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Why could some digital hardware synths sound better than software?
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #91
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by audioconsult ➑️
which ones do sound crappy? cant recall one..
Oh, there are plenty of them. Roland SH-32, 201 and Gaia come to mind as lackluster at best, crappy at worst. The Yamaha AN200 I had for a week sounded horrible... must have been the converters. I never thought the Roland V-Synth's sound was very good, but that's more a matter of taste. Korg's MS2000 wasn't very good and the Alesis Ion aliases all over the place on high notes. I'd use a good VST over any of the synths I just mentioned any day of the week.
Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #92
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maybe it might be partly that digital synths are not always just pure abstract computational devices.
so because you still have electricity running through circuitry you still pick up some of the
inherent instability in the approach and the component hardware.

whereas computation is a sort of pure and abstract space.

The V-Synth uses computer chips too now I believe but they use cosm modelling.
maybe to retain physical properties in the computational domain.

Here's what Roland say about COSM.
COSM: Composite Object Sound Modeling

Once a musical instrument generates sound vibrations, it reaches the human ear through various mediating, objects, each of which significantly affects the sound. The material and configuration of the instrument, the electric/magnetic amplifying system, the air and the reverberation of the room all affect the final sound. Sound modeling, the latest DSP technology, "virtually" reconstructs these objects. Roland's breakthrough Composite Object Sound Modeling (COSM) uses the advantages of multiple modeling methods and succeeds in accurately emulating existing sounds, as well as producing sounds that have never before been created.

I think Roland will be spending time transfering their DSP COSM to a computational system.

I think there's a whole host of reasons why, and many important ones have probably been covered.

here's a good example of how one thing technology wise can sound great and another just very uninteresting.

Faithfull recreation ? I think not.



Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #93
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
after lot of debating on this subject i conclued it come down to the skill of the programers mostly and the da stage . (more colored d/a with old vas and often the favorite ones )
Old 14th September 2012
  #94
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I thought the V-synth had a pretty good rep for sound quality. Some of the patches are semi-famous, no?
Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #95
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer ➑️

The DAC receives data. Where that data comes from doesn't matter. If the DAC makes anything sound better, that's great - but that's the same as putting a smiley EQ curve on your amplifier; you're lying to yourself that the source is more pleasant than it actually is.
yes but some dac stage sound sterile, some sound more organic, some sound 3d, some have no depth,different transients , plenty of different caracteres...from what someone explain me some are designed with a not very steep filter to make the highs sound more pleasant cause of aliasing.
all this may be not possible to fully recreate itb with some extra work.
i did some test and a soft synth with ad /da loop can sound better depending the converters used .
Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #96
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Catabolic ➑️
I thought the V-synth had a pretty good rep for sound quality. Some of the patches are semi-famous, no?
not wanting to derail onto a V-Synth, If I listened only to presets on it, I'd probably
have a similar feeling to zerocrossing. it takes a long time to balance the elements in it imo
to really make the thing shine. but you can do it and when you do, it's one of those
'this I think is the synth I want to perfect in depth' moments.

imo paying close attention to subtle pitch invariants is what makes a sound shine best.
This synth has a (lot) of ways to cope with that, whereas most synths don't.

gain staging among the elements is another. it's little weak in some areas though. but not many.
Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #97
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Muser ➑️
maybe it might be partly that digital synths are not always just pure abstract computational devices.
so because you still have electricity running through circuitry you still pick up some of the
inherent instability in the approach and the component hardware.

whereas computation is a sort of pure and abstract space.
There is allways, as in "every single time", perfectly rational technical explanation why some synth/FX (digital, analog, whatever) sound different to some other synth/FX. But, who gives a damn 'bout such explanations.
Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #98
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by recnsci ➑️
There is allways, as in "every single time", perfectly rational technical explanation why some synth/FX (digital, analog, whatever) sound different to some other synth/FX. But, who gives a damn 'bout such explanations.
probably not many people do. but that's ok by me.
Old 14th September 2012
  #99
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HHaynes's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by recnsci ➑️
There is allways, as in "every single time", perfectly rational technical explanation why some synth/FX (digital, analog, whatever) sound different to some other synth/FX. But, who gives a damn 'bout such explanations.
Well - I for one think it's useful - as long as the explanations people offer are reflective of reality. There's *always* a reason, but that reason is not always evident in people's opinions. :-)

I think that it is also useful in a broader context, because knowing some of these details can help musicians in steering 'into' the sweet spot of an instrument (and away from the 'bad neighborhoods' to mix a metaphor). It can also be helpful for the musician to distinguish what they're actually hearing versus "confirmation bias" and other imagined effects.

But the musician doesn't think about this directly while performing (at least I hope not) - so to that end - this is all about the finer things that may 'inform the performance/recording' during prep/rehearsal - or perhaps to influence buying/budgeting decisions. In that regard these detailed discussions can be very important depending on the perspective the musician is bringing to the virtual conversation.

Just sayin'
:-)
Old 14th September 2012 | Show parent
  #100
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🎧 10 years
I don't buy the programming argument.

I have Omnisphere and a JV1080 sitting in front of me. Both programmed by the same dude, and broadly similar sound palettes.

I love Omnisphere a lot, but my 1080 sounds better. I don't mean different, I mean better.

The VST plugins sound flat to me. The hardware sounds like an expanded space before me, it has depth.

Each has it's merits, I would dearly love to be able to open up 15 instances of a fully tweakable 1080 in a project, but I can't!
Old 14th September 2012
  #101
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🎧 10 years
I was just thinking about Eric Persing's history with Roland. I'm surprised that anyone would call out the 1080 as a better-sounding entity. Omnisphere gets a LOT of things right, both in sound generation *and* in capturing/interpreting gesture. I'm not trying to stir the pot. I don't own/use either in my studio, but I was recently acquainted to Omnisphere at a friend's studio and was sincerely impressed. I didn't have a 1080 for a side-by-side, though.
Old 15th September 2012 | Show parent
  #102
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🎧 10 years
I think one of the phenomena people are always referring to is the sound (character) of this, that or the other instrument. probably one of the reasons someone might like a 1080 reproducing a sample, over a theoretically perfect replay system is, the problem with something theoretically perfect is it has no comparison in the real world. if something is exactly the same every time and is also high fidelity, the ear tends to get tired of it. because your brain is used to participating in filling in information which is variable and indeterminate. so your brain starts trying to change something that's perfect every time and it fails and gets tired.

some people want perfect reproduction and fidelity and some people want these indeterminate properties of instruments. I sort of fall in the latter camp. I think plug-ins are getting better and some were always just good anyhow. I guess it might be a little like the history of the recording studio as an instrument. some devices will turn out to be best for certain things and the others will mainly disappear.
Old 15th September 2012 | Show parent
  #103
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Some years back my live setup was a Yamaha DX7 and a Moog Source. the Moog did bass duties. I played them through, of all things, a Music Man amplifier. The Moog sounded excellent through that amp. Then I added a Roland Super Jupiter and a digital delay the name of which I can't recall.

Because of the additional sound module I switched to a larger system with a small mixer, Crown power amp and Electrovoice full range speakers.

Pads and keyboard sounds were cleaner and louder with better balance through the bigger system but the Moog, particularly on bass sounds, never ever sounded as good through the big system as it did through that overpowered guitar amp.

It was just a matter of taste but for many of the sounds I used, overall, the guitar amp sounded better because it added a sort of harmonic distortion that let the electronic instruments come to life.

I suspect this is similar to what is going on for the OP. What the electronics of the hardware adds is what makes the sound seem so much better.
Old 15th September 2012 | Show parent
  #104
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🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by HHaynes ➑️
I was just thinking about Eric Persing's history with Roland. I'm surprised that anyone would call out the 1080 as a better-sounding entity. Omnisphere gets a LOT of things right, both in sound generation *and* in capturing/interpreting gesture. I'm not trying to stir the pot. I don't own/use either in my studio, but I was recently acquainted to Omnisphere at a friend's studio and was sincerely impressed. I didn't have a 1080 for a side-by-side, though.

Don't get me wrong, I think that Omnisphere is outstanding and I use it all the time. I just know that to my ears there is something special about the character of the 1080 (whatever that may be) that has nothing to do with programming skill (hence me choosing these examples) and probably all to do with signal path.

This was something I did when I bought the 1080 a few months back after 15 years without one. Just played live into Cubase and then run through some artsacoustic reverb. It's the depth and fiziness that Omnisphere doesn't seem to capture, despite being fantastic in it's own right. Download it for non soundcloud destroyed goodness. And yes, it's probably subjective

Old 15th September 2012 | Show parent
  #105
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by living sounds ➑️
Here's a quick demo with no processing whatsoever of the ancient Linux port "ZynaddsubFX". Every bit as big and crisp sounding as digital hardware synths. Freeware, too. I don't hear this kind of quality in most plugins.

Has anyone saved the OSX version of this plugin when it was still availible, by any chance?
I've used Linux for a while. Primarily due to me getting sick of all the crap sounding in the box sounds and inefficiency of other operating systems and bloated DAWs (that's not so bad now though - maybe purely due to CPU speed increases) so I went back to hardware a lot and Linux served me fine. Mostly analog hardware though. However, I still have an EMU Ultra sampler and I have a Kurz PC3x which are obviously digital. Sounds from these sound better than anything coming from inside the box. Why, I don't really know.

I began to feel restricted in Linux so moved back to OSX running Logic. It's just quicker for MIDI etc. I recently went through all the instruments in Logic. Some are pretty good for plugins. I think maybe Sculpture is most useful. One thing remains though, nothing sounds like ZynAddSubFX. That is the best sounding software synth. I had Absynth at one stage. That's a joke compared to Zyn so why does this synth sound so good? It has some flaws for sure. Filters still have some shortfalls but it's the only soft synth I really like. So Zyn is still on my Linux box and might get used.
Old 15th September 2012
  #106
Gear Addict
 
🎧 15 years
So what I'm saying is that I think dedicated digital hardware sounds better than stuff from inside a desktop computer but ZynAddSubFX appears to buck that to some extent. That says to me that Zyn is simply a much better coded synth. How this could be from a free piece of ancient software (it hasn't changed that dramatically for ages) I really don't know.
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #107
Gear Addict
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by efflux ➑️
So what I'm saying is that I think dedicated digital hardware sounds better than stuff from inside a desktop computer but ZynAddSubFX appears to buck that to some extent. That says to me that Zyn is simply a much better coded synth. How this could be from a free piece of ancient software (it hasn't changed that dramatically for ages) I really don't know.
Don't know either. Paul Nasca coded ZynAddSubFx along with Paul Stretch.

2010 interview with Paul Nasca
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #108
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Quick question for the people that think Hardware definitely sounds better:

Are you mainly referring to presets or to sounds, that you build from scratch?

The main reason for this question: Some VSTs have a very mixed bag of presets or cater to some specific style. Some of the excellent sounding devices simply have great sound programming going on.

Most obvious example would probably be some of the PC3 patches, but some Roland and some newer Yamaha presets are also awesome.

I know, it sounds strange, but from just playing presets I was not really impressed with the FM8 and Massive. But when tweaked they really shine.

Even when building from scratch, the default wiring can strongly influence the sound. The PC3 or the Fs1r for example basically shove velocity and key scaling for every parameter in your face. In a lot of software this is rather well hidden, and can sometimes be only applied to Amplitude and Filter Cutoff.

There is a fair chance, that some hardware uses "hidden parameters". E.g. some romplers seem to have some settings stored with their samples, that can for example randomize startphase or other parameters.

Just random thoughts...
Old 16th September 2012 | Show parent
  #109
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cresshead's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by living sounds ➑️
That Diva demo sounds horrible to my ears.
yeh music is subjective but that DIVA demo was like listening to a wall of sound smashing at your ear drums....not nice imo.

regarding vst plugins verses hardware digital...i have to mostly agree..not sure why but the Largo doesn't sound as nice as the Blofeld for example..and they are apparently the same synth engine ..one in a metal box on a circuit board with some chips and the other is software.
Old 25th September 2012
  #110
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Digital synths are hybrids, aren't they? Only software is purely "digital" and even then, it depends on your out of the box gear to create sound. The electronic portions of digital synths in large part create the ultimate sound quality even if it is the program that creates the information that is converted into analogue signals.

I am no engineer but it is very obvious that the architecture of digital synths varies quite a bit (no pun intended) from the power supply that powers the processor and circuitry to the op-amps that amplify the signal and so forth and so on.

There is more to a digital synth than software.
Old 25th September 2012
  #111
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convenience is the devil that doesnt exist
Old 19th October 2012 | Show parent
  #112
Gear Head
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Softsynths are just different. Dont expect them to sound the same as hardware synths. It was boring if everything sounded the same so just use whatever works and make good music. If you dont like the colour of your softsynths even though you have high end converters, my suggestion is to get a dedicated macbook or imac with a good quality interface like the duet2 and use it as a module. It opened up the world of softsynths to me. I think it sounds better and I like the workflow better, now that I can use logic for vi's and pt for the arrangement. It must have sth to do with the TRS output and maybe the gainstaging but I just want to create and not think all day long why is this and why is that. If you got the dollar get a good pre for tracking out your logic sound module and have fun....
Old 19th October 2012
  #113
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🎧 5 years
It's kind of amusing; we have a person who thinks the Korg Wavestation hardware is superior, and another who swears on the VST. People who insist the DX7 is better than FM7/8 which I personally have my doubts about. Those who love Diva and others who believe it highly overrated.


I know little about the nuts and bolts (pun initially unintended ,but every d*khead who says that draws attention to their stupid pun makes it intentional) this topic, but I see the attraction of hardware.
I wonder if certain people who claim plug-ins don't sound as good as hardware may in fact be liking the earlier AD/DA converters on older digital synths with the associated lower resolution output, and the grunge and aliasing that may come with it.

I also wonder if some of the 'love' people have for the output of digital hardware synths may in fact be psycho-somatic and tied in with the physical interaction one has with the instrument (also the superior sum of money spent on hardware) and the fact that it is a unified whole, rather than software, computer, and midi controller.

When I use a midi controller there's a level of abstraction one doesn't get on hardware (IMO).
If using my Prodyssey or JP8080 I don't have to think very much, and personally I prefer pressing buttons and turning knobs/sliders than clicking the mouse. If I control DIVA with either of these knobby synths, no matter if I've mapped it well, it's not the same experience as playing the software wrapped in its hardware shell. I think both of these hardware synths have been very well designed, and even though the JP8080 has a slightly weird midi spec and the Prodyssey a lower gain output, I find them very easy to use and integrate into my setup, as opposed to frigging around with trying to match and map the complexities of a soft synth into a decent template I can understand (Prodyssey and JP are very simple synths as well).

I don't know why, but I am finding the Nord Modular to be an amazingly well constructed instrument which feels a whole lot more intuitive, than Reaktor (which admittedly I haven't even looked at this for about 7 years). Even though I am mapping the Nord to an external controller, to me it feels 'real' whereas I remember Reaktor being painful yo use.

A lot of people seem to get hung up on what are essentially subjective preferences. I've stated is my own personal opinion on hardware and some may agree or disagree with me. This doesn't make a hardware DX7 better or worse than FM 7/8, but simply an opinion. I swear that my Nord Modular sounds very analogue sometimes but no doubt there's someone who thinks it digital crap. I quite like the sound of the much maligned JP8080. Unlike fidelity, which can be measured, something sounding 'better' can often be totally subjective with regards to software on a computer vs software wrapped in a hardware body.
Old 21st October 2012
  #114
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Guys... you have no idea how much a DAW CPU is busy doing other thing, no idea how much a computer CPU has to do other then working with music

I've read a post from a guy from Sound Toys who was in Eventide, he was answering to another guy here in GS who was asking why there wasn't a plug in like his favorite Eventide processor (I don't remember the name) and the answer from the Sound Toys guy was simple as that: there's not enough CPU power in a computer.................

(think about building a computer with all the newest stuff and programming an OS in DOS style, and you'll partially understand what I mean)

That's the main reason, you can hear from every softsynth plug in, when you rise the release time and or the polyphony number, the sound becomes blurred, undefined, collapsed, 2D, weak and so on and so on... like the Discovery, is a great synth, I love it, you can have 4 synths in one... put oversampling and HQ sat on and try to use all 4 parts, using polyphonic sounds and a medium to long release time..... you'll see ghosts

Plus there is the DAC thing, which isn't important for its quality, surely any mid/high interface has better DAC and I have a LIO, so I know for sure my converter are better then the one in the Nord Rack 2x, still the Nord Rack and the Discovery aren't comparable in sound quality/performance, even though the Discovery is more flexible and is probably more aggressive and/or fun on certain things

The DAC thing is important because the DAC in a synth is tuned to work great for that synth, it is surely not well suited for reproducing music, just that synth and it is tuned around it, so the DAC is used for making the synth sound and for reproducing in the best way every nuances of the synth

These are two main factors.

Another thing about the CPU is that the CPU in your DAW doing million of things at time, isn't well suited for real time operations, while the CPU on a synth, but probably you/we don't properly understand what this means.

Every small delay in a calculation, while isn't a problem for most of the things you do with a computer, is a big problem when a computer is trying to generate and reproduce a sound

That's because every small delay creates phase problems in the audio, jittering and stuff, creating a blurriness in the sound and all the problems I named before, which are, in the end, perceived by our ears as 2D sounding, foggy, weak, not thick, not solid, and so on.
Old 25th October 2012 | Show parent
  #115
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🎧 5 years
I am not waiting to hear anything as fantastic as Solaris and have as complicated signal path in my PC.
Old 25th October 2012 | Show parent
  #116
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Astralform's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
ZynaddsubFX OSX

Quote:
Originally Posted by Elvis Gotta Gun ➑️
I spent ages hunting for an OS X version. No luck though.

There's something special about ZynaddsubFX for sure. Sad that it's not available.
ZynAddSubFX for Mac OS X
Old 27th October 2012 | Show parent
  #117
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Muser's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Astralform ➑️
10.3 or 10.4 ?
Old 26th November 2013
  #118
Here for the gear
 
🎧 5 years
hey guys, there is one question that i have:

i mean considering this "MIPS"-"CPU"thing, does that truth apply to Romplers as well?looking at, you know, midikeys+samples ITB in the back of my head,
are these romplers e.g. a roland d-50 the same,like "more focussed" etc. because of the hardware working more, let's say, efficiently?

thanx a lot
Old 26th November 2013 | Show parent
  #119
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🎧 10 years
Repeating myself:

Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer ➑️
The DAC receives data. Where that data comes from doesn't matter. If the DAC makes anything sound better, that's great - but that's the same as putting a smiley EQ curve on your amplifier; you're lying to yourself that the source is more pleasant than it actually is.
The D50 was available as a software emulation on the V-Synth. The fact that the outputs were cleaner was explicitly acknowledged since you have the option of emulating the D50's DAC.
Old 26th November 2013 | Show parent
  #120
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer ➑️
Repeating myself:



The D50 was available as a software emulation on the V-Synth. The fact that the outputs were cleaner was explicitly acknowledged since you have the option of emulating the D50's DAC.
Im not sure I follow don't different EQs sound different? Better worse, etc. even with the same settings?

Im not sure how that goes to lying, if it sounds better it sounds better. Like my modular sounds like a nintendo when I bypass the filter, but so.
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