Are Analog Synthesizers Overrated?

Are analog synthesizers overrated?

We love our analog gear in the Synthtopia Music Laboratory, ranging from a vintage Sequential Circuits Pro One synth to a Future Retro 777 bassline synthesizer to a large format modular synth. So, we know that a lot of readers may view the question of this post as heresy.

But the analog renaissance of the last decade has resulted in a lot of great digital synths being underrated…..

One example is the Roland JD-800 digital synthesizer, demonstrated here by RetroSound:

No wooden end-cheeks in site and digital through and through. Yet, the Roland JD-800 is still a great sounding knobgasm.

The Korg Wavestation rose like a phoenix from the ashes of Sequential Circuits and is another vintage synth classic that really makes a case for digital synths.

Here’s a great audio demo for the Wavestation, via digitaluniverse21:

You don’t have to look back a generation to find great digital synths, either. Consider the Kawai K5000, the unique Elektron MonoMachine, the sexy Access Virus TI family, or the Waldorf Microwave XT.

What do you think? Are analog synths overrated? Is it time to take another look at some of the digital synth classics?

Or do analog synths really deserve to be king of the synth mountain?

Image: via Shawn Allen

77 thoughts on “Are Analog Synthesizers Overrated?

  1. Over rated, under rated, analog, digital: don’t care.
    The only thing I care about is how well a tool fits the way I work.

  2. Let’s say, the trend to re-discover strictly analog gear has also brought along a slightly exaggerated enthusiasm about every new analog synthesizer that is announced.

    I own analog and digital equipment, and I think both technologies have their advantages. Regarding synths I would summarize it this way: digital oscillators are more versatile, analog filters have the better sound. So my favorite synthesizers are those that combine both worlds 🙂

    1. Digital Oscilators and Analog filter…sounds like the Ensoniq ESQ-1. My favorite synth of all time (except for my Micromoog and my Kork M3), still have my original :-).

  3. overrated AND overpriced. Instead of buying one monophonic analog synth I can buy 5 amazingly powerful Vst synths which integrate into my DAW without any hassle…

    1. Think you missed the point. This is not about virtual synths, this is about the hardware digital synths. You know tangible devices that will still exist in 20 years time, vs the sea of
      Virtual synths that will have been totally forgotten as operating systems and one-man developers move on…,

      OT, you guys should keep quiet, I’m pricing up some bargains on eBay these days!

      1. I’d like to own some analog synths. Yamaha CS80, Roland Jupiter 8, Oberheim whatever, Korg Maxi-Korg 800dv, etc, but they’re too expensive. I have some digital/analog hydrids like Casio HT6000, Korg DW8000, etc & I love them. I also like analog modeling synths like Korg Kronos & Z-1, (& EXB-MOSS) Yamaha AN1x (&PLG150-AN), etc. I don’t like VST. I synthesizer is more than just it’s sound. It is a complete package. Synthesizers have “character”.

  4. If we substitute the word “enthusiasm” for “over-rated”, I think that is more accurate. There is enthusiasm and even reverence for analog technology.

    I’ve seen that digital synths & VI’s have their detractors on this site. Some of it is earned. There are plenty of examples of analog emulations that fall pretty flat. Analog gear seems to affect at least four out of our five senses quite differently than digital gear (especially VI’s).

    But as we often hear on this site, “if it gets the job done”. I think there are well-designed products in both analog and digital realms. And there are crappy products in both as well. The advantages and disadvantages of each platform have been explored pretty frequently. But it is worth mentioning that digital synths are so readily available to everyone, so the analog synth is fast becoming a boutique item.

  5. I have to agree with Gerald,

    I wouldn’t say that Analog synths are over-rated. They are certainly overpriced, and really limit the amount of creativity going into the system because only the most elite can have them, just to tuck them away in studios full of too many other, unused pieces. It really depends on how you use the gear. Hoq one utilizes the limitations of either system to make something great.

    I have heard a lot of shitty music touting that it was composed entirely on analog gear, with no processing, yet I have heard a lot of good music created on VAs, or even cheap stuff like electribes.

    My favorite era of synthesis is the mid 80s, were analog circuits were being integrated with digital systems. The Ensoniq Mirage, the Emulator, the Korg DW series and all of the other crazy stuff like that, were the voices were created in digital, and then fell into this analog realm of unpredictability. The voices were in tune, harmonically rich, and more complex, and as soon as they hit the analog realm, were given that certain organic richness that we all love. Even today with the Shruthi-1, it uses a similar setup to achieve sonic superiority.

    Hybridization is evolution, when we mix systems were are merely building a better synth!

  6. Over-rated by those who have never had to use them in anger. Just like steam trains. They have a quaint charm, but belong in the past.

  7. Every single electronic music night I have seen has an Alesis Micron in the setup of at least one band. Too bad Alesis never made a decent editor ……

  8. The micron is a monster…. aimee in Bastard Noise uses one along side the original man is the bastard noise boxes…over rated….maybe if its a $5000 moog voyager

  9. Overrated? Seems to me classic instruments generally produce classic sounds. In this form, I’d say we could redefine “classic” as “recognizable.” Just like Les Pauls, trombones, pianos, harmonicas, djembes, and crash cymbals, the more exposure we have to analog subtractive synths in music, the more recognizable they are to us. We become accustomed to them, even WEARY of them, and sometimes we start desiring something a little different. This seems to happen a lot more in the ranks of electronic musicians than others.

    Are analog synths overrated? No, just popular right now for some reasons that have little to do with their sound and more to do with their cachet among other musicians.

  10. i completely agree with that micron comment, the thing is pretty powerful but alesis really really really skrewed up the interfacing with the machine. that thing is packed with features. anyway yeah i think analog synths are over rated, depending on the components, digital synths have just as much character as the analog synths.

    a Casio pt-30 , vs an Ultranova, vs. an Ion all have different characters which are unique to them.

    i think telling people that analog synths are way more unique is cheap and a cheesy marketing statement….. it works though lol mostly because a typical person hasnt used much analog gear in the last 20 years.

  11. analog synths aren’t over rated… but the word analog has become too much of a buzz word

    the masses are easily swayed by buzzwords

    i don’t think any of the digital synths in this post are underrated… most synth enthusiasts that really love synthesis know about them… none of them are offered for sale new with a warranty though.

    i have digital and analog.. fx and synths.. if it sounds good… it sounds good.

  12. I’m liking the idea of hybrid digital/analog synths. The new Minibrute uses a digital LFO that can be clock sync’ed. The Tempest apparently has a lot of digital features mixed in with its analog signal path. I think it’s possible to have analog oscillators but with a digital master that keeps them in tune. Control signals at this point really should be digitally generated, I think that would give analog the stability and reliability it needs.

  13. Nope. In fact, not only are they not “over-rated”, but they are irreplaceable and essential. Does it make a difference if your synth is digital, analog, software, hardware, DCO, VCO or “hybrid” in the context of bleepy-bloopy electronic dance music? No, I don’t think so. Does it make a difference in the context of actual music artistry? Yes, absolutely. Just one example: Do you think any of the classic albums by Stevie Wonder or Herbie Hancock from the 70’s would’ve been as good with digital or soft-synths?

    DAW’s will never replace tape. Digital synths will never replace analog. Digital cameras will never replace film. Photo shop will never replace oil paint. And I don’t care if some of these thing are currently out of production. Once we get past the “indulgence phase” of the computer ALL of this stuff will come back in spades. In fact, it’s already become to do so.

    Analog is underrated.

    1. I have to disagree about digital cameras & such, but hearing is so unbelievably more sensitive at a subconscious level than vision. Analog synths have a mass in the ear that VST can’t touch yet.

      We’ll see what happens when quantum computing becomes commonplace…

      1. sorry to say, but “art” and “industry” don’t go along very good.
        also, for example, jarmusch still does use analogue cameras, just as an example

    2. “Do you think any of the classic albums by Stevie Wonder or Herbie Hancock from the 70?s would’ve been as good with digital or soft-synths?”

      Most definitely. It’s Stevie Wonder and Herbie Hancock who made those albums awesome, not the syntsh. If Stevie Wonder was young today, I’m quite positive he’d be using softsynths, and making just as awesome music.

      There’s a certain “class” or “erudition” that traditional gear (Stradivarius violins, or analog synths) give the performance, but it’s more “presentation” than “substance”. And besides, when Stevie Wonder was active, analog synths were both state of the art, AND a “blasphemous” replacement for actual, acoustic instruments.

      1. I agree. When Stevie and Hancock made those classic albums, analog synths were these new, strange instruments that broke all tradition.If any of them was young today, he’d use a DAW and the best most modern software or hardware.

        I think us as musicians, we have to live up to those standards: today we have a different paradigm: we have modern DAW’s, virtual instruments, amazingly realistic sample libraries, the internet allows us to learn and share quicker that ever before.

  14. if your talking about hardware vs Software.. yes analog is overrated.. software every time, less to dust.

    If your talking about Analog vs other types of synthesis, then No its not.. Analog all the way baby.

    this post should be called “its official, anything FM is shit”. 🙂

  15. sonically, the listener doesn’t know the difference, but as a player, the old hardware makes me interact and it inspires me. plugging in a patch cable or turing a knob or slider will always be more rewarding than clicking a mouse…. so is the sound of analog overrated… maybe… is the experience of using analog overrated… never.

    1. Analogue synths are not over-rated. This is a silly question. Substitute any other instrument and you will quickly see how silly it is. Are piccolo’s over-rated, guitars, saxophones? A nonsense question – pure blogospam.

      1. You’re dumbing this down far below what the actual question is. Saying that an analog synth is overrated when compared to a digital synth isn’t nearly the same thing as saying that guitars are overrated. If you wanted to debate whether set-neck construction for guitars is overrated when compared to the ease of servicing bolt-on-neck guitars, that’d be closer.

        1. Good point, and good argument. Perhaps another version would be wood clarinets vs plastic ones? Or bamboo reeds vs synthetic ones?

          It is also interesting that we have all kinds of instruments where the original intent was to emulate something else. But these instruments had a personality of their own. The organ sounded like wind instruments, the analog synthesizer did lots of different sounds, then digital synths emulating analog synths, etc. etc. They do all have some qualities and personalities of their own. One wonders if there will be nostalgia about acoustic instruments– not on this site, probably. But on another topic:
          Under-rated? Physical modeling (viva la Sculpture!!)

  16. I think vintage synths these days are overpriced for the most part, but I wouldn’t say that about modern analog gear. It’s actually pretty cheap overall. Hell, I bought a used desktop mopho for $200. HelloMusic just had the monotribe on there for $160.

    Sure, you can still find some vintage sleepers, but I think a lot of it is being driven by people new to the game. All the accomplished musicians I know with successful acts roll their eyes at the vintage craze. Keep in mind, though, these are guys that already have their MS-20s, and got them for $200.

    Personally, I find the prices a little obscene. $1400 for an SH101 is idiotic, but this is coming from someone who got his for $300. I also think VA is mindlessly dismissed, but I don’t mind! It allowed me to pick up a Korg Z1 w/ 16 voice expansion for $400. I’d take that over a $800 106 any day without hesitation.

    I’ve had to repair my vintage Prophet once too many times for my liking. It made me appreciate the stability of my VAs. They all have a place in the mix, if you know how to use your gear.

  17. I’ve always loved analog, but it’s a shame that toys like the Roland D-50, the Yamaha DX7 II and the Prophet VS get overlooked.

  18. Not over-rated; more like OVER-HYPED. There is this wrong assumption out there that analog=better sounding/ more creative…

    The truth is that there is plenty of shitty analog gear out there. Being analog has some major disadvantages… even $30k buchlas use digital tech because sometimes analog is less accurate.

    Analog is also less versatile. The range of sounds possible, polyphony, portability, interfacing with modern DAWs… all less than what you can do with digital (unless you are filthy stinking rich).

    Most musicians/internet forum members have very limited experience with all this gear. Most only own a few synths, and most have no formal education in sound design or engineering.
    When you read about gear on an internet forum, you are most likely reading the work of a slightly obsessed person with very strong opinions, or someone who has read enough of others opinions to wrongfully consider himself an expert. This type of knowledge amounts to “bro science”. It is skewed and usually uninformed with just enough truth to confuse others.

    Analogs are NOT ALWAYS AWESOME. Trying to locate an original preset tape for a Prophet 5 is a PITA. The steppy filters on it sucked too.. Ever play a CS-80? Powerful, yes. Duplicating sounds from photos, even using the same EXACT knob positions… freakin impossible. The coveted Model D mini? super inaccurate waveforms on the oscillators, making some usually easy sounds very hard to make on it…

    Analog is awesome for it’s charm and almost life-like qualities. But analog as a trend or a marketing technique or a mantra is pure stupidity. Digital is more versatile, in both sound and features. As computers and DSP improve, analog will have less and less to boast about.

    Now that I’m done typing I’m going to play with my machinedrum, FR XS, Voyager XL, Sherman Filterbank, and my Access Virus TI Polar. 😛

  19. I don’t think analog synthesizers are overrated. Rather, I simply think that many vintage digital and hybrid synths (Synclavier, Fairlight, Casio Phase Distortion, Yamaha FM, SCI and Yamaha vector synthesis, PPG and Waldorf wavetable, Ensoniq, Roland D-50, E-mu Morpheus, etc.) are *underrated*. 😀

  20. I think that lots of people understandably appreciate good virtual analog like the Virus, Nord Lead, etc.. Though perhaps the JP-8000 is underrated. 😉

  21. Oh yeah – Kurzweil’s digital synths are seriously *underrated* as well. They are great instruments. I quite enjoyed playing the K250, for example; I thought it had a lovely sound and was quite expressive.

    And I miss Kawai’s additive synths as well.

  22. Also Arturia’s software analog synths are beauties. And then there are always filters that add warmth and analog sound to the tracks.
    But from what I gathered from the discussion (which isn’t leading anywhere) is that there will always be room for both analog and software synths and it all boils down to the musician’s needs, budget, flexibility etc. Even hardcore analog users like Vince Clarke switched over to Macbook and Logic and put up his synths on eBay. Others are collectors (like Moby and his machine drums), so there isn’t any over-/underrated, better, worse, lively, lifeless, cold, warm power struggle between the analog and digital.

    1. Vince still has a studio full of analogue synths that were used on the last erasure album. Check out his Analogue Monologues.

      1. I’ve seen it, though I’m not sure when it’s made. I read in a magazine around the Yazoo reunion that he sold a whole bunch of his synths and started using computer synths. Also from live videos of Erasure, Yazoo and The Assembly he seems to be standing behind pretty much just a Macbook and a (MIDI) keyboard (controller), so it’s a minimal setup.

  23. First thing to point out is that most of the new “analogue” synths that come out are really digitally controlled analogue. Otherwise they’d have no memory, no midi, and constantly be out of tune

    That aside, again it’s a pretty meaningless question. Which analogue synths, exactly? Is a cs80 overrated, almost never. Is a prophet 5 “better” than native instruments massive? In what sense could that even mean anything? Good analogue synths are good. Good digital synths are good. The important variable is “good”

    All questions like this do is draw out people’s peculiar, usually injusified prejudices. A few examples:

    Daws will never replace tape. They have. Ampex and basf stopped making tape a decade ago. Student and otari stopped making machines. Tape is now the preserve of a cult, a bit like vinyl. It’s not that tape wasn’t brilliant (give me 16 track two inch for drums and bass tracking any day) but it lost. Too expensive, too inconvenient.

    The comments about stevie wonder and herbie Hancock? What makes innervisions incredible is stevie wonder, not the fact that he used a mimmoog. If the dx7 had been around, hed have used that an it would have been awesome (listen to Brian eno and tell me a dx7 can’t be “warm”). Equally, Hancock was an enthusiastic early adopter of the fairlight. And he made it rock. All 8 bits of it

    Problem is this is part of a wider ignorance. Ive lost count of the idiotic things people tell me about digital versus analogue, valve vs solid state, etc. for example people saying how amazing the “valve warmth” of a neve 1081 is (when it’s solid state) or how great their $200 tube microphone is compared to a Neumann fet47 (also solid state)

    I’ve heard people tell me that different brands of hard drives sound different (even though that’s literally impossible they “heard the difference”) or that ofc cable can be directional. Or that they’re utilising tape compression when they’re barely tickling the needles and have lined up to unity on 499/gp9 or basf 900.

    Regrettably, in every case it’s bullshit, plain and simple.

    Trust me, people who make music for a living don’t give a tuppeny fuck what category their gear fits into. They want the best sounding tool for the job be it analogue, digital, tube, solid state or a piece of wet string. They have more important things to worry about

    It would probably also help if about 90% of the music I hear where the gear takes centre stage (“man, i only use analogue”) rather than the music wasn’t mostly unlistenable drivel.

    Thanks. I feel better now.

    1. Yes “Innervisions” still would have been good if Stevie had used a DX7 or whatever for that matter, but it wouldn’t be “Innervisions”. Yes, it’s amazing because it Stevie Wonder: Stevie Wonder using a certain set of tools that just happened to be analogue synthesizers. The idea that the tool plays no role in the shaping of a song or an album when in the hands of a genius is pretty silly.

      If Led Zeppelin recorded exactly the same music as “Led Zeppelin II” and used modern guitars, digital signal processors, pro-tools and had some “engineer” using modern recording methods, sorry, the music would not be the same. Would it sound better than most of the stuff being made today? Yes, of course. Would it still sound like shit? Yes, probably.

    2. “Daws will never replace tape. They have.”

      Yes, they have at Guitar Center. If you were to take a perusal through many a famous musician’s studio I guarantee you (and know for a fact) that they still have their tape machines and use them as much or more than their Pro-Tools rig.

      “Equally, Hancock was an enthusiastic early adopter of the fairlight. And he made it rock. All 8 bits of it”

      Sure, he did. But I’ll take “Thrust”, “Headhunters” or “Man Child” over “Sound System” or “Future Shock” (blech) any day. And the gear he used has quite a bit to do with why.

      “Trust me, people who make music for a living don’t give a tuppeny fuck what category their gear fits into.”

      You’re right. And 8 times out of 10, in picking what “sounds best”, they pick something analogue. Sorry. Don’t take it personally.

      1. Hey Neptune – if you have to tell us that you, “Know for a fact”, that usually means that you don’t know jack. Call us when you get a career and move out of your bedroom and get some real world experience.

  24. I like digital and I like analog. I could not imagine working solely with either digital or analog though in a pinch I’d probably go with the good digital synths (the Microwave XT for example is so versatile and can sound awesomely analog if programmed right). So for me the bottom line is that analog is certainly overrated from the point of usability but if you have the space and money to get several hardware synths I’d always say: Get some analog and some digital and perhaps some hybrid things and a few analog effects like stomp boxes or tape echos. Media coverage wise I’d say that both analog as well as soft synths (especially for mobile platforms) are overrated at the moment and that ultimately we will come around and realise that it’s also cool to use hardware digital synths (hope that there will be some more of those from big as well as small manufacturers).

  25. Has anyone heard live or even seen on video anything musical coming out of a Buchla synth? All I ever see / hear are atonal bleeps and sci-fi noises.

    1. Well, to some people, that *is* musical… I’m not much of a fan of it, but it’s an amazing sound design tool.

      Buchla appeals to the geek in me, not the musician.

  26. I am completely bored for quite some time now with the sound of saw/square/sine oscillators pushed through a filter, in other words subtractive synthesis. It doesn’t feel nearly exciting as I thought it was 20y ago. What I do find exciting these days, though, is samplers and romplers. Anyway, me finding it unexciting doesn’t mean I think subtractive analogue synths are useless, because every synthesis and every synth sounds different and can be useful for something, but I’m looking forward to acquiring some vintage samplers instead because they give a much broader palette of sounds. It all also depends on what kind of music you make, of course…. I’m into industrial dance music, mostly.


    1. For me, plain sawtooth “wyeeoww” filter sweeps got old fast even in the ’70s. I’d have liked a big modular synth with lots of multimode filters, LFOs and envelopes, arbitrary signal paths… but instead, I managed to buy a Pro One in 1985, as people were starting to unload analogue gear cheaply. The thing that made that synth interesting for me was the flexibility – decent range of oscillator settings, lots of modulation options and a separate filter envelope. If it had had a multimode filter and inverse filter envelope modes it would have been even more fun. I do wish I still had it (it was stolen long ago).

      Nowadays, good VA synths offer possibilities for modulation, filtering and control not found on most of the old (budget) analogue synths I ever got to play, and as far as the purity of “real analogue” goes, if Paul Wiffen is happy with the Synthex recreation from XILS-lab, then I’m going to treat that as the closest I’ll ever get to playing the real thing!

  27. For me, the issue is not the method of sound production. Its that the rush to “analog’ has also come with a rush to emulate bands who started there 30+ years ago. It has at least somewhat hurt people’s creativity to channel Jarre, T-Dream and Depeche Mode to such excess. Too many tributes can eventually feel like marching in a circle. I love analog synths in general and have owned 3, but I am tired of the standard sounds that pepper so much music now. I seem to blend sawtooth waves and sampled orchestral instruments a LOT to avoid what feels like a cliche now. Not to diss anyone who loves and plays that gear, but I am happier now, simply because I grew further. I’d like to hear a bit more of that in others, because the gear now is so hot, its humbling.

  28. I think they are overrated, but I hope they stay that way. I hope there is always an analog synth industry. I doubt though that I’ll ever buy another one. I have two analog synths, and they both are awaiting hundreds of dollars of repair/reconditioning that I just haven’t gotten around to. I’m just a hobbyist, so I don’t need them to make a living. I find that soft synths keep me plenty busy, and they sound good to me. I don’t have to tune them. I don’t have to repair them. I don’t have to worry about getting the sound in my DAW. The old classic synths are great, they are a part of history, but the new stuff is pretty cool and easier to take care of.

  29. this generation of artist can’t begin to understand how good you have it
    -virtual analog is amazing you can even run it in your browser from any device

    “limitation give infinite possibilities ”

    – analog is a calling – if you have never heard that call
    you will never understand the satisfaction of completing your first row of modules
    or MAKING a patch that surprises you

  30. its a lot like how iPods are now replacing records with mp3 versions of songs in your pockets, but its always nice to go back and listen to a record, for the pure aesthetic of it. soft synths are cheaper, and just as good. Sure, an analogue synth is fun to play with, but not necessary anymore to make electronic music. they’re huge, extremely expensive, and don’t do nearly as much for what you get in a soft synth.

  31. I will use anything. However, some of the particular quirks and design elements (maybe flaws) were what made certain vintage, analogue keyboards sound amazing to us. Could be a simple thing like different rates for each LFO in the Yamaha CS-80. Sounds like something trivial, but becomes a big part of the sound when coupled with Polyphonic Aftertouch. So … can you recreate that digitally ? Not always.

    On the other hand, digital control has been a part of synthesizers since the mid-1970’s … so where do we draw the line ?

    I will use anything. Should sound good and play well.

  32. The Analog vs Digital debate,is no different than the CD vs Vinyl debate.You’re always going to have nostalgia.Digital gets very close,but it can’t get on par with analog.Well,with modern software,you can pretty much get that analog sound in your daw.With that question already answered,people still love their analog hardware.Just like people love their Vinyl Records lol.The same thing will happen,when something replaces digital,because you’re always going to have different camps.I like analog,but i’m happy with digital synths.I’ve won several Grammys,where I used only digtial synths.The only analog synth I use anymore is the Mogg.Everything else is Virus and VSTs.My favorite synth:Access Virus.

  33. I don’t think you can compare analog to digital. They are completely different styles of synthesis. An ESQ-1 will sound different than a Mono/Poly. A violin will sound different than a cello. Apples and oranges.

    Now VST plug-in emulators… now THAT is a different matter.

  34. Analog synthesizers have one distinctive quality that digital synthesizers so far lack.
    Perhaps because of the inaccuracy or slightly unstable nature of the gear, it seems more like
    a performer and instrument relationship. If you play any other instruments, like guitars, keys
    or drums, you have to develop an understanding of, and communicate with the instrument.
    Digital synthesizers have many excellent qualities, and they normally sound great right
    out of the box. Models that give you knobs and faders for each aspect of sound generation are great for
    people that are programmers at heart, I love the Roland JP-8000, but I don’t interact with it the same
    way I do with my Prophet. Analog is over-hyped, Digital could be under appreciated.

  35. VA, Analog, FM, Hybrid, who cares as long as you get the sound you want, i don’t care, i have several synths and they all have certain sounds or capabilities that the others don’t and there is crossover between them also, non should be treated as being better than the other, just different, i personally like a synth that has controls for all the main stuff on the front panel to tweak easily while playing or trying to create a sound that makes you want to play something but its not the be all and end all, vst’s and that whole DAW laptop thing isnt where i want to be, tried it and went back to hardware synths with analog mixer, kp3 all midi synced and a RS7000 to control most of it, audio fed into a laptop for multi tracking and final mixdown with some good finalizing plugins, works for me.

    For anyone interested my current setup / collection is….

    Novation Nova Laptop, E-mu Vintage Pro, E-mu Audity 2000, Yamaha EX5, Korg MS2000, Korg Z1ex, Alesis Micron, Waldorf Blofeld, Korg Karma, Yamaha SY77, Yamaha SU700, Korg KP3, Novation Nova 2, Novation K-Station, Yamaha CS6x, Yamaha A5000, Roland U220, Boss GT-6, Yamaha RM1x, Behringer Line Mixer, Yamaha QY70, Korg Kaosilator 1, Korg EA-1 mk2, ER-1 mk2, Ensoniq TS-12, Yamaha RS7000 for sequencing some if it, and Korg Triton Studio as master keyboard, Sony Acid Pro for multi tracking and final mixdown with ssl plugins.

    All my analog synth’s where sold off gasp, last one was a 106 that i had connected up along with a K-Station when i was deciding what to keep, K-Station was capable of producing 99% of what the 106 sounded like and then a lot more besides so sold the 106 and bought a Z1 with the money and still had some left over for a Kaosilator 1, K-Station is a brilliant wee synth and well under rated imo, i had owned the 106 since new so it took a while to decide to let it go but more like sentimental than what it sounded like, analog can be over rated sometimes, well in the case of the 106 imo anyway.

    Btw i’m looking at getting a new analog synth but not because they are the “in thing” atm but because i want another synth to play around with, just as important to me as producing a new track, after all thats why they say PLAY an instrument.

    Anyway enough of me ranting about Synth’s etc,
    Keep Creating, Keep PLAYING folks.

  36. Well certainly this subject raises the debating gene in many. For my two cents I advocate that music is an art and the process of creating it can take many paths. I have analogue , digital, sampling, acoustic gear and it all has its place. I sometime find that recording a real world sound and feeding it through the MS2000 promotes an idea, other times I might leave the sound as a virgin recording and sample it for ease of use. Sometimes you set out to record a crowd and get an argument in the background when you play it back. This creates an idea for a track and then you turn to a digital synth based on that inspiration. The creativity is the art , the method is the journey and nothing is discounted or overrated.

  37. Does it REALLY matter if it is analogue or digital? If it works and sounds good in the mix then it is good…. As for the end listener, It could be a tin pot being hit with a stick for all they care….

  38. Analog is good.
    Digital is good.
    Acoustic is good.
    I await the true hybrid, the one that may never exist.
    I want a fully functional digital/sampler/midi AND analog synth, not the two of them shoved into the same box, but one that accentuates the best of both, a synth that can take a sample or midi library and push it through the organically fluid controls of a well built analog machine. Having played analogs for 25 years now, I can almost feel how the signal is being bent, twisted, echoed, oscillated and bounced off of itself. I want that familiar control over ANY sound I can find/dream up, whatever…and make it polyphonic, even the analog parts.

    And don’t get stingy with the knobs, sliders & benders. Make the keys all heavy and serious too.

  39. Quit being so polite, everyone. Just say it — analog instruments feel more organic, more expressive, richer, warmer, sweeter and less predictable. Geez… it’s like we have to be all politically correct toward digital gear now, as not to hurt its feelings and get its 1’s and 0’s in a hissy fit. If you deny that difference in the experience of playing either type of instrument, I would say you haven’t actually played analog instruments. That said, the real question is how important those differences are to you as the musician. Maybe versatility and utility wins out over richness and warmth. Maybe you find digital to be warm-enough, and warm-enough is good enough for your needs. But don’t kid yourself — there’s a difference, and it goes well beyond analog snobbery or how fashionable a buzzword “analog” might be at any given time.

  40. All of the above comments seem sureal to me. Purely from a technical science point of view electronic circuit design from 1900-till now dictates drum,record,tube,solid state, mosfet to silicon till now. Each phase gave certain results depending on how the electrons were moved through the circuit. As physics and electronics progress so will circuit design improve making emulation of physical modelling more accurate. At some point future math modelling of all of the above will eventually render the above arguments redundant. History dictates the best design will still be around in thousands of years hence the invention of the wheel.

  41. Seldom do I have the pleasure of reading a thread with so few flames and so many interesting thoughts. I can’t believe I read the whole thing. Thanks to everyone for your insights. Quite a few profound statements to be found on this page.

  42. There is an undeniable feeling for me… It’s not a sound it’s a feeling. It’s alive its like fire and that is moving and that comes from the timbres generated by some of the famous analog models. The guy on sonic matter who reviews gear on YouTube was reviewing the new Roland boutique lines : analog modelling. He had a real J8 on loan . In that video he plays 2 seconds of the lead line of Duran’s save a prayer ..whatever it was called, on the J8. Wow. It instantly turns the amazement circuits on in your brain and you feel it. 2 seconds, I wished he would of kept going because of course that wasn’t in a mix it had its full character. . The boutique stuff ? . Oscilloscope tested and seems exactly the same, exactly but that feeling…. Completely absent. Vacant. The analogy I can think of is those LED lights on houses at christmas. Yes they are vivid and bright but they are so cold. You can feel that it’s not fire in those bulbs even though it appears the same. It’s not what your eyes tell you it’s how you feel. Maybe I’m weird but when I see real lights with a fire burning in each one, it feels like there is Something happening. Fire is something that happens your instincts feel it maybe I can’t nail what it is but it’s there. . Also plasma vs led tvs. Same. Warm comfortable vs cold, sterile. Digital modelling sounds interesting on the surface, you get it. But that visceral part is missing. Blade runner sound track. Eurythmics, hell even just YouTube that video of the J8 just sitting there with patch after patch playing in the background. I find myself saying wow after every other one. I think your ear can be fooled by ones and zeros but your soul cannot 🙂

  43. What a stupid question. Is a violin overrated? Ask someone who loves to hear, then someone who hates hearing it. Come up with a good topic before writing another article.

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