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Going Analogue in a Digital World

The inevitable has happened. I bought a hardware synth.

Having been playing around with software synths for sometime, and getting my feet with with virtual modular synths, I just needed...more. I needed to twist the knobs with my fingers. Yeah, I can do that with a mouse, but only one at a time. A lot of the fun of live synthesis is changing two or more parameters at the same time to see what unique combination arises from that.

Plus, just like juggling the virtual patch cables in VCV rack, having the physical control panel in front of me has just helped me really understand what it is I'm manipulating. Envelopes, filters, and LFOs are all making a lot more sense to me. And I'm already getting better at dialing in a particular sound I'm trying to achieve.

But, cart before the horse: what did I end up getting, and why? I had been looking into the Arturia Microfreak for a number of reasons: small form factor, unique key approach, and a diverse set of oscillators. Even vocoding! Plus, for a hardware synth, especially one with an analogue filter, it's fairly inexpensive.

But, if I'm diving headfirst into the world of hardware synths, it just didn't feel right to not go analogue, since my computer is already loaded with a lot of digital synths. But at the same time, did I want to miss out on unique digital oscillators and effects (like built-in reverb and delay)?

The answer became obvious pretty quickly: the Korg Minilogue XD. Two analogue VCOs plus a third multi-engine digital oscillator (which can be updated with user-created ones for near infinite expansion). An analogue low-pass filter. A full digital effects section (again, allowing for user-created add-on effects). And it's got 4-voice polyphony, which is kind of essential for me as a piano player. In essence, it has a little bit of everything, and even though it only has a single LFO, there are a multitude of ways to sneakily expand on that out-of-the-box, and I also will eventually route it into VCV Rack for further free expansion.

Alright, time to get off my geekbox for a bit. I'll be sharing out some examples of the patches I've been creating in the coming days!

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