Why analog?

Discussions about anything analog, digital, MIDI, synth technology, techniques, theories and more.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by Ned Bouhalassa » Mon May 16, 2011 5:08 am

My Memorymoog keeps going out of tune... fortunately!
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Re: Why analog?

Post by aredj » Mon May 16, 2011 6:10 am

Cmon kids... There is no such thing as BETTER! Only different. Period.

If someone thinks that something is better, then its an opinion... not an inherent fact!

This goes for everything in life. Go play whatever synth you like and move on....

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Re: Why analog?

Post by Ashe37 » Mon May 16, 2011 6:39 am

Automatic Gainsay wrote:There are different levels of oscillator instability. A lot of people use the term "drift," which to me suggests the oscillators simply "drift"ing out of tune. While this aspect does play a role in the overall sound of analog synths (remember that it applies to LFOs, as well), remember that another aspect of instability are minor variations in frequency that happen on a much smaller scale... the oscillator not "drifting out of tune" but rather having a tuning that is not exactly consistent at every given moment.
Why is that important? Because that issue occurs in human voices and acoustic instruments, too. It sounds pleasing to our ears not because of some esoteric or elitist bullshit related to perceived value, but rather because it's what we as humans have been used to for thousands of years.

This is actually a great explanation for the appeal of analog synthesizers over their digital cousins....

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Re: Why analog?

Post by Zamise » Mon May 16, 2011 7:14 am

Ashe37 wrote:
Automatic Gainsay wrote:There are different levels of oscillator instability. A lot of people use the term "drift," which to me suggests the oscillators simply "drift"ing out of tune. While this aspect does play a role in the overall sound of analog synths (remember that it applies to LFOs, as well), remember that another aspect of instability are minor variations in frequency that happen on a much smaller scale... the oscillator not "drifting out of tune" but rather having a tuning that is not exactly consistent at every given moment.
Why is that important? Because that issue occurs in human voices and acoustic instruments, too. It sounds pleasing to our ears not because of some esoteric or elitist bullshit related to perceived value, but rather because it's what we as humans have been used to for thousands of years.

This is actually a great explanation for the appeal of analog synthesizers over their digital cousins....
Not really, if so desired that kind of variation in freq can be easily recreated with an all digital synth. As mentioned, it has something to do with having an LFO.

All his synths are analog, even the digital ones... stay thirsty my friends.
Last edited by Zamise on Mon May 16, 2011 7:18 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by Black Tomorrow » Mon May 16, 2011 7:17 am

I would normally sit this one out, but I'll throw my hat in the ring. In my own experience, the digital vs. analog debate is entirely moot. I see strengths and weaknesses in both analog and digital. Often, where one falls short, the other can carry.

Anyway, there have been a lot of great points made here, so I'll just say this...
negativ wrote:Why do you need a less serviceable, less functional synthesizer
As they say, sometimes less really is more. I find that quite often, I am more creative when I have limited tools to work with. For instance, the Moog Rogue is probably my least capable synth, but it's the one I turn to over and over when the creativity is flowing.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by balma » Mon May 16, 2011 7:18 am

Ashe37 wrote:
Automatic Gainsay wrote:There are different levels of oscillator instability. A lot of people use the term "drift," which to me suggests the oscillators simply "drift"ing out of tune. While this aspect does play a role in the overall sound of analog synths (remember that it applies to LFOs, as well), remember that another aspect of instability are minor variations in frequency that happen on a much smaller scale... the oscillator not "drifting out of tune" but rather having a tuning that is not exactly consistent at every given moment.
Why is that important? Because that issue occurs in human voices and acoustic instruments, too. It sounds pleasing to our ears not because of some esoteric or elitist bullshit related to perceived value, but rather because it's what we as humans have been used to for thousands of years.

This is actually a great explanation for the appeal of analog synthesizers over their digital cousins....
sex appeal yes. But that does not mean they are better than the digital ones.

Those are not the only "variations" that result on a more pleasant sound. You can create other type of variations on digital synths, that can sound wonderful to the most trained ear. There are multiple parameters and elements on the digital world that manipulated under a inquisitive mind, sound great.

And even the most flat sound in the world, has irregularities or imperfections.

I enjoy any synth´s sound in the hands of somebody who knows it.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by Desecrated » Mon May 16, 2011 7:29 am

I thought of another thing. It's not always digital vs analog, it's new versus old.

When I started everybody wanted a korg triton, then the nord came, then the virus. And I'm pretty sure we're going to see something new on the market that blows the virus away. If I do get a virus that means I will have to sell it and buy the next new thing to keep up with my competition. If I instead buy a juno 60 the synth is already outdated/old school so my clients knows what to expect from me.

I have an old roland xp 50 that I think I will hang on to instead of going into a new workstation synth. I'm sure there is better synths on the market then my roland, but I really like it. And I know how to get the best sound out of it. Also none of my competition has one. That gives me an edge over them. If I got a phantom I would just be another fish in the sea.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by Projectile » Mon May 16, 2011 8:03 am

Some people would say why buy a virus when you can just use software and a midi controller. Others would insist that buying expensive commercial software is a waste of money when you can just use freeware and get similar results. They would all use the same types of argument that you (the OP) made against analog hardware. At the end of the chain you have some guy using a single freeware synthesizer and the effects that came bundled with their DAW. Obviously, the guy with a room full of vintage synths is going to get significantly different results than the guy using a single piece of freeware. You've got to draw the line somewhere. Where you draw that line all comes down to personal preference.

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Re: Why analog?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Mon May 16, 2011 9:18 am

I own analogue synths, analogue/digital hybrid synths, softsynths, digital synths, a modular with both analogue and digital modules, analogue effects, digital effects, analogue mixers and digital mixers.

There are things which are warm and dark which are digital, things which are clean and cutting which are analogue and everything in between. Perhaps there are some people who want something just because it's analogue, I would suggest these people aren't very good at what they do though.

The number one thing is that if you're using the synth then you're the one who decides what it sounds like.

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Re: Why analog?

Post by computron » Mon May 16, 2011 10:19 am

Black Tomorrow wrote:I would normally sit this one out, but I'll throw my hat in the ring. In my own experience, the digital vs. analog debate is entirely moot. I see strengths and weaknesses in both analog and digital. Often, where one falls short, the other can carry.

I agree 100% well said. There are times when my tx81z fits more plesent in the mix then one of my mighty analogs would or at times a mighty analog's pads,string or sweep will add so much and be just what I need instead of one of my digital synths.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by drawtippy » Mon May 16, 2011 4:01 pm

I usually stay out of these threads as well. I consider myself lucky to have all kinds of sound creation options in my set-up-- digital, analog, software, 8-bit, divide-down, even toys! FOR ME it's about using the right tool for the job and sometimes, using the wrong tool for the job-- which can yield unexpectedly amazing results.

As far as the original post, I think analogs have that perception of "quality" and "authenticity" based on a backlash against newer technologies. Much like the "purists" who only listen to vinyl or still shoot on film, analogs have that retro cult following now, for better or worse.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Mon May 16, 2011 4:30 pm

Zamise wrote:Not really, if so desired that kind of variation in freq can be easily recreated with an all digital synth. As mentioned, it has something to do with having an LFO.

All his synths are analog, even the digital ones... stay thirsty my friends.

1. I don't know about you, but I'd rather be making music than spending the amount of time and effort requisite to effectively approximate a vaguely analog sound I don't care enough about to actually possess.

2. If you think what I'm talking about is equivalent to a periodic waveform applied to an oscillator, you do not know what I'm talking about.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by RD9 » Mon May 16, 2011 5:22 pm

Stab Frenzy wrote:There are things which are warm and dark which are digital, things which are clean and cutting which are analogue and everything in between.
I have to agree with this one based on my experience with DSI MEK and the Supernova -- two synths which break the mold in some ways. The MEK's crispness and precision gives it an almost digital quality (without enabling the drift feature and distortion, that is). Also the responsiveness of the envelopes make a huge difference when you compare it to older analogs like the SH-2... this can give it a more aggressive edge I think, depending on your musical style and playing technique.

The Supernova also breaks the mold in that it's unusually smooth and silky compared to the aggressiveness of the Virus C and Radias. The filter on it also has a very pleasant quality. I sometimes wonder if it's compounded by the raw sawtooth differences between these digital synths.

So yeah, it's not as much about analog vs. digital, as much as it is vintage analog vs most new digital synths. I think the Supernova is a rare exception, at least from the synths I've tried.

There is of course that anecdote about the old MiniMoog filter circuit being accidentally overdriven which was supposedly part of why it sounded so good... and by the time they realized there was a mistake, it wasn't worth "fixing." Miscalculations like that just don't happen in digital I think. Now, I'm not sure what it sounds like compared to filter overdrives in digital synths however since I've never owned a MiniMoog...

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Re: Why analog?

Post by balma » Mon May 16, 2011 7:17 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote: I'd rather be making music than spending the amount of time and effort requisite to effectively approximate a vaguely analog sound I don't care enough about to actually possess.

that´s the whole core of the problem.



I do not care, or will waste a single second of my life devoted to compose music, trying to "make it sound analog"

there are so much things you can do with with synths whatever they are. f**k, I just try to be creative.
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Re: Why analog?

Post by knolan » Mon May 16, 2011 9:19 pm

negativ wrote:I see so often, on forums of this sort, heated debate between analog and digital sound. I even hear people fighting about which analog synthesizer is truest to the 'analog sound.'
I just can't understand why so many synthesists insist on having Model D's and OB-Xa's when there are products like the Virus and the Prophet '08 out there. Why do you need a less serviceable, less functional synthesizer to create a slightly 'phatter' sound, so you can get the same hip-hop lead everybody else uses, to be recorded and distributed as a lo-fi .mp3 across the internet to the masses who could care less what boards yo use? I'm not trying to attack your position, I honestly want to understand why an analog filter is worth paying that much for.
There are some real reasons why analogue - indeed older discrete transistor analogue - is important and valuable:

1. Phase. When several oscillators are in phase it can lead to a static sound. Hence why digital and new analogue sounds thinner than old analogue. The inability to manage phase through the signal path in old analogue give them a real warmth of sounds, for the same musical reasons that a Stradivarius sounds better than other violins.

2. Literally - better sounding. I have been into analogue for a long time but only very lately have I truly understand why old analogue, and in particular old Moog, is better. The answer is - they literally sound better. Stronger, more flexible, more robust. Listen to Donna Summer's I Feel Love and the backing track is virtually all Moog. To realise the strength of that sound, created in the mid 70's, is a very clear demonstration of the absolute strength of old analogue. It would be very difficult to achieve that sound strenght with any moden synth - they are not good enough! In a nut shell, old analogue synthesizers literally have a superior sound, again in similar ways to a Bosendorfer sounding superior to a cheap modern upright.

3. Design limitations. If you look at the Minimoog and the CS80, with no digital memories - your only option is to play them and experiment. The minute the Prophet 5 came along, it affected, interrupted, that creative potential and immediacy. Hence, many cherish old analogue because it enables pure playing, composition and experimentation in a way that preset synths do not.

4. Legacy. Most of the great albums of the past 40 years were done on only vintage synthesizers (including digital ones like the Fairlight). As much our cultural legacy of music include the Fender Rhodes and Fender Strat, it now also includes the ARP 2600, Minimoog, Prophet 5, CS80, Fairlight, DX7, Emulator 2 and perhaps another handful or two vintage synthesizers. So these sounds are coveted for very correct reasons - they were successful in music which means that millions of people voted for them in purchasing hit records using them. They are familiar and great - two very good reasons to align yourself with them (we all still love the piano and don't question why it's still around).


There are many other reasons - but they are ALL valid. Even the Moog Little Phatty and Prophet 08 will not deliver in as good a way – for all of the above valid reasons AND for all sorts of flawed, illogical, annoying but always very human reasons, you cannot replace the originals - if you want a great analogue sound, you must use the originals (one of the reasons why Air's 'Moon Saffari' album did so well - they when back to a lot of basics, including with their synths. Even people not into synths 'got it' as highly authentic in instrumentation and hence one of the reasons why such an album traversed into mass culture).

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