Buying Synthesizers

So I have been using Synths for the last 7-8 years in marching band and wanted to also share some pointers here as well. . .

So after doing this and seeing the crap my synths go through year in and year out, I have decided to do this differently the next time my boss says I can spend a lot of money. (Which I hope is sometime soon because my triton is about to bite the dust!)

Many of us are using the various flavors of the following synths:
Roland Fantom
Yamaha Motif
Korg Triton
Korg M3

After watching my 3 expensive synths be destroyed by heat, loading, unloading and the various other things that happen during a marching season, here is my plan for the future when I put these puppies to rest.

Step 1. Purchase 3 Casio CDP-100 - These are the cheapest weighted 88-key Keyboards on the market with a sturdy construction. (That I have found) 299.99 each
Step 2. Purchase The Quadra Merge by Midi Solutions 99.00
Step 3. Purchase my module of choice - Either an M3 or a Motif or the Roland (Pick your Poison)

Step 4. Purchase a Road Box to protect the module from the elements.

Run the 3 Casio Keyboards into your module of choice via the Quadra Merge and the quadra merge talks to the Rack Module.

Assign the individual keyboards to output on any of the 4 or more direct outputs of the module and you've got 3 MOTIF's, 3 Korg M3's or 3 Roland Fantoms. :)

THIS WAY . . . If one of your CASIO keyboards takes a DUMP you've only lost 299.00 and not 2k-6k which you would've put on the REAL synth.

ALSO if you wish to upgrade in the future to a new module. . . You can SELL your old module on Ebay or Craigs list and it will be in great shape. Just put the money towards the upgrade! :)

Hope this helps you guys in some way!

Good luck this season with all your marching band endeavors!

You da man :)
$300 for 88 weighted keys is pretty good.  I wouldn't buy a sound module though- I'd plug it into a cheap laptop and use a software synth for 1/3 the cost.   
If you were wanting to run 2 or more controllers through a laptop  (with the same quality of sounds you'd get from one of the modules he mentioned) with latency as low as you'd get from a module, you'd run into issues of the laptop being able to perform as well as the module.

PLUS, using the laptop you have to factor in the fact that it's no long able to be mounted in a rack, exposing it wear and tear and the clumsy hands of your students. However, I have also seen people using Mac Minis for the same thing you're suggesting. Jesse.

Different strokes for different folks I suppose.
I forgot one really cool alternative that I will probably be looking into as an alternative to purchasing the FULL on Synth workstation and that is the

MUSE Receptor

I have not had the pleasure of playing with one of these bad boys, but from what I have heard from a few friends that use them for live shows and Major theater productions. . . They are incredibly flexible, easy to program and very few issues in performance.

Just a thought. . .
I would NOT buy a Muse. We got one this summer for Spirit, and it needed new hard drives 3 times... And this is not the kind of thing you can do yourself! It's running a specialized flavor of Linux, and they're is no way to backup the system.

For the money, you could buy 2 MacBooks, logic and kontakt.

By finals week, we were using Komplete running within Logic on a MacBook Pro. We were tired of having to overnight hard drives from CA and installing them ourselves. With the MacBook, we had identical setups on 2 staff computers, and it was easily backed up on another HD.

I was excited about the Muse... But never again.
I would be interested to see what would it would be like if the Muse were running with a Solid State Drive. . .or Was that what they were running in the first place?
This is all GREAT information for me to be sifting over. I'll be in the market for all of this sort of thing in the spring. Thanks for the info!

And don't be surprised if I revive this thread in the spring when I've got the itch to spend...  :)
Honestly Robbie, it wasn't very easy to use either. Comparatively to the ease of use of a program such as Komplete, it took much more effort to learn the workarounds and things that try to make those things work on the Muse. We had our computers hooked up to it through ethernet constantly, trying to set it up... because the front panel interface was pretty worthless for any true setup. Loading samples was a hassle, because we had permissions errors that the Muse guys had to send patches to fix... It's up to Muse to decide when to make updates for the software available, which is not even close to the regular product release cycle...

I was already pretty unhappy before we had a hard drive crash anyways. When I decided that we would buy that, I was really excited, and thought that it would make life easier because it was rackmountable, and ";ultra-stable for live performance!";. After it constantly in the middle of the show decides to reload ALL the samples (about 45 sec.), we had to come up with a bootleg solution to fix this problem, as Muse could not duplicate it. It also takes about 1:30 to boot up... which in DCI at least is too long. Laptops can already be on... It's hard to troubleshoot when it's still booting up until the show starts! We actually planned it out so the beginning samples of the show were on the SPD-S and not the Muse... just in case.

And if this is any indication of what's to come, Sweetwater no longer sells Muse Products... which is where we got ours from. We paid around $2500 plus tax for ours. My new plan-

MacBook Pro 13";-1200
Logic Studio - 450
Komplete - 500
M-Audio Interface ~200

Total- $2350

This system is way easier to set-up (through MainStage) and has literally twice as many sounds! Plus you can back it up, check your email, use the M-audio interface and some mics to record your group with Logic, edit concert recordings, and have a sweet glowing Apple on the field... ;)

I just want to save everyone else the headaches that I went through for 3 months...
Thanks for the heads up Matt! I too noticed that Sweewater stopped carrying them. . . :0 And it's a shame that this machine isn't more friendly, because in theory it would be IDEAL!

As for using laptops in performance, I haven't found one that I trust yet.

If I had my way I would just buy a MAC server

Another cost effective option to Matts recommended set-up:
Mac-mini 699.00
19in LCD 150.00

ALSO for the tech head out there. . . who like Matt and I like to Launch a NASA Rocket for pre-show. . .

You can rackmount a MAC if you ever want to go this route! :)
Seriously... NASA rocket would be way better than any sound samples! Instant Max GE Scores.

Only reason I didn't want a MacMini is boot-up times. So you'd have to factor a battery backup into that setup. The laptop can be running and soundchecked at the gate! :)

By the way, I love this nerdy crap. reminds me of this video (not safe if you're looking at it at school, bad language, but ultimately appropriate! Onion News Network vid.) [url=�ۢ�ۢ�ۢ-that-doesnt,14309/]�ۢ�ۢ�ۢ-that-doesnt,14309/[/url]

Note- replace s... with the appropriate word.

[quote author=timpnazi link=topic=3825.msg20199#msg20199 date=1285597141]
MacBook Pro 13";-1200
Logic Studio - 450
Komplete - 500
M-Audio Interface ~200

Total- $2350

So, would the McBook Pro 13"; ";out of the box,"; standard version work, or would I need to upgrade any of the specs? Here's a link if you want to see what I've been mulling over:

Would you go with Komplete or Kontakt? How necessary would you say Logic Studio is? Would Logic Express serve the same purpose?

What about interfacing Virtual Drumline Sounds?

Thanks gentlemen,
Matt, your last post reminds me of the [url=]Mac Wheel[/url] :)
Kontakt would work but I would buy LOGIC Studio and not express. Studio comes with a MASSIVE sound library that you will want! Komplete (too me) would just be OVERKILL, but if you want all 24 virtual instruments to work with then by all means. . . go for it! Kontakt and the massive library it comes with should be more than enough for marching band. And yes Eric you would be able to interface the VDL sounds into your show if you wanted too. 

Matt, we should get together and do a video at PASIC or over fall break. I'll be in Nashvegas over Christmas if you want to hang!
I almost forgot one major draw back to the laptop. . . .

You'd better keep a VERY CLOSE eye on it. . . In a high school environment, I'm sure any kid would like to have a nice shiny 13 macBook Pro. :)

Rack mount and bolt that puppy DOWN if you can! 
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