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Mininova or Microkorg?

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Bar.
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Joined: 12/18/2014 - 11:06
Mininova or Microkorg?

Hi,

 

I am trying to decide between the two above (plus maybe a Microbrute, but I think I'd end up frustrated with that).

I'm guessing that a fair few of you who bought a Mininova did so after considering the Microkorg, too. If so, can you tell me what made the choice for you?

I like the look and feature set of the Mininova but am slightly worried that it might be too dance-oriented in its sounds as I hoping more for classic synth - well... old

dance maybe ala Kraftwerk, Trouble Funk and Mantronix bass sounds, but sounds that can be used in alt. rock songs as well. My old stuff, now out of date as I haven't recorded for a while

is The Shared Nightmare Club on i-Tunes/CD Baby if that describes it better.  

 

Thanks

 

Bar

skijumptoes
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Joined: 03/26/2013 - 13:22

In my opinion the mininova is much better than the microkorg, in both performance and functionality.

However, the microkorg has that more distinct 'korg' sound to it.. Microkorg (The original one) is smoother whereas the mininova is a much harder/edgey sounding... But you can get smooth pads out of it as well.  It's just that the filters sound different, and if i had to say which was most 'analog' sounding it would probably be the microkorg.  But the microkorg doesn't have the range of the mininova.

I have both and i go to the mininova 9 times out of 10 as it's much easier to work with and i understand it's sound engine well, plus one usb cable and i'm away! :)

However, In all honesty you need to be turning your attention to the Bass Station 2, that really would do what you want providing you can live with it being monophonic, it has a load of features packed in there like the preset memories, arp/sequencer functions etc.

Check this video on microkorg v mininova - http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RM0RELBtdfc

As a side note, the original (and better sounding in my opinion) microkorgs can be had ridiculously cheap secondhand, so if you've got the deskspace a mininova sat next to an old microkorg really compliments each other well and gives you a nice live vibe between two synths when synced up.  They're actually quite different once you have them sat togetther as you have the mininova, with it's 3 oscillators and a ton of modulation slots with plenty of polyphony, and the microkorg which only has 2 oscillators but can be splt to have to timbres of 2 oscilattors (Giving you 4 in total) but you can only play about 2-3 keys at once when in this mode (can't remember the actual figure). 

Not sure if that helps, or hinders you more now lol.

Whichever you get you'll be wanting something truly analog after about 6 months though, just warning you, its get us all eventually!  I'm waiting out as long as i can for a poly analog to become affordable (sure!) lol.

Just to add to this, Arturia products are very good, but if you get a problem they have got to be one of the worst companies out there, i've had no end of issues with them in the past - Right to the point where equipment has become unuseable as their licensing software had issues and they wouldn't answer help to have the license re-enabled.  

I think the microbrute looks a superb value analog, and the  patch system is an awesome addition for future expansion, so it's very hard to discount as an affordable solution - however, in practise something like this is a pain in the modern age as you haven't got patch presets etc.  That's where something like the Bass Station 2 comes in to it's own, a mix of old and new!  ..If you're anything like me some of the best patches are made in error, and it's nice to be able to recall them! :)

Bar.
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Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: 12/18/2014 - 11:06

Hi Ski,

Thanks for your response and input. I agree that the layout of the Mininova and its usefulness put it ahead of the Microkorg for me. It benefits from coming along that bit later and while that could also be said for the R3, Raidias and Microkorg XL & XL+ they don't actually sem to improve on the original Microkorg for some reason. I do like the Microkorg soudn havign teried one ages ago and also a friends one. I likes Karftwerk-type sound srather than when it tries to do late 90s hip-hop lead sounds and I guess it is organic rather than fat. Am I right in thinking that it wouldn't connect to my Mac via USB for midi? If so that's a shame and a point in favour of the Mininova, too. Some of the Mininova sounds (albeit from Youtube) soudn liek they are trying too hard, a trait also found in the Korg Micro X that I sold. It's as if they want to create a one sound track, though I'm sure editing can tame that.

 

You are right, I would love to have an analogue synth and the BS2, Microbrute and (as of a last minute thought) the Korg MS20 Mini would fit is some respects. Monopoly though would limit my usage of it if I bought one of the above and be a frustration, I suspect. I use Reason for non-guitar sounds and am broadly happy but when you introduce 'real' soudns as i have in the past you can blend them but you do find yourself thinking, 'more of the real sounds would be nice.' The Arturia is exteremely attractive and probably a great route into synthesis but I've only heard a few examples where sounds produced were subtle enough to be usable; but that probably says more about online/youtube reviews/demos and the tendency to show off the more dramatic elements of any kit. Th elack of patch memory woudl encourage... well actually force creativity but also be bloody frustrating most often. If money was no object and I coudl buy a few but....

The Korg is, like the BS2 a bit out of my price range and a bit tall to fit my new slimmed down set-up but I tried a Korg legacy and the old MS20-style controller years ago in London and it was eithjer that or the MS2000B that had the best original 80s electro sounds I had every heard - I think it was the Legacy. Tempting but given a lack of space the wife will not be happy. I suspect I will either live with the Korg's outdatedness or just go for the Mininova as it seems so well set up. It's funny, I always wanyed a good VA synth (I briefly owned a Roland SP808EX, which had a lovely monophonic VA synth built-in - based on a JP8000?) but I guess when/if I get one, I'll want a real analogue and then, because they are monophonic in the affordable bracket, want a polyphonic one after that! I think the term should be snyth-creep!

 

Regards

 

Bar.

Bar.
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Joined: 12/18/2014 - 11:06

I suppose I should consider the Roland Gaia, too, but for some reason (in addition to price) I appear to have ommitted it.

 

Bar.

skijumptoes
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I used to be a Roland man, and have had most of their line up over the years thanks to a mate who was a Roland rep and used to leave bits and bobs with me for months on end, last Roland synth i had was the SH-201, and i got fed up with that... Then i missed it so got the Roland Gaia - Which should have been an upgrade on the 201 - but for me, it never delivered a sound i really liked, but looked nice and had plenty of controls on the facia which is a big bonus for useability.  But personally, i would discount the Gaia as it gets quite samey very soon! That's something that the mininova doesn't do! It's a very deep synth.  ..While the SH-201 isn't as fancy looking (And it's incredibly plasticky those low end rolands!) it's the better sounding for me.

I used to have quite a few hardware synths as not only do i enjoy making music, but love to collect gear and sell it on a few years later and get something new - like most people no doubt! - Because of this i've always been quite anti-soft synths etc. However, i ran out space a year or so back and with some of the old Roland gear i sold, i invested in some soft synths, which seemed weird just buying a download code and not having something physical, but - And i've got to say they do sound amazing at times, better than the Mininova and Microkorg when comparing which each is capable of producing, but i don't think the mini/micro were ever deigned to be world beaters - They were always about the performance and being able to put it down in a small space and get something going quickly - And that's why i love them so!!  I use my mininova above any hardware, or soft synth still - i love it! :)

Big downfall with soft synths for me, is the lack of hardware controls, and having to use a mouse/keyboard for majority of programming, my mininova i go straight to the controls, no matter what patch they're in the same place - and i know that a software update will not render it useless overnight... So my bias is with hardware synths still.  But, just to give you a balanced view you really should check some of the decent soft synths that are available and also consider using them with something like the SL Mk2 or (Cheaper) Impulse keyboards that Novation put out, as they are very good at mapping the controls to soft synths.

Arturia do a V Collection and it is amazing, especially for retro sounds, but as i've said before they are a complete ass of a company if you get a problem.  Likewise GForce software's impOSCar is incredible too, and there's a soft synth called Sylenth1 which everyone goes crazy for.  If you're being logical they're no different to what a Mininova, Microkorg or any of these digital VA synths are doing, as it's all emulation and code - I think that's why analog gear really does appeal, it's the magic that something is cooking in front of you, and it's something a soft synth cannot do, and being a guitar player myself, there's a lot to be said from the vibe you get from an instrument - The thought of using soft synths for VA's and hardware for real analog sounds is where i can see myself heading down the road eventually, there or a breakdown from too much gear lust! :)

So many choices out there, it's ridiculous really.  But i can hand on heart say that there's so much more to the mininova and microkorg than what you see on youtube, yes the mininova does have a 'digital' sound to it, but that's because so many of the presets do - but if you're into creating your own patches you will get what you want out of it, i'm pretty sure of that, because what the synth engine can't quite do, the effects engine can carry the extra weight (compression/reverb etc.) - i've hit limitations on the microkorg in the past.  But i can't stress enough that as an owner of both it's the Bass Station 2 that has my attention at the moment, i've got very itchy feet on that - I couldn't have it instead of a Mininova though!

The weakest point of the miniova for me, has always been getting a clean bass out of it which doesn't sound too 'dubby', but i put most of that down to the sound of the filters, or i'm just very weak at programming bass patches, as i usually struggle on whatever i'm using - I like deep layered patches so to keep things minimal as is needed for a bass patch, i'm terrible!   I've also learnt to use the volume controls on a synth more, like you would to get good toned from a guitar, always learning! :)

One other thing, synths with only midi port are easy on the mac/osx, i just use a cheap usb to midi cable (about $15/£10) and it works great, no drivers etc. only thing is you have to run the synth from a psu, so when recording with the Microkorg it's got PSU, USB to MIDI cables and two Audio jacks going into my rack - Mininova is just usb and audio cables.

Bar.
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Last seen: 2 years 11 months ago
Joined: 12/18/2014 - 11:06

Hi Ski,

 

I'm happy software-wise with the stuff in Reason plus the Rack Extensions as anything else means VST/AU and more drag on my MBP. I used to use Live and still will again no doubt but to record into and cut about as opposed to hosting soft synths. As for the hardware choice.... If you had a crystal ball and knew that a ployphonic Volca with a (proper) keybopard was about to launch or a better follow-up top the Microkorg I'd be going that route, I suspect - but then, that would probably be out of my price range. The MicroBruute and BS2 are so attractive but the monophonic and lack of vocoder bother me (always wanted a vocoder). I have an EMU midi to USB cable (somewhere) so I can incorpoerate the Microkorg but I suspect the vocoder and general set up on the Mininova is better.

 

Judging solely by Youtube until I'm ready to hit some shops I feel it might break down like this:

 

Microkorg sound vs Mininova vocoder/polyphony/set-up

and both vs Microbrute simplicity/sound against monophonic and no patch memories & BS2 simplicity/sound against monophonic.

 

As you say, not an easy decision!

 

Regards

 

Bar.

skijumptoes
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Joined: 03/26/2013 - 13:22

Vocoder is great on the mininova, and very easy to configure - I've not compared it to the microkorg though, as where it sits i can't have a mic coming out of it, whereas the mininova is on top so has the mic always plugged in.  Mininova even has vocal tune for tuning vocals which can be used as a slight effect too which is nice.

When i originally got my micrkorg, at the time it was between it, and the Alesis Micron which the choice i had to make - strangely, you hear nothing about them so much now, at the time i thought they sounded fantastic, and having a relisten on youtube just now, they have a real 'analog'ness to their sound.  Pity it's such a plain synth though, that's what put me off in the end - but boy, in hindsight they sound really good.

As for the mininova, i spent 15-20 minutes with it in our local music shop and came walking out with it under my arm shortly afterwards, i hadn't read anything about it, knew nothing about it in fact, i went in to look at the Microkorg XL plus that was out at the time, to see how it compared to my original microkorg (Didnt like it btw), and also with the thought of getting a korg M50 as i do like workstations and had been drooling over one after i sold my Roland Juno G (It's competitor).

But the mininova felt great and sounded great, was hidden up in a corner on some nice speakers, and the whole 8 pad animate/arp section really excited me. (Plus i had just got my christmas bonus confirmed at work lol).

Looking back, i didn't know what it was capable of, didn't know anything about it's matrix slots for example, knew not of it's polyphony vs microkorg, or how many oscillators/waveforms it contained, it was such an impulse purchase which is so unlike me, as i tend to get very technical and spend weeks/months researching before buying *anything*- and i'm really glad that i just bit the bullet and walked out the shop with it that day... Because, in all honesty, if i came home and researched it and read some of the flack in youtube comments like 'nothing special' and 'does nothing a soft synth cant do' type remarks it would've put me off i think, and as i didn't like the XL i would've gone on to get a Korg M50 and making escalator music! :)

You've got a nice shortlist there anyway, in my mind they're all great in different ways - you'll be happy with any of those.  Definetly try them out if you can, the mininova will definetly impress in person as it's immediately assesible!!  It sounds great through the KRK's that all the shops tend to use too.

Bar.
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Hi Ski,

 

I think I'm definitely at the stage of needing to have a listen to/play of a couple of synths in the new year to make an infiormed decision. It would be good to hear the Mininova doing more analogue sounding/less current sounds to get a sense of whether it would suit me. Like you, I am unconvinced by the Korg XL/XL+ from what I have read/heard online. It may be that soundset-wise it would be a good match but like the Mininova I will have to hear them to rule them in/out. I am more familiar with an original Microkorg but the lack of USB midi, the vocoder being allegedly worse than the XL/+/Mininova and it being a bit of fiddle to programme... (which I guess applies to all but the Microbrute and BS2).

I'm stating the obvious but if the analogue ones were ployphonic and had vocoders the decision would, I suspect, already be made. I've always wanted a vocoder (blame Mantronik, Kraftwerk and Afrika Bambaataa) but only if it is useable. I also like the idea of processing sounds; guitars, vocals and recorded soudns form my portable recorder and the analogue synths would do that.

 

Funny you should mention the Micron. The Akai Miniak is the same synth but with a (apparently woeful) vocoder and (painful) editing by one knob! I will check out the sounds at lunchtime but the vocoder and editing problems will ultimately rule this out I suspect.

Thanks again for your help - not easy when there are good but imperfect choices. As of now I couldn't tell you what way I'll jump!

 

Regards

 

Bar.

skijumptoes
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Vocoder on the mininova is definetly useable, there's a load of presets built in for vocoders and lots of parameters to juggle yourself... Also, the miniova is capable of processing audio-in, i'm forever routing my guitar and/or FM Radio through it to get some weirdness out!  You can have it coming in the whole time and it routes through the effects section OR (And this is the best!) have it as the source of an oscillator, where it can be shaped just as a normal oscillator through the main synth engine.

Setting it as an osc source means you can even put your guitar etc. through the vocal tuner, LFO's, filter and effects sections and it comes out of the other end sounding like a big swirling soundscape - i like all that! :)

Bar.
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That all sounds good Ski as I'd like the option of processing all sorts of sounds. How do you find the Microkorg vocoder? I've heard the XLs one and it soudned nice but lackign the autotune etc. of the Mininova.

It's a Mininova or Microkorg (will try and try new and old) for me I suspect with a dark horse of the Microbrute/BS2. I suspect Korg will bring out a Volca keyboard or Volca/Microkorg hybrid some time in 2015 but not for ages and at around £450-550 - so well out of my range.

Regards

Bar.

skijumptoes
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Hmm vocoder, they are different - just had a quick check, i would say that the mininova, much like it's general synth pallete is a little bit more fizzy on the vocoder and the Micrkorg warmer - Almost as though it's got an EQ rolling the high-end off.  How much of that comes from the mic i'm not sure as they're different inputs so can't use my mininova mic on the microkorg and vice versa.  I suppose, as it's going through the same filters it has that smoother Korg characteristic.  Dare i say it a more vintage sound, whereas the mininova is more futuristic/robotic/kraftwerkey?

Difference could easily be bridged with EQ though.

Also, on top of the auto-tune of the mininova, you've also got 'keyboard control' on the vocoder/vocal in mix, which allows you to repitch your voice, or the signal coming in to the notes that you play... So it's almost like a clean vocoder, think the 'ta ta ta' from the old 80's track 'Respectable' (Mel & Kim) - Really good fun... In fact, comparing them like this the mininova has a more options for voice processing, but there's something about the microkorg that gives it some kind of cult classic feel lol, i'm really not much use as i love them both haha! :)

Bar.
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Hi Ski, thanks for doing that for me. Your description is useful as I can reference both the examples used. I guess intelligibility is important, but not at the expense of sounding harsh, which I don't think applies to either of these from what you've said and what I've heard online. I've got a vocoder bulti in to Reason, but while it sounds nice, it always seems a fuss to set up - certainly when compared to the immediacy of a synth with one built in. Reason also had good pitch correction/experimentation and it seems to excel at changing the notes of solo vocal/guitar lines. You can play it from a keyboard over midi so I suppose it is largely comparable in terms of features with the Mininova's but again a little less immediate. I've got some gear up for sale on SOS magazine so hopefully post Xmas the funds willl come in to enable me to go shopping!

Thanks again for your help and have a good Xmas.

Regards

Bar.

skijumptoes
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No probs mate, have a great christmas!

krevvy
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Due to poor support and a problem since I got the mininova thats probably never going to be resolved I won't ever purchase novation again. I would say go for the Korg.

funkpod
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So...  what did you ever decide?

I am also debating the MicroKorg vs the Novation MiniNova? I know it's a long debated... debate. I am interested as my first synth. I am a piano player, jazz and classical, and play rock style in my church. 
I got inspired by Snarky Puppy.
www.youtube.com/watch?v=L_XJ_s5IsQc
5 min. mark.

and why microkorg as opposed to the xl?

Looking for more using it as a performance keyboard, it would be my first venture into learning how to tweak with sounds, not just playing. It seems like the Mininova is easier to use because of the toggle? I dunno, though. MiniNova has a huge polyphony, but MicroKorg only has 4 notes? You can get lush chords would 4 notes, when voiced correctly, but 5 might be better? Am I thinking of this keyboard wrong? I'm thinking 2 hands still...

The MicroBrute by Arturia seems great as well, purely analog, right? However, only 2 octaves... it would be tough soloing on. 
and no savable patches, etc. 


Anyways, thanks for any input!

 

What did you finally decide?

 

Bar. wrote:

Hi, I am trying to decide between the two above (plus maybe a Microbrute, but I think I'd end up frustrated with that).I'm guessing that a fair few of you who bought a Mininova did so after considering the Microkorg, too. If so, can you tell me what made the choice for you?I like the look and feature set of the Mininova but am slightly worried that it might be too dance-oriented in its sounds as I hoping more for classic synth - well... olddance maybe ala Kraftwerk, Trouble Funk and Mantronix bass sounds, but sounds that can be used in alt. rock songs as well. My old stuff, now out of date as I haven't recorded for a whileis The Shared Nightmare Club on i-Tunes/CD Baby if that describes it better.   Thanks Bar

skijumptoes
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You hit the 4 note limit quicker than you imagine with the microkorg, especially if you have a bit of release on the amplitude envelop, as although you release a key, the voice is still in use -  If you're playing a 3 note chord with a bass note an octave down, sometimes the bass note doesn't trigger (I guess it's more noticeable too).  Most of the time, it's ok, just on patches with long releases can it start become a pain.  the mininova wades through note polyphony pretty well, however.

The mininova is soo soo soo much better as a performance synth for me - i can quickly get to filter and amp envelopes, plus the 8 pads, and 2x4 custom encoders (4x physical) really help a ton.

Going to the microkorg (Which i really do love the sound of for Bass patches over the Mini) is much awkward for performance control 'if' you're going between envelopes, filter and tempo controls on the fly - it' doesn't feel natural at all in fact... Programming, however, it's fine, also performances with similar aspects (i.e. just tweaking cutoff/resonance etc.) is fine also.

Big difference is the sound, and that's probably the better deciding factor on which one to buy, because to be honest, as time has gone past, there's sounds on both that i really dislike, as well as love.  If there wasn't a difference i wouldn't still own both - but i do. :)