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OTHER DISCUSSIONS => General Synthesis => Other Hardware/Software => Topic started by: SpaceVoice on March 17, 2016, 01:18:35 PM

Title: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: SpaceVoice on March 17, 2016, 01:18:35 PM
Hello.
 One year ago I would have said that digital was as good as Analog, & VST sample based etc could be a better choice if the quality & functionality was improved.
Besides retaining  value, I do find DSI products unique.
There has always been a strong presence of devotees regarding analog products.
However now that we have a few modern analog synths to choose from, I am hearing more of a desire for  specialized products to meet specific needs.
Basically I am interested in a good musical instrument.
I think analog usually leans in that direction, even if they are often considered to be tools for musicians.

 
 
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: chysn on March 17, 2016, 01:54:23 PM
I'm just unnecessarily chiming in to say that I don't even care about that question any more. It was relevant in a world where analog was cast aside by instrument makers, and we could throw nice holy wars without having to listen to anything. Now both are widely available and everyone can let his or her ears decide.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 17, 2016, 02:46:47 PM
Analog is not better... it's just different... if you settle on only one type, you miss out on half the goodness  ;)

That was the easy answer... the more complicated one is about personal taste, so that really serve no purpose.

Use what you feel gives you inspiration... that's the key thing.

Of course I could go on for ages about why I seem to end up with synths that has at least one analog element in them, but would it be useful for someone else to know why?
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: DavidDever on March 17, 2016, 06:57:34 PM
Set aside the sound-generation electronics for once...one of the pitfalls of the cheaper, wider availability of digital signal processing (and microprocessors in general) is the tendency to stuff any and every feature possible into an instrument that lacks the degree of control one comes to expect from one-knob-per-function subtractive analogue synths.

Add to that the generally poor or substandard MIDI system exclusive functionality of many early- to mid-90s digital synths, and you end up losing interest in music-making, with each side of the brain flummoxed by the disconnect between intuitive operation and creative bliss.

There are exceptions to this; Waldorf IMHO seems to have figured out the way to make virtual analogue (and hybrid) synthesis sound decent; Ensoniq was a very audio-focused company that manufactured good products, before their absorption into Creative Labs. I'm sure there are others (including E-mu).
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 17, 2016, 07:14:57 PM
Anyone who dares to ask this question - and it's usually me - risks bringing upon themselves the wrath of a forum.  If this were GS, you would have received death threats by now, for daring to have and to express such an opinion.  I think, in order to avoid falling into the "big dark relativistic pit," and in order to have a constructive discussion rather than a bitter debate, the question needs to be re-phrased.  This is for your own safety as well, SpaceVoice.

Here's the less offensive and more synthetically correct version: "Why Do Some of You Like Analog Synthesis More than Digital?"

There.  This version should de-escalate the tense situation and avoid the inevitable response, "It's all just a matter of personal taste."  Talk about stating the obvious.

Now it should be safe to respond to the question in a public way. 

I definitely like analog synthesis better than digital because I prefer the character of analog sound.  Ooops.  It happened again.  More controversy.  Some one will soon correct my backwards thinking and say, "Digital technology can produce sound identical to analog."  I realize that this is now the popular enlightened point of view, but try to apply this view to experience.  I don't deny that digital technology can do a fine job of emulating the analog character.  But for some reason, Dave Smith found it worthwhile and surprisingly fortuitous to produce pure analog instruments in the Prophet 6 and OB-6, in spite of the massive Prophet 12 being in the same price range.  And speaking personally, for some reason I have found recordings of these two recent analog instruments to be - sonically speaking - far preferable to the nearly countless recordings of the Prophet 12 and Pro 2 which I've listened to these past few years and which never fail to disappoint my musical ear with a character I've come to call - in my silly simplicity - "digital".  And this is true in demo after demo of instruments made by other companies as well. 

You believe whatever you want to believe, and I'll believe my ears; they tell me that there's a significant sonic difference in character between analog and digital synthesizers, and that's all I need to hear.  Yes, digital synthesis can sound wonderful.  I love the ethereal pads, bells, and evolving textures.  And yes, they can do a respectable job of emulating the analog sound.  But even at this late date, there's still something substantially different between the sound of a Pro 2 and that of an Oberheim Two-Voice Pro or an MFB Dominion1 - something which has me constantly and consistently thinking, "I don't like that one at all, but I really like those two," even though I want to like the Pro 2 best of all.   I listen to such demos every single day, and every single day I'm all the more persuaded to agree, not with the experts and the geeks, but with my own two ears.

Say what you want; in spite of DSI's and everyone else's best technological advances, I can still hear the difference between analog and digital.   
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 17, 2016, 07:32:43 PM
The debate is just useless... Even if the P12 sounds "inferior", it can make sounds that all the analog only DSI instruments cannot, and that fact alone makes it really hard to choose what is "best".... what does "best" mean? ... is it sound quality? (what if you want dirty and gritty?) non-Aliasing? (what if you want ear shattering aliasing?)... Flexible sound possibilities given by digital? (what if you want simplicity?) ... a sound is a sound, nothing more, nothing less.... if I need the sound of a fart, my own behind is "better" than even the most expensive MOOG/DSI/Waldorf/Whatever synth you can find... unless you're after an unrealistic fart of course... I hope my answer makes sense  ;D

The only correct answer is that what YOU find best... is best... it may even differ from project to project... if I want to make Commodore C64 SID chip like music, then a digital/hybrid SID synth with the real deal will be better than a MOOG Sub37... etc. etc.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 17, 2016, 07:43:09 PM
Razmo, I've completely avoided words like "best," "better," and "inferior" in order to avoid the subjective pit and predictable comments.  A debate would be pointless, like a broken record.  I'm talking only about a personal preference, nothing more.  That's where this discussion could healthily go.  I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that's what the original poster had in mind.  But if the question is left as is, then we all know where this discussion is going.

I still think it's a great topic: What do you like about analog synthesizers that makes you prefer them to digital?
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 17, 2016, 10:50:55 PM
I'm not trying to repeat a cliché here, but I think it can be safely assumed that the reason why the analog sonic character is appreciated goes back to what people perceive to be a sort of organic movement that is created by analog oscillators, or to be more precise: by voltages instead of ones and zeros. In terms of perception, the imperfection of truly analog generated timbres seems to be more pleasing than the rather static appearance of a perfect digital waveform. Plus: movement is mostly what we're striving for when we design sounds, no matter whether we start of with a digital or analog oscillator. So there's this overarching goal of creating some sort of imperfection (and using an envelope generator, for example, to create different timbres over time is an imperfection in that sense too) that is already inherent in the character of the simple tone generator of an analog synth: the VCO. And I don't mean that in any esoteric way because there's an objectifiable difference between something that is voltage generated and something that is digitally created, just like a classic photograph is not the same as a digital photograph made of pixels. The physiognomy of both is absolutely different, just likes waves and particles are different. So in that sense I think that it's not really a matter of taste. It can be a question of making a decision, of fashion, or whatever. Taste can play into that, of course, but it falls short of explaining what may be appealing about analog timbres.

That said, technology has moved forward quite a bit and it is possible to create nice digital emulations of analog sounds these days. And apart from us geeks, the majority won't recognize the difference within the context of a song anyway - I think most of us wouldn't to be honest. Still, if you're working with sound on the microscopic level like most uf us do when we design sounds or focus on the sonic character of one particular instrument in isolation, I would say that you can spot a difference between emulations and non-emulations. The difference doesn't need to be massive, but there's a reason some people - who can afford it - get an old Moog modular, or a more affordable replica of it, or whatever. It's nothing that transmits well via most recordings and has to be experienced live and - I guess that's even more important - physically ideally. It's not a necessity though. Analog synths won't make you a better musician or composer. But the appeal of a truly analog generated signal is at least obvious to me, which I say as someone who also likes FM synthesis, physical modelling, granular synthesis, wavetable synthesis, and all that stuff.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 18, 2016, 04:01:18 AM
Razmo, I've completely avoided words like "best," "better," and "inferior" in order to avoid the subjective pit and predictable comments.  A debate would be pointless, like a broken record.  I'm talking only about a personal preference, nothing more.  That's where this discussion could healthily go.  I could be wrong, but I'm guessing that's what the original poster had in mind.  But if the question is left as is, then we all know where this discussion is going.

I still think it's a great topic: What do you like about analog synthesizers that makes you prefer them to digital?

Yes... when the question is rephrased into what you suggested, then the debate becomes relevant, because the initial question put it as if analog by definition is better than digital, and that's júst not true.

Why I like some kind of analog part in my synths? ... some of the reason is in what Paul Dither Just wrote... that certain "character" of smoothness... I prefer a bit of organic feel to the sounds I use, instead of cold and clear digital sounds... but from time to time, digital's cold and clear sound is also needed, I find that especialy on bell'ish and chromatic sounds.

But in general I prefer hybrids to all digital, as this allow for the best of both worlds... it takes a tiny bit away of the analog feel because of the digital frontend, but it's still "better" to my ears than clean digital.

But maybe it's unfair to judge digital in theory because if I record an analog synth into my computer, then digital sounds "analog" even though it's now theoretically digital... so digital IS capable of sounding analog... the problem with digital is not the digital of it, but rather the algorithmic technology which has just not reached perfection yet... someday they may get there I believe, and that day will be a major game changer for hardware, even more than what it allready have been.

And if we take into the equation, not only the sound character, but also sound flexibility, I need digital to do all those things analog cannot do... in that regard, I've got no choice, and the closest I'll get to analog is a hybrid... Wavetable synthesis, Physical Modelling, Phase Modulation, Sample Oscillators and even Reverb FX, as analog spring types are very limited.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 18, 2016, 06:19:03 AM
I must admit I prefer Digital in the end as it offers more functionality, give me a Kronos/Vsynth/Nord G2/Integra-7 over and analog synth any day.

Analog synths like the ones DSI produce I like as they usually have a decent amount of functionality, I'm not sure if they sound any better than digital synths but I like the looks, sound and functionality. For me synths like the P6 seem a step backwards for DSI.

I have Moog Voyager here and to be quite honest it isn't that great a synth, it is limited and it doesn't even sound that good, the oscillators produce more "digital" noise then most digital synths. It has a pair of nice filters and that's about it. Digital filter technology is now up there with analog filters, the filters in Monark and Diva are as good as the voyager ones. Basically Diva and Monark sound better than the voyager!

I'm a believer in the fact that the current resurgence of analog kit is because manufacturers know that a subset of customers aren't willing to spend the cash on a digital hardware instrument when they can just use a plugin on a computer.



Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Fuseball on March 18, 2016, 06:32:33 AM
I've heard plenty of excellent digital emulations of bread and butter analog sounds. For example, I think Roland's SH-2 emulation sounds gorgeous. However, I've been less impressed by the edge-case emulations of analog behaviour. Features like oscillator cross-mod and filter fm are where I feel analog has the upper hand.  It's those interesting interplays between analog components that I find fascinating and make it a living breathing instrument, as organic as any guitar.

Mentally, I still feel a disconnect with many digital instruments. My brain can't stop telling me that it's just moving around 0's and 1's when I turn a knob rather than voltages. Of course, that doesn't make a blind bit of difference to the sound that's coming out or the perception of that sound by the listener... but it is an important part of feeling that the instrument is an extension of you, the player.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Fuseball on March 18, 2016, 06:37:37 AM
I have Moog Voyager here and to be quite honest it isn't that great a synth, it is limited and it doesn't even sound that good, the oscillators produce more "digital" noise then most digital synths. It has a pair of nice filters and that's about it. Digital filter technology is now up there with analog filters, the filters in Monark and Diva are as good as the voyager ones. Basically Diva and Monark sound better than the voyager!

My switch from soft synths to physical instruments was actually triggered by the fact that the likes of Diva would bring my computer to its knees. I hated using such CPU-intensive software and it took all the joy out of making music when I spent all the time worrying and waiting for the sound to drop out. Music making as a pleasurable experience meant far more to me than pure sound quality.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 09:10:58 AM
I'm not trying to repeat a cliché here, but I think it can be safely assumed that the reason why the analog sonic character is appreciated goes back to what people perceive to be a sort of organic movement that is created by analog oscillators, or to be more precise: by voltages instead of ones and zeros. In terms of perception, the imperfection of truly analog generated timbres seems to be more pleasing than the rather static appearance of a perfect digital waveform. Plus: movement is mostly what we're striving for when we design sounds, no matter whether we start of with a digital or analog oscillator. So there's this overarching goal of creating some sort of imperfection (and using an envelope generator, for example, to create different timbres over time is an imperfection in that sense too) that is already inherent in the character of the simple tone generator of an analog synth: the VCO. And I don't mean that in any esoteric way because there's an objectifiable difference between something that is voltage generated and something that is digitally created, just like a classic photograph is not the same as a digital photograph made of pixels. The physiognomy of both is absolutely different, just likes waves and particles are different. So in that sense I think that it's not really a matter of taste. It can be a question of making a decision, of fashion, or whatever. Taste can play into that, of course, but it falls short of explaining what may be appealing about analog timbres.

Don't assume this in my case.  I've always been mystified by the view that at the heart of the analog character is imperfection, a fluctuation in pitch or timbre, a sort of uncontrollable trembling of oscillators or filters.  This is the thing I most dislike about old analog and the reason I actually like DCOs.  I don't want the fluctuations that result in changing oscillator beating rates.  I want the beating to be the same at the top of the keyboard as at the bottom.   Nor, when I hold a note, do I want to hear even the slightest fluctuations in pitch.   Somewhat related, I also prefer a more rapid vibrato rate, as compared with the very slow wobbly rates that I often hear others using.  When using a monophonic patch on the Prophet '08, I never use the Slop parameter, because slop is the very thing I want to avoid.  I don't like these imperfections, and I don't think they make a synthesizer sound more natural or more similar to acoustic instruments.  Rather, they make a synthesizer sound excessively electronic - the very quality I strive to escape in making music.  So, as far as I'm concerned, the analog character is definitely not in its imperfections.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 09:24:20 AM
Jeepers.  This thread has almost become a response to the question, "Why Is Digital Synthesis Better Than Analog?"

I still think there's room for a positive discussion about the strengths of analog synthesizers, at least for those who actually prefer them over digital.  But, if no one here actually has that preference, than there's no point in trying to start a discussion about it.

Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 10:01:09 AM
Let me mention one seemingly off-topic idea.  I've been back into synthesis for only about seven years now.  In that time, I've observed that analog and digital synthesis each have different effects on my music making; one I like, and the other I definitely dislike.

On the old DSI forum, Namnibor once made a remark that totally irritated me; yet it turned out that he was correct, and in the end, he helped me to understand something.  He said I should realize that much of the music on my YouTube channel more properly belonged in the ambient category, rather than the classical.  Ouch!  It struck a nerve, alright, because that's the last thing I wanted, and yet it was true.

My point concerns only the limited digital capabilities of the Poly Evolver Keyboard.  I've found that digital synthesis sends me in a musical direction I don't like and didn't want.  I have no interest in producing ambient electronica - none whatsoever.  The music I want to produce is centered on the fundamental elements of melody, harmony, rhythm, counterpoint, and traditional hymnic voice-leading.  It strives for a theme and its development, follows a form, and often turns to imitation, canon, and fugue.  Thus, it's not only emotionally satisfying, but also, intellectually.  But when I program sounds using the digital side of the Evolver, I always find myself drifting away from such musical elements, and instead, swimming around in the slow, dark, and amorphous universe of ambient synthesis.   Hence, the "ethereal pad" - this mysterious lumbering phantasm that drifts in and out, forming a lethargic triad here and there, but seldom rising to a definite musical theme or form.  Sure, it's fascinating for a time, but it's the opposite of what I wanted to do with music and what I'm determined to do with it in the future.

On the contrary, I've found that analog synthesis directs me just where I wanted to go.  Its pure, raw, direct, and un-nuanced character affects me like a traditional musical instrument, especially the organ.  I find myself writing themes and developing them, following coherent chord progressions, and using the counterpoint I've always loved.  In other words, I far prefer the musical influence that analog synthesis has on my creativity and would even call it "wholesome" and "healthy;" whereas, I need to be wary of the influence that digital synthesis has, because it leads me to a substantial degree of musical laxity and futility. 

This is just one of the several reasons I far prefer analog to digital: musical influence.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: chysn on March 18, 2016, 11:26:30 AM
But, if no one here actually has that preference, than there's no point in trying to start a discussion about it.

True. And equally true: if anyone here actually has that preference, there's no point in trying to start a discussion about it.

Fine, fine. I'll engage. The question is "What makes analog better?" All these answers are acceptable. They may come off as sarcastic, but that's because of the question. These answers are all irrefutable and unironically true:

* It's more fun. If you don't think it's more fun, you clearly don't know anything about fun.
* It sounds better. If you don't think it sounds better, obviously your ears aren't any good.
* Analog will get you laid more often. This has been proven.
* Maybe you should get an oscilloscope and see for yourself.
* Something Nyquist Limit something something.
* Warm capacitors have a certain smell that can't be replaced by an iPad.
* Because Vince Clarke. Because Bobby Sparks, that's what.

I expect that this definitively ends the debate for all time.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 11:37:19 AM
I guess I should have known better than try to change an original poster's original question!  I attempted to avoid all of this by suggesting the question be instead, "Why Do Some of You Like Analog Synthesis More than Digital?" 

Around and around we go.  Ah well, such is life.

I wonder what SpaceVoice thinks of this thread.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 11:41:38 AM
Don't assume this in my case.  I've always been mystified by the view that at the heart of the analog character is imperfection, a fluctuation in pitch or timbre, a sort of uncontrollable trembling of oscillators or filters.  This is the thing I most dislike about old analog and the reason I actually like DCOs.  I don't want the fluctuations that result in changing oscillator beating rates.  I want the beating to be the same at the top of the keyboard as at the bottom.   Nor, when I hold a note, do I want to hear even the slightest fluctuations in pitch.   Somewhat related, I also prefer a more rapid vibrato rate, as compared with the very slow wobbly rates that I often hear others using.  When using a monophonic patch on the Prophet '08, I never use the Slop parameter, because slop is the very thing I want to avoid.  I don't like these imperfections, and I don't think they make a synthesizer sound more natural or more similar to acoustic instruments.  Rather, they make a synthesizer sound excessively electronic - the very quality I strive to escape in making music.  So, as far as I'm concerned, the analog character is definitely not in its imperfections.

I somehow knew you would reappear and deconstruct everything aforementioned.  ;D

Seriously though, I still do think that the appeal for the majority of analog users lies in some sort of imperfection - at least if you take into account all the statements that are posted on various forums but also documentaries like "I Dream of Wires." So call that my empirical reference point with regard to how signals that are created by voltages are typically perceived.

Your take on that is interesting in that it runs contrary to all that. I've been wondering whether it's implicitly connected  to the "players vs tweakers" debate. (Don't worry, I'm not trying to make any sort of judgment based on the player-tweaker-dichotomy.) I mention the latter also with regard to your post about how the use of (partially) digital synthesis affects your music. Why you might ask. Well, first of all players are mostly concerned about the reliability of a particular instrument. Unsteady or somewhat imperfect sounds could be described as the opposite of that aspect. Although I have to say that you contradict yourself to the degree that you utilize rather dynamic sounds yourself that lend themselves to naturally evolving timbres. (Again, to be clear about the terminology, when I mention perfection, I mean it in a somehow static sense, like the mathematically "perfect square wave" for example that might look great on an oscilloscope, but doesn't necessarily need to sound good, just like not everybody who's good at musical architecture will resemble Bach. - One could be a genius at the latter, but it wouldn't really matter if it would sound awful: Yes, I'm looking at you 12-tone music.)

Secondly, I had another thought after I read your comments on how the digital side affects your music. That reminded me of how sound designers can program an infinite number of really cool and complex sounds - an opportunity that especially increases if you add more complexity to the synth engine and move across borders like, for example, on a hybrid synth. And while most of the really sophisticated sounds are awesome, they can also be too much beyond being played in isolation. Meaning: they wouldn't necessarily meet the expectations of being used within a song format for example, because they simply occupy too much space to be usable. The latter might correspond with what you described as your involuntary ambient attempts. If certain sounds become to complex, too busy, too sophisticated on their own, they are more likely to become a means to an end rather than a particular style of music.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: SpaceVoice on March 18, 2016, 11:55:12 AM
!. From the comments so far I have realized that I just don't trust the digital market.

2. I seem to sleep better when I play an analog ...really ...maybe its just me...anyone else notice this effect?

3. DSI could have presented a non analog flagship to eclipse the PolyE/ VS, & choose to continue the Prophet legacy.
4. Other manufacturers could have offered a complete analog keyboard  for years now.

So  I am still wondering why Dave himself choose this route. He has kept it simple, if I understand correctly, he just likes analog better, it was the better choice.
 
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 11:55:43 AM
Although I have to say that you contradict yourself to the degree that you utilize rather dynamic sounds yourself that lend themselves to naturally evolving timbres. (Again, to be clear about the terminology, when I mention perfection, I mean it in a somehow static sense, like the mathematically "perfect square wave" for example that might look great on an oscilloscope, but doesn't necessarily need to sound good, just like not everybody who's good at musical architecture will resemble Bach. - One could be a genius at the latter, but it wouldn't really matter if it would sound awful: Yes, I'm looking at you 12-tone music.)

It's not a contradiction.  I admitted that this is how such evolving sounds affect me.  It's not a matter of volition, but of unwanted influence.  In other words, speaking for myself, not only is there a difference in character, but also in affect on the musician.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 11:58:24 AM
Although I have to say that you contradict yourself to the degree that you utilize rather dynamic sounds yourself that lend themselves to naturally evolving timbres. (Again, to be clear about the terminology, when I mention perfection, I mean it in a somehow static sense, like the mathematically "perfect square wave" for example that might look great on an oscilloscope, but doesn't necessarily need to sound good, just like not everybody who's good at musical architecture will resemble Bach. - One could be a genius at the latter, but it wouldn't really matter if it would sound awful: Yes, I'm looking at you 12-tone music.)

It's not a contradiction.  I admitted that this is how such evolving sounds affect me.  It's not a matter of volition, but of unwanted influence.  In other words, speaking for myself, not only is there a difference in character, but also in affect on the musician.

I meant contradiction in the sense that I don't perceive your sounds to be perfect in my understanding.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 11:58:42 AM
!. From the comments so far I have realized that I just don't trust the digital market.

2. I seem to sleep better when I play an analog ...really ...maybe its just me...anyone else notice this effect?

3. DSI could have presented a non analog flagship to eclipse the PolyE/ VS, & choose to continue the Prophet legacy.
4. Other manufacturers could have offered a complete analog keyboard  for years now.

So  I am still wondering why Dave himself choose this route. He has kept it simple, if I understand correctly, he just likes analog better, it was the better choice.

I'm very interested to read your comments, SpaceVoice, because the rest of us have had this conversation many times before, so that it seems as if we're following an old script.  On the other hand, you're new to the discussion (as far as I know) and could bring some fresh insights.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 12:10:27 PM
!. From the comments so far I have realized that I just don't trust the digital market.

How is the digital market less trustworthy?

2. I seem to sleep better when I play an analog ...really ...maybe its just me...anyone else notice this effect?

Not really.

3. DSI could have presented a non analog flagship to eclipse the PolyE/ VS, & choose to continue the Prophet legacy.

They did so by designing the Prophet 12 and the Pro 2.

4. Other manufacturers could have offered a complete analog keyboard  for years now.

It doesn't pay off though. The analog market is still very small compared to all the rest. So if you wanna make money, you simply don't go there - at least not exclusively.

So  I am still wondering why Dave himself choose this route. He has kept it simple, if I understand correctly, he just likes analog better, it was the better choice.

As far as I understand him, the interface is the most important aspect, not necessarily having a 100% analog signal path. He developed far too many hybrids for that.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 12:12:47 PM
Seriously though, I still do think that the appeal for the majority of analog users lies in some sort of imperfection - at least if you take into account all the statements that are posted on various forums but also documentaries like "I Dream of Wires." So call that my empirical reference point with regard to how signals that are created by voltages are typically perceived.

Yes, I've read many of those statements, and I find a strange almost cut-and-paste redundancy about them.  Is this consistency or simple repetition?  I have to wonder if enough reflection has been put into those statements.  I may be wrong, but I find it hard to believe that the analog revival is primarily due to a quest for imperfection in sound.  I believe it comes down to a sonic character apart from sonic imperfections.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 12:15:52 PM
Seriously though, I still do think that the appeal for the majority of analog users lies in some sort of imperfection - at least if you take into account all the statements that are posted on various forums but also documentaries like "I Dream of Wires." So call that my empirical reference point with regard to how signals that are created by voltages are typically perceived.

Yes, I've read many of those statements, and I find a strange almost cut-and-paste redundancy about them.  Is this consistency or simple repetition?  I have to wonder if enough reflection has been put into those statements.  I may be wrong, but I find it hard to believe that the analog revival is primarily due to a quest for imperfection in sound.  I believe it comes down to a sonic character apart from sonic imperfections.

I would argue that a particular character is dependend on imperfections rather than perfection. The Moog filter is a perfect historic example. In that sense I would call streamlined perfection rather boring and immediately replacable.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 18, 2016, 12:20:02 PM
Honestly... I find these debates... well... "funny"... it's incredible how people end up being at each others throats in this type of debate taking every answer against what THEY like, to be personal attacks. There is no clear facit you can end up with, no right or wrong. It's of no use taking other people's opinions personal, simply because they are OPINIONS.

Do any of you make bad music using digital, just because somebody else think digital is inferior to him/her? (or the other way around for that matter) ... Are my music not intellectual because Sacret Synthesis find his music not to be intellectually satisfying when he touch on the Ambient site of music? .. Some could find such a statement arrogant, but honestly I just see it as for what it is... SS's own opinion on Ambient music in relation to HIS view on HIS music...

And by the way... I also feel that even though the topic was why digital is worse than analog, that the opposite belongs in this thread... if someone feel that Digital is superior, then I want to know why they think so, not bar them from the debate... i hate "politically correct" debates that bar out counter opinions... especialy when the question in this thread is so obviously provoking as it is  8)

Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 12:21:00 PM
I'm also referring to the numerous threads on the old forum about how to make the Prophet '08 sound more alive and dynamic, since the slop parameter did barely have an influence. All those tips about assigning a random wave LFO to each oscillator's frequency at very slow rates and with very low amounts (rarely beyond 1). That, plus adding subtle filter frequency movements and so on.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 18, 2016, 12:28:19 PM
I have Moog Voyager here and to be quite honest it isn't that great a synth, it is limited and it doesn't even sound that good, the oscillators produce more "digital" noise then most digital synths. It has a pair of nice filters and that's about it. Digital filter technology is now up there with analog filters, the filters in Monark and Diva are as good as the voyager ones. Basically Diva and Monark sound better than the voyager!

My switch from soft synths to physical instruments was actually triggered by the fact that the likes of Diva would bring my computer to its knees. I hated using such CPU-intensive software and it took all the joy out of making music when I spent all the time worrying and waiting for the sound to drop out. Music making as a pleasurable experience meant far more to me than pure sound quality.

The cost of a computer that can run 8 instances of diva at the highest quality is less than the cost of say a P6!
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 12:29:27 PM
Honestly... I find these debates... well... "funny"... it's incredible how people end up being at each others throats in this type of debate taking every answer against what THEY like, to be personal attacks. There is no clear facit you can end up with, no right or wrong. It's of no use taking other people's opinions personal, simply because they are OPINIONS.

I agree. And I hope you didn't think of me. Like I said, it's no matter of better or worse to me at all. That would be ridiculous and ignorant. The only case in which I wanted to make a case against opinions is that there is a verifiable qualitative difference between analog and digital, and by "qualitative" I don't mean categories like "better" or "worse," but only the aspects that make both approaches unique.

Do any of you make bad music using digital, just because somebody else think digital is inferior to him/her? (or the other way around for that matter) ... Are my music not intellectual because Sacret Synthesis find his music not to be intellectually satisfying when he touch on the Ambient site of music? .. Some could find such a statement arrogant, but honestly I just see it as for what it is... SS's own opinion on Ambient music in relation to HIS view on HIS music...

Well, he only said that it's not his goal to make ambient music in the first place but that certain sounds drive him into that direction. If he would be a sound tweaker in the first place, he wouldn't care, but he happens to put the musical form first, so that's what makes a difference. I didn't read that as a way to diss digitally created sounds at all.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 12:32:59 PM
The cost of a computer that can run 8 instances of diva at the highest quality is less than the cost of say a P6!

Which is another practical reason why digital technology is more widespread and successful, and - reversely - why analog devices only become big sellers when they're affordable.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 18, 2016, 12:33:34 PM
Honestly... I find these debates... well... "funny"... it's incredible how people end up being at each others throats in this type of debate taking every answer against what THEY like, to be personal attacks. There is no clear facit you can end up with, no right or wrong. It's of no use taking other people's opinions personal, simply because they are OPINIONS.

Do any of you make bad music using digital, just because somebody else think digital is inferior to him/her? (or the other way around for that matter) ... Are my music not intellectual because Sacret Synthesis find his music not to be intellectually satisfying when he touch on the Ambient site of music? .. Some could find such a statement arrogant, but honestly I just see it as for what it is... SS's own opinion on Ambient music in relation to HIS view on HIS music...

And by the way... I also feel that even though the topic was why digital is worse than analog, that the opposite belongs in this thread... if someone feel that Digital is superior, then I want to know why they think so, not bar them from the debate... i hate "politically correct" debates that bar out counter opinions... especialy when the question in this thread is so obviously provoking as it is  8)

As a guitar player it can be really funny. Guitar players are obsessed with certain Amps with certain tubes and certain cabinets, certain pickups, certain guitars certain fx pedals. They believe these things can get them nearer the "tone" of their favourite guitar player. The reality of the matter is that they never will but if you gave their favourite guitar player a digital line 6 pod and a so so guitar they would still sound fantastic.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 18, 2016, 12:34:31 PM
The cost of a computer that can run 8 instances of diva at the highest quality is less than the cost of say a P6!

Which is another practical reason why digital technology is more widespread and successful, and - reversely - why analog devices only become big sellers when they're affordable.

Exactly.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 18, 2016, 12:34:36 PM
There is ONE more reason analog is seen as "better" than digital... it's called HYPE... and for some people (my self included) ther eis also the thing called "Placebo effect"... because I will not rule out, that some people find analog better, because most people have that view on it... it's part of human culture, to "mingle with the rest"... and then placebo start to seep into the equation... we start to THINK we hear something better, because we KNOW we are playing an analog synth, and not a digital one. I'm not saying that all fall for this, but some certainly do.

Speaking for myself, I often find the digital synths uninspiring, even though their flexibility clearly outperform any analog synth... simply because I like that every synth has it's own little niche, being EXTREMELY GOOD at what it does... I often find that the digital ones are more focused on being bread and butter, master of none, but very very flexible... but this just does not pull my strings for it.... sometimes I see a digital synth where the synthesis is so special, I love it just as much as my analog synths, and find it equally inspiring. I think I'll call this my "spiritual side" of my preferences.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 12:36:29 PM
As a guitar player it can be really funny. Guitar players are obsessed with certain Amps with certain tubes and certain cabinets, certain pickups, certain guitars certain fx pedals. They believe these things can get them nearer the "tone" of their favourite guitar player. The reality of the matter is that they never will but if you gave their favourite guitar player a digital line 6 pod and a so so guitar they would still sound fantastic.

This! - We should also not forget that we're a small somehow privileged group here that happens to be able to afford certain stuff. If I wouldn't have the cash I would be just as happy to use only Volcas if it had to be analog or plug-ins.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 18, 2016, 12:38:53 PM
Honestly... I find these debates... well... "funny"... it's incredible how people end up being at each others throats in this type of debate taking every answer against what THEY like, to be personal attacks. There is no clear facit you can end up with, no right or wrong. It's of no use taking other people's opinions personal, simply because they are OPINIONS.

I agree. And I hope you didn't think of me. Like I said, it's no matter of better or worse to me at all. That would be ridiculous and ignorant. The only case in which I wanted to make a case against opinions is that there is a verifiable qualitative difference between analog and digital, and by "qualitative" I don't mean categories like "better" or "worse," but only the aspects that make both approaches unique.

Do any of you make bad music using digital, just because somebody else think digital is inferior to him/her? (or the other way around for that matter) ... Are my music not intellectual because Sacret Synthesis find his music not to be intellectually satisfying when he touch on the Ambient site of music? .. Some could find such a statement arrogant, but honestly I just see it as for what it is... SS's own opinion on Ambient music in relation to HIS view on HIS music...

Well, he only said that it's not his goal to make ambient music in the first place but that certain sounds drive him into that direction. If he would be a sound tweaker in the first place, he wouldn't care, but he happens to put the musical form first, so that's what makes a difference. I didn't read that as a way to diss digitally created sounds at all.

Agree... and on the last part, I did not say that he was arrogant, only that some people might see it this way, IF they take things personal... which is what I was trying to tell people NOT to be... this is what happens often, when people talk about personal preferences on topics that many people share an interest in.. Just wanted to point out, that saying your own opinion, does not automaticaly degrade someone else that thinks opposite... it's just personal preference and opinions :) ... SS' statement was just an example I used... nothing more, nothing less.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 12:42:13 PM
There is ONE more reason analog is seen as "better" than digital... it's called HYPE... and for some people (my self included) ther eis also the thing called "Placebo effect"... because I will not rule out, that some people find analog better, because most people have that view on it... it's part of human culture, to "mingle with the rest"... and then placebo start to seep into the equation... we start to THINK we hear something better, because we KNOW we are playing an analog synth, and not a digital one. I'm not saying that all fall for this, but some certainly do.

That's certainly part of it. I would simply call it fetish, which results in all the ridiculous prices on Ebay. - Sure I would like to have a Prophet-5, but do I think it's worth 5 grand? Nope. Maybe $1,200, but that's about what I would pay for one in absolutely mint condition.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: chysn on March 18, 2016, 12:50:04 PM
2. I seem to sleep better when I play an analog ...really ...maybe its just me...anyone else notice this effect?

Not really.

He or she probably means that he or she gets laid more frequently. As I mentioned before, this corroborates my experience with analog, and is one of its most salient benefits.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 12:57:32 PM
2. I seem to sleep better when I play an analog ...really ...maybe its just me...anyone else notice this effect?

Not really.

He or she probably means that he or she gets laid more frequently. As I mentioned before, this corroborates my experience with analog, and is one of its most salient benefits.

Is that a continuation of "You detune two oscillators and then what?"  ;D
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 12:58:57 PM
I would argue that a particular character is dependend on imperfections rather than perfection. The Moog filter is a perfect historic example. In that sense I would call streamlined perfection rather boring and immediately replacable.

I would agree with the view that the Moog sonic character is due, in part, to imperfections.  It's a fact that the designers made some miscalculations that resulted in an inherent subtle distortion.  But what I'm trying to focus on here is the view that the analog character is due primarily to imperfections in oscillator pitch.  I realize that this is the common opinion, and Dave Smith has taken it seriously enough to add the Slop parameter.  But I disagree with it. 

So let me ask you, Paul, are you saying that if you take, say, a Nord Lead and add the slightest amount of random frequency modulation to its oscillators, and perhaps to the cut off frequency as well, that you will have created a persuasively analog tone?  To me, this is the heart of the issue; it's what I've seen many others claim, and it's specifically what I disagree with.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: chysn on March 18, 2016, 01:03:45 PM
2. I seem to sleep better when I play an analog ...really ...maybe its just me...anyone else notice this effect?

Not really.

He or she probably means that he or she gets laid more frequently. As I mentioned before, this corroborates my experience with analog, and is one of its most salient benefits.

Is that a continuation of "You detune two oscillators and then what?"  ;D

<Moderated self>
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 01:05:12 PM
Do any of you make bad music using digital, just because somebody else think digital is inferior to him/her? (or the other way around for that matter) ... Are my music not intellectual because Sacret Synthesis find his music not to be intellectually satisfying when he touch on the Ambient site of music? .. Some could find such a statement arrogant, but honestly I just see it as for what it is... SS's own opinion on Ambient music in relation to HIS view on HIS music..

Exactly.  That's all it is - my opinion of ambient.  I think that should be apparent from the abundance of first person pronouns in my post.  In the same way, I understand that many folks here don't like classical music, or church music, or my music, and the occasional statements found here and elsewhere suggesting this don't bother me.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 01:25:15 PM
There is ONE more reason analog is seen as "better" than digital... it's called HYPE... and for some people (my self included) ther eis also the thing called "Placebo effect"... because I will not rule out, that some people find analog better, because most people have that view on it... it's part of human culture, to "mingle with the rest"... and then placebo start to seep into the equation... we start to THINK we hear something better, because we KNOW we are playing an analog synth, and not a digital one. I'm not saying that all fall for this, but some certainly do.

Speaking for myself, this is not the case.  Instead of bringing to the playing of an analog synthesizer a mental disposition to favor it, I hear a synthesizer online and recognize a tone that I either like or dislike.  And the consistent result is that I favor the analog. 

Remember that I got back into synthesis only about seven years ago.  At that point, I was entirely unfamiliar with the instruments that were available.  I started from zero, listening to one demo after another on YouTube.  I didn't know which was analog and which was digital, until I began researching the instruments I liked.  And you know what the score was.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 01:28:19 PM
I would argue that a particular character is dependend on imperfections rather than perfection. The Moog filter is a perfect historic example. In that sense I would call streamlined perfection rather boring and immediately replacable.

I would agree with the statement that the Moog sonic character is due, in part, to imperfections.  It's a fact that the designers made some miscalculations that resulted in an inherent subtle distortion.  But what I'm trying to focus on here is the view that the analog character is due primarily to imperfections in oscillator pitch.  I realize that this is the common opinion, and Dave Smith has taken it seriously enough to add the Slop parameter.  But I disagree with it. 

So let me ask you, Paul, are you saying that if you take, say, a Nord Lead and add the slightest amount of random frequency modulation to its oscillators, and perhaps to the cut off frequency as well, that you will have created a persuasively analog tone?  To me, this is the heart of the issue and it's specifically what I disagree with.

Now we get back on track.

That's certainly an intersting question worth asking. My initial answer would be: I don't know. I've never owned a Nord and feel like I had to in order to give a fair answer. But I take the Nord reference as a representative example for VAs and any emulative plug-in respectively. Even then, the question is not easy to answer.

See, the reasons why I use analog has a lot to do with me moving back to hardware, and that was a step that wasn't entirely influenced by the analog-digital-dichotomy. Although I was first and foremost attacted by the early analog renaissance and subsequently units like the Monotron for example, my ultimate goal was to get out of the box that is the computer. Not because i think it was better to record to tape or anything like that. No, I would never want to miss a laptop-based studio ever. But: With the abundance of instruments you're offered these days it's hard to draw lines. I'm enough of a dialectic thinker that I would say if everything is suddenly possible, nothing ends up being possible anymore. Simply put: I need limits to work around, since I approach the act of creation as a problem solving case in the first place.

When I settled with Native Instruments' Komplete and numerous more plug-ins, I felt like I had all the tools I need, but I also recognized that I became less of a tweaker, maybe a preset adjuster in most cases. I can also relate to why Dave moved back to hardware, because I sit at the computer all day already for the work I'm doing. It has neither been particular compelling for me to edit sounds with a mouse, nor physically pleasing to interact with a display only. Add to that the endless possibilities. I was still able to produce music, nothing totally blocked me, but it made more sense to me to cut down on the actual equipment I use. And it's precisely there, where the analog instruments came in for me. But not exclusively because they're analog. As you know, I own a Pro 2 as well, and I'm also an avid Push 2 user, which I like because it takes the concept of a studio just being an instrument amongst others to a compelling level. I still use plug-ins, but only if they do something that my current hardware doesn't do, like for example granular synthesis or simple sample playback. My rule is only to use just one thing of each. I don't want 1000 delays to choose from, I don't want 100 different filter modes, and I certainly don't need 25 different versions of a Moog synth - be it emulated or hardware. All of that would only lead me to wasting a lot of time.

So for me it has never been a question of analog vs. digital ever. I still prefer analog filters to most emulations, yes. What I like in particular about the analog character would be its imperfections, but also "fatness" or whatever attribute we've all been reading about for the past decades. But I won't make a religion out of it. And to come back to the initial question: I honestly don't even care. If I would happen to own only a Nord right now for whatever reason, I'd try to get the most out of it for my purposes. That's what I tried in the very beginning with my Wavestation and that's what I'm still trying to achieve now with my current equipment.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 01:42:33 PM
That said, I have to add that I'm in the fortunate position to afford some of the gear I truly want. I point this out in case anyone thinks that my equipment choices are completely random. If I hadn't a preference for DSIs synths, I wouldn't use them. But I will also always say that I could work with whatever is there. If all DAW companies would go bankrupt tomorrow and I would be forced to use nothing but GarageBand that would still be fine with me.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 18, 2016, 01:42:54 PM
There is ONE more reason analog is seen as "better" than digital... it's called HYPE... and for some people (my self included) ther eis also the thing called "Placebo effect"... because I will not rule out, that some people find analog better, because most people have that view on it... it's part of human culture, to "mingle with the rest"... and then placebo start to seep into the equation... we start to THINK we hear something better, because we KNOW we are playing an analog synth, and not a digital one. I'm not saying that all fall for this, but some certainly do.

Speaking for myself, this is not the case.  Instead of bringing to the playing of an analog synthesizer a mental disposition to favor it, I hear a synthesizer online and recognize a tone that I either like or dislike.  And the consistent result is that I favor the analog. 

Remember that I got back into synthesis only about seven years ago.  At that point, I was entirely unfamiliar with the instruments that were available.  I started from zero, listening to one demo after another on YouTube.  I didn't know which was analog and which was digital, until I began researching the instruments I liked.  And you know what the score was.

as I stated... I do not believe ALL has this way of looking at it... but I'm most certain that some people do like analog (or any other method of synthesis for that matter) because of hype... and I don't even blame them for it because IF they are a "victim" of hype or placebo, then it still benefits them, very simply because it gives them inspiration to make sounds and music! ... so hype and placebo can as well be an advantage as any other thing.... if my placebo effect for analog synths makes me inspired to actualy create something with them, then placebo has a purpose in the end  :)
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: SpaceVoice on March 18, 2016, 01:47:18 PM
I have been thinking in context to the recent release of polyphonic analog keys...What is Better? I now have the choice besides vintage.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 02:11:56 PM
Now we get back on track.

That's certainly an intersting question worth asking. My initial answer would be: I don't know. I've never owned a Nord and feel like I had to in order to give a fair answer. But I take the Nord reference as a representative example for VAs and any emulative plug-in respectively. Even then, the question is not easy to answer.

Yes, the Nord was meant to be representative of VAs in general.

My opinion is that the imperfections we've been discussing have little to do with the analog attraction.  They seem to be only the easy and more tangible explanation.  Besides, such slight effects would be noticeable only on long notes, and not on melodies or solos that used quarter notes or less.  Rather, there is a sonic character, the origins or causes of which escape even the designers of synthesizers.  The technical explanations are beyond me.  I'm content to conclude for good reasons that it has to do with components and circuitry that create, not imperfections only, but also a richness and depth of tone.  This may be the closest we can come to a resolution on the subject.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 18, 2016, 02:15:57 PM
Richness and depth of tone are basically the attributes I may should have used with regard to how I see the imperfection I was addressing to result in.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 18, 2016, 03:01:48 PM
Then we basically agree.  I only wanted some clarity on the key question that gets tossed around the forums without anyone actually reaching a conclusion.  It's not a question of personal opinions, but of the best explanations as to why analog sound has the characteristics that it does.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 19, 2016, 07:04:10 AM
Then we basically agree.  I only wanted some clarity on the key question that gets tossed around the forums without anyone actually reaching a conclusion.  It's not a question of personal opinions, but of the best explanations as to why analog sound has the characteristics that it does.

The first thing is variance. If you take an analog synth with 6 voices, each with two oscillators then you have 12 oscillators. Each of these oscillators is made up of certain components, as an example lets take a resistor. Resistors are graded at tolerance levels, ranging from 0.05% to 20%. So the absolute closest match we could hope for is 0.05%, each oscillator is going to be using slightly different resistors. The same applies for lots of other components we use as well. So each oscillator is going to be different to the others in various ways as various components are basically "different", so it will sound slightly different.

Now in a digital synth it is pretty easy to knock up some basic oscillator code, now if I want 12 oscillators I run the oscillator code 12 times, once for each oscillator and every oscillator sounds the same. Aliasing nowadays also should not be a problem there are solutions for this including FM and sync.

If you play a 4 note chord on the two machines above the analog one is going to sound fuller and a bit more alive as the oscillators are not perfect while the digital ones are.

Nowadays though digital synths don't tend to take this naive approach to oscillators, they build in the variance to each oscillator so it acts differently to the others, on a digital synth like this then the oscillators sound analog.

The same sort of thing needs to be done for things like VCAs, you need to model a VCA and its distortion not just multiply samples like digital synths used to do.

The next major issue is filters, filters use feedback in the analog world this is pretty instant but in the digital would it isn't, it is running at the sample rate say 44.1Khz, so a feedback is going to take around 22.7 microseconds. Although you are not going to hear this directly it messes around with the phase response and frequency response of the filter. In general this means that the cutoff frequency is not accurate and also the resonance and frequency effect each other rather than being largely independent as in analog.

You can minimise this in digital systems by oversampling to reduce the feedback time but of course this uses more processing cycle, nowadays filters are being used (say in Monark/Diva etc) that are called Zero Delay filters that remove this feedback problem.

So if we compare an analog synth to a naive digital synth (all oscs the same, non modelled VCAs, feedback delay filters) then the analog synth is going to sound nicer, it has movement from its variance and it's filter is acting linearly across the frequency range.

Now if we compare it to a digital synth with variance, VCA modelling and zero delay filters you are going to find it very hard to tell the difference.

There is no point comparing analog synths to bad digital synths, you need to compare them to good digital synths.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 19, 2016, 03:08:42 PM
So if we compare an analog synth to a naive digital synth (all oscs the same, non modelled VCAs, feedback delay filters) then the analog synth is going to sound nicer, it has movement from its variance and it's filter is acting linearly across the frequency range.

Now if we compare it to a digital synth with variance, VCA modelling and zero delay filters you are going to find it very hard to tell the difference.

There is no point comparing analog synths to bad digital synths, you need to compare them to good digital synths.

That's true of course. I think a more pressing issue in the everyday life of most music makers is the question what controller makes your workflow easier. The main problem with software is of course that you have to assign all the parameters yourself (no rocket science, but still) and that you have to find a controller that's flexible enough for many different purposes and you're comfortable with in the first place.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 19, 2016, 11:51:45 PM
You are totally correct of course, I was just talking about the sound aspect of it which is what most people seem to get hung up on.



Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Bald Eagle on March 20, 2016, 04:34:36 AM
Then we basically agree.  I only wanted some clarity on the key question that gets tossed around the forums without anyone actually reaching a conclusion.  It's not a question of personal opinions, but of the best explanations as to why analog sound has the characteristics that it does.

The first thing is variance. If you take an analog synth with 6 voices, each with two oscillators then you have 12 oscillators. Each of these oscillators is made up of certain components, as an example lets take a resistor. Resistors are graded at tolerance levels, ranging from 0.05% to 20%. So the absolute closest match we could hope for is 0.05%, each oscillator is going to be using slightly different resistors. The same applies for lots of other components we use as well. So each oscillator is going to be different to the others in various ways as various components are basically "different", so it will sound slightly different.

Now in a digital synth it is pretty easy to knock up some basic oscillator code, now if I want 12 oscillators I run the oscillator code 12 times, once for each oscillator and every oscillator sounds the same. Aliasing nowadays also should not be a problem there are solutions for this including FM and sync.

If you play a 4 note chord on the two machines above the analog one is going to sound fuller and a bit more alive as the oscillators are not perfect while the digital ones are.

Nowadays though digital synths don't tend to take this naive approach to oscillators, they build in the variance to each oscillator so it acts differently to the others, on a digital synth like this then the oscillators sound analog.

The same sort of thing needs to be done for things like VCAs, you need to model a VCA and its distortion not just multiply samples like digital synths used to do.

The next major issue is filters, filters use feedback in the analog world this is pretty instant but in the digital would it isn't, it is running at the sample rate say 44.1Khz, so a feedback is going to take around 22.7 microseconds. Although you are not going to hear this directly it messes around with the phase response and frequency response of the filter. In general this means that the cutoff frequency is not accurate and also the resonance and frequency effect each other rather than being largely independent as in analog.

You can minimise this in digital systems by oversampling to reduce the feedback time but of course this uses more processing cycle, nowadays filters are being used (say in Monark/Diva etc) that are called Zero Delay filters that remove this feedback problem.

So if we compare an analog synth to a naive digital synth (all oscs the same, non modelled VCAs, feedback delay filters) then the analog synth is going to sound nicer, it has movement from its variance and it's filter is acting linearly across the frequency range.

Now if we compare it to a digital synth with variance, VCA modelling and zero delay filters you are going to find it very hard to tell the difference.

There is no point comparing analog synths to bad digital synths, you need to compare them to good digital synths.
This is the best response I have heard in this debate, it simply explains why. Basically, if you like the characteristic imperfections of analog then it will be your preference. Acoustic instruments behave imperfectly in various ways when played so it's only natural.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 20, 2016, 07:31:21 AM
Then we basically agree.  I only wanted some clarity on the key question that gets tossed around the forums without anyone actually reaching a conclusion.  It's not a question of personal opinions, but of the best explanations as to why analog sound has the characteristics that it does.

The first thing is variance. If you take an analog synth with 6 voices, each with two oscillators then you have 12 oscillators. Each of these oscillators is made up of certain components, as an example lets take a resistor. Resistors are graded at tolerance levels, ranging from 0.05% to 20%. So the absolute closest match we could hope for is 0.05%, each oscillator is going to be using slightly different resistors. The same applies for lots of other components we use as well. So each oscillator is going to be different to the others in various ways as various components are basically "different", so it will sound slightly different.

Now in a digital synth it is pretty easy to knock up some basic oscillator code, now if I want 12 oscillators I run the oscillator code 12 times, once for each oscillator and every oscillator sounds the same. Aliasing nowadays also should not be a problem there are solutions for this including FM and sync.

If you play a 4 note chord on the two machines above the analog one is going to sound fuller and a bit more alive as the oscillators are not perfect while the digital ones are.

Nowadays though digital synths don't tend to take this naive approach to oscillators, they build in the variance to each oscillator so it acts differently to the others, on a digital synth like this then the oscillators sound analog.

The same sort of thing needs to be done for things like VCAs, you need to model a VCA and its distortion not just multiply samples like digital synths used to do.

The next major issue is filters, filters use feedback in the analog world this is pretty instant but in the digital would it isn't, it is running at the sample rate say 44.1Khz, so a feedback is going to take around 22.7 microseconds. Although you are not going to hear this directly it messes around with the phase response and frequency response of the filter. In general this means that the cutoff frequency is not accurate and also the resonance and frequency effect each other rather than being largely independent as in analog.

You can minimise this in digital systems by oversampling to reduce the feedback time but of course this uses more processing cycle, nowadays filters are being used (say in Monark/Diva etc) that are called Zero Delay filters that remove this feedback problem.

So if we compare an analog synth to a naive digital synth (all oscs the same, non modelled VCAs, feedback delay filters) then the analog synth is going to sound nicer, it has movement from its variance and it's filter is acting linearly across the frequency range.

Now if we compare it to a digital synth with variance, VCA modelling and zero delay filters you are going to find it very hard to tell the difference.

There is no point comparing analog synths to bad digital synths, you need to compare them to good digital synths.
This is the best response I have heard in this debate, it simply explains why. Basically, if you like the characteristic imperfections of analog then it will be your preference. Acoustic instruments behave imperfectly in various ways when played so it's only natural.

I'd say that even though this is correct, it is not ALL of the answer to why some people like Analog better... One of the things that I do not like about Digital is when it has too much aliasing, which is generally a problem with all digital oscillators I've ever seen... especially in the higher regions... If you need crystal clear highpitched FX etc. then digital very often introduce artifacts in the sound... some digital synths are worse than others.... Not long ago I had the V-Synth GT which really is a marvelous sampling-synth... but it's worst aspect was exactly aliasing... I simply could not get myself to ignore it's teethgrinding alising noise when using the elastic audio features, so it had to go again...

To avoid this aliasing, most companies bandlimit the oscilltors so much, that it starts to be deteriorating the sound, making it sound strangely "plasticy" (in lack of better words)... I rarely hear digital oscillators have as strong a hold of the "cardboard in the monitors", as analog does, and it's very easy to hear the difference I think... every time I fire off the oscillators of any of my analog synths, that "strongness" is obvious... the digital ones just sound like "cheap clones" to my ears... this goes for Prophet 12 as well... the oscillators simply does NOT have that strong character to them, that the analog synths does.

This is MY personal view of course... it's the difference that I hear, and makes ME like analog better... Digital are limited by their inherent steady sample rates, being bandlimited to "cloud" the artifacts. If someone would start creating digital oscillators that were running at much higher frequencies, things might change... take the Yamaha FM chips for instance... these run in megaherts, not just 44.1 or 48Khz... or the Modal 002 synth where the sample rate is changed instead, to avoid aliasing of the oscillators... I think part of the problem with digital is, that all manufacturers do not want to shed out the cost for creating new processors customized for Audio... they rely on normal DSP processors, meant to do a lot of other types of code but Audio, at rates that will compromize the quality.... Listen to old FM chips... these hardly give you aliasing in the higher notes because the chips run so fast... they have aliasing because of poor bit depth, but that's another story.

So... I believe that much of the "badness" of digital is more down to DSP speeds, than just because it's digital in general.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 20, 2016, 11:54:02 AM
There is no need for aliasing in digital oscillators nowadays due to increases in cpu/dsp performance, there are ready to go solutions to solving this.

You need to have the antialiased oscillators running with oversampling to raise the frequency of the initial bandlimiting and then use a steep brick wall filter at the nyquist frequency before downsampling.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 20, 2016, 11:59:54 AM
Here is an image of a saw in Strobe from FXPansion, this uses the technique posted above.

As you can see there is no noticeable bandlimiting

Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 20, 2016, 03:32:55 PM
Here is an image of a saw in Strobe from FXPansion, this uses the technique posted above.

As you can see there is no noticeable bandlimiting

I'm not a user of softsynths... I was talking hardware, and I've not seen many hardware digital synths that are capable of no aliasing yet... of course I've not tried all out there, so I do not know if any may exist, I'm talking solely of those that I tried myself...

I cannot say what it is that makes me find digital less attractive than Analog ... I just can hear a difference between the two, and that is enough... how much of the reason is aliasing, bandlimiting or even placebo I don't really know... and I do not care either... I just keep the synths that inspire me to make music, and those seem to always have an analog element somewhere in the signal chain  :)

Another aspect is that I do not find the resonance of digital filters convincing, when you compare them to analog resonance... for some reason, resonance allways seem clean and boring, compared to analog resonance.... I know that emulations get better and better, and that some may fool the listener if you do not know about it being digital, but all the digital synths I've had, to compare yet to analog ones, I can hear a clear difference in the raw sound they produce one way or the other.

Someday they might get there... but that day is not yet... for me...
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 20, 2016, 03:45:31 PM
There's the problem, all the good digital synths are soft synths.

Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 20, 2016, 03:59:32 PM
There's the problem, all the good digital synths are soft synths.

Almost ;) ... there are some good ones, but that does not come down to audio quality alone in my opinion, but the types of sound they can create, but in most cases (for me), it's those that offer synthesis techniques that analog simply won't be able to touch... FM... PM... Physical Modelling... Wavetable Synthesis, Sampling Oscillators etc. But they are few... maybe because they usualy want to "do everything", and thus compromise sound quality, I don't know.... I'd really like to see a killer hardware digital synth, with all DSP horsepower used in generating the raw oscillators as best as possible, and with lots of modulation possibilities, and then forget about multitimbrality, internal FX etc...
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 20, 2016, 04:25:10 PM
I don't know. There's some pretty powerful stuff out there: Omnisphere 2, u-he's Zebra, Wolfgang Palm's apps just to name a few. And of course it's no wonder that innovation mostly moved to the software side because it's easier to develop, as you have to keep less hardware boundaries in mind.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 20, 2016, 04:32:08 PM
I agree, though, that hardware's usual restrictions, which are first of all cost restrictions, have a positive side, since you mostly get rather specified hardware synths that won't take you months or years to learn.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 20, 2016, 04:35:24 PM
When we talk about the digital side of things that also reminds me of how bad Yamaha presented their Montage synth, as I'm sure its FM side is certainly what a lot of people have been waiting for when it comes to this type of synthesis. They just advertised it in a totally cheesy way with mostly ROMpler bread and butter sounds.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 22, 2016, 10:47:32 AM
On a different note, here's a part of an interview the magazine Music Technology conducted with Brian Eno for the February 1988 issue:

“The problem with synthesisers has always been that the sound that you hear is a direct result of the movement of a very small number of electrons”, he explains, therefore the regularity and evenness of the sound are awe-inspiringly boring. The sound of a grand piano is the result of the interaction of so many factors - environmental, climatic and physical factors – in fact, a piano never sounds the same twice.”
     Eno’s whole approach to synthesis is texural. In fact, that's his sole aim in the studio, using everything from tape manipulation to signal processing he seeks to create a particular presence of sound. But, although he uses a Yamaha DX7 extensively, he still won’t use samplers even though they reproduce acoustic sounds.
     “I’m not very interested in samplers”, confesses Eno, “conceptually, synthesisers interest me much more. A sampler is a tape recorder as far as I’m concerned, and it isn’t conceptually very much more interesting than a tape recorder. Synthesisers, however, interest me for two reasons. One is because they do introduce new sounds into the world, and the other is because in working with them, I learn a lot about how sounds are made up. The DX7 has been very useful for that. I use it almost as much as a research tool for seeing how a sound is made. What happens when this hits this? Why does this sound like that? You find that a very specific relationship between two operators produces something that sounds like a grand piano. And you think ‘I wonder what it is in the physical make-up of a grand piano that demands precisely this relationship or its imitation’. I’m not interested in imitating grand pianos per se, but I am interested in finding how sounds work.
     “My solution has been to make the equipment unreliable in various ways. I used to like the old synthesizers because they were like that. My first synthesisers - the EMS, the AKS and the early Minimoog - were all fairly unstable and they had a certain character. Character has really to do with deviations, nor with regularity, they were very Latin in that sense. And then, of course, I used to feed them through all sorts of devices that also had a lot of character: that were themselves in various ways unpredictable. The interaction of a lot of these things started to create sounds that had an organic, uneven sound to me.”
     Although it’s not easy in computerised, digital synthesisers like the DX7, Eno has found a way to introduce character into modem synthesisers as well.
     “I’ve found ways to de-stabilise the DX7 a little bit to create interactions between it and other instruments that are more interesting”, he says with a gleam in his eye. “I don’t have very good voltage supply, for instance. Within the patches, I build in certain elements that don’t repeat. For instance, there’s something wrong with the programming of envelope generator four on the original DX7 and you can use that to create non-repeating patches. If you have that set to a value under 50, you’ll find that the synthesiser behaves unpredictably. Unfortunately, they sorted this out on the second generation of DX7s, so I still use the first one, and that’s an important element or quite a few of my patches.”
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 22, 2016, 11:06:01 AM
The sound of a grand piano is the result of the interaction of so many factors - environmental. climatic and physical factors – in fact. a piano never sounds the same twice.”

This is definitely the view of a synthesist/electronic music enthusiast, but the great composers of piano music would certainly disagree.  I get the hyperbole, and in a highly technical sense, there's truth to it.  But the same could be said for each and every sound in the universe, if only we were to analyze them closely enough.  In fact, the piano does sound remarkably the same in use after use, in spite of a thousand nuances that the natural human ear cannot appreciably detect.  I think this is key to our topic: the answer is observable to the natural ear even from a distance, so that all of this technical over-analysis is not really getting closer to the answer. 

As for the imperfection drum beat, I get that, too.  It's an element, but it isn't the element that makes the analog sound so attractive to some of us.  I don't even like those imperfections, so they are not the key.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 22, 2016, 11:37:21 AM
The sound of a grand piano is the result of the interaction of so many factors - environmental. climatic and physical factors – in fact. a piano never sounds the same twice.”

This is definitely the view of a synthesist, but the great composers of piano music would certainly disagree.  I get the hyperbole, and in a highly technical view, there's truth to it.  But the same could be true for every sound in the world, if we were to analyze it closely enough.  In fact, the piano does sound the same in use after use, in spite of a thousand nuances that the natural human ear cannot appreciably detect.

As for the imperfection drum beat, I get that, too.  It's an element, but it isn't the element that makes the analog synthesizers sound attractive to some of us.  I don't even like those imperfections, so they are not the key.

I'm not entirely sure whether he's entirely arguing as a synthesist, since I assume there are many versions of that. But he's certainly not arguing like a pragmatic only musician either, so he doesn't really care about whether a piano sounds approximatey the same, or the same to the human ear if you take away the nuances that are physically occuring. As a pianist myself, I'd argue that it's the hardest part - even in the most conventional playing style - to learn how to make the same note sound alike if you play it twice. There are not only all of the hardly perceivable physical factors that still occur whether you initially can identify their influence or not, but also so many tactile aspects that influence how a single note does sound in the end. In that sense I wouldn't speak of hyperbole, but magnifying glass.

As for the relationship between composers and pianos in particular, that is of course highly problematic on a different level that especially synthesists or synthesizer players should be aware of. Of course I'm talking about the notion of the piano as a surrogate for orchestras, the 88 musicians at your fingertips, which has of course been maintained by a certain interpretation of how to engineer and utilize synthesizers.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 22, 2016, 12:11:57 PM
This Pro 2 demo by Marc Doty is a demonstration of the claim that the analog character is primarily due to imperfections.  After he's added a various imperfections to the Pro 2's digital oscillators, does it sound analog?  It does resemble the slight quivering of an analog oscillator.  But is that the primary characteristic that produces the analog character with its warmth and lushness?  In my opinion, the Pro 2 in this video sounds far worse after the imperfections are added.  Regardless, Doty seems so committed to the "imperfections" explanation that he can't even hear when his own test disproves it.

I do think the Pro 2 is an excellent instrument, but for my purposes, it would have to be substantially strengthened by an analog module or two.

https://youtu.be/S5qi6bi2Dtg?t=3m13s
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 22, 2016, 12:29:27 PM
This Pro 2 demo by Marc Doty is a demonstration of the claim that the analog character is primarily due to imperfections.  After he's added a few imperfections to the Pro 2's digital oscillators, does it sound analog?  Perhaps in one sense, it does resemble the slight quivering of an analog oscillator.  But is that the primary characteristic that produces warmth and lushness?  In my opinion, the Pro 2 sounds worse after the imperfections are added.

https://youtu.be/S5qi6bi2Dtg?t=3m13s

Well, in the end it's a matter of taste what synth you are tending towards. And if you don't like the basic sonic character of the Pro 2 that's okay. My point was that imperfection or organicness might not always be tied to the distinction between analog and digital, but that it can of course be achieved on both sides of the synth spectrum. Of course, VCOs bring along aspects of randomness that you have to emulate actively a little bit more when it comes to purely digital oscillators. But the latter does of course also depend on how sophisticated the emulating software is. BobTheDog pointed out all the relevant aspects in that regard.

I for one don't think that Marc's example sounds bad, but like I said in the end it's just determined by the fact of how much you like a particular synthesizer's tone in the first place. I always considered the Pro 2 to embody the most perfected DSI sound. To me it sounds like how DSI instruments were meant to sound like from the very beginning - and yes I'm including the Evolvers and all that. So in that regard I perceive the Pro 2's sonic character to be something that was potentially there from the get-go (2002) and just waited to be fully realized in 2014. But take that only as a side note, since it doesn't have to do much with the main topic here.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 22, 2016, 12:41:48 PM
I agree with you more than you think.  I, too, consider the Pro 2 to be an excellent instrument which represents a true advancement in DSI synthesizers.  My only point was to use this video as a demonstration of our theorizing.  The nuances Doty adds don't, in my opinion, make the instrument sound any warmer, fuller, or richer.  I would say they only produce a obviously digital imitation of an analog character, and in that sense, they make the Pro 2 sound all the more digital.  I presume it can sound better without these artificial attempts.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 22, 2016, 12:42:47 PM
I agree with you more than you think.  I, too, consider the Pro 2 to be an excellent instrument which represents a true advancement in DSI synthesizers.  My only point is to use this video as a demonstration of our theorizing.  The nuances Doty adds don't, in my opinion, make the instrument sound any warmer, fuller, or richer.  I would say they only produce a glaringly digital imitation of an analog character.

Don't tell Marc.  ;D
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 22, 2016, 12:46:50 PM
Don't you tell Marc!  ;D

Besides, I told him in the comments below the video.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 22, 2016, 12:50:05 PM
I don't know. There's some pretty powerful stuff out there: Omnisphere 2, u-he's Zebra, Wolfgang Palm's apps just to name a few. And of course it's no wonder that innovation mostly moved to the software side because it's easier to develop, as you have to keep less hardware boundaries in mind.

Sure... but again... I'm talking hardware, not software... but I'm aware that there is a lot on the software side of things... no doubt, but I'll NEVER touch software myself... too many choices, and I'm not good with too many choices :D
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 22, 2016, 12:59:09 PM
I agree with you more than you think.  I, too, consider the Pro 2 to be an excellent instrument which represents a true advancement in DSI synthesizers.  My only point was to use this video as a demonstration of our theorizing.  The nuances Doty adds don't, in my opinion, make the instrument sound any warmer, fuller, or richer.  I would say they only produce a obviously digital imitation of an analog character, and in that sense, they make the Pro 2 sound all the more digital.  I presume it can sound better without these artificial attempts.

Warmer, fuller or richer is defined by the wave shape not by the way that wave shape is produced, this has nothing to do with the generator being digital or analog but rather the shape the designer chose.

If I was to take an oscillator you liked the sound of and digitally sampled it at all frequencies and all wave shapes and the transitions from the last frequency to the current frequency and then make a system that chose these samples based on these parameters it would sound exactly the same, even though it was digital. If I then accurately emulate this system algorithmically in a Digital system you could also not tell the difference.

Maybe it's as simple as the fact you don't like the P2s oscillators rather than the fact they are digital?
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 22, 2016, 01:52:29 PM
If I was to take an oscillator you liked the sound of and digitally sampled it at all frequencies and all wave shapes and the transitions from the last frequency to the current frequency and then make a system that chose these samples based on these parameters it would sound exactly the same, even though it was digital. If I then accurately emulate this system algorithmically in a Digital system you could also not tell the difference.

I realize that's the theory, and it makes perfect sense to me.  But why, then, are VAs unable to produce a satisfactorily warm tone?  Surely, the newest Nords should be getting high praise for their warmth of tone by now.  But I don't find that to be the case; they still have many critics of their coldness, and I would agree with them.  Otherwise, I might have a Nord.  And why is the Pro 2 sawtooth noticeably colder than that of the Pro One?  Again, that's my opinion, but it's also the opinion of many others. 

I don't mean to be the stubborn gadfly here, but I just don't find the popular explanations to be satisfactory.  Otherwise, I would expect every digital instrument to easily reproduce or surpass the warmth of an analog.     

On the other forum, there was a member who argued on this topic that the oscillator has no influence on the overall sound, that it all comes down to the filter.  He said, "You never even hear the oscillator".  This makes no sense, since the oscillator contributes its own partials.  If an oscillator lacked tonal character of its own, then what would a low pass filter have to filter out?  My point is, there seem to be many theories about this digital vs. analog character, and I'm happy to drop the topic altogether with the understanding that no one is yet able to satisfactorily explain it.  There's only one attempt that I disagree with, and that's the imperfections explanation, which I think can be disproven by demonstration.

I'd be happy to see Chris or Tracy offer their own insights to this discussion.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 22, 2016, 03:00:31 PM
The imperfections/variance thing can be disproven by demonstation, how is that then?

From one video you have watched!

Some people have limited ability to take on information, it proves nothing.

A closed mind sees nothing.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 22, 2016, 03:08:54 PM
There is a good test here you can do, OB8 Vs Diva.

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/electronic-music-instruments-electronic-music-production/1026344-analogue-vs-digital-part-2-diva-vs-ob8.html

Use the WAV files.

Listen to those digital filters and oscillators.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 22, 2016, 03:22:48 PM
I realize that's the theory, and it makes perfect sense to me.  But why, then, are VAs unable to produce a satisfactorily warm tone?  Surely, the newest Nords should be getting high praise for their warmth of tone by now.  But I don't find that to be the case; they still have many critics of their coldness, and I would agree with them.  Otherwise, I might have a Nord.  And why is the Pro 2 sawtooth noticeably colder than that of the Pro One?  Again, that's my opinion, but it's also the opinion of many others.

There is more than Nords though, although I would agree that they aren't particularly blowing my mind either. Still, as Bob pointed out, the most sophisticated and adventurous VAs are out there as software. Those are the ones you have to compare real analogs to.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 22, 2016, 03:28:13 PM
I don't know. There's some pretty powerful stuff out there: Omnisphere 2, u-he's Zebra, Wolfgang Palm's apps just to name a few. And of course it's no wonder that innovation mostly moved to the software side because it's easier to develop, as you have to keep less hardware boundaries in mind.

Sure... but again... I'm talking hardware, not software... but I'm aware that there is a lot on the software side of things... no doubt, but I'll NEVER touch software myself... too many choices, and I'm not good with too many choices :D

I made my remark due to Bob's comment about software, yes. I'd say most digital hardware synths sound more generic than the more advanced software options. Of course you are free not wanting to use software, but then you're not taking into account state of the art digital synthesis, which I think won't happen again in the form of hardware - at least not on a wider scale. I think along the lines that the only digital hardware contender that is worth mentioning in this thread is probably John Bowen's Solaris. It does a fair amount of what you'd expect a digital synth to be capable of these days and comes with an appropriate user interface, which of course has its price. The (reasonable) alternative would be to get an iPad Pro with 3D control and some of the most sophisticated soft synths.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on March 23, 2016, 12:47:26 AM
The imperfections/variance thing can be disproven by demonstation, how is that then?

From one video you have watched!

Some people have limited ability to take on information, it proves nothing.

A closed mind sees nothing.

I want to apologise for my tone in this post, I was having a bad day!
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on March 23, 2016, 02:22:40 AM
I don't know. There's some pretty powerful stuff out there: Omnisphere 2, u-he's Zebra, Wolfgang Palm's apps just to name a few. And of course it's no wonder that innovation mostly moved to the software side because it's easier to develop, as you have to keep less hardware boundaries in mind.

Sure... but again... I'm talking hardware, not software... but I'm aware that there is a lot on the software side of things... no doubt, but I'll NEVER touch software myself... too many choices, and I'm not good with too many choices :D

I made my remark due to Bob's comment about software, yes. I'd say most digital hardware synths sound more generic than the more advanced software options. Of course you are free not wanting to use software, but then you're not taking into account state of the art digital synthesis, which I think won't happen again in the form of hardware - at least not on a wider scale. I think along the lines that the only digital hardware contender that is worth mentioning in this thread is probably John Bowen's Solaris. It does a fair amount of what you'd expect a digital synth to be capable of these days and comes with an appropriate user interface, which of course has its price. The (reasonable) alternative would be to get an iPad Pro with 3D control and some of the most sophisticated soft synths.

Sure... But yes... the Solaris probably is one of the few... also the Accelerator is said to have quite good synthesis, and Nord A1 too.

The digital synths I've tried, all seem to introduce aliasing in the top octave or two of a 61note keyboard. The only ones I've not heard this with are all the older Yamaha FM synths (with the different YM types of custom FM chips)... and funnily enough also the digital oscillators in the Commodore 64 SID chip, which even use simple phase accumulating oscillators.... difference with that is, that it runs at 1MHz-3MHz ... I firmly believe that in most hardware cases, the aliasing is due to the constant sample rate technique that they use... some also use "oversampling", but I still hear the aliasing to a lesser (or greater) degree.

It's very few digital hardware synths that interest me... and when they do, it's usually not the digital oscillator quality that is the reason, but rather their synthesis and flexibility... I've had quite a lot of digital synths thru the years, and today I have none of them left, except for the Blofeld, but that is mostly because it's the only keyboard with keys worth using for me, and because it's the only hardware synth that give me wavetable synthesis with full-cycle waveforms in addition to Flash-sample storage.

The only digital synth I'd think about getting these days are a modern FM synth... that's why I'm waiting for a 1U rackmount version of the Montage or something similar...

Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 23, 2016, 10:14:43 AM
The only digital synth I'd think about getting these days are a modern FM synth... that's why I'm waiting for a 1U rackmount version of the Montage or something similar...

Seriously, I would take the FM-half of the Montage any day.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 23, 2016, 10:29:43 AM
The imperfections/variance thing can be disproven by demonstation, how is that then?

From one video you have watched!

Some people have limited ability to take on information, it proves nothing.

A closed mind sees nothing.

Not at all.  I didn't need Doty's demonstration for the one point I've been sticking to, but there it is.  My only point from it being, do those added imperfections make the sound in any way more appealing, in accord with the qualities that people call "analog" - lush, rich, warm, fat, creamy?  Perhaps you'd disagree, but I don't think they improve the sound on any level.  They only give it variations which I personally dislike.  Again, this is my main point.  But your previous post about oscillators made much more sense to me. 

If software digital synths are another creature, then I have no say about them because I've never used one.  I can't imagine being stuck in front of a computer screen while composing or performing music.  To me, it would be like walking in the woods with ear plugs and blinders on, or bringing along the most annoying person I knew; it would ruin the beauty of the experience.  So, I've only been referring to hardware digital synthesizers.  And I mentioned the Nords only as representative of generally respected VA instruments.   

If we have to go into software synthesizers, or else, $4,000+ individual hardware synthesizers, then I admittedly have to quit there.  But it does seem like an exorbitant amount of money to spend in order to emulate a little ARP Odyssey.  And even then, can I be absolutely guaranteed not to hear even the slightest digital aliasing in the upper registers?   Anyways, at that annoyance or starting price, I would probably get out of synthesizers altogether and invest in a home church organ.  But that that won't be necessary, as long as DSI is around.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 23, 2016, 10:32:50 AM
The imperfections/variance thing can be disproven by demonstation, how is that then?

From one video you have watched!

Some people have limited ability to take on information, it proves nothing.

A closed mind sees nothing.

I want to apologise for my tone in this post, I was having a bad day!

No problem, Bob.   :D
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 23, 2016, 10:46:12 AM
Not at all.  I didn't even need Doty's demonstration, but there it is if you'd like one.  My only point from it being, do those added imperfections make the sound in any way more appealing, in accord with the qualities that people call "analog" - lush, rich, warm, fat, creamy?  Perhaps you'd disagree, but I don't think they improve the sound on any level.  They only give it variations.

Well, harmonic content is certainly the other thing that's important. That in conjunction with variance explains at least attributes like "rich" and "fat."
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on March 23, 2016, 11:08:57 AM
Right, harmonic content is the key to the character.  I agree.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: chysn on March 23, 2016, 01:16:00 PM
A piano sounds alive because of, among other things, sympathetic resonance. The strings that aren't being played are set in motion by vibration from strings that are. It's easy enough to imagine stronger (lower-numbered) harmonics causing vibrations of strings an octave up, then another fifth, etc., weaker vibrations as we move up the overtone series. But then the sympathetically-vibrating strings cause their own, much weaker, interactions with strings at their harmonics, and it goes on like this until the very weight of the strings themselves causes them to be immovable by further overtones' overtones. But also we can't forget other factors like air temperature and pressure, the piano's temperament (even the "perfect" octaves get stretched intentionally during tuning), the materials, the number of picture frames sitting on the piano, how far the piano is away from the wall, or the player. It all adds up to "just can't really sample a piano."

But of course you can sample a piano, and convincingly. The more stuff you mix it with, the less the nooks and crannies of sound contribute, and so we hear piano samples all the time.

I expect that analog filters and oscillators are the same way. We know them when we hear them not because of "imperfection," but because of countless interactions of circuitry that simply aren't completely modeled. Which one was the OB-8 and which one was the Diva? I have no damn clue. I totally can't tell by listening to WAV files. But get behind the same keyboard with them for five minutes each, and I'd expect any of us would have a pretty good shot.

Digital emulation of an analog synth is about as interesting to me as an analog synth emulation of my piano. I respect digital synthesis for the things that it brings to its own table. In that context, or any context for that matter, there's no mutual exclusivity. That why I absolutely refuse to post anything on this topic.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 23, 2016, 01:27:28 PM
But of course you can sample a piano, and convincingly. The more stuff you mix it with, the less the nooks and crannies of sound contribute, and so we hear piano samples all the time.

Sure, but a piano sample will always be a sample of one piano at a particular time in a particular place under particular physical conditions. Basically like a snapshot.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: chysn on March 23, 2016, 02:35:32 PM
Sure, but a piano sample will always be a sample of one piano at a particular time in a particular place under particular physical conditions. Basically like a snapshot.

Which is fine* until you decide to play a chord with that snapshot. The maths of sympathetic vibration will work out a bit differently for chords, it's not just a simple sum-of-single-notes. You'll get a decent caricature, but when a sampled piano is alone it will always give itself away somehow.

* But seriously, even if you do play chords, it's still "fine." But I hope you know what I mean.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Paul Dither on March 23, 2016, 02:41:23 PM
Which is fine* until you decide to play a chord with that snapshot. The maths of sympathetic vibration will work out a bit differently for chords, it's not just a simple sum-of-single-notes. You'll get a decent caricature, but when a sampled piano is alone it will always give itself away somehow.

* But seriously, even if you do play chords, it's still "fine." But I hope you know what I mean.

Sure. I just meant on an analytical level that's what makes the difference.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: chysn on March 23, 2016, 02:45:49 PM
...push down middle C, slowly, softly, so that it makes no sound. The damper pulls back from the strings, but the hammer just barely touches the strings, and there's no--or very little--sound. Keep it held down. Then, bang on the C below middle C as hard as you can, staccato, while keeping the silent middle C held.

Middle C's not so silent anymore, it rings aethereally for a good long time, or until you release the key. This sort of interaction is going on with every note and chord played.

A similar thing goes on inside analog electronics. There's simply no way it can be perfectly modeled, and your best scenario is modeling it sufficiently for a particular purpose.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Strange Quark Star on April 10, 2016, 07:17:33 AM
Even this sort of sympathetic vibration can be modeled quite convincingly, as it is in my hybrid Kawai upright.

Given enough algorithmic sophistication and processing power there's nothing you can't model or reproduce. It then comes down to the choices the modeler has made and the economy of painstakingly replicating minute details when you could just use the real thing instead, which oftentimes has much nicer physical characteristics, too.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: chysn on April 10, 2016, 08:05:24 AM
Even this sort of sympathetic vibration can be modeled quite convincingly, as it is in my hybrid Kawai upright.

This was also the claim-to-fame of the Generalmusic Pro2 digital piano of the late 90s. It was actually pretty impressive.

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Given enough algorithmic sophistication and processing power there's nothing you can't model or reproduce.

Everything you say is true; of course there's nothing that technically can't be modeled with enough power. Personally, I won't even rule out our entire universe being a simulation. My point is, that in 2016, partiality to analog synthesizers isn't just an irrational preference, but is based on perceptible phenomena.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Strange Quark Star on April 10, 2016, 08:16:44 AM
Quote
Given enough algorithmic sophistication and processing power there's nothing you can't model or reproduce.

Everything you say is true; of course there's nothing that technically can't be modeled with enough power. Personally, I won't even rule out our entire universe being a simulation. My point is, that in 2016, partiality to analog synthesizers isn't just an irrational preference, but is based on perceptible phenomena.

Agree completely. In theory a model could do everything, which is why I disagree with people who say "analog will always be better." The reverse—digital is just as good—is just as wrong, though, since it clearly isn't at this point. If not in modeling the exact behavior, then surely in interface design or at the very least the fuzzy feeling you get when you know you have the real deal in your hands.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on April 10, 2016, 09:14:13 AM
Instrument emulation is only the beginning of the equation.  The next factor is the sound system, which requires the ability to perfectly reproduce all the nuances of an acoustic imitation, and can be quite expensive. 

I've played some fairly good digital pipe organs, as well as digital pianos.  They were very impressive as technical feats, but personally, I find the whole idea of imitation to be rather bland.  It's like a woman who seems beautiful...until it rains; then you see the truth in a pool.  I don't even like fake candles.  In the end, I would far prefer to play a small genuine pipe organ than a massive glorious digital imitation.   

I could use a sampled or digital pipe organ sound in my recordings, but I happily prefer not to and to use instead a different sound that has similar strengths and musical virtues, and yet, that is clearly a synthesizer, not an organ.  I simply don't want the silly experience of playing a gigantic pipe organ sound in my little music room.  Even when I design a choir, brass, or string patch, I intend the sound to be similar to the real thing as a starting point or category of tones, but by no means do I want or need to fool anyone.  What I strive for is an excellent synthesized choir, brass, and string patch, and doing so often sends me in very inauthentic directions.  Again, because the objective is not imitation.

There are elements of truth, reality, and nature that I prefer to abide by at all times.  For me, these are part and parcel of the beauty of making good music.  They are the objective part.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Strange Quark Star on April 10, 2016, 09:53:40 AM
Instrument emulation is only the beginning of the equation.  The next factor is the sound system, which requires the ability to perfectly reproduce all the nuances of an acoustic imitation. 

I've played some fairly good digital pipe organs, as well as digital pianos.  They were very impressive on one hand as technical feats, but personally, I find the whole idea of imitation to be rather bland.  It's like a woman who seems beautiful...until it rains; then you see the truth.  I don't even like fake candles.  In the end, I would far prefer to play a small genuine pipe organ than a massive glorious digital imitation.   

Oh sure, all we talked about here was comparing the raw signal output of electronic instruments, particularly synthesizers.

But it's interesting to think about the whole experience, too. I have a nice example every day when I play my acoustic piano at home or switch it into digital mode at night, which puts up a bar to prevent the hammers from striking the strings. The physical feeling is the exact same, aside from feeling the strings vibrating in my fingertips, but I only hear a (quite good) digital emulation in my headphones. When practicing a new piece this actually is "good enough" for me, but of course the clean sound of a sampled, perfectly tuned grand coming out of headphones is nothing in comparison to filling the whole room with the real acoustic sound when I actually play a piece.

Of course there are great advances in the sound system domain, too, as can be seen in Yamaha's most advanced digital grands on the piano side. On the general side you have wave field synthesis and ambisonics, demos of which I recently heard in person at an acoustics conference. Very impressive technology and interesting effects. But it's still very clearly "just an effect" and nothing really like the real experience.
At my university we have one auditorium fitted out with 1,600 individual speakers that—in theory—can reproduce the ambience of most any place, real or not; e.g. a particular gothic cathedral. It's very convincing! But still clearly just an imitation, however impressive it might be. And let's not think about the kind of money this kind of sound system might cost!
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on April 10, 2016, 10:20:25 AM
Well it's a bit like the argument of listening to an Orchestra.

On one side you have the actual experience of listening to live players in a live space (hopefully an excellent concert hall), or listening to a recording of the same event.

Now for me nothing beats the live space, no recording system is going to give me the same auditorial experience.

But we also have reality, most listeners of music listen to music from a recorded medium. So from an "emulation" point of view the developers of "virtual instruments" need to look at the instrument they are emulating from a recorded perspective.

Nowadays guitar amp simulators are amazing, they simulate the pre amp, power amp, cabinet (and interaction between these 3), microphone, microphone position and ambient space amazingly well. On a recording 99.99999% could not tell the difference. Playing live through a PA no one could tell the difference, but still there are a subset of guitarists that would never use this technology.


Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Fuseball on April 11, 2016, 03:11:38 AM
I think there's a separation between what we, as musicians, hear and feel when we play our instruments and what an audience hears and feels.

As day-to-day life becomes more and more digitised and abstracted, I want the things I do for pleasure to be as authentic and sensory as possible. For example, I choose to drive a manual car with a lot of 'feel' and relatively unencumbered with gadgets. I like to deal with people face-to-face when I can. I'm one of those guitarists that relishes the unpredictable interaction between guitar and amp. I'm absolutely no Luddite but emulation or filtering of these things is profoundly unsatisfying to me.

For all their positives, in my mind digital synths are still introducing a layer of abstraction to the process of creating sound. Software synths doubly so. What drew me to analog synthesisers was that it was as close to the metal as I could get while still remaining modern and electronic. When I'm shaping a sound I can picture how I am directly influencing the electrical circuit. A huge part of the experience is interface and the responsiveness of that interface. I recently got to spend some time with a Minimoog Model D and the thing felt so alive. It felt like every switch and knob was coursing with electricity. I never get that from digital instruments.

I know that, for many, instruments are tools to serve a specific musical purpose. I guess I'm fortunate enough not to need to see them that way. I make music purely as a hobbyist and the way a guitar or a synth makes me feel when I play it is, if anything, more important than its utility. I don't derive much pleasure from the few digital synths I have, but the analogs never fail to make me smile.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on April 11, 2016, 05:45:19 AM
Well said, Fuseball.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on April 11, 2016, 11:16:55 AM
I think there's a separation between what we, as musicians, hear and feel when we play our instruments and what an audience hears and feels.

I totally agree, depressing isn't it.

Quote
As day-to-day life becomes more and more digitised and abstracted, I want the things I do for pleasure to be as authentic and sensory as possible. For example, I choose to drive a manual car with a lot of 'feel' and relatively unencumbered with gadgets. I like to deal with people face-to-face when I can. I'm one of those guitarists that relishes the unpredictable interaction between guitar and amp. I'm absolutely no Luddite but emulation or filtering of these things is profoundly unsatisfying to me.

Totally agree on the car front, manual car, mid engine, high powered and rear wheel drive. The only car worth driving :)

The interaction between guitar and amp though has been nailed in the digital world. For example I use an Orange TH30 when I (rarely) play live but there is no way I can play this at home even though it is only 30watts, dialing it to get the sort of power amp distortion I want and all the neighbours within 200 yards will be banging on the door. So I use a power soak and to be honest that doesn't get the same feel, the air being moved by the speaker isn't the same, the interaction between the speakers in the cab and the power amp isn't the same. We are already moving away from the full blown experience.

What You can do though is buy a Kemper and profile it down the practice studio (along with my other amps), now I can get that power amp distortion but at much lower volume levels without using a power soak and without loosing the interaction between the cab and the power amp. Now I can't tell the difference between the interaction between the guitar and the Kemper compared to the guitar and the amp, apart from the air being moved that is.

Also with the Kemper I can profile all my other amps, and also I can download profiles of amps I would't even begin to try to afford. A whole world opens up.

Quote
For all their positives, in my mind digital synths are still introducing a layer of abstraction to the process of creating sound. Software synths doubly so. What drew me to analog synthesisers was that it was as close to the metal as I could get while still remaining modern and electronic. When I'm shaping a sound I can picture how I am directly influencing the electrical circuit. A huge part of the experience is interface and the responsiveness of that interface. I recently got to spend some time with a Minimoog Model D and the thing felt so alive. It felt like every switch and knob was coursing with electricity. I never get that from digital instruments.

I find it hard to see analog synths as modern, most of them are severely limited. Just taking a simple part such as the oscillators, what do you get, four distinct waveforms if you are lucky. Compare that to Omnisphere, I have no idea how many oscillator types it has, too many to comprehend. Same with filters, same with modulation ability, same with envelopes, really same with anything. The DX7 is getting old but even that is far more modern that all the recent analog synths, a different world.

For me I think in general the allure of analog synths is their simplicity not their modernity, and there is nothing wrong with that.

Quote
I know that, for many, instruments are tools to serve a specific musical purpose. I guess I'm fortunate enough not to need to see them that way. I make music purely as a hobbyist and the way a guitar or a synth makes me feel when I play it is, if anything, more important than its utility. I don't derive much pleasure from the few digital synths I have, but the analogs never fail to make me smile.

And thats where it comes down to, each man to themselves.

Everything I have said in this post only has meaning to the way I see things, I would hope others would see these truths the way I see them but I am old enough to know this will never be the case.

Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Chaparral on April 14, 2016, 03:08:58 PM
I have been entertained by this discussion, but my answer to 'What makes analog (or digital) better would be 'The person playing it'.
I don't mean to be flippant. I spend many hours perfecting my synth voices and all too often - especially when playing with a rock band or in a place with dodgy acoustics - all my subtlety is wasted. I doubt that most of the audience would be wondering the mechanics of my synth as long as they like what I play.
My main requirement for a synth is that I can make sounds that are NOT like the ones you usually hear. Tim Turan (a famous mastering engineer) once played some of my work to a number of recording engineers and none of them could guess that I was playing a DX7 (I had programmed all my own voices). I now have a Prophet 12 and would want my sound to be equally unique. I do not believe that I could easily push analog sounds to such extremes, but If I had an analog synth I would give it a go.
I used to play with a guy who played a Woolworths electric guitar which I am sure you would all agree is no Gibson Les Paul, but I tell you sincerely, he could trash most other guitarists no matter what their equipment.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: tumble2k on June 13, 2016, 09:09:14 AM
I think this thread has gone dormant, but I'll jump in. I have two comments that I may expand on more if there's interest.

Sacred Synthesis keeps saying that analog sounds warm and lush compared to digital emulations. I agree with that. There's something to be said for a system that has nothing generating frequencies other than the ones you intend to generate. This is true of acoustical instruments and of analog instruments. Not so true of digital instruments, which generates aliasing (that is filtered out) and other digital frequencies that can intermodulate down to audio range. I think these may add high frequencies that subjectively thin out the sound. There's something to be said for a system that doesn't generate extra audio signals in the first place.

The second comment I have is that analog synthesis is easy to understand and very immediate. In the end we are shaping sound. The goal is to get the sound the way we want it, and in the case of analog synthesis, the tools are oscillators, low pass filters, envelopes, and LFOs. This is a great set of tools that maps well onto what we hear and how we analyze sounds. To have an instrument with which we can modify these parameters directly is amazing. This is not so true for digital instruments, where the controller inputs go into a big black box that generates waveforms that are digitally converted back to analog. That digital instruments can actually be enjoyable to use is what is surprising to me.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 13, 2016, 11:18:38 AM
There's more to this contentious issue than just analog vs. digital sound; there's also the issue of control.  Many synthesists want more control than traditional analog synthesis offers, and for this they turn to digital synthesis, which offers a much vaster sonic range.  It seems for at least some folks that this complexity compensates for a less than satisfactory tone. 

Those synthesists who prefer the more traditional analog synthesizer design not only are willing to settle for nothing less than an analog sound; they are also content with the more limited control.  They feel that the traditional VCO-VCF-VCA-LFO + 2 envelopes and no onboard effects is perhaps just right for their musical pursuits.  This certainly describes my point of view. 

What I like about analog synthesis is, first and foremost, the sound quality, as well as the "limited" but more than adequate standard sound sculpting features.  They're just right - not too many, not too few.    This helps to keep the focus on producing music, rather than endlessly fussing over an excess of features.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: DavidDever on June 13, 2016, 01:07:22 PM
That said - one must deal with tradeoffs, such as envelope snappiness, the ability to cross-modulate an oscillator in the analog domain, and (in the extreme case) keyboard tracking. All of these have inspired various "improvements" over the years (software envelopes, DCOs / direct-coupled pulse waves, or microprocessor-scanned keyboards, for example), though it is up to the individual player as to which features are necessary, and which are frivoluous, versus any perceived changes in sound quality.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on June 14, 2016, 11:41:34 AM
I'd say that this subject cannot be debated as better/worse in any case... it's like with any other form of art, it's a personal thing. If analog was absolutely better, then why do we see so many digital synths coming out, including workstations etc? ... There MUST be a widely different opinion spectrum on this matter.

To say that either is better than the other, in my point of view (when said in a general fashion), is just arrogant... straight out... in the end, it's what you make with your tools that matter, not what tools you use to make your stuff.

Yes... digital has some things that usually makes you wish it was better... one is aliasing, since many digital synths have problems in the higher frequencies... but then again... analog has problems doing stable FM synthesis, and is not even capable of doing what a DX7 does... yes, analog has a good and great potential for bass sounds for some obscure reason compared to digital, but then again, highpitched clangorous bellish sounds they loose to a DX7 too...

So in the end... what you feel is "best" is just usually the stuff that compliment you the best, and makes you happy... those features might make other people not even care...

I found this out the hard way myself lately by the way... When I began my synth route many many years ago, I was totaly into digital synths... I thought that they had digital outs, giving cleaner sounds, more features, more polyphony etc... but then I started doing more techno/trance type of music, and found that ONLY analog or at least hybrids was THE BEST! ... and it was... for me, since the music I did, called for it...

Then recently I've started doing Ambient stuff... and now I really see how bad analog monophonics really are for this genre... the sounds they do are limited in that genre's favor... it can be done, but require substantial FX outbord, and getting any pad sounds out of them is just impossible... Ambient call for all kinds of weird sounds, and with loads of polyphony... suddenly, all the FM synths, the wavetable synths, the ROMplers, samplers etc. has risen in my awareness again, and I've had to accept, that digital synths are much better now than they were before... because I need their type of sound and flexibility.

This has made me sell my monophonic analog synths lately, and begun getting digital synths again... keeping only the polyphonic DSI synths... My Pulse 2 is going... My MOOG Sub37 is going... now I'm investing in a Roland Integra-7, and I'm on the hunt again for an E-MU sampler etc...

So please... this outdated debate about analog vs. digital... it really IS pointless, if you do not take peoples goals with their music into account...  :)
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 14, 2016, 11:48:30 AM
I feel as if I've said this a dozen times now.  In spite of the awkward title of this thread (which I would like to see changed), we're not using the terms "better" or "worse."  No, this is a discussion about the appreciable differences between analog and digital synthesis, and why some of us prefer one to the other.  I think it's a legitimate topic for discussion on a synthesizer forum.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on June 14, 2016, 12:14:16 PM
In spite of the title of this thread (which I would like to see changed), we're not using the terms "better" or "worse."  No, it's a discussion about differences, and why some of us prefer one set versus another set.  I think that's a legitimate topic for discussion on a synthesizer forum.

I did not write anything about that not being a valid debate... only that the best/worse is pointless... I also did explain why I prefer more digital these days than I did before... I've been in both extreme area's at some point, and have now settled somewhat in between... so if I dare to say what is "best" in a general fashion, I'd say that best is to blend both, because you then get the "best" of both worlds... but there are no rules without exception... some people want to do do stuff that only analog do right for them, and don't need digital... I'd almost be as daunting as to say, that people doing Ambient stuff could do with only digital... I just happen to like both, but I need polyphony, and a deep engine for modulation... thus, these days, there are no other choices but DSI if you want that with a touch of analog.

But if I can elaborate on my choices:

Polyphony... most Ambient are loads of pad sounds, thus it's much needed.
Synthesis complexity... you need to have mod.matrixes and lots of LFO's and ENV's to create motion in the sound.
Stereo perspective... needed for width and depth compared to single output monosynths.
Synthesis variety... you need as many as you can get... the usual subtractive stuff is not enough.
MIDI controllabillity... most digital have it, very few analogs have it.

Those are the reasons I'm turning more toward digital these days... but I still love the DSI synths to death!  :)
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 14, 2016, 12:20:29 PM
Then recently I've started doing Ambient stuff... and now I really see how bad analog monophonics really are for this genre... the sounds they do are limited in that genre's favor... it can be done, but require substantial FX outbord, and getting any pad sounds out of them is just impossible... Ambient call for all kinds of weird sounds, and with loads of polyphony... suddenly, all the FM synths, the wavetable synths, the ROMplers, samplers etc. has risen in my awareness again, and I've had to accept, that digital synths are much better now than they were before... because I need their type of sound and flexibility.

These are interesting comments, Razmo, and I'd be happy to see you start a thread on the topic.  I'm sure I could learn a few things from it.  But don't you see how inconsistent you're being?  I think this forum should welcome both our views, and that neither should be discouraged or barred.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: BobTheDog on June 14, 2016, 12:32:40 PM
I don't think he is being inconsistent, how do you see that?

From my perspective analog is dead now, which is why it is interesting we have this recent resurgence in analog love.

If we look at DSI they have produced two synths recently the P6 and OB6 which I guess go against the direction the company had before which lead to two future classic synths, the P12 and the P2.

Now the P12 and P2 are fantastic synths, the pinnacle of Dave Smiths endeavours. But for some reason nowadays people have this "analog" fixation, for you it is different for the rest of the masses but the end result is the same, lets have a limited "old school" synth that ticks the boxes we think are important. Only analog can sound good, it's rubbish.

Razmo was talking about the Integra 7, I have one, its totally amazing. all those classic roland romper sounds along with the supernatural engine, it's a plain winner. Lets look at the use of this synth in commercial releases compared to the P6 and OB6, no comparison the I7 will win hands down. It's a tool not a statement.

P.S. Razmo I have an e6400 Ultra here will all the libraries, removable hard disk with dock for a pc. very good condition. If you fancy it send me a pm.
 
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 14, 2016, 12:40:16 PM
I'm saying that it's perfectly fine to think one type of synthesis is good or bad, better or worse.  But to suggest we shouldn't have this discussion about analog synthesis, and then remark that for his purposes analog is bad and digital better, is inconsistent. 

I say, post away, whatever your opinion; just keep it clean.  I'm fine with some one writing "analog is dead now," or else, "how bad analog monophonics really are for this genre."  I don't agree with these comments, but so what, right?  But I'm not going to tell you guys that you shouldn't be writing such things.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 14, 2016, 01:10:52 PM
Now the P12 and P2 are fantastic synths, the pinnacle of Dave Smiths endeavours. But for some reason nowadays people have this "analog" fixation, for you it is different for the rest of the masses but the end result is the same, lets have a limited "old school" synth that ticks the boxes we think are important. Only analog can sound good, it's rubbish.

Yikes.  Let's cool off a bit.  These discussions could be a little more light-hearted.  After all, they're only about synthesizers.

I have a preference, yes indeed.  And it's primarily for analog synthesis, that I admit.  And yet, I've got no less than four Evolvers, so I'm obviously open to digital instruments. 

Now, I've heard countless Prophet 12 demos, and one after another I haven't liked.  This is not some sort of ignorant, mean-spirited, anti-digital, pro-analog bigotry, nor is it a "fixation;" it's simply my consistent personal taste.  Besides, the P12 is a hybrid, so disliking it couldn't amount to a charge of being anti-digital.  And when the Prophet 12 first came out, and even after we learned the oscillators were digital, I was as excited as anybody to hear it and to get one.  The only things that stopped me were my ears.  Regardless, I'm still searching Youtube every few days for P12 videos, not because I hate the instrument, but because I want to like it.  It would be to my advantage to like it.

I'm certainly not saying "only analog can sound good."  If you doubt this, just look at yesterday's thread on the Pro One/Prophet-6/Pro 2.  We had quite a humorous time comparing the instruments.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on June 14, 2016, 03:53:09 PM
I'm saying that it's perfectly fine to think one type of synthesis is good or bad, better or worse.  But to suggest we shouldn't have this discussion about analog synthesis, and then remark that for his purposes analog is bad and digital better, is inconsistent. 

I say, post away, whatever your opinion; just keep it clean.  I'm fine with some one writing "analog is dead now," or else, "how bad analog monophonics really are for this genre."  I don't agree with these comments, but so what, right?  But I'm not going to tell you guys that you shouldn't be writing such things.

SS... I think I got it now... the initial thread "what makes analog better", was a topic meant for praisers of analog synths to talk about how much they love them and why... you did not want anyone with another opinion to chime in, it was a "closed debate" from the start, with a predestined subject... The topic's newly given name basically says the same, except it sounds a bit less provokative on those who differ in opinion.

I'll accept that this thread is a "coffee club" for initiated purists of analog synths, and leave it now, but it really makes me question WHO of us, is the one who want to control what others write.
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Razmo on June 14, 2016, 03:55:31 PM
I don't think he is being inconsistent, how do you see that?

From my perspective analog is dead now, which is why it is interesting we have this recent resurgence in analog love.

If we look at DSI they have produced two synths recently the P6 and OB6 which I guess go against the direction the company had before which lead to two future classic synths, the P12 and the P2.

Now the P12 and P2 are fantastic synths, the pinnacle of Dave Smiths endeavours. But for some reason nowadays people have this "analog" fixation, for you it is different for the rest of the masses but the end result is the same, lets have a limited "old school" synth that ticks the boxes we think are important. Only analog can sound good, it's rubbish.

Razmo was talking about the Integra 7, I have one, its totally amazing. all those classic roland romper sounds along with the supernatural engine, it's a plain winner. Lets look at the use of this synth in commercial releases compared to the P6 and OB6, no comparison the I7 will win hands down. It's a tool not a statement.

P.S. Razmo I have an e6400 Ultra here will all the libraries, removable hard disk with dock for a pc. very good condition. If you fancy it send me a pm.

I'll contact you when I find the money... I'm in the middle of moving right now, so it'll probably be a little while... we'll just have to see if you still have it then :) ... thanks!
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Paul Dither on June 14, 2016, 07:24:56 PM
Well, with the thread renamed "What is unique about Analog Synths?" I'd say certainly the particular economy of parameters. There are of course vast differences from manufacturer to manufacturer and model to model. A Prophet '08 or a Modal 008 are certainly capable of more elaborate modulation options than an ARP Odyssey or a Minimoog for that matter. Still, the basic architecture of the classic subtractive synthesis signal path - oscillators, mixer, filter, VCA, and envelope generators - is easy to grasp. Any additional LFO, filter, or envelope generator doesn't fundementally change this concept, which has certainly proven to be successful to the point where you don't even need patch memory in its most basic incarnations like for example the Minimoog. Meaning: once, you've understood what the single modules do to the sound, it's fairly easy to start from scratch any time. I'm not saying that this would be the most pragmatic way to go about programming sounds on an analog synth, but the sheer possibility of that is a testament to the ease of use of classic analog synths.
The architectural simplicity in conjunction with an easily accessable user interface also allows for tweaking and playing not to be separated while performing, which makes most analog synths very attractive for those who enjoy shaping a sound just as much as playing it, since you might as well just play a filter knob.

The next point is a little iffy, as it's not free from personal preferences, but I would also bring up the pure quality of tone of voltage generated signals. This is not necessarily a universal criterium, but there are certainly analog synths around that produce a very distinctive basic tone that is easily recognizable to almost everybody. Most of us would be able to identify a Minimoog for example. Particularly pleasant and rich sounds come to my mind, which just sound the way they do despite of any modulation going on. Here we are easily in the premium league of analog synths along with the huge Moog modulars or rows of SEMs. So when someone like Hans Zimmer says there's no substitute for a Moog modular system in terms of pure bass tone, that's one of those examples I have in mind. So I guess I would call that a certain harmonic coherence.
And not to be misunderstood: I didn't bring up the latter in a "vs digital" fashion. But it's still worth to remember that even all the beloved classics with a digital front end, like the PPG Wave, the Waldorf Wave, or the Prophet VS, utilized analog components (i.e. filters) to make the raw sounds more pleasing (in times at least, where there wasn't enough affordable processor power to convincingly emulate analog filters at least).

Another unique element might be related to stepping artefacts that can result from A/D D/A conversions. With pure analog designs, you don't end up with a limited number of values - however detailed this resolution will be (from 128 to 16384 for example) -, but with a seemless blending of controlled voltages.

That's about all I can come up with right now.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Soundquest on June 15, 2016, 12:03:10 PM
Perhaps we should have just left the old thread title and then started another (additional) thread "what makes digital better".  That way everyone could praise what they currently own (or like) and be happy ;)

This thread is what us synthesizer fans have as equivalent to the age-old argument drummers have about  Zildjian versus Paiste Cymbals, and which brand is better.  It'd be pretty silly not to argue the topic, and I bet most drummer forums have a "Zildjian is better" thread.  It's our hobby for pete's sake!  That's what we do, talk.    Having any resolution on all this in the long run is probably nothing, other than the recordings we can put out there to entice believers to our side of the argument.

So here I go, and yes  I got my coffee mug ..........  Analog and Zildjian ;)



Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 15, 2016, 12:25:37 PM
I'd like to see folks go in their own directions in peace, without hesitation or apology.  If you prefer analog synthesis, than post away about it; if you prefer digital synthesis, then post away about it; and if you prefer a mixture of both, then post away about it.  It's only a matter of personal preference for types of sound and features, and liking or disliking one or the other should be perfectly fine here, as long as we all show respect for each other.  But what annoys me is this sort of PC hypersensitivity that we shouldn't praise one or the other type of synthesis too much, lest we offend some one else with a different opinion.  That just eliminates good discussions and the interesting points they can reach only after a long time running.

So, to turn the tables, if some one wants to start a thread entitled, "Why Digital Is Better," and if those who contribute to it want to criticize analog synthesis without mercy, what's the big deal?  Why shouldn't it be tolerated?  I'm fine with it, even though I have the opposite opinion, and I would certainly read it with interest.  And vice versa: if I buy five brand new Minimoog Model D's and post ad nauseam about how fabulous is their pure raw analog sound, why should anyobody who doesn't like Minimoogs or analog sound mind?

I would really enjoy reading posts by people who like analog synths but dislike digital synths, and I would also enjoy reading posts by people who like digital synths and dislike analog synths.  Those are both viewpoints that could arrive at useful and interesting reflections on each topic, if they were allowed to run without complaint.  But please, let's not water down our discussions to averages, common denominators, and mediocrity.  I'm not interested in following a school of fish.

I had asked almost from the beginning that the title of this thread be changed, only because I knew it would lead to problems that would ruin an otherwise decent exchange of ideas.  You're right, Soundquest, in that changing it was probably a bad idea.   It seems that this particular preference for analog is forbidden, so that for expressing it, one predictably gets reprimanded and informed what is the proper preference.  Very frustrating.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Paul Dither on June 15, 2016, 04:26:43 PM
[…] if I buy five brand new Minimoog Model D's and post ad nauseam about how fabulous is their pure raw analog sound, why should anyobody who doesn't like Minimoogs or analog sound mind?

If you really did that I'd be rather interested in your business plan.  ;D

I had asked almost from the beginning that the title of this thread be changed, only because I knew it would lead to problems that would ruin an otherwise decent exchange of ideas.  You're right, Soundquest, in that changing it was probably a bad idea.   It seems that this particular preference for analog is forbidden, so that for expressing it, one predictably gets reprimanded and informed what is the proper preference.  Very frustrating.

I don't know. I think things get blown out of proportion now, by which I mean that I didn't preceive the original title - "What makes analog better?" - to be a problem in the first place. It could be read as absolute, or enhanced (like "what makes analog better under certain circumstances?"). All this was covered by the single posts without further guidance. There are always going to be people who pop in to disagree, which is also fine as long as its relevant to the topic, which could for example result in analog fans trying a little harder to describe what's so special about it without getting dogmatic.

I also don't see why a particular preference for analog should be forbidden on a DSI forum. As far as I know the only instrument the DSI repertoire really lacks is a 100% digital one, which rather makes me question why ambassadors of pure digital synths would show up here in the first place - not because they're worse people or "digital" is a dirty word, but because DSI's preference for an analog signal path that follows at least the oscillator section is known.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 15, 2016, 04:35:55 PM
[…] if I buy five brand new Minimoog Model D's and post ad nauseam about how fabulous is their pure raw analog sound, why should anyobody who doesn't like Minimoogs or analog sound mind?

If you really did that I'd be rather interested in your business plan.  ;D

Well, if I sold all my instruments, I could possibly afford three... ;D
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Paul Dither on June 15, 2016, 04:37:56 PM
[…] if I buy five brand new Minimoog Model D's and post ad nauseam about how fabulous is their pure raw analog sound, why should anyobody who doesn't like Minimoogs or analog sound mind?

If you really did that I'd be rather interested in your business plan.  ;D

Well, if I sold all my instruments, I could possibly afford three... ;D

One for the left hand, one for the right hand, one for your toes. Would make sense.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 15, 2016, 05:38:22 PM
I wonder if the discussion would go better if the subject concerned analog versus digital instruments?  What I generally mean when I say I prefer analog to digital is that I prefer specific analog instruments to digital instruments - hardware.  That may seem like splitting hairs, but it does make things less theoretical and more concrete, less about the technology and more about particular synthesizers.  So, I far prefer the sound of a Minimoog or a Two-Voice Pro to that of a Blofeld or a Nord Lead.  I far prefer the sound of a Prophet '08 to that of a Prophet 12, or even to the digital side of the Poly Evolver.  Even regarding the Evolver, I've made a fair amount of music that could be called "ambient" that emphasized the digital side of the instrument.  But after recording the pieces, I invariably listen later and find that I just don't like them or care for those digital wave shapes.  I mean, they have very specific tones, and they strike me as far less musically appealing than do the analog ones. 

I don't know if this makes a difference to anyone, but it's the simplest, clearest, and most concrete way I can describe the unpopular analog preference.  This Korg Trident demo is a superb demonstration of that same preference:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3XimYhHii-8
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Fuseball on June 22, 2016, 02:13:25 PM
Whenever I've owned or borrowed an unashamedly digital instrument I'm always struck by how 'busy' the sounds are. I love pads and I had a JD-800 on loan but every sound was kinda gimmicky. The sounds were interesting in isolation but I could never imagine using them in a composition.

I think analog's great strength is its simplicity and purity of tone. It always leaves room for the interest and emotion to come from the playing and composition. I can admire innovative synthesis and sound design, but the thing I love above all is beautiful and emotionally involving composition. When those are in balance it's truly special.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: SpaceVoice on June 23, 2016, 07:44:17 PM
I have to say I have pretty much ignored this thread & the forum recently. I see it has prompted quite a discussion, which was surprising since the subject did seem to be something that had been covered extensively, perhaps in some other Forum.
 Anyhow from the comments I must say that if I represented a musical instrument company I would be very reluctant to encourage the release of analog instruments. Hope that is what this forum was going for ...this attitude should help protect DSI/ Sequential...haha
So far I have not found  digital & VST based instruments  easy to use or to be that impressive dollar for dollar when compared to Analog, however I see that others have had great success ...congratulations.
 Actually most anything offered in todays market is quite capable of making music. It will be interesting to see what the future brings.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 23, 2016, 09:12:34 PM
It's certainly not what I want, SpaceVoice.  My complaint is that there are too few analog poly synths from which to choose.  I would like to see more instruments approximately the size of the Prophet '08 appear - a little bigger and a little smaller.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Paul Dither on June 23, 2016, 09:33:41 PM
Anyhow from the comments I must say that if I represented a musical instrument company I would be very reluctant to encourage the release of analog instruments.

Why exactly?
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: DavidDever on June 24, 2016, 12:07:42 PM
Anyhow from the comments I must say that if I represented a musical instrument company I would be very reluctant to encourage the release of analog instruments. Hope that is what this forum was going for ...this attitude should help protect DSI/ Sequential...haha
So far I have not found  digital & VST based instruments  easy to use or to be that impressive dollar for dollar when compared to Analog, however I see that others have had great success ...congratulations.

Microprocessor-controlled analogue ANYTHING just works. Charge a fair price for it, keep the retail sales portion of the product lifecycle sufficiently short, and you're set. DCO-based analogue synths from the 80s are cheap, and can be extended well past their intended lifespan*.

A digital instrument, on the other hand, is quite rightly perceived as a tabula rasa that can change shape based on the intentions of the person who controls the software / bootloader, rather than those of the end user. This is great for software guys (I am one of those), but bad for hardware manufacturers that may stop caring after a few years.

* - Right now, one can buy (with a bit of diligence) a used Roland JX-3P in keyboard form for less money than its mini-module, analogue-modeled Boutique Series counterpart - and, with a bit of extra effort, add features via a microprocessor replacement that even the more recent JX-03 lacks - not to speak of the sound quality itself.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 24, 2016, 03:24:44 PM
Anyhow from the comments I must say that if I represented a musical instrument company I would be very reluctant to encourage the release of analog instruments.

Why exactly?

I think SpaceVoice meant that the comments in this thread have been so negative that an analog synth designer would get only discouragement from them.  I would agree with him.  But the day to day fact here is that, out of our 1,100+ forum members, probably ten or twelve of us do most of the posting; the vast majority only reads the forum.  So, I don't think we're necessarily representative of the customers that buy analog synthesizers and, therefore, provide the demand.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Paul Dither on June 24, 2016, 03:27:16 PM
Anyhow from the comments I must say that if I represented a musical instrument company I would be very reluctant to encourage the release of analog instruments.

Why exactly?

I think SpaceVoice meant that the comments in this thread have been so negative that an analog synth designer would get only discouragement from them.  I would agree with him.  But the day to day fact here is that, out of our 1,100+ forum members, probably ten or twelve of us do most of the posting; the vast majority only reads the forum.  So, I don't think we're necessarily representative of the customers that buy analog synthesizers and, therefore, provide the demand.

Hm, I didn't really read this thread as an argument against all things analog.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 24, 2016, 03:35:34 PM
There's a predictable knee-jerk reaction to the very question, especially when it's posed in favor of analog.  It makes for a quickly short-circuited discussion.  Again, I'd have to agree with SpaceVoice.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Paul Dither on June 24, 2016, 03:44:21 PM
There's a predictable knee-jerk reaction to the very question, especially when it's posed in favor of analog.  It makes for a quickly short-circuited discussion.  Again, I'd have to agree with SpaceVoice.

Yeah, that's true. But thankfully we know that they're all wrong.  ;)
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 24, 2016, 03:46:32 PM
Yes, of course we do!  Uh oh, here they come....
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Paul Dither on June 24, 2016, 03:51:20 PM
Yes, of course we do!  Uh oh, here they come....

Hence, I propose the title of this thread to be changed into "Why thou shall not question the undeniable fact that analog sounds better and the analog voice is the very foundation of the best of all possible worlds."  ;D

To all disbelievers shall be said: I will graciously accept all of your iPads as indulgence payments to help laying your path out of the digital purgatory your souls would otherwise be lost to.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 24, 2016, 04:25:49 PM
See? Even you get punchy on the topic. 

I think there should be a corner of the forum where only analog enthusiasts are allowed in.  There we could celebrate our love for old school synthesis in peace, and no one could lecture us about how ridiculous is our opinion, or throw sticks and stones at us for being different.  Happy, happy, happy.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: chysn on June 24, 2016, 05:03:42 PM
There we could celebrate our love for old school synthesis in peace, and no one could lecture us about how ridiculous is our opinion, or throw sticks and stones at us for being different.  Happy, happy, happy.

You're pretty much describing Muff Wiggler. It's people who are deep, deep, deep into analog synthesis, but are also as nonjudgmental and helpful a community as you could expect to find on the internet. It's mostly about modular synths, but certainly not exclusively. I'm a n00b, so I still just lurk, but it's definitely my second-favorite forum.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on June 24, 2016, 05:17:52 PM
Yeah, I used to go there in the days when the old DSI/Prophet forum would go down.  I liked it quite a bit.  It was a good place for an analog organist to relax.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on August 26, 2016, 08:21:15 PM
This is just an observation.  Analog oscillators have a beating quality that sounds distinctive and natural.  Two sawtooths played simultaneously parallel the effect of, for example, two trombones or oboes played simultaneously. The beating that exists sounds smooth, organic, and very musical.  It creates a widening and deepening of the timbre that is already present when only one instrument sounds.  What I hear from two digital oscillators is very different.  The beating then sounds more like an excessively electronic swirling, almost like a phaser, and quite unnatural.  To my ears, it's both annoying and distracting.  I've noticed this on many instruments, including the Nord Leads and the Prophet 12.  Where this is the case, there's no way I could consider the two interchangeable.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on August 27, 2016, 07:49:56 PM
I don't find this to be the case with the Evolver.  The digital sawtooths do slightly differ in timbre from the analog, but the same phasing I described above is not present.  They beat just like the analog sawtooths and sound quite good.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: chysn on August 28, 2016, 05:19:26 PM
I'll have to pay attention to that. I don't have any digital oscillators in the house right now, but now that I have to tune oscillators by hand just about every time I play, I'm a lot more aware of beating than I used to be when I mostly had DCOs.

The phasing that you're talking about may be the result of programmed slop using random frequency fluctuation over time. This behavior probably isn't inherent to digital oscillators. That is, it can probably be corrected pretty easily.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on August 28, 2016, 06:58:21 PM
It occurs with two stable oscillators - not increasing and decreasing beating rates, but perfectly steady.  I should probably poke around to find some examples.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: SpaceVoice on October 19, 2016, 07:24:58 PM
Anyhow from the comments I must say that if I represented a musical instrument company I would be very reluctant to encourage the release of analog instruments.

Why exactly?

I think SpaceVoice meant that the comments in this thread have been so negative that an analog synth designer would get only discouragement from them.  I would agree with him.  But the day to day fact here is that, out of our 1,100+ forum members, probably ten or twelve of us do most of the posting; the vast majority only reads the forum.  So, I don't think we're necessarily representative of the customers that buy analog synthesizers and, therefore, provide the demand.
Thanks SS that is it exactly.
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: SpaceVoice on October 19, 2016, 07:32:55 PM
Well I will avoid the question of what makes Digital Synths unique?,& say that until now another digital or hybrid offering by DSI/Sequential would be welcome ...now I really wont care one way or another. 
Title: Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
Post by: Sacred Synthesis on October 19, 2016, 07:50:19 PM
We just had a discussion about this today on another thread.  One of the DSI staffers said on this forum that they will not be producing a purely digital instrument.  So, that leaves the all-analog and the analog-digital hybrid instruments as possibilities. 

In light of the fact that they already have a large-scale hybrid instrument in the Prophet 12, I would like to see DSI produce a large-scale analog polyphonic synthesizer, something that surpasses the Prophet '08.  If I could dream just a bit: everything the P'08 offers, plus four VCOs instead of DCOs, onboard delay, a high pass resonant filter, a program keypad, long envelope times, and a higher-quality five-octave keyboard.  I realize this would be an expensive instrument, so that I'd actually be willing to compromise with DCOs in order to keep the price down.  However, it would need to be substantially different from the Prophet 12 in order to be justifiable, and having VCOs would achieve this.  Either instrument would be my dream music machine.   
Title: Re: What Makes Analog Better
Post by: Jan Schultink on January 25, 2017, 10:33:17 AM
Which one was the OB-8 and which one was the Diva? I have no damn clue. I totally can't tell by listening to WAV files. But get behind the same keyboard with them for five minutes each, and I'd expect any of us would have a pretty good shot.

I recently added a Diva to my VST library and searched the forum for it. This post came up. I must say, a Diva in "divine" mode on a last generation iMac with a decent sound card and speakers, sounds pretty incredible.

I now more and more work in 2 modes: quick jotting down of musical ideas in a DAW with a very limited set of favorite VST presets, and losing yourself in sound design on my analogue P6 and Minimoog. Both are good.