Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by jupiter8 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 12:56 pm

b3groover wrote: It isn't surprising that the majority of digital synths at that time had similar features to analog synths. You don't just change everything when a new technology comes around. You adapt it to what is already there.
You mean like the Yamaha DX7 ? Or the Fairlight or Synclavier ? Were there any other digital synths around at that time ?

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by jupiter8 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:03 pm

ItsMeOnly wrote:A "Virtual" instrument, as knolan pointed out, means created by mathematical model, or, if you like, a program running inside a dedicated processor (be it DSP or MCU controlling PGA).
To start with,that is two completely different and unrelated things. And as has been pointed out by several (including myself) he's wrong about the NordLead being a component model.
ItsMeOnly wrote:Naming D-50 a VA would imply that all the "analog", or "synthesis" part was done by programmed circuitry. It wasn't,
Really ? How do you figure that ? So what is the difference ? The NordLead has battery backed up RAM and the D50 has ROM circuits ?
ItsMeOnly wrote: It wasn't, because D-50 had dedicated hardware, ergo, D-50 is not a VA instrument
So it is decided by if you have a generic DSP or not ? Since the D50s processor wasn't sold to other campanies (nevermind that it does the exact same thing as a Freescale 56k) it's not a VA ? Never heard that definition before.

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by jupiter8 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 1:05 pm

madtheory wrote:The comparison with a CZ is valid in that both synths have a UI that is an LPF. Casio calls it a DCW, Roland calls it a TVF. BUT under the hood it is most certainly not an LPF (or a DCW). It's a TVF. Unless we can get someone from the D-50 team to explain it, we have no idea what a TVF is. There are no patents. It's definitely not a digital audio filter, because it is not possible to route the PCM waves through it. It is possible that there is some kind of primitive modeling going in, because they did that with the MKS20. But we just don't know...
Aren't you contradicting your self by first stating we have absolutely no idea what it is and then go on and state definitely what it isn't ?

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Mon Jun 21, 2010 5:26 pm

jupiter8 wrote:
b3groover wrote: It isn't surprising that the majority of digital synths at that time had similar features to analog synths. You don't just change everything when a new technology comes around. You adapt it to what is already there.
You mean like the Yamaha DX7 ? Or the Fairlight or Synclavier ? Were there any other digital synths around at that time ?
Don't you think you're being a bit argumentative? b3groover plainly says "the majority."
Also, the Fairlight isn't a synthesizer.
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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by b3groover » Mon Jun 21, 2010 7:25 pm

The D50 was Roland's answer to the hard-to-program DX7. It makes sense that they would fashion it after what folks were used to. That doesn't mean it's a virtual analog any more than a modern flat-panel LCD HD television is a CRT. They both do the same thing but use vastly different technologies / topologies.

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by jupiter8 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:51 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote:
jupiter8 wrote:
b3groover wrote: It isn't surprising that the majority of digital synths at that time had similar features to analog synths. You don't just change everything when a new technology comes around. You adapt it to what is already there.
You mean like the Yamaha DX7 ? Or the Fairlight or Synclavier ? Were there any other digital synths around at that time ?
Don't you think you're being a bit argumentative? b3groover plainly says "the majority."
Also, the Fairlight isn't a synthesizer.
The majority ? Ok,so what digital synthesizers were around when the D50 hit ? Those were the ones i could think of right of the bat. And none of them are even close to being similar to the D50 or had similar features to analog synths.

Here's a nice Fairlight video for you to check out:


Ok,so i did a quick check of the timeline (though i know it's not 100% accurate) and the only digital synth i missed was the Kurzweil K150 (can the K250 synthesize sounds or is it sampling only?)

S0 b3groover was clearly mistaken since not even one had the characteristics he described.

And argumentative ? Well maybe i have to little patience with nonsense arguments. Though i've heard you described the same way but let's not bring this into ad hominem territory. I'm not really an interesting person to discuss.

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by jupiter8 » Mon Jun 21, 2010 11:52 pm

b3groover wrote:They both do the same thing but use vastly different technologies / topologies.
How do you know that ?

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Tue Jun 22, 2010 12:59 am

jupiter8 wrote:The majority ? Ok,so what digital synthesizers were around when the D50 hit ? Those were the ones i could think of right of the bat. And none of them are even close to being similar to the D50 or had similar features to analog synths.
The premise that b3 is asserting is that simply because the D50 has some throwback architecture does not in any way indicate that it was meant to be emulative. His statement that other synths had throwback architecture is true, and demonstrated amply by at least two huge synths which came out around that time which were also digital: the Korg M1 (you might recognize that name, being as that it was among the top sellers of all time, and was in no way emulative except inasmuch as it included sounds from all sorts of instruments), and the Ensoniq ESQ-1 (uh oh, I seem to remember presets with "Moog" in the name... it must have been VA, too... just like every synth which has a patch which contains "Moog" in the name[which, I think is all of them with patch-naming]).
In general, this whole ridiculous argument that anyone was trying to emulate analog in the 80s at all, let alone the LATE 80s is simply ridiculous... as anyone who was alive and making music/using synthesizers at that point will tell you... which is what both b3 and I are doing. Maybe things were different in Sweden, but I doubt it.

Speaking of nonsense arguments, this whole thread is one.

b3 was "plainly" mistaken simply because you, on your own, failed to find any of the at least several examples of digital synths with analog architecture or components? Ha ha, that's awesome reasoning. Go with that!

Good luck with trying to avoid ad hominem arguments. There are few here that aren't. I can't argue for or against anything without this mythical perception of me becoming the source of rebuttal. Largely, I'm not even permitted to mention digital synths, samplers, or software because it's impossible that I could ever tolerate them, since I believe analog synths are the best things in the world, and that no one should use anything else. :roll:
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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by b3groover » Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:08 am

jupiter8 wrote:
b3groover wrote:They both do the same thing but use vastly different technologies / topologies.
How do you know that ?
Because analog circuit design is quite different from digital circuit design.

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by meatballfulton » Tue Jun 22, 2010 2:23 am

jupiter8 wrote:what digital synthesizers were around when the D50 hit ?
Besides the ones already mentioned---

A bunch of hybrids (analog filters, the rest all/mostly digital)...ESQ-1, Kawai K3, Korg Poly 800, Korg DW6000/8000, Prophet VS, PPG Wave

Additive: Kawai K5, Kurzweil 150, Con Brio ADS, RMI Harmonic Synthesizer

Others: Synergy, Crumar GDS, PPG Wave Computer 360
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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Tue Jun 22, 2010 3:18 am

The Prophet VS, PPG Wave, K3, K4, and K5 also had filters like the D50 (not like the D50s filter, but had filters in the same way that is being accused of being analog-emulative).

"Digital" does not necessarily mean "additive," which is the source of some of the confusion here, I think. Some people are thinking digital ONLY meant additive, and digital synths which weren't additive were somehow emulating analog. It's simply not the case.
meatballfulton wrote:
jupiter8 wrote:what digital synthesizers were around when the D50 hit ?
Besides the ones already mentioned---

A bunch of hybrids (analog filters, the rest all/mostly digital)...ESQ-1, Kawai K3, Korg Poly 800, Korg DW6000/8000, Prophet VS, PPG Wave

Additive: Kawai K5, Kurzweil 150, Con Brio ADS, RMI Harmonic Synthesizer

Others: Synergy, Crumar GDS, PPG Wave Computer 360
Weren't the Poly 800 and the DWs just DCO synths? You're going to get some complaints if you're suggesting they're digital. :wink:
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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by D-Collector » Tue Jun 22, 2010 9:25 am

The D-50 threads always spawn such strong feelings. Remember the "D-50 -classic or out of date" thread? That was nasty.

I agree that since VA is a term that came along to describe some mid/late 90s synths abilities to emulate specific analog properties, the D-50 is not a VA. That would also have been far from Rolands intent in 1987, as stated earlier in the thread.

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by madtheory » Tue Jun 22, 2010 10:46 am

jupiter8 wrote:
madtheory wrote:The comparison with a CZ is valid in that both synths have a UI that is an LPF. Casio calls it a DCW, Roland calls it a TVF. BUT under the hood it is most certainly not an LPF (or a DCW). It's a TVF. Unless we can get someone from the D-50 team to explain it, we have no idea what a TVF is. There are no patents. It's definitely not a digital audio filter, because it is not possible to route the PCM waves through it. It is possible that there is some kind of primitive modeling going in, because they did that with the MKS20. But we just don't know...
Aren't you contradicting your self by first stating we have absolutely no idea what it is and then go on and state definitely what it isn't ?
Now that's argumentative. And illogical.

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by jupiter8 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:23 am

b3groover wrote:
jupiter8 wrote:
b3groover wrote:They both do the same thing but use vastly different technologies / topologies.
How do you know that ?
Because analog circuit design is quite different from digital circuit design.
So how does a D50 work exactly ? What algorithms does it use ?

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Re: Was the Roland D50 the first VA Modelling Synth?

Post by jupiter8 » Tue Jun 22, 2010 11:48 am

meatballfulton wrote:A bunch of hybrids (analog filters, the rest all/mostly digital)...ESQ-1, Kawai K3, Korg Poly 800, Korg DW6000/8000, Prophet VS, PPG Wave

Additive: Kawai K5, Kurzweil 150, Con Brio ADS, RMI Harmonic Synthesizer

Others: Synergy, Crumar GDS, PPG Wave Computer 360
I was thinking about 100% digital synths so all the hybrids are out. The K5 , K150 and RMI are additive so they're clearly not based on an analog/subtractive synth. The ConBrio i don't know but since that one wasn't even in production it is fairly uninteresting. Same goes for the Realizer BTW. The PPG WC 360 is clearly not modeled after an analog/subtractive synth. Has no filters and was one of the first to use wavetables IIRC. Not sure about the Synergy or Crumar but wasn't the Synergy an additive as well.

So i'd say the statement that most digital synths were modelled after an analog/subtractive synth has no bearing in reality. And the Korg M1 came after the D50 plus it had no pulse width modulation or resonant filter.

Now i can admit that arguing about this is kind of pointless since it isn't an established category.It's a marketing phrase. (btw you can reverse that by claiming "Just saying it is a VA doesn't make it so no more than a LCD TV is a CRT TV). The TB303 was marketed as a replacement for bassplayers not as a Acid House synthesizer (was it even marketed as a synth at all?) However if we establish some kind of baseline with the NordLead as that was the first one being marketed as such, what are the distinguishing factors that makes it a VA ? The knob laden front panel ?
Yeah,why not however not all analog synths had the (The Rhodes Chroma) not all digital synths that have them are VA (The JD 800) and some claim the Korg Prohecy is a VA.

What it did have was an analog like synth "engine". You can argue all day that the VCO-VCF-VCA structure isn't inherently analog nor is every analog synth done that way. However most are. If you look at polyphonic keyboards how many were not ? And the D50 is one of them. It wasn't marketed as such (what was it marketed as BTW?) but if we accept that as a premise (which i'm fine with BTW) then were just accepting "because i say so" as an answer.

At the end of the day it doesn't matter one bit either way. But one big quest for me is to find out how the D50 actually works under the hood. I happen to be extremely interested in digital synthesis (analog too for that matter).
And i do like to discuss/argue. It seems one of them has a positive meaning and the other a negative one. Aren't they essentially the same thing ? For me i find it sharpens my reasoning skills and i learn tons of stuff doing it.
It may look like pointless bickering/attacks but it isn't. They're just words,they can't hurt you.

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