I'm looking for any advice on what single synth w/ keyboard I should look at if I want to become a prog rock wizard? Looking for Hammond organ, mellotron, and minimoog style tones primarily. Thanks for your help!
The only one thing that will do all those sounds is a laptop and vsts and midi controller. If anybody ever came out with a hardware board that did a good b3, mello, moog and a decent EP it would sell big time. Sadly nothing does it all. Few do any of them great.
Nord was in fashion as a B3 clonewheel for awhile but its pushbutton drawbars and not quite up to par leslie and chorus has it left behind. I dont know if the mellotron is good enough or not. Also the OP asked for low cost. That ain't nord. Meanwhile b3x organ, streetly mellotron, moogs own vsts ect would cost under $200. it would run on a 2 year old ipad and a $200 midi controller.What about Nord?
Nord was in fashion as a B3 clonewheel for awhile but its pushbutton drawbars and not quite up to par leslie and chorus has it left behind.
Actually there are quite a few possibilities for "Hammond organ, mellotron, and minimoog style tones primarily" (as well as the EPs you mention, though OP didn't ask about them, and they aren't as widely used in prog). Boards with dedicated clonewheel and VA synth engines along with a sample engine with mellotron sounds include these (with the caveat that I haven't heard the mellotron sounds on all of them):The only one thing that will do all those sounds is a laptop and vsts and midi controller. If anybody ever came out with a hardware board that did a good b3, mello, moog and a decent EP it would sell big time. Sadly nothing does it all.
Yes there are boards that have selections of all the sounds. My point was that there isnt a board that has the best B3 that also has a top notch mello, moog, EP and let's include clav, acoustic grand. All the boards you mention have some representation of most of these sounds that range from pretty good to just useable. But my recollection is the op wanted the BEST of all sounds. And for the least money to boot. I was bemoaning the fact that no company that made a top notch clonewheel also included the very best of the other keyboard food groups.Actually there are quite a few possibilities for "Hammond organ, mellotron, and minimoog style tones primarily" (as well as the EPs you mention, though OP didn't ask about them, and they aren't as widely used in prog). Boards with dedicated clonewheel and VA synth engines along with a sample engine with mellotron sounds include these (with the caveat that I haven't heard the mellotron sounds on all of them):
Hammond SK Pro - probably my pick for the OP
Nord Stage 3 - another good choice, but pricier, and the organ, while very good, lags behind the Hammond IMO
Korg Kronos/Nautilus - Kronos has the 9 sliders for easy drawbar manipulation, Nautilus is cheaper. Not as directly knobby as the first two for the synth work, if that matters, but synth editing is still very accessible. I'd say organ lags the first two, but isn't bad, esp. for prog. Separate outs make it easy to add a Neo Ventilator pedal for nicer Leslie/overdrive if needed.
Kurzweil - PC4-7 (among others) - lower priced than any of the above. Organ lags but again, isn't bad for many uses, and it again has the separate outs for the external Leslie pedal if need be. Though IIRC, percussion routes through the chorus/vibrato, which it shouldn't (though prog arguably doesn't rely much on C/V anyway). Synth is more complicated to program than the ones above, though.
possibly Roland Fantom - the latest update added a clonewheel engine (which I haven't played yet), and you can load the "vintage keys" expansion which gets you mellotrons. Like the Hammond and Nord, it has dedicated front panel controls for the VA synth, which is nice.
possibly Roland FA - getting a little farther from ideal here... it does have a clonewheel organ engine, but more awkward drawbar control (via menus) and no chorus/vibrato, and also more awkward synth controls (again, via menus). Again, the mellotrons would come via the downladable "vintage keys" expansion. And it has assignable separate outs.
possibly Vox Continental - it has the (Kronos-derived) clonewheel and VA synth engines, and mellotron sounds, but the clonewheel and VA engines have less editability than the others mentioned (and no assignable out or even sound panning to easily improve Leslie/overdrive with a pedal).
Arguably possibly the Casio MZ-X500... clonewheel engine can really use external help, but at least sounds can be panned so it should be easy to effectively add the Vent or whatever. It has a solo synth section, though I'm not sure how close to true VA it is. (They call it Bass Synth, though it is not limited to bass sounds.)
Numa Compact 2X is a low-cost model with clonewheel and VA engines and mellotron sounds, so on paper it sounds like it could fit the bill, and it's certainly a strong value. But its VA synth isn't very "minimoog-like" - it's single oscillator, with no mono mode with portamento, etc. (Also, like the Vox, the lack of assignable outs--or even the ability to pan different sounds to different sides--limits your ability to improve Leslie/overdrive with an external pedal, and the Numa could really benefit from improvement there.)
But anyway, while I disagree with the assertion that "only one thing that will do all those sounds is a laptop and vsts and midi controller," I do agree with your other post that the cheapest route to these sounds is probably an iPad and controller with some apps (which technically are not VSTs, but I know what you mean). There are pros and cons to taking that approach vs. using a keyboard that has the sound built in, and the OP did ask for a keyboard, but this alternate approach is also worth considering.
BTW, most of the boards I listed above also include strong MIDI controller functions, meaning it's easy to create a "hybrid" approach of internal sounds and sounds from an iPad, run in many cases from a board with controls that work well for these purposes (like real drawbars and/or dedicated synth controls that are well labeled and arranged for their purposes). Also many of these boards allow you to load custom samples, which could be another way to improve mellotron sounds if need be.
Scroll up, he never said he wanted the BEST of any of these sounds. I guess the goal would be the cheapest board that passes his threshold of "good enough" for these sounds, so now at least he's got a list of things to consider. ;-)But my recollection is the op wanted the BEST of all sounds.
Yes, I alluded to assignable outs in my list as well, (or at a minimum, the ability to pan different sounds to different sides, which turns your stereo out into dual mono out), it is a great way to fix a weak organ sound, as you mentioned . But that voice redirection does not do much to fix any of the other sounds we've been talking about. If you need to improve synths or mellotrons, assignable outs won't help, but other features I mentioned can... a good MIDI implementation that allows you to easily integrate a supplemental sound from an iPad, laptop, or external module can potentially give you better anything; sample memory into which you load additional sounds can be another good route for expansion of things like the mellotron sounds.If I had to buy one single board to cover all of these sounds, I would choose a model that has aux outputs. If you can redirect a voice to another pair of outputs (or even a single mono output), you can use outboard gear to make up for shortcomings in the soundset.
a good MIDI implementation that allows you to easily integrate a supplemental sound from an iPad, laptop, or external module can potentially give you better anything;
it is inheherently impossible for any single keyboard to give you the best piano experience and the best organ experience anyway
For that same needs I got a GSI module called Gemini, ( 1 rack space) with all the Free sound samples, can’t think of a better B3 sound in a module, it has plenty of electric pianos, clavinets, string machine sounds, a virtual synth that’s pretty decent not exactly a Moog, but very nice, they just added a very decent acoustic piano sample.. I play guitar mostly these days, but was in Prog band for a long time, where my set up was a Hammond C 3 with a Leslie speaker, a Minimoog, a Real Mellotron, Oberheim Matrix 12, and an ARP/Rhodes Chroma mainly, so I‘m trying to get similar sounds, so besides this GSI module I added an IPad Pro to have the option of just using an Ipad based system, and run both the Moog Model D App, and the Arturia Minimoog App, + the Arturia SEM App also added the SWAM Solo Strings bundle Apps, so I pretty much cover all the Prog sounds I need, for Hammonds both the IK B-3X, and GSI VB3M sound great, Ravenscroft 275 for acoustic pianos, Streetlytron Pro for Mellotron sounds etc.. of course you’ll need a keyboard controller for either the module or IPad apps, but I’m very happy with the results .. . just some suggestions for you.. of course not exactly cheap, but worth the investment, it’s very hard to get these sounds for peanuts..I'm looking for any advice on what single synth w/ keyboard I should look at if I want to become a prog rock wizard? Looking for Hammond organ, mellotron, and minimoog style tones primarily. Thanks for your help!
I think it goes equally both ways. Just as you qualified that playing piano for classical would be bad on organ keys but rock can be okay (at least to some extent), the same kind of difference exists when playing organ on hammer-action keys. Some organ parts work fine on "piano keys." But not organ parts that take advantage of organ-specific techniques. So basically, lots of simpler piano and organ parts are do-able on either kind of action, it's when you start playing with more advanced piano or organ techniques that you really need an action amenable to those techniques (e.g. dynamic expressiveness on a piano part, smearing/palming organ parts).It’s possible to play piano sounds (for rock, not classical or jazz) on an organ keyboard. The opposite is not true - a weighted hammer action keyboard will not do at all for Hammond playing. You’ll break your fingers trying!
Nice choice. They used to make a keyboard where you could get that module "built in" (the DMC-122), and if that were still in production, that would be another candidate for the OP, but that's a small/light box that can be nicely added to any board that has a suitable MIDI/control implementation.For that same needs I got a GSI module called Gemini,
MX61 and DS61--which both generate their sounds exclusively from samples--are poor for Hammond and Minimoog sounds (where samples don't get you the better quality emulations). MX61 also doesn't have Mellotron samples, though I think DS61 has some at least in one of its downloadable expansions.Yamaha MX 61. Roland Juno DS 61.