Phase: matter of synth design. You can design a digital synth to have its oscs not in phase. In fact, FM operators can be switched to sync to key-on or to run free.. which is what FM (both HW and SW) gives an edge! Simply put, irregular-phase is not exclusive to analogue synths. That not every digital synth has irregular-phase oscillators is the fault of short sighted synth designers.knolan wrote: 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.
Strad: I think Hilary Hahn outrocks me on my 100 euro violin, and I think I'll suck big time on her Stradivarious. This analogy is actually where the sound designer comes in (which I have mentioned at the first page I think). A good sound designer rocks on a Sound Canvas, a bad one is lost on a CS80.
Problem with 'better sounding' is that one's candy is another's puke. What *is* better? I've been into FM for about 20 years I think now, and that's *programming* FM, not hopping through presets. I'll claim something else than you do, namely that FM is the most flexible synth model around, also the most efficient, as FM-chips are cheap to produce and FM plugins are cheap on the CPU. So, who is right?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.
Naming hits from yesteryear says exactly one thing: back in those days, that's simply what synths were. If they had a modern PC with a streaming sampler, that's what they would've used instead. Besides, don't forget the production/mixing of those old hits. Whenever a producer uses chorus, echo, reverb, phaser, ensemble, EQ, dynamics etc. then you shouldn't give those credits to synths. For the same reason one shouldn't purely link a CS80 to Vangelis, as half his work is usually coming out of a Lexicon with some massive hall preset..
It may be valid in some way, but otherwise there's no point in it. People weren't just experimenting with synths, they were also just using them. It'd be a bit c**p if some producer is breathing hot steam in your neck while holding his watch, waiting on you "oh, hold on, have to rebuild this brass sound, takes me 10 minutes at most". I rather think that the DX synths and other few-buttons-small-display-synths killed programming, not sound storage.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.
You shouldn't compare a real/acoustic instrument to a synth, and label them as vintage for the exact same reasons. Real/acoustic instruments are full o' physics and have hundreds o' years of tweaks behind them. Synths (as in: chips 'n things) don't have physics but merely small algorithms that are infinitely more simple than the real physics that come with real instruments. I could stretch a rubber band and pluck it, I get a tone. It costs me a parameter o' 10 to create the same sound with a synth. Would you say this rubber band outrocks a synth?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).