Hands on...or Computer Generated?

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What's the way to go?

 
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Fat Bastard
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Hands on...or Computer Generated?

Postby Fat Bastard » January 21st, 2004, 2:12am

I appreciate you for taking the time to read this. I'm an aspiring electronic D-Jay/Cevin Key (Music 4 Cats like) wannabe. I was hoping someone could give me some good sound advice on inexpensive gear to get started with, and any approach techniques for eventually playing live.

Please let me know your opinions vs. mine, and what you might add or not bother using...

My current gear set-up is as follows:

ZOOM MRT-3 RYTHEMTRAK (Good inexpensive drum machine)
ALESIS AIRSYNTH (not bad)
YAMAHA DJXIIB (my opinion...a lame a$$ toy)
RADIO SHACK SOUND FX Generator (vintage sh!t, real cheese, simple sound fx like glass brekaing, creaky doors, etc., can slow down/speedup/echo/reverse combine its sounds)
KORG ELECTRIBE Amk II (on order from Korg, looks real promising?)

Also, I am kind of at the point where I want to do more "hands on" over doing the whole laptop computer dealie.

Guidence...anyone?

Thanks,

Fat Bastard (Rookie)

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Postby DJ_Kryptik » January 21st, 2004, 8:55am

i read this, but am not voting yet, cuase that's one i've got to think about... i'm sort of in the same boat with you, cept... the hands on gear i have is not what you have, and i basically want to get what you got..
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99devils
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Postby 99devils » January 21st, 2004, 9:54am

In my humble opinion this comes down to the following questions:

1) Do you intend to play live? (Appears the answer is yes).
2) What is your tolerance for backing tracks on CD or DAT

I don't think computers have come far enough yet in terms of absolute reliability to be trusted on stage. I'm a computer programmer, so that should tell you a little something ;)

If the answer to #1 is "yes", and the answer to #2 is "no backing tracks on CD or DAT", then you have no choice but to go hardware. Otherwise, I think software is a much cheaper route to go.

Now, there are many other factors that could sway your decision. How much do you like working with the mouse? How deep into synth programming and patch construction do you want to get? Do you want to create everything from scratch or take the ACID-style approach of assembling music from premade sources with some of your own stuff laid on top of it? (NOT - I will not discuss the merits - or lack thereof - of this particular method). If you don't want to do too much sound creation the computer route will be better. Otherwise, there's still no clear cut choice.

Do you prefer to work directly with a box of knobs and sliders, or would you prefer to interact with a mouse? Do you plan to DJ your tracks or play as a band?

I'm on an all-hardware setup, with the exception of recording and studio sequencing. Live, I replace the computer with a hardware sequencer and rely on my sampler to reproduce anything recorded that can't be pulled off live. I don't use backing tracks (I personally feel that it's kind of "cheating", but to each his own. Lots of bands use them to great effect). I prefer to sequence live, and I try to structure things so I can have as much direct control and manipulation possibilities as possible during the set. You also have the possibility of using a sampler to record anything you do with software synths for live use if you go hardware.

Both are equal in terms of sound, IMHO. Both have their place, and I don't know how I'd get along without the computer for arranging and recording. So my vote goes for "both".

-Craig

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Postby 99devils » January 21st, 2004, 10:39am

I forgot about your hardware... I'd say:

FatBastard wrote:
My current gear set-up is as follows:

ZOOM MRT-3 RYTHEMTRAK (Good inexpensive drum machine)
ALESIS AIRSYNTH (not bad)
YAMAHA DJXIIB (my opinion...a lame a$$ toy)
RADIO SHACK SOUND FX Generator (vintage sh!t, real cheese, simple sound fx like glass brekaing, creaky doors, etc., can slow down/speedup/echo/reverse combine its sounds)
KORG ELECTRIBE Amk II (on order from Korg, looks real promising?)


You have some tools that you can continue to use, and some options for growth. You didn't mention a budget, so I'm going to assume from the pieces you have that you're working with a low to moderate budget, and you'd like to save a buck where you can (don't we all:) ) I'm also assuming that you're going to wind up going with an all-hardware rig, and you'll use the PC for recording (or go to a real studio).

From what you have, I see a few things:

1) You need more sound sources. Your synths are only one part apiece, so you're quite thin in synth voices.

2) You're going to find you're short on sequencing resources, probably sooner rather than later.

3) You don't have any sampling facilities, and that's really important if you're into cEvin Key :)

Having said that. I'll go down the list.

Zoom Rhythmtrack - I would ditch this box. Record each sound individually into your PC and save the wav file so you can use it later on when you get a sampler.

Alesis AirSynth - I see this as kind of an "icing on the cake" or "interesting toy" piece. It might serve as some visual "wow" at a live show, and you might get some decent effects type noises out of it, but it's not going to be your backbone tone generator.

Yamaha DJX-IIB - Ditch it.

Radio Shack Sound FX - Keep it. It's probably monetarily worthless, but I'm sure you can get some sample fodder out of it. Leave it at home when you play live though :)

Electribe A MKII - It's a usable piece, and it has a built in sequencer. 2 parts, meaning it can play two different sounds at the same time, but each voice is monotimbral, meaning it can only play one note at a time (per part). I probably wouldn't have bought it at your stage, since it's not something you can base your setup around - that's what you really need are some workhorse pieces. Since you've got it on the way we can work with it. This will definately be your best bit right now.

So, what would I do? Well, I'd try to address the above issues first, with the idea that you really need a real workhorse to build everything else around. I can suggest a few things:

For sequencing, I would pick up a secondhand Yamaha RM1X. Don't pay more than $225 or so on Ebay for one, and make sure the knobs aren't wobbly. While they do wobble eventually, they actually don't feel like they're going to break off, and my RM1X has had a lot of hours on it. The RM1X also includes a sample-based soundset that includes a variety of synth and drum sounds for techno. You'll want to get this piece first, because this can drive everything else in your rig and function as a sound source for a whil until you get the rest of your setup in place. Learn it top to bottom before adding any new gear, 'cause there is a lot to learn. Even though I have Sonar for sequencing, I still prefer to knock out patterns on the RM1X, then save them onto disk and load them into Sonar for arranging - this is a great compositional and live performance tool. It offers you lots of control over your sequences for playing live. Another option here might be the Emu Command Stations, which are similar machines. The RM1X is a better sequencer but the Emus are better sounding synths.

Secondly, you need to pick up either a workhorse synth, or a sampler. IMHO, the decision on which to go for first should come down to whether or not you want a real keyboard for playing parts by hand. If this doesn't interest you at all, I would rely on the synth you have in the Electribe and the one you'll get with the RM1X to hold you over for a while and go for a sampler first. Your cheapest bet for a good sampler is probably the Emu ESI-series (ESI-32, ESI-4000, and ESI-2000 in order of appearance). I'm an Akai user myself, but at a low price point I'd take an ESI over the Akai S2000 or S3000. Yamaha A-series (A3000, A4000, A5000) are a good option for a little more money. If sampling is going to be a large part of your sound I recommend you look into one of the Yamahas, and if you're going to commit a good chunk of cash, say $600-700, I would look at finding an Akai S5000 or Emu E-5000 sampler. All the samplers I've mentioned are pro samplers (as opposed to phrase samplers, like the Yamaha SU-700 & RS-7000, and Akai MPC-2000). Phrase samplers are pro pieces too, but a "pro" sampler will allow you to spread sounds across the keyboard, like a piano patch or a sampled orchestra. Phrase samples don't let you do this - they just play back whatever phrase they sampled. Pro samplers can obviously work that way too, so you get more flexibility this way.

If you do decide you want to play the keyboard, then I'd look at a synth first. If you have the money to spend, you can find a keyboard version of many good synths. However, the rack versions are generally much cheaper on the used market. Good candidates here will offer you a good amount of voices and parts. You're likely going to want a virtual analog synth, and there are lots to choose from. The Nord Lead is a great synth in a low price range. I'd look for a Nord Lead II if you decide to go this route, and expect to pay around $650 used for a keyboard and about $400 or so for the rack version. The Access Virus in it's original spec is a good choice. It also came in B and C flavors which are more powerful and much pricier, although if you can score a good deal on a B go for it. The A's go for about $450 used, and they didn't come in a keyboard version. A used B-spec KB will still run you around $900, so it's not that attractive of an option. The Waldorf MicroQ sounds real nice, and it's cheap too, but it's a bit hard to figure out how to edit it. I'd stay away from the roland JP series synths - they don't offer you enough voices. The Novation Nova and Supernova are also pretty cheap secondhand and will really serve you well.

In terms of saving money, it'd probably be cheaper to buy a controller keyboard - like the ones MIDIMan and Evolution make, or even a used Yamaha CS1X or something - than to buy a keyboard version of a good virtual analog synth. But it is nice to have the synth editing controls right on the playing surface too.

FYI, I use an RM1X, Akai S6000 sampler, Nord Lead I keyboard, Yamaha CS1X keyboard, Access Virus (original spec), and a Waldorf Attack drum synthesizer in my rig. I've collected this stuff over the last 6 years, so slow and steady is the way to go. Learn each piece throoughly before you move on to a new piece. You'll be able to get a lot of mileage out of an RM1X and your Electribe if you learn those two pieces really well. Adding a sampler onto that really gives you pretty much anything you'll need, unless you decide you really want to go all out and dedicate serious coin to your hardware (which is basically what I ended up doing).

Good luck. Let me know if you need any more assistance.

-Craig

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A few more questions...MicroKorg

Postby Fat Bastard » January 21st, 2004, 12:52pm

Wow thanks for all the help and advice guys. I'm totally digging it, and alot of what you say about my equipment short-comings I feel the same way.

Here's my situation about the powerhouse/synth thing. You're right, I'm on an extremely limited budget, and I actually bought the Korg EAmk2 over the MicroKorg.

Thanks for recommending the equipment. I'm looking for some good less expensive samplers and sequencers right now.

I'd like to be as original as possible. I'd use preprogrammed sounds only if I can sequence them to my own likings, and tweek the hell out of em.

Holla back.

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Postby 99devils » January 21st, 2004, 2:20pm

Well then I would definately start out with the RM1X. You never did mention if you plan to play the keyboard or just sequence.

Also, check out the Red Sounds DarkStar. Good sound, unbeatable price.

-Craig

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Postby DJ_Kryptik » January 21st, 2004, 4:01pm

take it from 99 devils or a DJ, that DJX thing is a piece of shit.. i don't think it was developed to be used in live shows or music production, i think they made that as a toy for like younger kids to just fool around on...

i went to Guitar Center and tried it out, the person before me was crabbing (Crab scratchin) on it.. i couldn't figure it out when i stepped to it.. in fact, i got real frustrated, so i went over to the new Pioneer deck that had just come out... (the cd Pioneer deck that cost like 2600 bucks at that time...)... i stepped to that, and was having the time of my life... lol, remixing "Silence" of McLachlan, not the best thing to have in there to mix, but it provided me with more fun then the DJX did... but i guess you pay for what you get... Pioneer at the time was around $2600 some bucks, and DJX was $150.

but in terms of software route and hardware route... the software can be just as expensive as the hardware... so i don't believe either way is cheap.. it depends on the person and what you need or like... what works for you... right now for me, it's the hardware... software would be great if only i had the pc specs for it...

sounds like you're not on a poor man budget like me though, so either route may be good for you.
April 27 @TBA (Lawton, OK). DJ Kryptik. VIP party. 7pm-whenever we croak.

http://www.angelfire.com/crazy/tatz

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Fat Bastard
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ok

Postby Fat Bastard » January 21st, 2004, 4:27pm

I am not really skilled on Keys or Piano...

My gf says that I have an amazing ear for music though, and I can pick up a keyboard and create, but I think I'm gonna steer clear for now...I think...

Does anyone know anything about the Electribe•SX1 ESX1 Music Production Sampler

It seems pretty cheap...and decent...but then again I am here to learn.

I have seen those darkstars...pretty sweet. I am now looking at the Virus series and Yamaha RMX1

Keep me posted on your thoughts

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DJX2B

Postby Fat Bastard » January 21st, 2004, 4:30pm

And yes, the the DJXIIB was the biggest mistake I've ever made. I agree 100%. I was even stupid enough to buy it when it first came out at $199. I wouldnt even buy one for $100 (as they are now).

God am I glad I've learned a few lessons.

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Re: ok

Postby 99devils » January 21st, 2004, 4:39pm

FatBastard wrote:Does anyone know anything about the Electribe•SX1 ESX1 Music Production Sampler


I would stay away from it. It's a phrase sampler, and at the cost of secondhand sampling, you could easily get an RM1X (that you could use to sequence external gear) and an ESI-4000 for the same dough.

Used gear is the way to go man... For real.

-Craig

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Postby 99devils » January 21st, 2004, 4:39pm

DJ_Kryptik wrote: remixing "Silence" of McLachlan
Silence is by Delerium, otherwise known as Bill Leeb and Rhys Fulber or Font Line Assembly :)

But it is Sarah McLachlan singing.

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Postby ScottDigweed » January 21st, 2004, 8:00pm

Hi,

First thing you need to clarify is how much $ are you willing to invest in new gear. Next, do you want to use your home computer to make music... if so, what kind of computer do you have (which CPU, how fast is it, how much RAM do you have, what kind of soundcard, and do you have any music software yet?)

I will agree with what Craig said re: hardware... except, the DJX keyboard is useful as a MIDI controller for programming melodies intoa sequencer like the RM1x, or software like Reason or Cakewalk. That means don't bother using the DJX's internal sounds - use it for the MIDI output only.

As for the brief clips from "Music for Cats" (link below) - they are very well produced and mastered, definitely a mature musical direction. A worthwhile musical influence IMO.

I would keep what you have unless you can sell for a decent amount. Your new purchase, the electribe... is something producers acquire to "fill a void" - i.e. if you need a cheap, portable, analog-style bass synth with a step sequencer... that's what the Electribe A is useful for. IMHO you need much more than what the EA can do:

- hardware sampler + hardware synth + hardware sequencer.

or

- integrated box containing all of the above: Yamaha RS7000.

or

- soundcard for your computer (if it's fast enough...) + Steinberg Reason

In all of the above setups, you would use your DJX as a MIDI controller to program your sequences.


http://www.metropolis-records.com/?/art ... t=cevinkey

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Fat Bastard
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I see

Postby Fat Bastard » January 22nd, 2004, 1:41am

ScottDigweed wrote:Hi,

First thing you need to clarify is how much $ are you willing to invest in new gear. Next, do you want to use your home computer to make music... if so, what kind of computer do you have (which CPU, how fast is it, how much RAM do you have, what kind of soundcard, and do you have any music software yet?)


Hmm...It depends. I'm really broke now, haha. I just laid down $89 bucks for the RythemTrak, $79 for the AirSynth, and struggled to get the $270 for the Emk2. My computer is a joke so I dont even wanna go there. I do however have fruityloops, and techno ejay...along with a couple of things downloaded from novakil.com, but they aint installing right. I was going towards computers, but realized I wouldnt unless I had a good laptop, which I would rather spend a couple hundred dollars here or there for hardware, instead of blowing $1,000+. I wouldnt use on unless I got a powerbook, which I cannot afford.

I will agree with what Craig said re: hardware... except, the DJX keyboard is useful as a MIDI controller for programming melodies intoa sequencer like the RM1x, or software like Reason or Cakewalk. That means don't bother using the DJX's internal sounds - use it for the MIDI output only.


I've heard it's good for midi.I know very little about midi, besides I've heard midi files online and I dont like them, but thats probably a different paintjob. I do want to get cakewalk, just to have it.

As for the brief clips from "Music for Cats" (link below) - they are very well produced and mastered, definitely a mature musical direction. A worthwhile musical influence IMO.


I agree...Cevin Key is my idol...and has funds beyond my imagination. Check out http://www.subconsciousstudios.com/ to see what he auctions off.

I would keep what you have unless you can sell for a decent amount. Your new purchase, the electribe... is something producers acquire to "fill a void" - i.e. if you need a cheap, portable, analog-style bass synth with a step sequencer... that's what the Electribe A is useful for. IMHO you need much more than what the EA can do:

- hardware sampler + hardware synth + hardware sequencer.

or

- integrated box containing all of the above: Yamaha RS7000.

or

- soundcard for your computer (if it's fast enough...) + Steinberg Reason

In all of the above setups, you would use your DJX as a MIDI controller to program your sequences.


I'm heavily considering Red Sounds DarkStar(harder to find) or Yamaha RM1x(used). The RS7000 is awesome but too expensive right now, even used.


http://www.metropolis-records.com/?/art ... t=cevinkey[/quote]

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Postby 99devils » January 22nd, 2004, 10:00am

I thought your DJX was the turntable looking thing. If it's an actual keyboard than by all means keep it.

-Craig

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DJX Series

Postby Fat Bastard » January 22nd, 2004, 12:43pm

99devils wrote:I thought your DJX was the turntable looking thing. If it's an actual keyboard than by all means keep it.

-Craig


You were right. The keyboard isn't as bad. I happen to have the crummy turntable toy.


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