My name is Shane Etter aka MANMADEMADMAN and I've been fanatically collecting synthesizers since 1992. Most of the ones I've been obsessed with are vintage analog, but only a few are keepers as I am highly opinionated. Not every synth fits with me, but the ones that do get used almost daily. Warning: I am opinionated!
In the 1990's, I mastered Kurzweils VAST synthesis and started making and selling patches. I did this for a few years and by the end, had over 6000, all programmed by hand and ear. I called it "sound subscriptions" and would email people only 100 sounds a month.
People still find me and ask to purchase them.
"Why didn't I like the..." Yamaha CS-80, ARP2600, EMS Synthi AKS, Oberheim Matrix-12, Roland MKS-80, etc.?
The answer(s) is simple: After spending time with them, I didn't like their sound/tone, mode of operating, or perhaps I felt they were too fragile or delicate. I only keep what I use all the time, and I love synths that can take a punch--- and stay in tune and still make music. See the Minimoog to the right!
"If I still get joy out of Beta testing synths?"
Well, sort of. If the company is receptive and responsive to my input, values it, and makes the synth better? Example: Moog One. If they are not open to honest and useful critique, and just want blind praise, that's not a good use of anyone's time.
"Which synth should I buy if...???"
This is a loaded question, and of course it depends. I've heard great music made on shit gear, and you have too! Most of my musical influences exploited the simple technology they had and made it work. Buying more expensive gear DOES NOT MAKE BETTER MUSIC, although it may inspire different paths of production. Every song you love was made on less gear than you probably have right now. That's one reason I love to rent these things out: inspiration!
"What about eurorack modular?"
YES! Its fun, distracting, and you'll get sounds you'll never get again and it therefore forces you to hit record. But its basically a big monosynth. I've spent countless amounts of $ seeing if this filter clone is better than that filter clone. This was a mistake, especially because a lowpass filter begins to sound the same after awhile, and its only as good as what you put through it. Is modular worth it? That depends on how you value making music. If a single module inspires two songs, then hell yes. I rarely write music on modular. I do make weird shit that cannot be made from anything else, and record that. If you love drones that cannot be repeated, its deep. If you like to set up a patch and watch it go, that's not really my thing. I got tired of seeing this, so I made a couple videos from no cables at all, and made something up SEE MY UNPATCHED SERIES ON YOUTUBE!
Moog Minimoog, ca. 2016
I have never played a Yamaha CS-80, but it was a sight to behold. The folklore I had read didn't quite sink in: it was 250lbs, and almost 5 foot by 3 foot deep. Playing it was also surprising. I had always read that it had wooden keys, but this wasn't true, although the keys were almost solid plastic and ran deep inside the synth. The sound was great, and unlike any other synth I have ever played. Two identical voices, and parameters interacted with each other. The aftertouch- by all accounts the best part- was simply analog, and therefore incredibly responsive. I could add vibrato with a simple press, while other voices held their tune. The presets were nearly useless, so I kept it on the live panel mode. The analog effects section above the keyboard also was unique in that it drastically changed the sound. Yamaha deserved an award for this synth. It was simply alive in a way I've never felt. This synth made me want a Deckard's Dream
Despite seeming like a synth that would fit me, I had also never owned an ARP2600. This thing was kept almost new looking, and only took a few hours at my local synth repair guy to fix up completely. While only a monosynth, each oscillator section could cross modulate the next, and patch points made it incredibly flexible. The filter was sharp and bright, and would overload with more than about 80% level in the mixer. And the spring reverb! That part kept me fascinated. When I got it back from the shop, I spent 8 full hours engulfed in it. Like the CS-80, it begs to be touched, changed, manipulated, all in real-time. I didn't make a single sound that should stay static. It was entrancing. I would own another, or the Korg Reissue.