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 Jinsai » Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:31 am

Even the term "Virtual Analog" is silly. They're subtractive synthesizers (which may have some analog emulation characteristics).

Just because a synthesizer uses a subtractive synthesis method doesn't mean it is "trying to be analog". I also think it's silly to hold analog synths up as some kind of pinnacle of sound or technology. They have their own character and are good at it. Digital synthesizers of every flavor have their own flavor and are good at it.

I find the more interesting question isn't "what kind of brush and brand of color do you use?", but rather "what are you doing with the brushes and colors you have?"

There's never been a record made where I said "wow this would be so much better if they had used a different synth", and what synths are used never affects my feelings about the music.
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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by mwbassguy » Wed Jun 24, 2009 1:56 am

Jinsai wrote:There's never been a record made where I said "wow this would be so much better if they had used a different synth", and what synths are used never affects my feelings about the music.
I have to disagree with that. I can think of plenty of records where I think "why oh why did they use this synth?" much like I do with records that have cheesy guitar tones.
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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Jun 24, 2009 2:26 am

mwbassguy wrote:
Jinsai wrote:There's never been a record made where I said "wow this would be so much better if they had used a different synth", and what synths are used never affects my feelings about the music.
I have to disagree with that. I can think of plenty of records where I think "why oh why did they use this synth?" much like I do with records that have cheesy guitar tones.
Isn't that just the patch they're using though? If someone's using a bad patch on one synth they'd probably still be using a bad patch on a 'better sounding' synth.

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

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:00 am

masstronaut wrote:if you look at the processing power of modern CPUs they are quite capable of outperforming most mass market DSPs, including the ones used in the latest generation digital synths
If general purpose CPUs can outperform DSPs why are so many audio manufacturers still selling outboard DSP hardware to offload processing from the CPU?

A growing trend in high end computing is to run programs on graphics processors rather than general purpose CPUs because they can process complex mathematics much faster.

Might as well argue that a MiniMoog is just like an AM radio because they both have oscillators, filters and amplifiers.

Great thread 8) 8)
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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by pricklyrobot » Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:34 am

And aren't analog synths just non-digital computers with dedicated interfaces?

I mean, with one of these:Image and the right set of punch cards, who needs a Mini, or a 2600?
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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by Joey » Wed Jun 24, 2009 7:23 am

masstronaut wrote:So that would be semi-hard then?

I guess that's why they don't call it Penetrator.
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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by masstronaut » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:14 am

meatballfulton wrote:
masstronaut wrote:if you look at the processing power of modern CPUs they are quite capable of outperforming most mass market DSPs, including the ones used in the latest generation digital synths
If general purpose CPUs can outperform DSPs why are so many audio manufacturers still selling outboard DSP hardware to offload processing from the CPU?

A growing trend in high end computing is to run programs on graphics processors rather than general purpose CPUs because they can process complex mathematics much faster.
Because it never hurts to add more processing power to a system, and it's more cost effective to use specialised processors for some tasks than to add another full blown CPU with all that entails and requires. And also because it is a highly effective form of copy protection and allows them to keep prices at a certain level while making a little extra on the hardware too.

I don't think it's a bad idea at all but general purpose CPUs do have good floating point performance now and the types of DSPs used in most digital synths really aren't all that fast in comparison. I think also if you look at the processing throughput figures sometimes quoted for GPUs they're not necessarily being measured using operations comparable to what is required for audio.
meatballfulton wrote:Might as well argue that a MiniMoog is just like an AM radio because they both have oscillators, filters and amplifiers.
But this is the difference between digital and analog. Computing theory says that any processing device, as long as it allows for a few very simple operations, can do exactly what any other can. This could be an array of 65000 DSPs, or it could be a punchcard system. Obviously speed is a factor but code is code is code. You can in theory produce the same digital output using the punchcard system as with the DSP array, but an AM radio can not reproduce the sound of a MiniMoog. Actually a MiniMoog can't reproduce the sound of a MiniMoog. :)

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

Post by masstronaut » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:26 am

pricklyrobot wrote:And aren't analog synths just non-digital computers with dedicated interfaces?
Yeah I think that's true.

This is pretty mindblowing.

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

Post by Yoozer » Wed Jun 24, 2009 11:38 am

meatballfulton wrote: If general purpose CPUs can outperform DSPs why are so many audio manufacturers still selling outboard DSP hardware to offload processing from the CPU?
Do you think they'd make any money at all if they sold their algorithms as VST plugins? It's the ideal dongle, and actually a dongle of value - unlikes the little plastic USB stick which does no processing at all.

The initial UAD cards were underpowered. So you add outboard DSP but are then still limited in what you can run simultaneously - which might've been more than a general purpose CPU would do at a certain time, but no longer.
A growing trend in high end computing is to run programs on graphics processors rather than general purpose CPUs because they can process complex mathematics much faster.
Yes - but only for certain applications.
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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by blitzdj86 » Wed Jun 24, 2009 4:52 pm

Still waiting for someone to recommend me a virtual analogue software plugin to try that will live up to my experience with hardware.. cmon guys.. if they exist, just tell me where to look.

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

Post by masstronaut » Wed Jun 24, 2009 5:30 pm

I would say,

1. Doing so does not answer the question the thread is mostly addressing. As has been pointed out more than a few times.

2. Whether something in your opinion 'lives up to' another experience you have is highly subjective and not something someone else can really predict or cater to. And of course the experience of using an instrument will be different to that of using another.

3. Myself and others have mentioned some specific software synths in direct response to your question.

No-one's saying you should prefer one thing or another or that one 'is' better than the other. So er, knock yourself out. Whatever works is what it's all about. Doesn't change the technical facts of what is what though.

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

Post by Yoozer » Wed Jun 24, 2009 6:21 pm

blitzdj86 wrote:cmon guys..
What was wrong with Massive, Zebra 2, Tone 2 Gladiator and the others mentioned?
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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by meatballfulton » Wed Jun 24, 2009 10:07 pm

There are plugins that match the sonic part of the hardware experience, but so far the UI part is pathetic.

I really like the idea of softsynths but the process of mapping hardware controllers to work with them is still in the dark ages.

I think the future will be more dedicated controllers for software, along the lines of the Ableton/Akai APC40, NI Maschine or the new Roland/Cakewalk system.
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Re: Are virtual analogs just soft synths with their own...

Post by MitchK1989 » Thu Jun 25, 2009 4:54 am

blitzdj86 wrote:Still waiting for someone to recommend me a virtual analogue software plugin to try that will live up to my experience with hardware.. cmon guys.. if they exist, just tell me where to look.
Vember Audio Surge (I love it, sonically it's similar to my old nord lead 2x, but feature wise it's closer to a waldorf microwave II or something), Zebra 2 (more "mellow", it's distortion is probably its weakest point, but it's amazing when it comes to other things), Fabfilter one/twin, upcoming d-cam synthsquad, AAS ultra-analog (ugly GUI, good sound)

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

Post by masstronaut » Thu Jun 25, 2009 10:33 am

meatballfulton wrote:I really like the idea of softsynths but the process of mapping hardware controllers to work with them is still in the dark ages.
Yes this is important.

Some people have good things to say about the Novation stuff with Automap and little displays above the controls.

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