The obsession for the Analog

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

Post by bochelli » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:03 am

analog owners will have their special reasons for owning them, are players more creative today? wanting to spend more time on a certain synth, liking what they sound like even more, the sounds of yesteryear can still be played today, we are starting ton run out of ideas for new ways of offering newer synths, for me the Jupiter 80 , the synth no one asked for , with money and no how Roland grow up and offer something new.
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by b3groover » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:13 am

Automatic Gainsay wrote: As a physical musician, b3, I'm kind of shocked to hear you ask this.
I'm playing devil's advocate. :)
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.
Yes, exactly. That's what I said in the very first line of my post. It comes down to interface. I would not be happy with my digital Hammond if it did not have the same interface as a real B3 because the interface is crucial to how the instrument is played.

I perform a lot of shows per year and one comment I get over and over from fellow keyboardists, many of whom play the organ, is "Wow, I've never seen someone use the drawbars like that!" Yes, that's because you've never seen Chester Thompson or John Medeski or Jimmy Smith, et al. That's because you play a digital clone that doesn't have drawbars. That's because you're removed from the real instrument.

Likewise, as good as the Retrologue software is, or Diva, or [insert analog emulation software here], is it as inspiring to play as the real thing? Not to me due to a number of factors, one being latency, the other being the lack of a physical control surface. I just don't get off on generic controllers. But I have to admit, it does sound damn good (Retrologue).

My question is: Does it matter? To me, yes. To you, AG, yes. But to the new generation? Does it matter if an artist that works primarily in the digital medium, say Photoshop, doesn't know how to paint with oil?

I'm not sure.
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.
I agree.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by griffin avid » Sun Sep 16, 2012 1:41 am

Which is where the fuzzy logic comes in to play. If I am dedicated to an instrument then it obviously makes sense to play, perform and own that instrument. But you are an organist not a (insert exact model #). Which means you choose your particular board. In other words, you have choices.

Totally different to compare someone playing the same interface (draw bar midi controllers exist ) and a graphic artist using a mouse claiming to be a painter. And so when they use a stylus pen or brush they are digital artists just like there are digital musicians. And believe it or not, you can be all kinds of artists without playing vintage gear.
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by bouzoukijoe1 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 2:32 am

by the time you get to mixing, nobody can really tell analog from digital, so IN THEORY it doesn't really matter.

BUT here's the thing, analog synths (mostly vintage, but some new) often sound great immediately, whereas their digital counterparts sometimes take a lot of work to configure and program to make them sound better (add overdrive, mild distortion, add imperfections like subtle drift and phasing, or even simple programming can be a challenge). to someone who is not very technical, this becomes a learning obstacle especially if you haven't yet figured out what makes vintage analog sound automatically great. if you get overwhelmed with all the choices, you may miss the basic things that can make a patch sound good. this is one of the reasons it used to take me twice as long to create a nice bass sound on a Virus vs. an SH-2. same problem with Virus/Radias vs. MS-20. (the closest I ever got to "instantly" achieving an MS-20-like sound was with a Blue Lantern filter. take that with a grain of salt.)

see, analog interfaces alone are reason enough to buy analog. often, analog synth interfaces are much easier and quicker to understand than complicated menu-driven digital interfaces that have too many buried choices (Access Virus for example). for that reason alone I would buy analog over digital because they automatically sound good. I think the immediacy of simple interfaces allow me to focus more on the music rather than meticulous sound engineering. I work a lot slower in digital because I fuss over learning the details more, which at the end of the day compromises the songwriting. for some people this is not an issue, but for a lot of musicians like myself who are not rocket scientists and much slower when it comes to technical stuff, it makes a difference. so in reality, analog does make my stuff sound better, even if for different reasons.

just as an example, take a look at this video and tell me, if you were a first time user, which is quicker to get to sound fat and awesome, this module or an Access Virus? think of how long it would take someone who is not technically inclined to learn how to recreate this in digital. this thing has 3 knobs for pete's sake. you know how many buttons and knobs you have to interact with on a Virus to even just get halfway to what this sounds like out of the box? it's almost laughable.

so there it is, I confess, I am analog-obsessed. ;)


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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sun Sep 16, 2012 4:49 am

bouzoukijoe1 wrote:by the time you get to mixing, nobody can really tell analog from digital, so IN THEORY it doesn't really matter.

BUT here's the thing, analog synths (mostly vintage, but some new) often sound great immediately, whereas their digital counterparts sometimes take a lot of work to configure and program to make them sound better (add overdrive, mild distortion, add imperfections like subtle drift and phasing, or even simple programming can be a challenge). to someone who is not very technical, this becomes a learning obstacle especially if you haven't yet figured out what makes vintage analog sound automatically great. if you get overwhelmed with all the choices, you may miss the basic things that can make a patch sound good. this is one of the reasons it used to take me twice as long to create a nice bass sound on a Virus vs. an SH-2. same problem with Virus/Radias vs. MS-20. (the closest I ever got to "instantly" achieving an MS-20-like sound was with a Blue Lantern filter. take that with a grain of salt.)
Is it really a surprise that the MS-20 sounds the most like an MS-20?
bouzoukijoe1 wrote:see, analog interfaces alone are reason enough to buy analog. often, analog synth interfaces are much easier and quicker to understand than complicated menu-driven digital interfaces that have too many buried choices (Access Virus for example). for that reason alone I would buy analog over digital because they automatically sound good. I think the immediacy of simple interfaces allow me to focus more on the music rather than meticulous sound engineering. I work a lot slower in digital because I fuss over learning the details more, which at the end of the day compromises the songwriting. for some people this is not an issue, but for a lot of musicians like myself who are not rocket scientists and much slower when it comes to technical stuff, it makes a difference. so in reality, analog does make my stuff sound better, even if for different reasons.
You're confusing a knobby interface with analogue sound generation. The DSI tetra is analogue and is a massive pain to program. Ditto the Alpha Junos, JX series and countless others. There are a heap of digital synths that have much better interfaces, like the MS2000, Radias, Supernova, V-Synth etc. So in reality, that has nothing to do with whether the synth is analogue or digital.
bouzoukijoe1 wrote:just as an example, take a look at this video and tell me, if you were a first time user, which is quicker to get to sound fat and awesome, this module or an Access Virus? think of how long it would take someone who is not technically inclined to learn how to recreate this in digital. this thing has 3 knobs for pete's sake. you know how many buttons and knobs you have to interact with on a Virus to even just get halfway to what this sounds like out of the box? it's almost laughable.
Well you just proved that that filter is better at sounding like that filter than a Virus, how about the other way around? Can it sound more like a Virus than a Virus or are they just different?

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by GuyaGuy » Sun Sep 16, 2012 5:46 am

I like analog synths that sound like digital virtual analog synths that sound like analog string synths that sound like strings.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Black Tomorrow » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:00 am

In terms of equipment, this year has taught me a lot. For instance, one thing that analog synths are good for is QUICK CASH! :lol: Financial need earlier this year caused me to sell all of my analog equipment, and for that reason I'm glad I had it.

Don't get me wrong, I still love analog synths and will always lust after Minimoogs and Eight-Voices, etc. But do I need them? No way.

The complete lack of analog over the last few months has also taught me that they will never lose their relevance. Which is why I plan to slim down even further. I'll probably sell most of my remaining instruments and keep only the V-Synth, the drum machine and the PSR-740 that still insists on being my main workhorse. The money will go toward a budget analog (probably an MG-1). The point is, to h**l with the analog obsession, use the tools that do the job best. This slimmed down setup should still cover all the bases with the exception of FM. For that, I think I'll follow CS_TBL's advice and pick up FM-8. The DX-7 is nothing but a headache.

Which leads me to another point. Some here advocate strictly playing the instrument by hand rather than relying on sequencers, arpeggiators, etc. For the most part I agree, but these tools have their uses as well. I was staying at my girlfriend's house a few years ago, and had no instruments on hand. Luckily I had loaded Magix onto her laptop. So I spent a bored afternoon messing with the on board sequencer. I ended up composing a piece that was way different than anything I would have done by hand.

I guess my overall point is that there are more tools for music than there have ever been. Embrace them all rather than sticking with some preconceived notion of "I need X to be a good musician."
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by balma » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:05 am

bouzoukijoe1 wrote:BUT here's the thing, analog synths (mostly vintage, but some new) often sound great immediately
One of these days, one of these days, some friend is gonna play you a joke, and then put a Virus engine inside a Moog and viceversa,
and some skill programmer is gonna make some "analog sounds" on both synths for you, just to find out....

bouzoukijoe1 wrote:see, analog interfaces alone are reason enough to buy analog.
Oh yes, I like smart interfaces too, those ones wich reduce the time and actions invested to allow the user to achieve what he wants to achieve. great! the closer to "thoughts-realtime-music" the better....

A tiny analog gnome in your shoulder:

Ah! but it must be analog, Ok? otherwise, you won't be interested, please remember there are two universes, analog and digital, and one is better than the other one.


What's the main goal of a synth's design and components? blessing the individual with the power of making sounds, or giving him the hability to make music?

Or maybe they are here to fulfill another obscure purpose, or to produce a magic sequence of notes (around 216 consecutive notes) that if played in the right order -without using the arppegiator-, will make the synth's engine to become aware of his existence?

bouzoukijoe1 wrote:so there it is, I confess, I am analog-obsessed. ;)
I believe you, just consider your previous statements could be clouded by your obsession.



A synthesizer is a complex and beautiful thing, but if somebody is a terrible musician, it won't save his a*s, no matter wich synth is the victim.


Please, please believe me, I never intended an Analog Vs Digital thread, never, neverrrrrr.....Image
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by phesago » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:18 am

Without appealing to my own personal sentiment, let me take a shot at a real reply to this thread. Maybe the obsession comes from the aesthetic that analog is more like an instrument in the way it functions? Drop random quote about Dr. Moog feeling the electricity move through it as he played blah blah blah.

IDK I dont buy into it, as I prefer whatever works best and is easy to use, but I am trying to make a positive contribution without rallying either side of the sound engine bias.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Alex E » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:01 am

Can someone please sell me their V-Synth?
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Black Tomorrow » Sun Sep 16, 2012 11:37 am

balma wrote:Oh yes, I like smart interfaces too, those ones wich reduce the time and actions invested to allow the user to achieve what he wants to achieve. great! the closer to "thoughts-realtime-music" the better....
Which is why I'm selling my DX7
Alex E wrote:Can someone please sell me their V-Synth?
This is one of those synths that I think very few owners will want to part with. Short answer: No. :lol:
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by Hybrid88 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 3:01 pm

Alex E wrote:Can someone please sell me their V-Synth?
The words cold, dead and hands come to mind ;)

Wait this is about analog, as you were gentlemen :D

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by bouzoukijoe1 » Sun Sep 16, 2012 6:07 pm

balma wrote:
bouzoukijoe1 wrote:BUT here's the thing, analog synths (mostly vintage, but some new) often sound great immediately
One of these days, one of these days, some friend is gonna play you a joke, and then put a Virus engine inside a Moog and viceversa,
and some skill programmer is gonna make some "analog sounds" on both synths for you, just to find out....
honestly, I would love to try that. if someone would put a Virus engine with "hardwired" distortion+overdrive behind the controls of an MS-20 or an SH-2, it would be a very good experiment to see what people can do with it. you see, I have always hoped that modern synth designers would go back to simple interface designs just like the Gaia, which I actually think has a very good interface design (except the cheap build unfortunately). this is what I love about the designs of the AS Leipzig and most of my eurorack and Dotcom modules. there is very little hidden digital settings. "what you see is what you get", pretty much. and I think that is something Novation, Korg, and Roland should really get back into. maybe even Access and Nord. see how Arturia is paying attention to this phenomena with what they did with the Minibrute? terrific design. in fact, I think they could even put a digital engine behind the "simple analog-style" controls and it would still be superb. I hope you see my point.
balma wrote:
Ah! but it must be analog, Ok? otherwise, you won't be interested, please remember there are two universes, analog and digital, and one is better than the other one.

one should never say analog is always better than digital. BUT you have to acknowledge the advantages and disadvantages of each. I still use and love the Virus because of some of the things it can do that the MS-20 cannot, but I also see why some people may find it too complicated.

for the record, I love both digital and analog. I own quite a few digital synths/modules like the Supernova, Virus, Phonogene, Piston Honda, E350, which all have their distinct characteristics. but I also see the other side of the story where many digital synths go wrong. simply, they are too complicated and cumbersome to program.

this I believe is one of the big reasons for the myth of analog supposedly "sounding better." half of it you can blame on musicians with poor knowledge who think that analog can automatically solve their musical problems, but the other half of it you can blame on the clutter and tediousness of digital interfaces. you can't really help those people who think that an MS-20 will solve their music problems. but you can help those people who want an MS-20-like sound by giving them something easy to use that sounds just as good. you can never identically mimic an MS-20 sound with anything else (not even a Corgasmatron), but for those people who want that harsh crazy sound, there should be an alternative. and never confuse "mimicking" with "competing." identically mimicking as we all know, is impossible. but competing is possible.

one alternative is to design a simple interface over a digital engine, but add a variable response VCF and VCA that automatically includes a little drift, overdrive and/or harmonic distortion, and low-end saturation. basically taking the best of analog and the best of digital, and creating something that can truly compete with (but not mimic) classics like the MS-20. it could be just as instant to use and sound as interesting. if it can do powerful things with little programming, I think it would do well.

until digital synth designers stop programming synths to be so "neutral" (requiring so much programming) and instead just automatically add interesting and unique characteristics, things will not really change and the myth of analog sounding better will continue to grow.

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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by CS_TBL » Sun Sep 16, 2012 7:50 pm

If you think the easy of programming should equal a reduced set o' features (so, there won't be menu diving, multi-purpose controllers etc.), then I guess you'll accept the simple fact that synths with simple interfaces feature a limited amount of sound shaping options. Does this improve synthesis quality, I ask..? Where in this story does FM synthesis (with its hundreds o' parameters) fit in?
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Re: The obsession for the Analog

Post by balma » Sun Sep 16, 2012 10:51 pm

:facepalm: maybe is my English grammar.... don't know....uf!

The power of a single word. Analog. In my strange world, analog is just a term. When I look at my synths, I just try to see as they are, as simple as that. I try to do not to get complicated , but to understand.

synthesizers. A golden opportunity to use your intelligence and create things, without a boss telling you what to do.


First I must understand them, know each on its features, and figure out how to make them interact. This one, is gonna sove the lacks of that one. The other one, is gonna manage the data flowing and put order in chaos. Slowly they assume positions, prepared to perform specific tasks. I transmit my personality into them. Slowly, invisible relationships are born, they colaborate between them, and sinergy is born. Because, synths are so, so different between them.

when I try to figure out the position of each synth and its task inside a system, I imagine a huge set o polyominoes that will tile the infine Euclidean plane.

I try to learn more about other synths, trying to fill gaps into my synth euclidean plane:
Image
Image

Each shape, represents an opportunity and the features of a synth. If a synth has a gap, another one will fill it. That's my method, because all of them together, must make my musical goals easier to achieve.




I investige and practice the sounds they produce, in order to make them interact with other sounds. I try to get the best of the controllers, to trasmit my thoughts and also experiment, to achieve new findings in order to keep progressing.

I didn't want to mention specific models, ,but my V-synth, wouldn't be my V-synth without my Command Stations hooked to it. Why? Because I have create sounds inside the Vsynth, that can be controlled with the command station's sequencer, in some specific ways. Multitimbre of the V synth is hidden on a uncommon place, where you have MIDI channel 1 as the main sound on the keyboard. The other 15 channels, can be easily controlled by a external sequencing device, but the beautiful interface of the Vsynth, is there to control 1 sound at the time only.
You can have the 16 sounds at the same time on the keyboard, but you must split the keyboard, or layer them into velocity ranges.

Then, I slowly modify the command station, to increase the V'synths power, controlling with its sequencer and 16 programmable knobs, the channels 2 to 18.

That behavior of adapting one synth to another, to integrate them, is always present in my subconcious. I try to grab each golden oportunity each synth is offering me.

At the end, what matters is the music I made. Why the f**k, I should be wasting my time trying to understand why analog sounds better than digital or wathever, and elaborating arguments to sustent such confrontation between two elements, if the question itself, was born from a deliberate intention to confrontate two different terms or particularities or wathever?

I insist, must be my english, but I did not grab a thing of those bold words
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