Can you help with my MOOG project?

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
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Post by Tardis » Wed May 14, 2008 8:22 am

Reasons to use analog:

1. Easy Interface
2. "Real" Filters
3. Because it sounds (is) better than digital

Analog relies on circuit architecture to produce sound...Unlike digital which relies on mass produced CPU's & IC's...
Analogs have their own unique personalities -&- No two analogs sound "exactly the same", even if it's the same synth.

Digital is great if you're playing a live gig... Load the patches & play away.
I absolutely hate menu diving though, which IMO is the achilles heal of digitals for studio work.
I've spent hours trying to create "the right" patch on digital synths (Especially on Scott's old CZ-1...GRRRRRR!!!)
Where as with my analogs it's only a matter of minutes before I find the patch I want, & it sounds better too.

It's all subjective... To each his/her own I suppose... :)
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Post by Zamise » Wed May 14, 2008 9:37 am

I really don't use my Analogs that often, and I think if I had a Moog which I have heard them and used them directly on limited occations, but I've just not been that intrested for their costs. Most the analogs I have sound like crud, but there is a smooth quality to them, its not always their warmth or filters, but their smoothness in a totally dry ossilator by itself can be just amazing. I can notice the difrences in the lower and higher frequncies the most. The other cool thing about them is short boot up times :) That doesn't always hold true of course, and sometimes they even have to take a few mins to warm up still if they're cold. The line between analog and digital has become pretty hazy, and nothing will make you sound any better if already suck. If your good then you should still be able to make almost anything sing like a sparrow in heat.
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Post by synth3tik » Thu May 15, 2008 8:45 pm

Main reason I use a lot of analog gear is because I am a total q33k.

That and like others have said both analog and digital have their own presence. Before the argument was that digital sounded weaker, this is really no longer the case, that said however I still love the richness of a good analog filter, whether a stand alone or on a synth.

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Post by theglyph » Fri May 16, 2008 2:08 am

Perhaps a slightly more geeky perspective on things:

Analog synths:

An analog synthesizer contains discrete transistors, opamps, diods, ect. which are all rated by tolerance variations due to thermal exposure (i.e. heat), manufacturing limitations and a few other less important agitators.

So a VCO may contain several opamps, transistors, resistors, ect. which are all interconnected to form the core circuit for the oscillator. Considering the limitations mentioned above you can imagine how much variation would exist between one VCO and another. The same applies a VCF, VCA or any other audio generating or processing module in an analog synthesizer. Perhaps this is why analog warmth could be considered a literal meaning. Stage lights anyone!!;)

Digital synths:

A digital synthesizer also contains transistors, opamps, diods, ect. but the basic structure for the sound generation and manipulation is quite different. To avoid getting too technical here I'll just say that a digital synthesizer uses software code to model the operation, characteristics and interconnectivity of the elements in an analog synthesizer. Therefore the sound of the digital synth relies heavily on how well the code has been written (AKA the algorithm) to emulate analog qualities (Note that I use the term quality as many people will agree that a well designed and well built analog does exhibit quality).

For example, some software synths claim that they sound just as good or as they say emulate the sound of a particular "classic" analog synthesizer. If you dig a little deeper the software manufacturer/designer will note that they used a genuine (insert "classic" analog synth name here) in the analysis (FFT) and resulting software design to get the sound "just right!"

There are two problems with this claim here:

1. No two analog synths of the same make sound alike (although they generally do sound very close). I've often heard people say that early MiniMoogs sound different than later models due to engineering revisions. The question for the software engineer would then be "What was the serial number of the Mini you did your analysis on" :wink:

2. No matter how well you emulate the sound of an analog synth you still can not make it an analog synthesizer. Put a blow dryer in front of a digital synth and you may destroy or distort some of the front panel graphics but the sound will still be driven by software which is not affected by temperature.

Put a blow dryer in front of an analog synth and you basically have a very unconventional modulation source!!

BTW, I'm winding down from work so please let me know if I missed or completely bricked on some points here. I must also mention that I still love my Q, I'm just pointing out why I tend to gravitate (as do many) to analog synthesizers even in the 21st century!!


P.S. I still love my Q!!
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Post by Phollop Willing PA » Fri May 16, 2008 12:24 pm

If you're familiar with Plato's parable of the cave, then that pretty well sums up in an analogy, for me, why analogue is so much better than digital (for electronic sounds).
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Post by redchapterjubilee » Fri May 16, 2008 2:38 pm

My Moog sounds beautiful to me and feels like a real instrument, much like any of my drums or guitars. Software gets close to it in sound, but not in feel. I wish I had something more witty to offer than that.

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Post by gcoudert » Fri May 16, 2008 4:25 pm

You may be interested in reading this thread too, in which the senior (in age) members of this forum - including yours truly - shared their memories of the 80s switch from analogue to digital. ... 94&start=0


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Re: Can you help with my MOOG project?

Post by shaft9000 » Fri May 16, 2008 4:25 pm

Bloomie23 wrote:why people still use an analog system in a digital world (25 UK )
...because if you take away the analog, you can't hear it, use it or even turn it on. :lol:
remember, the digital part is just memory and signal processing - not the actual sound or electronic circuit. You still need analog op-amps, outputs, and to some degree, inputs/UI.

Now with an ALL-analog synth, you lose memory and dsp. There are actually proportionally very few synths around that are entirely 'analog' - from about 1979 onwards most every synth came with a microprocessor to scan the keyboard for voice assignments (and of course for memory).

Now with regards to sound - analog is totally 'live', meaning the electrical signal responds in accordance to how the voltage throughout the circuit is manipulated.
A V.A. instead processes the input (being the notes you play, any real-time controls plus the patch) and then literally spits out the sound to the output. There is lag, or latency. Hardly noticeable w/ the fast new systems, but it is there.
Also, digital summing (mixing sounds internally) has a long way to go until it sounds as good as the old analogs. I still haven't heard a VA that doesn't get more metallic and hollow-sounding as you increase voices or high-frequency modulations. Perhaps the Solaris will get past this, but I'm not holding my breath!
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Post by nvbrkr » Fri May 16, 2008 4:50 pm

The depth of sound on a good analog is just far superior, and the designs lend themselves to playability a lot more (hey, that was a foreign concept to even me for a couple of years, but I've started PLAYING more once I got my Moog). Even my crappy Korg EX-800, which is not fully analog of course, will just have the more appropriate character to my ears than, say, the CS80 emulation by Arturia. It's really not that much about "quality" of the sound in the sense of high-fidelity, but quality as in character or texture.

My ears just get bored of digital emulations after a while (not to mention softsynth GUIs), and I guess you could compare them to certain extent to guitar amp emulation programs and hardware units. In the same spirit, once you enter the added distortion realm there really is no comparison between the analog and the modeled version, which just can't take the beating. Sure the clips on the manufacturers' sites sound good and convincing, but for some odd reason the VSTs that are supposed to emulate "fully" the classic units do not exactly achieve such things when you get to try them youself. I have a taste for 70s and early 80s music anyway, so I do think I recognize that sound even with ear plugs on.

So yeah, a pretty odd question from the outset!

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Post by chamomileshark » Fri May 16, 2008 11:17 pm

I use a mix of soft and hardware analogue. I use the analogue because;

1. I find it easier to programme on the knobs and sliders of the analogue hardware, my eyes get tired on PCs. Often being a bit more limited the simpler hardware synths are more immediate in setting up a sound.

2. Personally I find the sound a little different (hence I use both)

3. I've had a number of frustration over bugs in software, I find less bugs and more support when using hardware analogue.

4. Emotional. I'm very attached to my first synth I bought nearly 30 years ago. The small modular is custom and characterful, the Wiard is also a work of art.

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Post by Suburban Bather » Sat May 17, 2008 3:02 am

When I did a research paper on how the Minimoog changed music, this book was my primary source of info-

Do yourself a favor and get this book. Not only is it a goldmine of info for the topic on hand, but its also one of those books that you will never be able to put down until you have thouroghly read it. It is an essential book for any synth enthusiasts library.

I was attracted to analog gear from playing bass. Geezer Butler was my hero, which led to tube amps(Ampet SVT) and basses with passive pick-ups. Naturaly, that led to analog fx such as fuzz/overdrive, delay, chorus, phase/flange, filters, etc... Experimenting with analog fx and obssesing over any rock band that incorporated pyschedelic sounds into their music sparked my interest in synths.

I love both analog and digital synthesis. As stated before, both have their place and its different for everybody. If I want bread and butter subtractive synthesis, its directly to the analog gear. OTOH, I really enjoy using digital fx to destroy whatever the sound source is and analog fx can't touch that. Keep in mind though, digital fx will never be able to FULLY emulate the nuances that analog fx deliver- harmonic distortions with no digital artifacts/degredation and a pleasant saturation. There are digital emulations of these analog characteristics, but they will always be limited to the code implemented by the programmer. However, analog just can not digital artifacts that some people may find pleasant.

Analog RULES! Digital RULES!

Just like stated in previous posts, they both have their places and a lot of people here can't live without both.

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Post by OriginalJambo » Sat May 17, 2008 12:53 pm

Suburban Bather wrote:When I did a research paper on how the Minimoog changed music, this book was my primary source of info-
Funny, I'm reading it right now.
Not only is it a goldmine of info for the topic on hand, but its also one of those books that you will never be able to put down until you have thouroghly read it. It is an essential book for any synth enthusiasts library.
From what I've read thus far I can only agree. It's chock full of interesting tidbits of information to help you with your project.

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Post by knolan » Sat May 17, 2008 2:18 pm

Richard -

Analogue synthesizers come from a very innovative time in instrument design - emerging capable technologies, a strong belief in science and the future and so on.

And with commercialism not so prevalent, with more to be invented for the first time and with scope for individual talent to shine through, 1965 - ~1985 represent a pinnacle of design in analogue synthesizers and electro-mechanical keyboards.

The result - a myriad of stunningly musical, expressive, innovative electronic musical instruments; that have not been bettered to the present day and are unlikely to, due to market forces and because most synthesizer players have not experienced such instruments, do not know what they are missing and hence do not demand similar instruments today.

Some examples of instruments which are, analogously (!) akin to the Stradivarius in the Violin world and which are still the best in existence (and hence hugely sought after for their strengths and not for nostalgia):

- Minimoog - Unsurpassed sound
- Prophet 5 (Rev 2) - Unsurpassed and hugely flexible polyphonic synthesizer
- CS80 - Unsurpassed performance through polyphonic aftertouch, Performance leavers, ring modulator and ribbon controller.

The list goes on (ARP 2600, VCS3.....).

Furthermore, even though most instruments were based on subtractive synthesis only; because every instrument came with a huge array of realtime controls specifically for the purpose of - realtime control! - and because there were essentially no 'presets or programs'; all people engaging those instruments used them in incredibly innovative and creative ways. There was no choice but to try something new. Hence the 'mind set' behind using an analogue synthesizer is similar to sitting in front of a piano or with a guitar - there's no choice but to do your own personal thing and make your sounds and your music. This coupled to the vast range of possibilities from subtractive synthesis alone in such instantaneous packages lead to incredibly varied, unprecedented and important music, from Stockhausen to Vangelis to Pink Floyd.

Many who have encountered analogue synthesizers realise this for themselves immediately. They can avail of the same 'lack of presets' and therefore only choice but to do something immediate, new and worthwhile; a mindset that can never be achieved by an instrument which offers quantised digital packaging and places to store historic sounds which perpetually get in the way of creating new ones.

By default, analogue synthesizers are older and so don't have programmable memories (when compared to today's computer softsynths and workstations) and hence your only option is to make a sound - that's an incredibly powerful paradigm, and a significant reason why many still use analogue synthesizers.

Finally - they form part of our musical culture and heritage - so they sound right and sound fantastic - that hasn't changed over the years.


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