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KL and MC on Moog VCO Jitter - Facts vs Lies

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KL and MC on Moog VCO Jitter - Facts vs Lies

Postby Elhardt » Fri Mar 09, 2007 5:00 am

Doing a google search for something else I came across by accident a Moog forum thread where MC is calling me stubborn and I had ruined my integrity because of an old AH thread about Moog jitter. Lies of course. Then I came across more lies by Keven Lightner (referred to as KL). I'm posting this to correct their lies, omission of evidence, and hypocrisy. People who are on the wrong side of the argument resort to these tactics. So let's set the record straight once and for all.

First let me start off by saying that I had been hearing by some AH members that the Moog 901 osc was the greatest sounding VCO ever, and yet every time I asked for some recorded examples, nobody would provide any. That's probably because they knew their claims were overblown. But I wanted to believe and program some of that goodness into my own VCOs. Finally Andrew Sanchez provided me some wav files. I listened and looked and was totally disappointed. Nothing about their sound or characteristics was anything special, so I lost interest. Then months later all kinds of ridiculous theories about drift, timbre, and jitter popped up later on AH. First here is KL's text which I just stumbled upon.

KL writes:
"A couple of years ago on Analogue Heaven, a bit of a melee took place when myself, an engineer and a synthesist argued why Moog vcos sound the way they do. Both the engineer and synthesist were convinced that the reason was "drift." You know the claim: "Moogs drift and THAT'S why they sound warm." To back this up, the synthesist took an MP3 emailed to him of a 901 oscillator and viewed it on his DAW's scope. A very silly test for many reasons including that mp3s are a compressed format, DAW's aren't real oscilloscopes with triggered time bases, etc. A highly questionable test and a very unscientific way to make such a point….There is considerable jitter in the core frequency. Looking at a slice of a bandwidth limited sample like an MP3 into a soundcard would never reveal this."

He is referring to me as the synthesist. He is totally clueless and lying in every single sentence. I at no point was arguing that Moogs sound the way they do because of drift. I don't believe any of this bull about the Moog's sound in the first place. I rejected KL's ridiculous beliefs that Moog drift was so magical and unique to the Moog sound, and in his belief that Moog-style drift couldn't be patched up using randomly changing control voltages because that would never sound like a vco that was drifting due to temperature changes. Ridiculous! A vco doesn't sound different because it arrived at its present pitch via temperature or control voltage. That was the ridiculous drift argument with him. When I used the word random, he didn't even know what the definition of the word random was. Geez. How about unpredictable outcome.

I never used MP3's in regards to jitter. I used uncompressed wav files provided by Mike Peake. Everybody knows they weren't MP3's because they were posted publicly, many listened to them, and anybody else could also have measured them and confirmed my results. KL already lied on AH calling them MP3s and even after I corrected his lie there, here he is years later still implying I was looking at MP3s to reveal jitter. How corrupt is he to keep this up? This is what he does to try to disqualify my findings. I didn't pull them up in a DAW and look at them and come to some conclusion. I measured them down into the nanosecond range to provide measurements so the amount of jitter would be known. Triggered time bases aren't applicable in anyway here. He has absolutely no shame in going behind my back and spreading these lies and leading people to false conclusions. Notice how he didn't mention that I posted real jitter measurements, comparisons to others, and audio files, the only real data that will tell you how much jitter and how it compares to others.

The Moog VCO "DOES NOT" sound the way it does because of jitter, nor is there anything special about its sound in the first place. The myth that Moog oscs sound better than others because they have more jitter than others can't be true if they have less than many others. When I posted the numbers to AH, the thread ended, the case was closed, but KL went on a temper tantrum.

Following are the measurements MC and KL conveniently didn't mention. The wav files were interpolated up to the equivalent of a 1.4 MHz sampling rate so tiny subsamples could be measured, because jitter is so small, you'll never see it or measure it even from a 192KHz audio board. The only way to measure this is by digital means, either by a digital storage scope or in my case an even more powerful computer with far greater resolution and the ability to get down to trillionths of a second if I wanted. KL's analog scope will never do it and is meaningless for measurements, comparisons, and this whole topic on jitter. Here are the real numbers of jitter in microseconds.

Moog Modular 901 VCO 65Hz, 40 cycles measured.
Cycle to cycle jitter in microseconds.

+1.4 -0.7 -0.7 0.0 +2.1 -0.7 -0.7 0.0
+0.7 +0.7 0.0 +2.8 -2.1 -0.7 +1.4 0.0
0.0 0.0 0.0 -0.7 0.0 +0.7 -0.7 +0.7
0.0 -1.4 +1.4 +7.0 -1.4 0.0 0.0 -1.4
+0.7 0.0 +0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 -0.7

Technosaurus Selector VCO 65Hz, 20 cycles measured.
Cycle to cycle jitter in microseconds.

-2.1 +3.5 -4.9 +3.5 -2.1 -3.5 +2.1 +0.7
0.0 +1.4 -2.1 -2.1 +3.5 +2.8 -6.3 +4.2
+1.4 -2.1 -2.1

The only way mankind can know how much jitter is in a waveform is to measure it. I'm the only one who has done that, obviously meaning I'm the only who is qualified to comment on it. Psychic readings, divining rods, speculation, guessing, theories, myths, will never give you this info. The fact that KL or MC have no interest in the only jitter measurements available, shows they really aren't after finding the truth. They're only pushing some kind of Moog-is-God agenda. As can be seen from the table, the Moog has less jitter than the Technosaurus, so if jitter is good, the Moog is bad. But KL and MC can't comprehend that simple logic. Apparently they need to go back to kindergarten to learn about numbers. So let's review that math.

Bill has 1 apple. Jill has 2 apples. Who has more apples? Jill, because 2 is larger than 1. If 2 is larger than 1, then 1 is smaller than 2. Now look at the table above, numbers averaging 1.4, 0.7, 0.0 are smaller than numbers averaging 2.1, 3.5, 4.9, etc. See, it's childishly simple. In fact Moog jitter is so small that you need to go down to billionths of a second to see much of it. Smaller numbers = less jitter. Larger numbers = more jitter. What lack of brain power do those have who think the Moog numbers are larger? The nerve of MC to talk about my integrity and stubbornness for believing real measurements over myths and lies, and then imply I need to be an engineer to do this. So here is my background which shows I know a little something about electronics.

I have a degree in computer technology (hardware), which means I have had classes in analog electronics, transistors, opamps, digital logic, memory, processors, electro-mechanical, trouble shooting, project design, calculus for electronics, and so forth. The same classes engineers take. I went to work repairing electronic equipment. I'm educated in electronics, KL is not. So if MC brings up being an engineer, I'm closer to one than KL. The fact that MC thinks it takes an engineer to drag a cursor from one zero crossing to another and read the number of samples, shows he has no clue as to how trivial the job, nor to the quality of equipment involved. A six year old could do it. Ridiculous that hundreds of people would rather speculate and theorize about jitter for years on end as if that leads to some conclusion, rather than get off their lazy asses and spend an hour or two to measure it to put an end to the mystery. So I had to do it.

But maybe I am stubborn. I'll try to change right now and see what happens. Peace, love, hands across America, unity between races, let me pray that Moog has more jitter than any other osc, please lord, let it be so, take away my stubbornness now................ Okay, back. Now let's look at the numbers above. God damn crap sh*t son of a bitch. They didn't change. The Moog still has less jitter.

Let's try this. Some people think that if they insult me, criticize me, lie about me, trivialize my education, abilities, equipment, maybe that will change things. Okay, I will now accept all that abuse and own it. I'm holding it inside and concentrating really hard............... Okay, back. Now let's look at the numbers above. God damn crap sh*t son of a bitch. They still didn't change. I'm wondering if I'm the stubborn one of if it's the laws of nature.

You can see that none of these Moog biased people will post Moog audio files because they won't support their claims. We're expected to just accept jitter can be heard. Of course KL and MC didn't make mention the audio files I had posted. The following wav file alternates a few times between the two most extreme sawtooth waves known to mankind: The glorious Moog 901, with all of its claimed jitter, power supply noise, electromagnetic interference, humidity, extreme warmth, and god-like analog organic sound compared to the most awful digitally generated aliased unmusical foul sterile static piece of garbage you'd never want coming out of your synth, filled with harmonic wrap around, and not even the random amplitude levels you'd get if you sampled a digital synth. You're about to hear the alpha vs the omega, best vs worst mankind has ever created.

Of the tons of people on several forums who have heard it, virtually none of them could hear a difference. Only two people ever claimed they thought they could hear a difference. One of those said he could only on speakers, not on headphones, and he couldn't even describe the difference. Another after many listens thought he could hear a difference, but said he couldn't say one sounded better than the other. Years of idiotic talk about Moog greatness and it all came to this? Laughable. When you consider that all other analog vcos must fall in-between the Moog and digital waves, how the hell would anybody hear the difference in jitter between two analog vcos when they can't hear the difference between the awesome analog Moog and awful digital?

Back to the Moog and Technosaurus VCOs. When they were posted, nobody including MC or KL were able to hear the Technosaurus had more jitter. The fact that KL still thought the Moog had more jitter when it didn't is in itself proof that jitter and the amount of it can't be heard. These guys by their very own failure proved my point. Nobody can hear changes of tiny thousandths of a Hz for micro/nanoseconds just as they can't see an atom. The difference in pitch between the two sounds in that wav file above is far greater than any jitter and you can't hear a difference in those pitches. I get so tired of people believing in some kind of super human hearing power especially when they can't demonstrate it.

Keep in mind something else. AH members constantly talk out of their asses and then fail blind hearing tests miserably. In the synth aleatoric competitions, not a single person could identify a Moog modular by its sound, yet many of them thought my MOTM was a Moog. Gee, after listing to MC and KL you'd think the jitter alone would give it away if not the world recognized Moog sound. In an Alesis A6 vs Minimoog test, all people thought the A6 was the Mini and vice versa, except one who was not sure. In real vs virtual analog, they consistently fail. They can't hear the big things, yet we're expected to believe they can hear the inaudible. Ridiculous.

I've tried to change my stubbornness on my end and can't because I believe in facts. But it can be done from the other side. I am willing to record a bunch of vcos along with the Moog and MC and KL can take a test. We'll all gather around a see if they can pick out the Moog vco and sort the vcos in order from least to most amount of jitter. If they can do that, I'll admit on any list that they are correct, the Moog jitter numbers are actually larger than the Technosaurus. Yep, I'll say just like KL and MC, I believe 1.4 is larger than 2.3 for example. And we can get them entered into the Guinness Book of World Records for super human hearing ability. All they have to say is prepare the test and I'll do so in the near future. If they fail the test they'll look like fools and if they cowardly refuse to take the test, then I think it will be clear to everyone how much faith they have in these ridiculous jitter claims.

KL has not provided a single measurement, number, valid comparison between other vcos, nor audio examples to listen to. He is a total hypocrite. He told me I had to measure electromagnetic interference, humidity, power supply noise, harmonic distortion, and anything else he could think of (what I do with those measurements, who the hell knows). Someday I should dig through the archives and post all the rules he tried to get me to follow and all of you will see he doesn't follow them himself. Where are his measurements for all that stuff, not to mention jitter? Where is his advanced test gear? All I see is a 50MHz scope. Where's his engineering degree? Can we tell from KL's post that the Moog stands out from other vcos in any way? Nope. He lies, ignores facts, and hasn't provided anything that disputes my findings (can't disprove facts anyway). Anybody who knows human behavior and read the AH thread knows he's been fuming for a few years over this matter, and that's his whole motivation for bringing up this dead topic. He tries to confuse mindless people into doubting facts.

This jitter myth was put to rest years ago. Helpless people ought to learn to program their synths. They can program in as much audible jitter as they want and thus it will sound better than any Moog vco by KL's logic. I'm getting really disgusted at being called names because I adhere to physical reality over fiction and spent time to provide real data. Numbers don't lie, people do.

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Postby martin » Fri Mar 09, 2007 5:48 am

drift, schmift!

the moog oscillators sound good because of the leprechauns that hide in the cabinet. open up the cabinet and they'll bite you straight in nose, slap you and pour guinness over your head.

leprechauns are responsible for changing the frequency, too. it's not a matter of drift, just bread-and-butter leprechaun shenanigans at work here.

why else would you manufacture such a huge instrument? the only reason the modulars of the time were so huge is that they had to put leprechauns in. the irish made zillions exporting them. the celtic tiger didn't just happen for no reason at all.

and why were the welsh minimoogs no success? simple answer: no leprechauns.

i'm still waiting for the st. paddy's voyager.
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Postby Sweep » Fri Mar 09, 2007 5:52 am

Nice reply, Martin. :D You could waste your life trying to have a rational discussion with Kenneth Elhardt. I wondered how long it'd be before he turned up here.
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Postby goldphinga » Fri Mar 09, 2007 6:12 am

Last edited by goldphinga on Fri Mar 09, 2007 9:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Mooger5 » Fri Mar 09, 2007 7:28 am

I kind of like these discussions. They may won´t help my music sound better, but it´s always interesting topics that can bring new life to the forum, personal attacks and inside jokes apart, and all that.

Mr. Elhardt, if I understood your point correctly, you´re saying jitter can not be the "secret" to the Moog sound ( and that there isn´t even a Moog Sound, since any cleverly programmed synth can *arguably* sound like it) because there are other synthesizers such as the Technosaurus with more jitter in their circuits.

With all due respect for your efforts in the pursuit of Truth, couldn´t the numbers you present also function as counter-argument? I mean, if one is still convinced about jitter those numbers might as well be saying the technosaurus sounds more moogish than moogs.

And I have no problems with that. It´s such an old technology, I can live with the idea of newer designs improving on it, possibly even if by chance. I like vintage Moogs because of the pioneering work of Mr. Robert A. and because most of my synth heroes from the past used them ( OK, there wasn´t much else available back then). So, I don´t find it "sacrilegical" at all.

Also, if I may add to the discussion, if jitter is responsible for the Moog Sound, we should not forget the other circuits sharing the same power supply, I think. Why just the oscillators? Jitter could as well get in the way harmonics are filtered, by adding random "character"...

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Postby MC » Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:44 am

I've said everything I care to say in the AH archives. I will not submit to trollbait.
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Postby writeroxie » Fri Mar 09, 2007 11:58 am

i love lurking on internet fights.
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Postby electrical_engineer_gEEk » Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:00 pm

I've never heard this debate...nor am i a member of AH message boards...i will have to dig through to see if this was already mentioned but...

I trust that you took correct measurements and precautions but from a statistics standpoint, if possible, I would suggest measuring a larger sample for both VCOs being tested (specifically more moog VCOs). We all can attest that the consistency in vintage electronics is less then desirable and the fact that there are several revisions of the moog VCOs out there that a sample of 5-10 different generation VCOs would put my mind to rest. I know this sounds like an absurd request (and it is) that will never be met but still anyone in the stats field (which i am not in) would probably laugh knowing that you took a sample of 1 unit and made such a all encompassing conclusion...and closed the case yourself.....

This statement has nothing to do with engineering or questioning your measurements, but rather, a higher level of coming to conclusions in the science world.
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Postby MC » Fri Mar 09, 2007 12:51 pm

Precisely my point gEEk. Thank you for that unsolicited comment. Elhardt fails to mention that forensic study of jitter and timbre requires better samples than a 48Khz WAV file. He fails to understand that spectral analysis of audio harmonics in the digital domain is not possible with 48Khz WAV files.

I have been in the automated test development field for over twenty years and any systems engineer worth his salt would laugh at Elhardt's inferior measurement tools. DAWs are the *LAST* tool I would use for jitter study.

Keep in mind this is the same person who deceived us with the Bahn Sage and one other instrument whose name escapes me so that doesn't help his integrity. Some things are funny the first time.

And for your information KL *did* provided measurement proof of his argument.

So who is lying now?

This argument is over.
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Postby DeFrag » Fri Mar 09, 2007 2:17 pm

>Insert whistle-theme from The Good, The Bad, & The Ugly<
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Postby museslave » Fri Mar 09, 2007 3:36 pm

I do not have an engineering degree. I know relatively little about electronics from a technical standpoint.

But here's what I do know:

1. Assessments of analog sound, and especially measurement of analog sound, should not be taking place with any computer-based file at all.

2. I don't know if Moog oscillators are the end-all-be-all, etc. But as a synthesist, musician, and composer I recognize aurally that there is a difference between the sound of Moog oscillators and all other oscillators I've heard and used. I appreciate and desire this difference. One does not need an oscilloscope to be able to recognize the fact that they do sound different. All one need do is listen to recordings made on a Moog modular and attempt to simulate even the most basic sounds with another type of modular, or synthesizer. There is a character, and it is desireable to many.

I was a part of the conversation the last time the drift/jitter thing came up. I was complaining because I was disappointed at the thin sound of my dot com oscillators as compared to those in my Mini. This did not come about because I'm a starry-eyed Moog worshipper... it came about because there was an audible difference in oscillator quality. As a synthesist, electronic musician, composer, and electronic music historian, KL's argument made a great deal of sense to me, despite the fact that he and I have been at odds before. It was consistent with my experience as a synthesist and musician.

I'd be glad to do a Pepsi Challenge with oscillators... but I'm not about to do it with samples of oscillators. I know the Mini is not a 901, but even the Mini's oscillators differ from other analog synths. I have owned a large number of them over the years, and I CAN identify the difference between an open unfiltered Mini osc and any of my other synths.

What this issue comes down to is this: There is a huge amount of vehemence. When there is vehemence it is because one or both sides has a motivation for their stance. If people have no investment in a debate, they do not become vehement. Examine the motivation of the parties involved concerning this issue.
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Postby electrical_engineer_gEEk » Fri Mar 09, 2007 3:58 pm

Yeah, I completely agree.....

There needs to be some unbiased, unattached scientifically sound study done on this before i would take any sides.....

too much passion and cobbed together studies don't really benefit anyone, everyone justs gets confused and believes the best writer who has the best rhetoric.
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Postby Lengai » Fri Mar 09, 2007 4:28 pm

So, how can we even trust the numbers provided in the test? How can we trust that the Moog VCO in the audio sample is a Moog VCO or that the digital one is digital? How could we trust any test results or data provided by a known hoaxer? Can we believe that he studied any of the courses he claims to have taken? Can we believe he has any of the equipment he claims to have?

What if it's all another big hoax by someone who obviously has way too much free time? I could give a rat's *ss about drift. I love my Voyager. I make music with it. It sounds good. I have an Evolver and I like that too. I have a Waldorf, and an Oberheim and I like those as well.
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Postby museslave » Fri Mar 09, 2007 5:43 pm

I am going to do my OWN test where I demonstrate the oscillators of several of my synths. Of course, you'll be able to HEAR me fading them in and out, as would be normal for any situation where that was occurring. ; )
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Postby chris allert » Fri Mar 09, 2007 8:00 pm

could we all try to bring this discussion back to leprechauns?

i've noticed that moogerfoogers are quite a bit smaller than vintage moog modular systems. i'm wondering if they are using the same leprechaun shrinking technology that was used in the original minimoog? i know that if something says "made in usa" on it, it doesn't mean that all the components in it are actually made here.

anyway, do they actually shrink the leprechauns? or did they harvest smaller ones from one of the smaller islands off the coast? i just did a search and it says there are no moog music dealers in ireland, which seems very suspect to me.

i've opened up my system to move modules around, and there were no leprechauns (that i could see anyway. it was kind of dark in there), but i've been afraid to open up any of my moogerfoogers since i don't want to let the miniature leprechauns out.
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