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Closely Emulating Vintage & True Analogs w/ Common VAs/VSTs?


vox542

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Made a list of knobby vintage synths ranging from a cheap Realistic Concertmate MG-1 up to ones like a Jupiter-8 and everything in between like a Roland HS-60 and Korg Delta. Vintage stuff is inspiring to me, but Im only concerned about their sound. Some vintage cons: pricey and less tweakable than modern gear, usually mono, usually have or will have mechanical/electrical problems needing servicing, difficult or impossible to find parts for, and detune.

 

So far I have/am getting:

-Korg X50 for universal ROMpler sounds.

-A couple high-end extensive analog modeling softsynths for the most tweakable and affordable way to make elaborate synth sounds.

-VST effects and drums.

-Roland JP-8000 cause I like the layout and Feedback OSC.

-Novation X Station or Roland Gaia for a battery powered knobby portable, or a simple midi controller to use with a portable laptop instead.

-One other non-vintage synth like a Virus, Nord Lead, Ion, waldorf Q, sh-32, ob12, or Sledge. to call my own and counter-balance the JP8K since one of my fav musicians who got me into synths plays a JP and it feels like mimicry sometimes playing the same board, some of you know what I mean.

 

Can one just set the right PWM, compression, distortion, slightly detune/LFO pitch, lower bit rate, and other tweaks/mastering to capture the sound of vintage gear with what I have to a degree thats undetectable to the most trained human ear? Opinions on vintage sample files or software emulators?

 

I also want a true analogue to have that full aggressive sound people swear by. I played a Prophet 08, Little Phatty, and Mopho in the store with headphones. Ive been playing VAs for years but honestly couldnt hear a difference after stripping down the presets to raw sound. If I noticed anything it was the Moog filter, but I thought I can emulate it with pre-filter distortion. Can I emulate a true analog with the gear I have to where the most trained human ears cant decipher a difference?

 

Im trying to have the full spectrum of sound without spending thousands plus considering the vintage cons, but also dont wanna end up a gear slut sucker with overkill gear.

 

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Some vintage cons: pricey and less tweakable than modern gear, usually mono, usually have or will have mechanical/electrical problems needing servicing, difficult or impossible to find parts for, and detune.

 

You forgot "very heavy." :)

 

 

First of all, welcome to the forum.

 

I can't answer your questions as well as many of the more experienced synth programmers here, however, I would like to recommend a couple of synths not on your list.

 

I really like the Korg Radias. It's a blast to program and offers plenty of knobs to tweak. (Rack module pictured below):

 

http://www.korg.com/uploads/Images/RADIAS-R_634329457466750000.png

 

While it doesn't sound like "vintage analog" out of the box, you can create incredible sounds with it. Plus the arppegiator, mod and step sequencers give you even more options.

 

Also, Casio just re-entered the synth market last month at the NAMM show with this (XW-P1):

 

 

P1000137.jpg

 

Check out their website for more pics and specs.

 

 

 

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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dont wanna end up a gear slut sucker with overkill gear.

 

But you're halfway there already... don't stop now! :D

 

If _you_ can't hear a difference between real analog and VA (as you say above) what difference does it make?

 

What are you trying to achieve musically? From your post, you seem more concerned about the nature of "thing" than what the thing outputs. How do you translate that into meaningful musical expression?

 

If you're happy with what you've got, and you like the sound of it, what does it matter what any gear snobs think?

 

-John

I make software noises.
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well then can anyone offer specific tips on making digital synths sound vintage or analog?

I had the radias in the list with the others i mentioned as a potential VA purchase. I removed it cause it's basically the ms2000 engine that I want to avoid for the same reason i said the JP8K feels like mimicry sometimes-anal right, but to each his own. The casio= not enough knobs for my hardware preferance.

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I had the radias in the list with the others i mentioned as a potential VA purchase. I removed it cause it's basically the ms2000 engine

 

Apparently you don't have much experience with modulation sequencing. The Radias offers 24-voice polyphony compared to the MS2000's mere 4 voices. And that's just the beginning.

 

The casio= not enough knobs for my hardware preferance.

 

Since you have a place for romplers on your list, the Casio XW-P1 would give you those sounds, plus a dedicated lead synth section, step sequencing, and tonewheel emulation.

When an eel hits your eye like a big pizza pie, that's a Moray.
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It looks like the Arturia Origin does a whole lot of stuff. If I needed something to cover a ton of analog ground I would check into that as a one stop solution.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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I'm an analog snob and I wish you good luck trying to make a VA/VST closely emulate a vintage/true analog.

 

Software synths have two achilles heels that I have yet to hear them conquer.

 

A real analog filter still sounds more colorful and alive than a software one. Real filters do not behave in a predictable way that can be abstracted into a digital-friendly mathematical model (and the textbook examples are nowhere close to the real thing), esp when audio domain modulation is applied to the filter cutoff.

 

Vintage analogs used OTAs or crude discrete differential amplifers for VCAs and/or filter feedback control. OTAs are NOT high fidelity components - they are linear within a VERY small signal swing, but when they exceed that range they become nonlinear devices imparting some mild distortion that varies with frequency. This distortion is not easy to abstract into a convenient mathematical model, esp when used in the feedback loop of the already elusive filter model.

 

The early analogs (esp minimoogs and early oberheims) exploited this distortion to their advantage. In fact I performed an experiment routing the pre-filter output of my Voyager into the external input of my minimoog - and I got that vintage high end sheen of the minimoog from the voyager!

 

Even it someone derived mathematical models that emulated the real behavior of analog filters and OTAs, it would require much higher horsepower to deploy it in a computer.

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Even it someone derived mathematical models that emulated the real behavior of analog filters and OTAs, it would require much higher horsepower to deploy it in a computer.

 

Yes. See the thread on u-he Diva

Moe

---

"I keep wanting to like it's sound, but every demo seems to demonstrate that it has the earth-shaking punch and peerless sonics of the Roland Gaia. " - Tusker

http://www.hotrodmotm.com

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In fact I performed an experiment routing the pre-filter output of my Voyager into the external input of my minimoog - and I got that vintage high end sheen of the minimoog from the voyager!

 

Even it someone derived mathematical models that emulated the real behavior of analog filters and OTAs, it would require much higher horsepower to deploy it in a computer.

 

Your post descibes that phenomeon very good.

When I tested the latest uHe Diva beta before it´s release, I compared the audio out/in loopback in the VSTi to the loop back trick w/ the real Minimoog D and that was completely different worlds.

I cannot blame uHe for this because there is absolutely no virtual instrument out there doing that right,- also not Minimax.

For the Minimogue VA update, we recorded my Minimoog D w/ loop-back at different settings and the deveoper tried to code that but passed, that´s why the audio loopback function disappeared in Minimogue VA.

Every minor level change you do somewhere within the Minimoog D audio path changes the behaviour, may it be the OSC level, the Modifiers sustain level, the Audio Input level, the Master Volume level, CV pedals connected to VCF & VCA Inputs or any combination of these.

Using the Emphasis control comes in addition.

Digital is binary and you cannot translate everything into a binary system.

There´s interpolation and oversampling but all affects the resolution only and keeps binary.

Even "randomness" built into the code is periodic after a period of time.

Is much more obvious w/ monophonic sounds because more voices played simultaneously fool the ear much earlier.

 

Doesn´t mean virtual instruments don´t sound good, but digital and analog works different, so it sounds different.

There are a lot of setting on an analogue synth a VSTi can replicate but by far not all.

 

A.C.

 

 

 

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I wonder how many people would pass a blind test between some of the top analogue emulation and the "real" thing. Are there any that have been done?

 

In case of a Minimoog D, you not only recognize it´s sound by the behaviour of the electronics but also from what the spring key contacts do and if the attack and decay levels are set to very short times while the sustain level of the amp envelope is set at 6 or below.

The key contacts behaviour isn´t equal for every key, so you hear ´em unless you set the amp envelope attack time to a slightly higher level.

The human ear is very sensitive on the attack portion of a sound, so this behaviour makes a big impact.

The spring wire contacts smear over the bussbars, a J-wire doesn´t, so there´s also a difference in attack portion sound between real analogue synths w/ the settings mentioned above.

 

The only VSTi I know trying to mimik key click behaviour as close as possible is VB3,- the synths all receive a MIDI note and play the sound from the modelled electronic engine, but not the mechanical behaviour.

 

Well, there are some cool VSTis out there, even freebees, mimiking a polyphonic Roland type analogue chipsynth as also a Obie Xa quite good.

Not necessarily a Jupiter 8,- but the JX / MKS line.

 

I doubt many people pass a blind test because most never owned and played the real things over a longer period of time.

 

A.C.

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'Since you have a place for romplers on your list, the Casio XW-P1 would give you those sounds, plus a dedicated lead synth section, step sequencing, and tonewheel emulation.'

I'll look into that. I looked not much further on the casio than the video ad and breif news flashes and thought it was just a menu diving VA without universal rompler sounds. I know i want the triton x50 more than a motif, roland, or kurzweil, so will be an easy choice.

I'll prolly get an inexpensive analog from my thread about Non Mainstream Knobby Synths or a minibrute/minatuar. I can always sell it.

 

If i remember correct, in like 2002, jupiter 8s were going for like $2,000 and other vintage stuff was way cheaper too?

 

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I doubt many people pass a blind test because most never owned and played the real things over a longer period of time.

 

So you're saying the only people that could (likely) pick the real thing from the digital modeler are people who own/have owned the real thing?

 

IOW, the listeners that consume the music wouldn't know the difference?

 

IOW, the only people that matter wouldn't know the difference?

 

;)

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Can I emulate a true analog with the gear I have to where the most trained human ears cant decipher a difference?

No...

 

:D;)

 

 

Ditto. No contest. I have an advanced Nord Modular. Even with the tricks MC mentioned... (and the Nord does have some soft clipping circuits and feedback loops you can insert pre-filter and at the VCA stage .... you still have to "tune" the soft-clipping to be pleasing at various gain stages and filter settings. However, pleasing is not the same as identical, is it?

 

The more you know, the more aware you are of the differences. VA's and VST's have their rightful place, as do vintage analogs. They are just different seats at the table.

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I doubt many people pass a blind test because most never owned and played the real things over a longer period of time.

 

So you're saying the only people that could (likely) pick the real thing from the digital modeler are people who own/have owned the real thing?

 

IOW, the listeners that consume the music wouldn't know the difference?

 

IOW, the only people that matter wouldn't know the difference?

 

;)

 

It all gets back to what your needs are. Someone like myself needs to to cover a lot of ground with minimal gear.

 

A Moog sounds like a Moog.

 

But the Arturia Origin can sound like an Arp, Moog, CS-80, Jupiter-8, etc.... and layer them at the sametime. Lucky Man on the Arturia still sounds like Lucky Man. You can make your fake Minimoog polyphonic if you want.

 

Swiss Army knives are cool.

 

IMO though nothing compares to the Moog Memorymoog Plus with all 18 oscilators in mono mode. Only Vintage synths I would really like to have is a Moog Memorymoog Plus and a Jupiter 8. 2 of the nine wonders of the mass produced world.

"It doesn't have to be difficult to be cool" - Mitch Towne

 

"A great musician can bring tears to your eyes!!!

So can a auto Mechanic." - Stokes Hunt

 

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So you're saying the only people that could (likely) pick the real thing from the digital modeler are people who own/have owned the real thing?

 

IOW, the listeners that consume the music wouldn't know the difference?

 

It all depends on what you do w/ the real thing AND the emulation.

In fact, it´s a matter of direct comparison of both at specific settings and to have the idea what to test/compare and how.

"same settings" doesn´t mean same position of virtual knobs of the emu vs position of knobs of the hardware.

The scaling is different in every emulation.

 

As a pre-condition, you already have to know what your real thing can do better than a digital emulation and have to have knowledge about weaknesses and strength of technologies in general,- digital vs analogue.

 

The average listener of music won´t recognise the difference IMO,- he is listening to a stereo mix of a lot of signals anyway and there were psycho-acoustic studies about what average listeners recognize 1st when listening to a record,- the voice, the bassdrum and snare and the bass,- in that order,- and the rest is some kind of acoustic soup.

 

Now, here, we´re all musicians and not average listeners, so there´s a difference for sure.

But there´s also the intention to test something in depth or simply using it.

To me, it´s very understandable, a musician probably has no interest in testing and comparing technology from the past to todays technology.

If it sounds good to him and works in his tunes, giving good results,- why looking back ?

 

If I wouldn´t own some of the real things since decades, I´m pretty sure I wouldn´t buy these used and for a lot of money today just to make music.

 

Almost every buyer of my vintage gear was a collector.

None of these was a active musician making their living w/ music and most of them weren´t able to play the synths at all.

 

The main reasons why I don´t sell my Minimoog D and my Oberheim Xpander actually are functionality reasons.

I´m used to these devices and I´m able to operate ´em blind.

The Minimoog D, because I had 3 in the past, was and is my ideal lead instrument and that comes before it´s unique sound.

The Xpander is my prefered analogue poly synth because of it´s modulation abilites and multi mode filters.

Soundwise, it´s not too fat in a mix when combined w/ other synths and monophonic, it does what a Minimoog D cannot do.

 

But a good example is also, I´m using Sonic Projects OPX Pro II VSTi and like it soundwise as well, but miss the haptics when operating software on a computer.

I´m also too lazy creating controller maps for all my VST stuff as long as I don´t have to.

 

Working w/ VST plugins, VAs and hardware analogues clearly demonstrates, they all work in a mix,- but my experience is, in a live situation or in a direct comparison, the hardware cuts thru much better and offers more "flesh" and punch.

 

Most VST/AU virtual instruments as also VA emulation in hardware shells sound only good being combined w/ the internal FX,- the FX are definitely part of the overall sound.

You also have to make ´em louder in a mix than a very good quality analogue synth.

A very good quality analogue synth sounds very good dry, any outboard FX processing being only a addition on demand.

 

Griffinator, your avatar tells me you´re guitarist too.

What do you prefer ?

Your real tube amp and cabinet selection or p.ex. something like NI Guitar Rig (soft amps, FX and cab emulations) on a laptop ?

Please avoid talking about schlep factor.

 

A.C.

 

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by CEB:

 

IMO though nothing compares to the Moog Memorymoog Plus with all 18 oscilators in mono mode. Only Vintage synths I would realy like to have is a Moog Memorymoog Plus and a Jupiter 8. 2 of the nine wonders of the mass produced world.

 

THIS:

 

http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v700/miket156/Oberheim-8Voice.jpg

 

Cheers!

 

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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Yep, that's an Oberheim 8 voice. It was out before Oberheim introduced the OBX series which allowed you to push a button and play.

 

Back in the dark ages, I played a Memory Moog a few times, great synth. Its biggest downfall was the lack of reliability.

 

The above Oberheim was great for studio work, but not all that practical for one night stands. (Yeah and a lot of girls I met on one night stands weren't all that practical in the long run either :cry:) .

 

Oh, about the above Oberheim. It had the biggest, fattest, juicyist, sound I ever heard. Truly a wall shaker. Eons ago, I had a musician buddy that owned one. By the time he was done buying the programming unit for it he had as much money invested in it to buy a new car! :/

 

Cheers,

 

 

Mike T.

Yamaha Motif ES8, Alesis Ion, Prophet 5 Rev 3.2, 1979 Rhodes Mark 1 Suitcase 73 Piano, Arp Odyssey Md III, Roland R-70 Drum Machine, Digitech Vocalist Live Pro. Roland Boss Chorus Ensemble CE-1.

 

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Griffinator, your avatar tells me you´re guitarist too.

What do you prefer ?

Your real tube amp and cabinet selection or p.ex. something like NI Guitar Rig (soft amps, FX and cab emulations) on a laptop ?

Please avoid talking about schlep factor.

 

A.C.

 

Actually, my go-to stage amp doesn't have tubes. :eek:

 

That said, I prefer the flexibility of a Guitar Rig type of device. Why? Because there are certain sounds (for example, the scream of a dimed 100 watt Marshall tube head through a 4x12, mic'ed with a Sennheiser 421) I can't get on stage simply because I'm not in an arena, I'm in a small club, and the sheer volume would be far, far too much. Hence, I'll take 80% of that tone via a digital emulator rather than nothing at all...

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I am also a guitarist and I prefer the modeler for gigging. The reason is I have 4 tube amps and pedal board. They sound a little better than either my Line 6 HD400 or Eleven Rack. But can't sound like each other, they each have a distinctive sound. And there is not enough improvement to make me want to go back to exclusively using them. The amps are nowhere near as versatile. Plus I very rarely ever hear noise or get an electric shock in the mouth anymore! The units have gotten way better too than the old pods, they respond better especially to the guitars volume control. On the models I can go from lush jazz tones to country twang in the amount of time it takes me to hit one foot switch. I don't need to worry about mic placement etc. With the modeling unit I just program it with a laptop, make a dozen or so presets and it just works every time. For years I had wanted to be able to change my sound as easily as any of my romplers. And yes, the shlepp factor. Carrying rigs for both guitar and keys is a big hassle. I plug in to the PA via XLR and have an output to my powered monitor and it sounds great, no fiddling with pedals, cables, mics etc. Plug in and play. It is also a hell of a lot easier to maintain a good stage volume without getting into volume wars, my monitor is a lot more directional than an open back combo amp! I have tried just software and a laptop it feels like a step backwards , maybe used with in conjunction some midi floor board it would be easier.

Boards: Kurzweil SP-6, Roland FA-08, VR-09, DeepMind 12

Modules: Korg Radias, Roland D-05, Bk7-m & Sonic Cell

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Another example of the convenience of modelling for guitar players is the near elimination of the need for multiple guitars on set. My old guitar player explained alternate guitar tunings to me along with capo's and different pickups when he switched to a Roland guitar/synth that eliminated his use of a "coffin" (multiple guitar case). With the Roland he could emulate many different guitars/tunings and amps from a pedal board. Perfect? No. Convenient? Big time.

That Roland was a piece of work with each string given it's own midi channel which allowed for some very interesting processing and control (i.e.lower two strings assigned to upright bass, remaining strings to lap steel on a different tuning). Crazy stuff.

 

"Where worlds collide"

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Another example of the convenience of modelling for guitar players is the near elimination of the need for multiple guitars on set. My old guitar player explained alternate guitar tunings to me along with capo's and different pickups when he switched to a Roland guitar/synth that eliminated his use of a "coffin" (multiple guitar case). With the Roland he could emulate many different guitars/tunings and amps from a pedal board. Perfect? No. Convenient? Big time.

That Roland was a piece of work with each string given it's own midi channel which allowed for some very interesting processing and control (i.e.lower two strings assigned to upright bass, remaining strings to lap steel on a different tuning). Crazy stuff.

 

"Where worlds collide"

 

Well....

 

MIDI guitars are a whole different animal. I've tried the Variax, and it would be pretty cool if it didn't feel so terrible. I've also tried MIDI pickups in standard guitars, and they don't work worth a damn, IMO, particularly when playing legato...

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