First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

For fans of synths, pianos or keyboard instruments of any sort.

Moderator: Moderators

First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by roli »

Hi!
Two years ago I started my music path by getting into (e)drums (currently I have the Roland TD-17KVX). I love playing them, but of course drums are not the most versatile instrument and I want to complement that with something else... obviously keyboard/synth are most versatile choice and this is why I am here.

I've never played a keyboard before so I would like to learn how to do that a bit, but I never really liked the piano/keyboard sound as much. I always really liked the synth sound more. Generally I listen to a lot of music. I really like more modern indie (pop/rock) stuff and modern retro sound.

At the end of the day I am looking at something a bit versatile, but more synth than a keyboard. If it can emulate a digital piano decently well or can be used with software as a MIDI controller that should be all that I need for my keyboard/piano learning. So that should pretty much cover any synth. It does however maybe mean that I would rather go with a full sized keys first. I've beet watching and reading reviews and opinions for the past four days and I still can't make a decision. Budget is around 500€.

I think I have narrowed my choices to these three in the following order:
- Behringer DeepMind 6 (probably currently at the top of my list. The sounds aren't flooring me, but the full size keyboard is a plus and I have heard it sound awesome as well - just not always)
- Modal Argon8 (this is a bit of an unknown. Full size keyboard is nice, but not as many reviews out there. Not sure how it is for a beginner. It's a digital synth though, which I seem to prefer)
- Korg Minilogue XD (everyone's favourite first synth. Not really liking the smaller keyboard, but it does sound pretty good even for an analog synth :lol: )

Notable other choices:
- Korg Wavestate (as people suggested it's probably a terrible choice for a beginner, but ultimately of all these I like the sounds of this the most. It really sounds superb)
- Yamaha MX49 V2 (It's the most hybrid of them all since it's more of a keyboard with some synth functionality. But this is also why I don't like it as much)
- ASM Hydrasynth Explorer (I can't really decide on this one. Smaller keys are not to my liking and the sound didn't really floor me)

What would be the best choice here?
roli
New here
Posts: 5 Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2022 11:42 pm

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by resistorman »

roli wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 12:05 am ut I never really liked the piano/keyboard sound as much.


roli wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 12:05 am If it can emulate a digital piano decently well

Confused by this.

Anyhow, all of these can provide MIDI.

Things I have an opinion on:

The Cobalt 8 has a truly nice feeling keybed, the Wavestate's is awful, I use the Cobalt to control it. Presumably the Argon has the same keybed? Cobalt and Wavestate sound great and are keepers for me, both have excellent (and needed) realtime computer editors. Wavestate's subtractive synth section is straightforward, the wave sequencing is... difficult.

The Minilogue is fun, though I ultimately sold it.

Yamaha MX49 just seemed to be mediocre sounding with a strangely low output (even the V2), but very versatile with a so-so keybed. Sold it.

My Hydrasynth module sounds fantastic and is one of my favorites once I got past the mediocre presets and rolled my own. A keeper. Don't know about Explorer keybed.
User avatar
resistorman
Frequent Poster (Level2)
Posts: 2049 Joined: Sun Nov 22, 2015 12:00 am Location: Asheville NC
"The Best" piece of gear is subjective.

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by Arpangel »

None of the above, My choice would be a Roland Jupiter X/XM for what you need, or similar Roland with the same PCM sounds, the piano/EP's are very good indeed, you’ve got the best of both worlds, great synth, great pianos etc.
The Deepmind is a very cool synth, but you won’t be getting any nice piano sounds.
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11624 Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am
That’s another thing

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by ajay_m »

Or you could get an older generation synth second hand that has pcm samples i.e what most people call a 'rompler'. These usually had good quality 61 note keyboards and a huge range of synth and piano etc sounds.
They are still synths as they have all the basic waveforms and filtering and modulation capabilities.
Some of the less fashionable models can be picked up for very little, I have a mint condition alesis qs 6.1 I picked up in a charity shop with x stand for £80. Keith Emerson helped produce some of its patches. It has decent aftertouch as well.
However its filter doesn't support resonance.
Korg and Roland made any number of variations on these romplers and still do. So you are spoiled for choice on the second hand market.
Another option would be a module like the Roland sonic cell which is essentially a Fantom engine. These can be picked up for less than £250 and have a huge range of top quality sounds plus they do have a proper resonant filter. Add a low cost 61 note master keyboard and you're good.
It does only have a small display and virtually no knobs and buttons so patch editing would need to be on your computer.

These modern synths you mention will give you lots of interesting noises and are great for sound design but they don't do 'bread and butter' sounds like piano etc. The hydrasynth is incredibly easy to use but if you can pick up the 49 key version second hand I would strongly recommend it as apart from being full sized keys you have the ribbon controller as well.
ajay_m
Regular
Posts: 126 Joined: Mon Jan 16, 2017 7:08 pm

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by roli »

resistorman wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 3:33 am
roli wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 12:05 am ut I never really liked the piano/keyboard sound as much.


roli wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 12:05 am If it can emulate a digital piano decently well

Confused by this.

Anyhow, all of these can provide MIDI.

Things I have an opinion on:

The Cobalt 8 has a truly nice feeling keybed, the Wavestate's is awful, I use the Cobalt to control it. Presumably the Argon has the same keybed? Cobalt and Wavestate sound great and are keepers for me, both have excellent (and needed) realtime computer editors. Wavestate's subtractive synth section is straightforward, the wave sequencing is... difficult.

The Minilogue is fun, though I ultimately sold it.

Yamaha MX49 just seemed to be mediocre sounding with a strangely low output (even the V2), but very versatile with a so-so keybed. Sold it.

My Hydrasynth module sounds fantastic and is one of my favorites once I got past the mediocre presets and rolled my own. A keeper. Don't know about Explorer keybed.

No need for confusion :mrgreen: . Just that usually all of the keyboard tutorials and stuff go with piano sounds. So as long as it can sound somewhat similar I am good. But that is not the primary use case for it. It's just that I want to learn some basics of how to play a keyboard.

From what I understand Argon and Cobalt 8 are identical in physical construction and pretty much everything.

I think I've started leaning more towards Argon 8, I am just not sure how beginner friendly it is. And I've checked... it can do some pretty nice piano sounds as well :bouncy: .

Arpangel wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 6:47 am None of the above, My choice would be a Roland Jupiter X/XM for what you need, or similar Roland with the same PCM sounds, the piano/EP's are very good indeed, you’ve got the best of both worlds, great synth, great pianos etc.
The Deepmind is a very cool synth, but you won’t be getting any nice piano sounds.

That is way out of my budget sadly. I was looking at Roland JD-Xi though. But everyone seems to be complaining that they keyboard is horrible. So for the price I would rather go with something that has a better keyboard.

Well I have actually found some tutorial on youtube where a guy makes electric piano patch with the Deepmind and that sounded just fine to me. Or at least "good enough".
roli
New here
Posts: 5 Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2022 11:42 pm

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by FrankF »

I had a DeepMind for a couple of months (and then I got off the drugs, boom boom!).

For its immediacy, it was extremely good: the screen was full of useful info, both pictorial and verbal, and I didn't open the manual for several days. And when you move a slider, the screen reacts instantly and informatively. If only all equipment had such a clear interface!

I made a note of all the presets I liked (just in case I buy it again), and it was a long list (out of 512 presets, granted). And yes, according to my handwritten preset faves list, there were several pianoish sounds that took my fancy.

Over here, the second-hand price of the DM has dropped significantly, so you might be able to pick up a DM 12 for your 500 euros.
FrankF
Regular
Posts: 322 Joined: Fri Sep 13, 2002 12:00 am Location: La Vendée, France

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by Guest »

Out of your 3 (now 4) choices I would go for the ones with the most voices, so one of the Modal ones.

Even though you think you may not be playing more than 4 or 6 notes at a time the way these things work is if you have a sound that carries on playing after you release a key it is quite easy to get to a point where the synth is saying "hey I need another voice so I need to make one of the playing voices silent so I can use that".

Even with 8 voices you will get this, but less than with 4 or 6 voices.
User avatar
Guest

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by The Elf »

I had the DeepMind 12 for a few months and sold it on. I found that other synths could best it - especially gems such as the Novation Peak/Summit and Hydrasynths. Once I had a MicroMonsta 2 in my grasp it really was game over for the DM.

The DM scores in sounding like an old Roland Juno, but I don't think that's much of a recommendation, since they were quite bland synths anyway.
User avatar
The Elf
Jedi Poster
Posts: 18476 Joined: Tue Aug 14, 2001 12:00 am Location: Sheffield, UK
An Eagle for an Emperor, A Kestrel for a Knave.

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by t-sun »

I've been extremely impressed with the Hydrasynth Explorer keybed in comparison to other mini-key keyboards I've owned through the years, both in playability and apparent durability, but I wouldn't recommend mini-keys on a first keyboard and particularly not if you want to actually play it like a keyboard instead of just sequence with it. It's a great option for people who only have space for one keyboard and will be doing most of their production work in a DAW, though.

I've enjoyed the sounds of the Modal Skulpt SE, but having owned one for a while I don't find myself going to it much and if it were worth more I'd have sold it on. It's the same engine as the Cobalt and while synth tastes are obviously an individual thing, it's never going to be one that would come to mind to recommend for me.

The Minilogue is a great starter synth if you've never used an analog before, and absolutely want to have a physical synth instead of playing with a plug-in or app. I've never owned one though.

Wouldn't recommend the Wavestate to a beginner, in all likelihood you'll want to sell it on and get something simpler pretty quickly.

Deepmind is a good option, but it does fall between the Minilogue and the Modal options, and frankly I think you'd probably enjoy the Modals more if you can get it it for the same price. That being said, a used Deepmind might get you 90% of what you want for significantly less money than the Modals.
t-sun
Regular
Posts: 169 Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:31 am

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Argon 8/Minilogue XD

Post by roli »

The Modal is the most expensive of the bunch, but not by much. Depending on where I get it, it's around 50€ more.

I will be buying anything that I get new. Mostly because the local used market is pretty much non-existent (small country) and EU ebay is expensive.

Basically I think after a lot of reviews and opinions and everything it's down to Deepmind 6 or Argon8. And I've just notice that I named the thread wrong :headbang: .

I like the look of Deepmind more. The layout seems better and easier to understand to a newbie. And the bigger LCD seems more informative and easier to navigate. Then again... both have apparently good apps, so that shouldn't be too problematic. Deepmind is also widely recommended for newbies and seems to have more stuff written around it. Both also seem to have good keyboards... although the Modal is apparently superior. I do like the Argon sound more and it does seem to have a bit more features.
roli
New here
Posts: 5 Joined: Fri Jul 01, 2022 11:42 pm

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by t-sun »

Like Elf said, the DM is designed to be a modern take on the Roland Juno 106 for better or worse. Frankly, I never liked those myself (the 6/60 sounded pretty good but Rolands sounded pretty thin compared to other makers) but as introductory synthesizers for complete newbies, they were possibly the best in terms of layout. The Argon8 will get you some more interesting sounds and the style of wavetable that it's implementing is reminiscent of the mid to late 80s digital-analog synths, but on the other hand more options isn't necessarily a good thing if you don't know the basics.

That being said, in actual structure they're very similar. The basic difference is the oscillators, everything after that is near enough to not make much of a difference in conceptual terms because they're both subtractive synths. The interface is going to be your primary concern, and I can't say I've been too impressed with Modal on that front.

If it's at all possible to test them out prior to buying, I'd say that's the thing to do, but brick-and-mortar stores seem so few and far between these days that it's often easier to buy from a place with a generous return policy.
t-sun
Regular
Posts: 169 Joined: Mon Jan 18, 2021 6:31 am

Re: First synth - DeepMind 6/Cobalt 8/Minilogue XD

Post by Arpangel »

roli wrote: Sat Jul 02, 2022 4:19 pm
Well I have actually found some tutorial on youtube where a guy makes electric piano patch with the Deepmind and that sounded just fine to me. Or at least "good enough".

I’ve seen that video, hhmmmm? I’d go as far as to say it was an "approximation" of an EP.

:D
User avatar
Arpangel
Jedi Poster
Posts: 11624 Joined: Sat Jul 12, 2003 12:00 am
That’s another thing
Post Reply