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Boss SY-300 Initial Impression

hippietim

Member
Messages
6,592
I've had the SY-300 a little over a week now. Right out of the box, a lot of the presets are really annoying. But keep turning the dial - there's some good stuff to check out. Then I started just started editing and experimenting on my own. It's a pretty simple box to use but there is a lot of capability there. It's going to take a while to get it down. I found it simplest to just work on one oscillator at a time - you can either turn the others off or use the blender to change the levels. I like starting off with them in isolation and then start bringing the other oscillators up gradually throughout the process.

The first preset I wanted to create was the synth bass tone Loverboy used on Take Me To The Top - it was originally done with a Yamaha CS50.


I got kind of close but haven't quite nailed it yet. I'm pretty sure that I will get their eventually - I think everything I need is in there.

The tracking is ridiculously good - after years of frustrating experiences with divided pickups and 13-pin cables this thing is just a f**king miracle LOL

Polyphony works great. However, you have to exercise some common sense here unless you want to sound bad. Typical chord voicings on the guitar don't always sound all that great. Like strumming an open G. Sure, it works. But you will get a better sounding result by playing the low G and an inner triad vs. all of those notes at once. Or use different oscillators for the different note ranges (something like you'd get on a split keyboard). And as always, if you're emulating some other instrument then play things that are possible on that instrument - so no chords on a flute, no low E on a harmonica, don't bend notes on an organ, etc.
 

Will Chen

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,704
Mine came in yesterday, only had about an hour to mess with it. Overall I'm impressed though my early feelings is it's more a MFX processor capable of some very differnt and more forward thinking effects than a more traditional guitar synth. A few more specific thoughts....

1. "Dirty" waveforms. Read this elsewhere and concur. If your looking for sounds like a pure sine wave I dont think it really delivers. Though it sounds good, I was expecting it to be a bit better in this area honestly.

2. I dont think there is really any "tracking" going on here. I think what they're doing is something more like applying distortion with a specific wave form which allows you to radically alter the tone but handle polyphonic signals. Maybe I'm wrong and this isn't a bad thing but does somewhat limit the tonal possibilities.

3. So very easy to use. Didn't even crack the manual and figured out how to edit patches. Can't wait to hook up the editor and dig in.
 

gumtown

Member
Messages
1,945
Gigged with mine last Saturday night, bass player in a rock band.
Had it setup side by side with my GR-55, I really liked the sounds and feel from the SY-300,
the GR-55 seemed to have a bit of a disconnect feel to it, where the SY-300 tones blended naturally with my regular tone.
So far, I am very happy, this thing, although easy to use, is very deep and complicated with a vast variety of settings and combinations of settings.
 

djd100

Member
Messages
3,076
Is this thing COSM (processing the guitar pup's signal rather than doing polyphonic pitch detection and controlling true OSC's)?

Test: Monitor a single OSC and set a long ADSR, check to see if the output sustains after the guitar's input signal has faded away (no Freeze FX etc)?

Just curious as I have both 13 pin MIDI Converters and a old VG-88 Ext.



Mine came in yesterday, only had about an hour to mess with it. Overall I'm impressed though my early feelings is it's more a MFX processor capable of some very differnt and more forward thinking effects than a more traditional guitar synth. A few more specific thoughts....

1. "Dirty" waveforms. Read this elsewhere and concur. If your looking for sounds like a pure sine wave I dont think it really delivers. Though it sounds good, I was expecting it to be a bit better in this area honestly.

2. I dont think there is really any "tracking" going on here. I think what they're doing is something more like applying distortion with a specific wave form which allows you to radically alter the tone but handle polyphonic signals. Maybe I'm wrong and this isn't a bad thing but does somewhat limit the tonal possibilities.

3. So very easy to use. Didn't even crack the manual and figured out how to edit patches. Can't wait to hook up the editor and dig in.
 
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hippietim

Member
Messages
6,592
I am fairly certain this thing is not doing polyphonic pitch conversion. I think it's "just" doing some very kick ass transformation of the input signal - things like pickup selection and such actually matter to the outcome. It is definitely doing some form of pitch detection so that you can do splits of the oscillators. But that isn't 100% perfect which I'm guessing they figured was fine (which it is for my usage).
 

gumtown

Member
Messages
1,945
You might notice there is no mention of "COSM" anywhere on the SY-300 or in it's documentation, this is something new.
There are new Patent rights papers on how the process works.
 

micycle

Member
Messages
3,930
You might notice there is no mention of "COSM" anywhere on the SY-300 or in it's documentation, this is something new.
Music to my eyes. I've used all of the GTs since the first generation and I can only pray that someday I never see those letters on their stuff again.

The SY300 would be fun to try but to me it seems like a bit too much of a one trick pony for that price.
 

Will Chen

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,704
Music to my eyes. I've used all of the GTs since the first generation and I can only pray that someday I never see those letters on their stuff again.

The SY300 would be fun to try but to me it seems like a bit too much of a one trick pony for that price.
The thing is, it's much more versatile than it seems, really more of a MFX than a pure guitar synth especially since the oscillators can be turned off. I'll surely be using it for straight up synth tones, but I'll be using it's effects (and the synth as an effect) in tandem with an Amplifire. It's expensive no doubt, but far from a 1 trick pony.
 
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AdInfinitum

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
803
Has anyone compared the SY-300 to Jam Origin's Midi guitar or The Triple Play? I've been playing with the Midi Guitar 2 Beta 8 and the tracking is excellent. It seems more versatile because you can use any AU or VST. In other words, hook it up to MiniMonsta or other MiniMoog emulation and you have a polyphonic analog synth, just like the SY-300, but you can also play piano, organ and other instruments as well.
 

Will Chen

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,704
Has anyone compared the SY-300 to Jam Origin's Midi guitar or The Triple Play? I've been playing with the Midi Guitar 2 Beta 8 and the tracking is excellent. It seems more versatile because you can use any AU or VST. In other words, hook it up to MiniMonsta or other MiniMoog emulation and you have a polyphonic analog synth, just like the SY-300, but you can also play piano, organ and other instruments as well.
The SY-300 is really a unique piece of gear. The approach is less of a guitar triggering a synth and more treating a guitar like it is a synth, if that makes sense. I'd put it more in the bucket of a revolutionary new guitar effect like the Whammy or POG rather than compare it to existing pitch to MIDI products. While it can never compare to the versatility of playing a sampled piano, no pitch to MIDI product I've played actually contains aspects of your guitars tones in the synth tones as well as flawless tracking (I use tracking loosely with the SY-300) even the sloppiest guitar techniques perfectly. In an extreme example, my 4 year spent ~10 minutes banging on the strings last night. Rather than sound like a mess of mistracked notes jumping around, it sounded like a 4 year old banging on a guitar yet with synth tones pouring out the speaker. Make sense? That's the big seller here, it "tracks" as well as an overdrive pedal "tracks" and functionally is more like MFX than completely removing the guitar from the equation and triggering samples, really more of an evolution of the old GR-300 and in those terms it's really a big step backwards in terms of where the guitar synthesizer world has gone and yet a hue step forwards in terms of redefining what the term guitar synthesizer means.
 

micycle

Member
Messages
3,930
Interesting stuff. It's hard to tell from what I'm seeing online but CAN it be used to trigger MIDI? I'd be curious to see if the tracking carries over into that. Before I sold my GT100 they came out with the update that did audio to MIDI and I was really impressed with the tracking on that, although I started using a Tripleplay shortly after. Good to hear that the age of hardware-less audio to midi on guitar seems to almost be upon us!
 

Will Chen

Platinum Supporting Member
Messages
6,704
Interesting stuff. It's hard to tell from what I'm seeing online but CAN it be used to trigger MIDI? I'd be curious to see if the tracking carries over into that. Before I sold my GT100 they came out with the update that did audio to MIDI and I was really impressed with the tracking on that, although I started using a Tripleplay shortly after. Good to hear that the age of hardware-less audio to midi on guitar seems to almost be upon us!
No pitch to MIDI. Like I mentioned, this is more an evolution of the old GR-300 concept than the newer GR units. It's both a throw back and a huge step forward as it's the first unit I've played which is a true guitar synth rather than a guitar being used to emulate a keyboard based synth. It's going to be an uphill climb for Roland/Boss as many equate the term guitar synth with being able to play piano or sax (which is really more guitar as rompler/sampler than synth) on guitar rather than think of it more in terms of what it actually is. In terms of the type/style of players who might make full use of it, think of guys like Matt Belemy, Jon Scofield, Tom Morello, or Vernon Reid.
 

AdInfinitum

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
803
Thanks Will - that was very informative. I've been really impressed with the pitch-midi devices that have recently been released, but at the end of the day, when I need a keyboard part, I play the keyboards. I mainly use the guitar synth stuff to noodle for composition purposes. I think the SY-300 sounds like Roland may have finally realized that they were on the right path with the original guitar synths. Use the guitar as a guitar not as a keyboard. While monophonic instruments like flute sound Ok played via guitar synth, piano and other polyphonic instruments require a total change of technique, i.e., playing a guitar like a piano. That generally sounds like dirt with too many glitches, false triggering and weird artifacts.

Hopefully, my local Sam Ash or GC will have a demo unit to check out. It will be a hard choice whether to buy this or the Helix, although, as much as everyone thinks Line6 will ship Helix in early September, I suspect October as per prior release cycles.
 

PBGas

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
6,600
This is good to hear that it is a really neat unit! Looking forward to getting one at some point as well! Thx to hippietim for sharing!
 

hippietim

Member
Messages
6,592
I finally got to spend some more time with mine on Saturday. Here's some tips:

I can't stress enough how important it is to spend some time dialing in just a single oscillator in isolation with no effects on. It really exposes the way the various parameters affect the sound so much better than tweaking with a ton of other things impacting the result. It's sort of like starting off with an electric guitar rig - you would not be successful dialing in your own tones if you had to start with all your pedals on at once.

When using multiple oscillators, take advantage of the fact that you can specify a note range for each oscillator. This allows you to create a cutting low end with a nice fat high end with 2 oscillators set with ranges and then have a 3rd that spans the two ranges to smooth the transition. This is really powerful stuff.

Don't be afraid to use a compressor. Organs and a lot of legacy synths don't have velocity sensitive tone generation so a compressor can help you achieve similar responsiveness.

Don't be afraid to use a chorus. I know a lot of guitar players will shun them for a variety of reasons - well, on the SY-300 they are really useful.

Humbuckers work better than single coils. Even using high output single coils doesn't produce results as consistent as humbuckers. Don't be afraid to use the sensitivity controls though.

Your pickup position, picking technique, string choice, etc. can really affect the tone. Assuming you are not using a ton of effects or extreme settings, the actual input tone can really make a difference on the final tone. Things like triple-layered multi-octave tones with a couple choruses won't be impacted as much of course.

Finally, it can't sound like a piano. But!!!! There are no tracking issues!
 

BCnSTL

Member
Messages
890
The Jam Origin MIDI plugin tracks great? Since when?
I find that it can track 'ok' at times if you modify your technique sufficiently. It still doesn't handle bends or vibrato which really hampers the expressive capabilities.
 

AdInfinitum

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
803
I'm using MidiGuitar Version 2 Beta 8 and it tracks absolutely fine. Currently, bending is not implemented, but will be on the next beta release (supposedly). YMMV.
 




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