Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by StepLogik » Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:59 am

I think the most measurable difference is that VST developers often have to make compromises in their algorithms in order to keep from completely swamping the host processor. OTOH, a dedicated VA will have custom DSP's and other peripheral components that are highly optimized to processing the algorithms required. I believe this accounts for why so many people think some VA's sound "better" than similar VST synths. Less compromises in the processing leads to better sound quality.

At the end of the day, it's just the same.

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by Ashe37 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:39 am

Most VAs these days are an imbedded CPU running the OS, DAC and ADC chips, and a few DSPs If you look at this blog post you can see the internals of a Virus TI desktop. the heart of the Virus- what does all the actual work- is not a custom DSP, but a pair of Motorola DSPB56367PV150 DSP's. Ironically, this is the same DSP in a Nord G2X- series synth. This particular DSP hasn't been made since 2006, because they needed to make a version for RoHS compliance. (btw these DSPs are $10 apiece 100 pieces minimum). The large flat rectangles next to it are memory, and the cirrus logic chip on the other side is likely audio ADC/DAC.

*however*

Yes, it could run on a general purpose PC. Could you run sixteen different timbres? Try it with Reaper to get an idea. There's a reason why the softsynth version of the Virus requires a DSP card (either a PowerCore or ProTools TDM DSP farm...)

older VAs, like the AN-1x? sure, it could run on a PC. Newer stuff, you'd likely run out of CPU. If you get the demo version of the Nord Modular G2 (the demo is still on Nord's web site) you can literally run a MONO Nord Modular on your PC. On my system, it sucks down 25% of my CPU for a complex voice, i can imagine what it would do with polyphony.

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by Murderhausen » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:02 am

bluedad wrote:
Murderhausen wrote:My Nord Lead or JP8000 aren't going to become obsolete once Microsoft releases a new version of Windows.
Neither will my vsti's; I see no reason to move from XP

But my Nord Lead will be worth more than a Dell desktop with all the software in the world in ten years.
Voyager XL*LittlePhatty*ElektronTrinity*ProOne*Mono/Poly*NordLead2X/3*Juno106*JX3P*JX10*JP8000*VirusKB*Blofeld*Ion*OctaveKitten*Polivoks*MS2000*AN1X*AlphaJuno1/2*ESQ1*SVC350*MG1*CS15*DX7II*etc...

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by masstronaut » Fri Jun 19, 2009 3:50 am

Ashe37 wrote:Yes, it could run on a general purpose PC. Could you run sixteen different timbres? Try it with Reaper to get an idea. There's a reason why the softsynth version of the Virus requires a DSP card (either a PowerCore or ProTools TDM DSP farm...)
Honestly I don't know if this is the case any more.

According to manufacturer's figures the fastest current TigerSHARC DSPs can do about 3.6GFLOPS. A current Intel i7 can do over 50. There should be no need for compromise now.

I think the reason the Nord G2 demo is so CPU heavy is probably that it's basically an emulator running in a virtual version of the G2 hardware so it has to do a lot more than the native version.

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by Joey » Fri Jun 19, 2009 5:37 am

in short, yes, they are software synths with dedicated interfaces.

but that doesn't make them bad, or good either.

its all about whether you connect with the instruments or not

if you get into that analog/digital/software debate you're going to spend 5 million years sucking eachothers dicks and arguing rather than making music
No one cares, no one sympathizes,
so you just stay home and play synthesizers.

http://wearereplicants.com

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by blitzdj86 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:04 am

The 'programs' that run on them are the same really,

Having said that, there's still a difference in sound due to the A/Ds, types of DSP etc..

Neither better nor worse, just different systems.

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by Yoozer » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:29 am

Synthaholic wrote:The PC has to handle running a Windows (or Mac) OS, networking, screen GUI, keyboard/mouse polling, background virus scanning and numerous other tasks that a VA doesn't have to worry about.
This is not an issue as long as the buffer is filled in time. Compare: you have two employees tasked with loading exactly 1024 boxes in a truck. Employee A would take 7.5 hours to do this, leaving only half an hour for the break, while B would be done in 10 minutes, having the rest of the day off. There's no difference; in both cases, the truck is filled. If it wasn't, you'd hear audio dropouts. So, whatever a PC is doing on the side, it does not matter.
Cycom wrote:I never understood the appeal of the Virus or other VA's. They're just software synths with a keyboard. Overpriced c**p.
Yes, overpriced. Because hey, you can copy the metal box around that thing just as easily as the software inside it, right? Oh wait, you can't. Perhaps you can download the software and have it run on a PC, with duplication costs falling to zero? Oh wait, you can't.

There are perfectly valid arguments to be found why you don't like 'm (e.g. the actual sound) - why do you people always have to come up with the stupid ones that are so easy to toss aside?
"Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by tom Cadillac » Fri Jun 19, 2009 8:56 am

I think the JP8000 is a good example of how a VA has its own character and becomes a unique muiscal instrument to create with.
I don't respect softsynths at all. especially after doing a gig with the local egghead laptop guy last week and waiting ages for him to get out of my way as he carefully put all his stuff back into the original cardboard boxes! There's something anal and antisocial in the softsynth thing. I played a Roland RS101 through a Dwarfcraft 'Great Destroyer' - whihch is probably the linear opposite.
The JP8000 still has the wonderful foibles and character of analogue synths, which lead to creative choices and happy accidents that make good muisc. Also its the limitations that matter.
Give me an antique like an RS101 and a vicious effects box any day. Or a nice copy of an analogue synth like the JP8000.
"On the following day , the sorcery undespairingly continued: I changed my series, chose other sequences, cut other lengths, spliced different progressions, and hoped afresh for a miracle in sound." (Stockhausen)

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by polyklinik » Fri Jun 19, 2009 9:17 am

va = soft synths????????? :shock:
turn the cutoff/reso knob on a pc with your mouse and listen..... plastic..... my va's sounds aren't plastic. imo

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by CS_TBL » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:11 am

Then you've been listening to the wrong softsynth.
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Thanks everyone for your thoughts...

Post by vin14 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 10:57 am

.. I think the general consensus is that the answer to my question is yes at a basic level, especially with the newest VAs but that there's much more to it than that!

cheers

Vin

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by blitzdj86 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 12:39 pm

To the people saying hardware VAs sound the same as software VAs,

which exact pieces of hardware and software are you comparing?
where are the sound comparison demos?

or how about even, an amazing demo of the best software VA, so I can compare it myself, to my own sounds which have always come from hardware.

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by Yoozer » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:31 pm

polyklinik wrote:va = soft synths????????? :shock:
turn the cutoff/reso knob on a pc with your mouse and listen..... plastic..... my va's sounds aren't plastic. imo
Image

Now you perhaps understand. It's one big pissing contest, and the sooner you get yourself out of it, the better.
"Part of an instrument is what it can do, and part of it is what you do to it" - Suzanne Ciani, 197x.

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by blitzdj86 » Fri Jun 19, 2009 1:54 pm

we're not really tralking about better/worse here dont you see,

we're talking about whether software sounds the same as hardware.

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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by nvbrkr » Fri Jun 19, 2009 2:04 pm

blitzdj86 wrote:To the people saying hardware VAs sound the same as software VAs,which exact pieces of hardware and software are you comparing?where are the sound comparison demos?or how about even, an amazing demo of the best software VA, so I can compare it myself, to my own sounds which have always come from hardware.
Perhaps you could just download some demos from the internet yourself and don't expect the others to do it for you?

Other than the sound potentially being imparted somehow by the D/A output stage - and I doubt it - why would you expect there to exist much of a difference? Granted, the best VAs have been shipped mostly in the hardware format for very long, but that's mostly just due to the business models the companies are following. It's the same thing really with effects, for example with reverb processors. The manufacturers who were thought to do the best ones have mostly stuck to the hardware format for so long and haven't released them as plug-ins, because:

1) it used to offer more dedicated processing power when the computers weren't as powerful as they are now.
2) their products could not be cracked and used illegally.
3) many people still expect to get a physical object in their hands when they invest money on something.
4) the companies could do it, because they were thought to be the best and the ones who wanted the best just had to pay more for it.

The only reason that could make the hardware VAs sound noticeably better than softsynths and that I can personally think of would be, you know, magic. Then there's of course the "the audio equipment that I've spent money on must by definition sound better than something else that operates on the same principles but costs less, and I refuse to even try out such myself so that I won't be proven wrong" -argument, but I don't personally usually believe in it.

Hooray, I'm a junior member finally. Am I allowed to be this cheeky now?

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