The obsession for the Analog

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
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The obsession for the Analog

Post by balma » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:16 am

There's a predominant idea that to make good synth music, you must use analog synths, or at least, have access to some of them.
why is the sound engine so important for most of us? engine is just a component between many things a synth must possess to allow you express yourself with sounds.

Prejuices over other types of synthesis?


Imo, the synthesizers are such amazing, complex musical instruments, that most of us feel lost on the synth technology labyrinth. Tons of different shapes and sizes, all types of controllers, inputs, outputs, menus, screens, applications, buttons and buttons and triggers and sliders and weird jergue... new names. Unknown, cheap and expensive models... and above all, disinformation?

The analog, yeah, that's the light. Our tendence to put a label in order to understand, classify in order to make a choice.

Synth is the best musical instrument, at least I think so. But even most of the people who are not into this stuff, doesn't know anything about them. And some of them do not consider synth players as "formal musicians".

Now, if somebody wants to learn synths, he needs to know wich are the most suitable, for starting, and if he keeps growing, what's the next step? Then, the analog worm slowly crawls into his mind....

Analog sounds great, that's a fact. I won't go into technicism about how analog oscillators give you more control over the sounds and they sound more "phat" or warm or wathever.

But there are SO MUCH interesting things to do with all the technologies by equal, rompling, VAs, and above all, hybrids.

Having 3 different synths interacting between them, no matter the engines, can give you a musical world to explore during the rest of your life. Do not understimate what they can do.

Digging your gear to unexpected results, should be the way to follow. Not to be so obsessive to get that analog monster setup. .... ohh, my synths sucks compared to your setup, I have no other choice than digging mine more. Well, I think you should always squeeze them, no matter what you have. Make them interact, each synth can handle different tasks, depending of the other synths making companion.

There are SO much great devices today, the result of a few decades of human creativity designing these musical devices now offer us a huge panorama of possibilities to make new music. In my world, analog is not over the rest, is just another beautiful way to produce sounds.
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by CS_TBL » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:24 am

Indeed, it's all up to the sound designer to get the best from any engine, and within a dense mix no one cares anyway. And the rest can take a hike.. :lol:

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:25 am

The analog craze is largely a status thing... and if it isn't a status thing, it's a nostalgia thing. Unfortunately, the last thing it is... and the most accurate... is a tone thing. If you think "analog is the best," you're wrong unless you're talking about tone.

That being said, the other forms of synthesis are usually coupled with aspects that provide immediate and powerful, if duplicative, results. "Digital synthesis" usually just means that someone else did the programming, etc.

"Synthesis" is a process where you use the resources available to you to create sounds that suit your tastes or intentions. "Synthesis" is not "buying a cool keyboard that makes cool sounds."

If you want to sound like Daft Punk, or whomever, that's really cool... but that's not the point of synthesis or synthesizers. So, in essence, the argument isn't about "which type of synthesizer is best," but instead, "whether you create your own sounds with tools that you choose to suit your tastes."

Ultimately, there is synthesis, and there are presets. If you create your own sounds from the ground up, that's all that matters. If you, instead, choose to use sounds that suit your needs that were made by someone else, that's cool... but that's not about synthesis.

Synthesizers are unrelated to the bands you like. Synthesizers are amazing creative tools which allow you to create your own timbres.
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Rick N Boogie » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:35 am

Absolutely! Playing presets, no matter how cool they may sound, is just playing a keyboard. I'm not a great keyboard player, but I'm getting better all the time at being a synthesist, and that's where the true satisfaction comes from. Analog, Virtual Analog, whatever..if the machine has a good user interface, and plenty of hands on controls, there are no limits to the creative process that allows.
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by OntarioHydro » Sat Sep 15, 2012 12:51 am

I like that there's no audible stepping of parameters.. at least on some. also dedicated controls for every parameter...

I like the way the filters sound with feedback and fm.. mixers overdriving etc..

Totally agree with what you're saying though

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:24 am

CS_TBL wrote:Below this line: rants 'n rants 'n rants 'n rants! :banghead:
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That's pretty rude behaviour on a forum, stating your opinion and then preemptively belittling the opinions of anyone who offers theirs after you. As a moderator I don't want to see that again. :thumbleft:

Re: the topic, analogue is good at some things, mostly 'sounding like analogue'. Analogue isn't good at squeezing a lot of functionality/polyphony into a small space, isn't good at additive compared to things like the K5000, can't sample easily etc. In the control domain there are a lot of things that can be done digitally that are impossible to do with analogue electronics, ie clock multiplication.

The trick is to use things for what they're good for. My setup is stabilising at a digital sampler/sequencer, a modular system which is about 75% analogue 25% digital and a digital polysynth. I find that allows me to do most of the things I want and get really good sounding results, which is the most important thing.

I think it's too big a generalisation to say 'analogue has superior tone'. There are some terrible sounding analogue synths out there and some fantastic sounding digital subtractives.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by V301H » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:31 am

If you were around in the late 70's and early 80's you know that Samplers and Digital Synths were even more unobtainable than Analog is today with prices often in the tens of thousands of dollars. Only a few elite pros had Synclaviers, Fairlights, Emulators, PPG's, and the first Yamaha FM instruments. In comparison the most desirable Analogs ranged from about $3000-6000. In the early 80's I really wanted a Kurzweil K250 or an Emulator II. The Kurzweil was about $16,000 fully loaded and the Emulator was about $8000 in 1980's dollars. So really I didn't have much choice but to go with Analog gear even though I was lusting for the latest Digital machines.

All the early Digital instruments depended heavily on computing power which was pushing the limits of what was possible at the time. In recent years the situation has reversed with computing power dramatically increasing while prices have fallen to ridiculously low levels. Now almost anybody who wants a Digital Synth can afford one or several. Analog on the other hand maintains higher prices because it will probably never be cheap to manufacture. Full-featured modern Analog is in at least the $2000-4000 range though manufacturers cut corners to get the price of some instruments closer to $1000. I ended up with mostly Analog gear in the 80's because I couldn't afford the Digital instruments I wanted. Now with Digital instruments so cheap fewer musicians are willing to pay the price for Analog even though in most cases it is still much cheaper than it was in the 70's and 80's. Not saying Analog Synths aren't great but we always want what we can't easily get. Not because it's necessarily better.
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:33 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:I think it's too big a generalisation to say 'analogue has superior tone'. There are some terrible sounding analogue synths out there and some fantastic sounding digital subtractives.
Agreed. I want to throw up all over a crowd of people when people suggest that certain boring bullshit non-digital synths have "that warm analog tone." However, the simple fact that there are shitty sounding analog synths doesn't obliterate the fact that people embrace analog because of the great-sounding analog synths. And, the sweetest sounding digital synth, no matter how sweet-sounding, does not possess that which attracts those to analog tone. Which you know. It's almost like you want to deny that there's a reason why analog appeals to people in regard to tone. But I know you wouldn't be that silly.
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:00 am

Automatic Gainsay wrote:It's almost like you want to deny that there's a reason why analog appeals to people in regard to tone. But I know you wouldn't be that silly.
It's more that I want people to actually listen to what a synth can do and what it sounds like and make their own mind up rather than just say 'this is analogue so therefore it sounds good'.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Alex E » Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:12 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:
Automatic Gainsay wrote:It's almost like you want to deny that there's a reason why analog appeals to people in regard to tone. But I know you wouldn't be that silly.
It's more that I want people to actually listen to what a synth can do and what it sounds like and make their own mind up rather than just say 'this is analogue so therefore it sounds good'.
I gotta agree with stabby here. I've seen too many people make that assumption.
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by _seph » Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:12 am

I honestly don't mind.. I find the mindset frustrating, but collectors and trend chasers can keep driving up the prices on mundane synths like the Junos and I really couldn't care. It's amazing that for $500 you can routinely find an unwanted EX5, or that the K2000 and SY77 are only worth $300 or so. The synthesis potential and sound of these are astounding and yet most would rather have an entry level DCO based polysynth that can be fairly well emulated by a variety of means for really no better reason than it's become some kind of standard or right of passage.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Alex E » Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:15 am

_seph wrote:I honestly don't mind.. I find the mindset frustrating, but collectors and trend chasers can keep driving up the prices on mundane synths like the Junos and I really couldn't care. It's amazing that for $500 you can routinely find an unwanted EX5, or that the K2000 and SY77 are only worth $300 or so. The synthesis potential and sound of these are astounding and yet most would rather have an entry level DCO based polysynth that can be fairly well emulated by a variety of means for really no better reason than it's become some kind of standard or right of passage.
Exactly. I could barely sell my SY77 for the mere $200 I paid for it!
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by phesago » Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:27 am

i like synths. could care less whats making what happen under the hood. as long as it sounds good. strangely enough most of them sound amazing.

Not to offput anyone, but isnt this going to turn into digital vs analog? Would be nice if it could not go in that direction...

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by balma » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:09 am

phesago wrote:i like synths. could care less whats making what happen under the hood. as long as it sounds good.
phesago wrote:Not to offput anyone, but isnt this going to turn into digital vs analog? Would be nice if it could not go in that direction...
I'm mostly in the direction of discussing the prejudices over not-analog devices, in order to allow a closer look to them. :D Appreciation leads to a better understanding. When you understimate a synth, the interest to learn it or explore it will be lower. The cause of such lack of interest, underlies on tthe belief that the analog sounds are better than the others, and that lead us to the question of what a -sound- is? Of course, be puristic analog is totally valid, if you want it. "I prefer the sounds coming from the moon" said Vince Clark on a book I have...
hic....
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by phesago » Sat Sep 15, 2012 7:50 am

balma wrote:
phesago wrote:i like synths. could care less whats making what happen under the hood. as long as it sounds good.
phesago wrote:Not to offput anyone, but isnt this going to turn into digital vs analog? Would be nice if it could not go in that direction...
I'm mostly in the direction of discussing the prejudices over not-analog devices, in order to allow a closer look to them. :D Appreciation leads to a better understanding. When you understimate a synth, the interest to learn it or explore it will be lower. The cause of such lack of interest, underlies on tthe belief that the analog sounds are better than the others, and that lead us to the question of what a -sound- is? Of course, be puristic analog is totally valid, if you want it. "I prefer the sounds coming from the moon" said Vince Clark on a book I have...
hic....
i prefer the sounds that inspire my fat a*s to sit in front of my gear. Doesnt mean s**t to me if they are birds chirping or tv static.

honestly, who cares about the nuances of design/architecture? Can you make it do what you want it to? Tehn the piece in question is the best machine in the world for that task. People get hung up on interface, ease of use, knob per function etc etc blah blah blah, way to much.

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