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Synth Sound Advice

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Lycosa, Jun 2, 2011.

  1. Lycosa

    Lycosa Active Member

    Hey guys and gals,

    I'm new here, but I see there's good info so I thought I'd register and join.

    I'm a long time guitarist, old DAW hack, and a pianist in the making..

    I have a question that I can't seem to figure out. I'm not sure if I'm just being stupid about the obvious, but I'm in the market for a new synth and I'm looking to maximize my sound quality in Sonar 8.0 using VST's.

    So my question is:

    What will best reproduce the sound of a VST, a good sound card using a midi controller keyboard or a synth like Roland's Juno Di (in my price range) using the headphone out? I'm assuming that if I plug the Roland into my DAW I will be able to use an output ASIO driver to send the VST sound back to the Roland and listen to the sound through headphones. I'm just wondering if I should instead use a good soundcard to output the midi rather than the synth for a more accurate and quality reproduced VST sound. Make sense? :confused:

    Any help would be appreciated! I'm going to buy my new keyboard soon.. it was a toss up between the Yamaha MM6, the Korg X50, and the Roland Juno Di.. Roland seems to have the best midi capabilities.. but I'm a novice in the keyboard realm so if someone wants to steer me in the right direction, I would appreciate that as well!
  2. nolimore

    nolimore Active Member

    I use virtual synths (plugins). If you gig then an outboard synth might be easier to handle, then again you can take a laptop to a gig. If you use softsynths ge a MIDI controller keyboard. I have an Alesis Q49, plugs straight into the USB port, and I run it on FLStudio with ASIO4ALL driver. I have had no problems yet.

    There are a lot of free virtual synths, the majority i found do not come with many presets and banks, and most are like the old analog synths like the ARP's, moogs, etc. So you have to program the oscillators, LFO, envelopes, filters and arpeggiators. But there are a few that are a bit easier to use.

    I use IK multimedia SampleTank 2.0. Its a straightforward synth with presets. It's got a good mix of live instrument samples and synthesizer presets.
  3. Lycosa

    Lycosa Active Member

    Thanks for the advice. I went and bought the Roland Juno Di since I may want some live sound eventually and it seems to fit exactly what I wanted so far.

    As far as a keyboard controller, I have the Line 6 KB37 already. I bought it primarily for the guitar interface, but I thought the midi keyboard was an extra value since I wanted to learn how to play it anyhow. It turned out to be a nice guitar interface, but the Midi controller was just 'so-so', the biggest problem being the mod wheels don't seem to have very quality potentiometers in them and sort of skip in a 'should-be' smooth bend or modulation.

    I did find that the Roland does not reproduce sound coming out of the DAW back through the headphones, at least not that I've found so far so I'm dependant on keeping my KB37 plugged in via USB and porting the sound out through it. The nice thing about the setup though is that I get Roland's synth bank which can be recorded 'live' through the KB37 audio input into the DAW which is an added bonus.

    I wasn't aware that standard MIDI controller keyboards had DAC's in them? If so, it might be my next purchase since it would likely be an upgrade over the KB37 as far as getting my sound out of the computer. If not, then I think my next purchase will be a better sound card in my computer since I'm running the stock on-board mobo card which is crap.

    Last question..

    Think it's possible to use the KB37 which is a Midi controller in conjuction with the Roland in Sonar X1 as a patch switching, arrangement type controller? I'm running Sonar and the primary synth I use is Omnisphere.. I went and spent a lot on that thing and it's great but I've got a ton to learn. Seems there's as much talent required for tweaking synths and understanding how to route everything properly as is required for playing the piano itself. Lots of fun though!

    Sorry if I'm throwing out noob'ish questions, but I have to start somewhere. :redface:
  4. nolimore

    nolimore Active Member

    About your sound card.

    There is a free software tool called RMAA.exe that can analyse your sound card for Db 'loudness' output and frequency response, etc. You could always judge on the results. Try an match your sound cards frequency response to your monitors frequency response.(headphones and speakers). The 'loudness' of the sound card might not be as important in the results analysis , if it is going through an amp to the speakers or pre-built into them, because the amp will boost the audio signals frequencies amplitude (loudness). It might give you some confidence there.

    And yeah...programming synths is another talent...just like audio signal processing FX; finding the time and headspace to understand the math and physics, then its a roll.

    I am not sure about controlling another MIDI synth from another MIDI device e.g. patch selecting? is that what you meant? Sounds like a MIDI job. I think you can do this through MIDI chaining? and if the devices supports remote preset selecting
  5. Lycosa

    Lycosa Active Member

    Thanks again for the advice. It's really helping out. There's a lot more than I ever realized that I have to wrap my head around to get all of this figured out.

    To answer your question, yes that's exactly what I'm talking about. Since I have purchased the Roland keyboard, there's not much use for me to use the Line6 KB37 except that I'm using it to route the sound out of Sonar into headphones while my Roland is being input into Sonar as the midi-controller. It's working just fine, but I thought since the KB37 has controller capability too, that if it was possible, I could use the controller knobs and buttons on it to select patches and other midi type functions so that my Roland's knobs/buttons will be for effects and modulation only.

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