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

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
User avatar
Posts: 81
Joined: Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:52 am
Gear: Just guitars for now
Location: Pittsburgh, PA

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

Post by ZeeOne » Fri May 15, 2015 9:42 pm

meatballfulton wrote:Computer integration: onboard audio and MIDI Over USB, VST editors, Silent Way (sample accurate CV), etc.
See, this is the main thing that throws me off when thinking about buying pre-USB synths. My brain goes:
  • Synths have computer chips, making them computers
  • USB is the standard for computers
  • A synth without USB is below standards
  • Anything below current standards is not worth your time/money
I know the SH-201 I mentioned earlier has a USB port, but the original Nord Lead can be found within my budget plus the amazing sounding Korg DW-8000 is now under $300. USB was barely off the drawing boards when the Lead came out and wasn't even thought of in the DW-8000's time. I do have a basic USB-MIDI interface, but when I tried it with my old Z1 I couldn't get it to work...

User avatar
Synth Explorer
Synth Explorer
Posts: 1677
Joined: Wed Jul 12, 2006 3:47 pm
Gear: All "In-The-Box"
Mainly FM8
Location: NL

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

Post by CS_TBL » Fri May 15, 2015 9:45 pm

ZeeOne wrote: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.
And what if you use a sampler (with all things such as LFO, envelope, effects etc. on board) to playback sampled sawtooth/block/triangle/sine/noise waveforms? Aren't you doing the very same thing then? How could an analog sawtooth be part of 'synthesis' and a sampled sawtooth not?

The way I see synthesis:

[source] -> [modifiers] -> [output]

modifiers being envelopes, LFO, effects etc.

source being whatever; oscillators, FM structure, samples, physical modelling, additive and whatnot.
"You know I love you, CS, but this is bullshit." (Automatic Gainsay)
s: VSL/FM8/EWQL/LASS h: DX7/FS1r/VL70/SY77/SN2r/JD800/JD990/XV88/Emu6400/Poly61/Amek35:12:2/genelec1030 r: Violin/AltoSax/TinWhistle c: i7-4770/RAM32GB/SSD
FM8 vids

User avatar
VSE Review Contributor
VSE Review Contributor
Posts: 1547
Joined: Fri Sep 17, 2010 2:10 am
Location: Brooklyn, NY

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

Post by GuyaGuy » Fri May 15, 2015 9:57 pm

One of mine came all the way from Germany.

Supporting Member!
Supporting Member!
Posts: 498
Joined: Wed Jun 14, 2006 1:42 am
Location: Dublin, Ireland

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

Post by knolan » Sat May 16, 2015 1:28 am

- Reliable analogue

- Low aliasing VA's

- Sample streaming

Synthesisers that have exhibited new developments in recent times include the Korg OASYS, Moog Sub 37 and Sub Phatty (these are uniquely different to any other analogue synth around today and represent true 21st century improvements on the analogue mono synth), Roland synth technologies such as APS, Vocal Design, Variphrase and Supernatural Acoustic Tones, and Omnisphere.

But fundamentally, development has been sparse. If you look at the best synthesisers 40 and 30 years ago, they were far superior to the best that's going around today. I'm talking about Minimoog, VCS3, VP330, CS80, OBX, Jupiter 8, ARP2500, DX1, Prophet T8, PPG 2.3, VL1, SY99, ....and then the likes of the Fender Rhodes and CP80.

In my view we've gone backwards in some instances, when considering synthesisers as performance instruments, and there's no sign of a new golden era as the 70's and 80's were.

Yes there are plugins - but a huge percentage of them are basically the same.

The synthesizer, as a medium for 'development' is largely over in any case - it's not about keyboards any more - that's why system-1 has an outrageously pathetic keyboard. It's all about Push controllers, lighted pads and so on - and I'm not knocking that - they are exquisite new controller formats - but it's why we're seeing the likes of the Prophet 6 and Pro2 from Dave Smith, and not something progressive, because the synthesizer is not under development or a vehicle for development in electronic music, or electronic music performance any more.

Indeed gone are breath control, long ribbon controllers, polyphonic aftertouch and even velocity on keyboard in many cases

Post Reply