is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

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vin14
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is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by vin14 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:01 am

This is a follow-on from the last thread I posted. It went off on a tangent, but the essence of it was whether the Virus ti is a soft synth in it's own dedicated computer/controller/keyboard.

I've been contemplating a modern hardware synth, the virus was one that fitted the bill, however if the answer to the original question was yes, I thought I may be wiser getting a real analog. So yesterday I tried a Prophet 08 and a Virus ti1. I know from experience that you can't tell from an hour in a store or even a week's hire, however either is still better than internet research!

I left the store thinking I'd prefer the Virus. To me It sounded just as good, if not better. The Prophet sounded as clean, which isn't a bad thing, however my old Junos and other old synths I've tried always sounded a little bit dirty or raw, it's hard to but into words. It left me thinking that 'new analog' and 'old analog' are not the same (perhaps that's to be expected). I have read comments about the little phatty and voyager sounding almost digital in comparison to a Model D, perhaps a bad description, but I know where they were coming from. Of course I will draw my own conclusion when I eventually try the new Moogs.

Anyhow, what do you guys think? is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?
I'm sure this has been discussed to death already, but I thought I'd post my thoughts

cheers

Vin

P.S. I'm not sure if this should have gone in the Synth Shootout section, but I thought it was a wider topic than Virus v Prophet, and I'm not looking for reasons to choose one over the other

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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by Christopher Winkels » Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:20 am

It's tough to generalize.

To offer some contrasting example: my Little Phatty sounds far less well mannered and much more raw than my 31 year old Yamaha CS-15, which is a very mannered and ultra-stable synth. A Prophet'08 sounds far less sterile than a old Matrix-6 or Matrix-1000, since it was designed to allow some oscillator slop and distortion to creep into the patches. Ditto a Future-Retro XS, which has a lot of grit and instability in its design.

My pet theory (and it remains only a theory), is that what one hears in many cases of new-vs-old that may yield a relative looseness: looser component tolerances, less advanced manufacturing techniques and quality controls, aging components, and other factors that combine to yield the fuzzy rawness of many older synths. Case in point: many people who are well acquainted with Minimoogs will tell you that the earliest ones sound best, but were the worst to keep in tune.

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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by steveman » Mon Jun 22, 2009 11:49 am

Not better, not worse, just different. It seems the things people like about old analogue (tuning instabilty etc) are those the engineers / designers were trying to get rid of, hence the so called 'cleanness' of the newer stuff.
Other thing is you're comparing instruments with 20 year old components with new ones, did they sound the same 20 years ago? i doubt it. I recall the Prophet 5 being described as clean and neutral when it was introduced, supposedly having less character than (say) Oberheims. Most of the comments I see these days re the Prophet don't describe it in those terms...
I'm getting the Prophet in the next few weeks, if I think it's too clean I'll it stick it through an overdrive pedal, also got a decent chorus to use with it. You may say using vintage I won't need to do this, but doing it this way I have a choice.

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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by vin14 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 12:15 pm

Not better, not worse, just different. It seems the things people like about old analogue (tuning instabilty etc) are those the engineers / designers were trying to get rid of, hence the so called 'cleanness' of the newer stuff.

It is to be expected really, as I said it's not a bad thing, I was just surprised by it and how little difference I heard between it and a virtual analog. I guess that's an achievement on the part of the virtual analog designers.

Other thing is you're comparing instruments with 20 year old components with new ones, did they sound the same 20 years ago? i doubt it.

Fair point, I can't say for sure, though my alpha Juno was around 5 years old when I bought it in the early 90s, and it doesn't sound any different to me now than it did then. Of course it's impossible to make an accurate comparison! My Juno 106 is due back from a repair/service soon, it will be interesting to hear how it sounds with a replacement voice chip.

I'm getting the Prophet in the next few weeks, if I think it's too clean I'll it stick it through an overdrive pedal, also got a decent chorus to use with it. You may say using vintage I won't need to do this, but doing it this way I have a choice.

Do you mean the new Prophet? Don't get me wrong it's sounds very nice, though I felt it was a little flimsy in build for the money. Best of luck with it

cheers

Vin

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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by steveman » Mon Jun 22, 2009 12:53 pm

vin14 wrote: Do you mean the new Prophet? Don't get me wrong it's sounds very nice, though I felt it was a little flimsy in build for the money. Best of luck with it
Yes, the new one. Always wanted th Prophet 5, but no way can justify the cost & potential maintainance. This is just a hobby for me, so it won't be gigged.

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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by shaft9000 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 2:57 pm

not to sound like a d**k, but it truly doesn't matter what we think because we're not making your music for you.
why on earth would you need anyone else to "help you" decide what makes the sounds specifically in YOUR music... :idea:
everybody has to deal with hit-and-miss buying. it's a major reason why people flip gear.
vintage is vintage & modern is modern. research the differences and then get something and then after a while you can stop wondering.
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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by cornutt » Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:10 pm

And to complicate things: When you're talking about vintage analog, there were really two generations. There is a breakpoint, around 1978, between the two. The '60s-'70s analogs were based mainly around first-generation opamps (741, etc.) and discretes. (And at that, the transistors were mostly bipolar, since JFETs didn't really hit the market at affordable prices until around 1975.) The second generation of analogs was based mostly on Curtis/SSM ICs, and more advanced opamps. Among other issues, I suspect the two generations have been effected differently by component aging.
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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Mon Jun 22, 2009 3:43 pm

cornutt wrote:And to complicate things: When you're talking about vintage analog, there were really two generations. There is a breakpoint, around 1978, between the two. The '60s-'70s analogs were based mainly around first-generation opamps (741, etc.) and discretes. (And at that, the transistors were mostly bipolar, since JFETs didn't really hit the market at affordable prices until around 1975.) The second generation of analogs was based mostly on Curtis/SSM ICs, and more advanced opamps. Among other issues, I suspect the two generations have been effected differently by component aging.
cornutt, I don't tell you enough, but I think your posts are great, and I enjoy them. :)



New analog is not better or worse than old analog. There is no such thing as "better" or "worse," and thinking in those terms won't help you find the sound you want. I agree with steveman's "just different."

I also agree with Shaft's statement about flipping. The more synths you own for a bit, the more you will come to know what you're looking for in a synth.
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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by Soundwave » Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:06 pm

You tend to find it’s the instabilities of the circuits that give analogue synths their desirable character and hence why most older analogues with discrete circuits tend to have a more organic sound than modern analogues as the components and designs get more stable and efficient as time goes on.
This isn’t to say all old synths sound any better its just they are more prone to happy accidents with less reliable components especially when you compare to digitally controlled analogue synths like the Basstation, A6, Pulse and Evolver however clever programming with these types of analogues can often give an impression of the organic instabilities of the old discrete or Curtis/SSM gear.
This isn’t to say modern analogues can’t sound as good as the old ones either as some manufacturers will often get around this by designing the synths in different ways like the Omega or Sunsyn which are digitally controlled yet have discrete circuits where it counts like the VCO’s or filter.
There are also plenty of small companies that still build synths the old way like Macbeth, Analogue Solutions or Doepfer but use modern parts and sound just as good as the vintage classic's of 30yrs ago.

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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by Joey » Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:31 pm

here we go again
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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by vin14 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:41 pm

Joey wrote:here we go again
forgive me, I'm a newbie here, I think I'll stay quiet for while now!

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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by vin14 » Mon Jun 22, 2009 4:52 pm

shaft9000 wrote:not to sound like a d**k, but it truly doesn't matter what we think because we're not making your music for you.
why on earth would you need anyone else to "help you" decide what makes the sounds specifically in YOUR music... :idea:
everybody has to deal with hit-and-miss buying. it's a major reason why people flip gear.
vintage is vintage & modern is modern. research the differences and then get something and then after a while you can stop wondering.
Fair enough, but isn't this part of the forums for discussing the synths themselves as opposed to the music made with them? My post wasn't meant to be a 'help me choose a new synth' affair, as I stated which one I preferred! To be honest I don't need a new synth to make my music. I just have a case of synth-lust and fancied a new one, I suspect I'm not the first one! I thought posting some thoughts after trying out a couple was fair game, apologies if it isn't, cheers Vin

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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by Jack Spider » Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:05 pm

Don't worry about it, Vin. :wink:

Although it's trickier now, due to prices rising, 'buying and trying' is the best thing to do when considering synths that aren't in production any more.

Sure, you could ask others what they made of a given synth, and they could tell you what it is capable of, but the only true way to be sure is to give it a whirl yourself - this is where the risk (and excitement) comes in. Even if you bought/sold loads of synths, you'll know at the end of it all, which ones you liked/missed when sold and can pick 'em up again - doesn't half help kill GAS and at the very least, remove curiosity!

It worked for me, anyway - if something caught my eye, I'd read up on it and if it sounded good from that, I'd buy it to see how I gelled with it.
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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by Yoozer » Mon Jun 22, 2009 6:42 pm

vin14 wrote: It is to be expected really, as I said it's not a bad thing, I was just surprised by it and how little difference I heard between it and a virtual analog. I guess that's an achievement on the part of the virtual analog designers.
Or on the analog designers.

After all, stability and perfect tracking are hallmarks of good engineering. The pain is that the musicians think these rev 1 symptoms are charming rather than deleterious.
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Re: is 'new analog' better or worse 'old analog'?

Post by oryjen » Mon Jun 22, 2009 9:37 pm

It depends on what you call "new analog".

Most of new modular systems are at least as good as the old ones.

But most of combo new analog synths are made of CMS components, you can't repair by yourself, and about wich no one knows if they will fit 30 or 40 years along...
In addition to that, the pots are often of poor quality. Keyboards too...
So those synths are far far worse than their old cousins.
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