The obsession for the Analog

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

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sat Sep 15, 2012 9:03 am

phesago wrote: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.
Don't you mean you couldn't care less? Saying you could care less implies that you care at least some amount, when I'm sure you're trying to say that you don't care at all.
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 doubt that very much, I think it's going to fill up with people saying that they just use good sounding stuff and that Junos and MS-20s are overpriced.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by griffin avid » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:51 am

I find these discussions between analog-interested to be full of "duh" moments.
Analog sounds the most like analog. Check.
Analog sounds more analog than virtual analog. Check.

Now subtract the ending parts of those sentences and you have the problem.
Analog sounds the most ...and best....
?
In what category of sound(s)? Because that, to me is a real good question.
Strings.....synthesizer THE BEST option?
Best replacement/emulation/copy/clone/pseudo-instrument-tone?
Dunno.....

Does a sampler do a better job?
Does a digital subtractive do a better job?
Does a VST do a better job?

Or would it be a problem to suggest, in many instances, Analog is actually Virtual [insert a whole lot of other instruments and sounds]
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Hybrid88 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 1:23 pm

Sometimes I'm not sure I see the point of this place anymore, between the new product announcements all we talk about is the same old s**t, dig the same holes deeper, make the same fetid arguments and counter-arguments and get the same damn thread topics locked all the time. :?

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by tallowwaters » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:12 pm

Balma, I'm not sure if you're asking why people favor the special analogs so much, but I'll venture a guess that it has very little to do with a concern for synthesis and richness of timbre, at least at this point.

While there are plenty of people that are true specialists, that love and value their niche synth x, there are likely more people that simply have the mindset present in all hobbies of having the best synth for very meager needs. I see the same mentality in backpacking gear, people shelling out 600 bucks for a down sleeping bag they'll use maybe three times before moving onto the next hobby. It reaches to cooking, cars, tools, and everything in between. Furthermore, forums like this one and the market tell them that analog is good, you need analog in your setup to please the masses. And while analog may sound superior in some elements, I doubt most people could tell you how, or if they could even distinguish the difference in any mix, or even be assed to care if pushed to the point.

I believe analog is especially popular for the sake of nostalgia as people are pushed into a more digital age, clasping onto something more 'pure' and 'permanent' as opposed to 0s and 1s flowing from a DSP. While I certainly don't fall into that category, I do see myself in a similar position regarding ownership of music. I loved CDs, then I loved the idea of having all of my CDs on multiple harddrives. Having all of my music in a 3rd party space like Cloud? No thanks, and I stopped adapting to technology at that point. Does that make me outdated and likely wrongheaded according to society and technology? Sure, but I'll always own the music I bought, just like an analog purist will always have 'purity' of tone/timbre while a fiddle away on the V Synth into murky eternity.

Of course, I'm sure you already knew this, as does everybody here.
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Dr. Phibes » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:22 pm

I like analogue synths because I like analogue synths. That's good enough for me.

The only slightly more esoteric aspect I can think of is that with analogue machines (at least the simpler ones) I can sort of understand in electronic terms how they work and why.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by meatballfulton » Sat Sep 15, 2012 2:49 pm

Hybrid88 wrote:Sometimes I'm not sure I see the point of this place anymore, between the new product announcements all we talk about is the same old s**t
Well, look at who's contributing to this thread...a couple of newbies but mainly the old grizzled vets who've been here for many years.

I come here to answer people's questions if I know the answers and to BS with the regulars because it's fun.

BEGIN BLOWHARD PHILOSOPHICAL MODE

I actually wrote a reply last night but then erased it before posting when I realized it was redundant. Here's a second try.

I'm a bassist and a geek/nerd/engineer. My personality is hotwired to like synths because it appeals to my musical side and my nerd side. Knobby analog gear taught me what little I know about sound design and digital gear taught me it's the rational choice for a hobbyist. I really did love to while away the hours with my modulars, but could never make music with them. My Evolver stays for when I get that itch to just twist knobs.

I understand 100% why people, esp. those new to synths, desire analog: mysticism, legend and general BS lead them in that direction. But a newbie to EM should just buy FL, Reason or Live (the easiest DAWs to learn) plus a good controller. A few weeks ago I started thinking about selling all my hardware, updating my copy of Reason 2.5 to v6, getting the Nektar controller and having fun with it. Because at the end of the day that's what I care about. I love looking at vintage cars but I would never buy one.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Hybrid88 » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:14 pm

^^ Very true
meatballfulton wrote:A few weeks ago I started thinking about selling all my hardware, updating my copy of Reason 2.5 to v6, getting the Nektar controller and having fun with it...
Ahh yes, there does come that dilemma to be thought over. I've been thinking along similar lines myself recently, and at the end of it I guess the important thing is what background you come from and what style of music you hope to achieve. I mean for me making modern electronica, with the leaps and bounds software and computer processor specs have made in the last ten years having hardware do all the work isn't the must have it once was. But I'd still find it a sad place if people's studio's had no hardware synths to speak of at all, if nothing else they offer a different viewpoint and get people to actually *play* their gear, come up with new ideas and think about what they're doing rather than just click and program the hours away.

Having said that I do think analog gear particularly of the vintage kind does offer something unique from DSP hardware which is very special, even if it is just easier to get to those *sweet spots* while you work, that in itself is a big thing for workflow. Personally I don't see that as replaceable just yet. My 2¢ 8-)
Last edited by Hybrid88 on Sat Sep 15, 2012 4:25 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by vanpet » Sat Sep 15, 2012 3:57 pm

As someone who started 100% ITB, and not a audiophile at all (I don't even hear mp3 artifacts), I viewed analog as a rich snob game... Until I got one! The difference is obvious. It's like air-conditionned in a car: you can live without it until you have one in your car.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by tekkentool » Sat Sep 15, 2012 5:19 pm

If I'm going to be honest as h**l here, a lot of the "hip" lust for analogue synthesizers just leads to dated rubbishy sounding records now. There is and always will be a way to use instruments from any time period in a modern and inventive fashion but sometimes I can't help but hear some modern usages of older synthesizers and just think that it doesn't sound expressive, vintage or "retro"....it just sounds old.

Sometimes I wonder what's the point if you're just going to run around the same old ground?

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by alan partridge » Sat Sep 15, 2012 6:02 pm

This has been discussed a thousand times on a thousand threads, but I would simply say -

Both analog and digital synthesizers are distinctive and great and offer things that the other does not. As long as digital technology does not precisely recreate analog characteristics - and we're still a long way from that - there's no reason not to seek out analog synths alongside digital synths, acoustic instruments, or anything else that's in your setup.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by CS_TBL » Sat Sep 15, 2012 8:56 pm

Stabs: sowwy :| Was mainly meant to point out the usual yays 'n nays that were bound to come up with topics like these.

To make it up, here's a picture of a smurf!
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by griffin avid » Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:11 pm

This has been discussed a thousand times on a thousand threads...

Everything has indeed been said before. Wouldn't it stink if every time you wanted to say something or talk about something- someone said "Hey don't say it yourself, please reference that other conversation with those other people."?

The point would be that any person wants to add THEIR 2 cents WHEN they got the coins in their hands...
Similar, previously stated and repeated points included. This forum serves as more than an archive of great conversations held by the mighty and wise masters of vintage synths.

It's nuts to expect someone to use the Search Function, find an old dusty thread and NOT say what they are thinking and feeling today because there's a related point in a post from 7 years ago on page 12 of a 36 page thread from a no longer active member.

Some sci-fi writer should write a story about a culture that's so advanced that it's recorded and archived every conversation ever and all the citizens are able to do is replay sampled bits back because it's taboo to say anything that hasn't been said before. Reminds me of the Star Trek New Generation episode where the alien could only communicate by referencing folk-lore stories and analogies.
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by balma » Sat Sep 15, 2012 10:12 pm

tallowwaters wrote:Balma, I'm not sure if you're asking why people favor the special analogs so much, but I'll venture a guess that it has very little to do with a concern for synthesis and richness of timbre, at least at this point.
Not at all my friend!

"I'm mostly in the direction of discussing the prejudices over not-analog devices, in order to allow a closer look to them"
alan partridge wrote:This has been discussed a thousand times on a thousand threads,
What do you mean with "this"?

anyway....

I just think there's a vast unexplored world of possibilities with the synths that have been invented on the last decades, and, specifically, on the synth-interaction area, there's a lot to discover and enjoy. Lots of models have been kept on the shadows due to the market tendences or paradigmas, and they could assume an important role on music's evolution if we take a closer look to them. Cost of opportunity. Beliefs about what''s most important on a synth, its sound engine, or the interaction of all its components and functions. How you can dismiss a synth, ignore a lot of potential, due to a prejudice. I was in that context.

Of course, I said to myself, there will be some posts with a "defensive" attitude... but that does not matters to me, since I give value to different points of view and the peculiar taste of each individual.... And I'm somebody who concerns a lot of what I'm missing. That's difficult. To wonder what you are missing, when you make a choice
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by b3groover » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:18 pm

To me, as I've stated on here before, it's about the interface.

Quick story: Y'all may or may not know that I make my living as primarily a Hammond organist. Jazz, blues, rock, whatever. I love the instrument. And it's exciting to me that the digital equivalents have gotten so good that I no longer need to haul around my 400lbs 1958 B3 anymore. My back is especially grateful.

What is strange is that there's a whole new breed of musicians coming up that have never touched the real thing but who use those sounds via plug-ins or digital hardware synths. Case in point; a friend of mine had a band in his studio last week. His studio has a beautiful '57 Hammond C3 with a 21H Leslie. The keyboardist didn't want to use the real Hammond, he wanted to use the cheesy Hammond emulations in his Yamaha synth. When asked why, he said it was because he had no idea how to work the drawbars and other controls of the Hammond.

Now, this can lead to both new and interesting musical directions. But it can also lead to the opposite. Is it better, in general, that everyone has access to a good acoustic piano sound without having ever sat at a real piano? As a someone who also tunes pianos, it's not better for me! :) But is it better for human creativity? Does it help or hinder creativity?

Chasing the analog dragon the last few years has educated me on the basis of synthesis. I now know the history, the tradition, the "rules", and now I know how to break them. I think that's important and I worry that it's getting lost. Or maybe it doesn't matter. As the technology gets better and cheaper, maybe a new set of rules emerge to be broken and the old ones don't apply anymore.

Is analog synthesis really just nostalgia at this point, much like my beloved Hammond?

-------------------

One last personal note: I've been working on a song and hemming and hawing about putting a solo on it. I finally composed one that I liked using a custom patch on my Voyager. I left the Voyager at my friend's studio the other day after a late session. I wanted to tweak my solo a bit but didn't have my Voyager, so I re-created the patch with the new Retrologue plug-in from Steinberg. And much to my shock, it sounded better. It fit the mix better, it fix the music better... it was just better. Better than a $2500 synth (what I paid for it). A $50 piece of software. Amazing.

The bottom line for me: Use what you have. Have we really encroached upon even 50% of what a 20 year old synth like the SY77 can do (I still have mine and it still surprises me)? With a few hundred dollars today you can purchase plug-ins that rival what would've cost old timers like myself thousands upon thousands of dollars back in the 1980s, 90s, even the early 2000s. It's an incredible time to be a musician. I just hope the tradition doesn't get lost, that the technology doesn't overshadow the music itself.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sat Sep 15, 2012 11:37 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote: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'.
Absolutely!

In fact, I'd say that 90% of analog buyers are buying for the wrong reasons.
The best and most desirable parts of an actual analog-sounding analog synthesizer are among the parts most people who buy analog wish weren't there.

You want a rock-solid pitch-stable synth with precise envelopes, MIDI-sync-able LFO, MIDI control, and presets? Well, stop wasting your time and money on analog synths.
b3groover wrote:Is analog synthesis really just nostalgia at this point, much like my beloved Hammond?
As a physical musician, b3, I'm kind of shocked to hear you ask this.
If there was a piece of software that perfectly mimicked the sound of the Minimoog in every way... including the unique relationships that are generated between various parts of the synth that are unpredictable and fluid and beautiful... I would still want the device. Why? Because there is more to music than being an audio producer. If you are a physical musician, you should also have that in you which requires an attraction to and love of interface.
I don't have a MIDI arrangement to trigger my Minimoog. I play the musical instrument with my hands. The layout and physical feel of the panel are inspirational to me, and not only affect the choices I make, but also give me physical and aesthetic pleasure... this pleasure is reflected in my musical output.
Obviously, this sort of thing isn't for everyone... in fact, I think very few "electronic musicians" today really give a s**t about physical interaction with interface. But THAT is a very strong aspect of seeking analog synths. And yes, it is a form of nostalgia- which is a crime. Being a keyboard player USED to be like being a guitar player... but increasingly today, it's more like being a recording engineer or producer.
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