Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by chipaudette » Wed May 13, 2015 5:36 pm

There's been a HUGE boom in synth technology in the last 20...just not necessarily in the format of a rectangular slab with a keybed. Instead, the huge advances have been in:

1) Synthesis as software running on a PC: Software synthesis has seen completely amazing advances since 1995. The synthesis and music-making capabilities of a PC are unbelievable, far outstripping anything available in hardware or software in 1995.

2) The explosion in modular synthesis: The range synthesis capabilities available in modular format have completely exploded in the last 20 (really 10) years. Sure, many/most of the bread-and-butter modules are recognizable as (or copies of) something familiar to a Moog modular in 1969, but there's a whole ton of innovative and freaky stuff out there that's far advanced beyond the typical subtractive synthesis stuff. The range of choices completely eclipses what someone had available in 1995 (outside of Buchla-style super-limited brands)

The last 20 years have seen amazing advances in synthesis. My opinion.

Chip
Last edited by chipaudette on Wed May 13, 2015 9:53 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by griffin avid » Wed May 13, 2015 8:43 pm

Here's my answer: who cares? I see people spouting this notion all the time:

Such-and-such is "irrelevant" or "dated."
Such-and-such is therefore somehow artistically invalid.


A lot of that is about Artists that are no longer relevant or cutting edge in their genre of origin or notoriety.
That's different than saying "former popular artist" is now longer relevant since either ...
A) He making it like he used to....
B) He's STILL making it like he used to and that genre or that exact style isn't as popular now

None of that has anything to do with what I was saying.

don't forget to broaden your horizons now and again, but don't let anybody stop you from making the kind of music you enjoy making.

And this bit is pandering to a crowd that was never here.
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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by commodorejohn » Wed May 13, 2015 8:57 pm

Maybe I'm just misunderstanding what you're trying to say, so let me clarify what I mean: I don't think there is such a thing as "irrelevant." A work of art is good or bad completely irrespective of whether anybody is paying attention to it or whether it has any influence on anybody else. Nothing that's good ever stops being good, and nobody should ever feel bad for making the kind of music they want to make.
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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by sam » Wed May 13, 2015 9:28 pm

The new analogs are in a way very good progress , for korg to reissue old classics is progress in itself.

Wether synths have improved in General is another matter.
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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by ZeeOne » Thu May 14, 2015 5:46 am

I guess the question I'm really asking the forum is whether is not the fundamental nature of synthesizers themselves has changed enough that I should feel odd investing in equipment that's not 100% up to date. For example, let's look at guitars for a moment: a modern Schecter Blackjack ATX C-1 FR at its heart isn't much different than a 1951 Fender Telecaster. Yes, it has active pickups rather than passive ones, an advanced locking whammy system as opposed to the Tele's simple "ashtray" bridge, and a more ergonomic neck and body geared toward fast and aggressive music while the Tele is more basic and was built with country and blues in mind (mind you, Teles have been used for anything and everything since, but that's not the point). But at the end of the day, both are metal stringed instruments that generate sound via vibrations picked up by magnets that are fed into an amplifier. Likewise, unless it's a sample-based ROMpler, all synths work generally the same as the Moog modulars from 1965, making music/sound effects via electronically generated/manipulated raw sound waves.

Based on the above, I'd say no, but I'm looking for other opinions on the subject.

I'd also like to know if I'm way off base in my thinking here :lol:

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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by GuyaGuy » Thu May 14, 2015 7:02 am

ZeeOne wrote:I guess the question I'm really asking the forum is whether is not the fundamental nature of synthesizers themselves has changed enough that I should feel odd investing in equipment that's not 100% up to date. For example, let's look at guitars for a moment: a modern Schecter Blackjack ATX C-1 FR at its heart isn't much different than a 1951 Fender Telecaster. Yes, it has active pickups rather than passive ones, an advanced locking whammy system as opposed to the Tele's simple "ashtray" bridge, and a more ergonomic neck and body geared toward fast and aggressive music while the Tele is more basic and was built with country and blues in mind (mind you, Teles have been used for anything and everything since, but that's not the point). But at the end of the day, both are metal stringed instruments that generate sound via vibrations picked up by magnets that are fed into an amplifier. Likewise, unless it's a sample-based ROMpler, all synths work generally the same as the Moog modulars from 1965, making music/sound effects via electronically generated/manipulated raw sound waves.

Based on the above, I'd say no, but I'm looking for other opinions on the subject.

I'd also like to know if I'm way off base in my thinking here :lol:
Seems like you are asking "Have synths progressed so far that they've stopped being synths by definition?" in which case the inevitable answer is "No."

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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by meatballfulton » Thu May 14, 2015 12:49 pm

sam wrote:for korg to reissue old classics is progress in itself.
I don't see how getting into the Wayback Machine to 1978 is any form of progress.

Nice to see old synths available again, sure. Progress, no.
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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by chipaudette » Thu May 14, 2015 1:52 pm

ZeeOne wrote: Likewise, unless it's a sample-based ROMpler, all synths work generally the same as the Moog modulars from 1965, making music/sound effects via electronically generated/manipulated raw sound waves.

Based on the above, I'd say no, but I'm looking for other opinions on the subject.

I'd also like to know if I'm way off base in my thinking here :lol:
It appears that you are purposely choosing to only include in your viewpoint those properties that can understood in the conceptual framework of a 1965 Moog Modular. In my opinion, you are choosing not to see the music-making advances of:

Automation (note sequencing, parameter/modulation sequencing, drum machines, triggered phrases). This was initially popularized in 80s synth pop and has never gone away. With automation, inhuman rhythms can be played at inhuman speeds (at least for the common musician) and composers can compose without a band (which may not be affordable for the common composer) and the interplay of instruments and timbres can be laid together with ease and innovation by any producer (especially those who can't afford a real or electronic symphony).

Effects as Instruments (especially reverbs and delays). This is also an advance from the 80s...the main theme from Blade Runner is nothing without that saturated primitive digital reverb, and techno really filled its space with real-time dynamic manipulation of reverb/dealy to create its unique sonic space. These kinds of usages forever changed how electronic music sounds. Couldn't have 80s/90s New Age, nor modern EDM, without these innovations in sound.

And, finally, don't underplay the contribution of the ROMpler as a synthesis innovation -- especially if you generalize the basic principle underpinning the ROMpler: stitching together pre-recorded audio pieces to make sound. In this generalized viewpoint are a whole pile of innovations, includeing wavetable synthesis, granular synthesis, and sampling, as well as the narrow usage of ROMpling.

Sampling is a very valid and awesome form of synthesis and sound/music production. The style of Hip Hop dominates popular music around the world, and it wouldn't exist without sampling. Sure, sampling can be used for straight pre-recorded phrase playback (which may or may not be considered "synthesis") but it is also used very creatively via sample chopping/mangling to create a very cool space between granular and phrase playback. Sampling is powerful and cool.

If you choose to see synthesis only in the terms defined by the Moog Modular, you'll be blind to the innovations that have built on its breakthroughs in the notion of how music can be created. You'll be hobbled by the same blinders that prevented many mainstream musicians from believing that a synthesizer could even be called an "instrument" in the first place.

Chip

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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by sam » Thu May 14, 2015 4:12 pm

meatballfulton wrote:
sam wrote:for korg to reissue old classics is progress in itself.
I don't see how getting into the Wayback Machine to 1978 is any form of progress.

Nice to see old synths available again, sure. Progress, no.
You missed my point.....nothing new about analog but manufactures willing to give what everyone has been asking for years.
After years of va's it came home to release products that sound good and not emulating anything.

Real sound over multiple plastic features any day....progress can be common sense.
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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by meatballfulton » Thu May 14, 2015 5:22 pm

I'll beg to differ. If Korg offered an updated MS20 (no mini keys, V/Oct tuning, proper MIDI) that would be progress.
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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by phineus_ii » Thu May 14, 2015 5:35 pm

"Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?"
well, we've had roland with their D-BEAMZ! :roll: :lol:
anyone remember that era? where they'd just stick a d-beam on anything.

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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by sam » Thu May 14, 2015 5:58 pm

meatballfulton wrote:I'll beg to differ. If Korg offered an updated MS20 (no mini keys, V/Oct tuning, proper MIDI) that would be progress.
They did make a full size one with both filters...the idea was to produce a modern version that was original..

Proper midi as you put it would make it more expensive and everyone would complain it's not original ect.

They couldn't win on that ..
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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by Jabberwalky » Thu May 14, 2015 10:42 pm

Sequencers have certainly progressed far beyond 20 years ago. That's the biggest improvement I see. The tone generators are very similar, but how we are able to manipulate them, and use them in the songwriting process has improved a lot.

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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by meatballfulton » Fri May 15, 2015 11:54 am

Computer integration: onboard audio and MIDI Over USB, VST editors, Silent Way (sample accurate CV), etc.

Expanded MIDI implementation: higher resolution CCs, NRPNs, knobs sending CCs, etc.

Multiple engines in a single synthesizer

Minikeys :oops:
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Re: Just how far have synths come in the last 20 years?

Post by ZeeOne » Fri May 15, 2015 9:17 pm

chipaudette wrote:...don't underplay the contribution of the ROMpler as a synthesis innovation -- especially if you generalize the basic principle underpinning the ROMpler: stitching together pre-recorded audio pieces to make sound. In this generalized viewpoint are a whole pile of innovations, includeing wavetable synthesis, granular synthesis, and sampling, as well as the narrow usage of ROMpling.

Sampling is a very valid and awesome form of synthesis and sound/music production. The style of Hip Hop dominates popular music around the world, and it wouldn't exist without sampling. Sure, sampling can be used for straight pre-recorded phrase playback (which may or may not be considered "synthesis") but it is also used very creatively via sample chopping/mangling to create a very cool space between granular and phrase playback. Sampling is powerful and cool.
At no point did I say ROMplers or samplers were bad; I just said they don't follow the same general structure that most synths do. With a sampler you're manipulating recorded sound; with a synthesizer you're generating sound from scratch. If you're working with recorded preexisting sounds, how can that really be synthesis? Doesn't the very word, which comes from "synthetic", imply something artificial?

There's nothing inherently wrong with sampling vs. synthesis; they're just two different things in my book.

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