146 thoughts on “Open Mic: What’s Your ‘Desert Island’ Synth?

  1. Probably would want to hang onto my Korg M3-88 with the Radias Expansion. If talking about softsynths, probably Omnisphere or Animoog if I only had my iPad.

  2. Korg Kronos. It does multiple types of VA and physical modelling, has FM, wavetable/vector synthesis, ROMpling, a capable sampler, vocoder, decent effects, and KARMA (for when I get lonely on the island). Good sequencer too…

  3. My first thought was my odyssey, but if you were on a desert island what would you do about rythm accompaniment? So maybe the micron, or similar because then I could perform complete compositions to the native headhunters and win them over. The chief would offer his daughter’s hand in marriage to show his appreciation, and the men would build a dancefloor out of bamboo. The tribe would evolve rapidly until their technology was able to produce glowsticks, then a boat appears on the horizon.

  4. Nord Electro (the original).

    Synth fads come and go but a decent rhodes sound you can f**k with. Priceless 🙂

    Either that or an OP1 as I still haven’t used the little bugger properly!

    1. In the movies, the survivors wash up on a deserted island and think they are alone until they venture to the far end of the island. What do they find? Not an Arp 2600, but cannibals!

  5. My Kurzweil 2500. That thing is so deep I’d probably will need to be stranded someplace to ever hope to figure it all out. Plus, it sounds great, has a great keyboard and tons of hands on control.

  6. for practical reasons i’ll go with my virus TI snow, but purely based on sonics and versatility, i’d take my prophet 600.

  7. My iPad without question… One device… Every tool I need… Considering it’s 3G, it also gives me a potential way off the island 😉

  8. Novation’s UltraNova.

    Oh, I know. I lost my laptop, so have no means to hook this critter up to a computer and so would basically be plain out of luck. Well, tough luck for me then 😉

    The reason I mention this critter is because its the only hardware synth I still really fancy and hope on getting in he upcoming future.

    So would I find myself in the described scenario then this would be the synth I’m carrying.

  9. A MBP w/ Zebra2 (or 3, when it comes out). I have yet to see a sound that cannot be replicated at 95% accuracy with Zebra. The hard part is actually being talented enough and familiar enough with the synth to accomplish it. If I was stranded on a desert island, perhaps that would give me the time necessary to master this beast. Maybe the only thing missing would be better replicating analog warmth, which I accomplish now using external effects.

  10. Camel Audio Alchemy because it’s a strong all around with VA, Spectral, Additive, Granular, Sample manipulation. I mean if you are going to be stranded you need to be able to re-synthesize field recordings of waves, birds and such right? If I got to choose a second one, Zebra 2 as it rocks on the pure synth side of the spectrum and is quite complimentary to Alchemy.

  11. Mutable Instruments Shruthi-1, because it’s the one synth I had most fun with and programmed most patches on. And it’s small so it fits even on the tiniest desert island.

  12. Iit would be my Yamaha Motif XS8…beautiful piano, organs and orchestration…
    Plus I’d have 16 track recording…would there be an external drive floating close by?

  13. A KORG monotron would do better than most of the above, since it’s got a build in speaker…how would anyone get any sound out of a synth without a speaker, and just a generator?

    but allright… if we look past all the realism in this topics question, the one synth I’d choose if I could only have one synth (of the ones I own) it would probably end up being my E-MU E5000 Ultra sampler as it’s the most versatile of the ones I own… but I’d probably be crying my heart out because of all my other gear lost in the process, that I’d not be making music anyway…

  14. My DSI Prophet 08 I think or a Korg Kronos (wich I don’t own but It’s a good allround synth with nice Pianos). Have to have a Poly either way.

  15. Would have to be Metaphysical Function if I had a pc, or Granular Science or Animoog if I had an ipad (though with an ipad it would be a hard choice between the two). I mean, the best way of escaping would be into the aubible alien landscape of granular synthesis:)

    1. You don’t have to move to a desert island to avoid reading threads, man. By the way, you have a winning attitude.

  16. my modular.. of course..
    in the case of software synth. laptp w linux and puredata. (fuck the fucking ipad..) even I would have time to explore the great improvements in the last PD version.. : )

  17. we’ll need to find somewhere plug first but i guess it would be….
    Firts i’ll craft some kind of giant wheel and hunt a panther or any very fast and strong animal
    it will run in the giant wheel to power the synth.
    then i craft a scuba set and go look for my modular a very very large one that sunk with the ship.
    let the sun dry all those parts and make it work. then i’ll have some kind of wooden byke because
    the modular is so big you need a bike to patch your vco to your filter before the panther is tired of running and you need to go back to kick it in the ass to get the power back on.
    but maybe i’ll end up with one of you, start a band or put you in the wheel to give a boost to my panther.

    1. I was going to post “My Korg DSS-1 because it is both a boat and an airplane wing” So yeah, I’d take my DSS-1, its great sounding and raft-like.

  18. My Korg monotron. I’ll swap the generator for some sweet headphones and go for a very long around the perimeter. Sounds right to me!

    1. I like that idea – but I’d have to have access to the Internet, too, to be able to figure out circuits to build!

  19. My SoundArt Chameleon (and a midi keyboard, because the Chameleon is a rack unit).

    Animoog into my iPad sound be a good option too.

    Can I bring headphones???? 🙂

  20. Waldorf Microwave II/XT. finally I’d have the time to explore all the possibilities of the standard and user wavetables to their full extend!

    And when the native cannibals attack, I’d easily scare them off with my thundering basses and piercing FM and waveshaper sounds! 🙂

  21. Probably the micron but if I could take my iPad then that.
    Maybe bring along a USB turntable with beatmaker….
    Hopefully the island has a record store…

  22. DSI Tempest — have had this for about a month and can’t seem to put it down. Super sounds, intuitive, awesome sounds, and it’s compact enough for desert island living!

  23. Like others have said, a synth without speakers is useless.
    For me it would be a good 88 key weighted digital piano. Something like a Roland FP4F.
    Built in speakers, good acoustic and electric pianos, good strings.
    I’d survive without the other stuff.

  24. Hardware: Definitely a modular. I would say my own, but this is fantasy so let’s say a modular with everything by Pittsburgh, MakeNoise, Cwejman, Intellijel, Doepfer, and Malekko with an Isomorphic keyboard for plunking out melodies. Or maybe a huge Buchla 200e system.

    Software: Tie between Omnisphere for the Moog Tribute Library and Max6. I think I’d have to go with Max. With all that time on my hands I could learn to do everything Omnisphere does… and so much more.

  25. Heavily modded Moog Prodigy. Its simple layout fits my hand like a glove. Mods would make it more interesting. Hopefully there would be a two-inch 16 track with plenty of tape around.

  26. If I were to have my choice of any synth, it would be a massive modular, because it could be pretty much any synth I want it to be. I could flesh out full sequences and make songs until my little island is discovered. If it had to be something I already own, I’d probably go with my Waldorf XT. I’d have a wide range of sonic capabilities, and I could write pretty much anything I’d like on it.

    Of course, all of this assumes I have a sequencer as part of the deal. Truth is, I almost never go anywhere without my MacBook Pro, so I’d be set.

  27. My MIDI coconut (genetically engineered of course) and my iPad (with camera kit connector to interface to my coconut).

  28. Nord Stage. Because a B3 beats a pad any day.

    Or, and iPad with the biggest ass USB battery you can find. Because none of you will have any power.

  29. My beloved Korg 01Wfd was my creative ignition point and I just saved the best of 25 floppies for it with Autosampler, but all in all, at this point, it’d be a fully-loaded M3. Its more refined, has a higher internal sampling rate, KARMA and a superior keyboard. The Kronos is a hefty bag of goodness, but the M3 feels like the ultimate 01W to me.

  30. It’s a sampler not a synth but the octatrack with a field recorder could Leed to some cool tracks. I would be left wondering about updates that I’m missing though.

  31. I would want my first synth, the Kawai k-11, because the misery would give me the courage to kill myself.

    Then again, if I had my Kurzwiel, and still couldn’t figure it out with all that time, same effect on my soul

  32. Roland Jupiter 8 ! It seen to have so many secrets , I would never get bored with it … maybe it can transform to another useful thing! ^_^

      1. If you were stranded on an island, Reaktor with no library would be easy as you’d have as much time as you needed to learn it!

  33. A laptop loaded with Ableton Live and a whole slew of VST soft synths.

    But if that’s breaking the rules, then the Alesis Andromeda. Best of both worlds digital-analog hybrid. One of the best all-around synths ever. Highly underappreciated versatility, big sound, more durable than a more vintage box like a Memorymoog (which would be my second choice since an OBMx doesn’t have a keyboard…)

  34. Although… you didn’t mention an amp and speakers. So maybe a Roland HS-60 would be a better choice.

    Hmm… or electricity, for that matter. In which case a simple upright piano will do nicely. No spinets, though — I don’t think any piano tuner is going to be willing to swim out to my island to tune the dang thing every three months….

  35. I would take my Kronos 73 with me, a Solar panel, a wind turbine and some accumulators. 😉
    (I just wish the Kronos would look like a Yamaha XF7) Sounds great and has everything you need to produce high quality music.

  36. Nord Lead 2. Or could I trade in the generator for batteries to power a 303 with the Devilfish mods? Though an 808 would provide a nice rhythm to work to as I build shelter.

  37. Novation X-Station. It does everything. Tough as nails, sounds like a Supernova, runs on batteries, has aftertouch, comes in three keyboard sizes, 200 sounds, XY touchpad and joystick modulation, fully programmable with more knobs and sliders than you can shake a stick bug at, and can modulate external sound or use it as an oscillator. I wish it had built in speakers but I rarely go anywhere without my SkullCandies. My second choice would be my Ensoniq HALO, even tougher (extruded aluminum chassis) and four ROM slots for expanding sounds. The rest of my stable is increasingly exotic and fragile, not good for desert island gigging. Maybe the Roland JD-800, that’s pretty tough and fantastically versatile.

    1. Wow, your opinion almost sounded valuable, and I was making mental notes to check out your picks, until your ” I rarely go anywhere without my SkullCandies”. Skullcandy headphones are like certain socially transmitted diseases, in that outside of certain pariah groups, those who are infected rarely declare the fact in an unsolicited manner.

      Flashy crap for cloth eared teenagers, sub-hipster even. Shocking build quality and execrable sound.

      (Back on topic… Me, I’d like the modular moog built for the BBC Radiophonic Workshop. That said, my dear old Juno 106 keeps me amused, at a pinch)

  38. On second thought, equally good for DI tedium is my little Casio SA-35. Flick the switch and it’s on. Piano is passably good, lots of aliasing but what do you want? Very interesting modulation and effects, even has a sequencer and a rhythm of sorts. Stereo speakers. Need a solar charger for the batteries, but it would keep me and the minah birds amused until the Navy arrives.

  39. Hardware is easy – Virus TI

    I would miss the Emu XL7/Roland MC505/Quasimidi 309/Yamaha RM1X but I don’t really use them that much. I do still use the TI quite a lot.

    Software is too difficult to choose but the standard synths in reason/live/sonar/logic with additional presets are pretty much good enough. I have loads of VSTs but none of them on their own are of any value.

  40. Kurzweil K2000S

    It’s just versatile as hell. Complex evolving sounds, sequencer, sampler, and the ability to recreate just about any sound you can imagine. (VAST is supremely underrated)
    (oh and built like a tank and very inexpensive these days)

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