Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by CapnMarvel » Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:19 pm

I keep looking for the 'Soundtrack' oscillator waveform on my SEM and just can't find it. Is it on an internal DIP switch or something?
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:24 pm

aeon wrote:Pure ROMplers are usually kinda boring to me. S+S machines that people lazily call ROMplers, like the Roland JD-990 and E-mu Proteus2K-series, are great synthesizers
Curious where you draw the line between ROMpler and S+S. How much "synthesis" do you require for it to be S+S??? ;)

I use the terms interchangeably. I've never seen S+S as inferior to any other kind of digital synthesizer (FM, additive, VA, PD, whatever). Samples to me are just an easier way to get a wide palette of waveforms without having to jump through hoops. Just because a waveform is a piano sample doesn't mean I have to use it to create piano sounds 8-)
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Tue Apr 06, 2010 8:44 pm

meatballfulton wrote:Curious where you draw the line between ROMpler and S+S. How much "synthesis" do you require for it to be S+S??? ;)
That's what I was talking about when I was talking about the lines being blurred. It's not always easy to distinguish.
I would say it was a synth when the general intent seems to be the creation of sounds, and a ROMpler when the general intent seems to be the selecting of preset sounds. In both cases you're going to have synthesis capabilities and presets, but one tends to lean more towards one than the other, and the other, inversely.
Again, not hard-and-fast, but synthesizers usually have sampled waveforms, and ROMplers usually have full-on samples (because it makes more sense to use longer samples for emulation, and shorter samples for synthesis- or, at least that's how it had been up until more recently)
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Apr 06, 2010 9:08 pm

I see where you are going AG, but to me the real difference between my Motif and the SQ-80 I used to own is that cheaper ROM means the Motif isn't limited to single cycle samples the way the SQ-80 was.

When I look at the Yamaha MM6 compared to the Motif the limitation is obvious, there is no editing of the sounds. However, it's easy to hear that the MM6 has the Motif sound engine even if you can't get at it so clearly it's not aimed at synthesists.

But what about the in-between products like the Roland MT32? It can be edited via MIDI so it's not 100% a preset machine but since your edits are lost when you power it down it's obvious they never expected people to edit it much.

I'm sure people consider the Sequential MAX a synth (it's analog after all) but like the MT32 it can't be edited standalone and erases user patches on power-down so for most users it's a preset machine.

There have been S+S machines with analog-like osc features like ring mod, hard sync, cross mod so using samples doesn't automatically preclude such things.

So an S+S machine plays back waveforms rather than generating them like in a VA...well, that pays off in useful ways like higher voice and timbre counts. To my mind it's just one of many tradeoffs a mfr makes when designing the instrument.

At the end of the day I really don't understand why this class of synthesizer gets so much flak and can generate four pages of posts in less than 24 hours :?
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by OriginalJambo » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:24 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote: VA and RA cannot emulate strings (or anything else that is the point of ROMplers) at all.
Of course they can. Synth strings are still a fair imitation of the real thing in many ways. That's why we give 'em that name. ;)
Most decent ROMplers are more expensive than most analog synths.
Not really. You can pick up a Roland Juno-G or KORG X50 for less than a Little Phatty. Both of these will give you usable string sounds, and then some!

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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by clubbedtodeath » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:48 pm

This is true, but orchestral soundsets on PCs nowadays are really, really good, and do a bit more than basic wavetable playback.

I remember the days of 1mb GM sets. When I switched to Gary Garritans personal orchestra, which at the time was the price of a low end soundcard, I was blown away. Trained ears can be fooled briefly - often what gives the game away is how passages are played, rather than the samples themselves.

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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Tue Apr 06, 2010 10:53 pm

meatballfulton wrote:At the end of the day I really don't understand why this class of synthesizer gets so much flak and can generate four pages of posts in less than 24 hours :?
I don't see as much flak as ROMplers usually get in threads like these! Despite my sizable text contributions, I'm not condemning them in any way. :)

In regard to the other things you said, I would say the overlapping areas are the ones to avoid in defining these terms... the exceptions never define the standards!

OriginalJambo wrote:
Automatic Gainsay wrote: VA and RA cannot emulate strings (or anything else that is the point of ROMplers) at all.
Of course they can. Synth strings are still a fair imitation of the real thing in many ways. That's why we give 'em that name. ;)
Please read my more in-depth explanation about what I meant, further along in the thread.

OriginalJambo wrote:
Automatic Gainsay wrote:Most decent ROMplers are more expensive than most analog synths.
Not really. You can pick up a Roland Juno-G or KORG X50 for less than a Little Phatty. Both of these will give you usable string sounds, and then some!
Operative words "most" and "decent."
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by balma » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:11 pm

meatballfulton wrote:At the end of the day I really don't understand why this class of synthesizer gets so much flak and can generate four pages of posts in less than 24 hours :?
well I have enjoyed too much the discussion about them more than the recent invasion of roland posts :P

Is good to see that guys here with a lot of experience on vintage synths, give their place to the romplers....

I read once here, that the romplers are the synths that deserve less love. Well, the sentence is OK, but I got the idea that VSE members are not interested on digging some models that are really powerful tools for programming new sounds.



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In most of the cases I see all my machines just at tools, not hate anyone of them (analogs, vas, samplers, romplers or wavetables) and all of them have their special place in my heart. Sometimes you must remember that the main goal, is to please my ears and others with good music.

but in certain ocassions, I just wonder why people hasn't dig enough these things more....

I always have wanted a K2600. I played one on a studio, is an instrument that goes beyond when emulating acoustic sounds. And they can go mean too. The distortions are really violent, and can produce also very weird stuff.



K2600...

Last edited by balma on Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:28 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by cornutt » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:28 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote: I'm talking about being able to use string sounds which don't just sound like strings because of an timbral similarity that is also dependent on usage and production. Various bowings, various traditional string applications, section and solo effects, muting, pizzicato, etc.
I know exactly what you mean... doing a "Turing test" imitation of a real instrument is a whole lot more than just playing back a sample. In a backwards sort of way, though, not doing that is one of the things that can make a rompler interesting to me. One of the things that makes Mellotron strings distinct and beloved is simply the fact that, since it's a keyboard, it encourages you to voice chords the way a keyboard player does -- and that is not the way that composers usually write for real string sections. It's taking the sound of the instrument and using it in an "unnatural" way, which makes it more than just a substitute for a musician. My personal irony is that the better the romplers get at doing credible imitations of real instruments, the less interest I have in them. :ugeek:
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by OriginalJambo » Tue Apr 06, 2010 11:47 pm

clubbedtodeath wrote:often what gives the game away is how passages are played, rather than the samples themselves.
Exactly, which is why the key switching of articulations offered by the likes of Kontakt - and other software samplers - is a fantastic feature. Garritan Personal Orchestra happens to be one of the first affordable orchestral sample libraries that broke the barrier IMO.

However the string and brass ensembles patches found in many modern workstation keyboards (even the budget ones!) should be perfectly serviceable for certain applications, for example as background layers in a typical "pop song". Most also have respectable Rhodes, Wurly, Clavinet and Hammond sounds too.

Then again, nothing quite like the real deal. But that's true of everything!

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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Apr 07, 2010 12:52 am

Automatic Gainsay wrote:
meatballfulton wrote:At the end of the day I really don't understand why this class of synthesizer gets so much flak
I don't see as much flak as ROMplers usually get in threads like these!
I agree, this thread is pretty mellow but I was referring to the general ROMpler-hate that shows up all over the place. As others have pointed out, it's just the use of sampled waveforms that sets S+S apart from other types of subtractive synths.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by redchapterjubilee » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:24 am

cornutt wrote:One of the things that makes Mellotron strings distinct and beloved is simply the fact that, since it's a keyboard, it encourages you to voice chords the way a keyboard player does -- and that is not the way that composers usually write for real string sections.
Indeed. The keyboard lends itself to certain voicings easier than guitar or even charting it out for orchestral instruments. Power chords are easy to play on guitar but playing that chord one-handed on keys is a little bit of a stretch for my fingers.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by I12 » Wed Apr 07, 2010 2:45 am

However, they are simply not designed with the intent that earlier synthesizers were... the expectation that you intend to design sound with them, first and foremost.
How do you explain this:
My sh2000 (1974 pretty early) has preset tabs for nearly a complete orchestra.
look at most patch sheets supplied with early synths, what'd they show?

Early synths were designed because of the desire, need, want to recreate acoustic sounds in 1 box/keys.
Romplers are an extension of that.
Your statement is misguided.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by pricklyrobot » Wed Apr 07, 2010 3:32 am

I12 wrote:
However, they are simply not designed with the intent that earlier synthesizers were... the expectation that you intend to design sound with them, first and foremost.
How do you explain this:
My sh2000 (1974 pretty early) has preset tabs for nearly a complete orchestra.
look at most patch sheets supplied with early synths, what'd they show?
Sounds more like a marketing strategy than a design strategy. The guys making the synths weren't necessarily the ones selling them.

Several modern synths I own were marketed as tools for making cheesy dance music, and came filled with presets of same. I've never used any of them to make that kind of music, and I wouldn't say there's anything inherent in the design architecture that makes them particularly suited for it.

Engineers make products with one vision in mind, marketing people (if you accept the premise that they're actually human, that is ;)) get their hands on them and try to sell them as whatever the perceived flavor o' the month is, then consumers buy them and may very well use them for something beyond what either the engineers or marketing geniuses conceived.
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Re: Your thoughts about rompler synthesis

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Wed Apr 07, 2010 4:29 am

I12 wrote:
However, they are simply not designed with the intent that earlier synthesizers were... the expectation that you intend to design sound with them, first and foremost.
How do you explain this:
My sh2000 (1974 pretty early) has preset tabs for nearly a complete orchestra.
look at most patch sheets supplied with early synths, what'd they show?

Early synths were designed because of the desire, need, want to recreate acoustic sounds in 1 box/keys.
Romplers are an extension of that.
Your statement is misguided.
In addition to what Prickly said:

Electronic music history was the history of new sound sources and rejection of traditional sound sources up until the 1970s. Composers wanted new textures and timbres and instruments in order to realize new music, and they wanted to escape the instruments and confines of traditional Western music. These composers gave rise to the composers whose input was valued by Moog, Buchla, and other people and companies who designed voltage-controlled synthesizers. The synthesizer was, without question, absolutely designed to create sounds never heard by human ears. It only became an acoustic-emulative device when it fell into the hands of other musicians and marketing people. Moog and others very wisely jumped on the bandwagon when it became apparent that the general public was more interested in electronics which could imitate sounds than electronics which made avant-garde music they didn't understand.

Preset synths like the SH-2000 were designed to appeal to the organ player and/or rock musician who wanted synth sounds but didn't want to have to learn synthesis. I can guarantee that people were NOT buying preset synths in 1974, the era of Moogsploitation, in order to demonstrate and record their "authentic" orchestral sounds. Those preset names, like is traditional with organs, were given because of the timbral characteristics they had, not because they were being marketed as emulative.

And no, 1974 is not early. That's a decade or so after the first showing of the Moog modular.

All of that being said, I agree that preset synths were the first step towards a ROMpler concept.
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