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  • Digital Synth Pack suggestions?

    Hey all...I've been shopping around for VST plug-ins and wondering if something like Komplete is worth the money. I track in Pro Tools and I'm mostly looking for pads and digital replicas of older analog stuff to work on drone and ambient.

    Thinking my budget for this is capped at $500. Would love suggestions or recommendations as I'm kind of scrubby when it comes to the topic.

  • #2
    I've wanted Komplete since about K8, but never got it. A lot of folks seem really happy with it, and it seems to be a quality collection covering a lot of ground. I think most who have bought it certainly thought it worth the money.

    I do think buying what I wanted piece by piece worked out a lot better for me, though. I honestly ended up only having reaktor from NI, besides the gifts at christmas. Not for a lack of good things at NI, but more not wanting/being able to sink a huge amount all at once for the collection, and seeing some software in other places that seemed more in line with things I wanted to do/experiment with. I also don't use sample-based instruments much. Komplete has a lot, so for someone who found those of interest, it's another draw.

    I left ProTools at PT10, but even then it came with some highly useful base assortment of plugs, which should keep you working as you identify what your needs actually are. Slowly build up the collection you need/want, whether it be through large Kollections like Komplete or selected from a wide array of developers.

    Just don't be in any hurry; wait for sales and offers, demo everything, and always ask "What can this plugin do for me that I can't already do?".
    Last edited by aoVI; 01-18-2019, 08:59 PM.

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    • #3
      What DAW do you have? I mean outside of working in PT, if any. The reason I'm asking is that often one can ignore some amazing tools already available but unused.
      Last edited by Jan Roos; 01-19-2019, 11:22 AM.

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      • #4
        As for recommendations on synths, I've found Arturia's V-Collection extremely useful. There was just a huge sale on it over the holidays, so it'll be a few months before that goes on sale again. I managed to avoid upgrading from V5 to V6 for now, but have usually upgraded (since V2). I demo'd their newest, Pigments, and will eventually get it--it was extremely easy to dial up what I wanted and do some really neat patches.

        I also find AAS's offerings to be useful, mostly Chromaphone.

        Xils have some of my favorites; PolyKBII, Xils 4 (and 3), PolyM

        AIR's Loom and Vacuum Pro (foloow Plugin Boutique for frequent sales going as low as $1 for Vacuum and $10 for Loom). Using PT, I imagine you may already have a version of Vacuum, as it was included in past versions of PT.





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        • #5
          A couple of suggestions right around the $200 mark:

          1) Reaktor 6 - Could probably provide everything you need for quite a while...it comes with 80+ ensembles (instrument, fx, sound generators, etc.). I've recently been exploring one of the included synths, Green Matrix, and it's well worth investigating. It goes deeper than I imagined, and has a nice set of presets by Howard Scarr. Very capable of virtual analog sounds. Reaktor 6 also has the Blocks environment that allows you to build your own virtual eurorack style synth. (You can try that out for free with the Reaktor Player). As well there are things like the Metaphysical Function and Space Drone sound generators that are very useful for droning! And you will have access to the User Library where you can find many treasures among the more that 3000 free ensembles created by Reaktor users. There are several very nice emulations among them including a great sounding Minimoog and a Solina string synth that are wonderful. I find that I am now going back to Reaktor more and more often. But, there is a learning curve. the way that Reaktor saves presets that you create is different than most standalone soft-synths and takes some getting used to. And if you are a tweaker, Reaktor gives you then ability to dig down into the instrument structure and change things, or even to create your oen instruments. But I'm not a programmer and have not ventured very deeply yet. I have managed to combine several existing ensembles into larger combinations so that I can simply recall them and go to work. That part is actually pretty easy once you've messed with it a bit.

          2) U-he's Zebra2 synth. As a cordless modular style synth this one is a patcher's dream. It sounds beautiful too. And has several very usable built in fx. And there are thousands of presets available for free as well as dozens of third party sound sets. (If you have listened to the soundtracks of the Dark Knight trilogy movies, you have heard Zeba2 in action.) I found it very easy to get going with and pretty much everything I have tried to do with it sounded good :O! I'd have to say that for designing your own sounds it's very forgiving.



          As far as emulations go, the ones that I have any experience with (apart from a couple in Reaktor) are U-he's Diva and Repro synths. Both sound pretty amazingly analog. Diva consists of a collection of emulations of oscillators, filters, ADSR's, etc from vintage synths such as Minimoog, Roland Jupiter 8, Juno 6, and Korg MS-20. However, you can mix-n-match the osicllator/filter/ADSR modules from different synths. Plus there is a modulation matrix and some nice onboard fx. Repro consists of two synths - emulations of respectively the Sequential Circuits Pro One and Prophet 5 synths. They sound lush! U-he's Ace synth is a more affordable VA synth. It is a virtual modular analog synth that you patch with virtual cables - I don't know if that is attractive to you or not. It is not an emulation of any particular vintage synth, but was designed to sound very analog. it is $80. There is also a the free Tyrell N6 synth that is based on one of the Roland synths, you can get a lot of mileage from. All of U-he's synths have a generous demo mode so you can download them and try them out, save presets, etc.

          I guess I sound like some fan boy, but this is just the stuff I happen to be familiar with. I have the AAS stuff too and use it occasionally, mostly Chromaphone and Lounge Lizard. And I have accumulated much more over the years, but I do seem to gravitate back to the things mentioned above most often.

          There are a multitude of free things you can fing that will augment your ambient music production. Melda Productions has a nice library of fx that you can use for free and then later upgrade to paid if you like any of them. the Bedroom Producers website has lists of many free synths, fx, DAWS, etc.

          Have fun!


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          • #6
            Wow everyone - thanks for such thorough suggestions. So I thought I had email alerts here set for anytime I got a response and I never got any notifications so I didn’t think anyone took the time to . Forgive me because all 3 of you gave thoughtful responses which I will take to heart moving forward as I continue to build my workstation.

            I had had a very hectic weekend of watching VST review videos and trying to figure out where to spend my money. I wound up purchasing Synth Anthology 2 for $149 from Avid. What’s fucking insane is from my reading it seems like you need have Pro Tools 11+ to use it! Oops - I don’t.

            So I bought SA2 and couldn’t use it in my DAW. Recently my brother recommended Reaper as his band uses it for recording. They have a 60 day fully functional trial and although I’m a bit of a luddite and hate learning new expansive softwares I took the plunge. It’s been working and sounding great so far. Honestly it’s so much more intuitive once you learn how Reaper does things compared to PT. It’s slow trying to relearn simple things like setting up tracks or punching in or creating fades but it’s all coming quick with the help of YouTube instruction videos and google searches.

            SA2 has some amazing stuff. There’s hundreds and hundreds of quality sounds mimicking that of old Oberheim, Roland, Moog and Prophet synths as well as super crisp modern Yamaha, Korg, Akai, Alesis patches too. All very malleable with vast EQ and FX capabilities.


            Alright - thanks to you guys I’m gonna keep my eyes peeled for deals on Arturias V Collection, Reaktor, and Zebra 2. It’s too fun to just get such high quality sounds with a midi controller. I have to remember to actually press record and track because it’s so fucking fun browsing sounds and tweaking stuff.

            I snagged some new headphones this weekend too which was necessary for me. I got the Audio Technica ATHM40X which were $99. They sound phenomenal.



            Here’s a little screenshot of Reaper and SA2.
            Last edited by cliffdiver; 01-21-2019, 05:06 AM.

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            • #7
              Originally posted by cliffdiver View Post
              Honestly it’s so much more intuitive once you learn how Reaper does things compared to PT.
              When I was using PT, I purchased Reaper for use as a Rewire client. I was using it so much I thought, "Why work in reaper IN PT? Just work in Reaper!"

              Although I eventually ended up using Studio One, Reaper was definitely the wedge that split me and Avid.

              Originally posted by cliffdiver View Post
              Alright - thanks to you guys I’m gonna keep my eyes peeled for deals on Arturias V Collection, Reaktor, and Zebra 2.
              .
              Although I was the one who mentioned Arturia, if you have to choose between that and Reaktor, get Reaktor. Arturia should have a spring or summer sale, so best to wait until then. I wouldn't pay over $249. You can probably pick it up cheap over on KVRs marketplace, just stick with members who have a history on the site. The marketplace there is almost always on the up and up, but no point in taking chances.

              Reaktor should give you plenty to play with--it can be a synth, FX, sequencer, and so on. Lots to play with.

              You seem to be undaunted by Reaper's openness, so Reaktor won't scare you at all. There's even a Reaktor savant by the name of Arachnaut here at AO.
              Last edited by aoVI; 01-21-2019, 06:49 PM.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by aoVI View Post
                Although I was the one who mentioned Arturia, if you have to choose between that and Reaktor, get Reaktor. Arturia should have a spring or summer sale, so best to wait until then.
                NI have sales too though, you can usually get Reaktor for ~$100 most summers.

                Personally I'd go for Reaktor out of all the synths mentioned. I've heard people say it's a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none but I think it's sound quality is right up there. If you want a mono synth then there are Blocks ensembles that use the Monark filter which sound very 'analog' and whump-ey (yeah, that's a word now).
                Latest release: never to be repeated

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                • #9
                  Hi,

                  I've used Spire and Sylenth1 quite a lot and they can be great for all sorts of interesting sounds. Spire can be super clean as well. The Korg legacy collection an affordable way to own some classic synths. The digital replications are fairly indistinguishable from the real things.

                  Worth not forgetting the freebies too. I've been using Helm on the PC for a while and found it to be pretty useful.

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by GaryG View Post

                    NI have sales too though, you can usually get Reaktor for ~$100 most summers.

                    Personally I'd go for Reaktor out of all the synths mentioned. I've heard people say it's a bit of a jack of all trades, master of none but I think it's sound quality is right up there. If you want a mono synth then there are Blocks ensembles that use the Monark filter which sound very 'analog' and whump-ey (yeah, that's a word now).
                    Thanks, Gary. You guys are making me want to fire off the money for Reaktor now, lol. I'll wait as I'm just digging into my Synth Anthology 2 and it's rad!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Wurrm View Post
                      Hi,

                      I've used Spire and Sylenth1 quite a lot and they can be great for all sorts of interesting sounds. Spire can be super clean as well. The Korg legacy collection an affordable way to own some classic synths. The digital replications are fairly indistinguishable from the real things.

                      Worth not forgetting the freebies too. I've been using Helm on the PC for a while and found it to be pretty useful.
                      I appreciate your input. I'll look into these as well. Yeah there's definitely some free stuff out there that is completely reasonable, especially if you're on a budget. For PC I also used Podolski which I was surprising able to get some good mileage out of.

                      Question: I have trouble recording actual hardware synths and making it sound great. Obviously it's not going to sound as good as a pure midi in but wondering if any of you have any tricks or EQ tips for pads and stringed sounds to make them sound warm and full?

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by cliffdiver View Post
                        Question: I have trouble recording actual hardware synths and making it sound great. Obviously it's not going to sound as good as a pure midi in but wondering if any of you have any tricks or EQ tips for pads and stringed sounds to make them sound warm and full?
                        Reverb and ping pong delay

                        At least that is what I do


                        edit:-

                        That sound be ping pong delay and reverb... Lots
                        I may not post anything useful, but at least I do it often

                        Bandcamp // SoundCloud // YouTube

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                        • #13
                          Hi cliffdiver,

                          I guess it's just the usual things of making sure you have a good signal to noise ratio when you record the synths and make sure the sound is as close to the way you want it before you record. Make sure that there is no clipping on the way in. Once you have it in your DAW, you can use EQ to remove any harsh frequencies. You can fill out the sound by adding parts from soft synths to balance the sound and add depth. Some gentle modulation will add interest. You can try filtering out the very high and low frequencies to gain some separation and then treat the recorded parts with the same reverb as other parts in the piece (via a bus) to tie things together. I often filter out everything from recorded synths apart from the frequencies that give the sound its character and then layer that with other simple sources to get sound I'm looking for.

                          There's no right or wrong way, but those ideas might give you a new way of tackling it. Hope that's helpful?

                          Jon.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by Wurrm View Post
                            Once you have it in your DAW, you can use EQ to remove any harsh frequencies.
                            Absolutely.

                            I always add Pro-Q2 to all of my tracks now, before I even start. Default setting is a low and high cut just for starters and both hardware and software... Notch for naughty resonant stuff here and there.
                            I may not post anything useful, but at least I do it often

                            Bandcamp // SoundCloud // YouTube

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by cliffdiver View Post
                              Obviously it's not going to sound as good as a pure midi in

                              Hi,

                              I should have picked up on this last night.

                              What exactly do you mean? MIDI is just digital, note numbers, controllers, other parameters, and has nothing to do with sound. So I am now confused as to what you are referring to.

                              cheers

                              andy
                              I may not post anything useful, but at least I do it often

                              Bandcamp // SoundCloud // YouTube

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