Analog Vs Virtual Analog Smackdown: Arturia Prophet V & SCI Prophet 5

How closely can today’s virtual analog synths come to matching classic analog synths?

You can be the judge, with this analog vs virtual analog smackdown, comparing the factory sounds of the classic Sequential Circuits Prophet 5 to their virtual analog counterparts with Arturia Prophet V.

How do you think they compare?

via MrBa6, Matrixsynth

33 thoughts on “Analog Vs Virtual Analog Smackdown: Arturia Prophet V & SCI Prophet 5

  1. Not bad, some of them you can definitely tell the difference, but for the most part they are indistinguishable. The guy did quite a remarkable job copying those little phrases as well.

    Though youtube probably isn't an ideal place to be doing audio quality comparisons on.

  2. Very interesting. I agree to Polite_Society that YT is not the best place for comparisons like that. Anyway, I'd love to know what all the "only-hardware-can-sound-like-hardware" guys would say to that. I mean, there are some differences sometimes, but those differences could even be caused by the spread of analog electronic components. As a matter of fact even two real Prophet V wouldn't exactly sound identical.

  3. Well produced video. I love these kind of examples.

    There will always be a place for real analog gear, but sooner rather than later real-time DSP is going to be better.

  4. Ok both are similar, the software counterpart being sometimes more brillant and "perfect" than the original. I don't know if you can estimate the time spent to reproduce these phrases, but this definitely isn't a matter of minutes.

  5. I just listened to all three videos on YouTube, and I am amazed at the accuracy of Arturia’s virtual analog software. Earlier this year I purchased the Arturia V-Collection 2.0, and don’t regret it one bit.

    Arturia makes really high quality hardware and software IMHO. Recently I got their Spark drum machine – AWESOME! In March I purchased their Analog Experience (The Laboratory) 49-key package. I just picked up a second one, because I wanted one for traveling purposes. When I can afford it I’d like to get their Origin synthesizer.

  6. first you have the phrase from the original synth recorded from the internet. followed by a vst. all on youtube
    What is the point ?

  7. didn't arturia get busted using the same code for oscillators and filters across a number of their 'instruments'? youtube shill

  8. I'm so bored of the analog vs virtual/digital debate that is only given energy by the blogs that feed the scenes. Whenever you read an interview with modern producers, there is what I would say, a majority, saying that they are using a combination of digital and analog (obviously this doesn't include niche projects of old synth wizards composing music with just the sound of their farts processed through modular synthesizers), but the problem lies with the fact that new technology is always perceived to be the death of the previous process (this has also happened in photography very prominently), but isn't it about time we realized that we'll only end up reusing and regurgitating those very same things that we were so quick to forget about? The greatest example being the 303, and more recently we are seeing the resurgence of modular synthesizers because the interest has finally developed and peoples pockets have got big enough. Really though, the most important thing is what it sounds like, this seems to get forgotten by the youtube generation, they seem to get caught up in comparisons and trying to get views – but to what end?

  9. tuffs – interesting points, but don't the video demos also make the point that virtual analog synths are typically going to be indistinguishable from analog synths in a mix?

  10. Not sure. AFAIK they use the same circuit emulation technology for their synths, but that's not the same as to use the same code for all oscillators and filters.

  11. exactly. the absolute bottom level i'd accept for a comparison would be gain (volume) matched ACC files using direct comparison of the original hardware and the vst used in the same system. and obviously the mic-pre for the original synth would need to be as colorless as possible.

    it is BECAUSE vsynths are getting closer, that more time needs to be spent on the actual signal path and the output (not youtube).

  12. Thanks for pointing out the obvious. My point is that we already know this, so why waste time making pointless videos about it, (particularly one without any solid aural way of actually comparing them, let alone posting them up on this website). I'll never understand how you can have a debate about taste anyway, its not exactly something you can buy.

  13. The bottom line for me is that the non-musician listener will NEVER know the difference, and didn't even know to care before we told them to. And that being said, I think the Arturia product is so good that most musicians wouldn't know the difference either. It's like the coke vs pepsi tests, where you can switch the labels, and 3/4 of the tasters always pick the one labeled coke because of the decades of effective marketing. You could just as easily switch the images on these Prophet sounds and then discredit the apparent Arturia version for being not good enough.

  14. Some differences in a few sounds, but I bet that for most people all examples are indistinguishable.
    Yes, this is not the better place to compare, but at the end we all heare music through a CD player, an mp3 player, through the computer….not in-situ, in front of the synthesizer.

  15. Maybe this is just psychological, but the two sound quite different to my ear. The vst's presence is very two-dimensional, flat like a plate, while the actual Prophet V sounds like a three-dimensional landscape. Don't know that I am describing the difference all that well, but that is how it sounds to me.

  16. The envelopes on the VST are not the same at all – especially the attacks, percussive sounds are not as detailed on the VST, the VST sounds as if there is a problem with stereo smearing of the phase – very noticeable on poly sounds. The meaty sawtooth sound on the VST was smeared/phased and they cut off the filter growl at the end so you could not compare. I was surprised how different the sinewaves sounded the VST clearly fairing worse. There is a similar problem with the filter envelopes and the filter decays not coming in right – very noticable on the accordion patch near the end of the first vid.

    The VST faired better at sync sounds not as good but pretty close. Extended sounds were okay apart from the phasey thing. The 4th Filter Rez was surprisingly decent you didn't get the howly rez but it was pretty close. The filter on the VST never hits your eardrums like the very high rez sound in the 2nd vid (alien patch) does not match up.

    All in all whats missing from the VST is the good stuff…. the sweetness. Some of the VST patches were very very bad and cheap sounding but some were passable. A lot of the sweetness is missing like the sense of forebodding in the helicopter patch is just not in the VST. They had to add another tone in and even then you could hear the filter was not closing with very much power.

    I think you can hear it in a mix and even on a youtube video. If you are not used to hearing analogue it can be difficult but it your are used to hearing it then it is generally pretty obvious. Like an early poster said though it has to be digital and analogue.

  17. all these sounds are very simple and in the lower-mid octaves

    take things to the extreme in the higher frequencies and VST's just aren't as rich

  18. I think people are missing the point. Who cares if they sound 100% exact? Buying vintage won't produce better music. Arturia have made a decent emulation, saving many people thousands of dollars.

    Is a real Pro5 worth an extra $3000 or more? Is that small difference in sound going to produce better music/make you famous? The answer is NO.

    Will your audience be able to tell the difference, or care? NO.

    Are the knobs and buttons of hardware going to give you more creativity? Yes. +$3000 of creativity? NO.

    If you need hardware to be creative or feel "like a real musician", you should probably find a different hobby/occupation.

  19. Would be funny to record two actual Prophets, and then put the Arturia screen shot up for one of them. Natural variances in the instruments would be enough for many people to claim one sucked!

  20. They each have their own place. Digital is great because I don’t need a whole plethora of equipment on stage, and there are plenty of free and unique VSTs out there for me to consider buying any at the moment. But it all gets sent through an analogue fx chain for extra beefiness. My phatty still makes the centerpiece of my rig, and no digital emulation can beat the thick basses or wailing leads it pumps out. But better yet, it filters my VST instruments (who needs to limit themselves to one keyboard). Digital is not a replacement for analogue, it’s a compliment.

  21. I love analog synth sound, but i feel it is impressive only when played solo/directly/live. When recorded/digitized/mixed in a complete arrangement it doesn't feel that great anymore. Many times when friends listen to some final mixes, they say positive comments about my "analog" sounds, when in fact they are VA synths through some soft tube distortion and compression.

  22. I can play a guitar, and i can record each note from my guitar and play it with a midi controller. The sound is coming from the same guitar, but i can't hear the noise of my fingers sliding and other things like the pressure of my fingers on the strings etc. I can simulate that with velocity curve, but it will never be the same thing. The difference between the real Prophet and Arturia's one is more clear when more components come into play, components like Filter, modulation etc. To my ears analog sound is simply beautiful and digital sound is OK.
    Like Sotiris say "soft tube distortion and compression" to fool some people, but it's not just about distortion and compression.
    Make a digital synth sounds like an analog synth is something very difficult to do, it is something like make a robot you can talk with and you will think he is a Human being, but we have one unique special characteristic, the intelligence. An analog synth also have one unique special characteristic, it's analog.

  23. People talking about analog being better border on ‘pseudoscience’. I own analogs and use Arturia synths. While there are differences, there are times I even find it difficult to distinguish between real or emulated analog. The analog filter is difficult to recreate when it gets to high resonance or gets overdriven. However, the Arturia stuff gets pretty close and has the ‘character’ of vintage gear.
    Arturia took a few shortcuts and reused code. Wowie! Big deal. Arturia is not going to reprogram a saw wave, just like synth manufacturers weren’t rewriting circuit design when they made VCOs. The overall character is the main goal here.

    Arturia and other softsynth makers allow people like me to emulate a Moog Modular without breaking the bank. I find it ironic that people knock Arturia when it ‘refreshes’ interest in analog and reminds people about the great sounds of the past. I appreciate the ability to hear an Arp sound coming out of my speakers now that I don’t have the time to repair my Arp. Or play a Jupiter years after my bandmate and I had one.

    If you want to talk about ‘lack of inspiration’, let’s talk about no MIDI and having to play a phrase 3-4 times to get it right. Or having a VCO that no longer tunes properly after 20 minutes. It’s not all ‘love’ when it comes to analog gear for me. There are quite a few times I had to spend hours trying to record something that I can do in minutes today.

    I still have a place in my heart for analog. The turning of knobs and the wonderful feel of ‘touching history’. For me the Arturia stuff doesn’t diminish my respect for analog, it simply changes it. But I disagree that one cannot find ‘inspiration’ from a VST, or that VSTs sound ‘flat’ and ‘2D’.

  24. Okay, it’s pretty late to chime in on this so no one will probably read this but, as an owner of both the 5 and having just purchased the V, I have a question.

    Does anyone know if there is a way to adjust the PWM via the Mod Wheel above the “all the way up” setting. For me, this is displayed as a value of “1.00”?

    What I’m finding is that this setting maxes out somewhere between 40 and 70% of that which is possible on the 5. What this amounts to is an apparent inability of the virtual to make sounds that require this. Now, I find it hard to believe that Arturia went to all the trouble to emulate so many decidedly nit picky nuances of the sounds (and emulate them well I think) that something this important (for me anyway:) was overlooked, but it does seem to be the case.

    I tried this on the MiniMoog V using the additional controls and found the same problem.

  25. The Arturia stuff is amazing. Is every patch EXACT. No. So what? I’ve been doing this for 40 years. I’ve owned all of these instruments. I recently set up identical patches on MoogModularV & Voyager. Simple patches. (The bigger, wetter you get- the more it doesn’t matter anyway.) My ears are VERY attuned to the original machines. Verdict- the old analog beasts, of which I still have a couple, fill a very romantic need in my psyche. The sound- exactly the same. Ease of use, (patch storage/saving with project, etc) there is no contest. I love the entire collection. If I need to go mad with patch cords & knobs I still have a Moog & a .com modular. But I use them less & less.

  26. All of Arturia’s products are overpriced, hyped garbage.

    All their virtual “analog” synths sound the same, because their programmers have been caught by Soundonsound magazine (UK) using the same code for the oscillators between their synths..
    Yep, somehow the geniuses at Arturia think that a saw oscillator is interchangable between different analog synths..

    worse yet, their oscillators are not even band limited and alias really bad in the high frequencies.

    The results? their synths sound nothing like the originals, not even remotely.
    On top of that, most of their synths are very CPU hungry and need to be rendered to be used in a real music production environment.

    MemoryMoon’s $40 ME80 and $30 MemoryMoon puts Arturia’s overpriced and fake-sounding CS80 & Minimoog digital clones to shame

    I am glad companies like XILS, U-he and others are coming up with very realistic virtual analog synths.. hopefully people will stop spending money in Arturia’s overpriced garbage synths.

    It is amazing what marketing hype and sleek advertising can do..

  27. The person above claiming that Arturia’s garbage synths sound the same as the real thing is probably an Arturia marketing employee, or he is deaf, because no self-respecting hardware owner could make such claim. One quick play of ANY of Arturia’ s overpriced instruments in the high frequencies, will reveal how cold and faje they sound.

  28. The Arturia’s keep really good up with the original thing but the concept of taking a certain voltage running it through osc’s and such is still much more apealling…

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