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Sound Module vs. Keyboard

I’m in to making Hip-Hop beats. I’m trying to find the best way in going about doing it so I don’t waste my money. I was really leaning towards getting a keyboard, make the beats on the keyboard load it into the computer. But, lately I’ve hearing Sound modules are the best affordable way to go (I guess if you’re always looking for new sounds).

It’s like I’m taking a huge leap though. I’ve been use to making beats on Fruity Loops (Don’t laugh, not everyone is rich). But I’m willing to do what it takes to make my beats come alive through real instruments.

Keyboard I’ve been leaning towards:
Korg Triton Pro - $1,000 (used)
Korg Triton LE - $1,200 (new)
Roland Fantom - $1,400 (new) (Ebay Prices)

Sound Modules I’ve been leaning towards:
Roland / Edirol SD-90 USB MIDI Sound Module
Roland XV-5080 Synth Rack Module

I Heard it was easier to work with MIDI and Sound Modules, but I can’t hardly find any worth the money. Too many people are downing the Roland / Edirol SD 90 and that’s the only one that I can find as a definite sale. I’m getting tired of making beats on the computer or maybe I could just be getting tired of making beats on fruity loops.

Bottom line, I have a budget of $1500 to invest. What would you do, what would you spend it on, and why. Or why not spend it on ____________ What should I do? What can help me produce some fire HIP-HOP Tracks?

I’ve been also thinking about getting an Akai MPC 2000 XL
Waste of time or what?



mjones4th Thu, 12/18/2003 - 10:46

Look at the Yamaha Motif line. Word is they blow the korgs and rolands to pieces. I can't say that beause I haven't done a head to head test, but I can say that my motif sounded good with a capital g. Check for hundreds of user reviews on synths.

I think you're on the right track using the computer to make beats. If you move towards making beats on a keyboard, or an mpc, you'll hate the interface. I mean we're talking a 17 inch monitor versus a 240x64 pixel LCD. No comparison.

I assume you already have a keyboard of some type? You'll want a keyboard to make beats. (Fruity lets you make songs without a keyboard right?) You can't do it with just a module alone, because a module just sits there and waits for a signal from a keyboard to tell it to go. You don't have to spend hundreds on a keyboard. You can get a decent keyboard controller for as little as $150.

It sounds like you want/need more sounds. There are plenty of options there. Keyboards and sound modules are only two. You can buy a sampler and a bunch of sample CDs. You can use software VSTi instruments. There are choices, and your $1500, spent wisely, will take you far. Do some research.

You may want to switch to another sequencer if you're tired of Fruity. (BTW nobody here will laugh at you, we've all been there) I use Logic.

My sound sources are:

Roland JV-1000 (which I barely use for its sounds - it sounds dated, but it serves me well as my master keyboard since my MOTIF was stolen)

EXS24 (a software sampler - I downloaded thousands of sounds from around the internet and bought a few sample CDs - one of my favorites is Extreme Hip Hop)

ES1 (analog modelling synth)

pHATmatik Pro (beat slicer - every hip-hopper should have this one)

B4 (best organ going)

Sampletank 2 (software sample based workstation - you can look at it as a Triton/MOTIF/XV5080 type of keyboard realized in software, but it doesn't sound quite as good as my MOTIF did, so take that with a grain of salt)

Stylus (drums - check this one out)

Gree Oak Crystal (semi-modular synth, and its free even!)

The MOTIF Rack is on my short list, when I get the funds.


mjones4th Thu, 12/18/2003 - 10:53

And also, you can use any of those keyboards or modules in conjunction with Fruity. You don't have to ditch fruity. (i think - at least you should be able to - if you can send MIDI into fruity, you should be able to send it back out)

And don't think that more expensive tools will give you better beats. You have a powerful piece of software already. Some key additions will send you over the top.


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dabmeister music Thu, 12/18/2003 - 13:25

Hey Pooch, I'm a keyboardist who has done both (speaking of keyboard vs mpc) as far as doing beats. If your looking for more of that "swing" or intermittent feel , I think you'd be better off with the Akai. I've been doing musical arrangements since the mid 80's. My first workstation was the Korg M-1. That's where I picked up on the sequencing stuff. I'd do the beats and everything right on the M-1. A few months later , I purchased a Roland R-8 w/ some expansion cards. This was the instrument that introduced the (swing & feel) thing to me. I still have the R-8 but I also use a MPC4000. It's the bomb when it comes to swing & feel. That's it's mainstay. And I like your choice of wanting the XV-5080. It has some decent sounds & the capability to import samples. Also I second mitz on the motif stuff...good...very good. I use a Korg Triton rack for some sounds as well as a Kurzweil K2500RS module (killer piano & string sounds). A lot of sounds nowadays are of the softsynth variety. Of course you'll be the one to make that choice.

B3GrooverTheShill Thu, 12/18/2003 - 13:42

Hardware synths are going to go the way of the dinosaur. If I were you, I'd get an inexpensive MIDI controller and a copy of Reason 2.5. It comes with some of the best drum samples on the market and the virtual drum machine is fantastic.

The Motif is sweet (it DOES beat the pants of the Korg) but for $1700 you could have an awesome computer setup with Reason/controller setup which would be infinitely expandable as your needs grow.