2021 Gear Purchase: Hits & Misses

Hits:

SYNTHS
Poly Evolver- Massive hit. Drove 12 hours round trip to grab one in Northern California, it was a deal too good to pass up, and I almost never see these for sale.
Mono Evolver- Massive hit, special synth. The Evolvers are so damn unique!
Desktop Evolver- What got me started on the Evolver path! Incredible, and always come up with unpredictable results.
Delta Cep A- Incredible, special machine! I think the high price turned some people off, but I think it was said this was so the employees could be paid well for their efforts. I got a B-Stock good deal, this thing sounds so good and is so innovative! I hope more people play one. The shift commands can be excessive but the firmware updates really helped.
OPSIX- I paid full price, I see these things for a lot less second hand. I don’t regret it. Unreal sounds, as lovely and magical as the digitone.
MS2000- Super FUN to play! Love the sequencer and how easy it is with all the knobs.
Matriarch- This and the Grandmother, definitely classics. Got them before the price increase, thankfully!
Prophet 12 Desktop- Holy Moly…just magical, love the size and interface
Pro 2- Got one second hand for a great price. REALLY cool synth, so unique! I wish a desktop version existed.
Pro 3- A beast. A fun, wild beast.
Polybrute- What more needs to be said? I like it WAY more than the matrixbrute.
Prophet 5- Traded my Udo Super 6 for this, no regrets. I can’t wait to turn this into a 10 voice. My only problem is I prefer the desktop. I could use the extra space. A truly truly special and magical sound, despite being so “basic”. The king.
Tanzmaus- Huge fan of these machines. I loved the Tanzbar 2 but it was buggy to the point I had to return it. I have a Tanzbar one coming in the mail today!
Nord A1- Phenomenal. One giant sweet spot, so easy to work. Not sure why these aren’t a lot more popular.
Nord 2X Rack- The hype is real, really amazing and unusual sounds from this older synth.
Dirtywave M8- The hype is real. So powerful, easy to use, and sounds fantastic. Really versatile, I hope more become available. Real achievement by the maker.
Yamaha AN1X- Sounds really great, worthy of the “best VA” hype.
Polyend Tracker- this was my first experience with a tracker, it did not seem like it would be for me at all, but I was curious. Blown away! So much fun and a very different way of working, and it led me to get the dirtywave M8
MC202- Nothing else like it. The sequencer is frustrating and also magical in the happy accidents. I love how it looks aesthetically.
DX200- Super fun to jam on a pattern in real time, unique sounding.
AN200- Same as the dx200.
Vermona Retroverb Lancet- Surprised I don’t hear more about this! Is there anything else out there quite like it? Vermona products are so cool.
TR-06- I’m a sucker for the boutiques, and I like how many more options this has the the tr09 and 08 that I have.
Volca Keys- Like my 5th time getting it. It’s so easy to sell and buy again, but I think I’ll keep it for good this time. Beautiful to pair with pedals, and so simple.

PEDALS

Montreal Assembly 856- The coolest, most baffling pedal in the world. Irreplaceable.
Ibanez EM5 Echomachine- I’ve had just about every high end and low end delay there is. I’m a delay obsessed man. This is as good as any I’ve ever used. How did they do it??
Boss DD2- Just simple and gorgeous. An all-timer.
Boss DD-3t- I love the DD3 and wanted a tap tempo version. It’s very simple and sounds incredible.
Strymon Volante- I’m running out of words, but what can I say? Gorgeous, fun, inspiring, powerful, love the reverb and SOS features.
Strymon Brigadier- Strymon’s most underrated delay for sure. I like it more than the timeline and el capistan.
Pioneer RMX-500- I just have a blast with this! I’m curious to try the RMX-1000

Misses

Udo Super 6- It’s an awesome synth. But I traded it for the Prophet 5 and I like the sound and simplicity of that a lot more. This is a really great synth, but was not worth the money for me in the end.
Analog Heat- I flat out did not like this! It was the mk1 and I got it for a super low price, but sold it the next day. The Vermona retroverb does what I wanted this to do.
Twisted Electrons MEGAfm- I love the Deton8, thought I would love this. Hated it! Sold it the next day.
Tanzbar 2- My favorite analog drum machine. I LOVE how it sounds, I love the workflow. Simply too buggy, I had to move on, which is a real shame. If it weren’t buggy I’d buy another one in a heartbeat.
Tanzbar Lite- Sold. Fantastic but I prefer the sounds of the Tanzmaus.
Tanzbar 1- Just got this, it’s not a miss. It’s incredible, but I really want a Tanzbar 2!
Division Department 01/IV- Sold. Really unique, but I didn’t like how it was set up, it wasn’t as easy to sequence as I had hoped. Loved the aesthetics.

Neutral

Nord Lead 4- Sold it cause the A1 did enough of the same, but I liked it more.
OTO Bim- Sold it. Very unique and beautiful, but too expensive for what I was using it for.
Fred’s Lab Tooro- Sold it. Same as above. Love it, but after the microfreak got the update, I didn’t have enough use for this.
Micromonsta 2- Sold it. Really cool and powerful! I just didn’t want to have to sequence it externally every time.
Korg Radias- Sold it. I wanted to keep it, but it was too expensive, and the MS2000 was enough for me.

I work 12 hour days, 5 days a week as a therapist in detox’s, rehabs, and IOPs. I’m sober 8 years myself, and have dealt with way too much death and stress this year working in person. I bought and sold a lot more stuff I haven’t listed here. Sometimes I feel lots of shame for the excess, other times I remind myself about the struggles and hardships in life, and I want to enjoy my hobby. I’m currently single, I live alone with my two cats (of course I do) and I don’t have many expenses. I don’t record (well I make my own music but it’s more indy rock, just guitars and stuff) or play live, I just love synths drum machines and pedals, how they look, what they do. I’m in a lot of debt!

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Fuck me! I can’t even get my head around buying that much stuff in one year. There would barely be enough time to unbox, wire up and try a preset before the next one arrived :slight_smile:

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Synths are a better hedge against inflation than whisky (unless you don’t drink it) or yachts (how about expensive maintenance, storage and insurance on top of rapid depreciation and the very real risk of damage if you actually have fun and go racing).

I suspect your synth portfolio will outperform a lot of 401(k)s (typical stock-based US retirement account) in the next few years.

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I did not need to hear this!

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Hit: Model: Cycles. Second time buying it, just love the sounds and how easy it is to use.

Miss: Polyend/Dreadbox Medusa. Loved the demos and videos I watched while researching it, but it is not for me. Might check out a hydrasynth instead. I’m looking for something that’s immediately fun, has lots of presets, is tweakable, and intuitive.

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You, sir, are a hot candidate for the Happy NoGear New Year! thread. Just saying! Thanks for those valuable insights, highly appreciated! :slight_smile:

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This year I bought:

Moog grandmother (Hit)
Elektron Digitone (Hit)
Korg minilouge XD (Hit)
Waldorf iridium (Miss)
Access virus TI polar (Hit)

Moog grandmother was/is a hit for me because I really wanted that Moogy sound, something that lots try to replicate but never quite get 100%. Over the years I’ve owned a few vintage Moogs (Prodigy, Source and Rouge) but parted ways with them in the 2010s when the 2nd hand prices started to really get to the ridiculously high points vintage synths go for these days. After a while I felt like I was really missing the Moog tone so I tried replacing it with a Moog little phatty but ended up really hating the tone of it then I got a voyager and felt the same way, the tone was just really off, nothing like the vintage ones. Then about a year ago I demoed the Moog grandmother and it just hit me immediately “Ah THERE is that old Moogy tone I love” so I knew I had to get one and the fact that it was easily able to interface with eurorack was a plus as well.

Elektron Digitone- I love Elektron I love FM all the demos sounded good seemed like a no brainer especially after parting the the Monomachine, the FM engine was the machine I used the most the entire time I had it. When I got it I was very pleasantly surprised, I hadn’t used any of the newer small box Elektrons yet (I have the MDUW, AR, A4, OT and owned the MnM for years) but it feels really solid, I like the rubberized metal kind of feel of it, the screen is nice and the smaller form factor isn’t bad.

Korg minilouge XD - was not on my radar at all, mostly because of its specs and the few demos I heard of the prologue were kind of underwhelming but when I went in to buy the Moog grandmother they had an XD so I figured I’d check it out while I was waiting and immediately I was blown away at how good it sounds, especially at its prices point. How it sounds genuinely analog and how good the envelopes react. The filter sounds very vintage Korg which was a big plus for me and then icing on top is that the effects actually sounded good too. I realized that it had four lanes of knob recording which more than makes up for only having one LFO. I love that it’s almost entirely knob per function (at least for like 80% of the editing) I love that it’s just a nice simple synth that also has a decent amount of flexibility and then the fact that you can add user created oscillators and effects is really cool too.

Waldorf iridium- this one was a tricky one. I wanted a quantum since it launched so when the iridium came out I was pretty stoked. Specs look amazing on paper (and are pretty amazing) I love how it incorporates various types of synthesis methods as well in addition to the ability to do samples. But after a few months with it I had to really think about should I keep it or not. It wasn’t because it didn’t sound good because it does sound excellent which made the decision more difficult, a very flexible synth that also sounds great…what’s not to love. Well I only had a few complaints 1. You can’t cross modulate the oscillators unless you use kernel mode (then it turns one oscillator into 7 oscillators and you can cross mod them any way you want FM, AM, Ringmid what have you and while in kernel mode you can still select wavetables and assign them to whatever so you can add modulation to the modulators or operator etc etc and that’s all amazing and there’s an absolute ass ton that can be done just in Kernel mode to which you can have three of. BUT kernel mode just wasn’t fun to edit for a synth with so many knobs when you are using kernel mode you are relegated to the touch screen and soft knobs to create which wasn’t spontaneous and fun in my opinion. It would have been so much better if the quantum/iridium were designed with kernel mode already rolled out and not added after because then there would have been presumably more dedicated controls for it. I would have loved the ability to just cross mod oscillators of different synth types and then the addition of deducted controls for kernel mode would have been perfect.
2 There weren’t enough envelope stages for a wavetable synth. Even the Blofeld had extra stages in its evelopes. It can be worked around especially using the komplex modulator but still kind of a weird omission coming from a company like Waldorf.
3. It was pretty buggy especially when working with samples. (Though I did have faith they would work most of them out)
4. There were a LOT of features I felt like needed to be added or that were just missing, like polyphonic sequencing
5. The touch screen. It worked fine it looked very impressive but having a touch screen that size just kind of skeeves me out on a hardware synth I kept just thinking man how long until this thing breaks.

None of these are deal breakers, not even close. Overall the iridium is an extremely flexible capable and excellent sounding synth (the filters are fantastic and there are so many)
I would actually highly recommend getting one to anyone who is into that kind of sound. So what it actually came down to was something that I have had trouble coming to terms with several times with other gear and that is simply when a piece of gear doesn’t “click” with you then you won’t use it.
I can’t really pin point it but for whatever reason the Iridium just didn’t click with me it just didn’t vibe and I have no good reason that I can put into words why, it just didn’t. This has happened to me in the past with a few synths that also were nice and deep and sounded good and those are the ones I’ve sold only to buy again years later and then sell again and I really didn’t want to repeat that again. So I think that was a big takeaway if a specific instrument doesn’t vibe with you even after you’ve learned it in and out and have spent tons of hours with them it’s just not for you.

Access virus TI polar- this one was a surprise. After selling the iridium I had a bunch of ideas on where to put that money, maybe more modules maybe this synth or that synth but then I found myself revisiting virus demos again and again so I figured what the hell and I grabbed one. I had a virus C in the early/mid 2000s and didn’t love it I remembered feeling like the oscillators were a little thin when compared to other VAs like the Nord 2 and 3 and I just didn’t remember too much of it being that great other than the FX. So when I bought the TI I figured okay I don’t have any virtual analog synths and I know the effects sound amazing and I know it can get those kind of typical virus sounds that I find so appealing from the demos plus it adds more oscillator types it can do a fantastic super saw and it’s multi-tiberal so that should be fun. Then I got it and holy shit I was completely blown away at just how good it sounds the raw oscillators are not thin at all and the filters are great the wavetables sound great the routing options are decent and of course the effects are top notch. I was very pleasantly surprised but the overall sound quality and even how analog like it can get although that’s not what I plan on using it for it certainly is a plus. And like all the other hits on this list the polar just instantly clicked with me. That’s why I wanted the polar as opposed to the much less expensive rack version. Having a connection with a synth is apparently very important to me, more so than it’s specs.
So yea those were my hits and misses from what I’ve purchased this year and adding so much to my studio I really don’t think I’ll be buying much more for years…with the exception of maybe more modules because even at 9U I still don’t feel like my system is quite ‘there’ yet.
:v:t4:

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Woah, this is utterly amazing… but that much gear would stress me out. I just can cope with my guitar some decent pedals and now I am trying to learn A4 mk2. Your reasons for enjoying this are definitely well justified… all the best

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For what it’s worth I am stressed out a lot. It’s a lot of money, buying and selling, juggling, guilt about owning so much gear and knowing realistically I could spent a lifetime learning half the amount of instruments I own.

But I keep going back to what I do for a living and seeing how horrible life gets for certain people (and how it was for me during the worst of the drug abuse.)

I also constantly think about “the opposite of addiction is connection” and look around at all the gear I bought…

I really enjoy reading this thread either way! It’s nice to read such a wide range of opinions on gear!

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Gonna update and say two more hits are:

  • Blokas Midihub, so cool, programmable midi routing is so useful
  • Nord Drum 3P, quite special.
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An update.

Hits

SSL Six, So useful in many ways, love it.
SubH You need some patience with it, but a lovely corner of inspiration.
Strymon Nightsky & Dig They just sound so good and work with synths and guitars.
Collission Devices, Black Hole Symmetry Modulated delay into fuzz, nice and gritty sounds.

Miss:

Boss RC 500 Looper Demands you adapt to its idiosyncrasies, sold it.

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This is what keeps me on the fence about buying the MicroFreak. I love the concept, and the amount of functionality that they’ve added with new sound engines in firmware updates is amazing, but I know that I basically have to price in a decent reverb pedal, which effectively doubles the price.

NTS-1 is pretty nice for adding effects to microfreak

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I can’t say any more, I promised on the first day this thread was active in September not to post until the year was actually finished.

Both Korg NTS-1 and Zoom MS70CDR add a lot to the Microfreak sound.

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With you on the Microcosm. First two demos I watched, I was like wow, game changer, then Secret Weapons did one of his marathons, and I slowly realised that for something with the huge range of pre-settings to tame the complexity, it’s kinda had the outcome of making it a one trick sonic pony. Great trick tho!

Hit:
Novation AFX Station
XOR NerdSEQ
1010 music Bitbox Micro (latest firmware rocks!)
BugBrand DRM2

Miss:
Sequential Prophet 6
MI Beads
QuBit Databender

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may I ask why?

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I had one before and I loved it but sold it when I got out of music for awhile. I got another one because the vintage knob update but it really only made a significant difference to me when using unison mode. I don’t know, I felt the whole thing was boring sounding compared to how I remembered my first one. The reverbs aren’t to my taste either.

The “hit or miss” is such a personal thing and shouldn’t reflect the usability or greatness of a piece of gear but more a reflection of what does or doesn’t work for an individual.

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You and I are in a similar boat, so I sympathize. Fortunately, I have kept my gear purchasing to a lesser extent than you so I am not in debt–but I am also not paying down my Mortgage in time for retirement as planned (I spent more on music gear this year than ever before, but feel no GAS for the foreseeable future and do plan to buy no new gear in 2022, and maybe a few years after that). I am a therapist as well, but in private practice. I used to work in Child Protection, and then worked for several years in the prison system, so I totally know what you mean by seeing the hardships in life. I too am sober (just celebrated 40 years this past week). Even though its been a long time, I don’t have to think too hard to remember how crazy I was, or the fact that several of my friends from then are long since dead due to all the craziness. I am perpetually grateful to have the opportunity to experience both the frustrations and the joys of getting to know, again and again, all the synthesizers, sequencers and drum machines I have and making sounds with my stuff, especially when compared to the hardships I still see people suffer in my professional life. I have a lifetime of learning ahead of me just with what I already own and I do my best (with mixed results) in making time to do this–I find it very calming and way to stay centered in the maelstrom of providing mental health care for the clients I see.

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