A synthesizer is an electronic musical instrument operated by a keyboard,
that is able to produce a wide variety of sounds through analog and digital processing.
when it comes to equipment you’ll often ask yourself whether you really need something or not,
and it’s always best to assess how important it is before you even consider buying it.
do you need a synthesizer?
You definitely need a synthesizer in order to explore music much more further.
as far as music production goes, you’ll have the ability to work just fine even without a synthesizer,
so it could be an addition that you would get to basically improve your sound library or help you in your sound design.
What role do synths play in music?
synthesizers may look modest and quiet simple on the eye, they may look like pianos, but in reality they are much more vast and more complex.
if you know how to play and work a synth then you can create any imaginable sound there is.
synthesizers have changed the way music is made,
most of the top songs on trending music charts have some electronic synths used in them.
therefore for you to understand what role synthesizers play you have to understand the purpose for which they came into existence.
to synthesize basically means to make something new usually from existing pieces,
therefore synthesizers are basically electronic instruments that turn old sounds into newer sounds.
synthesizers generally employ a number of techniques in building sounds from the ground up, therefore it gives power to the user to design their own sounds.
music production has vastly changed over years and it’s due to technology advancements,
the vast improvements made in the synthesizer technology is an example.
therefore the role that these digital instruments play is to provide the necessary tools with which you can not only just make music, but design your sounds as well.
therefore you don’t need to solely rely on pre-made patches to make music.
Synthesizer vs Keyboard (difference)
you may have encountered articles that may have used the words synthesizer and keyboard interchangeably,
but you should know that they mean two completely different things.
the main notable difference is that a keyboard in itself is an instrument while a synthesizer is generally not really an instrument.
when you basically press any key on a piano or keyboard you complete a circuit that signals the production of that sound,
without further processing and alteration that you typically find in a synthesizer.
keyboards are not meant to process the note you press to make it anything other than what it is.
they are designed to be portable instruments that you can lift anytime,
and set up anywhere you feel convenient.
synthesizers are more of controllers than instruments and are much complicated than a simple piano keyboard.
keyboards basically play natural sounds which are keys made from vibrations,
a synth on the other hand on mimics sounds that are natural.
which means the synthesizer has digital processors that work to make sounds that emulate real ones.
the emulations in most cases will sound just as good as the real thing.
therefore the key difference is that ,
with a piano sound you’re getting a natural sound made from vibration but with a synth you’re getting sound synthesized from an engine.
Do you need an amp for a synthesizer?
when it comes to a synth you can use an amp or you can plug in your headphones directly into the synth,
but you have to be careful when using amps and choose the right one to accomplish what you have in mind.
I personally use guitar amps with my synths, i primarily do this because of the colouration that the sound tends to get when it passes through a guitar amp.
but I usually don’t play any synth bass patches,
this is because guitar amps are generally designed not to handle bassy low frequencies.
I also make sure to turn down the volume on the synth before I play any sound when using a guitar amp.
therefore having to use an amp is a purely a matter of choice
Is a synthesizer easy to learn?
the easiest way to learn how to play a synth is just by having fun, people usually neglect this little factor but it is of vital importance.
when you’re having fun it is easier to learn because you’re not under any pressure of sorts.
learning anything under a deadline or under pressure makes for a difficult experience.
the first step is to learn the basics,
once you start practicing you gradually start getting better.
the good part is that we live in a world where information is pretty easy to access and it is without boundaries that would other wiser discourage you to learn.
practice is very large part of any learning process, once you learn the basics of a synth, your next hurdle is practicing consistently.
you can also make it much simpler to learn by joining a community of synthesizer players where you can post freely and ask questions,
social media has made it convenient because you don’t have to physically meet up with people,
you can trade information online in the comfort of your own environment.
there are so many facets to synthesizers and you’ll find it quite useful and challenging at the same time.
but remember, so long as you’re having fun it’s much easier and no longer challenging.
What should I look for when buying a synthesizer?
getting new equipment can be challenging especially if you don’t have clear information about what you want to purchase.
synths come in all shapes and sizes and it may be difficult to know which one to get.
the first step is to establish the types of synthesizers available on the market.
additive synths at their core use sound waves as building blocks
subtractive synths use oscillators, filters and amplifiers the oscillators are responsible for providing the shape, the filter shapes it and the amplifier improves the gain on output
Frequency Modulation synths (FM Synths) share some characteristics with subtractive synths, with the exception of their oscillators.
FM synths are popular for digital sounds that cannot be mistaken for live instruments.
now that you know the types of synthesizers you can then figure out which one you want.
consider the price of the synth and go for something affordable,
secondly get a synth with a built in speaker, it will save you so much time,
thirdly figure out if you want an analog or digital synth.
can you learn piano on a synthesizer?
playing the piano is an entirely different ball game as compared to playing a synth.
the keys on a synth are primarily just controllers of the sound source.
ideally keys are not even the appropriate way to play a synth.
for a piano, the keys are the actual instruments themselves and the sound of the keys are determined by the player of the piano.
if you learn how to play piano you’ll basically be able to play a synthesizer and not the other around.
therefore buy a piano and practice there, it will make it convenient for you to play a synth once you understand how a piano is played.