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Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
#3016887 08/23/20 01:31 AM
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NO modern day ones please. Most good ones are too expensive for my budget, and the rest that are cheap and sound like toys or just horrible. lol Also nothing digital on a computer, as when things come from a physical box, they just sound better from what I've read a ton of so far. I will be using digital vsts, but I want this module to be for me to create, practice, and play without the need for a computer. My budget is around $300. I want 90's - early 2000's ones because they just sound sooo much more authentic and have more life and personality to them. I was just looking at the Alesis NanoSynth from 1997 and I really like it. The sounds are very nice quality. Then I was checking out the Roland U-220 from 1989. My favorite so far is the Alesis NanoSynth though. The Roland U-220 is fine, it has its moments, but.. some stuff just feels unexciting, not special, normal, and meh. Most of the stuff on the NanoSynth makes me say "Oh wow! That's cool, sounds so real, and has so much personality and feel to it! Even the some of the normal piano sounds have a presence to them." I want that, but even better, if possible.

I would love something with a lot of sounds, something that has a bit of everything on it, and does it all VERY well.

I would also love something that's way less than $300.. around $100 or less (since it's around 20 years old) would be perfect. lol but at the same time.. I always choose quality over price, so I'm willing to pay around $300 if the module if PACKED with sounds, and they are absolutely just outstanding.

I would love to be able to layer the sounds/different instruments they have on them as well, and make my own custom presets and save them internally in the module itself to use them whenever I want. Layer as in, I want a vocal choir, over a piano, over a synth. Then I want to be able to save it and make it into a preset.

I don't want a sound module that needs to plug into my computer to work, I'm considering purchasing the Kawai MP11SE, so I need one that will plug directly into the audio in and Midi Out of my keyboard with ease, and just work, without ever needing a computer of any kind. Power supply to the wall of course. lol

I want to do EXACTLY this: https://youtu.be/y0I3zBycLnQ

Lastly, I'm a big fan of 90's, and early 2000's scores in movies (especially 90's action movies and 90's fantasy movies above all). They where so unique and beautiful and mesmerizing in their scores. You could hear a piano mixed with 4 patches in an emotional scene, and almost start day dreaming because its sounds so nice. I would love to use that lost and forgotten technology from those times, and create some beautiful and new stuff today. smile


So, if anyone could tell me which are the absolute BEST sound modules out there today, I'd REALLY appreciate your time and help!

PS: Please be very specific with the names as well. If you tell me something like the 5HD07Tango ..I won't know what to look up of you don't specify the brand, like Yamaha, Korg, Roland, etc. lol I'm new to this, so I won't be able to guess the brands just yet. :P


Thanks in advance everyone!! laugh (Please be kind a respectful, as I'm very new to keyboard midi sound modules. lol)

Last edited by MelodicRevengexX; 08/23/20 01:38 AM.

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Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3016890 08/23/20 02:39 AM
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I have about 20 sound modules from that era grin... I think the Korg Triton or Korg Trinity would be a good option for your needs


Yamaha U3H
Kawai VPC1
plus some other DPs, keyboards and VSTs
Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
EB5AGV #3016895 08/23/20 03:08 AM
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Oh Interesting! Thanks! laugh Between the two, which do you personally think is best? smile


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Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3016903 08/23/20 03:40 AM
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Best is very dependent on user... The Triton Rack is more expandable. It uses a 2U cabinet. The TR-rack (Trinity Rack) is just 1U but can't be expanded. I would advise you to listen to samples of both and decide by yourself


Yamaha U3H
Kawai VPC1
plus some other DPs, keyboards and VSTs
Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3016911 08/23/20 04:44 AM
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I just looked into both of them in a bunch of youtube video demos and they seem fine, in a good way, just not fitting for my needs. They seem to be mostly weird/cool sounds, and a ton of synths, plus a ton of pre layered synths, but hardly any normal instruments from from what I can tell. I heard a few normal pianos but I didn't like the sounds too much from them. I do want synths and layered sounding stuff, but I mainly want something that covers all the instruments, and sounds great. The Triton and the Trinity sound like something that has sounds that are perfect to sprinkle around a song here and there, or layer with normal sounds to make something weird, unique, and cool. for a part of a song, which is very awesome, but not what I want to do. I currently need the "normal sounds" to make the bulk of the songs, but I would absolutely love and hope, that the module that has the great "normal sounds" also has some weirder and unique sounds as well, that I can layer over the normal sounds when needed. smile

I know I can expand the Triton Rack, but the expansions alone are just so expensive and will put me way over my budget, it just doesn't seem like a worthwhile investment for me financially right now considering my budget.

I have a few more questions, if you don't mind me asking? You seem really knowledgable on this, so I'd love to know you opinions on these questions. smile

Do you know any other modules from the 90's - early 2000's that would maybe be perfect for me within my $300 budget?

Are there any modules from the 90's - early 2000's that are great and $100 and below today? That would be really awesome to find some that are really low priced yet sound amazing. I'm totally up to link lower priced ones together to get a ton of sounds a layer them all. Sounds like fun. lol

Lastly, what are the best current day modules that are amazing and really great for $300 and under? From what I've heard on Youtube, the cheap current day ones that are like $100 make me cringe and want to exit the video immediately... Haha :P


Thanks again!! I REALLY appreciatte your help! You're awesome! laugh


If people from hundreds of years ago somehow mastered music theory without the internet...

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Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3016914 08/23/20 04:57 AM
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Sound editing and such can be tricky on those devices. Of course if the presets are cool enough as they come then it's not such a problem.

Alesis had several of those "Nano" models: synth, piano and bass, I think. They can take in some MIDI SysEx data to do some minor editing, I believe.

Roland had at least the "SoundCanvas" family of products (like e.g. "SC-88" with a few variants). I suppose there were very preset based i.e. "here are 256 sounds for you to use". Rolands "GS" sound set was a bit larger and more flexible than the plain old General MIDI (level 1) with 128 sounds with not much editability.

Roland's D-550 was a rack module version of the classic D-50 synth, actually from late 80's: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T1CmhImtOog

You can find some more Roland modules in their synth timeline: https://www.rolandus.com/blog/2014/02/19/roland-synth-chronicle-1973-through-2013/

Yamaha's "XG" sound set is large and flexible. You have a lot of adjustments for filters, resonances and whatnot. The earlier TG series modules were not XG, but the flagship TG-500 may be quite versatile: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=07FyxTwdpUU

The TG-300 might come close: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vQRzKEnZtmw

And maybe it's best to forget the others... TG-100 at least is a toy: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qknwahcwivQ

The SynthMania channel (as in the TG-300 video link above) is worth checking out.

The TG-33 was more of a synth: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWg8EV4gG6A

...if the TG-500 was more of a "rompler" i.e. playing back sampled sounds.

Then Yamaha had the "MU" modules with the XG sounds. They were rack or half rack sized boxes. MU-500 was the last one, but it didn't really have any UI. MU-2000 was more or less the top model: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kRZ62DVlBMY

As the MU model numbers go down the devices approach the "toy" category more and more.

Yamaha's "QY" series devices like QY70 and QY100 had similar sounds and as a bonus they had accompaniment patterns (factory/user made), a sequencer and maybe a better UI with a display and buttons and they were handheld devices, so working on them might be more ergonomic. There were some "toy" QY models too with lower model numbers.

SynthMania has a website too and there are/were sound samples from many devices: https://synthmania.com/

The site has changed and I don't know how you are supposed to navigate it now.

Anyhow there's still the old QY70 page: http://www.synthmania.com/qy70.htm

Yamaha's "EX" devices were quite versatile allowing "synth" soundscapes. There was at least one module (as opposed to a whole keyboard) i.e. the EX5R: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PqPkEkcFUls

Kurzweil probably had a lot of cool stuff in the 90's. At least the K2500R rack module version of the K2 series synths: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JUIRTICUqWw

I'm not really that familiar with any of these.

Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3016919 08/23/20 05:44 AM
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If you could rethink your options and use a VST instead of a module, the Korg Triton VST includes ALL expansions. I think that could be the perfect fit


Yamaha U3H
Kawai VPC1
plus some other DPs, keyboards and VSTs
Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3016928 08/23/20 06:48 AM
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Originally Posted by MelodicRevengexX
So, if anyone could tell me which are the absolute BEST sound modules out there today, I'd REALLY appreciate your time and help!

With all due respect, you are again wanting the impossible in this new topic of yours.

Only YOU can tell what is the "absolute BEST". Other people can point you to possibilities and you can listen to them and try to assess what you like (i.e., what is BEST) and if they suit your needs.

I am not keen on synthesizers nowadays so I cannot provide much advice. I think Roland has some synthesizers with internal engines that reproduce several of their synths of yore. Integra is one, but I think it is difficult to program and not cheap. I think their Junos and Fantoms have some of these features. But they come with keys, not modules. Roland also has t line of small modules they call Boutique. I think they are not expensive. I have the D-05 that I bought as a gift to myself and that faithfully recriates the D-50 with several pluses.

About price, I am gessing here, but I think you will not find these modules cheap as they must be rare and, to some extent, became collector items.

I agree with EB5AGV, using a small PC with VSTs would be your best bet, giving you much more flexibility. There are cheap and even free options out there.

Finally, I hope this time you are more respectful with the people that provide advice and ignore occasional teasers (which I hope also do not show up here).

Last edited by EVC2017; 08/23/20 06:49 AM.

Kawai ES8, Roland RD2000, Yamaha AG06 mixer, Presonus Eris E5 monitors, Sennheiser HD598SR phones.
Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
clothearednincompo #3016930 08/23/20 06:58 AM
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Thank you SO much! I'll be sure to check each one of these out! laugh In your personal opinion, which of the ones that you mentioned would you consider the best to you? smile


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Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
EB5AGV #3016932 08/23/20 07:15 AM
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Thanks, but from what I've researched and read, there is usually a huge downgrade in quality most of the time when a physical module gets turned fully digital. I'm not interested in that downgrade. I read that the virtual Triton was WAY less quality also. Also, I did just say I don't like the sounds on the Triton.. why would I spend money getting it digitally? :P Haha As I said in my post, I will be using vsts on my computer, but I want a module to play while my computer is off, and also to create with.

I appreciate your help! Thanks! smile

Last edited by MelodicRevengexX; 08/23/20 07:17 AM.

If people from hundreds of years ago somehow mastered music theory without the internet...

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Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3016938 08/23/20 07:51 AM
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"normal instruments" (as you refer to them) are most often generated from samples, and the old stuff had a lot less sample memory (meaning shorter samples, more looping, more stretching, less velocity variation), so acoustic instruments sounded less authentic than on newer models, but sometimes still had a nice "character" that made them very appealing even if less authentic. I like the Alesis QSR, which is basically a beefed up nanosynth which you've already mentioned (comparison discussed at http://forums.musicplayer.com/ubbthreads.php/topics/1053007/Re_Already_have_a_QSR_is_a_Nan ). I also like the Roland JV-1010 which is low cost and should be a step up from the U220 you mentioned. I'd also check out the Yamaha Motif Rack and its followup Motif Rack ES which can probably also be found in your price range. Note that the original (pre-ES) was known to have some MIDI timing issues... IIRC, it was not an issue when playing it "live" but could be a problem if also using the module to play sequences.

Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3016944 08/23/20 08:16 AM
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I have also a Motif Rack XF but it is out of the OP budget. But it really has nice sampled instruments on it... You can't have it all (i.e. cheap and fulfilling needs)


Yamaha U3H
Kawai VPC1
plus some other DPs, keyboards and VSTs
Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3017092 08/23/20 04:20 PM
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If you happen to have an iPhone or iPad you can do all this with an $8 app called bs-16i.
Here is a demo of some sounds - all downloadable for free https://drive.google.com/file/d/1dw5HL1zPOdis10_8Rar-0mzcxqvzkdgU/view?usp=sharing
All sounds downloadable from my site for free https://sites.google.com/site/soundfonts4u/
An iPhone is just as easy to set up with your keyboard as a module and the app provides for layering and mixing controls.

Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3017099 08/23/20 04:49 PM
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Kurzweil ME1 - 'Micro Ensemble'


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Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3017105 08/23/20 05:19 PM
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Not sure what you are after but for acoustic instruments emulation, nothing beats the old Kurzweil 1000 and 1200 series. To give you an idea, when I bought my Kronos about 4 years ago, to justify the big expense I sold all my other synths and sound modules except my 1990s-era Kurzweil 1200. Limited effects and synth waves, not fun to program because of the small display, but for acoustic instruments these modules remained the very best for a long time.

Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3017149 08/23/20 07:11 PM
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It has already been mentioned - but I think if you can hunt down a Motif "ES" rack - you probably get the best bang for the buck... I have some recordings of something i made with one back in the day - and i was surprised that it still sounded good! i now have Kronos, but the acoustic guitars sounded quite good on the Motif!

Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3017166 08/23/20 07:51 PM
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I have a Roland U-220 & SC-88 and an Alesis QSR rack sitting in my garage next to my Roland D-50. There were some cool classic synths sounds for the music of that era but I wouldn't say that the "real" instrument sounds are better than today's samples.

Anyway, I don't see a guy hanging on to his beloved "best" sound modules to this day just to turn around and sell it for $100.

I hung on to my synths and modules from the 80s and 90s and was a very late adaptor to VSTs and virtual synths but I don't see myself going back anytime soon. You can connect the MP11se or any keyboard to an iPad using MIDI via bluetooth and have access to thousands of great sounds via a huge touchscreen. I'd at least give that a try first.

Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3017537 08/24/20 09:33 PM
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Alesis QSR, NanoSynth, NanoPiano
Roland Fantom/XR
Yamaha TX-81Z, TX7, TG77, Motif ES
Korg Triton rack

There also are virtual analog synthesizer modules, like the Roland JP-8080.

The JP-8080 and Motif ES may be a little more than $300. The Motif original had midi latency problems.

The TX7 is a DX7 module (FM synthesis) with soft memory instead of ROM, so you can load your own sounds as you wish and there are lots of DX7 sound libraries available with sounds created using the FM synthesis method.

But if you want 90's sounds and just want to turn it on and play, I would get a TX-81Z and QSR, under $300 for the pair in good condition, and they will complement each other in terms of sounds (FM synthesis and sampled sounds).


Not logging in very often, but I will receive PMs.
Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
MelodicRevengexX #3025054 09/14/20 02:10 PM
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I think, the 90s keyboards or modules not bring sophisticated acoustic sounding generaly, but the synth-line sounding it's maybe cool with those dynamic power.
I would try the Kurzweil PC2R in this therm. It's a complex, editable and expandable rack with the typical 90's fat sounding.
Key version demos:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=RzOmeMddFPA
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=-QGL6yuLLsE
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=MpadY_kL_G0

The ME1 or Trinity Rack for example, aren't editable boxes on their own.
Or my other good idea with more utility, it's the Korg MicroX. Little like a sound module with some playable bonus keys and this includes some sound banks from the famous, best owerall, Trinity/Triton-line top workstation: Triton Extreme.

Last edited by djuice; 09/14/20 02:18 PM.
Re: Best 90's - early 2000's Midi Sound Modules for keyboards?
djuice #3025061 09/14/20 02:35 PM
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Roland XV5050 or XV2020 with SRX07 board. These are cheap summary boxes with Roland vintage sounds.

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