stuff as you're likely to get, interface wise, given its extra features.

The Dark Energy is beyond my experience, but it has MIDI so yes, you can hook up a regular keyboard - hooking up another for an extra voice might not be as simple as all that though. Maybe someone else here can answer that.

You say your influences are electro-punk - I'm not familiar with the bands you mention, but certainly a lot of the late 70s stuff of that type was made with pretty basic gear, and monosynths were a lot cheaper than polys. Ever heard early Human League (Reproduction, for example), Ultravox's first album, etc.? Mono parts layered with other stuff. Works really well.

Also consider what you might want to be doing with it in six months, a year. If the Gaia seems to fit the bill now, will you still feel like that later? It might be the best one to pick, or not - you'll only really know what that is when you buy one, try it, and use the hell out of it - or it sits in the cupboard and you buy another.

Something you might want to consider is how many oscillators the synths has - the Dark Energy has one, the Mopho two - which means you can detune them against each other and get thicker, more 'layered' sounding tones. Two oscs is what I'd be looking at, but at this stage you might not be too bothered and just dive in and try something.

Once your budget extends a little, don't be afraid of buying vintage kit. You can still get reasonably priced, reliable 80s polys like the Juno 6, or similar. I think currently they're anything between £250 and £400 depending on the direction of the wind. Back when I started (before eBay, SOS forum, VSE etc) I just went round all the local shops and bought what I could afford. Still got most of it. Ask the right people and keep your eyes open, and you can still get good kit for not too much, despite the mad prices on some of it.

--------------------
my nerdy synth tech blog


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vinyl_junkie
active member


Joined: 24/06/03
Posts: 1574
Loc: Kent, UK
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: Sian G]
      #943195 - 25/09/11 10:33 PM
I had a Dark Energy and I hated it, really didn't like the sound.

Also why the aversion to buying new? When you go to sell it to buy something nicer you will loose loads of money.

For £150 you can pick up a Korg Mini 700 (Not the super deluxe turbo "S" version though unless you are lucky) Now forget that it don't have MIDI unless you modify it for another £100
It's a fantastic sounding mono synth that's hard to make sound bad imo.
In fact with £500 you have a HUGE choice of classic mono and poly synths that all imo leave the modern stuff in the dust


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johnny h



Joined: 24/07/06
Posts: 3387
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: vinyl_junkie]
      #943202 - 25/09/11 11:11 PM
Quote vinyl_junkie:

I had a Dark Energy and I hated it, really didn't like the sound.

Also why the aversion to buying new? When you go to sell it to buy something nicer you will loose loads of money.

For £150 you can pick up a Korg Mini 700 (Not the super deluxe turbo "S" version though unless you are lucky) Now forget that it don't have MIDI unless you modify it for another £100
It's a fantastic sounding mono synth that's hard to make sound bad imo.
In fact with £500 you have a HUGE choice of classic mono and poly synths that all imo leave the modern stuff in the dust



Me too, I have a Dark Energy here and I am really disappointed with it. It has really high quality knobs, midi, usb and is semi modular. However I am unable to get anything remotely interesting out of it.


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zenguitarModerator
active member


Joined: 05/12/02
Posts: 8692
Loc: Devon
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: Sian G]
      #943205 - 25/09/11 11:24 PM
It's definitely worth having a go at VST instruments in your DAW. Most DAWs have bundled 'analogue' VSTi's and there are a lot of freeware instruments you can download too.

They aren't really any harder to set up in the DAW than an audio track, and experimenting with them is a great way of learning the basics of synthesis without having to spend your money first. You can start with simple, single oscillator, synths; experiment by tweaking the virtual knobs on the pre-sets to get an idea what all the different sections do and I promise you'll soon be building sounds from scratch. Then move on to more complex VSTi synths with multiple oscillators and complex modulation.

The virtual front panels are a lot easier for a beginner than navigating through menus on a hardware synth. And what you learn with the VSTi will help you choose the right hardware synth for you, AND help you learn how to get the best from it once you've spent your cash.

Give it a go. It's free, rewarding, fun, and educational.

Andy

--------------------
When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro.


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johnny h



Joined: 24/07/06
Posts: 3387
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? [Re: zenguitar]
      #943217 - 26/09/11 12:39 AM
Quote zenguitar:

It's definitely worth having a go at VST instruments in your DAW. Most DAWs have bundled 'analogue' VSTi's and there are a lot of freeware instruments you can download too.

They aren't really any harder to set up in the DAW than an audio track, and experimenting with them is a great way of learning the basics of synthesis without having to spend your money first. You can start with simple, single oscillator, synths; experiment by tweaking the virtual knobs on the pre-sets to get an idea what all the different sections do and I promise you'll soon be building sounds from scratch. Then move on to more complex VSTi synths with multiple oscillators and complex modulation.

The virtual front panels are a lot easier for a beginner than navigating through menus on a hardware synth. And what you learn with the VSTi will help you choose the right hardware synth for you, AND help you learn how to get the best from it once you've spent your cash.

Give it a go. It's free, rewarding, fun, and educational.

Andy



Hardware synths don't have to be all menus. Something like a juno 106 is extremely useful for learning the basics of synthesis and how envelopes and filters change the sound. More useful than scrolling through patches on a computer... imo


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zenguitarModerator
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Joined: 05/12/02
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Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: johnny h]
      #943330 - 26/09/11 12:51 PM
Oh yes, I agree entirely johnny, but the problem for the OP is that secondhand isn't an option which is a real shame. As you say, a Juno 106 or similar would be ideal. Available in budget, and with knobs, switches, and sliders for every function. Much better than a PC screen.

But with that option excluded the VSTi option is a cheap way to get a feel for analogue programming. Not perfect, I know, but helps the learning curve without spending the budget.

Andy

--------------------
When the going gets weird, the Weird turn Pro.


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Sian G



Joined: 28/08/11
Posts: 18
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: Sian G]
      #943702 - 27/09/11 10:23 PM
Well then. I've gone and done something impulsive, like girls do. I'm a 38yr old girl mind you! Anyway, i looked into it a bit more and made a decision to get the most powerfull thing i could for the money. I was able to stretch the funding a little courtesy of mothers credit card After much thought and pondering i couldn't make up my mind, and there was too much variance in advice and opinion to help make up my mind. SO!! i have ordered a Waldorf Blofeld keyboard, a black one. Too much white hurts my eyes. I have watched countless vids of folks demonstrating and generally making noise on them. And most reviews say that not much in the price range touches it for synth power and noise making ability. Live performance will take a back seat til i can actually play the thing and have some material written and recorded. I know it lacks the controls of the Roland Gaia that i was initially taken by, but i reckon if i study long and hard i'll have it figured out. Besides, i'm due some compensation money at some point from a car crash i was in last month. When that comes i'll probs get a Gaia too. Can't have too much synth

Anyway, that's that. I have made my choice and hopefully it was the right one, time will tell. I dare say you'll hear from me again. I have an account on Soundcloud so i will upload any tunes i make on there. Ta for the advice given, please don't think me rude if i didn't follow any particular advice. Women eh!

Ta again, Sian G.

--------------------
Can i make music? Maybe....


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nathanscribe



Joined: 19/01/07
Posts: 818
Loc: Yorkshire, by 'eck.
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: Sian G]
      #943710 - 27/09/11 10:59 PM
I've only dabbled with a Blofeld in the shops, but I did have a Waldorf XT for a couple of years, and it that's anything to go by, it'll be capable of some very nice results. I've heard good things from a mate of mine who uses a Blofeld too. I think the thing with a minimal interface like that is to familiarise yourself with the nature of synthesis. Buy something like a Juno 106 and you can just faff about with it till you figure things out, but the Blofeld will take a bit more time. There was a really good series of articles in SOS a while back called "Synth Secrets" that covered a lot of ground and is worth a read. If you want to learn a bit about wavetables, have a look at carbon111's site, there's an XT section that might shed some light on the basics and some techniques particular to wavetable synths. Good luck!

--------------------
my nerdy synth tech blog


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John F
member


Joined: 24/11/03
Posts: 95
Loc: Canterbury, UK
Re: Gaia SH-01 or MOPHO keyboard? new [Re: Sian G]
      #944102 - 29/09/11 04:33 PM
I played a Blofeld a few weeks ago and thought it sounded fantastic.

Good choice i reckon.
john

--------------------
Current live keyboards - Kurzweil PC3x - Korg Triton Extreme + Moss - Roland V-Synth V2. www.xyzband.info


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