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Joined: Aug 2009
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I am towards the end of my college career and looking to start playing professionally. I'm almost 25. Anywho, I have been deciding about what type of synth to get. I am really into jazz and electronic music, so I've been thinking between a workstation and a analog synth like a prophet 08. However, what type of synths are used when recording professional music? I listen to songs on the radio and realize every sound that I could create with an analog synth can be replicated in Logic. Same with any sound on a workstation.

Since I will be looking for work in the music industry, I wish to have equipment that I can use, rather then get something that sounds cool but really has no use in the industry. Any professional synth players have any recommendations on equipment I should invest in?

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I have a Kurzweil K2600X and I have seen it in a ton of professional settings. Though the K Series is not manufactured anymore, you could take a look at their PC3X. It's incredible.

Other popular models are the Roland Fantom, Yamaha Motif, Korg Triton, Oasys, Karma, etc...

Most of today's high-end synths are also workstations (as noted above). Another popular Yamaha dedicated synth is the S90ES, soon to be XS. I haven't taken a look at the new S90'Excess', but I'm sure it's gonna be great judging by it's predecessors.

A big portion of professional synth players use workstations on stage. I can't count how many times I have seen a Korg Triton on stage. You will also notice though, that they will often have a multi-tier setup using two different boards. This is because every board has it's unique sound - especially when crossing brands. To get the best of all worlds, the ideal setup would have two or more keyboards, each by different manufacturers. Multi-board setups are also great for playing several patches at once without having to do a lot of programming and patch changes mid-song. Add to this the fact that every brand has their strengths and weaknesses. Brand A may have fantastic strings, but their horn patches blow (no pun intended). Brand B may have a great set of electronic sounds but flat and unimpressive pianos. To have your cake and eat it too, it's good to leave brand loyalty at the door and mix different maker's instruments.

You can also have one very good midi controller and couple it with software synths and sound modules / rack synths (just about every major workstation has a rack model available). This may not be an ideal solution on stage, but in the studio it can be invaluable.

Last edited by LesCharles73; 08/24/09 08:02 PM.

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IMHO...the "synth" keyboard or perhaps a stage piano is the only way to go for a live gig, but for studio recording, you can do just about anything you want in something like Logic. On a live gig, the full featured keyboard jumps from patch to patch great (where as if you were using something like Logic, there's a slight delay of load time to get the sound up...and invariably the first note is a bit delayed while the sound is "waking up").

But....for recording, I've been using Logic (heck, I don't think I even have the audio outputs from the synths even hooked up, they're just MIDI controllers).

Although I'm no longer making a living as a keyboardist, many of my still professional friends all use soft synths for all of their production work (these are working guys doing music for commercials, video games, soundtracks, etc.). It's a different world than in my professional days (back then you wanted to own whatever was the latest greatest to stay employed).

If you're using Logic (and other pro-grade computer based music production packages), you're on the right track with the working pro's of today. I've also found that tweaking sounds is often easier on the soft synths...it's a lot of work to tweak a sound when you have to drill down through menus with the limited interfaces included on most stand alone synthesizers.

So...I guess if you're looking for "advice", for what it's worth: If you're playing a lot of live gigs, look at the nice workstation level synths or even a stage piano (nothing like a more or less portable keyboard with a decent sound and feel). If you see yourself writing and producing music, get yourself a decent computer (Logic Pro on a Mac is a great setup), an audio interface (I'm using the Tascam FW-1082 as a control surface and as an audio interface), some studio monitors (and some decent headphones) with whatever keyboard you like best as a controller (I'm using an old Roland for non-weighted, and an old Kurzweil when I want weighted). You'll be all set!

Good luck with the music career! There's nothing better than making a living doing what you love!

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Well, the workstations which seem to be the most popular amongst professional touring musicians are the Yahama Motif (ES or the newer XS), the Roland Fantom (X or the newer G, though I've heard that some people prefer a fully loaded X to a G out of the box), Kurzweil PC3, and the Nord keyboards, famous for their bright red color and solid bread and butter sounds. I haven't really seen a ton of Korg M3 buzz, though I'm sure many people still play Tritons. If you look around other forums like the Keyboard Corner over at the Music Player Forum (not so much this forum, because none of these are digital pianos), you will find countless comments, reviews, and comparisons of these keyboards. But the choice will ultimately come down to your personal taste, needs, and application.




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