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Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 1:51 pm
by Sabaja
I ask this because after I bought an Octave Cat a copy of the Arp Odyssey I played it for several years happily with the huge sounds it was reknown for. But when I look at the latest analogue synths they seem exactly the same? The sounds are the same. The appearance. So where are the improvements?

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 2:27 pm
by pflosi
In modular land :thumbright:

However, it's mostly a function of user interface and clever patching / routing... Most synth functions have been around for half a century.

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 3:23 pm
by Sabaja
I can understand the interface couplings. But when people rave about a Dave Smith analogue at £2k and then I see its the same as one or similar to one from the distant past im thinking is this just good marketing?

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 5:08 pm
by desmond
> Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Yes. And no. It kinda depends. But at least there are tools for every need, and budget.

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 7:12 pm
by Sabaja
Theyve improved the sound? How?

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 8:58 pm
by madtheory
Not sure about improving sound, that's quite a vague thing. But DSI? Check out the Poly Evolver, or even the Evolver. Unique take on "analogue subtractive with effects". Roland? V-Synth.

It costs a lot less now to get lush/ big analogue. Bass Station 2 in particular does stuff no other synth does, and sounds great. That's just off the top of my head.

Software land has seen a lot of amazing developments: Alchemy (now owned by Apple). For gigging, Apple Mainstage is amazing. NI Reaktor. Max/ MSP.

The classics are still classics, but now you get virtual versions- Monark is a particularly good MiniMoog. Never used an ARP2600 but the Arturia 2600V is super, mainly because you get the sequencer thrown in. The Synclavier V is superb as well.

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 9:22 pm
by ppg_wavecomputer
General availability has improved, that's true.

Stephen

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:20 pm
by max badwan
Price is the main area of "improvement".

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Fri Jun 17, 2016 11:47 pm
by lava
Most new analog synths have more features than vintage analogs. More oscs, sub oscs, more filter modes, more flexible modulation sources and destinations, more arp modes, onboard sequencers, audio inputs, work as midi controllers, etc. Not always true depending on what you're comparing, but generally very true.

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 2:12 am
by knolan
There are synthesisers from the 60's / 70's / 80's tha have not been equaled since then - for example the Moog55 and Minimoog have a stronger sound and character than any Moog released today; while the Yamaha CS80 is the best performance synthesiser ever designed and again has not been equalled since. Those instruments, and others too such as the VCS3, ARP2600, Jupiter 8 and so forth are, in my opinion, actually superior to virtually all synthesizers released today, in the same way as a Stradivarius is actually a better Violin or in the way that the Fender Strat is actually a better design to most other electric guitars.

To me it goes beyond opinion when instruments are associated with seminal and historic tracks - and all of the synths mentioned have been - in a sense their acceptance as important to historic level tracks is a consensus across society that they are exquisite synthesizers. It is unlikely Giorgio Moroder could have released "I Feel Love" with any other synth than an original Moog, for example. While synths today are more reliable and offer more features, in my opinion they have less character overall. The release of the P6 and the OB6 exemplify this - using the same chassis; and nothing like the original P5 and OBXA.

But as said in other posts, there are things you can do today that obviously couldn't be done before due to digital electronics and no doubt a few classics will emerge in the modern era. The Nord Lead and Lead 2, and the Acccess Virus are arguably the most influential instruments of the modern era, and the Moog Sub37 may be heading in that direction ( I certainly believe it to be, by a country mile, the best synthesizer in production today, though only having 37 keys is a drawback and I'd love to see a 44 note version).

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 7:22 am
by Blue Overall
Yes, you can buy the Moog 32 for $700. How much would it cost in 1981? The price IS a factor.

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 9:53 am
by Sabaja
Okay I can see the tweeks with the various oscillators. But when the Yamaha CS80 came out it wasnt described as groundbreaking. It was just another synth(albeit a damn good one). In fact it was experimental and Yamaha didnt know how good it actually was. This applied to a lot of the early synths. But 35 years later what I cant understand is the high end analogues priced over £2k like a Prophet 12 are described as the best synth ever. The sound isnt as good or to some it is. So who telling the truth here?

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 10:05 am
by madtheory
So are you complaining about what other people say about the new DSI polys, or are you disappointed after trying one out? And are you talking specifically about "analogue subtractive" synthesizers, ignoring anything "digital"?
Sabaja wrote:But when the Yamaha CS80 came out it wasnt described as groundbreaking.
Really? Polyphonic with memories, aftertouch, velocity, weighted keyboard and a ribbon controller? That was groundbreaking at the time. Haven't even mentioned sound!

We're in the realm of opinion now of course. Sometimes people confuse that with fact. When it comes to musical instruments, that makes sense. The player's perception will influence the sound that comes out, unless you contrive a blind AB test, which arguably is not a musical application. But would show us some very interesting things about our perception!

Image

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 11:31 am
by desmond
How does something like, say, a Schmitt compare to those big analog synths of the past?

That's about as close to a new analog megasynth as we've got to those old monsters like CS-80s etc in terms of electronics and ambition (obviously without the mass production might of those large companies.)

Re: Have synthesizers Improved in 35 years?

Posted: Sat Jun 18, 2016 12:01 pm
by db0451
lmao, op just seems to want to have their established bias confirmed, rather than actually listening to counterxamples. of course synthesisers in general quantifably have vastly more reach, features, in many cases reliability, etc than they did 35 years ago. modern analogues are often overpriced due either to limited runs/bespoke building and/or market fetishism, but that doesn't mean they're just the same thing as 3 decades ago. plus, you've got all the other categories of synth (digital, hybrid, etc) that are capable of way more than 1980s-era synths could do.

wait about a decade and ask 'have synths improved in the past 10~15 years', and then we might have a real discussion on our hands, but i don't think it's topped out quite yet.