Inexpensive Synths with High Modulation Capacity?

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
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Joined: Mon Aug 11, 2014 9:44 am

Inexpensive Synths with High Modulation Capacity?

Post by Statwerk » Sat May 21, 2016 12:56 pm

Haha! Before I begin, I must admit that I am somewhat lost.

I have a Novation MiniNova, which is great fun to play with and I can accomplish some of the things that I would like with that, but my real vision is to use the sends & returns in Ableton along with some nice M4L Devices that I have picked up along the way to create complex modulations.

The MiniNova is great, but it can be clunky to tweak and map automation, so I have to wonder if it is really the best solution. Actually, it gets more complicated, as shown below.

Currently, I have no real keyboarding skills and have struggled to find time or motivation to acquire them. I could let that be the end of my music hobby right there, but I would rather push on.

I obtained a license for Cubase AI some time ago and it has a great chord assistant along with amazing arpeggiation and fantastic abilities to side-chain gates and compressors to whatever. If you have ever listened to Simply Jeff's Breakbeat Massive CD, then you will know what I am after -- long, smooth, sustained notes with complex and effective modulation having been rythmically chopped up by a gate. On the surface, it sounds like the artist is playing at 100 miles an hour, but if you listen more closely, you can hear what I am talking about.

My goal is to connect my keyboard to Ableton, then use Loopbe30 to send midi as an external instrument to Cubase -- which will be preset with the chord/arpegiation that I would prefer -- then use a separate Loopbe30 channel to send the resulting MIDI back to Ableton where the VST would reside. I am hoping that I can map one keyboard to do the trick so that I can play the keys and use the knobs on the same device to modulate the returning MIDI. This may not be possible, though.

Anyway, I bought some rather ineffective VSTs from AIR/Sonnivox. The patches are cool, but really difficult to modulate. I feel that Komplete is my best entry point, but it is pricy. I need the basics but some of my ideas require respectable wobbles as well.

I could spend days going blind scouring the free VSTs -- in fact I have. I usually only end up cross-eyed and no better from the experience.

Any suggestions for a good starting point?

Yes, keyboarding will become a must. For now, just trying provide life support for a dying dream. Rehab and training come later.


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Joined: Fri Mar 18, 2016 3:35 am

Re: Inexpensive Synths with High Modulation Capacity?

Post by Precisionguided » Sun May 22, 2016 5:20 am

It would probably be easier for you and help with your creativity if you find an easy to program synth with lots of modulation capabilities presented in an intuitive way rather than using outside programs like m4l and live to modulate things. Massive can be had for relatively cheap, as can fm8. Zebra, reactor and other modular vsts offer greater flexibility but have a much steeper learning curve. Then you can combine chorder and ableton arp or get something like Cthulhu if you need something more powerful with regards to midi/arpeggiation. Cthulhu also has chording baked in so you wouldn't need to retire to cubase, making things simpler. Anyway, these are just some options. Good luck.

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