Jump to content


Please note: You can easily log in to MPN using your Facebook account!

Synthesizer Classification


Recommended Posts

OK, being the "I need to organize it" person that I am, is there a classification system for synthesizers other than by synthesis method (i.e. subtractive, FM, etc.)?

 

And before we get into "well, what do you mean by 'synthesizer'?", I mean analog and digital hardware keyboards that produce sound by methods other than sample-playback, i.e. no ROMplers.

 

Also, would you classify tonewheel and/or transistor organs as synthesizers, since they do generate tones electronically? Why or why not?

Link to comment
Share on other sites



  • Replies 17
  • Created
  • Last Reply
OK, being the "I need to organize it" person that I am, is there a classification system for synthesizers other than by synthesis method (i.e. subtractive, FM, etc.)?

 

I don't know that you could derive a single classification method, but you could use a number of categories to group and sort by.

 

For example:

 

* Analog vs. Digital

* Monophonic vs. Polyphonic

* Monotimbral vs. Multitimbral

* CV vs. MIDI

* Sliders (ARP, Roland) vs. Knobs (Moog, SCI, etc)

* Red vs. Not Red ;)

* Closed vs. Modular

 

To include tonewheels, you could add:

 

* Electronic vs. Electromechanical

 

For transistor organs, the choice could be:

 

* Cheesy vs. Somewhat Cool ;)

 

:cool:

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

So, you're looking for wavetable, vector, granular, etc...that kind of thing? :idea:

 

...and if you're looking for vector/wavetable does Wavestation count since it uses wave ROM and is therefore technically a ROMpler? If so, what about the Prophet VS? Sure, they're small samples, but they're still samples....same with Evolver synths. :confused:

 

Slippery slope... ;)

 

dB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Isn't this a bit like trying to classify different styles of music?

 

Is it "new wave" or "post-punk"?

 

Is it "pop" or "rock"?

 

Is it "metal" or "thrash"?

 

Ultimately, the classifications don't matter if you like the sound, right? As go musical styles, so go synths (IMO), especially given the slippery slope identified by dB....

 

Noah

Link to comment
Share on other sites

is there a classification system for synthesizers other than by synthesis method (i.e. subtractive, FM, etc.)?

 

That information is provided by your government on a "need to know" basis only. Further questions in this regard will force a series of phone calls you'll wish were never made. :evil:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

is there a classification system for synthesizers other than by synthesis method (i.e. subtractive, FM, etc.)?

 

That information is provided by your government on a "need to know" basis only. Further questions in this regard will force a series of phone calls you'll wish were never made. :evil:

 

Thank you, Markyboard, for not taking this so seriously... ;):thu:

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I hear ya Steve, and as the English would say because I lived there, Here, Here!

You, or some one could write a book just about this topic, it is way too big don't ya think?

I used to get told that my Prophet was a piano and organ and string machine not a synth and my Mini Moog and Voyager were synths. I didn't care as long as they made the sound I wanted and they never let me down, just wish I hadn't sold them, I miss them dearly. My wife use to think I was a bit nuts.

Such is life.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

For me an important difference in analogs is

 

True Analog vs. DCO

Oh, my favorite... :rolleyes:;)

 

Steve Fortner said it really well - if the analog light bulb on your front porch is turned on by a digital timer or by an analog one, does it have any effect on the quality of light put out by the bulb? :D

 

dB

Link to comment
Share on other sites

If it says "Minimoog" on it, it's a synthesizer. If not, it's an imitator... :evil::freak::snax:

 

><>

Steve

 

Ha ha - a bit radical, but I tend to agree... I would add "Modular Moog", however. :D

And um, what about "Minimoog Voyager?!" I'm not sure... :D :D

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Ha ha - a bit radical, but I tend to agree... I would add "Modular Moog", however. :D

And um, what about "Minimoog Voyager?!" I'm not sure... :D :D

 

 

Definitely yes to the Minimoog Voyager! :thu: It was designed by Bob, and it picked up on where the original Minimoog left off and actually expanded on it. The modular also qualifies, but it was the Mini that really got the ball rolling and set the standard for what a synth should be. Hence my tongue-in-cheek comment about all the others being imitators. I'm really not that radical! :D

 

><>

Steve

><>

Steve

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Funny...in the first electronic music lab I studied in we had a Moog System III and a Minimoog. We all considered the Mini a toy.

 

k.

 

9 Moog things, 3 Roland things, 2 Hammond things and a computer with stuff on it

 

 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

OK, being the "I need to organize it" person that I am, is there a classification system for synthesizers other than by synthesis method (i.e. subtractive, FM, etc.)?

Why? They're either modules or keyboards, and in a lot of cases assembly code running on DSPs. Synthesis is a lot of times exactly what makes the difference. The older Waldorf synths used Motorola DSPs, but one's a VA and the other's wavetable.

 

And before we get into "well, what do you mean by 'synthesizer'?", I mean analog and digital hardware keyboards that produce sound by methods other than sample-playback, i.e. no ROMplers.

Yet wavetable synths use samplers. The Ensoniq transwave synths (ESQ, SQ, etc.) use short single-cycle samples through analog filters, and so do the Korg DW-series synths. Nobody'd call them -not- synthesizers; the analog filter doesn't matter a bit.

 

The romplers I don't call synths are arranger keyboards that do not allow you to get within 10-mile range of editing anything more than effects. Anything else is for all intents and purposes a synthesizer; it just has a gimped user interface. Though most of the sample-playback machines have more in common with a 4-layer single-oscillator synthesizer with multimode filters.

 

Also, would you classify tonewheel and/or transistor organs as synthesizers, since they do generate tones electronically? Why or why not?

Tonewheels are electromechanical. I don't put transistor organs in the category because they too restrict editing for the most part.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Sven got a great start, but, as pointed out by Rabid, he missed "digitally controlled analog", and also "knob/slider" control vs. digital one-parameter-at-a-time control layout. There are also a number of different kinds of signal-path digital/analog hybrids. But that's all about the technology.

 

I agree with Yoozer that ROMplers can be synthesizers. Many ROMplers have a full set of subtractive synthesis tools in addition to the sample playback; most *have* them but don't give user access -- that's the only way to make a sample set with only a few samples per note the least bit playable. So I agree with Yoozer that I'd call them "synths" if they give access, and especially if they either also have oscillators or else have a good set of wavetable samples.

 

My trusty old MR-76 is an odd case in this classification. It has a full set of analog-equivalents (done using DSP, of course), even including ring modulation -- in addition to (IIRC) 4MB of ROM sample memory very well utilized. The user has full access to all parameters, but only when using Chicken Systems's program on a computer via MIDI -- and for some damn reason this software never worked with my particular unit (probably needs a program ROM upgrade it's never going to get). So, by design it's capable of being a 'synth', but practically speaking it's not: it's a ROMpler.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I find it hard to classify without using technology as a classification, because specific technologies inherently produce a certain type of sound. I would break the categories into:

 

Synthesis Method (i.e. Additive, Subtractive, Wave Table, Sample Playback, etc.)

Build Technology (i.e. Analog, Digital, electromechanical, etc.)

User Interface (Sliders, knobs, menus, etc)

 

I think that comination ought to cover it.

Dan

 

Acoustic/Electric stringed instruments ranging from 4 to 230 strings, hammered, picked, fingered, slapped, and plucked. Analog and Digital Electronic instruments, reeds, and throat/mouth.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...