Quantcast
What is it that defines analog? - Gearspace.com
The No.1 Website for Pro Audio
What is it that defines analog?
Old 11th September 2012
  #1
Lives for gear
 
metrosonus's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
What is it that defines analog?

assuming that we have a 100% brand new analog synth, out of the box, pristine caps, opamps, clean outputs and sliders, what is it, to you, about the sound the makes it analog?

To me, it depends on the synth, but I think analog sounds more unique in the higher frequencies and the low ones.

I also think SSMs and CEMs are more telling than strict discrete analog.
Old 11th September 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
More weight; heavier sound. It just sounds heavier and thicker, and not just by a little bit.
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #3
Lives for gear
 
atma's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
it sounds organic and nuanced with slight instability and unpredictability. the sound seems like it's a physical object that exists in 3dimensional space.
Old 12th September 2012
  #4
Lives for gear
 
Headz51230's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Attitude, bite, lo-fi
Old 12th September 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 
bitleyTM's Avatar
No such thing as a bargain price!
Old 12th September 2012
  #6
Lives for gear
 
MrTechno's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Ahh here we go again.
LOL
Old 12th September 2012
  #7
Lives for gear
 
laikenf's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Envelopes and filters; to me that's where the line is drawn, some would argue that the oscillators (and how they are generated) are more important, and it's debatable; but IMHO since envelopes and filters are the real key components in sound sculpting on subtractive synths, they are the ones responsible for that analog sound at the end of the signal path.
Old 12th September 2012
  #8
Jet
Gear Maniac
 
Jet's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
no aliasing
rich saturation
subtle modulations that are hard to imitate

These difference are audible here. The Ion has a tinnier high end, less midrange saturation, and less midrange variation.

Old 12th September 2012
  #9
Lives for gear
 
Teknobeam's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Analog is like a wooden roller coaster. But seriously, the drifty nuances between oscillators and subtle variations that can happen when things become more than zero's and one's.
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #10
Lives for gear
 
Westlaker's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by atma ➡️
the sound seems like it's a physical object that exists in 3dimensional space.
Bingo. For me, that really captures the essence of it. I love digital (does a million things that analog could never do), and am not an analog purist by any means, but to me digital always sounds 2D, while analog can sound 3D.

I also agree with Monsieur R: the difference ain't subtle. My first experience with analog was with the Mopho, and within 5 seconds of playing I had an ear-to-ear grin on my face. I couldn't believe what I was hearing, and decided right there and then that the whole analog craze was not (just) hype...
Old 12th September 2012
  #11
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Analog synthesis is a method by which sounds are generated from steam engines connected to left-over coal mines, forcing the air through old tunnels at varying speeds. Different waveforms are created by extrusions layered in different configurations within these tunnels, and envelopes are generated by the new cardboard factory built in Broadmeadows.

Digital in turn is created in a not dissimilar process except they are using hyper-robots from the 4th dimension forcing plasma beams through wormholes. Waveforms are created through, well, the different frequencies of the plasma beams, and envelopes are redundant as they use email.
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #12
ozy
Lives for gear
 
ozy's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrTechno ➡️
Ahh here we go again.
LOL
+1.

Starting from a wrong premise and bad definitions,

going on for weeks amont rantings and ravings.

Mistaking "subtractive synthesis" for "analogue",

talking about "analogue synthesis" when there are just "analogue synthesizers",

trading names and swears about "hot and cold"...

generalizing from brands to whole technologies and back...


Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #13
ozy
Lives for gear
 
ozy's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by CfNorENa ➡️
to me digital always sounds 2D, while analog can sound 3D.
go figure.

I mistakenly thought that, just by needing to develop in time, music was 4-dimensional by definition.
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #14
Lives for gear
 
nebelfrau's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by cuckoo.old ➡️
Analog synthesis is a method by which sounds are generated from steam engines connected to left-over coal mines, forcing the air through old tunnels at varying speeds. Different waveforms are created by extrusions layered in different configurations within these tunnels, and envelopes are generated by the new cardboard factory built in Broadmeadows.

Digital in turn is created in a not dissimilar process except they are using hyper-robots from the 4th dimension forcing plasma beams through wormholes. Waveforms are created through, well, the different frequencies of the plasma beams, and envelopes are redundant as they use email.
[/THREAD]
Old 12th September 2012
  #15
Lives for gear
 
kpsiegel's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Well before this thread dissolves too badly I just wanted to point you to a few sound files I put together with my Waldorf Q+ a little while ago that show what happens when you use an identical architecture but just change out analog filters for digital ones.

The beauty of the Q+ is it has 16 analog LP filters in addition to the digital LP filters. The only difference between the sound sets is the use of the Q+ analog vs Q+ digital filtering. All other parameters and midi are the same.

Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #16
Moderator
 
golden beers's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
here's a draft from my 'still being built' website. seems like a good time to post it for some feedback. Any inaccuracies in what i'm saying below, please point them out!


Why Analogue?

The short answer is, because for many types of applications it simply sounds allot better. A subjective opinion, but one shared by the overwhelming majority who have had first-hand experience in this field.

The long answer is a very long answer and you could write a Ph. D on the physics of what happens to voltage in a simple analogue circuit. For a very basic explanation, we have to get into how a synthesiser works a little to express why in real terms analogue synthesis is worthwhile alternative to digital synthesis. Here’s just 4 well known differences between analogue and digital synthesisers.

1) Components with inconsistent or changing values.
This is the most popular answer given by the general consensus in electronic music as to why analogue synths sound like they do. It’s very true but only a small part of the story.

The ‘inconsistent component values’ part really doesn’t come into the answer until you consider a polyphonic synthesiser which uses more than one ‘voice’ when creating a sound. Even then the differences between voices is more down to calibration and the nature of free running oscillators than small differences in component values.
Say you have a polyphonic synthesiser which can play a three note chord, you can think of that as a box with 3 monophonic synthesisers inside, all synchronised with each other with the same settings, one for each note of polyphony, these are called voices. Now consider what those voices sound like relative to each other with slightly different component values, they each create a very slightly different sound. So each consecutive note played will have a different quality, an analogy would be if you played a guitar where each string is made of a slightly different material. Now imagine those 3 voices stacked on top of each other, playing the same note, in unison. You will get a richer, more complex sound than if you have 3 voices of exactly the same sound.

The changing values part of this section is about something called drift. Drift happens because of heat, when a component warms up, its resistance changes, so if you take an oscillator circuit (a raw waveform generator) as an example, as time goes by, its pitch will change a little. Again this means that the pitch (and other values) of voices in a polyphonic synth will not be exactly the same.

2) Free running oscillators
Most analogue synths have free running oscillators. As soon as you switch a synthesiser on, oscillators start doing their thing; generating a wave form. You can’t hear that wave form or its effect on the modulation path until you press a key, which acts like a switch or gate that lets the sound come out. If for example that oscillator has been making a triangle wave, the position of where that first peak of the triangle is when you press a key is arbitrary. The wave will be in an undefined position in time. So next time you press that same key the wave will probably be in a different position, the peak of that first triangle may be a little later for example. So again it’s another uncontrolled, subtle variation in the sound you hear each time you press a key, or in each voice in a unison stack.

These first 2 reasons for ‘why analogue’ relate to what people refer to as a sound being organic. It’s something that you can also achieve, to a large extent, with careful programming of digital synthesisers, but with analogue, you don’t need to spend that time and effort trying to make the sound Alive and Organic, because it starts out that way, by default.


3) Voltage Controlled Amplifier (VCA)
The VCA is the part of the signal chain within an analogue synth that actually spits out the audio. It’s overlooked and under-rated in what it does to the sound of a synthesiser. It opens and closes over time governed by another circuit called an envelope, typically the envelope is controllable through Attack, Decay, Sustain and Release (ADSR) parameters. What’s interesting about this on an analogue synthesiser is that it makes the transition between these ADSR states with smooth parabolic changes rather than constant value changes (curves rather than straight lines). The effect of the VCA can add subtle (and not so subtle) harmonics (sometimes referred to as warmth) to a sound. It’s an analogue circuit among many that cannot at this time be accurately emulated 100% by software in real-time and a Major difference, not between analogue and digital, but certainly between software and hardware.

This adding of harmonics can be heard most clearly on monophonic synthesisers because the audio signal is allowed to be very high compared to the available headroom of the system. This for example, is a huge part of what I think makes the classic minimoog synth sound so incredible; the saturation effects of the amplification circuit.

4) Modulation
This is a huge stumbling block for anyone wishing to model an analogue system in software. Calculating the result of a modulation will often produce unpleasing audio artefacts relating to interpolation, called aliasing, a major problem with virtual analogue synthesis.

Also things get tricky when you try and work out the result of a modulator being modulated by multiple modulators or the result of a feedback modulation. Not so much of a problem in the digital realm per se, UNTIL you start trying to exactly model what voltage does in a real circuit. There it becomes akin to figuring out weather systems. Something super computers can handle. But I don’t have a super computer in my studio!
Old 12th September 2012
  #17
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Well, that's fine hypertext - but are you going to have lots of demos with it as well?
Old 12th September 2012
  #18
Bio
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
2) Free running oscillators
Most analogue synths have free running oscillators. As soon as you switch a synthesiser on, oscillators start doing their thing; generating a wave form. You can’t hear that wave form or its effect on the modulation path until you press a key, which acts like a switch or gate that lets the sound come out. If for example that oscillator has been making a triangle wave, the position of where that first peak of the triangle is when you press a key is arbitrary. The wave will be in an undefined position in time. So next time you press that same key the wave will probably be in a different position, the peak of that first triangle may be a little later for example. So again it’s another uncontrolled, subtle variation in the sound you hear each time you press a key, or in each voice in a unison stack.
Free running VCO are not analog exclusive.

And if you look at the famous analog drummachine like 909, the kick waveform is restarted because for a percussion it's definitely better.

They still sound analogue.

Quote:
It’s something that you can also achieve, to a large extent, with careful programming of digital synthesisers, but with analogue, you don’t need to spend that time and effort trying to make the sound Alive and Organic, because it starts out that way, by default.
For ex in FM8 it's just a switch : osc restart at key on/off, no time spend, no effort.

It's nice to have the choice, modular synth allow that, for percussion it's definitely a bonus.
Old 12th September 2012
  #19
Lives for gear
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Sounds like tin and rubber mixed together.
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #20
Moderator
 
golden beers's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer ➡️
Well, that's fine hypertext - but are you going to have lots of demos with it as well?
hi yoozer,

no. but i think that perhaps if you understood the context of this page within my site you would see why that is not needed
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #21
Moderator
 
golden beers's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bio ➡️
Free running VCO are not analog exclusive.
no but it's part of why analogue is cited as why it sounds like it sounds.

also re FM8 has a switch for this. that's fine, but lots of digial synths don't give you that option and also what i said there that you quoted was related to the first 2 points i made not exclusively the second point.

having said that i agree with you. free running VCOs are a small part of the picture.

perhaps you could give me a solid objective reason as to why analogue synthesis is different to and desirable over digital in some circumstances.? i'll put it on this page of my site
Old 12th September 2012
  #22
Lives for gear
 
grumphh's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Analogue sound is mainly defined by its threedimensionality.

Additionally the highs sound clear, the mids are transparent and the bottom end is rich but well defined.

Any questions?
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #23
Moderator
 
golden beers's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by grumphh ➡️
Analogue sound is mainly defined by its threedimensionality.

Additionally the highs sound clear, the mids are transparent and the bottom end is rich but well defined.

Any questions?
not sure if seriousheh
Old 12th September 2012
  #24
Bio
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
perhaps you could give me a solid objective reason as to why analogue synthesis is different to and desirable over digital in some circumstances.?
Solid and objective, I definitely can't!

Imo (i'm far from a VA expert) the reso of analog filter is generaly much more pleasing than the digital equivalent.

"ultrafast" modulation : if you send a VCO to fm the cutoff of a filter, analog and digital react very differently (in my limited experience...)

I like the way some analog circuit react like vactrol with their natural decay.

More a feeling that something solid and all very subjective.
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #25
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by grumphh ➡️
Any questions?
Are your interconnects 3000 or 20000 euros per meter?



Quote:
Originally Posted by golden beers ➡️
no. but i think that perhaps if you understood the context of this page within my site you would see why that is not needed
Who's the target audience?

Regardless of context, when you type:

Quote:
Now imagine those 3 voices stacked on top of each other, playing the same note, in unison.
Those who can imagine do not need to read your text; they already know.

Those who can't imagine are not helped by the text, because they lack the vocabulary and reference material we take completely for granted.
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #26
Moderator
 
golden beers's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Yoozer ➡️
Are your interconnects 3000 or 20000 euros per meter?





Who's the target audience?

Regardless of context, when you type:



Those who can imagine do not need to read your text; they already know.

Those who can't imagine are not helped by the text, because they lack the vocabulary and reference material we take completely for granted.
well i did just define what a voice was a second earlier. i would've though that most people would know the meaning of stacked and unison. you think i should say, 'at the same time' instead of unison and 'layered' instead of stacked there?
Old 12th September 2012
  #27
Deleted b788fee
Guest
In many ways, analog is now defined in contrast to the often-cited less-pleasing and less-desirable aspects of digital ... aliasing, stepping, unwanted thinness and a lack of smoothness or "silk."

These are all highly subjective observations that are much more apparent in a solo setting as opposed to an "in-the-mix" context of a song, where EQing, effects, vocals and other instruments all compete for air and diminish the impact of any one particular sonic component ...

Whether through analog or digital synthesis, much of the goal would be ... detailed sound through as wide a spectrum as possible ...
Old 12th September 2012
  #28
Lives for gear
 
loujudson's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Ya know, it is really simple: analog is non-digital. A Hammond B3 is analog, a Korg synth is not. It is not really about the sound, it is how the sound is made! And analog synths are all electronics, not simulations.

But on the other hand, digital sound is an analog of acoustic sound, to draw an analogy...
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #29
Gear Guru
 
Yoozer's Avatar
 
1 Review written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by golden beers ➡️
you think i should say, 'at the same time' instead of unison and 'layered' instead of stacked there?
I think you should add a sound demo going from a single oscillator to multiple oscillators with zero spread (but at different phases) to multiple oscillators with oscillator spread, with the note that the spread is something that can be introduced artificially but is "naturally" present on any (sufficiently drifting) analog polyphonic synthesizer. Also, "voice" can be a slippery definition so it'd probably be best to add "on non-paraphonic analog synthesizers, a voice can be defined as a logical group of oscillators that are slaved to the control voltage of a single key" but by then most people's eyes will have glazed over.

"Voice" on a Roland XP/JV means something different; you have 64 voices, but you only have 16 left if your preset uses up 4 of 'm. On a Memorymoog, polyphony does not change when you enable/disable oscillator 2 or 3.

But again; I don't know the context, what the rest of the page is going to be filled with, or the target audience, so it's very much possible that I'm completely talking out of my behind . It's your project; you have the best idea of how you want to execute it.


Quote:
Originally Posted by loujudson ➡️
Ya know, it is really simple: analog is non-digital. A Hammond B3 is analog, a Korg synth is not.
The MS20 would like to disagree with you. "Korg synth" without a model name doesn't mean anything.

A Hammond is electromechanical; the sound is generated by physical means and amplified via electrical means. The result is a changing analog voltage - but that's what my DX7 spits out as well.

"Analog" is about electronic, not about electric
Old 12th September 2012 | Show parent
  #30
Lives for gear
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by golden beers ➡️
2) Free running oscillators
Free running oscilators are trivial stuff. What is a bit of an issue is situation of dynamic voice allocation. Imagine you have 4 voices and one global sine LFO that modulates filter cutoff frequency. In dynamic case when some voice doesn't play any more you put it to "sleep": you just save all internal states in algo and that voice doesn't consume any processor cycles any more. Now imagne you stored it when value of global LFO was -1, and voice is restarted on another note on but LFO has value of 1. From perspective of filter in that voice that would look like sudden LFO jump from -1 to 1 (when you store algo state it's same as freezing/stopping time for that voice) and that definite impact on sound.


Quote:
Originally Posted by golden beers ➡️
It’s an analogue circuit among many that cannot at this time be accurately emulated 100% by software in real-time and a Major difference, not between analogue and digital, but certainly between software and hardware.
?
this is false. There is no difference for "software" digital and "hardware" digital regarding VCA emulation. And VCA emulation is quite a bit simpler compared to VCF and VCO emulation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by golden beers ➡️
This adding of harmonics can be heard most clearly on monophonic synthesisers because the audio signal is allowed to be very high compared to the available headroom of the system.
Nope. Memorymoog has one VCA per voice, same as Minimoog. Difference is in architecture/circuit of VCA itself and gainstageing, not in mono-vs-poly. Maybe you are talking about analog path after VCA (and voice mixer in case of poly)?
📝 Reply

Similar Threads

Thread / Thread Starter Replies / Views Last Post
replies: 160 views: 37079
Avatar for holyjaguar85
holyjaguar85 23rd May 2017
replies: 140 views: 29516
Avatar for DiggingForRoots
DiggingForRoots 16th June 2017
replies: 3 views: 2810
Avatar for drakem
drakem 29th April 2010
replies: 309 views: 24973
Avatar for momomel
momomel 1 week ago
Topic:
Post Reply

Welcome to the Gearspace Pro Audio Community!

Registration benefits include:
  • The ability to reply to and create new discussions
  • Access to members-only giveaways & competitions
  • Interact with VIP industry experts in our guest Q&As
  • Access to members-only sub forum discussions
  • Access to members-only Chat Room
  • Get INSTANT ACCESS to the world's best private pro audio Classifieds for only USD $20/year
  • Promote your eBay auctions and Reverb.com listings for free
  • Remove this message!
You need an account to post a reply. Create a username and password below and an account will be created and your post entered.


 
 
Slide to join now Processing…

Forum Jump
Forum Jump