Page 1 of 2

Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 5:55 pm
by StepLogik
Looks like the Moog thread was about to derail, thought a new thread might be in order. What are the pros and cons of software implementation of modulation versus hardware implementation?

With the speed of modern CPU's, I think its a tough case to make that software implementation is somehow inferior. As long as you've got enough CPU cycles to calculate all of your envelopes and LFO's and get the values to the DAC's (and eventually to the S/H cells) it seems like there is nothing to prevent you from getting a smooth CV output or a nice snappy envelope.

Thoughts?

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:33 pm
by Joey
Many synths get by just fine with software env's and lfo's

i mean h**l, every VA uses them, and those never have speed problems

the roland JX synths used them, the oberheim xpander/matrix 12, and I believe all of the dsi synths do as well

the fact is its just a bit of analog snobbery about having real analog envelopes, they have gotten good enough that we don't need them

and besides they save synth producers money, and i'd rather sacrifice a milisecond of envelope speed for a cheaper synth

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 6:55 pm
by GeneralBigbag
Joey wrote: the fact is its just a bit of analog snobbery about having real analog envelopes, they have gotten good enough that we don't need them
It does seem more than a little ironic that SE use digital envelopes given their rhetoric.

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 7:04 pm
by 23
Analog is better because it's made with electrolytes
[youtube]Tbxq0IDqD04[/youtube]

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:07 pm
by Automatic Gainsay
Joey wrote:Many synths get by just fine with software env's and lfo's

i mean h**l, every VA uses them, and those never have speed problems

the roland JX synths used them, the oberheim xpander/matrix 12, and I believe all of the dsi synths do as well

the fact is its just a bit of analog snobbery about having real analog envelopes, they have gotten good enough that we don't need them

and besides they save synth producers money, and i'd rather sacrifice a milisecond of envelope speed for a cheaper synth
It would be ridiculous to suggest that somehow digital envelopes and LFOs are in some way inferior to analog envelopes and LFOs.
The only reason a person might want analog envelopes and LFOs is because they seek the various inconsistencies they possess... and that's fine, but to suggest that a synth is somehow inadequate due to possessing digital LFOs and envelopes is a bit silly.
Most people these days seeking an analog sound don't need 100% analog components to get what they're looking for. That being the case, why would any company seek to invest more money than they need to?

As for snobbery: If I, yes, even I, ever meet a person who is snobby about analog envelopes... I don't think I would waste any time addressing their silliness.

Now, if this conversation were about how well digital envs/lfos simulate analog envs/lfos, I might have had something different to say. :wink:

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Sun Jan 11, 2009 8:21 pm
by Carey M
All I know is, that the best envelopes I've encountered, for analogue synths, were made with analogue hardware. And yes, I wish the Omega had good analogue envelopes. And I absolutely will not admit being snobby [-X But I will admit that I am a rather silly person :D

I've had the pleasure of dealing with rather poor hardware envelopes, too btw.
Joey wrote:i mean h**l, every VA uses them, and those never have speed problems
Yep, I don't think that envelope speed is a problem nowadays.

- CM

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 12:55 am
by StepLogik
Hmm, I suppose we should define what we mean by "best". Are we talking about speed or smoothness or some other factor? If you are looking for the "randomness" of analogue hardware, I think that could be reasonably simulated as well.

In the olden days, an underpowered synth whose CPU's were bogged down with panel scanning, key scanning, midi parsing, etc might start making some sloppy modulation.

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 1:43 am
by Carey M
StepLogik wrote:Hmm, I suppose we should define what we mean by "best".
Impossible #-o :D Really, "best" is always subjective. I can only speak for myself.

It's also probably rather hard to distinguish how much of the snap/attack/decay/shape/etc. characteristics can be attributed to the accompanying VCA. But like I wrote earlier, all the synths that have made me particularly marvel at their attack/decay characteristics have had analogue envelopes.

- CM

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Mon Jan 12, 2009 3:19 am
by Sir Ruff
Joey wrote: and besides they save synth producers money, and i'd rather sacrifice a milisecond of envelope speed for a cheaper synth
well. except that 1 msc will make a pretty big difference in terms of perceived snappiness. So, if you wanted snappy envelopes, you would probably be willing to pay for it, but I don't think there can be that much cost difference between engineering a 1 vs 2 ms attack time.

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:01 pm
by lhm1138
Nord Leads have software envelopes and are some of the fastest synths around. It's not a problem anymore, hasn't been for quite some time.

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Fri Jan 16, 2009 11:25 pm
by Solderman
The envelopes in my Voyager and JP8, both analog, have the characteristic of when retriggered(the synth on the Voyager; per each voice card on the JP8) if they are not finished reaching their next slope point, will start the new note from whatever voltage they were at, when retriggered, and work to the first slope point from there.

If you want to exploit that, this is the only way I could think of where you'd prefer analog envelopes now. Just talking about speed and responsiveness, I always point out the enevlope on the Alpha Junos. Very snappy and responsive, is software generated, and is over 20 years old. It's also more flexible than the envelopes on the other Junos.

Analog envelopes also tend to either swing positive or negative, relative to common. It's easier to switch a software envlope for bipolar operation.

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 2:59 pm
by meatballfulton
I actually prefer soft envelopes as long as they are quick. Analog envelopes are often quirky in regards to retriggering which can be nice sometimes but too often is a PITA.

As far as LFOs, my only complaint is getting ones that are slow enough! With modulars you can get super slow (like minutes per cycle) but I have yet to see a software envelope that slow...that's why I also like modulation sequencers 8) What I really like about soft LFOs is MIDI sync, choosing between free-run and retrigger and oddball waves that can be used like envelopes. I own two Yamahas that even let you draw your own LFO shapes! =D>

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Sat Jan 17, 2009 3:46 pm
by Christopher Winkels
Solderman wrote:The envelopes in my Voyager and JP8, both analog, have the characteristic of when retriggered(the synth on the Voyager; per each voice card on the JP8) if they are not finished reaching their next slope point, will start the new note from whatever voltage they were at, when retriggered, and work to the first slope point from there.
That's an advantageous characteristic. In fairness to software envelopes though, it could be emulated without too much bother.

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 4:36 pm
by meatballfulton
Christopher Winkels wrote:That's an advantageous characteristic. In fairness to software envelopes though, it could be emulated without too much bother.
The ancient Korg Poly 800 MkII (1986?) had this feature to make retriggering the filter on each new note less of a problem when playing polyphonically.

Re: Hardware vs. Software Envelopes/LFO's

Posted: Sun Jan 18, 2009 5:41 pm
by Joey
meatballfulton wrote:
Christopher Winkels wrote:That's an advantageous characteristic. In fairness to software envelopes though, it could be emulated without too much bother.
The ancient Korg Poly 800 MkII (1986?) had this feature to make retriggering the filter on each new note less of a problem when playing polyphonically.
the virus has several voice modes to emulate this kind of stuff