Vintage Analog vs Virtual Analog Compared: Vintage Minimoog Model D & The Legend VST

This video, via Kevin Schröder, is a comparison between a vintage Moog Minimoog Model D (1976) & The Legend virtual instrument, by Synapse Audio.

Schröder notes that “Patches are only roughly approximated, but in my mind the sound is close.”

There is tremendous variation in sound between vintage Minimoogs, while it is clear there are differences between the two, the bigger question is whether the differences are different than what you might get comparing two vintage Minimoogs.

Check out the video, though, and let us know what you think!


53 thoughts on “Vintage Analog vs Virtual Analog Compared: Vintage Minimoog Model D & The Legend VST

  1. The VST sounds harder and isn’t as dynamic when playing lines with filter env and resonance. Quite a price differnce though. Still would probabaly go for Diva, more options and sounds a bit better IMO but again a bit more expensive.

  2. Both sound great to me! In a mix, one would probably never know the difference. There are times I can hear the real deal being better, but in that last sound the software sounded better, so since patches are only approximates it’s hard to say.

    Still more fun to play the hardware, but if you put that VST on a chip, threw it in a wood box that looked like the read deal, and did some A/B testing, I’m not convinced people would know it wasn’t the same thing.

    1. The software sounds better ? The software has been made to sound like the original. Think about that for a second. How could it sound better? It sounds similar. If it sounded better then we’d be trying to replicate the software not the synth. That will never happen.

      1. I thought about it for a second; of course the software can sound better. Not “more real” than the real thing, yes that’s impossible. (Or is it? What if we were to compare a hyper realistic emulation with a broken specimen of the original?) There is no reason why the VST couldn’t sound more pleasing to the ear than the original, even if it was designed to do nothing more than emulate said original. What sounds “better” is just a personal preference; anyone can prefer anything over anything. Whether you think they are right or wrong is irrelevant.

      2. Dunno about that last bit. There’s some really original soft synths I wouldn’t mind a hardware version of.

        It’s not as much about digi vs analogue sound comparisons anymore (as far as most that actually use synths to record are concerned) as much as it is about having the hardware in your hands.

  3. Plugin synth sound has gotten really good. This video is a good comparison. I can detect that there’s a difference, especially on the unfiltered sound of the oscillators. But it’s a small difference. And when the sound is filtered, the differences are even smaller. On the filtered patch comparisons, I can hear that they’re not identical. But I don’t think I could identify which is which in a blind test. Except on the last patch, where the oscillators are tuned to a major triad. Those sound very noticeably different. Could be small differences in the tuning of the oscillators, or the relative blend of the oscillators or how hard they’re driving the filter, or some combination. But overall it’s a pretty successful demonstration of an accurate model.

  4. Hmmm? Let’s see. When listening to music, the vast majority of people in the world can’t tell and don’t care about the differences. The VST version is how much compared to the hardware version? The repairs on a VST cost how much compared to repairs on the hardware version? How much polyphony does the VST version have compared to the hardware version?

    1. What does it matter if Martha the waitress or Johnny the cab driver can’t tell the difference? It’s the performer to whom the instrument matters most.

      Another way to look at it is in 10 years the VST will be worth zero and probably will be incompatible with the operating system it is running on. The synth, if well-maintained, will be worth more than ever.

      I’m not anti-VST at all, just saying there are more than one way of looking at it, especially if money isn’t a limiting factor.

  5. I didn’t hear ANY difference that couldn’t easily be attributed to a slight difference in settings. That said, I think Kevin did a VERY impressive job matching the settings and levels to make the comparison more fair.

    One comparison I’d have like to have heard would just be a very fast filter opening (attack) and very fast filter closing (decay). I’m always curious to know how subtractive emulations handle very fast parameter changes- things like zippering can occur as opposed to a very snappy analog sound.

    1. That’s very true about snappy envelopes being a weak spot in many plugin synths. For a really nice plugin with nice fast envelope performance, check out repro-one by U-he.

    1. Ok, Dude, would you be willing to put your money where your mouth is? Would love to see how you did with a blind listening comparison. I strongly suspect your preference is due to the audio-placebo-effect.

      Don’t get me wrong, I do believe that the hardware sounds better to you. It’s just that the reason it sounds better has little or nothing to do with the source signal.

      The big clue was when you said, “No comparison.” Clearly, there’s a comparison– and they are strikingly similar– except as even the tester admitted there were differences in settings not quite being matched.

        1. a blind test would have been fun here…even more fun if video-maker made the video where the audio-track was mixed up on purpose.

          Imagine this:
          Listener have been told that they will first hear the analog followed by the VST and in reality, the opposite. < I think you will be really surprised about the result from most people here!

      1. Ahhh! You’re right, one potato in each ear! Ok that’s much better. Ok, listened again, still impressed. If you want to impress us with your golden ears, let’s have you do the blind test.

  6. For me it’s all about the enjoyment of playing the thing. I just like having tactile control over an instrument w/ big knobs… I think they both sounded great! 🙂

  7. There is very little difference here in tone or quality of sound. The people who have spoken against the software are not coming up with valid arguments against it, which tells me that in a blind test they would not only fail, but fail in a huge way. And, btw – many engineers who still work @ Moog have stated unequivocally that Bob Moog was not an analog purist – he championed digital just as much as analog and was not at all a digital basher. This analog purist bullshit is just that – mere posing. Analog synths can sound cold and harsh, just as digital synths can sound very warm and lush, and much has to do with the amplification, speakers, EQ, room tone, and many other factors that have nothing to do with the original oscillator source or electronic signal path to the synth output.

    The argument that holds any water at all would be the one regarding the value of the equipment 10 years from now. True story that the analog synth would be worth more – but it also would have physical wear and tear, and not necessarily be any more playable than the software synth due to old age damage – but really that’s an apples to oranges comparison, since we were comparing sound, not physical attributes.

  8. I think Synapse did a great job, don’t go away Synapse I LOVE Dune 2. Personally, if I wanted that particular Moog Model D sound and could afford the beautiful real deal, I would buy the Synapse approximation and then go on a synth spending spree with the money I just saved…I can only dream.

    1. Thanks for the recommendation. I just downloaded the demo of Dune 2 and like it very much.

      Impressively snappy envelopes especially when setting the modulation rate in the fast/audio rate mode– unprecedentedly fast. The LFO’s go up to 250Hz and stay smooth. It’s got different levels of MIDI CC smoothing– which let’s you choose between smoothness/latency or as-is/fast, or points in-between. Those are nice features.

      The synthesis isn’t super sprawling, it’s mostly subtractive with a tiny bit of FM thrown in. But lots of oscillators. A few features I would have liked to see are Poly AT as a control source, and use of custom tuning maps (a la Rhino). When the developers say they prioritized sound quality in this VI, they weren’t just talking. Fast mod scan rates and MIDI CC smoothing are two features that make it very valuable- especially for folks who want to do a fair amount of realtime hardware control.

  9. A YouTube video is one thing, using it in real life is another. I would like nothing more than to have software match analog hardware, but it doesn’t. It just doesn’t. These comparisons are great, until you try the analog synth in person. Im sure digital will eventually eclipse and surpass analog, but until that day analog is still miles ahead for analog sound. If you can’t hear it, I can’t help you. Count yourself lucky. You can save some money.

  10. it is like this, when i go to knobcon and see the totally cool setup the suit and tie guy has, i would end up taking the Korg Kronos out of all that gear. One can do just about EVERYTHING with that piece of gear alone. i know, i know, standing in front of a massive modular is completely sexy just as many think that thrashing back and forth with a guitar like in some state of ecstasy is cool too…that is just the showmanship factor at the end of the day. a workstation like the Kronos can do all that magical shit but all someone has to do is press a button to make it play after composing everything. unless your doing a Kraftwerk cover band tribute thing and the people pay to see expect to see someone standing in front of a hunk of metal and plastic with pulsing lights, one will otherwise put everyone to sleep with zero performance factor. in my synth playground my minilogue, electribe, circuit, K2500s, and battery of killer softsynths driven by either logic or live rock the house…each has its place, flavor, relationship, signature…they all contribute to the picture. basically, the Model D is monotimbral whereas with the Legend, I can run countless instances of it. I get discouraged that I can only harness the awsomeness of the monolgue or ultranova one channel at a time, shit, i would love to have at least another channel each of these because there are so many cool sounds i program into them but cannot exploit morw than one at a time. drats

  11. The only people preferring the vst over the real thing, are people who can’t afford a real model d. Some people are so married to plug ins now they get offended if anyone suggests the real thing is infinitely better. The real thing is always better.

    1. Look and see how many people were PREFERRING the VST. None. We were all saying they are similar. Maybe one person mentioned something a little preferable in one example. And saying the real thing is “INFINITELY” better isn’t offensive, it’s hyperbolic.

    2. you been lied to for ages, with analog vs digital, 100$ converters and 2000$ and so on, you just don’t want to believe in it after you spend all that money. it will happen with time, people will know this, we only need to make “confirmation bias” hot topic 🙂

      1. I do think that some products involve more expensive components, better build quality, more sophisticated circuitry, and more experienced R & D. So you can’t dismiss big price differences as “all hype”. There are some great examples of famously overhyped products (Monster cable comes to mind.)

        However, I think all people should become more aware of things like placebo effect, confirmation bias and those other reasoning fallacies. (You Are Not So Smart is an interesting podcast series that deals with the subject).

        1. “more expensive components, better build quality, more sophisticated circuitry, and more experienced R & D” doesn’t necessarily makes better sound. on some level we hit the limit we can hear.

          1. I agree. “Not necessarily.” But better build quality gets you a more rugged more reliable piece of equipment that might last longer and take more of a beating. More sophisticated circuitry is mostly about better fidelity or more features. Experienced R & D probably has more to do with the quality of the sound than anything, I imagine.

  12. This plugin sounds remarkably similar (and very good!) but there are still audible differences even with my shitty laptop speakers. Things are getting closer audio-wise, but not quite. In terms of hands-on control, interface, resale value, performing live, and general randomness there is no comparison. Even a battered second-hand MS20 mini beats any of my plugins into a pulp. There is a reason Dave Smith made the first (or one of the first) virtual synth and decided it was a shit idea. When I try to retrieve my old songs made with plugins back in 2001… well, bad luck! Try to find the VST’s and make them work in your current computer.

  13. maybe your average “person in the street” cant tell the difference between the two in the mix.

    But i wander how long it took to program the same sounds on the real hardware verses the plugin….i bet they were knocked up on the real synth in half the time. Thats gonna be worth something….

      1. That’s why you have midi templates for controllers. Get a controller you like and when you get the assignments right, save the template.

  14. To explore the claim that the primary differences are in the upper harmonics, I took the original sound from the video and slowed it down to 50% speed. This brings 20K down to 10K. I also applied a high-pass filter to remove everything below 1K. This will help highlight the differences in higher harmonics. I also put like-notes right after each other to make the comparison more easy to hear.

    For those claiming the Moog is “infinitely better” and that differences are in the upper harmonics… I’m calling B.S.

    The resulting uncompressed audio is posted here:

      1. This suggestion came too late in the thread to have gotten any legs. However, I suspect that the people who were so quick to dismiss The Legend as vastly inferior wouldn’t have wanted to take the quiz anyway.

  15. Anyone that knows me knows my love of hardware…. and also know my claim of “Software still can’t sound like hardware”…. So… I did a test with this…… Scrolled down to the comments whilst listening so I couldn’t actually see which was being played….. on Barefoot MM27’s you could hear SOME differences… just nuances… but could you tell which was real and which was VA?…. possibly, possibly not….. did one sound better or worse… no, not really…incredibly similar actually. I only checked which was which AFTER listening to the end.

    So… two things…. 1. Can Software now sound as good as hardware? The holy grail seems to be either here or on the horizon…..

    2. Anyone that refuses to accept that is just either trying too hard to defend the fact that they’ve just bought some hardware, or is a fool that won’t accept that the world moves forward! I won’t be selling my System 55 or Schmidt or Modals or whatever in a hurry simply because they bring a whole other dimension to sound creation but on THIS occasion, with THIS software emulating THIS synth…. it’s amazing! AND at $99!

    Anyone that wants to believe otherwise is full of bull, deaf or still believes in the worth of Betamax.

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