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Modern soft synths

stratum
KVRian
 
1053 posts since 29 May, 2012

Postby stratum; Sun Mar 19, 2017 2:57 pm Re: Modern soft synths

I think this pretty much nails it


If that summarizes it, then apparently nobody wants presets designed by professionals. Should I believe? I guess, no.
~stratum~
Terrafractyl
KVRist
 
254 posts since 15 Nov, 2005, from Melbourne Australia

Postby Terrafractyl; Sun Mar 19, 2017 3:20 pm Re: Modern soft synths

stratum wrote:
I think this pretty much nails it


If that summarizes it, then apparently nobody wants presets designed by professionals. Should I believe? I guess, no.


Umm it was kind of a joke post! Really I was just trying to say that arguing about what makes a 'modern' soft synth is rather stupid when obviously we all have a different opinion on what 'Modern' actually means. I wasn't trying to make the be-all-end-all post to end this discussion. I was just trying to say its becoming a bit of a waste of time.

If I had thought about it for more than a minute I would have included a bunch more things. but presets??
I dunno, I agree that presets definitely impact on peoples impressions of a synth.

To me though, presets are one thing I actually try hard not to base my judgments on, I have been burned too many times by presets, and it works both ways.
Sometimes brilliantly made presets kind of obscure the problems inherent to synth.
Sometimes terribly made presets obscure the brilliance of the actual synth.
I think most experienced synth users have worked that one out.
Hypnagog (Experimental Electronica) |
Terrafractyl (Psytrance) |Kinematic Records (Label)
User avatar
zerocrossing
KVRAF
 
8767 posts since 26 Jun, 2006, from San Francisco Bay Area

Postby zerocrossing; Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:32 pm Re: Modern soft synths

Terrafractyl wrote:I think in 90% of the people that buy synthesizers, 'Modern' means shiny looking. (or whatever GUI style is currently cool)

For hipsters it means the best / newest / shiniest emulation of synths from back when they were still cool(read very expensive).

For synth nerds, it means ZDF filters, Audio rate modulation and band limited oscillators.

For Ghettosynth obviously it means Reaktor.

Pretty sure we are never going to agree on a term like this. Sure we all know something like 'best sounding' is hugely objective, but really a term like 'Modern' is even more vague and objective.

Its like 'futuristic'. Its meaning will constantly change to reflect our own perceptions.

That's a great point. Look at what the idea of the future has looked like in general over the years. From the steampunkish 1800s to the Art Deco of the early 1900s, that morphed into mid-century modern that later didn't change drastically until the 70s when NASA started creeping into the culture and we went from the USS Enterprise to ships that looked like Space 1999's Eagle. Music has been much slower to change as much more vast money go into aerospace than the arts. Still, things like microphones, multi-track recording, and later synthesizers started changing the way music sound. People forget the high pitch sound of pre mic crooners. They sung like that to cut though the band. I think it was Bing Crosby that first utilized the mic as an "electronic instrument" that was way bigger than the flashy Vocoder. He could sing in a low and intimate vocal style and still be heard above the band. That was huge. It's so ubiquitous that we forget how it revolutionized things. In visual art terms, we're in a post modern period, meaning all styles of sound creation devices are all mashed together, unteathered by any central style.

Synthesizers in modern music are really a pretty recent phenomenon. Rare in the 60s, they still were toys of the wealthy in the 70s. It really wasn't until the Junos that I think I remember thinking it was a price that would make it accessible to average people... (like me, with the 106) Later the DXs, especially the lower priced 11 and 21 and the CZs, well when those hit things took off. The next really big change was plug ins, when the power of synthesizers really became something that anyone could have. Right now you could buy a computer with a Core Duo in it from a thrift shop for nearly nothing and throw Reaper and some freeware on it and you're all set. That is the modernization of music more than the actual sound of the instruments.

So... what will the future bring? Probably nothing that revolutionary. Style trends tend to move pretty slowly. We're likely to see more change due to cheap and quick processors than anything else. Better additive synthesis, resynthesis and other computationally challenging synthesis types will become more accessible. With Behringer cloning all the Curtis chips of old, we'll see new versions of old classics becoming cheap as well. While it may not really sound that "new," the new part is that we can get our hands on it.
Zerocrossing Media

4th Law of Robotics: When turning evil, display a red indicator light. ~[ ●_● ]~
Terrafractyl
KVRist
 
254 posts since 15 Nov, 2005, from Melbourne Australia

Postby Terrafractyl; Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:47 pm Re: Modern soft synths

Yeah I have been finding it very interesting going deeper and deeper into GUI design (and design in general) and learning what makes the various styles good/cool/useful.
skeuomorphic, flat, etc etc

Its so down to taste, style and fashion that often what seems to be next-level future style graphics often later on look waaay more dated than something that actually wasn't trying that hard to be current.

Its the same in music / clothes/fashion / Art. Also in the sense that what goes around usually comes around again in cycles.
Hypnagog (Experimental Electronica) |
Terrafractyl (Psytrance) |Kinematic Records (Label)
Terrafractyl
KVRist
 
254 posts since 15 Nov, 2005, from Melbourne Australia

Postby Terrafractyl; Sun Mar 19, 2017 4:55 pm Re: Modern soft synths

For example check out what happens when you put 'futuristic GUI design' into google images:

https://www.google.com.au/search?q=futu ... 66&bih=658

Blergh! It looks like Futuristic currently means, mostly flat, Circular (although Hexagonal also seems popular) and above all complicated.

I have a feeling in 10 years, most of what is on that page will look terribly dated, but I could be wrong.
Hypnagog (Experimental Electronica) |
Terrafractyl (Psytrance) |Kinematic Records (Label)
ghettosynth
KVRAF
 
7941 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Postby ghettosynth; Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:17 pm Re: Modern soft synths

wagtunes wrote:@Ghetto
I just wanted you to know that I'm not a totally hopeless case. I cranked open the 287 page Reaktor 6 Primary Documentation and, starting from the very beginning, have made some progress. I can build simple ensembles. The complex stuff is still beyond me but at least now I know where to go for assistance. Eventually, I'll acquire enough knowledge to actually build something worth building. Today I built a simple synth with delay. It's a start.


Good for you man. I don't think that you're a "hopeless case" and I hope that you didn't think that. I think that anyone who uses a DAW proficiently can learn the basics. I'm not even sure that all of the complex detail matters for most users. Just learn how to use building blocks and then you can steal cool blocks from the generous work of others.

Still don't love the UI but at least I can find my way around. And building with Core, leaving out blocks, this stuff (so far anyway) doesn't take up much CPU at all and doesn't sound all that bad using the "better" filters.


The U/I has been slowly getting updated. I hope that it continues to get better. Make sure that you know how to use the two split screen modes because they make editing your patches quite a bit more natural when you don't have to constantly switch between views and have to remember where you were.

These will never be anything to look at because I'm using the stock images that get attached to the controls (they really look awful) but if it's functional I guess that's all that matters.


Yep, most of mine look that way. But, there are some simple tricks that go a long way. I think that the blocks U/Is are overkill and a pain to work with. They should have updated how encapsulation works before coming out with that so that you could contain gui elements in a macro and lock their location within the macro.

At any rate you can get a LOT of bang for your buck with two simple moves. 1) Use background images for your synths. This is an easy one click, select the image and go feature, and 2) Learn how to use knob filmstrips. You can use strips created by other people to easily get variety in your knobs. This is a little more fiddly, but not too complex. I'd worry about that a bit further on.

Anyway, just wanted you to know that all hope is not lost on me.


I never thought that it was.

About to attempt to build a sequencer.


Events are funny, sometimes a pain, I'm only warning you now so that you don't get too frustrated with the sequencer.
ghettosynth
KVRAF
 
7941 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Postby ghettosynth; Sun Mar 19, 2017 8:37 pm Re: Modern soft synths

Terrafractyl wrote:I think in 90% of the people that buy synthesizers, 'Modern' means shiny looking. (or whatever GUI style is currently cool)

For hipsters it means the best / newest / shiniest emulation of synths from back when they were still cool(read very expensive).

For synth nerds, it means ZDF filters, Audio rate modulation and band limited oscillators.

For Ghettosynth obviously it means Reaktor.

Pretty sure we are never going to agree on a term like this. Sure we all know something like 'best sounding' is hugely objective, but really a term like 'Modern' is even more vague and objective.

Its like 'futuristic'. Its meaning will constantly change to reflect our own perceptions.


Not that I want to beat this horse some more, but, I never said that I thought that Reaktor was modern in any way. In fact, as an application, it's decidedly behind the times. Max is a MUCH more "modern" application in the same sense, although it also has quirks and properties from days gone by. The big issue with Max is that it cannot be a VST.

The connection between my comments on this thread and Reaktor were more about how I think that the quest for more bits (e.g., oscillators, modulators, filters, etc.) in a synth as some definition of modern, or even of value, is rather simple.

I use a LOT of fixed architecture synths, I just think that once you start moving from a focused idea and towards the "synth to end all synths" the value of a fixed architecture synth starts to lose traction to environments like Reaktor. No matter how many components you put in a hard coded synth there is always a corner case where one more oscillator, or one more type of processor, could be useful.

You start to lose your "familiar U/I" ground when the number and complexity of synths starts to increase. Each one is different and if you are using complex synths to fill in your corner cases then not only does your knowledge get spread thin over your choices, but so does your wallet.

I think that Diva is awesome, it has a powerful feature to cost and complexity ratio that makes it a bread and butter synth for me. Selecting modules is super fast and they have a familiar connection to industry standards. Synths like Zebra had a modest amount of complexity and features, but to do that they lose some of the simplicity, and, they can be much more expensive. The modules may be cool, but, they lose their connection to industry standards and so they're, IMO, just not as interesting. Now, if you want the same kind of flexibility with physical modeling, you need something like Tassman. Now we are talking around $600 not on sale and you're still limited.

So, for me, there is a cost/quality/feature function that once it exceeds a certain point, it's cheaper and more powerful, both from a financial point of view and an education point of view, to just turn to Reaktor to let it fill in the corner cases. Once you learn the basics, they're the same every time and you can leverage the work of numerous excellent designers at little to no cost.

I hear a lot of people griping about costs and features and how they wish that they had this and that. My approach may help you. Stop looking for new products to get every little tiny feature. I look for solid technical differences in native products. If you don't have that, then it probably won't interest me. Get over FOMO, just because you don't have Urs' comb filter doesn't mean you won't create cool music. There are, literally, hundreds of ideas in the library that aren't in any generic commercial synth. At any rate, that is enough of my philosophy on synths, I hope that it helps someone create better music at lower cost.

As far as what I think is modern? That's all about whether the synthesis is outside of the norm. I do like the work of Stephen Schmidt, but that's not because his work is done in Reaktor, I'd feel the same if his products were natively coded.
twal
KVRist
 
95 posts since 10 Feb, 2017

Postby twal; Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:21 pm Re: Modern soft synths

ghettosynth wrote:
Terrafractyl wrote:I think that Diva is awesome, it has a powerful feature to cost and complexity ratio that makes it a bread and butter synth for me.


What other synths along the same lines as Diva are bread and butter to you, if any.
ghettosynth
KVRAF
 
7941 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Postby ghettosynth; Sun Mar 19, 2017 11:55 pm Re: Modern soft synths

twal wrote:
ghettosynth wrote:
Terrafractyl wrote:I think that Diva is awesome, it has a powerful feature to cost and complexity ratio that makes it a bread and butter synth for me.


What other synths along the same lines as Diva are bread and butter to you, if any.


Other than the modular Uhe synths (ACE and Bazille), which I use a lot but I don't consider along the same lines as Diva. I'm not sure that there are a lot really. Certainly FM8, which is probably my most often used non-Reaktor NI synth. Almost everything else is super niche or just has one or two features that I find cool and was just really cheap so I don't mind using it when it fits, e.g, most everything Arturia and Air and synths bundled with my DAWs.

Some standouts though

Revival : For a unique approach to additive with tonewheel based oscillators.

Dust : For interesting mapping of gravity/particle path to synthesis

Aalto-CM : West coast monophonic modular. If the filters were a bit better I'd buy the full version

PadshopPro : It's just a basic granular synth, but drag and drop and the controls make it a super fast pad machine

iZotope Iris 2 : A remarkably unremarkable synth engine coupled with a fascinating spectrum painting oscillator that, despite its limitations, is awesome for sound design.

Helm : Nothing to really write home about, but it's weird chicklety interface is fast and appealing and it has a few nice features, it's also free, so it has a lower bar than anything that I'm going to spend money on.

On the Kontakt side, which is an essential product for me that picks up where Reaktor leaves off on the sampling side.

A lot of stuff by Rhythmic Robot: particular Platter for its vintage vinyl oscillators

HG Sounds Cassetto : Subtractive made in Kontakt with interesting oscillators recorded to cassette and sampled

SonicCouture stuff.

And a whole lot of Reaktor tools and other super niche stuff, e,g. xoxos plugins.
recursive one
KVRAF
 
2583 posts since 7 Feb, 2013

Postby recursive one; Mon Mar 20, 2017 12:35 am Re: Modern soft synths

I think modern softsynths may be generally put into one of these categories:

- Do-it-all ubersynths, like Falcon, Avenger, Synthmaster, Zebra. The synths which can do most of the "popular" synthesis types (VA, wavetable, FM, additive) in this or that form. Each of these synths can probably make almost any imaginable sound but to me at least the four named above sound somehow bland/characterless/thin (imho, totally subjective and whatnot). When I listen to the preset demos made by professional sound designers I often think "ok, that sounds fine" but almost never "fvck, that sounds awesome".

- Vintage analogue emulations: These sound as good and have as much character as their hardware prototypes if done properly which is not that rare nowadays. Diva, Monark, TAL synths - they all sound awesome to me. Howsever these synths are restricted to certain sound palette and have limited use in music which is supposed to sound "modern". Btw, I really like what D16 did to their Lush 101 - they supplemented the hardware prototype with more "modern" things like the supersaw and the effects, including the decimator and vowel filter.

- Unique "proof of concept" synths, like Harmor or Bazille. I'd also put Serum here - ofc it is not the first wavetable synth but i think it is most comprehensive wt synth to date. Such synths have very recognizable character and can make sounds which are hard to find elsewhere.

- And the fourth kind is my favourite, these are the synths which offer several synthesis types, or one type but with different variations (e.g. wavetable with various WT effects), but unlike the first group they don't try to do it all but rather are focused on making pleasantly coloured sound. This is where Spire and Rapid belong to.

This is, ofc, very subjective classification which may be totally useless for anybody else except me. I wrote this just because I like to categorize things.
It's not all about how close something is to the bleeding edge of technology or how long the feature list is. If it sounds good to you, it sounds good to you, full stop. (C) Vectorman
dellboy
KVRist
 
154 posts since 28 Mar, 2007

Postby dellboy; Mon Mar 20, 2017 1:52 am Re: Modern soft synths

The modern softynth has not been created yet.

When it does eventually arrive,it will be so easy that children can use it. Completely touch operated,with just a few big knobs on screen. One for sound,one for envelope control,another for FX,and maybe a few others.

Sing into a microphone and it will adjust to pitch to rule out any sharps or flats,(unless of course that is the desired effect.) Your voice will be the controller. Choose piano,bass,synth sounds,etc and compose your masterpiece. It will arrive when tablets have sufficient CPU cycles available.

The sound generated from the tablet will be projected to a bluetooth amp of some description. Current complex VSTs,such as Diva,Zebra,Omnispere,Falcon,etc with all their complicated workings will be hidden away behind a glossy GUI.

Meanwhile,synth enthusiasts will talk about the good old days when synths were real synths. You had to have an einstein brain to understand them,and they were deeply complex and took years to master effectively and were not just a ubiquitous toy for the masses
andymcbain
KVRist
 
46 posts since 10 Jan, 2017

Postby andymcbain; Mon Mar 20, 2017 3:26 am Re: Modern soft synths

This thread still delights and infuriates me :D

P.S. Virus rocks :)
recursive one
KVRAF
 
2583 posts since 7 Feb, 2013

Postby recursive one; Mon Mar 20, 2017 5:46 am Re: Modern soft synths

andymcbain wrote:P.S. Virus rocks :)


Sure.

No matter what people may say in this thread I bet a proper native emulation of Virus would be hugely successful
It's not all about how close something is to the bleeding edge of technology or how long the feature list is. If it sounds good to you, it sounds good to you, full stop. (C) Vectorman
andymcbain
KVRist
 
46 posts since 10 Jan, 2017

Postby andymcbain; Mon Mar 20, 2017 6:21 am Re: Modern soft synths

recursive one wrote:
andymcbain wrote:P.S. Virus rocks :)


Sure.

No matter what people may say in this thread I bet a proper native emulation of Virus would be hugely successful


I think it would be - because people want "that sound" ... warts and all! :)

Too easy to get hung up on technicalities. Though people are entitled to do so if they wish...
ghettosynth
KVRAF
 
7941 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Postby ghettosynth; Mon Mar 20, 2017 10:55 am Re: Modern soft synths

andymcbain wrote:
recursive one wrote:
andymcbain wrote:P.S. Virus rocks :)


Sure.

No matter what people may say in this thread I bet a proper native emulation of Virus would be hugely successful


I think it would be - because people want "that sound" ... warts and all! :)

Too easy to get hung up on technicalities. Though people are entitled to do so if they wish...


It's MUCH easier to get hung up on human bias and nostalgia. I'm equally sure that a virus emulation would sell, that doesn't mean as much as some people seem to think that it does.

"Technicalities", or really, science, is a much more objective ground for discussion and comparison than off the cuff perceptions.

I've forced myself to take sufficiently blind tests enough that I've realized how much impact visual bias has. Nobody is immune from it.
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