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Tweak's Guide
to Recording



For Noobs

MIDI Basics

Audio Basics

Studio Rigs

Studio Pics

Past Studios

Signal Flow

System Guide

Mac vs. PC

Audio Interfaces


Install Issues

Buy Gear 

Writing Music





CC Events

MIDI Routing


Understanding your Mixer

Digital Mixers

Analog Mixers

Mixer Hookup

Control Surface


Mic Preamps



MIDI Modules




Soft Samplers

Soft Synths

Audio Plugins

Synth Prg Tips

MIDI to Audio




Studio Setup

Room Acoustics

War on Hum

Quiet Room

Dual Monitors

DJ studio


16 vs 24 bit

Word Clock


Build a DAW


Record Vocal

Session Tips

Vocal Editing

AutoTune etc

Using EQ


Guitar Tracks

Guitar Tone

Drum Tips

Drum Patterns

Hip Hop Beats





Pan, Vol, FX

Mixing 101

Mix Methods


Field Recorders

Archiving Songs

Make Money

Sound Dev Tips


Audio for Film




Final Exam





Guitar Gallery

Store Links


Multitrack Recorders
Signal Processors
Studio Racks

Computer Music

Audio Interfaces
Soft Synths/
Plugins and FX
MIDI Interfaces
Control Surfaces
DSP Cards


Keyboard Synths
Keyboard Accessories
MIDI Modules
Groove Boxes
Keyboard Controllers
Keyboard Amps
Expansion Boards

Guitars, Amps,
and Effects

Electric Guitars
Guitar Effects
Guitar Amps
Acoustic Guitars
Classical Guitars


Drum Machines
Drum Hardware
Other Drums


Bass Guitars,
Live Sound/PA


Tips on Buying a

MIDI Keyboard

Some Key Issues (ouch!) for first time Buyers

Workstation War Update  The Keyboard "War of the Decade" continues! Quick history: Yamaha started it with a lower price and more features with Motif ES!  Then Roland has drastically cut the price on the Fantom S !  Korg made their move  with the introduction of the Triton Extreme which drastically cut the price to get a Triton and threw in more Rom.  Then Roland has decided to revamp the Fantom S with the Fantom X series and added audio recording.   Alesis (who always waits till everyone has their cards on the table) jumped into the fray with the multi-talented Alesis Fusion at a rock bottom price and not only has audio recording and different types of synthesis, and threw in a hard drive.  Korg unleashed the Oasys, and put a whole computer in the board!  Was that to end the war forever? Nope!  Finally we are at Namm 07 and Yamaha ups the ante again with the Motif XS. 16 audio channels direct to your DAW.  Korg was quick to respond with the M3, using technology developed in their flagship Oasys. It's going to have it's own firewire card too as an option.   The ball went to Roland's court.  How did they respond?  Namm 08 had the answer.  The Fantom G has now arrived and is attempting to raise the bar on hardware quality, display, editing, sequencing and more.  Does it succeed?  At a price, it does.  But these are hard times! Korg throws down the towel and releases the M50 with its Oasys based sounds at one third the cost of the Fantom G, and it has a touch screen. You can almost sense the smoke rising in the Yamaha and Roland factories. Yet Namm 2010 did not show any new workstations. This makes it a good time to buy a stable product. Look out 2012?  Stay tuned. The good thing about this war is there is a winner: You. 

Korg M3 61-Key Synth Workstation Sampler

Tweak:  This is a spinoff of Korg's ultimate synth, the oasys.  In addition to the touch screen, the M3 features second generation Karma technology

Roland Fantom-G7 76-Key Sampling Workstation

Tweak: The latest from Roland.  Huge video screen.  New expansion options. 

Roland V-SynthGT

Tweak:  A synth is this caliber is for those who need to be on the cutting edge of sound creation.  Roland is a leader in warping sounds in pitch and time.  This is the third generation V-synth.

Yamaha MM6

Tweak: Inexpensive and light, the MM6 has a hot sound.  Good for hip hop and dance music.



Moog Music Little Phatty II Stage Edition Analog Synth
Moog Music is proud to introduce the newest member of the Little Phatty family... the Little Phatty Stage II. Like the Stage and Tribute Edition before it, the Little Phatty Stage II has the same features and sound engine, designed by Moog founder and inventor, Bob Moog.

Tweak: After you play the MM6 you might bemoan the use of lightweight plastics.  Then go play a lil Phatty.  Superior knobs and feel, indestructible like a tank. One voice analog synthesis--old school style.


Motif XS8

Tweak:  The Motif ES is history; long live the XS.  Largest waveform rom of any of the synths of this class; largest sample memory too (up to 1GB).  Connects by ethernet to your computer. 6,000 arpeggios.  88 key version has a built in mLAN firewire interface.



Tweak's Picks from zZound's Keyboard Department

See the Current Price List

See the Comparison Chart of Multi Timbral Synths

Korg M50-61 61-Key Synth Workstation
Weighing in at just fifteen pounds is the fiery new KORG M50, ready to take on all contenders! Incredible new sounds; fat & juicy combis, splits and layers; a plethora of ace effects; dynamic Drum Tracks; enhanced poly-arpeggiators; classic sequencing tools, a solid, confident keybed; up-to-date SD storage; companion editing software and our famous TouchView interactive display - it all adds up to an invigorating and sexy keyboard instrument that could only come from KORG. Also comes in an 88 key version  Tweak: If you want bang for your bucks, and no compromise on sound quality, check it out!  New for 2008

Yamaha MO6 61-Key Music Production Synthesizer
Yamaha, proudly introduces the MO Music Production Synthesizer. Targeted to semi-professional musicians and home/project studio owners as well as songwriters and performers, the MO provides a full set of authentic sounds and comprehensive music-making features-including an emphasis on contemporary styles and voices. Highly portable and compact, the MO also serves as an ideal keyboard for live performance situations.  Tweak: 64 voices.  Onboard sequencer. Sample Playback  Very much like an older Motif. 

Roland Juno-Stage 76-Key Expandable Synthesizer Keyboard
Designed from the ground up for live performers, Juno-Stage is a new breed of synthesizer that every gigging keyboardist will love. Decked out with an extra-large display, USB backing-track functionality, a Click output for drummers, dedicated performance knobs, hands-free patch select, instant master MIDI control functionality and much more, Juno-Stage sets a new standard for powerful onstage performance at a friendly price.  Tweak: More for the stage than the studio but can work for both

Roland Juno-G 61-Key Synthesizer Keyboard
Look familiar? True to its heritage, the new Juno-G is affordable and user-friendly. But thatís where the comparisons to yesteryear end. This modern marvel packs a studioís worth of sound, sequencing, and audio recording into one amazing instrument. Sharing the same high-powered processor as Rolandís famous Fantom-X series, the Juno-G puts a world of first-class sound and performance features under musiciansí fingertips -- and allows more sounds to be added via SRX expansion. Songs can be created with the onboard audio/MIDI recorder, all for an incredibly low price! Tweak:  Look familiar?  Like the old Juno 106.  However, this is not an analog board, but sample playback, 128 voice, onboard MIDI and Audio recorder.

Roland VP770 49-Key Vocal and Ensemble Keyboard
Roland's VP550 introduced the world to a new category of musician -- the vocal keyboardist. Today, the VP550's successor has arrived, broadening the scope of the vocal keyboardist. With the latest technology onboard, the VP770 allows a single musician to create realistic backing parts that range from futuristic electronic vocal textures to incredible emulations of large-scale gospel choirs and beyond.

Tweak:  New for 2009.  Replaces the VP550

Yamaha S90XS 88-Key Weighted Synthesizer
Real-time controls for tweaking of the sound as you play. Audio recording to USB memory. Extensive computer music features. Ease of use, plus compact size and portability. Introducing the S90 XS and S70 XS Music Synthesizer. Tweak:  New in 2009.  I think this is the perfect keyboard for those that want a great sounding board for their studio but don't want the duplication of having yet another sequecer and sampler.  Fantastic quality.

Bang for the Buck Multitimbral Boards

Roland JUNO-Di 61-Key Synthesizer with Song Player
Onstage or in the streets, the JUNO-Di is a traveling musician's dream. It's lightweight, it can run on batteries, and it's easy to use, yet it performs and sounds like a heavyweight synth. It's packed with a wide variety of top-quality sounds -- over 1,000 to choose from! It has a friendly "direct access" control panel for easy editing and a Song Player for larger-than-life performances. First-timers and pros alike will love this friendly, portable, great-sounding synth.

 Specialty Analog-Style Synths

Alesis Micron 37-key Analog Modeling Synth The Micron boasts the same sound engine as the acclaimed Alesis Ion in a compact 3-octave keyboard, offering breakthrough analog realism, high-resolution control, and tremendous value. Tweak: Super Value

Korg MicroKorg Analog Modeled Synth/Vocoder
State-of-the-art analog modeling and multi-band vocoding are finally available in a compact, portable instrument. With 37 keys and 128 user-rewritable programs, the microKORG Synthesizer/Vocoder is perfect for the performer, producer, computer musician, or beginner looking for an affordable synthesizer. The new microKORG delivers the quality sounds and features you expect from Korg at a price that will astound you. Tweak: Look at the R3 below--only slightly more and its much better.

Korg microKorg XL Analog Modeling Synthesizer and Vocoder
The microKORG range expands with a new big brother to mega selling microKORG synth. The original microKORG is loved and used daily by musicians around the world - from keyboardists to guitarists - enabling everyone to experience the enjoyment of a great synthesizer. Now an advanced microKORG is available; a synthesizer that lets you generate your own personal sound, packing a cutting-edge sound engine and powerful effects into a compact, vintage-like body. Welcome the microKORG XL.  Tweak:  New for 2009

Korg R3 37-Key Synthesizer/Vocoder
The R3 is a full-fledged synthesizer that provides an easy and affordable way to enjoy sophisticated synthesis and advanced sound creation. In a compact and lightweight body, it packs 37 full-size, velocity sensing keys, along with 2-timbre/8-voice performance power.  Tweak: Bigger keys than the MicroKorg.  Same engine as the Radias.

Access Virus TI2 Keyboard Integrated Modeling Synthesizer
The Access VIRUS TI2 synthesizer keyboard is designed to lead the world in a completely new direction. Total Integration uses innovative technology to greatly expand the VIRUS Synthesizer, resulting in an advanced stage/standalone instrument, while simultaneously extending the product capabilities with a suite of compelling studio integration features.  Tweak:  New for 2009

Access Virus TI2 Polar Integrated Modeling Synth
After the Virus TI many wondered in what direction Access would take their highly acclaimed integrated synthesizers and now they're here! The Virus TI2 Polar Keyboard synthesizer is built for the road, a compact synth with 37 keys makes it a true contender for traveling electronic enthusiasts. The TI2 provides 25% higher calculating power and a redesigned housing and front panel. Access TI2 also has used lighter materials to bring down the weight of the keyboard synth to make it easier to take along on gigs or anywhere you may need some electonic audio to give you peace of mind. On the software side of things, a major feature update, OS3, will be available by the time you read this. The new operating system adds several new FX such as a Tape Delay, Frequency Shifter and several new Distortion algorithms along with a new feature called Character. 

Alesis Andromeda 16-Voice Analog Synth
Be warned: Andromeda is not for the faint-of-heart, and its beefy sound is highly addictive. But if you seek pure analog bliss, you'll find it here. With its authentic analog design, incredible responsiveness, and uncompromising control, Andromeda is the perfect combination of brute power and sheer attitude. More Info...  Tweak: The Alesis mothership analog synth is back. If you want REAL analog, not some computer modeled analog, the Andromeda is the major piece to own. 

Waldorf Blofeld 49-Key Keyboard Synthesizer
Not only on the outside did he gain weight, also his inner qualities have seen a remarkable step-up: besides the virtual-analog synthesis and the classic wavetables it now sports a whopping 60 megabytes of sample memory. Just imagine to add a vocal-like noise spectrum to a typical Wavetable pad, spice-up a virtual-analog solo sound with a strong attack sample or just process any other sample with the countless oscillator and filter modulations.

Clavia Nord Electro 3 61-Key Synthesizer
With the introduction of the Nord Electro 3, the legacy of the original Electro and the know-how that have shaped some of the other Nord models have been combined. The Electro 3 features a new organ section, a new piano section, new effects and a new exciting feature that allows the Electro 3 to use any samples from the Nord Sample library. This is the performance keyboard that sets a new standard based on its impressive sound quality.

Moog Music Minimoog Voyager Old School Analog Synth
Introducing the Minimoog Voyager OS - Old School ... the new synth with the analog sound engine of the Voyager, but without the digital controls. The perfect solution for players looking for a road-worthy replacement for their venerable Minimoog Model D, a full-featured centerpiece for their modular synth rig or just craving direct, hands-on connection to their creativity!  Tweak: Beautiful build and sound.  No MIDI or Presets!

Roland AX-SYNTH Shoulder Synthesizer
It's time to escape the keyboard rig and rock the stage. The stylish AX-Synth represents Roland's new generation of remote keyboards, but for the first time, this one has a sound generator onboard. It's self-contained and equipped with powerful, solo-oriented sounds from Roland's latest, greatest synths. Strap on an AX and steal the show. Tweak: Unlike the original AX, this one has lead sounds.  Played one.  Not bad.

page 1  2  chart

by the Tweak

The Fantom G with its new large display, but its NOT a touch screen, like the M3, V-synth GT, Oasys or Triton. 

Fortunately, there is such a wealth of keyboards, new and used, available now you don't have to break the bank to get something that will fit a working person's budget.  Yet at the same time you should not settle for anything here.  A keyboard is something that ideally, grows with you as your primary axe, much as guitarists develop a long lasting relationship with their instruments.

You should take time to find one you really do like. One that sends a signal to the brain, when you play, that says "ahh cool" (or perhaps something more expressive? lol).  Yet, simply buying a top of the line Kurzweil, Fantom or Motif is not necessarily going to turn out great music.  There are so many ways to get quality sounds in the mix these days, with soft synths and soft samplers, having a great sounding keyboard is not an absolute requirement.

But it sure is NICE!

Browse Keyboard by Size in Tweak's Keyboard Showroom

What is a requirement is that the keyboard actually works.  You press a key and a note on event is sent over MIDI.  Be careful buying a used keyboard.  Test it.  Make sure all the keys work evenly.  Lots of old synths with have a note or two that is temperamental.  If one note is significant louder/softer than all the rest, pass on it.  Beware of buying synths in online auctions.  Old synths do fail.  Their internal rom batteries die, displays flicker and go out or just get dim.  Unlike wines and vintage guitars and violins, synths do not get better with age.  Like your car, they are only more likely to fail with age.

How many keys does it have to have?

"Synth action" keyboards come in 88, 76, 61, 49, 37, 25, even less.  Here's the page on small controller keyboards. If you're strictly doing stuff that just requires a small range, like samples, or need a small footprint cause your on the road, you might be able to get away with a small controller. (Lots of pros with massive rigs keep a little mini keyboard next to their computers so they can quickly send off a ditty or two.)   But assuming you only want one keyboard, and you want to do typical melodic stuff, pads, leads, and sometimes pretend like you are playing a piano, then you need at least 49 and larger boards are definitely better.  

Classical composers and hard core tweak heads will agree: 88 is best.  It maximizes the number of notes you can have on a channel and allows you to make more useful zoned presets. At 76 keys the classical dudes/dudettes start shaking their heads, wondering how in the heck they can do Penderecki on 76 (sometimes 73) keys <smile>. But your your typical hardcore tweak is still enthused with the great feeling 76 key boards from Kurzweil, Roland, Yamaha, or Korg, with a very sexy synthy feel, with assignable knobs, onboard arpeggiators, even faders, drum pads and d-beams, etc.  

61 keys are good for those if money is an issue (and it usually is for 95% of us involved in the MIDI enterprise), or for those putting their money on the sound, like in with a Triton, Motif or Fantom, or for your second synth if you are expanding.  And they are not as big, and that is sometimes good if you have lots of items competing for your prime studio real estate.  Using the transpose function on your sequencer you can always get around the few problems you will encounter by your choice just by setting the midi thru to plus or minus 12 semitones.  With 49 keys you ARE going to run out of notes playing solos and bass, and it can be frustrating, especially during an impassioned recording and you run out of keys!  I know.  I started with a 49 key Six-Trak.  But with creative pre-thinking of what you intend to play, even these can work well.

If you are planning to do sound development you should bite the bullet and get the full 88.  Most pros use 88 keys, and if you want to sell sounds to them you better know what's going on in the nether regions of your key maps.  Boards for live use also benefit by 88/76 keys, especially if you are called on to comp with a bass part as you pound the keys.

Weighted action or Synth Action

This refers to the feel of the board.  There are many boards that feature 88 key "piano" action.  They do cost more.  This does not mean they are better for you.  If you are a trained pianist, you may want to go this route, but if you are a guitarist building a midi studio, you're going to have a train a whole new set of finger muscles. 

With a synth action keyboard there are some advantages.  You can usually play faster and easier.  Much like the difference between an acoustic guitar and an electric axe. Doing synthy and stuttery techno stuff and super-fast drum flams, the fast light snap of synth action is better suited. 

But of course, if you have dreams of playing Beethoven's 5th, better go for the weighted keyboard as the impassioned percussive strike of power just does not feel that passionate on wispy plastic keys.  One cool thing if you do get a board with piano action is that, even if you can't play piano now, after you find your way around and your hands get used to it, you will be able to walk up to any piano and play.

Is an onboard sequencer important?  What about arpeggiators?

If you like to work with the keyboard without a computer, or take it on gigs, then having a sequencer is important.  If you are running a computer sequencer you really don't need another.  It might come in handy on occasion as a scratch pad, but most of the time it will go unused.  The arpeggiator, which strings notes you are momentarily holding down into a cadence, is a different story and is a welcome addition in any board.  Those that are particularly useful for sequencer applications are arpeggiators that will sync to the MIDI clock coming from the sequencer.  You press record, switch on the arpeggiator, slam down a chord and, viola, instant sequence.  Especially for techno, trance, space music, ambient, the arpeggiator will get used and you will be glad you have one.  But if you don't have one, don't sweat.  Sequencers like Logic, Sonar, and Cubase have their own software arpeggiators that can be set up in a few seconds.  I prefer to write my own arpeggios on sequencer grids. 

Velocity and Aftertouch

Velocity, which makes the sound more pronounced (louder) the harder you play, is absolutely critical.  You have to have it.  Even if you are just buying a tiny little board just to trigger notes, make sure it is velocity sensitive. 

Aftertouch (also called pressure sensitivity or channel pressure)  is a controller that is activated when you hold the keys down a press them into the keybed. Often the effect is subtle, and is used mainly on long sustaining sounds like synth pads and strings and to add a nice touch to leads.  It does very little for drums or piano like sounds.  One can get by without it, however you will be missing one of the more expressive ways to control a synth.  I wouldn't work without it, but that is me.  Aftertouch nearly always puts you in a higher price bracket.  If this is your first synth, don't let the lack of it prevent you from proceeding.  You can get the same sound that aftertouch provides by using the mod wheel. 

Velocity is usually routed to loudness and timbre.  Aftertouch may be routed to volume, timbre, vibrato, FX, depending on the patch.  Many composers turn off aftertouch using sequencers because they generate a lot of events and can clog the midi bandwidth.  In the early days, sequencers were limited to a few thousand events and you had to turn it off.  Nowadays, its usually not a problem to leave it on all the time. 

Do you Need a Workstation?

A workstation is a marketing term for keyboards that "do everything".  This typically includes sequencing, sampling, effects, and mixing, though recently workstations are adding the ability to record audio tracks.  Having on board sampling in you main keyboard is always nice, but isn't always necessary.  You can always run one of a great variety of software samplers on your computer, such as  Kontakt, Emulator X, Mach Five, or a real outboard sampler like an MPC 5000.  You will note that once sampling is added to a keyboard the price goes up somewhat substantially.  Let me be very clear and tell you that for studio mavens the software sampler has long defeated the old Emu and Akai hardware rack samplers.  

Truth: Some of the older "workstations" with synths and sampling options are much harder to use than a synth and a software sampler.  By older I am referring to the Yamaha EX series and others of the 90's but also the original Tritons.  The sampler in these "combo" boards may be compromised by slow SCSI interfaces (which may require that you add hard to find cd roms players and hard drives) and simplistic editing features.  SCSI is the "old way" we connected samplers to computers. Beware of what you are getting into: a headache. You are hearing this from someone who knows SCSI samplers.

Modern workstations have made a turn around. I date the modern era of workstations to have started with the Fantom S, Triton Extreme and Motif ES.  The Triton has been replaced by the new Korg M3, The Motif is now on model XS and the Fantom is now at model G, replacing the X.  The manufacturers have realized that ease of use is important and we now have keyboard workstations that have great samplers onboard.  The Fantom series (S, X and G) is really great here and super easy for one-shot samples.  But not so easy for building new complex instruments out of raw samples.  Being able to port samples to and from a PC, using USB and memory cards and thumb drives is a relatively new thing here, and its great.  But read specs carefully.  Never assume a workstation has a sample transfer feature unless they spell it out. The older ones simply don't have the feature while the newer once may want you to add an optional card. 

My studied opinion is that if you are serious about sampling, do it on a computer then and get a workstation that you can port your very best, one shot hits and ambient pads that you use in lots of songs.  Keep your string sections and pianos in the domain of the soft sampler.


 The Roland VP770 is a specialty synth based on Vocal modeling



Knobs and controllers

The more knobs the merrier.  Especially if these transmit midi continuous controller messages.  Make sure you check before you buy because on an old board they might not.  The bare necessities here are a functioning pitch wheel and mod wheel.  Avoid buying a keyboard that doesn't have these.  Yes, avoid 'digital pianos' that leave these off.  You need them to make electronic music.  Ok there are always workarounds to almost any MIDI data routing problem so if you already have a wheel-less midi digital piano, don't sweat.  Just don't buy one if you haven't already.  Ideally, your keyboard will have some controllers too--either knobs or sliders that send events out the midi port.  These become very useful as you find your way around the midi universe and you can use them to sweep filters and fade FX, not only on you keyboard's sound engine but in your sequencer as well where it can effect anything in your midi system.

But do you really need 35 knobs and 16 faders on your keyboard to control your computer creations? Keyboard controllers indeed are very popular and powerful controlling MIDI.  Great for trancey stuff.  But otherwise, don't buy all the hype.  Not everyone needs them.  I tweak lots of stuff in my compositions but rarely do I need more than the 4 sliders and pitch and mod wheels.  You can usually reassign whatever sliders you do have to do a task at hand.  Synth programming, believe it or not, is easier done with the mouse than it is with a controller.  Yet, it is true that programming is best done when you have dedicated knobs and sliders on the synth, like on a MiniMoog Voyager, Radias, or Virus TI2.  Heh, go click on those URLS to find out the price of admission. 

Type of Synthesis

This is the MOST important thing, and which you should get depends on the type of music you typically want to make.  And also depends on what other sound sources you have.  If you already have a virtual analog synth of quality, or a lot of "analog" software synths,  you might want to get a bread and butter sample playback synth.  If you don't want a multiple module studio and only want one keyboard and a computer and nothing else, then yes, you ought to get one loaded with options of different kinds of synthesis.  The older Yamaha Motif's (ES and below) really shined in mixing synthesis types under one hood with its plugin cards for FM synthesis, analog, etc, thanks to the PLG expansion boards.   The discontinued Triton too, was way up there thanks to its MOSS expansion board.  The Alesis fusion, now discontinued, also had different types of synthesis, at a really good price.  Oddly, in 2007 manufacturers ditched the idea of different forms of synthesis under one hood. Don't expect it in modern workstations, except the Fantom G 

But with the majority of synths you have to make choices.  Do you want authentic analog modeling or clean sounding sample playback?  Don't let all the "hip dudes" on the net color your thinking away from sample

 playback synths.  If you want realism, plan to do orchestral sounding stuff, mainstream, pop, you need a convincing piano, string section, brass, and dry traps then you need a sample playback synth.  The Roland Junos, Yamaha Mo, and Korg M50 shine on the low end while the Motif, Korg M3 and the Fantom hold up the high end.    

Browse More stuff
Keyboards Under $200

Keyboards $200- $500

Keyboards $500-$800

Keyboards $800-$1300

Keyboards $1300-$1800

Now if you are strictly doing dance, trance, D 'N B, techno, then yes, the analog modeling synth (also called Virtual Analog synths or VA synths) will do the things you want that a sample playback synth cannot touch. Nord, Novation, Access Virus and Waldorf and Roland V-Synth on the high end and the Roland GAIA Korg Radias in the middle with the Korg MS2000, Alesis Micron and MicroKorg towards the low end. On the highest end, perhaps, is the Alesis Andromeda and the Moog Voyager, which are true analog synths, not models of them.  For more on VA synths, check out this article.

Roland GAIA SH-01 37-Key Synthesizer


With its massive sound, hands-on ease, and affordable price, the GAIA SH-01 is a high-performance value with old-school charm. The triple-stacked engine puts potent virtual analog synthesis under your fingertips, yet the control panel is so fun, friendly, and inviting, even first-timers can create great sounds. The signal flow is simple to grasp, with logically arranged knobs, sliders, and buttons. Hands-on control and fat sound make this little powerhouse a joy for music students, songwriters, session players, and live performers of all styles and skill levels. Tweak: New in 2010

This type keyboard is not for covering all instruments' like brass, guitars, pianos, organs, etc.  These are the modern day equivalents of old analog synthesis, which makes sounds by shaping a raw waveform with a filter and envelope.  While these modeling synths are "retro" in that they emulate the old beasts of the past, they also dramatically extend them.  The Old synths were mono; they had one voice and grew to 6 or 8 voices before being replaced by PCM (sample playback) synths around 1989. Today's virtual analogs have anywhere between 4 and 32 voices.  Also, the new analogs have effects built in that none of the old machines had.  The result, real time filtering controlling massive soundscapes.  But of all of them, only the Andromeda is truly an analog machine, the rest are computer models of analog synthesis. 

Can you tell the difference between modeled and real analog? Yep!  But we are quickly becoming accustomed to the new "analog" sound, and some, when we go back to out old analog synths, find them a little untreated and dare I say, thin.  ("Thin", BTW, is the absolute worst curse word you can call an synth these days).  


This article is continued on page 3


Great Specialty Synths

Access Virus TI2 Keyboard Integrated Modeling Synthesizer
The Access VIRUS TI2 synthesizer keyboard is designed to lead the world in a completely new direction. Total Integration uses innovative technology to greatly expand the VIRUS Synthesizer, resulting in an advanced stage/standalone instrument, while simultaneously extending the product capabilities with a suite of compelling studio integration features.

Moog Music Minimoog Voyager Electric Blue Analog Synth
The Minimoog Voyager Electric Blue is the culmination of Moog's efforts to make the Voyager not only sound great but look fantastic.  Tweak:  Fantastic build--Its a mini Moog with MIDI, touch pad, and real analog oscillators and the famous Moog filters.

Go to the comparison chart

Go to page 2 of this article

Rich's first keyboard was a MOOG Prodigy back in 1985. Rich currently uses a V-Synth GT, Motif XS6 and a maxed out Fantom S88 as his keyboards and has a large rack of  Emu synth modules, a Triton Rack and two Emu samplers.


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More Articles by Tweak on Keyboards and Synths

Keyboards and Modules INDEX
Choosing the Right Keyboard for your Studio
Synthesizer Comparison Chart
Guide to Compact MIDI Controllers
All about Synthesizer Modules
The Roland Fantom Family
The Yamaha Motif Family
The Access Virus Family
The Korg Triton/M3 Family
Roland V-Synth GT
Yamaha Motif XS
Korg M3 Resources
Triton Rack/EXB Card Review
Novation ReMote 37 SL
How to program a Synthesizer
Proteus 2000
Keyboard Price List

Tweak's Forums on Synthesizers

Which Keyboard is for Me?
Roland Synths and Modules
Korg Synths and Modules
Yamaha Synths and Modules
Emu Synths and Samplers
Alesis Synthesizers
Access Virus Synths
Vintage Synths Forum
The Moog Forum
Waldorf Synthesizers Forum
Clavia Nord Synths
Dave Smith Synths and modules
Novation Synths
Kurzweil Keys Forum




Cool Quote:

"Music can, in a few moments, admit us through vast portals into avenues, courts and halls of infinite extent and variety. Music can suddenly raise up an entire structure and, by the device of modulation, lift it on to a podium, abruptly recess its facades and turn them bodily into the sunshine"

John Newenham Summerson (b. 1904), British architect, author.

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