Real Analog vs. Virtual Analog

For example: I do not know any analog synth which sounds like my mwXT, unless the mw1 which sounds partially better, just not in all aspects of sounds you would like to create with it, UI is bad without access controller.
There is no analog synth I could swap for my Polymorph, it has its own sound.
With the Supernova2 I can do FM sounds with 8 operators, no analog counterpart for this, its sound is like velvet or silk through a germanium eq, but without it sounds stellar anyway.
And by this way I could list every synth I love to play with, which is any kind of VA.

We should not forget that analog synthesis is also only virtual analog, since its basic determination is to imitate: ocean waves, wind, birds, gunfire, thunder, rain and then to imitate acoustic instruments like violins, horns, brassd, drums, and so on.

Also what Audioharder said is one aspect that gets too often undermined: the OSC part of any given synthesizer, be it VA or not, is the main source or fountain of what we hear, even after filtering, as in subtractive synthesis, its the main role which “makes” the noise/sound we hear.

Few people will have heard many of the classic synths first hand and “raw”, that is straight to a mixer and speakers.

What people are listening to and wanting is often the sounds of classic recordings from the 70s and 80s when the whole recording process was largely analogue. The use of tape, valve mixers, analog FX units and so on all colours the sound.

^ That. I don’t get the whole “I want that synth because I like this sound on this hit song” thing. I lose a lot of hair when I have requests like “Which filter board should I get to get closer to this sound on that track?”. I’m pretty sure artists used such or such synths because this was what they had at hand and knew it well - if you had given them something else they would have made something equally interesting out of it…

Before presets they just turned the knobs until it sounded “okay”.

But people do take a huge interest on what synth was used on which record, then a huge romantic image is built up of how good something sounds.

It’s like looking at some expensive sports car you can’t afford. Who knows, if you sat in one and drove it then it might sound too noisy, be uncomfortable and have a really heavy clutch.

Still not a truely satisfying answer to this point I feel. So what besides personal experience makes the true difference between virtual and actual hardware stuff? Is it the small irragularities, is it the direct voltage input into an actual circuit, is it the more concrete physical resonating of that circuit. Is it the difference between 01 and quantums or maybe like the difference between watching a porn and having sex or even the difference between dreaming and being awake? :wink:

A little thing that should be mentioned is: if its a full analog synth with keys and the user is not a “live-keyboard-player” he might never discover the full range of analogues.

Just by feeding the synth with an arpeggio or a sequence it will be difficult to discover the synthesizer´s full “potential”.

Full analog from vco to output: It´s a different sound, it´s a alive sound, without effects, eq, or anything, it lives and responds to you while playing it, sometimes in strange manners, depending on how you treat its circuitry by adjusting the sound with available knobs, its a homogeneous interaction, given the synth has no flaws.

But to all this “magic sound” there is a problem (for me at least): most of the beast are only monophonic/fake polyphonic playable…

Playing an old Pro5 has nothing to do with playing any of the newer “analog” DSI prophets, they are “analog”, maybe to some extend, but they are dead, not alive, living, breathing like when you are playing on a Pro5, the pro5 is also not a good example of it, an extreme example of what I try to talk about would be: if you ever have any opportunity to play a CS80: do it for at least 30minutes, after this you´ll:
ask the owner to play more, as you are not able to get enough, or, think: I´ll never ever sell this for any price in the world to anyone and/or never question anything else about if it´s possible to emulate analog.

It´s the same as when I´m going to play for 2 hours or more on an improvisation on our Ibach or on the Bechstein grand, the sounds which surround me while playing, no one will be able to recreate this kind of interactive resonance in the next 10 years.
Recording it makes no sense to me as no recording can capture the feeling I feel while playing it and hearing it, I´m somewhere else…

A real polyphonic full analog synthesizer is comparable to this.

It has not much to do how it sounds later in a mix, in a song, it has to do where you can get with the inspiration out of the instrument.

At least regarding the comparison between virtual and hardware it already starts when listening to raw waveforms without any further interaction or processing.


I agree there is nothing quite like a vintage analog poly. They are erratic, imperfect, no one is exactly the same, and they are made to be played. Much of the character comes out when someone is actually triggering the keys rather than running a sequence. However, a sequence allows you to have way more control over “how you treat its circuitry by adjusting the sound with available knobs, its a homogeneous interaction”.

What I’m saying is, “being a keyboard player” does not explain the difference between virtual analog/modeling and real analog. Being a piano player will allow for tons more expressiveness with all keyboards. There is no exponentially positive correlation between playing skill and “real analog sound” when it comes to vintage analogs.

Also, as an owner of vintage analogs and the newer analogs/hybrids: a great synth is a great synth. Period. Calling newer Prophets “dead” is straight up Gearslutz commentary, and simply isn’t true.

I think when it comes to this, there are some distinct esoteric prefereces coming into play. I personally would kill for an old Prophet V, but as soon as you got one in your studio, you will hate yourself, as you cannot do a recording of it, without a large scale of processing…starting with a noisegate with very undecent settings. There is a lot of voodoo going on, when it comes to justify own preferences and trying to push them in the light of reason. :wink:

I’ll also add, as others have in this thread, there is great deal of selection bias when it comes to analog.

I think some of it comes from something musicians tend to do as a reflex from a very young age- record tones and sounds in memory and draw connections between these “echos” of the past and the music they want to make in the future. So if you grew up in the 80s, like me, you were bombarded with the sound of all the classic synths from a very young age (before you even knew what was making the sound). So when hear these classics, we’re hearing our subconscious recall of them over the years.

Plus, it’s analog. Ergo, it is better because it is. =)

@RyanA4: I need to refine my comment about the newer Prophets, In comparison to the Pro 5 and the 10, the newer ones do not sound as much alive, warm, smooth. They are interesting, but their sound does not “touch” me though. I´ve extensively played the 8 and the new 12, there are “artifacts” which I for my liking do not like, not smooth, not silky, not like velvet, probably many like them, thats good and no problem for me. Calling it plain “dead” wasn´t a good choice :wink:
For example, Ray Wilsons DIY Soundlab Mini´s and the Ultimate, sounds heaven to me, pure silk, problem is that they are only monophonic.

I think they’re “Colder” than vintage Analog’s for sure, but they are warm enough to do a lot of analog sounds very well but also are able to do some wild digital stuff. They’re room temperature if an Analog Poly is sitting next to the fire pit. If you want something that sounds like “X” vintage synth, you’re gonna have to pay the steep price (and risk buying one in need of serious repairs).

But would I love to own an OBx, a Matrix 12, a Prophet 5 or T8 or Jupiter or, etc, etc? Of course I would, but it just isn’t a reasonable purchase considering how temperamental and fragile they can be.

This is like photography , people still rave about film being better, but the digital pictures to me have the convenience that we all like nowadays , Iused to wonder why musicians all went to the digi synths in the mid late 80s, now that ive started using the old gear I know, when it works , its fantastic , but the problems of playing one live and worrying about performance and reliability is more important. ( Not for me though, Im just a noodler who likes to tweak stuff, but Im getting annoyed at always fixing gear :P)

Kawai K3 Single Cycle Waveforms:

@toddADSR: Thanks for sharing those; my DSS-1 and EPS thank you. :slight_smile:

Since they are all “normalized” the jarring difference in amplitude is gone. That is one major improvement. Now to run them through some filters and such to make a nice wavetable.

You wouldn’t happen to know of any other great collections of single cycles, would you?

I have a massive collection of single cycle waveforms. I’ll start a new thread and upload them asap.

A while ago we talked about the Adventure Kid Waveform Pack (AKWP) and Olivier even tweaked it for usage with the Shruthi. You should download that in some form and have a go at it. I like to feed parts of it into the NNxt of Reason or my Prophet VS when it rains.

@toddADSR: Sounds like a great topic. I wonder how many people actually know how powerful a single cycle can be in the right synthesizer/sampler?

@Jojjelito: I am almost entirely certain that is the first thing you get when searching for “Single Cycle Waves”. It has been around for a long while. I didn’t know that Oliver tweaked them though. I will have to look into that. I still have problems making proper sample-length wavetables for my Shiruthi. :frowning:

the correct term is “franks VS”, you always get this wrong…

@fcd72: Why do you always make me feel like Poland before that Austrian guy rolled in? You can have the VS if and when I croak from natural causes :stuck_out_tongue: