Why analog?

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
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Why analog?

Post by negativ » Sun May 15, 2011 6:51 pm

I see so often, on forums of this sort, heated debate between analog and digital sound. I even hear people fighting about which analog synthesizer is truest to the 'analog sound.'
I just can't understand why so many synthesists insist on having Model D's and OB-Xa's when there are products like the Virus and the Prophet '08 out there. Why do you need a less serviceable, less functional synthesizer to create a slightly 'phatter' sound, so you can get the same hip-hop lead everybody else uses, to be recorded and distributed as a lo-fi .mp3 across the internet to the masses who could care less what boards yo use? I'm not trying to attack your position, I honestly want to understand why an analog filter is worth paying that much for.

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Re: Why analog?

Post by madtheory » Sun May 15, 2011 6:54 pm

The primary issue is- use whatever it takes to get the best performance from the artist. To understand it, you need to actually play a MiniMoog or an OB-Xa. Any musical instrument is more than just the quality of sound it makes- the UI, the tactile feel etc. is vital. I think a lot of synths that happen to be analogue had excellent UIs. THe Juno 106 is a great, accessible example of this. Very simple synth, but very satisfying to use. The fact that it's DCO is unimportant compared to how easy it is to get good musical useful sounds out of it. Apart from the sound of the filter, the Minimoog has just the right number of controls, all in the right place, it even feels like the knobs are the right size to allow you to dial in the sounds, find the sweet spots, etc. IMO the Voyager improves on it.

The distribution format is a red herring. Keep the bandwidth wide and the noise floor lo throughout the production process. Plus, you will find that music fans prefer lossless formats, e.g. bandcamp.

I do agree that a lot of people are too hung up on it.

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Re: Why analog?

Post by Solderman » Sun May 15, 2011 7:12 pm

negativ wrote:Why do you need a less serviceable, less functional synthesizer to create a slightly 'phatter' sound, so you can get the same hip-hop lead everybody else uses, to be recorded and distributed as a lo-fi .mp3 across the internet to the masses who could care less what boards yo use?
I just play for me, and could care less who hears it. I hear a difference and that's all that matters. Whether someone decides it's worth owning is completely subjective. The above quotation gives me the sense that you assume people who lack talent buy vintage gear to impress other people and make their same tired sounds over and over. I'm sure you don't believe that this is the only outcome, but it unfortunately does happen. So what? The vintage market, like any market, has no sense of talent or artistic merit. That's just the way it is.
negativ wrote:I'm not trying to attack your position, I honestly want to understand why an analog filter is worth paying that much for.
Passively, you are attacking this position. I have to wonder if you have ever actually played some of the more highly praised gear, or are just assuming it can't possibly be that different.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by GuyaGuy » Sun May 15, 2011 7:19 pm

negativ wrote:I see so often, on forums of this sort, heated debate between analog and digital sound. I even hear people fighting about which analog synthesizer is truest to the 'analog sound.'
I just can't understand why so many synthesists insist on having Model D's and OB-Xa's when there are products like the Virus and the Prophet '08 out there. Why do you need a less serviceable, less functional synthesizer to create a slightly 'phatter' sound, so you can get the same hip-hop lead everybody else uses, to be recorded and distributed as a lo-fi .mp3 across the internet to the masses who could care less what boards yo use? I'm not trying to attack your position, I honestly want to understand why an analog filter is worth paying that much for.
:sigh:

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Re: Why analog?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sun May 15, 2011 7:35 pm

negativ wrote:I see so often, on forums of this sort, heated debate between analog and digital sound. I even hear people fighting about which analog synthesizer is truest to the 'analog sound.'
Those are never debates, they are arguments between people who ascribe some sort of status to what they possess fighting against those who are irritated about the assignment of status to something they don't or can't have. They are arguments that ignorant people get into.
negativ wrote:I just can't understand why so many synthesists insist on having Model D's and OB-Xa's when there are products like the Virus and the Prophet '08 out there.
If you don't understand this, it's not because the reasons aren't there, it means you either can't hear them, or don't care... which is fine in either case.
The reason I have a Minimoog and not a Virus is simply because the sound, interface, and experience are totally and completely different. This is a bit like asking "why would anyone have a vintage car when there are so many modern cars which do roughly the same thing?" Music is largely about aesthetic, and people's aesthetic tastes (whether aural, visual, or interactive) drive what instruments inspire them.
negativ wrote:Why do you need a less serviceable, less functional synthesizer to create a slightly 'phatter' sound, so you can get the same hip-hop lead everybody else uses, to be recorded and distributed as a lo-fi .mp3 across the internet to the masses who could care less what boards yo use?
Because music isn't about service or function. It's about inspiration, creativity, and having a tool that inspires you and allows you to be creative. Just because an instrument is new, brimming with function, and even possessed of a great sound does not mean it's going to inspire all musicians in all genres for all reasons.
If you want to engage in an actual discussion about the sound quality of analog, don't use the bullshit term "phat." It's the term people tend to use when they have no idea what characteristics define the accurate term "fat."
Does a voice stop sounding like a voice on an mp3? Can you no longer tell the difference between an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar on an mp3? Is it suddenly impossible to tell the difference between a man and a woman? Sound quality does not remove many of the desirable aspects of the sound of analog synthesizers.
If you choose the musical instruments you use based on what you expect people will appreciate, you're doing it wrong. I don't give a s**t whether you know I'm using a CS-50 or not, but I expect that the people who like my music will appreciate how using one inspires me to create music I like better, which hopefully inspires them to enjoy my music more. Also, I simply never shoot for the lowest common denominator. I'm not going to use a shitty keyboard sound just because the average guy isn't going to notice.
negativ wrote:I honestly want to understand why an analog filter is worth paying that much for.
If the arguments you've heard are all about the filter alone, they're missing the point of analog sound as much as you are. It's not about the damned filter. If it was, you could just get a Moogerfooger MF-101 and be set for life. Ideally, every part of an analog synth contributes to the overall sound. The oscillator is at LEAST as important as the filter. An analog synth is a complex electrical device whose sound is the result of complex electrical interactions which result in a decidedly more-organic and aurally pleasing (like real sounds are) sound. It is a device where the user interacts with it in the real world, in realtime, which generates a creative experience.
And how much you pay for one has absolutely nothing to do with why the thing is desirable. You pay that much BECAUSE it is desirable to degree, but unfortunately moreso because dumbshits on the internet think that it is some sort of symbol, or some sort of magic thing that is going to change their c**p techno into something other than c**p techno.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by Psy_Free » Sun May 15, 2011 7:48 pm

I feel a heated thread coming on.

Still, my 2 pence worth, avoiding the old analogue vs VA type arguments that have been done to death.

I bought most of my analogue synths before the Virus & Prophet 8 (and many other VA's/new analogues) existed, simple as that. The electronic music that influenced me as a youth was Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, 50s/60s experimental electronic/avant garde, etc, so the synths I bought, that I could afford, reflected that influence and the ability to create music in that vein, namely analogue.

Since those halcyon days, I've bought many VAs, modern analogues, digital synths, romplers etc. They sound very good, but I still use them for the same kinds of music I've always made alongside the old analogues, not for hip-hop or whatever. Personally, I don't care whether the synth is analogue, digital, new, old or whatever. If it sounds good to me, I'll use it.

Now, it just so happens that I do find that analogue synths, generally, have a better raw sound overall than most VAs, etc. Don't know why, I just do. One of the good things about VA/new analogues, for me, is that they have many very useful 'extras', like MIDI syncable LFOs, varied modulation routings and so on which give me possibilities to enhance my musical creativity and which are lacking on older synths.

You are making quite a few incorrect assumptions in your post which probably don't apply to a great many people here. I couldn't care less about getting a 'phatter sound', I wouldn't know a hip-hop lead if it bit me in the butt and my music isn't (legitimately) distributed across the net in lo-fi mp3s ;)

EDIT : Damn ! Whilst composing this, I forgot to bid on the Doepfer MS404 on e-bay I've been watching. :cry:
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Re: Why analog?

Post by Yoozer » Sun May 15, 2011 7:58 pm

negativ wrote:I just can't understand why so many synthesists insist on having Model D's and OB-Xa's when there are products like the Virus and the Prophet '08 out there.
Because you've never played one.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by Sexor » Sun May 15, 2011 8:20 pm

negativ wrote:Why analog?
Why not? :roll:
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Re: Why analog?

Post by negativ » Sun May 15, 2011 8:28 pm

Solderman wrote:I just play for me, and could care less who hears it. I hear a difference and that's all that matters. Whether someone decides it's worth owning is completely subjective. The above quotation gives me the sense that you assume people who lack talent buy vintage gear to impress other people and make their same tired sounds over and over. I'm sure you don't believe that this is the only outcome, but it unfortunately does happen...
I think my post sound like that, but that's not what I mean. I just wonder why even talented people need them. And I am attacking the point, but what I'm trying to do is lay out my understanding of the issue and let you address it in kind.
GuyaGuy wrote: :sigh:
Alright, your contribution is appreciated.
Automatic Gainsay wrote:
negativ wrote:I see so often, on forums of this sort, heated debate between analog and digital sound. I even hear people fighting about which analog synthesizer is truest to the 'analog sound.'
Those are never debates, they are arguments between people who ascribe some sort of status to what they possess fighting against those who are irritated about the assignment of status to something they don't or can't have. They are arguments that ignorant people get into.
negativ wrote:I just can't understand why so many synthesists insist on having Model D's and OB-Xa's when there are products like the Virus and the Prophet '08 out there.
If you don't understand this, it's not because the reasons aren't there, it means you either can't hear them, or don't care... which is fine in either case.
The reason I have a Minimoog and not a Virus is simply because the sound, interface, and experience are totally and completely different. This is a bit like asking "why would anyone have a vintage car when there are so many modern cars which do roughly the same thing?" Music is largely about aesthetic, and people's aesthetic tastes (whether aural, visual, or interactive) drive what instruments inspire them.
negativ wrote:Why do you need a less serviceable, less functional synthesizer to create a slightly 'phatter' sound, so you can get the same hip-hop lead everybody else uses, to be recorded and distributed as a lo-fi .mp3 across the internet to the masses who could care less what boards yo use?
Because music isn't about service or function. It's about inspiration, creativity, and having a tool that inspires you and allows you to be creative. Just because an instrument is new, brimming with function, and even possessed of a great sound does not mean it's going to inspire all musicians in all genres for all reasons.
If you want to engage in an actual discussion about the sound quality of analog, don't use the bullshit term "phat." It's the term people tend to use when they have no idea what characteristics define the accurate term "fat."
Does a voice stop sounding like a voice on an mp3? Can you no longer tell the difference between an acoustic guitar or an electric guitar on an mp3? Is it suddenly impossible to tell the difference between a man and a woman? Sound quality does not remove many of the desirable aspects of the sound of analog synthesizers.
If you choose the musical instruments you use based on what you expect people will appreciate, you're doing it wrong. I don't give a s**t whether you know I'm using a CS-50 or not, but I expect that the people who like my music will appreciate how using one inspires me to create music I like better, which hopefully inspires them to enjoy my music more. Also, I simply never shoot for the lowest common denominator. I'm not going to use a shitty keyboard sound just because the average guy isn't going to notice.
negativ wrote:I honestly want to understand why an analog filter is worth paying that much for.
If the arguments you've heard are all about the filter alone, they're missing the point of analog sound as much as you are. It's not about the damned filter. If it was, you could just get a Moogerfooger MF-101 and be set for life. Ideally, every part of an analog synth contributes to the overall sound. The oscillator is at LEAST as important as the filter. An analog synth is a complex electrical device whose sound is the result of complex electrical interactions which result in a decidedly more-organic and aurally pleasing (like real sounds are) sound. It is a device where the user interacts with it in the real world, in realtime, which generates a creative experience.
And how much you pay for one has absolutely nothing to do with why the thing is desirable. You pay that much BECAUSE it is desirable to degree, but unfortunately moreso because dumbshits on the internet think that it is some sort of symbol, or some sort of magic thing that is going to change their c**p techno into something other than c**p techno.
A very fair assessment. I do hear a difference between my friend's Model D and his new Evolver, but I don't understand why people then condemn the Evolver because it's not as good. (Well, I do, but it's not justified)
Psy_Free wrote:I feel a heated thread coming on.

Still, my 2 pence worth, avoiding the old analogue vs VA type arguments that have been done to death.

I bought most of my analogue synths before the Virus & Prophet 8 (and many other VA's/new analogues) existed, simple as that. The electronic music that influenced me as a youth was Klaus Schulze, Tangerine Dream, Kraftwerk, 50s/60s experimental electronic/avant garde, etc, so the synths I bought, that I could afford, reflected that influence and the ability to create music in that vein, namely analogue.

Since those halcyon days, I've bought many VAs, modern analogues, digital synths, romplers etc. They sound very good, but I still use them for the same kinds of music I've always made alongside the old analogues, not for hip-hop or whatever. Personally, I don't care whether the synth is analogue, digital, new, old or whatever. If it sounds good to me, I'll use it.

Now, it just so happens that I do find that analogue synths, generally, have a better raw sound overall than most VAs, etc. Don't know why, I just do. One of the good things about VA/new analogues, for me, is that they have many very useful 'extras', like MIDI syncable LFOs, varied modulation routings and so on which give me possibilities to enhance my musical creativity and which are lacking on older synths.

You are making quite a few incorrect assumptions in your post which probably don't apply to a great many people here. I couldn't care less about getting a 'phatter sound', I wouldn't know a hip-hop lead if it bit me in the butt and my music isn't (legitimately) distributed across the net in lo-fi mp3s ;)
Again, an intelligent response. I do presume a bit, but I'm not addressing the entire forum, only those who behave in a certain manner. and we're all products of our time. It's the same reason I still like the atmosphere of WordPerfect on my old DOS laptop. :D
Psy_Free wrote:EDIT : Damn ! Whilst composing this, I forgot to bid on the Doepfer MS404 on e-bay I've been watching. :cry:
Nooooooooo. My apologies, that's an analog worth bidding on.

Interestingly enough, I've been looking at a Korg PolySix and a DSi Tetra, and the responses to this inflammatory question give me good reason to buy the Korg.
Also odd, most of the things people on synth forums is that they like about vintage synths is their 'beefy,' cutting sound, but I like synths that tune weird and have lots of fuzz and volume problems. XD

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Re: Why analog?

Post by Hybrid88 » Sun May 15, 2011 8:59 pm

madtheory wrote:To understand it, you need to actually play a MiniMoog...
+1000, You need to try it in the flesh to really hear the difference, in the mix with a thousand other instruments or on You Tube doesn't really give you the idea.

And I agree the Virus is great, but if you can't hear the difference you need your hearing checked :D
Last edited by Hybrid88 on Sun May 15, 2011 9:00 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Why analog?

Post by Alex E » Sun May 15, 2011 8:59 pm

Sounds aside:

" Every one of you should sit down in front of a VX600, wait as long as 40 minutes to let it warm up and keep in tune, and smell the aroma of heated analog guts coming through the cracks in the panel, knowing that this tiny beautiful piece of craft is getting closer and closer to its final hour, but as long as it's alive, you can translate a bit of yourself into sound through it. Irreplaceable experience."

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Re: Why analog?

Post by Desecrated » Sun May 15, 2011 9:18 pm

I would love to own a virus or a prophet 08, But I also like the sounds of the jupiter 4, juno 60 and some other older synths.

I''m working with horrormusic so I need a synth that I can operate/manipulate while playing to easier get it to sit in the mix and also create great atmosphere. The virus and the prophet has enough knobs for me to twist and turn. But I haven't found a digital synth that sounds quite like the jupiter 4 yet.

I don't care if it is analog or not, as long as it sounds right and has what I need to operate it, I'm fine.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by GuyaGuy » Sun May 15, 2011 9:22 pm

negativ wrote:
GuyaGuy wrote: :sigh:
Alright, your contribution is appreciated.
Fine, I'll address the problems with your post:

1. Analog gear is MORE serviceable.
2. They are only "less functional" if you need functions they are missing.
3. Not everyone wants "phatt."
4. Not everyone wants to play hip hop leads.
5. Not everyone wants to get the same tones that everyone else uses--whether with analog or digital.
6. Not everyone listens only to mp3s and even if they did, you can still hear the difference between instruments in mp3s.
7. If you say "Why do you need a less serviceable, less functional synthesizer to create a slightly 'phatter' sound, so you can get the same hip-hop lead everybody else uses, to be recorded and distributed as a lo-fi .mp3 across the internet to the masses who could care less what boards yo use?" then you ARE attacking a position.

Which basically cooks down your post to:

"anaglog vs. digital"

And therefore:
GuyaGuy wrote:
:sigh:

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Re: Why analog?

Post by CS_TBL » Sun May 15, 2011 9:31 pm

The term 'phatt' is the worst invention in the history of bad inventions. It has "yo yo mofo uh uh uh" all over it, that can't be good.

I rather thin out sounds to make them fit better in the mix, which in return makes the mix fatter. That, and a good sound designer makes pleasant sounds from nearly any synth, analogue or digital, old or modern, additive or FM, whatever or whatever.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sun May 15, 2011 9:49 pm

CS_TBL wrote:I rather thin out sounds to make them fit better in the mix, which in return makes the mix fatter. That, and a good sound designer makes pleasant sounds from nearly any synth, analogue or digital, old or modern, additive or FM, whatever or whatever.
Often when you speak, it's like a soothing wave of pure wisdom and reason. Thank you for that.
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