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i was playing with a microkorg the other day and they sound dope
softsynths have their place, but physical hardware has much more fun. knobs over mouse clicks any day.
audio interface definitely important.
and platform for composition.
ableton, protools, reason and logic..
Thanks for the info guys, I'll be running ProTools and using the Rack 003 interface. I've been recording for years but just never got into synths.
autoflavour, how can novac music sell them so cheaply? Have you bought stuff from them in the past? Will I get raped on import tax to the UK?
For $800, you're most likely looking into digital analog, if you want something newer. And you can't do much better than the Nord Lead 2(x). I did months of research before buying my synth, and this was the conclusion I arrived at. It mimics just about any sound you can possibly imagine. The only downside is no effects, so I got an external effects unit to play through.
Do you have a music shop you can go to, and experiment on some gear? Get a feel for for the different models. Also, you can do research here: http://www.vintagesynth.com/
Good luck man, it's not easy narrowing it down to just one.
Man I'm TELLING you... I know synths, have a nord lead 2 and a micro Korg (both are great) but nothing compares:
This little sucker sounds AMAZING and has so much variation and stuff you can do with the sound. I'd buy this for $2k. More. And it's $800.
All you need is a MIDI keyboard (or software) to play it with.