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First Synth: Polyphonic or Monophonic???

Discussion in 'Accessories / Connections' started by Cosmo17, Apr 29, 2009.

  1. Cosmo17

    Cosmo17 Guest


    I've been using emulated synths for the past few years (Albino, Korg legacy, Arturia, etc.) and I've made up my mind to purchase an analog synth to get the richer fatter sound and for the amusement as well. I've done some research and decided the the littlephatty bests suits my skill and budget. However, since this will be my main analog synth for sometime I'm not sure whether a monophonic synth will be best for my recording needs. I've checked out some poly synths and I'm pretty impressed by the Prophet 08 (don't mind stretching the budget a little). I already own a midi controller (Remote 61 SL) so I can settle for a rack version of this synth.

    Will the prophet give me what the littlephatty has and more? Or are we looking at a totally different instrument and sound. I do use a lot of keys and pads in my music and so far I've managed with the plug ins, but will the prophet give me another dimension of sound. I understand this comes down to personal requirements and preferences, but I need to know whether a poly synth will be a better investment over the long-run. Unfortunately there aren't any retailers in my region they carry these models so I am not able to compare the sound, feel etc.

    I would appreciate any advice on the matter. What was your first analog synth purchase? What was your decision based upon?

  2. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Hi Cosmo,

    Personally, I would get tired of a monophonic synth pretty quickly. Eventually I would want to play chords. You should be able to get the best of both worlds from a poly. All the newer keyboards I've played lately are polyphonic, but if you want that big fat sound of a mono they have patches that stack the voices to make them behave exactly like a monophonic synth. So, you can make a polyphonic keyboard act like a monophonic, but you cannot do the reverse. A truly monophonic keyboard will only sound one note at a time. The only way to get two notes simultaneously from a mono (like a good old MiniMoog) was to tune the two oscillators to an interval.

    I hope that helps.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff


    Poly, unless the sound you want so badly, is only available in mono. That still wouldn't be worth it to me.

    I grew up on mono and when poly came out, we all where much happier.
  4. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    Are you saying that you already have a lot of good emulated synths? If so this changes the game a bit. if you are happy with you emulated pads but want to step up the leads, then a monophonic synth isn't out of the question. It's a question of what you have covered and what you are looking for.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Bob has a point.

    I grew up on Arp, Mood, and many more, soon to follow Roland who I feel made a great analog synth like the ( edit) Juno 106. I regret selling that one.

    I now own a Nord Lead and its one fat mother. And its mono or poly. It is much like the old day synths. Its a great poly keyboard because I can get the fat mono leads and split the keyboard, utilize the voices for multiple sequencing using different midi channels and so on. It smokes the old mono synths. Its the best IMHO. Not cheap though.

    Mono, in the early days had the option of using different wave configurations on one note. Using one or two Osilators and then shaping the sound with LFO ,detuning, octave variations, sweeping etc. You could, if I recall put a sine wave, saw tooth, square, pulse in the configuration of one note. This gave a really fat sound. The Nord does this pretty well. I think its what you call a hybrid that you may want to check out.
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    It's not that I don't love that monsterous sound, but I wouldn't spend that Prophet kind of cash and limit myself to leads and bass lines.

    If you have the Arturia bundle I'm looking at that has the Moog Modular, the Minimoog, & the ARP 2600 - for my money those keyboards pretty much wrote the book on the mono synth.

    From what I'm reading, the Prophet 08 you're looking at can be programmed to go monophonic.
  7. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    You guys are far more experienced w/ synths than I, but I'd had the experience of working with (as a bassist and an engineer) a few keyboard players that favored the synth, and favored it well.

    I second the Nord. Very versatile, and can get thick and nasty if you want.
    It'd be a live clip, but remind me to dig up a cover of Life During Wartime where the synth lead was on a Nord.

    I also just today had the experience of recording a re-issue Mini-Moog
    and that thing was f-ing WILD! Truly a pleasure!

    I think if, as a studio, I had to own 1 synth (poly), it'd be the Nord. Then if I could talk my friend's dad into selling that Mini....
  8. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    You said that you didn't know if the Little Phatty may not be best for your recording needs....What exactly are your recording needs?

    If you need leads, bases, SFX, drones, noises, great arpeggio sounds, rippin filters, then the Little Phatty may be exactly what you need.

    If you need more of what you currently do, pads, chords and that sort of stuff, the Prophet may be a better fit.


    That's not necessarily a bad thing. The Prophet is nice, but it's a completely different type of synth.

    If you are looking for another dimension of sound, you may be better served with something else. The Prophet is very nice but I think the Poly Evolver is better. It's definitely got that other dimension. Best to check it out for yourself: http://www.davesmithinstruments.com. Compare the two.

    If I were picking between the two, I'd go for the phatty simply because I don't have anything like it. I have an SH-101 and MS-10. Both mono synths but neither sound like a Moog.

    Now if you didn't want to spend oodles of cash, there are different options. In the older analog realm I'd recommend a Roland Juno-106. I love them. All parameters at your finger tips, MIDI, and a chorus that drenches the sounds in sweetness. Roland also makes rack module analogs (the MKS synths) that although have great sound are a real pain in the butt to program unless you have the programmer module.

    You may also want to look into some virtual analogs. The argument could be made that you already have that with plug-ins, but there are some nice keyboards available. The Korg MS-2000 is a lot of fun and easy to program. The Yamaha AN1x has a very good analog sound to me and can be had cheap. The Roland JP-8000 or 8080 are nice too. All of these are a little older but I think still good synths.

    I ain't gonna lie, I was playing with the Roland SH-201 in the store the other day and dammit it was fun. It's a cool little synth. It doesnt' have a great VA sound but for some reason I was into it. I'd recommend it to someone looking for their first synth.
  9. pr0gr4m

    pr0gr4m Well-Known Member

    Nord synths are excellent VA synths.

    One I forgot to mention is the Alesis Andromeda. If you are looking for an analog synth, keep it on the list. But its probably a bit further out of your price range.
  10. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Like audiokid, BobRogers and others here (hear? lol!) I grew up "analog". My first synth back in the mid-70's was a MicroMoog, and many since then.

    Just as a food for thought option - it's something I'm doing since I lost a large percentage of all my gear in a flood back in '07 - is picking up lot's of "trashy" old synths on the cheap; $25 here, $50 there. Yeah, they're relatively limited but I'm getting lot's of interesting sounds.
  11. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Ya, I meant to say the Juno 106 as well. Another synth is the access Virus. I have the TDM Virus plugin and love it. Their keyboards are most likely killer.
    I would definitely check them out.

    Having a Nord is most likely one the most essential synths, possibly a Virus could be a replacement for that, not sure. I still chose the Nord.

    Don't forget about all the other things that improved with the modern synths. Touch control. takes a mono synth to a new level.

    I have on leg stronger than the other because I have been ( forced) in using foot volume pedals for twenty years. Standing on one leg lol makes for a sore back and leg at 51. Thank goodness for velocity control.

    Personally, move forward and find new analog technology. Its out there.
  12. Cosmo17

    Cosmo17 Guest

    Thank you all for the insight! I will look into the models recommended.

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