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Best analog modeling synths?


Let's have some opinions here. Everyone knows there is nothing as good as the original - take my Juno 106 for instance, nothing sounds like. But there have been some new moog-like synths coming out that keep everything in the digital realm. Other than the Andromeda, r.i.p.;) , there hasn't been many truly new true analog synths coming out. But, there are all these great analog sounds on all these new albums. So, what do you like most in the analog modeling synth field. Are you into Nord or virus, a supernova or a quasimidi? What about the waldorf or the many soft synths like retro as1 and reason?
August 28, 2001 @05:56pm

I have heard the Access Virus rack unit and the sounds are amazing. the Virus comes with so many usable presets it is a great tool right out of the box.
All of my personal experience is with soft sythns - Retro AS-1 and the NI Pro-52. And while I love the tones of these programs, the tweak factor isn't there because of the computer interface. At least not yet. I'll probably invest in the NI 4CONTROL or another MIDI controller in addition to my keyboard.
August 30, 2001 @02:22am

i like Reaktor a lot.. that thing is just nuts! you can spend weeks at a time building custom synths in it. pro-52 is pretty nice, as is the waldorf PPG wave. model-e is ok... i've heard good things about VAZ modular as well, though i haven't tried it. still waiting for an Arp Odyssey emulation!!
still, a lot of times i tend to run the soft synths through something like magneto to give it more of a tape-saturated warmth and vintage feel. they are digital, so you have to work a bit sometimes to get a true analog sound. moderate use of certain effects like doppler, or tape saturation, certain reverbs, etc. can give back that slightly unstable, wobbly feel of true analog synths (which is what i try to aim for). i love the sound of the synths on John Foxx's classic album "Metamatic", or Bill Nelson's "The Love That Whirls", or any Early David Sylvian's albums like "Gone to Earth", or some of Brian Eno's instrumental work.. it's pretty hard to get sounds like that from emulators..
August 30, 2001 @03:49am

I agree with you about the VIRUS - It has one of the best analog sounds of any of these "modelling" synths. Especially those fuzzy/distorted, very thick textures that those classic analog synths were known for. If you ever get your chance to play one, I'd recommend it. It probably has the best feel of any of these type of synth keyboards. It's not a plastic feel like the waldorf or triton. I guess my only critique is that it hasn't any great bell sounds. Those high res. sounds with those really tweakable filters. But for big phat analog basses or soaring leads, its incredible.
That 4 control and tweakability is a good point. I haven't gotten my hands on one yet but I know some users and they just love it. It's a perfect compliment to alot of these soft synths.
August 30, 2001 @02:37pm

As far as Hardware Virtual synths go, I use the Virus and JP-8000 the most. Both instruments have their own character. The Virus I've found to be able to be more aggressive. The JP-8000 has a certain smoothness even when going for something more "Garage". The Nord lead I feel falls somewhere in between the the two, I don't own one, my opinion is just based on experience using rental nords on record dates. I still use my collection of vintage synths.I find my High end record clients really appreciate it when I pull out my analogs. They still carry a mystique along with their sound, but I must say I almost exclusively use my Virus and JP in my own personal work.
September 8, 2001 @11:00am
Carl Hartvigson

I hope this isn't too off topic, but your 1st post in this thread scared me a little. Is the Andromeda on it's way out, or did I not read it right? I had planned to get one by the middle of next year, but I saw the little RIP remark and got worried. Please clarify.
(PS: I like the Virus, too. The sounds from the Q are also really cool.)
September 8, 2001 @04:19pm

Alesis is shipping product again and I would think that the Andromeda would be one of their highest priorities since it is such a great synth. My rip remark was really more of a joke although nothings for sure in this industry and there is no guarentee that the andromeda will be back. Right now, they're not shipping them but that could change tomorrow. My guess would be that they'll be in stores by the end of the year.
September 9, 2001 @07:23pm

Does anyone own an Oberheim OB12 VA keyboard? Or ever played one? What do you like/dislike about it?
I've heard that the presets aren't that great, but that it has a lot of power and a good overall sound - i.e. it could be programed to sound good. Anybody programed any nice patches?
September 15, 2001 @07:59pm
Carl Hartvigson

About the OB12: I understand it has some unusual sounds and relatively good sound design options, but unfortunately, it has been discontinued. I've seen one on eBay, so it may be hard to find. It's biggest selling point would have been the Modeled "classic" Oberheim filters. If you're big into Analog Modeling synths and have several others, it's a nice addition, but if you need only one, I've heard that the Nord Lead 3, Virus and SuperNova II are more "desert island" status than the OB12. Only some thoughts. ;)
- Carl W. Hartvigson
September 16, 2001 @02:48am

I've heard the same things about the OB12 - it's cancelled, the Nord, Virus and Nova are more popular/better. I haven't heard much from people who actually own or have played an OB12 (understandably since they came out and discontinued quickly).
I am not "big into" analog modelling synths - I played a Nord Lead I once, and a JP-8000 a few times, a Microwave Xt and a Supernova once or twice at music stores. The broken Oberheim OB-SX that I had years ago blew them all away for pure sound - but reliability, MIDI, upgrades, etc. add a lot to a keyboard for studio use (which is what I primarily use them for).
I actually considered the OB12 because Musician's Friends seems to be blowing them out (via their catalog, though their website says they have no more) for $800. That's roughly half the price (or less) of the others mentioned here. For me (at least now) VA is not a replacement for analog, but in a mix can be very convincing for pads, brass, etc. For exposed sounds - leads, etc. - no VA I've heard can touch, for example a modest MOTM modular voice.
Anyway, I'd still like to hear from anyone who has actually laid hands (and ears) on an OB12! :)
September 16, 2001 @03:46pm

I'm surprised no one has mentioned the Waldorf Q yet...
My Q rack has been about the most inspirational piece of gear I've purchased in some time...It doesn't seem to have any problem burbling and glurping along as some of my analogs back in the old days did. Granted they were the likes of the Poly 61, Monopoly and Chroma Polaris but still...
I've never quite gotten people's aversion to virtual analog either. From my old Nord Lead to my current Q and MWXT all have been very workable in the contexts I've used them and when they needed warmth, I've had tubes and even mics and cabinets aplenty to get them toasty and moving some air.
Can those of you on the anti-virtual camp chime in?
September 26, 2001 @01:53am

Well I'm not "anti-virtual", but I definitely have opinions on this topic (for more search the Analog Heaven archives - this has been discussed so much there it's sort of taboo now - see www.midiwall.com/archives/ah/)
The main thing for me is sound. A real analog synth sounds more organic - more randomly fluctuating - than a digital synth, even one that is programmed to emulate this behavior. I like electronic music where the synths are the main (and often only) instrument - where timbre is as important (or more) than harmony. For music like that, where the sound of a synth is really laid bare, real analog VCOs and VCFs sound so much more pleasing to me. It's not just about "warmth" - though that is part of it. If it were, you are right, you could just run your digital synth through a tube preamp or fx. To me, an analog synth is much closer to an acoustic intrument than to "computer music", which is ultimately how I would categorize digital synths.
Now, having said all that, I've hear mixes with virtual analogs that sounded great - and the VAs sounded very convincing (i.e. like real analogs). But those were pop/rock format songs where the drums are as loud as everything else combined, then voice, bass, guitar, keys, etc. I think VAs are great - in many cases I can imagine they would be preferrable to a real analog - gigging in a cover band eg. where you want lightweight, easily replaceable, reliable, etc. Or for MIDI intesive sequencing with CC's flying everywhere (but some would argue that MIDI's poor resolution makes VAs less useful - stairstepping filter sweeps and all that) I was considering the OB-12 because I thought I could get one cheap, but I found an OB-8 with MIDI for even cheaper and jumped on it.
Last thing and then I'll stop. :) I think the difference between VA and "RA" is like the difference between a real piano and a sampled/modelled piano. Much (most?) of the time, especially for pop music, a good sampled piano will do just fine. But for a solo piano album, it won't. As they say, "if you want a piano sound, get a piano." For me, if you really want the sound (and not just the feeling or function) you have to get the real thing.
September 26, 2001 @02:44am

The waldorfQ is also a great keyboard. It has some of the best glass organ/bells sounds out there. The filters are great as well. It definately lacks the warmth of the virus, nord stuff, but the virus lacks the resinant like sounds of the waldorf.
October 4, 2001 @01:27am

The Novation Supernova has to be the best of the lot. It has the great filters and bell sounds of the waldorf, the warmth of the Virus and the complex sounds of the triton. It has great FX and amazing sound design capibilities. It truly can do it all.
November 12, 2001 @02:06am

I agree that the Supernova is great. I've not head the Virus or Andromeda, but I have a JP-8080 and a SNII KB. Keep in mind that the SNII is more expensive than the JP, so it has "more of everything", with a lot more control over filters (I especially like the filter overdrive control) and the wide LFO range. The layout of the buttons and knobs on the SNII is also super. My only compaint is that they are long overdue in releasing the digital out.
November 12, 2001 @08:52am