What can a Real Analog Synth Do That a Software Synth Can't?

Anything modular synth related that is not format specific.

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hemeroscopium
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Post by hemeroscopium » Sun Jun 09, 2019 3:55 am

Analog Hardware will be relevant and same in 10-20 years (if taken care of). Software updates, companies acquisition, OS updates has made more apps "gone" & "discontinue". What can happen in 10 years is that 50% of the software you're using now will be gone/replaced/updated in a way it sounds different then when you started. Hardware will always be hardware, and in some cases it will gain much value.

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Post by lisa » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:22 am

erenod: Digital isn’t equal to VSTs. Secondly, I still use plugins I got more than ten years ago and I’ve actually never had a VST that I paid for that stopped working. I don’t have update tourettes, though. ;)
My first modular track where I used drum modules! There's also a ton of FM cross modulation from the Instruō Cš-L in there and the Metasonix R56 is a big part of the sound. :star:



We also just did a live performance. Just eurorack, a mixer and two nitwits. :hyper: http://tiny.cc/8ndspz

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Post by Fog Door » Sun Jun 09, 2019 4:57 am

Some of the VSTs I still use are truly ancient and most of them were free. I much prefer hardware (analog or digital) and I don't find VSTs fun to use in any way. They can be incredibly useful when it comes to recordings though, I use VSTs quite often and I couldn't live without them.

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Post by Alphaman » Sun Jun 09, 2019 8:00 am

Fog Door wrote:Some of the VSTs I still use are truly ancient and most of them were free. I much prefer hardware (analog or digital) and I don't find VSTs fun to use in any way. They can be incredibly useful when it comes to recordings though, I use VSTs quite often and I couldn't live without them.
i would say this strongly depends on the user interface, at least for my part. some are still fun to use, for example the Monark Ensemble for Native Intruments Reaktor 5, which is a sort of Minimoog "clone" with very analog sound character. but now, after i own Eurorack Modules, which of course requires a little understanding of how classic synthesis work, i treat them a bit differently. before i used Hardware, i only skipped from one lame preset to another and i did not created sounds from scratch. anyways, now i feel, the extensive use of software destroyed some of my creativity for ever, which is irreparable. very sad^^ when i think of the early 2000's, when my first hardware device was just MPC 2000 XL with floppy disks and a tape deck to record the crap without a computer, that's when you need to be creative to get the most of it.

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Post by Fog Door » Sun Jun 09, 2019 10:37 am

i only skipped from one lame preset to another
Same! ha ha, I'm still not too proud to use a preset though, it depends what I'm trying to achieve, within the context of an actual "song" sometimes the last thing you need is a sound that's too interesting! :lol:

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Post by UltraViolet » Tue Jun 11, 2019 8:00 pm

Fog Door wrote:
i only skipped from one lame preset to another
Same! ha ha, I'm still not too proud to use a preset though, it depends what I'm trying to achieve, within the context of an actual "song" sometimes the last thing you need is a sound that's too interesting! :lol:
This is the capability vs. easy to use problem. If you create something that has awesome capabilities it tends to be fairly complex and difficult to learn to use. The challenge is to create a clear and easy to follow path from using presets (easy) to creating elaborate patches from scratch (difficult). You need to be able to do simple things easily and progress to more difficult things.

Years ago Microsoft created what is by far the most capable system for creating wonderful user interfaces called Windows Presentation Foundation (WPF). Unfortunately it had a very steep learning curve. It took me 3 weeks to understand enough to do simple things that would have taken 3 hours to learn in previous systems. However, once you really know it, you can very quickly create elaborate user interfaces with far less effort than with any other system.

Almost nobody would spend 3 weeks learning how about how a new synthesizer works just to get to the point of making a simple patch. FM synthesizers seemed to have this problem. Using presets to create sounds is easy, but to understand FM well enough to create a new patch from scratch is very difficult. There is no path from using existing presets to making your own. It is a GIANT step to get there. So everyone just used preset patches and creativity suffered.

A software synth can provide all the creativity options of a large modular system and more, but the challenge is how to keep it from being too overwhelming at first for a new user.

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Post by colb » Wed Jun 12, 2019 11:11 am

UltraViolet wrote: This is the capability vs. easy to use problem. If you create something that has awesome capabilities it tends to be fairly complex and difficult to learn to use.
Awesome capability doesn't have to mean complexity.

One of the big differences between Software and analog hardware is that With analog hardware, it is more costly for the designer to add more controls, so although designing a simpler more intuitive interface that still allows access to the power of the synthesis engine is difficult, time consuming and expensive, it's still cheaper than just lazily chucking a control for every internal parameter onto the front panel.
With software, it much cheaper and easier to just add a virtual knob (or in the case of hardware digital, another layer of menus) than it is to go through many iterations of interface design to find a simpler more powerful interface that still provides access to the best aspects of the engine.

I think that's part of the reason why many analog synths seems to have fewer 'bad' settings - you seem to get good sounds where ever you set the controls, while digital leaves you searching for good sounds. With the analog the engineers did that search for you.. while in the digital world, they just give you the means to search for yourself.

It's also why many analog systems seem to have more of a 'character'. The requirements of designing a hardware product for manufacture at a price point requires limits on features. If this is done well, with a conscious effort to create a tool with musical purpose and direction, that limited features set adds up to a device with personality and character.

This would be possible in the digital domain, but it's not a requirement. It's a tough decision to remove and/or limit features when it's also much more costly to do so in a way that enhances the final product... Particularly when marketing just love feature stats.

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Post by ExtrasensoryPerception » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:00 pm

the single most important thing to me that differentiates hardware from software synths is the physical interface. I feel much more inclined to lose myself into a hardware unit, not looking at a computer screen, than with a software instrument.

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Post by UltraViolet » Wed Jun 12, 2019 5:09 pm

colb wrote:
UltraViolet wrote: This is the capability vs. easy to use problem. If you create something that has awesome capabilities it tends to be fairly complex and difficult to learn to use.
Awesome capability doesn't have to mean complexity.

One of the big differences between Software and analog hardware is that With analog hardware, it is more costly for the designer to add more controls, so although designing a simpler more intuitive interface that still allows access to the power of the synthesis engine is difficult, time consuming and expensive, it's still cheaper than just lazily chucking a control for every internal parameter onto the front panel.
With software, it much cheaper and easier to just add a virtual knob (or in the case of hardware digital, another layer of menus) than it is to go through many iterations of interface design to find a simpler more powerful interface that still provides access to the best aspects of the engine.

I think that's part of the reason why many analog synths seems to have fewer 'bad' settings - you seem to get good sounds where ever you set the controls, while digital leaves you searching for good sounds. With the analog the engineers did that search for you.. while in the digital world, they just give you the means to search for yourself.

It's also why many analog systems seem to have more of a 'character'. The requirements of designing a hardware product for manufacture at a price point requires limits on features. If this is done well, with a conscious effort to create a tool with musical purpose and direction, that limited features set adds up to a device with personality and character.

This would be possible in the digital domain, but it's not a requirement. It's a tough decision to remove and/or limit features when it's also much more costly to do so in a way that enhances the final product... Particularly when marketing just love feature stats.
Great insight!

Software sometimes lets you have the best of both worlds in terms of controls. The core most useful controls can be displayed all the time while all the other possible controls can be accessed with a "Show/Hide Advanced" button. Or better yet expand the number of control options in steps so that you don't jump from basic with 2 or 3 knobs to super advanced with 10 knobs. Then add options for advanced users to either start in advanced mode or directly switch there.

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Re: What can a Real Analog Synth Do That a Software Synth Ca

Post by minipusice » Sat Aug 17, 2019 4:05 am

UltraViolet wrote:What are things that you can do with your analog gear that either can't be done on a software synthesizer or would be very difficult to do on one?
for most people, it's the pleasure coming from dopamine that is being released to our bodies in anticipation of the new physical item (a module, a drum machine, a patch cable even).

every time we click at a "buy" button - a new hardware purchase causes a sweet sensation because we usually can not own it / turn it on immediately.

the period before we install it in our case or studio is the dopey shit that causes us to own, buy, accumulate more physical stuff and a secret sauce behind a recent hardware revolution.

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Re: What can a Real Analog Synth Do That a Software Synth Ca

Post by soundslikejoe » Mon Aug 19, 2019 5:42 am

minipusice wrote:
UltraViolet wrote:What are things that you can do with your analog gear that either can't be done on a software synthesizer or would be very difficult to do on one?
for most people, it's the pleasure coming from dopamine that is being released to our bodies in anticipation of the new physical item (a module, a drum machine, a patch cable even).

every time we click at a "buy" button - a new hardware purchase causes a sweet sensation because we usually can not own it / turn it on immediately.

the period before we install it in our case or studio is the dopey shit that causes us to own, buy, accumulate more physical stuff and a secret sauce behind a recent hardware revolution.
Judging by the $50,000 worth of software I have on my studio machine, I don't think your theory applies to just hardware. :hihi:

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Post by search64 » Mon Aug 19, 2019 7:28 am

Electrocute you.

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Post by joeTron » Mon Aug 26, 2019 12:33 pm

For me after so many years dealing with computers, I find going modular is just plain FUN. Period. It's like sculpting with real clay vs stylus pen and flat screen.

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Post by UltraViolet » Mon Aug 26, 2019 4:42 pm

joeTron wrote:For me after so many years dealing with computers, I find going modular is just plain FUN. Period. It's like sculpting with real clay vs stylus pen and flat screen.
I think that will be true no matter how good software synthesizers become. Playing with real analog modules will always be more fun!

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Post by 3hands » Mon Aug 26, 2019 6:32 pm

The difference?

Analogue simply sounds better.

End of argument.
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Post by cptnal » Tue Aug 27, 2019 2:22 am

3hands wrote:The difference?

Analogue simply sounds better.

End of argument.
You reckon?

:popcorn:

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Post by Fog Door » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:46 am

Analogue simply sounds better.

End of argument.
Sooooo tempted, but I'm not taking the bait :goldfish:

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Post by racooniac » Tue Aug 27, 2019 9:24 am

while we are at baiting ...

i lately just tell everyone in my circle of producerfriends that "a sine is a sine and a square is a square and a saw is a saw no matter where its from, i dont care" and watch their faces go red for fun xD

i know thats not true but at the same time its true because it sounds how it sounds and the really important parameters for music production are found elsewhere imho.

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Post by Yes Powder » Tue Aug 27, 2019 10:01 am

racooniac wrote:while we are at baiting ...

i lately just tell everyone in my circle of producerfriends that "a sine is a sine and a square is a square and a saw is a saw no matter where its from, i dont care" and watch their faces go red for fun xD

i know thats not true but at the same time its true because it sounds how it sounds and the really important parameters for music production are found elsewhere imho.
That's some...
MASTER BAITING right there
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Post by UltraViolet » Tue Aug 27, 2019 5:59 pm

3hands wrote:The difference?

Analogue simply sounds better.

End of argument.
If it is analog vs FM digital there seems to wide agreement. However, classic physical instruments can sound better than analog synths. While there are some really great synth parts in popular music, classic physical instruments still dominate. There doesn't seem to be any danger of Guitar Center changing their name to "Synth Center". So it is possible for something to sound better than an analog synth. That being true, then it is at least possible that someday a software synth will sound better than an analog synth.

It seems to be partly expressiveness and partly the greater complexity of natural sounds. Just as the analog sound is more complex (organic, alive, etc.) than digital, natural sounds are more complex than analog. Analog and software synthesizers are going to pretty much have the same input devices available so expressiveness can at best be a tie. The complexity of the sound is another story. I think that it is possible for a software synth to have a more complex sound that exceeds analog and rivals that of natural sounds. I consider it to be the second dragon ("chasing dragons" as YesPowder put it) and have been chasing it, but am still a long way from catching it. It may need GPU levels of computation power and/or a hardware noise antenna. There is a non-scientific artistic element to it as well. In the end, that dragon may elude capture.

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Post by zengomi » Tue Aug 27, 2019 6:48 pm

This is all digital VCOs: Akemie's Castle; DNA Symbiotic Waves; E370 Quad Morphing VCO.

I perversely made it so :miley:

https://soundcloud.com/zengomi/db-1
Last edited by zengomi on Wed Sep 11, 2019 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by 3hands » Tue Aug 27, 2019 7:59 pm

Fog Door wrote:
Analogue simply sounds better.

End of argument.
Sooooo tempted, but I'm not taking the bait :goldfish:
I apologize. I may have had 1 too many glasses of wine that night.
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Post by Pelsea » Tue Aug 27, 2019 10:11 pm

I once attended an international flutist’s conference in Cincinnati. One afternoon was devoted to the great debate, “which sounds better, gold or platinum?”. Never mind that having either meant you had a multi thousand dollar instrument, opinions were strong on both sides. World class flutists played both types. At the end, acoustician John Coltman popped out of the audience and demonstrated a flute made of concrete. John’s point was there are so many factors that affect the sound of a flute that the base material makes no difference.

With electronic instruments, the principal effect on sound quality is the speaker system. If you saw a plot of the difference between what an amp puts out and the resulting sound waves, you would wonder how we recognize anything at all. The next strong effect is the sound level, then the acoustics of the room. So the differences between a purely analog source and one with a digital component are well down the totem pole of what matters. The famous flaws of digital, sample rate and word size, have been pushed deep enough into psychoacoustics as to be comparable to homeopathic medicine.

The upshot is you can have bad software or beautiful software and bad circuits or beautiful circuits, but that doesn’t prove anything about the underlying approach.
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Post by Fog Door » Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:51 am

There is a non-scientific artistic element to it as well
There is only a non-scientific artistic element to it. Unless you can agree the parameters and scientifically define what sounds the best, only then could you discuss what sounds "better". Of course, we all know what sounds better to us personally.
there are so many factors that affect the sound of a flute that the base material makes no difference
Great post Pelsea, I totally agree. BUT if some degree of smoke/mirrors/snake oil related to a particular instrument affects our playing or creation process because we perceive it to sound better (even if that perception is false) then despite having no "real" or measurable sonic differences to another comparable instrument, the difference in the final output can then become "real" and measurable, even though the underlying cause is only psychological human factors. If that makes any sense? :lol:

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Post by Peake » Wed Aug 28, 2019 10:05 pm

Hi guysh whatcha doin'
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