Saturday, June 30, 2012

Comparison of Synth Keyboards Over $1000 in 2012

After doing the budget synth roundup I decided to do ANOTHER comparison for more expensive keyboard synthesizers. The focus is on keyboards with what the manufacturers would call a real synth engine.

We compared 11 different keyboards. $1000 is the breaking point to buy "pro" equipment. The amount of features, both analog and digital is vast so we compared them feature for feature as close as possible. Compiled in a PDF report Important features like touchscreen, knob control, and number of sound engines were compared. A value meta score, and recommended buys were given. Two synths have won the editor's choice award. What synth is king in 2012? Buy the $9 PDF to find out.

Waldorf Blofeld, Roland Jupiter-50, Moog Phatty Stage 2, DS Prophet 08, Roland Jupiter-80, Korg Kronos, Access Virus, Dave Smith PolyEvolver, Moog Lunar Impact (Moog Voyager), Oberheim 2-Voice, and Moog Voyager XL.


Only $9

A Comparison of Analog Synthesizers Under $700 in 2012

Which budget analog synthesizer should you buy? This is a common question in forums. We compared 8 different "budget" analog synthesizers straight off the shelf, and two unreleased. Although $700 seems like a lot in 2012, that is about the default limit for lower end. Anything over that price and people expect much more. Compiled in a PDF report is a comparison of important features (like memory, audio input, hard sync), value meta score, recommended buys, and two synths have won the editor's choice awards. Which synth has the most sound editing features? Buy the $9 PDF to find out.

Korg Monotron Duo, MonoTribe, Dave Smith Mopho, Dave Smith Evolver, EOWave Domino, Moog Minitaur, Arturia Minibrute, Vermona Lancet.


Only $9

Monday, June 18, 2012

JP-80 Pros & Cons

I just wanted to post some thoughts on the keyboard. Its awesome...but may not be for everyone. After I'm done using it I'm going to end up selling it. I can't translate many of my own signature sounds to it and it does not offer me a sequencer. Its amazing to play, but not what I need. That said, there are more pros than cons and there aren't many deal breakers. Its a generation ahead of everything out now.


  • The smoothest sounding keyboard available!

  • Its light enough to gig.

  • The JP-80 always sounds powerful no matter what you are mixing together.

  • Patch creation from start to finish is the fastest of any roland system.

  • Easy to learn.

  • Endless patches and tones to try

  • Every standard sound you can think of is included and more.

  • A variety articulations and expressiveness

  • Effects sound great

  • This keyboard will be used on anime soundtracks till the end of time.

  • Pianos, bass, pads, bells, strings and brass are perfect.

  • Lower patch changing buttons are a good idea

  • Part mixer is easy to use

  • Layering and splitting is simple

  • Buttons and knobs are big.

  • Touchscreen is sensitive and just the right brightness level.

  • The Keybed is excellent.

  • Fast startup time.


  • No sequencer.

  • JP-80 is a little disappointing from a pure synthesis standpoint.

  • Some functions are hard to find.

  • Save system is still confusing.

  • Its expensive.

  • You will have to spend time compiling your own registrations as many are bland.

  • In the end it doesn't cover everyone's need.

  • Needs more experimental sounds.

Sounds of 2012 Blog

Everyday this guy makes a new sound or edits music and posts the result. Its flash. Press the arrow button on the right to start. Sounds of 2012 Blog

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Mac Mini 2.5ghz i5 w/ Radeon Thoughts

The intel iMac I had in 2006 never really cut the mustard. The x1600 integrated graphics chip failed at games out of the box. With quite a few bugs, USB and firmware problems, many hardware developers were late getting drivers out. I swore off M-audio for good and went to MOTU. Lastly it started developing lines in the LCD screen in later years. I was lucky to sell it at all. iMacs had turned into cheap pieces of crap and I needed something new.

Lion is a great operating system and I need it regardless of cost because Windows is still endlessly annoying. I needed another Apple machine with Firewire. Enter the Mac Mini 2.5 ghz. I'm glad I got the more expensive one. This machine is dead quiet when doing menial tasks like internet surfing. An i5 processor is still quite good. The dedicated ATI Radeon chip is a must these days. I will never buy an integrated graphics (intel 3000 or 4000) ever again. The fan does seem to boot up quite loud while playing games or excessive hard drive use, but that is not a big deal. One thing I noticed is that it is actually cooler to the touch when playing games on high settings. This mac Mini with Radeon is able to play Dirt 2 with no frame drop outs at a medium resolution. It is sort of like PS3.5 graphics if I had to estimate. I'm happy with it because I know the intel3000 chip on the lower end mini and macbook pro is a total piece of crap and anything else worth buying is more like $1600, which is kind of an insane price point.

There are only two things I don't like about the Mac Mini. One is that firewire 800 needs a new cable to connect to my older FW-400 interface. It is not available in common office stores. Second there is no optical drive. I can't play DVDs or Rip Audio CDs. Thank god I had my music backed up. A low cost solution would be to get a 3rd party Blu-Ray drive, but even that may be a waste of money now.

Other machines I considered:
* A used 2009 Mac Pro - This computer only has slightly better performance at more cost than the mac mini 2.5. It would be easy to upgrade. The motherboard is still current. But you are lucky to find out for the 1000-14000 range. You can get a comparable machine for hundreds less.
* Macbook Pro 15" w/dedicated graphics - This one is too expensive and feels cheap. I tried the hardware in best buy and felt that the screen and overall hardware was crummy. No wonder Foxconn likes to riot. They are making cheap computers that get sold at ridiculous prices. The pro models don't have any of the latest chips and leaked specs for the new ones aren't much better.
*Macbook Air 13" - The 11" is really awkward. The design of 13" is actually more desirable than the macbook pros in person. This might work, but it has no dedicated graphics. Again the intel 3000 is something I need to avoid completely.

What to look for in a new computer if you are doing multimedia:
Quad Core chip or 2.2ghz or higher. Try to skip the Core2 Duos, they seem slower and run hot.
4GB of Ram Standard
At least 320GB HD or 120 SSD.
ATI or NVIDIA Dedicated Graphics (6000 series+ or GT+) Skip any computer with intel graphics 3000 or integrated graphics.

For most purposes a Mac Mini 2.5ghz is extremely powerful and will be enough for a few years. It is worth buying over a cheaper PC and the cheaper mini. What I needed was to run Lion. This box totally works for me.

Other Notes: Apple's magic track pad and mouse are total garbage! The track pad is barely adequate on MBP and standalone pad. Resolution-wise, It felt like it was skipping around. Pressing the entire thing down to click is ridiculous and just won't stand up to abuse in my opinion. The Magic Mouse felt like crap in my hands and cut into the inside of my fingers. It is a hard edged design and it is one of the worst designed mice I've ever tried. I'd rather use the 1998 USB hockey puck which not only doesn't hurt my fingers, it felt a lot more solid. Most of apple's hardware is garbage right now. Skip all the expensive peripherals and accessories and get 3rd party ones. Be wary of future releases and don't buy anything online without feeling it in person.

Another note: Apple's hardware lines have gotten completely confusing. Multiple lines and multiple configurations only benefit Apple's need to gouge you and not the consumer's needs. The power available in the lowest models is a complete rip off. The mid-range are not much better. Most people want to try the latest game at least once or twice and the higher end models do not represent what is currently available in the PC world.

Roland JP-80 Review and Patches Coming Soon

Since I can't really test synthesizers in the store, I have a JP-80 coming. A full review will be posted. I'm pretty sure I will like it already. I will shoot for around 100-200 modern sounding patches available for purchase ($30) for Roland Jupiter 80 in a month or two. I will put my favorite sounds into it, make new sounds, and hopefully have time to tweak them again. Apparently anyone planning on a JP-50 will be able to use them too. Stay tuned.

Q: Aren't those keyboards stupid and overpriced?
A: At the moment they are out of reach for many but I'm very interested in them. It will be worth it to make new patch banks for their system in the long run. New patches = innovative music and happy keyboard players.

Help Fund The "RetroCade" All in One Chip Synth

C64 SID/YM2149

Link To RetroCade on Kickstarter