New to keys, looking for simple solution

Discussion in 'Keyboards and Synthesizers' started by silentbob, Jun 28, 2020.

  1. silentbob

    silentbob Member

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    Working on a new project with a friend who bought a controller and interface for his home studio and looking for an inexpensive way to use that live. Packing up a laptop and other gear just sounds like a hassle for gigs. Being a little old school, my instinct is to dig up an old Alesis or Roland module. The keys/synth isn't going to be the focus of our sound, but it would be nice to have some B3, synth and horn accents. Is there a modern, cost-effective solution for a synth brain to pair with his Novation Impluse 49?
     
  2. kiki_90291

    kiki_90291 Member

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    Do you have an iPad? If so, tons of great synth apps that will cover all the bases (Garageband, which is free, has a pretty good range to start with). If not, what's your budget? The old Roland modules can be pretty inexpensive ans still sound surprisingly good. JV1010 maybe? Nothing spectacular, but it will get you all the bread and butter sounds.
     
  3. Jr Deluxe

    Jr Deluxe Member

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    Nothing is easier than buying a hardware synth. All the other laptop vsts and modules and you better know midi. You'll save 3 or 4 hundred dollars and spend many hours trying to get it to work plus extra setup time every gig. Just buy an 700 dollar board and play. You'll disagree now and agree later . As usual.
     
  4. Angstwulf

    Angstwulf Member

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    You may consider this. I could go in either direction. I love having one controller and a few modules but I'm also into the programming/techno-nerd side of it. I mean, full keyboards can get pretty bad, too, but Jr has it right: set up the patches you want at the rehearsal studio. Plug in. Play. No wires, no fuss.

    And since this is TGP, what's his budget??? :banana
     
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  5. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Member

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    Agreed!

    While I love my iPad rig for some stuff, nothing beats the simplicity of a hardware keyboard.

    Buy a newer-ish Korg, Yamaha, or Roland whatever.
     
  6. anotherscott

    anotherscott Member

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    Yes to most of that, though I would prefer something with a better MIDI implementation than Garageband... there are plenty of other apps to choose from, whether you pick one app for all the sounds in question, or a combination of 2 or 3 apps if you want to get fancy. But Garageband can do the trick if you only need to play one sound at a time, and don't mind choosing the sounds from the screen as opposed to from your keyboard. Other apps have more MIDI flexibility that can get you past those restrictions, but GB is a nice easy way to start.

    As for cost, even if he doesn't have an iPad, he might have an iPhone that can suffice, and the iPod Touch can work which is just $199. But even the cost of a new iPad may not be prohibitive.

    "You better know MIDI" should not be a curse. If you only want to do very basic things, MIDI can be pretty simple... and ultimately, the basics are just very helpful to know. But really, if he happens to have an iPhone/iPad, he can download Garageband as mentioned above for free, add a $29-$39 USB adapter and a printer cable, plug in his Novation keyboard, and literally just start picking sounds from the screen to play them, no MIDI knowledge is even required. Having nothing to do with MIDI, the only other complication could be getting audio out of the iPhone, if it's a model that lacks a headphone jack. Regardless, it is certainly not many hours of work.

    That said, learning a *little* about MIDI can take you a long way. Specifically, the concept of addressing different sounds on different MIDI channels, and the concept of sending MIDI Program Changes to change the sounds. Those two concepts would open up another world of possibilities with other apps. And of course, you can learn more and do fancier things... but you don't have to know very much at all to do a lot of very useful things.
     
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  7. Angstwulf

    Angstwulf Member

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    True and true. I think the point is: getting a module can send you down a rabbit hole as far as MIDI is concerned. Been there. Enjoyed it. But its not for everyone.

    But with today's ios apps and programs like Garageband/Kontact Player, you are so right that there is a world of options that are high quality and pretty much plug in and play. And I don't think you need a USB adapter for a Novation: a lightning cable should suffice.

    As a side note: once Apple starts up with ARM processors, is it possible that there will not be a big divide between software for MacOS and iOS's for phone and pad? That would be pretty cool.
     
  8. Moby Dick

    Moby Dick Member

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    I bought a used Yamaha moxf6 and could not be happier.
    It’s got tons of sounds and nice easy access to adjustable parameters.
     
  9. silentbob

    silentbob Member

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    I appreciate all the advice and suggestions.

    He already has the controller and intends to use it for home recording, that's a sunk cost and just hoping to make use of it for performance as well. I'm just trying to figure out the option that keeps additional costs low, easy learning curve for use and is a reliable solution for gigs. It's just a matter of figuring where those data points converge.
     
  10. sergiodeblanc

    sergiodeblanc Member

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    I kinda went through the same thing this year and settled on a hardware synth. I had the controller, the iPad, and some cables, and figured it’d be most cost effective to just use those.

    But then the 1/8” to RCA and RCA to 1/4” adaptors for the cables were wonky and too short, so I bought some new ones. Then I kept having intermittent issues of my photo adaptor/lightning cable not being recognized, or being fidgety within the synth app, and ran into battery life issues.. so I bought a Korg Plug key so I could keep the iPad charged while connected to the controller.

    Now I had a little dongle box with a short cable, with long 1/4” cables, a long midi cable, a short lightning to USB cable, an even shorter micro USB cable, and a USB phone charger block to make this thing work.

    Then I had to figure out where to put the f@cking Korg KeyPlug and the iPad in relation to my controller, so I got a wonky iPad stand and set that sh!t up on my keyboard amp because I couldn’t place all those things on my keyboard stand or on the controller.

    So then I have a rats nest of cables, a little dongle box, an iPad, a controller, and an iPad stand that I had to break down, set up, transport, and occasionally troubleshoot....

    Sh!t got so frustrating that I finally just went out and bought a Korg Kross 2. Now I’ve just got a couple of cables and keyboard, so simple, sounds good and there’s no loading time between patch changes.
     
  11. kiki_90291

    kiki_90291 Member

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    sergiodeblanc raises some good points about using an iPad. I use one with a Novation Audiohub and the Apple CCK that allows you to charge the ipad. It is a bit of a rat's nest, but I only use it at home and I'm doing it to access some very specific synth apps that I like.

    If you are looking to leverage the controller and keep things as simple as possible and you're just looking for bread and butter sounds, I would look at some of the old synth modules out there - they are relatively inexpensive and should work fine for what you need with a minimum of cables. The only potential issue is that the older ones may need to have their batteries replaced.
     
  12. silentbob

    silentbob Member

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    I wasn't aware of the battery consideration, but shouldn't be an issue for me to replace, I'm fairly experienced at working on electronics. Being able to leave the module in the trailer between gigs or in the rehearsal studio is really appealing. At this point it's down to either a stand alone unit or a sound module and it's entirely up to him.

    I really appreciate all the comments, even the suggestions that I didn't follow. It's always helpful to consider the full palatte of options.
     

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