why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by stephen » Wed Sep 24, 2008 9:51 pm

Plus, there's competition from software too. Computer Music magazine recently wrote the line "you might have an old synth like your grandad used to have"... and in the latest issue they said that you don't even need a keyboard to sequence notes - just click with the mouse.

I was reading my SH-09 manual the other day, and I was struck by its emphasis on musicianship and playing style, in contrast to nowadays where people write in to magazines asking "how do I make a bassline like Yawnmeister". Different emphasis on making music.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by wickfut » Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:02 pm

If Acidlab and Jomox can make money with 303/808/909 clones, I'm quite sure Roland could make money off brand new re-issues.
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Somebody somewhere in the UK must have a decent condition, none modded tb303 to flog me ?

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by GeneralBigbag » Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:36 pm

Stab - you forgot one reason
11. They don't want to
The big companies b/c they won't make as much money on it as if they put their resources elsewhere (which has been noted)
And the boutiques - look at it this way: If you were a talented analog circuit designer, why would you want to crank out clones of existing designs instead of working on your own. I would rather live in a world full of Shermans and Schippmans than have 20 different choices of moog ladder.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Syn303 » Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:41 pm

wickfut wrote:If Acidlab and Jomox can make money with 303/808/909 clones, I'm quite sure Roland could make money off brand new re-issues.
Roland could, but they won't. They just don't make those old parts anymore that they used in those machines, besides it costs a lot of money to set up a production line for those machines to be made, and Roland wouldn't see any benefit in it at all. With so many clones out there it's just not worth it.
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Re: i dont get something

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:45 pm

OriginalJambo wrote:
Stab Frenzy wrote:4) The synths available now really are better than the old ones. It's just people living in the past who want to be Wakeman/Numan/Eno/Lemmy that think otherwise.
I think the word you're looking for may be different?
No, better. Give me a quantifiable measurement that we can all agree on to measure an aspect of older vs. newer synths performance and we can have a rational, objective discussion about it.

I'll start: Patch Memory. Modern synths are better because they have more re-writable patch memory that vintage (pre-1980) synths did not have. This makes them better.

OK, now you go. :)

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Sep 24, 2008 10:50 pm

Syn303 wrote:
wickfut wrote:If Acidlab and Jomox can make money with 303/808/909 clones, I'm quite sure Roland could make money off brand new re-issues.
Roland could, but they won't. They just don't make those old parts anymore that they used in those machines, besides it costs a lot of money to set up a production line for those machines to be made, and Roland wouldn't see any benefit in it at all. With so many clones out there it's just not worth it.
You're forgetting Roland already did make a TB-303 reissue, the MC-303.

From their perspective it was a much better machine because it utilised newer digital technology to add drums and polyphony, and was so successful that it spawned a whole new class of synthesiser, the Groovebox. I don't have access to Roland's financial information but I imagine it was a much better seller for the company too, because they didn't have to get rid of their unsold stock of it by giving one away with every JC-120 sold like they did with the TB-303.

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Syn303 » Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:04 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:
Syn303 wrote:
wickfut wrote:If Acidlab and Jomox can make money with 303/808/909 clones, I'm quite sure Roland could make money off brand new re-issues.
Roland could, but they won't. They just don't make those old parts anymore that they used in those machines, besides it costs a lot of money to set up a production line for those machines to be made, and Roland wouldn't see any benefit in it at all. With so many clones out there it's just not worth it.
You're forgetting Roland already did make a TB-303 reissue, the MC-303.

From their perspective it was a much better machine because it utilised newer digital technology to add drums and polyphony, and was so successful that it spawned a whole new class of synthesiser, the Groovebox. I don't have access to Roland's financial information but I imagine it was a much better seller for the company too, because they didn't have to get rid of their unsold stock of it by giving one away with every JC-120 sold like they did with the TB-303.

Yeah i know all that, probably why i didn't mention the MC-303, that was just Roland's attempt to silence the ones who wanted them to re-issue the 303, and produced the tin box full of awful samples from their old synth line, and the TB sounds weren't all that great either and never captured the nuances of the original 303.

Roland quite happily continue on repackaging their stuff with more or less added to each NEW product, whereas the boutique companies fill in the missing gaps with better stuff than the big 3 do.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by otto » Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:07 pm

I think it is only a matter of time. While they might be hard pressed to make exact replicas, due to discontinued componenets, they could make similar gear in the way that moog has the voyager and LP. I think it there will come a time when you see reissue type synths, similar to what fender and Gibson do with guitars, from companies like Roland. Roland would actually be prime for this as they have some major fanboy gear that they could probably reproduce and make a profit. SH-101, TB-303, RE-201, etc. Just wait, I wouldn't be surpirsed if it happened someday as collector prices climb and working old gear becomes hard and harder to find. I wouldn't count on it being cheap though...
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:15 pm

Syn303 wrote:Yeah i know all that, probably why i didn't mention the MC-303, that was just Roland's attempt to silence the ones who wanted them to re-issue the 303, and produced the tin box full of awful samples from their old synth line, and the TB sounds weren't all that great either and never captured the nuances of the original 303.

Roland quite happily continue on repackaging their stuff with more or less added to each NEW product, whereas the boutique companies fill in the missing gaps with better stuff than the big 3 do.
Roland are a business which is focused on making money, not making a tiny niche market of synth enthusiasts happy. The MC-303 was a successful product for them, the TB-303 was a huge failure. They have businesspeople running their company, not synth enthusiasts, so they're gonna keep trying to reproduce their successes, not their failures.

The little boutique companies are run by synth enthusiasts not businesspeople, which is why they're interested in things like nuance. This is also why they often go out of business. We should be thankful that we have both large and small companies making stuff for us to choose from. :thumbright:

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by otto » Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:27 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:
Syn303 wrote:Yeah i know all that, probably why i didn't mention the MC-303, that was just Roland's attempt to silence the ones who wanted them to re-issue the 303, and produced the tin box full of awful samples from their old synth line, and the TB sounds weren't all that great either and never captured the nuances of the original 303.

Roland quite happily continue on repackaging their stuff with more or less added to each NEW product, whereas the boutique companies fill in the missing gaps with better stuff than the big 3 do.
Roland are a business which is focused on making money, not making a tiny niche market of synth enthusiasts happy. The MC-303 was a successful product for them, the TB-303 was a huge failure. They have businesspeople running their company, not synth enthusiasts, so they're gonna keep trying to reproduce their successes, not their failures.

The little boutique companies are run by synth enthusiasts not businesspeople, which is why they're interested in things like nuance. This is also why they often go out of business. We should be thankful that we have both large and small companies making stuff for us to choose from. :thumbright:
Large companies frequently branch out and make niche products so they can control that market share as well. We might actually not want a company like roland to re-release products that might cut into the sales of a company like DSI, Future Retro, etc.
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Sep 24, 2008 11:46 pm

Roland already do that with the V-Synth range, they're real niche products and are really cutting edge as far as synthesis goes.

They aren't ever gonna make another analogue synth, it just doesn't fit into their business model. Roland have always tried to make the most cutting edge, advanced synths they could, people might look at the TB-303 and think the great thing about it is the analogue synth engine but Roland would have looked at it and thought it was great that they could get a digital sequencer into such a small package. Remember it says 'computer controlled' on the front panel, not 'analogue synth'.

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Hossinfeffa » Thu Sep 25, 2008 12:01 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:Remember it says 'computer controlled' on the front panel, not 'analogue synth'.
I noticed big names usually wow people a lot more than usual. Local people here that don't know anything always stop and think for a moment when they just see "Juno-6 Polyphonic Synthesizer".

So slapping a big fancy name on something is the key to success.. usually. ;)

I bet something like "Hermann's Synthtronic Compu-phonic Voltage Synthesizer" would sell like hotcakes. :lol:
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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by tim gueguen » Thu Sep 25, 2008 1:12 am

Given that Roland has never reissued any of the old Boss stompboxes that are popular amongst guitarists it seems even less likely they'd reissue their older synths. A "Jupiter 10" seems a lot more likely a la the resurrection of the Juno product name.
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Re: i dont get something

Post by OriginalJambo » Thu Sep 25, 2008 1:31 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:OK, now you go. :)
Sure, I'll give it a shot.
No, better. Give me a quantifiable measurement that we can all agree on to measure an aspect of older vs. newer synths performance and we can have a rational, objective discussion about it.
Is quality not important too? In terms of sound? Usability? Character? These are musical instruments that we are talking about here - with your argument would it not be fair to say that a 24 string guitar is better than a 6 string?

And for quantifiable? I suppose you could say the "Feature to price" ratio.

Firstly, quality:

1) Sound - Find me a modern poly synth that's affordable and has VCOs. How about an analogue chorus built-in? No stepping on any of the knobs?

The Prophet-08 and Andromeda have a lot going for them but only one has DCOs, none have tasty analogue chorus/ensemble effects and both of them are bound to step of the knobs.

For the money I think VCOs DO make a difference (DCOs have their place too of course) and analogue effects (especially old BBD based ones) are awesome. Digital effects can be good too but I tend to the number of parameters to tweak can put you off when you're looking for that elusive sweet spot. Many will agree, many will not.

And what if you just want something that's simple and approachable simply because that's all that's required? Probably why the Juno and SH-101 are so popular.

2) Usability - many older synths don't have menus. Or screens. Or patch memory. Sometimes these are necessary or handy, i.e. if the programming is deep or if the visual feedback helps tremendously, but other times they are not required and get in the way.

Sometimes WYSIWYG > patch memory (isn't this a feature missing from the hybrid synth you are designing?).

Sometimes you don't want to turn the knob 720 degrees for a full filter sweep. I could go on.

3) Character - where's the modern ESQ-1/DW-8000? Lo-fi digital waves with real analogue filters? Suppose you could argue "Evolver" but that's not polyphonic.

Where's the modern Polivoks equivalent?

Those D-50s sure have some nice horns. ;)

Modern phase distortion synth?

Modern FM synth?

4) Features for the price:

Q: How about 8 voices, analogue filters (just like your synth design again...obviously something you deem desirable at least), built-in sequencer, well-built, respectable modulation routings (say 4 envelopes and 3 LFOs?) with a decent keyboard complete with aftertouch, all for under $400?

A: SQ-80.

It all depends on what you want but it can't be denied that it's often hard to beat older synths on a £ to feature ratio.
I'll start: Patch Memory. Modern synths are better because they have more re-writable patch memory that vintage (pre-1980) synths did not have. This makes them better.
And what happened to the SH-201? I guess Roland seem to think that 32 should be enough for anybody. :thumbup:

All in all, I like modern synths as much as the next guy (well given that this is VSE that might not account for a lot actually!) but surely older synths have their place too? Can't we all just get along?

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Re: why don't synth manufacturers just make the old synth?

Post by Ry-Fi » Thu Sep 25, 2008 2:15 am

FWIW, I had the great fortune of having a 45 minute one-on-one chat with a Roland employee who was quite involved in the technical aspects of the company and very privy to its business workings. He's also a huge synth nut and collector. I essentially have his word that Roland will NEVER EVER make an analog synth again. According to him, anyone in the company who had any involvement in analog synth design in the past has either moved on or is basically now at the top of management, and none of the new designers and engineers know anything (er, you know what I mean) about creating sophisticated analog synth circuitry. It would be completely unpractical for them, business-wise, to return to making those kinds of products. It's basically digital now and for the rest of time...

I hope I don't get him in trouble for saying this in a public forum... :oops:, but I hardly doubt this is any kind of "top secret" information, and I doubt anyone's too surprised.

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