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 Forum index » Instruments and Equipment » General Discussion
My favorite synthesizer (for now)
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A E J O T Z



Joined: Aug 14, 2011
Posts: 422
Location: Griffith, Indiana, USA
Audio files: 148

PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:06 pm    Post subject: My favorite synthesizer (for now) Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

My synths are like my children in that I don't want to acknowledge a favorite, as if that was somehow a disservice to the less-than-favorites. It's not, you know. Besides, just like with my children, being my favorite is not necessarily a permanent thing. They sort of take turns.

My synths are all toy-like instruments with mini-keys. It's a preference that's partly rebellion. My first synth was a then-new (1983) now-classic mini-keyed Casio MT-65 which the bitter failed musician cum music store guy sneered at while selling it to me. He said, "you can't make real music with those."

But I like the idea of small instruments that make big sounds and my little synths do that very well. (Take that, bitter failed musician cum music store guy.)

My longtime and usual favorite is the Microkorg. The MK contains the sonic equivalent of a roomful of 70s equipment in a backpack-sized unit that can run on batteries. And it has the gorgeous sound engine of a Korg MS2000. What's not to love? It's a little monster of a synth.

A close runner-up is the Microbrute, my tiniest proper synth and boasting more power than most analog synths three times its size. Its single oscillator can simultaneously produce three waveforms plus a sub and a fifth, and run them through a cool filter, an ADSR envelope, an LFO and a brutish overdrive. Add the step sequencer and the patch bay and you've got wow factor up the wazoo. And did I mention I can slave a Werkstatt to it for an additonal oscillator and/or a moog ladder filter? Yes, friends, the Microbrute rocks.

But for now my favorite synthesizer is my Casio "Cosmo" CZ-101.

The 101 was the first of the CZ line and the only programmable CZ with mini keys. All the CZs used the same sound engine so the only "improvements" in later models were additional features, like sequencers, velocity, aftertouch, mod wheels, speakers, stereo chorus, keyboard splitting, etc.

Bottom line: "nothing boings like a CZ" and the 101 can boing with the best of them.

My "Cosmo" was my first fully programmable synthesizer. I haven't really learned how to program it from scratch but I'm pretty good at tweaking the 1,000+ patches I've found online to get the characteristics I want. The resulting rich and varied palette of sounds has kept this synth a near favorite of mine for years. What put it over the top is my new Polivoks filter.

The Polivoks is an awesome sounding soviet-era synth and what makes it truly special is its uniquely nasty filter. Polivoks filter clones have been around for years but none of them tempted me enough to buy one until the recent Elta mint green version. It sounds good with my Microbrute and my Microkorg, but it sounds epic with the Cosmo.

For some reason the Polivoks filter and the CZ-101's weird waveforms are a match made in retro-futurist heaven. All kinds of weird harmonics appear when I have one hand on the filter and one on the Cosmo. It's truly like having a new classic synth.

So, at least for now, while the excitement of novelty is high, the CZ-101 is my favorite synthesizer.
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What's your favorite synthesizer, and why?
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UPDATE 7-15-17
To illustrate how fickle I am, today my favorite synth is my Microbrute!

I just hooked up my new (used) Behringer Xenyx 1202FX mixer. I already had, and loved, the regular 1202, but the FX model has 100 built-in effects. I tried a bunch of the effects on the CZ-101 and the Microkorg and was not super impressed. But for some reason they work really well with the 'Brute. When I combined effects from the Xenyx and my BR-600 recorder, things got really nuts. I lost an hour just noodling little nothings while bringing effects in and out. I had a blast.

The Microbrute is the most consistently surprising of any synth I've ever played, including the Minibrute. Every time I think I've reached its limits it opens another new door.

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AEJOTZ is pronounced "A-Jotz"
retro-futurism now
electronics = magic
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Last edited by A E J O T Z on Sat Jul 15, 2017 7:40 am; edited 1 time in total
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AlanP



Joined: Mar 11, 2014
Posts: 412
Location: New Zealand
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PostPosted: Fri Jul 07, 2017 7:56 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

My modular, and a good part of that is because it continuously strokes my soldermonkey urges. It's never in a state of nothing in the pipeline (or at minimum, on the backboiler in Eagle.)
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A E J O T Z



Joined: Aug 14, 2011
Posts: 422
Location: Griffith, Indiana, USA
Audio files: 148

PostPosted: Tue Jul 18, 2017 12:54 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Uh oh... I might have a new favorite synthesizer.

I'll do a review of my new Yamaha Reface DX in the reviews section.

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AEJOTZ is pronounced "A-Jotz"
retro-futurism now
electronics = magic
free albums at http://aejotz.bandcamp.com
listen to genre-defying synthetic music at http://sat-5.com
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Antimon



Joined: Jan 18, 2005
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 5:38 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Enjoying reading your reviews and opinions!

I like mini keys, if they are the right kind. I have a Korg Microkontrol, which I hate - I suspect the keys on that one are the same as on the original MicroKorg. The keys have this springy feel which resists more the deeper you press them - so difficult to control.

I also have a Korg MicroKey, which I love! I think that one has the same keys as on the MicroKorg XL. The keys on these are bit weighty, like on a cool toy piano.

I fiddled a little bit with Refaces in a shops - I've been thinking about getting a CP for some time - and those keys feel pretty good too.

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wackelpeter



Joined: May 05, 2013
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Location: germany
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PostPosted: Wed Jul 19, 2017 10:55 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

So far it's my modular set up... Not because it's very special high end gear or modules but i have invested so much time over the last 3-4 years that i can't resist to call it my special "synth".
Also with a lot much more than 100 modules it's hard to top by any custom synth for it's flexiblity.

Apart from that or better before i went down the road of madness building my own stuff on dozens of stripboards it was the miniKorg 700s.

Got it relatively cheap on Ebay (300Euro) and the sound is really great. It's not that you can do much of different sounds with it, it's limited there of Course, but the sounds it produce the Play of the VCO and filter sounds really nice, from very sweet and smooth to subtle aggressive sounds.


I also think the Arturia Company and Yves did a great Job on the Micro- and Minibrute.
Unfortunately my Microbrute got struck, didn't start up, had it twice send in for repair until i still got warranty, but the third time it was over that period...
Maybe sometime i'm able and willing to fix that issue myself.
But i have the Minibrute too and that is running nicely, apart from an issue with the CV out, which is a steady 10 or 12V... think i messed that up when interfacing with my modular.

Well, i don't have many more synths left, an original MS20, an Yamaha CS15 and an Korg Arp Odyssey.
But those mostly or almost sit in their cases and wait, and wait, and wait.... before they got used eventually in a few years again... Smile

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pertho711ljp



Joined: Sep 12, 2017
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Location: Rochester Ny
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PostPosted: Tue Sep 12, 2017 4:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote  Mark this post and the followings unread

Actually there's two current faves in my life, one is my Brownface DX7 and the other is my TX81z module.

But yes I do like the CZ Casio line. I've had my CZ1 for a long time which I found for only $100 and now it's in the band practice room.
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