new synth vs. vintage

In a Moog Mood? Here's a forum for discussion of general Moog topics.
Posts: 28
Joined: Wed Apr 14, 2004 12:07 pm

new synth vs. vintage

Post by Digory » Sun Dec 04, 2005 5:06 pm

has anyone ever noticed that there are a lot of people who just worship moog synthesizers, or vintage synthesizers in general. but all they own is new stuff. they have a nord lead and a micro korg and they just won't shut up about moog. as was pointed out in an earlier thread, the price range between these synths is not that vast. and they really are just as durable as anything new. do you think that maybe people are afraid to let go of their new stuff (that has built in effects, sequencers, arpeggiators, etc.) for somthing that is basically just you and your imagination? you know what i mean?

i remeber when i was about 12 i had this really crazy, brand new yamaha keyboard that did everything. even when i got some vintage stuff (like a prodigy) i still used the yamaha to record and just recorded little moog things over top of it. so when i (unexpectedly) got a really good offer to sell the yamaha i was scared to have to do everything myself from scratch with just a prodigy, juno6 and a drum machine. but i sold the yamaha, mostly because i was too embarassed not too. and when i was thrown into the deep end i discovered i could swim! true story.
-Digory Kirke

Posts: 320
Joined: Tue Feb 10, 2004 12:30 pm
Location: Seattle, WA (new resident!)

Post by electrical_engineer_gEEk » Sun Dec 04, 2005 9:12 pm

That's deep man......

Posts: 800
Joined: Thu May 26, 2005 8:52 pm
Location: Portland, OR

Post by OysterRock » Sun Dec 04, 2005 9:18 pm

LOL :lol:

There are benefits in both, anyone can see that. No offense, but this discussion has really been beat into the ground.

Posts: 513
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2003 8:00 pm
Location: CAL LE FOR NE YA

Post by sir_dss » Sun Dec 04, 2005 9:51 pm

That's because new digital stuff sucks and old analog stuff rules!

Posts: 122
Joined: Tue Nov 04, 2003 8:26 pm

Post by Don » Sun Dec 04, 2005 11:19 pm

[quote="sir_dss"]That's because new digital stuff sucks and old analog stuff rules![/quote]

I disagree. They are what they are. If you want the sound of an old analog, get one. If you want the sound of the latest and greatest Rolakorgaha, get a Rolakorgaha.

Throughout history, real musicians have used whatever is available to them, focusing on the instrument's strengths and working around their weaknesses. Of course, some people think that Sean Connery was the best Bond so they've refused to see any of the other silly Bond movies. Pity.

Posts: 296
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2004 1:39 pm

Post by martin » Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:06 am

maybe the real topic is not analog vs digital anymore, but good usability vs. bad usability.

an example of good usability is the yamaha qy700. having played with that for years, it has become clear to me that this was designed with musicians in mind. it is the most intuitive sequencer i have ever played, it was great fun and sounded very good (this is debatable, but for my kind of music, it nailed it) - and it's digital. and it never, ever crashed or went berzerk

another topic is the old "form follows function" phrase. if a teapot looks elegant but spills hot tea all over the ambassador's wife's dress, then you have yourself an incident.

a different example for usability can be found in a different field: professional translation. there are software packages that translators use in order to facilitate translating repetitive phrases and sentences when translating software products and the relevant documentation. this is to ensure consistency in terminology and enables translators to get their work done faster.

using these tools makes sense in technical translation projects. in poetry or song or literature, this kind of software is out of place. why? we are human beings. and where emotion plays a role, the device used to transport an emotion should allow the user to concentrate on the task at hand.
if someone uses a machine translation tool (such as babelfish), no one can guarantee that the results will be acceptable. try it out.
it's important to note when discussing professional translation tools, that they do not translate automatically. the thinking, the research, the experience - that's human.

i am pretty much convinced that in music tools, things work pretty much the same. tools are tools. you can take a cashew nut and paint it black and yellow, put an oscillator inside and make it buzz. but you are unlikely to get the thing to collect honey.

there are music programs out there that generate random notes. just as with things like babelfish for language, this is useful for getting an approximation of something useful, or you can laugh for a few seconds, or maybe even use it for certain stylistic accents. but so far, only the human spirit is able to invent an aesthetically pleasing (or terrible) piece of art. the important part of the equation is human taste and willpower. it's in our nature to express our needs or dreams, anxieties or obsessions. machines are programmed to do things. nothing more and nothing less. no true emotion is involved in a program. it is our perception of the audible world, our manipulation of the things around us that turn things into art.

when creating music, a musician must decide to which degree he or she wants to give up or retain actual performance values. a classical violinist won't have to ask that question most of the time, but in the electronic field, the temptation to cut corners is much more prevalent, as we all know.

whether we use analog or digital sources, or if we write poetry with a pencil or a word processor, the key word is usability. if the pencil is broken and the lead breaks off all the time, or if it's too dang thin or small or the eraser tears up the paper, what's the use of the simplicity you thought you'd have? you'll throw the thing away and say things you won't want your mother to hear. if a computer is slow, we may go nuts. we probably all saw the video of that guy in the cubicle who smashes his unwilling workstation on the ground. not a clever thing to do at the workplace - but don't we sometimes sympathise with the poor chap?

no matter at what level a certain technology is, if it has not been developed according to design and usabilitiy criteria that the users and consumers need, the result will suffer.

i worked as a video game tester for a couple of years. i checked functional and linguistic errors in truckloads of games.

video games are all make-believe worlds, right? i have never heard so many swear words being uttered in any other job. the anguish sounded quite real to me. and sometimes, the frustration wasn't even about the game itself but about the controllers, the interface, the sound levels, the visibility or other factors of usability. i learned that in every project, bugs slip through the net. no amount of testing can rid a project of all errors. the death sentence for any well-written game is a huge list of "release as is" bugs. c'est la vie.

by the way, the simple childrens' games were way cooler to test - not because they had less bugs, but because they were easier to use. why? because the publishers want kids to learn how to use games so they can buy more complicated games later. it's quite fascinating to see how kid's games focus on *encouragement* and adult games focus on *frustration*.

i fully understand now why some users adore older synths. many of them seem to ecourage music-making more than many new-fangled multi-featured devices. unless they are well-made and thoroughly tested and ironed out, they won't give the users much pleasure. i love my casio vl1 but could never warm to a korg m1. n matter how great it sounded, it blocked my musical mojo. why? usability, again. the sequencer was a few thousand notes only, there were hardly any controls, the display was minimal, and you had to program the thing. it was frustrating. the vl1, that white toy, on the other hand, was a charmer. those crappy little keys, the rhythms that went tik-tshsh-tik-tshsh, the adsr 'synthesizer', the cheesiness, the coldness, the playfulness, the way you could use it as a claculator or flatten cookie dough with it. somehow it blended with my life. but the m1? it went out the door. access denied.

or take the rogue: my simple rogue was such a pleasure to play. despite the crackly pots, the sliders, the lack of midi. it sounded good, you could dial up a sound in seconds. it looked funny and smelled of smoke of the previous owner. it had charm and life. i sold it, the qy700 and many more of my beloved items, in order to buy a voyager. i won't go into details about the trouble i had with it because the subject makes me sad and angry.

the voyager essentially is a good instrument. and it resembles the minimoog from the outside. it has more functions and features than the old mini. but think of this: snowflakes, when the temperature is near zero, tend to be big and fluffy and wonderful. but no matter how nice and big they are, their physical properties don't help a lot when you cross-country ski on sticky snow. the less impressive-looking flakes that come down when it's colder and dryer are much more useful: you glide faster and don't have to wax the skis.

just some thoughts.

Posts: 513
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2003 8:00 pm
Location: CAL LE FOR NE YA

Post by sir_dss » Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:13 am

You guys don't understand...

Digital synths are wave soldered by big machines.

The old Analog synth is soldered by HUMAN HAND.

Posts: 296
Joined: Fri Mar 26, 2004 1:39 pm

Post by martin » Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:28 am

if you get a board that was soldered badly by hand you'd say, crap, this is the 21st century. why didn't they do it with robtos? if it's soldered badly by robots, you'd say, they should have done it by hand. any way it's done, it should be done well. that's what's important.

User avatar
Posts: 358
Joined: Mon Apr 19, 2004 6:58 am
Location: Thessaloniki, Greece

Post by ikazlar » Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:57 am

I don't understand why people are so snob about digital synthesizers. If you cannot program a nice sound don't blame the instrument, its filters or whatever. Rather blame yourself for not programming some individuality into it, for spending only two minutes with it and thinking that you should already have your awesome lead, pad or whatever.

There are many synths which are already considered to be a cliche, Moogs included. One reason is because a lot of them (especially the Mini) are instantly identifiable by lots of people. Even Moog-die-hard fans will tell you that the Mini is overhyped; It's like you're not cool unless you own a Moog. You will hear people arguing for ages about "my Moog does better bass than yours" and it's just getting ridiculous. Actually it is a mania. And no, I haven't created my best bass patch on a Moog - it was done on a Triton with physical modeling. People really had a hard time believing it until they came to listen for themselves and they still couldn't believe it. So, trust your ears.


Posts: 50
Joined: Mon Jul 11, 2005 6:15 pm
Location: Shropshire, UK

Post by this_poison » Mon Dec 05, 2005 5:45 am

I've given this a lot of thought, and you're all wrong.

It's nothing to do with solder or electronics. It's all about WOOD.

Yeah, that's it - all the best keyboard synths have nice WOOD like the Mini.

Oh, or RUBBER like OSCar.

Eh, or WOOD veneer and CHROME trim like a Polymoog.

Um, or ALUMINIUM like a JP8.

OK, maybe it is the electronics then.

But any way you cut it, it's cos we love 'em. Take that away and they'll all die, like they nearly did in the post '84 apocalypse.

I saved as many as I could........and they live in peace with my VAs AND my DX7.


Posts: 440
Joined: Sun Apr 04, 2004 8:37 pm

Post by Sweep » Mon Dec 05, 2005 11:32 am

ikazlar wrote:I don't understand why people are so snob about digital synthesizers. If you cannot program a nice sound don't blame the instrument, its filters or whatever. Rather blame yourself for not programming some individuality into it, for spending only two minutes with it and thinking that you should already have your awesome lead, pad or whatever. 8)


I think some people always want something to be against, and something to be in favour of. So we get analogue versus digital - though I suppose at least no-one's ever been burnt at the stake for backing the `wrong' side.

Personally, I use analogue synths sometimes, digital at other times, software at yet other times, or I use acoustic instruments. It all depends on what the music wants. If a person's in a band that just needs an analogue monosynth, then fine for them. But obviously carping at other people who need a digital synth, or a violin or a shakuhachi is ridiculous. And yet some people keep on doing exactly that. This is a strange planet sometimes.

And yes, the bottom line is how much someone's willing to make an effort to really play an instrument - which brings us back to the original post.

On-board effects are certainly seen by some people as a quick fix option. But they needn't be that. I find the onboard effects on several of my synths very useful, and to me they're just a further enhancement of the possibilities of that synth. They needn't be a cover-up for defects in the synth, or a lazy way to sound superficially good. In fact on-board reverb (for example) can be an important factor in creating an interesting sound. Acoustic instruments often have their own sound-chambers, and the resultant sound mixes the reverb from that with the reverb of the room. If you have one kind of reverb from the synth and another from an outboard reverb you're in similar territory. A modular synth player might do the same thing by putting reverb in the signal path before the final output.

Far too many synth players take the lazy way. But every `lazy' feature can also be used creatively by someone who has original ideas about what can be done.

Posts: 306
Joined: Mon Aug 04, 2003 6:04 pm
Location: Washingtonville, NY, USA

Post by ebg31 » Mon Dec 05, 2005 12:32 pm

I think it's a question of wanting something that can do everything soundwise that the Nord Lead can do. They could do with a Minimoog D, Memorymoog or Source, but they wouldn't settle for a Micromoog, Prodigy, Liberation, Rogue or Concertmate MG-1. They don't want cheap, so they go without Moog.
"The greatest thing we ever have is the will to survive," - Eric Benjamin Gordon, 2001

Thank you Lord for Doctor Robert Moog!

Nick Montoya
Posts: 295
Joined: Wed Sep 29, 2004 9:50 pm
Location: Portland, Or

Post by Nick Montoya » Mon Dec 05, 2005 1:08 pm


It is what it is, ya know.. My MS2000 is great, but YES my Model D and Voyager could kick its ass sonically, even if each synth(mini) had only half of its functionality..

I don't really disagree with anyone's post on this subject, except for the fact that that one guy said :

"I got a better Bass patch out of a Triton, than on a Mini"..

Very hard to believe, but I guess anything is possible with a computer like that thing... And yes I said computer.. I mean the thing has a freaking CD rom burner.. Now thats what makes it more of a computer than an actual instrument..

I don't think Analog synths would be making such a comeback, if they weren't better in some ways than the new digi stuff....

Posts: 513
Joined: Mon Jul 21, 2003 8:00 pm
Location: CAL LE FOR NE YA

Post by sir_dss » Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:00 pm


Yeah I hear that it's the WOOD as well that make a winner you were right the first time. The type of solder(flux, organic, no-clean,etc...) is only secondary.

Well spotted...

But Digital sucks and ONLY VINTAGE ANALOG RULES!

Boeing 737-400
Posts: 684
Joined: Sun Aug 03, 2003 12:16 am
Location: Oxford, UK

Post by Boeing 737-400 » Mon Dec 05, 2005 2:07 pm

How about vintage digital vs modern analogue?

Post Reply