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IT manager and music/history/travel junkie. Musician, arm-chair psychologist and philosopher. Personal philosophy... 'so geht es!!' (can you guess the book??) and 'there are no dress-rehearsals in life!' Product of the American education system (go Longhorns!)--for good or ill--and extensive travel overseas. Lastly, remember life is always a little shorter than you guessed it would be... you don't have to know where you're going, but be sure to drink up as much of it as you can while you're getting there (wherever 'there' is).
Oh yeah... and you're only as angry and pissed off as you let yourself be.
See? Life summed up in only a few lines... it CAN be done! :)
I'm not claiming that other people who bought this didn't have genuinely defective models, but I also suspect at least some of the problems were possibly "operator error" over "defective product".
I know QUITE a few impatient people who would likely take this thing out of the box, totally ignore the instructions and start cranking away, and rather forcibly if or when something got stuck, to the point of breaking the thing. And given that it IS plastic, I imagine it wouldn't take too much effort to break it with enough applied force.
As you'll see in the video, the thing works fine for me. It nicely:
- Sorts my assorted coins rather easily and quickly
- Groups them in usable stacks
- Let's me remove the plastic tubes they're stacked in to pour in paper coin wrappers
What it DOESN'T do as well is clearly mark or count the amount of coins that are deposited into the plastic collection tubes. So far it's been hit or miss whether I had the exact amount of coins for each wrapper, based on the tube appearing to be full. Older pennies appear to be a little thinner than newer ones, so 50 older pennies fill to a slightly different level than 50 brand new pennies in the plastic tube.
If I had a business where I was working with small coin change a LOT, I would sink more money into a product that counted and dependably organized the coins to the paper wrappers (assuming I needed them bundled that way to turn into a bank), but given I'm just counting loose change collected around the house, this thing works fine.
So, I'm happy with the product, though there is room for improvement, and therefore the 4-star rating. Hopefully the video gives you a better idea how it operates and better helps you decide if it's worth the purchase. For me it was, especially for the price.
Most of the 3-star or lower reviews have already mentioned it, but this book focuses way too much on how to program 4 specific software synths, 3 of which would cost money to acquire and use with the book (assuming no illegal downloading).
I found "Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming" by Jim Aiken MUCH more useful, and it was the fact that I got as much out of that book as I did that I went searching for another synth-teaching-tool and ran across this.
I pretty much agree with the 2 one-star reviews on here, but also feel if you use this book as an additional reference to some other learning material, you can get something out of it. It's not a bad supplement if you already have some good instructional synth books, but unless you have the various 4 softsynths to work through examples, a large chunk of the book is less-than-effective (without some SERIOUS translation of examples for whatever synth you might be using--less difficult for a synth-experienced person, but maybe not the beginners this book is mostly targeting). I'm not sure WHY he chose the soft-synths he did, given the amount of freeware or shareware out there that he could have used (and more easily accessed by the reader), but I was kind of surprised he chose what he did to write the book around.
Part of the reason Jim Aiken's "Power Tools for Synthesizer Programming" worked for me was it was synth non-denominational. It discussed the technology in general terms not getting too specific for any one implementation of any one synth or keyboard, and the audio examples gave a good example of what he was talking about in the book.
I tried working through this book a couple years ago when I first purchased it, and I just ran across it again, buried in my music room. Sad to say, I'm throwing the book away. 1) it's more basic than I need (for the most part) and 2) I have ENOUGH problems wrapping my head around the synth-specific learning curve for my Korg Kronos, Z3ta+, Dave Smith Tetra, and various other hard and soft synths without diving into examples that don't even fit what I'm using.
SOOOO, the book isn't totally useless (at all), but the usability of it for ME, isn't worth keeping it on my shelf when I have much more specific and detailed PDFs and books that help me get more out of the synths that I DO have.
It has already been mentioned in quite a few reviews, but this is NOT the sturdiest coat rack out there. Mine, like quite a few of the others mentioned, has a bad case of the leaning wobbles, and if I put TOO much weight on it, not distributed evenly around it, over it goes.
I didn't actually buy this rack for coats or jackets...I bought it to hang cables on in my music room, but after it was about half loaded with various audio, computer, and MIDI cables, it started leaning so badly, I thought I would just use it for coats instead (assuming they were lighter than the cables...turns out they weren't much). Well, it CAN work for that as long as my coats aren't too heavy or unevenly loaded (too heavy on one side), but it barely works.
Bottom line for me is it SORT OF works. I can hang a few lighter jackets on it, but the way the metal is molded it already has a slight natural lean to it, and after adding weight (coats or cables) it has even MORE of a lean to it, so much so it can fall over or possibly even bend. I wouldn't buy it again for the $20 I paid, but for someone with only one or two jackets to throw on it, it might work.
Though this is marketed as Casio's return to the professional synthesizer market, I'm not sure I know any professional keyboard players who would opt for this over a Clavier Nord Stage or Electro (unless they were a BROKE professional keyboard player).
That being said, I'm only marginally above the gargeband level of playing live, so this keyboard fits PERFECTLY into what I wanted in a gigging keyboard, at a price where I'm not super-worried about what might happen to it at some seedy dive-bar gig.
It could be substantially more programmable, but for the money it's perfectly fine for playing live at my level or scratching the surface with programming your own synth if you're a beginner. If you're already semi-adept at programming your own patches and really like doing it, you'll likely be disappointed by the lack of depth programming this thing, especially regarding any envelope programming affecting the filter (other than than with the solo synth, any filtering is more like heavy EQ). Still...despite lacking a level of control I'm used to programming a synth, this does offer some overall tailor-ability for sounds that I was surprised by...some parameters not even offered by more expensive synths.
Definitely worth the money and check out the video for more details, as well as lots of other folk's vids on YouTube. Cheers...
It appears I'm going to be the first person to give this thing a 5-star endorsement, and I fully admit it's mostly for the sound-to-cost ratio.
Quick background where I'm coming from:
Have no problems with soft-synths and do frequently use them (I'm a big Propellerhead Reason fan), but that being said, in MOST cases I would still prefer hardware and analog (have a few hardware virtual analog synths and they get get used plenty as well). Without diving into the analog-vs-digital debate, let's just say it's a personal preference related to the sound. And that preference does impact my assessment of this product.
And this is the first Dave Smith product I've owned (no Prophet 5 experience though I do kick myself for not buying one I found in a pawn shop back in 90's).
- Without going used, where else can you get a synth with 4 analog voices and this programmability for the $800-900 price range?
- The sound...I think the brass (saw wave) patches on here are as smooth as butter (yeah, that's subjective, but I also have owned/own a boatload of analog and VA synths to compare it to)
- Minimum impact on real estate. I ended up selling several synths in the last decade just because what they brought to my musical creativity was less than the space they took up in my music room
- Since a PC is the centerpiece of my home studio anyway, using the free software to program this thing is fairly easy, and unlike the other reviewer, I've had no bugs or glitches using it
- The sound...yes this is a repeat, but it BEARS repeating. Whether the saw waves, square, pulse width, etc, this thing sounds great and lets you easily program LOTS of phenomenal stuff (albeit with the assistance of software)
- Creative routing options on the outputs give you the equivalent of 4 separate monosynths. Though 4 voices is the total polyphony, it's also 4 voice multitimbral and can have a differently programmed monosynth for each multitimbral voice
- You can daisy-chain 2 (or more) of these things together to use like one synth and increase the polyphony
- Dual-voltage power supply (not a big thing for most, but I've split equal time as an adult between Europe and the states and am very grateful for it)
- No easy knob-tweaking satisfaction here. I have a Yamaha CS-5 (old one-oscillator monosynth) and an Arturia Minibrute, and I love tweaking and programming these things in real time, having no problems that there's no storage for patches/sounds. Hands on tweaking is the fun, and in comparison what this product offers is MUCH more limited without diving into menus
- Minus the computer and software, programming this thing is a HUGE pain in the butt (though still doable) and I would think, a big detractor for the voltage-controlled, analog-loving crowd
- No keyboard. Yeah I know a keyboard would kill the whole small footprint advantage, but I still find myself wishing for one occasionally
- No onboard effects (reverb, delay, chorus, etc)
- If you're not picky about the whole analog/digital debate, you can pick up MUCH more polyphony and similar sound-producing capability and effects for MUCH less money (Roland GAIA SH-01, Novation MiniNova, Casio XW-P1, etc)
- Almost forgot...the unit has no power switch. Plug in to turn on, unplug to turn off
And that's about it. Wish it had more voices and knobs, but that's just being greedy because again, 4 analog voices for this price is quite nice. Great sound and easy programmability (for my setup anyway) make this a no-brainer, 5-star purchase...for me anyway.
I'm not sure how I ran across this band. It might have been an "others who bought this also bought this..." link on Amazon or just some other prog-related web site. What I do remember was when I saw the Roger Dean-like text font (guy who did many of the best known album art for Yes, and who actually did this cover too, I later discovered), I was hoping the music behind the cover was similarly prog-related. Well, I listened to the samples, caught some tunes on YouTube and decided to buy it. There's some irony in that it was only available in MP3 format, so I didn't really get a package of music with a Roger Dean cover (other than digitally).
I admit I was interested in the music because it appeared to have no vocals, had an interesting mix of semi-rocking and mood music, and had a keyboard focus. Yuka, the main composer/keyboardist is supported by Chronoship, 3 guys on bass, guitar, and drums. The album is composed of 3 suites: The Dinosaur Suite, R is for Rocket Suite, and the Oxygen Suite, with each of the suites having 3 or 4 songs, that are (or aren't) to varying degrees thematically linked. So, I downloaded it, started playing it, and this is what I thought:
- Really some cool progressive-ish rock on here. Nice melodies, simple but solid arrangements (not a lot of overdubbed parts impossible to play live) good performance, and nothing to really distract
- Nice easy FEEL and vibe for a lot of the music...almost like it would make good "background prog" (if there's such a term)
- Yuka's voice is actually a plus (she sings or at least adds vocalizations on 3 or 4 songs). Some of the words are in English (from what I can tell), and in the last song, she actually sounds like Kate Bush a bit, which makes for an interesting and likeable combination
With a little research, I've found she seems to have had some musical success as a solo act in Japan (singing/keyboards) in a much more pop vein (one of her solo songs sounds scarily like America's "You Can do Magic"), so it's interesting she's gone off on a mostly instrumental prog tangent with the Chronoship, but I respect the diversity at least. BUT, that singing pop background might explain one of the negatives on this as well.
- Some of the songs really comes across like they were written for a vocalist that never showed up. They're nice melodies and arrangements but they're a little sparse, like they were meant for someone to sing over the music
- The guitarist is a bit underused. When he plays, he plays well, but I felt either some lead keyboard or guitar would have helped fill out the arrangements that seem to want a vocalist
- Though it does rock a bit in places (particularly which is amazing when you see this gal's pop videos on YouTube), I found myself wanting a little MORE prog-rock dynamic
All in all, the positives definitely outweigh the negatives. The unquantifiable part of the disc for me is just enjoying the mood of it, and here it definitely delivers. Though parts seemed too light, or maybe even underdeveloped, maybe that's what helped shape the mood of the album as a whole. There is a slight prog-fusion vibe to part of the disc, and some of it made me think of Hiromi's Sonicbloom for obvious reasons (another Asian gal playing piano/synths, though with MUCH more of jazzy-fusion focus with just a touch of prog). Some of the songs are VERY enjoyable, solid 5's for me personally, where others really did fall into that nice "background prog" category I mentioned above. And when it comes to prog, I guess I'd prefer it to be a bit more "foreground" than background, and it's really the only reason this barely falls short of a 5 (for me anyway).
I bought this solely based on the reviews and a few audio clips. When it arrived in the mail, I'd forgotten "Sound of Contact" was the band with Phil Collins' son in it. Because of this, I was slightly stunned that the lead singer sounded quite a bit like Phil, until I read the band list and remembered "ah yes, Simon is Phil's SON!!" For those of you who LIKE Phil Collins' voice this is a good thing. I do/did on most of his Genesis contributions pre-"Invisible Touch", so for me, Simon sounding like Papa Phil is a plus, though it doesn't earn any points for originality.
All-in-all, Dimensionaut is nice neoprogish, melodic rock. For some reason musically I would put this closer to Genesis' "Calling All Stations" than any of their other work (ironic since Papa Phil didn't sing on that), and compared to the post-90's prog out there, it falls more in the Porcupine Tree side of the street than the Flower Kings or Spock's Beard, but more like more poppy Porcupine Tree (if that makes sense).
Nothing on this REALLY blew me away, but I did enjoy it, and was happy to discover it. Decently written songs, nice melodies, decent arrangements, and pretty good performances, even with Simon's vocals.
In summary, if you're a neo-prog fan (Marillion, IQ, Genesis, etc) I think you'll like it.
I'm always a bit suspect when an artist decides to revisit a work or works from his past, either reinterpreting or enhancing them because he feels he has something to add. Why am I suspicious? Because frequently the artist will rework/revamp his most popular piece, the one that was the biggest selling, most well-liked, and (as perceived by the audience) least likely needing any "plastic surgery" or touchups. Why not tackle one of the lesser-liked works that obviously needed tweaking? Is it because they didn't sell well the first time, and likely won't sell well the second time, even with minor (or even major) fixes? Hmmm...
SO...I too frequently suspect an artist remakes/reworks the POPULAR pieces because they need the money. Many artists I like have gone the rework route (Mike Oldfield, Jean Michel Jarre, Tomita to name a few), so I won't hold it against them too much (whether they did it for money or a slight touch of musical OCD), but it does make me scratch my chin and wonder.
I like Larry Fast and most of his output under the Synergy name. First heard it as part of Carl Sagan's "Cosmos" soundtrack, and over the years I've purchased most of his Synergy albums/CDs. I think he had a fairly good balance of having music that was accessible, but still pushing synths in an interesting way in music.
To try to be fair before writing this, I just listened to all the tracks on this (minus "S-Scape") compared to their originals, and I was surprised by how similar Fast kept the re-recordings to the originals. With that as a consideration, you really have to wonder who the target audience was for this disc and who should buy it.
And to help answer that question here's a rough guide of recommendations for you out there who might be on the fence:
- If you already own the CDs but are really curious how the reworkings of these songs might be, I don't think it's worth buying. The changes are in most cases very subtle. Most of the arrangements are identical, and even the sounds used are very similar
- If you're only a so-so Synergy fan, but like older style synth music (70s Tangerine Dream, Jarre, etc) this might be a nice addition. But possibly better fitting that bill would be "Semi-Conductor, Release 2," kind of a greatest hits collection that better represents the Synergy catalog
- If you're a Synergy fanboy, synth geek, who might notice Larry Fast used a 12db low pass filter on a modulated pulse-width wave form on the bass line instead of 12db low pass filter with higher resonance on a plain square wave used in the original, you can probably buy this and find something to enjoy
Though I certainly enjoy the disk, had I known it was so similar to the music I already owned, I might not have bought it.
Another bit of info...this disc only contains reworked music from 4 of his albums:
- 2 songs from Electronic Realizations for Rock Orchestra
- 1 song from Sequencer
- 3 songs from Audion
- 4 songs from Metropolitan Suite
No songs are included from Games or Audion.
So to somewhat answer my question, "is it worth it?" Yes, the music is definitely worth owning, either the originals or the reworks (hence the 4-star rating). But if you already own these songs in one form or another, then I'm not sure it's worth buying it again on this CD.
Bought this over a year ago, and although I've not thoroughly "wrung it out" for testing, I've discovered some positive and negatives I figured I'd share here.
- Quite nice having higher quality, stereo audio recording integrated with HD video recording. In the past, I used a Tascam DR-1 (handheld digital recorder) with a Sony Cybershot (DSC-HX5 model), then married up the audio and video in Sony Vegas software. It's just convenient to have both in one product, though I admit I still do the Tascam/Cybershot combo semi-frequently
- The "limiter" option helps avoid digital spikes/distortion that screwed up quite a few recordings with my Tascam DR-1, though I've noticed with fairly loud recordings (drums) it can't quite compensate enough
- Light, small footprint for storage, carrying around, etc
- For video, the camera monitor/screen viewing angle being 90 degrees out from the shooting lens direction is often problematic. If I want to video everything from waist or chest height (so I can look down at the top surface of the camera and see what exactly is being recorded), or set the recorder up on a tripod and just line up the shot, that sometimes works. BUT, I've filmed from other angles where I couldn't see the camera monitor, and by just guessing what I was shooting at, I inadvertently chopped off people's heads or missed items I really wanted in the shot
- For audio, even on the lowest recording level setting and the limiter turned on, if the noise is loud enough, it will distort or digitally clip. I play the drums and have often recorded loops for working with in music software (SONAR or Propellerhead Reason), and I can't use LS-20M for this purpose. Most people might not care if they're not recording anything as loud as acoustic drums (from the same small room), but for me, it's a problem
- For video, the image stabilization function (to keep the image from shaking while filming) isn't that great. Two or three times, I've had to check and make sure it was turned on (and it was) because there was still so much image shake in whatever handheld recording I just made. My Sony Cybershot handles this MUCH better. Obviously this isn't as much of an issue if you're just mounting it on a tripod and recording stationary shots
So to sum it all up:
Decent product, with some compromises that are partially understandable, but which still impact the overall usability of the thing. I would only recommend this to someone doing a lot of still video recording (sitting or on a tripod) with audio levels that aren't massively loud (like my drums!).
This is the 5th Wendy/Walter Carlos piece that I've purchased, and I almost ALWAYS have the same problem with Carlos' music. It's nice, it's somewhat interesting, but it never blows me away. For interpreting classical music with synths, I tend to fall more in the Tomita than the Carlos camp. I really like the traditional "electronic" sounds of an analog synth, so when I hear music interpreted for electronic keyboards and synthesizers, I tend to prefer that the voice and timbres sound more like synthesizers than real acoustic instruments. With Tomita, it's WAY obvious he's using electronic instruments and synths (sometimes TOO much so), but with Carlos a lot of her work sounds like just slightly "not right," but still real instruments. There's something to be said for being able to program the patches and then play and articulate the nuances of real instruments through a synth, but again, I favor the more electronica wave forms (saw, square, PWM-square, etc) being controlled or manipulated (with filters, LFO's etc) by a creative player.
In that context, Moonscapes is another nice sounding piece from Carlos, where impressively much of the sound generation done through synths (with very little effects added) sounds very organic and real. Not exactly like a standard orchestra you're familiar with, but close. And as impressive as I find that, it's not exactly what I'm looking for in music produced with synthesizers. It might be also that Carlos used digital instead of analog synthesizers with this collection, which I have no real beef against (Eddie Jobson's "Theme of Secrets" was done sans analog synths, and it sounds great), but she tends towards fairly subtle, traditional colors, so the pieces as a whole don't stand out sonically so much. Well, for me anyway.
What I do like about this? Some of the melodies and dynamics remind me of her Tron soundtrack, which is probably my favorite from her. I read that some of the unused Tron parts actually went into this production, so I guess some of the similarities shouldn't be surprising. I'm also happy to hear a bit more of her own compositions, instead of reworks of popular classical pieces.
I greatly respect what Carlos has contributed to music (synthetic or otherwise) and from what I've heard (many of her releases are INSANELY high-priced, as they're out-of-print, or limited in production, so I haven't heard as much as I would like), she pushes the boundaries a bit with some pieces incorporating just intonation, which I find interesting though maybe not enough to actually buy.
SOOOOO...in summary. If you tend to like Carlos original compositions with a more classical/symphonic feel and you like the fact her synths are more sedate (less squelchy, bleepy or bloopy) then I expect you'll like this too. I tend to like a bit more filter and electronic sounding presence in my synth composed/produced music, so this doesn't entirely hit the mark, though I still enjoyed it. I recently bought a couple CDs with Laura Spiegel's works, which DOES sound way more synthy, but is almost too minimalistic. If I could combine Carlos' composition skills with Spiegel's synth voicings, that would be much more up my alley.
PS. I realized not long after writing this (mere hours) that the version of this I purchased ISN'T the newer remastered version. Should have figured this out earlier as it was fairly cheap. Based on the written description where I one-clicked it, it should have been a 1990 release, but it appears to be the original 1984 version (maybe there was a 1990 reprinting). Therefore I can't comment on the audio quality so much other than it's adequate in the original, 1984 version.