Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

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MPrint
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by MPrint » Sun Mar 29, 2009 1:04 am

It just goes back to the old saying "they don't make em' like they used to." Modern production is less concerned with quality and more concerned with cost of production. It's the same with vintage cars vs. modern cars. There are some synths out there worthy of accolades(Voyager, LP, P-08, Andromeda, ect.). Like it has been said previously, it's the instability of a vintage piece that makes it desirable. The fact that it needs to be tuned and coaxed where you want it to go gives you the feeling that the synth is alive.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by steveman » Sun Mar 29, 2009 2:16 pm

Naive Teen Idol wrote:I admit I know absolutely nothing about circuit design and the like. But I guess my point is this: it was the "imperfections" in the designs of the originals--the distortion in the Moog filter, the instability of oscillators, etc.--that are precisely what people today say they miss in newer analogs.
As do most people who waffle on about why synths sound the way they do. Like guitarists and tube amps there are numerous saws about synth design eg. Older synths sound fatter because of oscillator drift, adding even digital control to an analogue synth destroys the sound etc. Of course most of the people who spout these opinions wouldn't know one end of a soldering iron from another or their emitter from their collector.
Naive Teen Idol wrote: I'm not saying that just b/c something fetches $4K on eBay it will necessarily fetch the same in a reissue -- in fact, quite the opposite. But I bet there would be a market for a synth that promises 85-90% of the original without the repair costs even the most cared-for 35 y/o synths are subject to. (Potential counterargument: "You're talking about the Prophet '08, dude.")
Let me get this right, you're saying that there's no way someone will be able to sell a reissue for $4k, but at the same time to expect them to be able to build and sell the reissue for less. Why exactly? Most of the big poly's could only exist because of the availability of custom voice chips (CEM, SSM), those are no longer available, so costs are likely to be higher now, not lower.

I'm sure Dave Smith thought about all this when he brought the Prophet'08 out. He could have made a exact reissue of the original and pleased nobody. New guys would say it didn't have enough polyphony, memories, mod routings etc. The purists would say it didn't sound the same. As it is he's been criticised for even daring to use the Prophet name (like that's even up to anyone else...).
Naive Teen Idol wrote:Is this a scientific theorem backed up by rich market-testing data? No. It's a guess, and I'm just wondering if anyone were doing it. Obviously it works for EMS. And apparently, Tom Oberheim.
Obviously not ;) Witness the 'success' of the Voyager OS.

EMS? what exactly have they got to do with anything new? There have been rumours for years that they are going to start building Synthis again (and the price quoted was around £3k...), apparently there's a 5 year waiting list. In all the time I've wasted on music tech forums in the last 10 years I've never seen anyone leap up and say they've got a new Synthi. I'm sure we'd have heard if this was more than a message board rumour. Yes Tom Oberheim is supposedly planning on reissuing the SEM, but until it appears and we see exactly what we get it's all pie in the sky.

Don't know why I typed all this, plenty of these threads already.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by AstroDan » Sun Mar 29, 2009 6:06 pm

Besides development and production, I think repair is one of the biggest concerns of a company. If you have 12 pounds of capacitors and wired hardware then you also have probably dozens of vendors making that stuff you have to pay, not to mention way more specialized training for techs to repair all of it.

You can build a synth engine for the same price and size of a cell phone with very negligible sonic compromises and repair as simple as a $10 micro-processed complete replacement engine.

So it would provide more jobs for techs and components makers, but that's likely another big factor in why companies don't do it - they don't want to pay anymore people than they have to.

...it is more environmentally responsible and cheaper for us. So it's all good? Yes? No?

I don't know.
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by xpander » Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:00 pm

if the minimoog voyager OS sounded like the model d, they would still be in production. the voyager copies the aesthetics and offers all of the functionality (and more) of the model d, but it does not replicate the sound any more than a DSI evolver replicates the model d sound. the modern modular world is replicating many classic analog circuits, however.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by pricklyrobot » Sun Mar 29, 2009 10:56 pm

xpander wrote:if the minimoog voyager OS sounded like the model d, they would still be in production.
Would they, really?

I'm not going to get into whether or not a Voyager OS sounds like a Model D; I've never had occasion to play either. But are there really enough people (I know there are plenty in the little universe of VSE, but I'm talking about relative to potential synth buyers as a whole) who want an exact clone of a Model D to keep such a product line going, even if the Voyager had nailed the sound exactly? And even if the demand for an exact Model D clone was high enough, wouldn't the target market always be able to find something about the new version that wasn't quite the same?

Trying to cater to nitpicking purists is not a sound business plan. Even if you're able to pull it off, and by definition the odds are tipped strongly against you, there aren't enough synth versions of these:
Image out there, with enough disposable income, to keep you in business for the long term.
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by GeneralBigbag » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:04 pm

MPrint wrote:It just goes back to the old saying "they don't make em' like they used to."
The fact that it's an old saying suggests that manufacturing quality has been on a steady decline since the dawn of time.
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by Phollop Willing PA » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:18 pm

GeneralBigbag wrote:
MPrint wrote:It just goes back to the old saying "they don't make em' like they used to."
The fact that it's an old saying suggests that manufacturing quality has been on a steady decline since the dawn of time.
:lol:
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by xpander » Sun Mar 29, 2009 11:36 pm

pricklyrobot wrote:Would they, really?

I'm not going to get into whether or not a Voyager OS sounds like a Model D; I've never had occasion to play either. But are there really enough people (I know there are plenty in the little universe of VSE, but I'm talking about relative to potential synth buyers as a whole) who want an exact clone of a Model D to keep such a product line going, even if the Voyager had nailed the sound exactly? And even if the demand for an exact Model D clone was high enough, wouldn't the target market always be able to find something about the new version that wasn't quite the same?
i'm not talking about a clone, i'm talking about the sound in general- i honestly think modern VAs are nailing fat sound better than the refined analog synths being made today (microkorg comes to mind immediately, and i've seen those on stage for least 75% of all live shows i've been to in the past few years). with the model d you don't have to work to make it sound great, you just dial in a sound and it sounds great. with my modern analogs i don't get that at all- you can make them sound great but you have to work at it much longer. it's not about being a purist, it's about wanting synthesizers that sound fantastic. i do believe there will be a market for an undeniably great-sounding instrument, especially one from such a well-respected brand. if i could only own modern synthesizers, i'd be picking up a VA before a Prophet 08 or Voyager.

following the other thread, better engineering clearly does not translate to better sounding.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by GeneralBigbag » Mon Mar 30, 2009 12:19 am

Oh, and why don't people make classic albums anymore?
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by griffin avid » Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:53 am

I think a huge part of the equation is history. I believe a lot of people collect (vintage) synths because of its legacy. Hey I always loved the sounds on these records so when I start doodling with music I want those sounds too. How can a synth be considered classic or legendary or a staple if it was never used on a major record?

Music is now so scattered (production-wise) there is no album back cover with a bandmate sitting in front of a monster you wish you had. If you hear a Moog-like-sound, you don't know where it came from...a great bassline on a record today isn't really, really tied to a particular bit of kit like it used to be.

How many posts are from people -curious about who used what for what sound?
I don't think we will discover a classic in today's line up until big records with some big sounds are tied to the gear.
Sounds you like soooo much, you go buy the source instrument....and I don't think that will happen with so many pieces to choose from.

And I know the OP was concerned with a company relaunching an old line, but I'm also thinking about not makig them like they used to. With the US economy turning the corner, I wonder if the $3,000 dollar synth is going away. It's funny, once they stop making these big ROMplers and Uber synths, I wonder if the stuff we looked at and went "Meh, [insert some small reason why you weren't more excited about it] I'll pass", you'll suddenly realize how much of a gem it was- true to the trend that everything in life gets crappier as time moves on.
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by synthshaw » Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:49 am

One thing i must mention is the nostalgia we get when listening to old recordings, an example being the John Foxx album Metamatic. It's hard to recreate that sound on modern synths or VAs in a home studio, not just because of the Synths used but also the processing equipment primitive effects and analogue recording techniques.You can get close with emulation(if you realy wanted to) but there are lots of other factors involved is what i'm trying to say.
Perhaps if they made a microkorg with the same limitations as the synth it's trying to emulate, it might get more respect. And of course you use spring reverb and tape delays.

I must admit though, there is a sound on my sh2 (sort of sweet spot) i can't get with any VA or softsynth.
Maybe the answer is to go modular. But all synths be it analog or digi sound different (in subtle ways anyway).

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:07 pm

synthshaw wrote:Perhaps if they made a microkorg with the same limitations as the synth it's trying to emulate, it might get more respect.
You have to be kidding. MKs are still flying off the shelf after 7 years of production which is a very long lifetime for a digital instrument. It has plenty of respect from the people who use one.
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Mar 30, 2009 2:16 pm

griffin avid wrote:I wonder if the stuff we looked at and went "Meh, [insert some small reason why you weren't more excited about it] I'll pass", you'll suddenly realize how much of a gem it was- true to the trend that everything in life gets crappier as time moves on.
Cases in point:

Korg MS-10, MS-20

Roland SH-101, TB-303

EDP Wasp

Yamaha CS-01

None of these were thought of very highly when being manufactured. Everyone still wanted Moogs and ARPs (or if they had the dough a Prophet). People only bought them because they were cheap.
I listened to Hatfield and the North at Rainbow. They were very wonderful and they made my heart a prisoner.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by synthshaw » Mon Mar 30, 2009 5:04 pm

meatballfulton wrote:
synthshaw wrote:Perhaps if they made a microkorg with the same limitations as the synth it's trying to emulate, it might get more respect.
You have to be kidding. MKs are still flying off the shelf after 7 years of production which is a very long lifetime for a digital instrument. It has plenty of respect from the people who use one.
Maybe so (i love my MS2K) but the point i'm making is that If the people on this forum had the choice of a free synth and it was between a Microkorg or a Monopoly which one would most people pick?

The monopoly obviously. Even though it has no patch memory or midi, people would jump at it.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by elmacaco » Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:32 pm

It's like vintage microphones in a way. back then the onyl way to build synths was to do it with analog. Since it was the latest technology, all that was available was expensive, the short cuts and rounded corners weren't as developed yet, (well, unless you consider silicon transistors a rounded corner, in which case, fair enough). This stuff just made it possible, later people came out with ways to make it cheaper, and now the old stuff is too expensive to be done right at a low cost. When Neumann were commissioned to make microphones, they were not sparing any expense, they were told to make the best microphones they could, hence the gold sputtering and different innovations to make a great recording device. They you find ways to make it cheaper, much cheaper without sacrificing too much function, but the difference remains. Now you can shell out for the real deal, or pay thousands for a replica that gets close, but you pay for it because it isn't a birthright, it's a fine craft that is all but lost and they few that care better support if it is to stay around.

I think it is totally possible to clone these instruments, but they will be expensive if done right. if it was cheap it would have been done. Look at the x0xb0x, they don;t sound exactly like a 303 (I have a xox and compared it to a few 303's, and the 303 sound better, and more like each other than the x0x, so I don;t buy that 'all 303's sound as different as a x0x sounds from a 303' bullshit, people delluding themselves) But they sound great, so people have them beside their real 303's.

If you think about it, that was a cheap synth new, I mean anyone buying a x0x kit is still paying much more for parts alone than roland would have, but it's cheaper than an actual 303. Same would be true for any good clone.

it is very possible, but expensive and not exactly the best business proposition.

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