What exactly makes a VA synth?

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
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micahjonhughes
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Post by micahjonhughes » Thu Sep 20, 2007 10:17 pm

The BassStation is analog not a VA at all.

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Synthprophet
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Post by Synthprophet » Thu Sep 20, 2007 10:38 pm

Maybe not so related to the topic but I noticed that the nords have "VSM" Oscillators. What is VSM? Something different from any other VA's?

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Post by sacredcow » Thu Sep 20, 2007 11:36 pm

Synthprophet wrote:Maybe not so related to the topic but I noticed that the nords have "VSM" Oscillators. What is VSM? Something different from any other VA's?
Novas have "ASM" technology, blah, blah, blah. It's all bullshit terms synth companies use to sell their specific brand of VA synths.
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sizzlemeister
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Post by sizzlemeister » Fri Sep 21, 2007 4:02 am

gs wrote:
I think the real distinguishing trait for VAs is that they are designed to sound and 'feel' as much as a true RA as possible.

The Roland D series may have some digital synthesizing facilities on board (besides the PCM stuff) that might make it possible to get a 'warm analog sound' but that was not its intent. Listen to those presets. Anything but. It wasn't what people wanted back then.

Anybody nowadays who wants analog emulation and interface in a digital synth is easily going to choose the synth that was designed to emulate analog, not ones from the past which just so happened to have similar DSP architecture but weren't designed to sound or 'feel' like an analog at all.
If that's "the criteria" then I wouldn't call something like a Virus a VA, any of the Micro Qs, the AN1x, and more like them "VAs" because of their limited interfaces and icy-cold presets.

But with regards to the interface - using your criteria then you could throw away as analogs the JX8P, Matrix 6 (not to mention the Matrix 6r, Matrix 1000), the Alpha Juno (and MKS 50), the Cheetah MS6 because their interfaces were extremely limited and the presets were cold.

I would also say that I don't know what D50 you've listened to, but the ones I've heard had plenty of "warm" sounds in the presets. Not to mention, you could get this handy accessory:

Image

Which is far more comprehensive of an interface than a lot of modern VAs have.

I would argue that the architecture and method of generating the sound are what determines "What a VA is." If the architecture follows the classic subtractive synthesis paradigm (which the D50 does) and generates the "classic" oscillators in real time (saw, square, pulse et al) then it's a VA. The D50 generates two of its four voice partials in real time. It was the first commercial VA.

"Virtual Analog" is simply a marketing term now adopted as a label that loosely covers a certain class of instrument. Just because Clavia was the first company to market its instrument as a "VA" doesn't mean it HAD the first VA in function.

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gs
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Post by gs » Fri Sep 21, 2007 2:41 pm

sizzlemeister wrote:I would argue that the architecture and method of generating the sound are what determines "What a VA is." If the architecture follows the classic subtractive synthesis paradigm (which the D50 does) and generates the "classic" oscillators in real time (saw, square, pulse et al) then it's a VA. The D50 generates two of its four voice partials in real time. It was the first commercial VA.

"Virtual Analog" is simply a marketing term now adopted as a label that loosely covers a certain class of instrument. Just because Clavia was the first company to market its instrument as a "VA" doesn't mean it HAD the first VA in function.
These are great points and I couldn't really disagree with anything you're saying. Technically, a VA type of synth was possible to make at this point in time, it's just that the cultural shift towards 'real analog sound and interface' hadn't really happened yet.

On the whole, I don't think the D50 did a really great job of 'sounding analog' in the way we think of it today. It could do digital-subractive without samples, for sure, but boy it sure did sound like a digital subtractive to my ears (too clean, no 'analog' dirt/noise/imperfections). Nor do I think they intended to market it that way. This was Roland's attempt (and pretty successful too) to finally trump the all-digital DX7, and it was certainly sold that way to the public. Previous Rolands (analog JX series) had the detachable programmer, so this wasn't new to the D50.
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Post by sacredcow » Fri Sep 21, 2007 11:07 pm

VA classification is marketing-based.
Is that what you want to hear already?
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Post by gs » Sat Sep 22, 2007 2:54 pm

sacredcow wrote:VA classification is marketing-based.
Is that what you want to hear already?
As we've already found here, VA could very well be classified ONLY as technology-based if it weren't for these notable exceptions which blur the distinction (which are like mirror images of each other):

JD-800 (uses UI like a VA, but is standard PCM subtractive).

VL1, VL10M, Z1, Prophecy (use same technology as VA but model other things beside analog)

As I noted earlier, there was a co-incidental technology shift (towards non-sample-based digital synthesis) that happened simultaneously with the cultural shift towards analog emulation in the mid 90s. Take those examples above out of the equation, and it CAN be argued that VA is indeed a new synth technology and not just a marketing gimmick plastered on top of old synth technology.
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