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What is unique about Analog Synths ?

Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #100 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.
« Last Edit: June 13, 2016, 11:34:31 AM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #101 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.
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Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #102 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...  :)
« Last Edit: June 14, 2016, 11:46:02 AM by Razmo »
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Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #103 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.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2016, 12:07:52 PM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #104 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!  :)
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Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #105 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.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2016, 12:42:47 PM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #106 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.
 

Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #107 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.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2016, 12:42:00 PM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #108 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.
« Last Edit: June 14, 2016, 02:25:10 PM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #109 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.
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Re: What Makes Analog Better
« Reply #110 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!
If you need me, follow the shadows...

Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
« Reply #111 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.

Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
« Reply #112 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 ;)



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Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
« Reply #113 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.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2016, 04:18:51 PM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
« Reply #114 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.
« Last Edit: June 15, 2016, 04:29:11 PM by Paul Dither »

Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
« Reply #115 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
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Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
« Reply #116 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.

Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
« Reply #117 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
« Last Edit: June 15, 2016, 06:52:05 PM by Sacred Synthesis »
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Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
« Reply #118 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.

Re: What is unique about Analog Synths ?
« Reply #119 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.
Prophet-6, Korg M3,Petros Classical Guitar, Gibson ES 339, Blackstar HT20,Pigtronix PK, Cry Baby, Aqua Puss. Roland VS840GX.