Hidden Gems and Secret Weapons


Many of us have owned, bought, sold, and traded a ton of gear. We all love Elektron stuff, 303s, Moogs, MS-20s, etc… But we must all have a few pieces we love and use more than we thought we would, special pieces that mean more to us than the next guy. Secret weapons and hidden gems. What are yours?

I’ll start us off:

Boss DR-550 MKII - cheesy, great sounds, small and cheap, very versatile piece of kit

Yamaha RX21 - a sort of poor man’s 707. Very charming lo-fi sound palette, nice and muted. Sits very nicely in a mix.

Volca Bass - I used it mostly as a bass module for smooth and huge multi-oscillator de-tuned sounds. Creamy filter, awesome resonance and LFO. One of the most unique pulse oscillators I’ve ever heard. I sold it and miss it dearly.


Not sure I have any hidden gems, but I will eventually buy a DR-202.


I feel that having a real analog tape echo unit is a good - not so secret - move, always.

Also does not have to be very expensive, I have a relatively cheap Dynacord Echocord Mini, love it.


I like my secret weapons cheap and cheerful…
Midiverb II (instant 90’s Warp)
Monotron Delay (surprisingly versatile audio mangler)
Volca Keys (some crazy modes like unison ring mod)
Greenhouse Effects Retro Sky pedal (phased delays)
TC Electronic T2 (wacked-out verbs)


I own and love the Midiverb II


Everyone should have at least one… there is a guy on GS with a giant rack full of them.


Boss VF-1.
Read the manual, knuckle down and do your time.
With enough takes and time for comping, this little red bastard brick will cover it every time.



Volca fm.


I sold my Midiverb II in the 90s because it sounded too 90s!

Wouldn’t mind having another one now since they’re dirt cheap.


Volca Beats with the snare mod. Tasty analog goodness that offers some great colour for complementing digital machines (e.g. MD). The kick is huge, snare has a great splat and the hats are crunchy in a nice way. Easy to program but just as easy to sequence externally.

Behringer VD400 delay pedal. $40 for an analog BBD delay clone of a Boss DM3. Fantastic sound with real depth, especially when you run two of them as a stereo ping pong delay.


Volca Bass for drones and triple osc fun with the sequencer - and with the MIDI out mod, using the slides and step jumps to control all manner of other devices.

I always take a Monotribe Delay and Chimera BC8 in my live flight cases. When in doubt, dub them out.

The BugBrand PT Delay likewise makes everything sound good, and the Jomox T-Resonator II even more so. Add in an MFB Filterbox, an EHX 2880 looper and some DIY circuit-bent oddities, and it’s almost enough to wonder if all that other equipment lying around is really needed…


This and a Quadraverb can both be had for peanuts ($150-200 combined). There cannot be a cheaper way to get into the instantly recognizable Warp/Rephlex sound spectrum. It’s difficult to find a cheap MC202 or SH-101 but that’s OK with the SH-01A and various clones that are out.

Korg made a number of cool and funky gems in the 70s but you’re no longer likely to find them for cheap. Examples include the 770, FK-1, 700s. The filters on these are heroic. The 770 would be my first choice since it adds an audio input that can route through the dual filters and ring mod.

Also, it doesn’t get much love due to its simplicity, but the Yamaha CS5 HPF is brilliant for adding beef to banging bass drums.


And then the ST? Just to make sure you’re making D’n’B…
There was a long dark tunnel… :wink:


Yamaha TG33…very lush Pads possible. Vector Synth that is most underrated.
Oto Biscuit …Sold it a few years ago and i miss it sometimes, when i totally want to destroy a Sound completely. Great behind a Machinedrum too. Smooth analog filter.
Digitone…some fools call it Tchibo-FM, but its a treasure chest, filled with big fat gems.
Acidlab Miami…oh Boy…that one wants to be heard on a big PA. Big fat 808 Sound!


Growing up in a small town, the local music shop only ever had guitar, bass and drum stuff. They had a tiny keyboard section, mostly Casio and Yamaha digi pianos, but they did have the TG33 neglected and hidden over in the corner. It was the first real synth I ever had a chance to play and it blew my mind. I’ve always remembered it having such an incredible sound, so I went on YouTube to listen to demos of the old Yamaha fm synth family to see if it was just nostalgia, and the TG33 is still the coolest to me. Really unique. I based my Reaktor FM synth kinda around its architecture, just replaced the 2 sample playback vectors with additive engines.

As far as secret weapons go, the under appreciated Kurzweil KSP8 is such a beast, and very affordable these days. Very capable of doing lots of things at once, and doing them all very well.

My other secret weapons are all built in Reaktor, only a small selection of which are available for the public :sunglasses::champagne::chicken:


Filtatron iPhone app by moog
I have like a 2g collection of crazy samples and presets
The whole reason I got a digitakt was because it let me perform with samples in the same way I got to mangle the samples on that app.
If moog or anyone else made a portable hardware vwrsion with a built in mic i’d snap it up instantly


Boss micro rack range.


rack gear: Quadraverb, REV500, v-verb for tracking & mixing.

OK - the real ‘secret weapon’: radical EQ (presonus parametric, or EQ Killer) between audio source and sampler - I know the snip I want and I isolate it before sampling.


I don’t believe in secret weapons, really. I think if someone is keeping a piece of hardware secret because it gives their tracks a particular sound that nobody else is making, it kinda implies some insecurity about their own skills. Not the point of this thread really, but I’ve seen people talk like this in the past and it frustrates me a little. Reducing themselves to some pieces of rare gear. Have fun, make music, share knowledge, be free :beers:

Hidden gems, however… let’s see.

Electribe ES-1: It was a gift from a friend many years ago, but as soon as I started using it I wondered why I hadn’t bought one already. Even though I have since acquired the OT and OP-Z, there’s just something about it, a “chalky” sound, likely due to the 32khz sampling rate. The effects can get pretty crazy too!

Behringer Virtualizer Pro: Still one of the best sub-$200 hardware reverbs I’ve heard, up there with—but a slightly different flavour to—the Alesis verbs (I also have a Midiverb III). Plus it has a very nice vocoder. I haven’t played with many of the other effects, but it’s worth it for the reverb alone.

Daphon phaser pedal: I bought one of these nearly 12 years ago for $10 and it is the most ridiculously psychedelic phaser pedal I’ve owned (and I’ve owned an original Ibanez Phaser Tone and a Boss PH-3). It featured in many of my recordings up to the point where I largely stopped using guitar pedals… though it may make a comeback someday :smiley:


No secrets here. But a few things that I return to again and again are the Digitech RDS 8000 delay/sampler/looper, Lexicon Jamman, and Lexicon Vortex. All cheap to get nowadays and always rewarding.

Lately, I’ve been relying heavily on both iZotope’s Tonal Balance Control plug-in and IK Multimedia’s ARC 2.5.