Comparing Synthesizers

Comparing Synthesizers

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Comparing Synthesizers

· Moog Minimoog

The Moog Minimoog was invented in 1971 by Bob Moog. It was called the
Minimoog because it was smaller than other synthesizers from that era.
It is one of the most popular synthesizers of all time

· Prophet 5

The Prophet 5 was one of the most popular synthesizers of the 1980s
and although it lacked midi functions it was still the most successful
out of all the prophet synthesizers made. Its analogue effects and
string sounds are still some of the best around.

· Roland Juno 106

The Roland Juno was released in 1985 and is still used today because
of its easy programming.


Polyphony is the ability to be able to play more than one note at the
same time. Early synthesizers such as the Minimoog were not polyphonic
but Monophonic. This means that if 8 keys were pressed still only the
one sound would be heard. The Prophet could handle 5 at the same time
while the more advanced Juno 106 could handle 6.

The user interface on the Minimoog is user friendly. Where most people
just twist and turn the knobs to get the sound they want. The panel
with all the controllers and knobs on is hinged so that it could be
placed vertically instead of horizontally for easier use and access.
It features three voltage- controlled oscillators, a noise source,
VCA, warm resonant filter and mixer as well as pitch and bend sliders.
It has 44 keys with lower note priority, as well as an external input
and 'S-Trigger' jack which allows it to be connected to a drum
controller or ribbon controller and was generally easy to use. The
Minimoog casing is made out of wood. The overall design was a first in
terms of size because it was so small compared to the massive
synthesizers used before it. Each of the knobs are big and move
smoothly which enabl the user to play and tweak at the same time. The
Prophet 5 is a design to the Minimoog but has allot more keys.

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It has
61 keys in total and features 5 voices with 2 oscillators per voice
(square, pulse, sawtooth and triangular), two ADSR envelope
generators, white noise generator (often viewed as both a good and bad
thing), 24dB per octave four pole resonant low pass filter, pitch and
modulation wheels. It has 40 programmable memories, which were unheard
of in any synthesizer at the time of its release, and a poly-mod
function, which allows the prophet 5 to generate complicated wave
shapes. When the Prophet 5 was released it was said that it was 5
Minimoogs in one, this was not the case. The Roland Juno 106 also has
61 keys and the layout is often mimicked in some of the newer
synthesizers. All of the knobs and buttons are in easy reach and
grouped together in relevant sections, the same as on the Minimoog and
Prophet 5, but the Juno 106 has digitally controlled oscillators (
sawtooth, square and pulse) which meant it was easier to tune than the
Minimoog and Prophet 5. It was overall the easiest to programme, it
features a high pass filter with extra bass boost and a low pass
filter, which resonated to self-oscillation. It also has an LCD
display and is the only synthesizer out of the three to feature midi.
Overall I think that the Juno 106 to look at would be the easiest to

Synthesizers are now used in a wide variety of musical styles. When
the Minimoog was first introduced it caused a lot of excitement in the
music industry because no one had ever seen anything like it before.
This was because its easy to use ability, it wasn't just limited to
just one musical genre. Artists that have used the Minimoog over the
years include Rick Wakeman, Frankie goes to Hollywood, Fatboy Slim,
Jean Michelle jarre, The Shamen and Vangelis. The Minimoog is
especially good at making heavy and funky baselines as well as weird
futuristic type sounds. The Minimoog is very versatile and can almost
make any type of sound that the user wants. I think that it comes into
its element when making phat baselines. The Prophet 5 is regarded as
having good sounds when it comes to strings and brass and has been
used by such artists as Phil Collins, Tears for Fears, Kraftwerk, New
Order and Duran Duran. The Prophet 5 is said to produce very rich
sounds and is favoured by a lot of rock/old dance artists. The Prophet
5 and Minimoog are sometimes compared in terms of what kind of sound
they generate. I think that the Minimoog sounds far heavier when it
comes to baselines, and the Prophet 5's sounds can sometimes be
described as thin. The Roland Juno 106 is good at creating full bodied
organ sounds and like the Prophet 5 it is good at producing string
based sounds, as well as lush pads. The Roland Juno 106 is suited well
for electronic/dance music and such artists as The prodigy, Todd
Terry, The pet shop boys and William Orbit, use it.

All Synthesizers encounter problems and flaws, perhaps the biggest
flaws of the Minimoog and Prophet 5, is that they don't have Midi
Capabilities. Where as the Roland Juno 106 does. The Midi function can
add numerous possibilities to a Synthesizer. This is where the Juno
106 has the advantage. The Minimoog and Prophet 5 both have to have a
lot of repair work done to them, some say this is due to the fact that
they have been around for so long. Problems with the Minimoog are
encountered mainly when being used on stage for live performances.
Fewer problems will be encountered if only used in the recording
studio but if moved around a lot then it is going to encounter various
knocks and bumps.

The analogue controlled Oscillators mean the Minimoog tends to need a
lot of tuning and sometimes drift out of pitch, unlike the Roland Juno
106 because its oscillators are controlled digitally. The Juno 106 and
Prophet 5 have memory functions. Where as the Minimoog is
disadvantaged because it doesn't. The Minimoog is advantaged because
it makes original sounds and is still regarded as one of the best
synthesizers and there is still a lot of hype around it. The prices
for a Minimoog today are a lot higher then both the Prophet 5 and Juno
106. This is because it's monophonic and also its described as an
instrument in its self and it does not try to imitate other musical
sounds but actually creates a brand new set. It is described as a
modern classic.
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