Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by voltage » Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:37 pm

[quote="Hair"]I don't think the market would be niche at all though, being able to buy a new Moog Model D Reissue would probably be successful comparable to the level of Gibson's Custom Shop Les Paul Reissues quote]

I agree, I heard the EMS re-issues are sold out for years to come, big bucks too.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by Naive Teen Idol » Mon Mar 30, 2009 8:51 pm

I do think folks have a point -- if software can get you 85-90% of the way there, there's no reason for hardware that gets you no closer for 10x the cost. It's really a matter of whether you believe analog circuitry is necessary for that last 10-15% and then whether it's worth the cost. I get the sense for most people here that it IS necessary...and that some consumers might buy it, but that it's not worth the cost from the manufacturer's end.

And then there's this:
synthshaw wrote:One thing i must mention is the nostalgia we get when listening to old recordings, an example being the John Foxx album Metamatic. It's hard to recreate that sound on modern synths or VAs in a home studio, not just because of the Synths used but also the processing equipment primitive effects and analogue recording techniques.You can get close with emulation(if you realy wanted to) but there are lots of other factors involved is what i'm trying to say.
This is a really good point -- and a really good example of a record I've tried to emulate, actually and have talked about on a few other threads. But a very important point in this debate nonetheless.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by steveman » Mon Mar 30, 2009 9:18 pm

elmacaco wrote: If you think about it, that (303) was a cheap synth new, I mean anyone buying a x0x kit is still paying much more for parts alone than roland would have, but it's cheaper than an actual 303. Same would be true for any good clone.
Ah, but it's only cheaper than the crazy prices we have now. The x0x is only cheaper because you have to build it yourself. How much is your time worth? [/quote]

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by Barfunkel » Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:09 pm

Hair wrote: I don't think the market would be niche at all though, being able to buy a new Moog Model D Reissue would probably be successful comparable to the level of Gibson's Custom Shop Les Paul Reissues, though scaled down appropriately via the amount of guitar players to keyboard/synth players in the world
The amount of guitar players interested in buying a classic guitar is huge, we are talking about tens of millions of potential customers. The amount of people interested in buying a classic analog synth, especially if it's very expensive (like a remake, especially a poly, would be) is very small. We are talking about hundreds or thousands of people here. 99% of people interested in synth music make their music on cheap computers, maybe owning one 500$ synth so they can pretend to be making music "OTB". They won't buy a 7k remake of Jupiter 8 or a 4k Minimoog remake (and this is what they would cost, let's not kid ourselves), no matter how authentic it is, since their soft synths sound good enough for them and definitely good enough to not bother with a 4k synth that they can't even sequence properly.

Synths just aren't cool enough at the moment for the major manufacturers to start taking huge risks, invest in a factory line that recreates classic, now out-of-productions chips and parts, without being able to sell millions and millions of synthesizers. An absolutely authentic Minimoog replica would sell, what, 10.000 units? No way much more than that, at the price.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by CS_TBL » Thu Sep 03, 2009 8:36 pm

You can't compare acoustic instruments with typical synths. I can imagine that guitar freaks would spend a bit on old guitars for the same reason that an old Stradivarius violin has a certain value. Synths have the advantage that their software equivalent works well enough, whereas a guitar, violin, flute etc. is still very tricky to get right in any form other than the original. Not at least because we try to play those instruments using the keyboard interface (and a few controllers).

If there's a synth with a unique interface, for instance a combination of blowing and plucking, if it responses realistically to oodles o' player-influences and if it's hard to play if you haven't seriously studied it.. I *may* be tempted to label it an instrument.
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by Mooger5 » Thu Sep 03, 2009 10:17 pm

CS_TBL wrote: If there's a synth with a unique interface, for instance a combination of blowing and plucking, if it responses realistically to oodles o' player-influences and if it's hard to play if you haven't seriously studied it.. I *may* be tempted to label it an instrument.
Something like the Analogue Systems French Connection, perhaps?
One reason why synths were and still are regarded as cold I think has to be about certain elements of expression are ignored during performance.
Any violin player has access to not only the "note and velocity parameters", but he can use slower or faster attack whenever he chooses. The same for how fast and intense he adds vibrato and how fast he slides between notes, play staccato or crescendo. He can treat each note and the next one as he pleases. In a synth most of these parameters are usually of fixed values or rest untouched by the synth player. One pre-defines the ADSR, LFO and portamento for a specific sound and that´s about it.
Every control on the panel should be regarded as a performance control; we are just not used to it. Under this view, "traditional" Korg knobs look cooler than Roland sliders for instance, but in fact the latter seem more useable for live playing.
The Hartmann Neuron with all the extra wheels and joysticks was a very good afterthought.

Sorry about the ramblings, but I´ve been wondering about this since a thread where the Ondes Martenot was mentioned. Sometimes I lose the text and the patience to rewrite it...
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by Attilius » Thu Sep 03, 2009 11:44 pm

Those new analog synths would sound too harsh and digital(ish) anyway; on the other hand, the early digital synths sound pretty analog (Korg DW/EX, Ensoniq); these are the best choices for pleasant analog sounds.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by EmptySet » Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:48 am

I understand the small markets and such that prevent neato reissues, but what I don't understand is the cost of electronics. I thought components keep getting cheaper and cheaper. And surely there must be newer, quieter, and lower power op-amps and the like in comparison to 30 yrs ago. How much would it cost for, say, Roland, to reissue a Jupiter 8 today… with similar parts (not re-computerized and modernized)… with just the same components? That it doesn't exist makes me suspect that the price would be too high: but why would that be the case now, but not in the 80s?

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by CS_TBL » Fri Sep 04, 2009 9:55 am

It's the manual labor that adds up to the costs. Take a moving fader of a big desk (Mackie d8b, Sony Oxford, Icon etc.), what does it cost? Not much! Maybe ten dollar, I dunno. It's the team o' programmers which is the costly bit here.
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by maindeglorie » Fri Sep 04, 2009 10:38 am

CS_TBL wrote: If there's a synth with a unique interface, for instance a combination of blowing and plucking, if it responses realistically to oodles o' player-influences and if it's hard to play if you haven't seriously studied it.. I *may* be tempted to label it an instrument.
Just sounds to me like you have not spent enough time with a PROPER mono synth.

Analog synthesizers, especially GOOD ones with thought out (musical) interfaces are as much instruments as any acoustic instrument. Time spent with a Mini, Voyager, 2600, modular, h**l even a Phatty will show this. You have to think of how to play it, to make it express what you are trying to put out. So right there, it has it's own language, just like every other instrument in the jazz clubs, and in the philharmonics. You can simply play keys like a punk guitar player would simply strike strings, OR you can learn to apply vibrato, tremolo, and filter accents musically and bend and growl into notes like any good player would.

Now, you CAN do this with the setup of your software, midi controller or even a Nord or any other VA, BUT there is a huge difference, in the relationship you will have, bending a bass note on your Axiom compared to the direct connection of a Minimoog or whatever. On an analog synthesizer, you are directly shaping your notes and expressions through voltage and your hands. Now one can argue that you are doing the same thing in software, and that the DSP is reacting to your playing, velocity, knob turns, etc. Technically there may not be a difference. But soul wise.... s**t. I don't know what it is, but on an analog, it's there. When I jump to one of the Nords on a stage... I feel like I am playing an excellent tool, that does what I tell it to do. When I jump to a Moog.... it's like the synth is an extension of my chest, and I'm more cerebrally there in the jam.

What's the point? Who knows, to each there own of course. But please don't deny a true synthesizer it's rightful status as an instrument.

You think Bernie Worrel would have that same vibe, soul and connection to a Nord Electro and MicrKorg instead of the Hammond, Clav and Mini? h**l no.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by pflosi » Fri Sep 04, 2009 6:54 pm

this topic has been discussed to death... useless!

and: show me ANY vintage synth that has the possibilities of an A6. with such a huge amount of modulation routings, u actually CAN bring in your own expression for each note. velocity (to attack and the violin dilemma is solved), aftertouch, assignable modwheel, pitch bender that can have other amounts up and down, ribbon controller...

what else do you want? AND it has almost the same sound as a minimoog (trust me i have them both)... POLYPHONIC

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by JSRockit » Fri Sep 04, 2009 8:17 pm

rhino wrote:not a profound writer, but i'll take a shot at an answer:
1. it is not possible to build a NEW classic synth... "classic" is a designation earned by withstanding the tests of time. some current synths WILL become classic in 30 years.
Amen.
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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by steveman » Sat Sep 05, 2009 11:50 am

EmptySet wrote:I understand the small markets and such that prevent neato reissues, but what I don't understand is the cost of electronics. I thought components keep getting cheaper and cheaper.
And surely there must be newer, quieter, and lower power op-amps and the like in comparison to 30 yrs ago.
Wrong, it's digital technology that's getting exponentially cheaper, analogue components are pretty much the same, if not more now. Analogue is a niche market in electronics, most of the op-amps around today are pretty much the same ones that were uses years ago. In some cases, components (eg. CA3080 used as a VCA in lots of synths) have stopped being made as the makers say there's too little demand for them.
EmptySet wrote:How much would it cost for, say, Roland, to reissue a Jupiter 8 today… with similar parts (not re-computerized and modernized)… with just the same components? That it doesn't exist makes me suspect that the price would be too high: but why would that be the case now, but not in the 80s?
A lot, they don't have any engineers that know how to build such an instrument now. Analogue engineers will cost more than software engineers too as there are a lot fewer of them.
rhino wrote:not a profound writer, but i'll take a shot at an answer:
1. it is not possible to build a NEW classic synth... "classic" is a designation earned by withstanding the tests of time. some current synths WILL become classic in 30 years.
agreed.

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by Naive Teen Idol » Sun Nov 15, 2015 6:07 pm

So six years after I started this thread, reissues of classic synths are gaining steam. Off the top of my head, we have:

Tom Oberheim SEM/Two Voice
Korg MS-20 Mini
ARP Odyssey Mini

We have the modular craze which has turned in a number of fascinating reissues of oscillators, filters, etc. that have integrated components of these classic synthesizers into the mainstream. 

We also have synths like the Prophet 6 which are newer synths but more clearly designed (interface, functionality, VCOs) to replicate the originals than the Prophet '08-types from a decade or so ago.

What else am I missing? Is the EMS Synthi still in production?

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Re: Why Aren't More Classic Synths Produced Today?

Post by meatballfulton » Mon Nov 16, 2015 1:50 pm

The Synthi is not truly in production. Apparently a few get built every year but the waiting list is ridiculously long.
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