Lower voice count and higher grade chips better on synths?

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lfm
KVRAF
Topic Starter
5835 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Post Wed May 18, 2022 8:05 pm

Analog gear for sure are individuals and one unit can sound better than the other in some respect.

I saw a review of both Prophet 5 and 10 REV4, and the guy preferred the sound of P10.

But also seen DIY preamps, that incorporate OP-amp chips that are found in hi end preamps that are one chip $50 range in price.

The transport of signal through a unit from oscillators to output would be a number of op-amps and money to be saved have a lower grade cheaper chips. Maybe not easily heard as worse in one stage, but through a couple of stages you it starts to be obvious.

Already beginning 90's I started using external DAC's in my hifi to improve on what is there on each CD/DVD/BD player. Finding a project online to upgrade those DAC's was also one thing I did with very interesting results. Just upgrading capacitors did remarkable improvement in sound.

At the end of a DAC there is usually a differential amplifier that take on the dual differential outs from the DAC chip itself. Experimenting with upgrading that differential amp chip make a difference and tried a few. But just removing it and making it single ended output from one of the pins on DAC chip was the very best sound. So lost some dB in level, but sound improved quite a bit.

I've also seen such projects on RME cards to upgrade capacitors and such with some improvement.

I use a Mackie Onyx mixer to run all line outs from synths I have since sounding much better on those phones out than the gear itself. So a patch bay fix that easily making sounds playing around etc.

So thinking that picking higher grade components can make huge difference in how hardware synths sound. IMO the Nordlead 2X I have is clearly better quality chips than DeepMind 6 I would say, even being analog.

So this new units from Behringer, like UB-Xa and also the Pro 16 is on the way and estimated to be below $1500 or so.

Huge number of components there, 32 oscillators, 16 filters with envelopes and lots of components in between.

Wouldn't it be better with just 8 voices target and make a step up on components selling an 8-voice for $1500 instead?

The price point of the new OB-X8 and Prophet REV4 certainly allow to pick higher grade stuff everywhere.

Some difference that people notice in sound probably has to do with better components all the way.

Did anybody see DIY projects to upgrade synth components?

I saw on Sequential forum that there are makers of stereo out for Prophet REV4 to make voices panned left/right. But one wonders is the quality of electronics involved reducing on what is there in these high end units?

Although I like my DeepMind 6, sound is not like Prologue 8 or Polybrute. I have to admit Prologue is something above Polybrute in sound itself.

Is it due to higher grade components?
- or it could be imagination of course, but Prologue is more sturdy and clear kind of than Polybrute.
- Polybrute is just a bit muddy I must say
- but could be different sound pressure level that makes my ears have different frequency response. Discovered the same thing mixing sometimes that sound change if less loud and such, more flat curve if higher SPL.

But love the Polybrute to bits, just a reflection over final quality of the tone.

I compared noise floor on Prologue and Polybrute and Prologue was around -40 dB and Polybrute around -55 dB or so. Some has complained over Polybrute noise floor is a bit high. Still something about the tone of Prologue that I favour.

Nuances of course, like in many cases comparing hifi equipment and such.

Reasons that high end studios pick preamps for $2000 and up for small differences in sound, but make a full mix of 20-30 tracks differences add up and total is way better sounding.

Just some thoughts on why some hardware sound better than the other. :)

ghettosynth
KVRAF
13883 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Post Wed May 18, 2022 9:06 pm

Tuck in everybody, I'm pulling up the big recliner, you guys will have to fight over the loveseat.

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Bob Hemsby
Banned
12 posts since 18 May, 2022

Post Wed May 18, 2022 9:25 pm

lfm wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 8:05 pm
Although I like my DeepMind 6, sound is not like Prologue 8 or Polybrute.
In what way? I mean, they're not meant to sound the same, are they?

I doubt anyone would buy an 8 voice over a 16 voice for a sound difference they can't really hear.

lfm
KVRAF
Topic Starter
5835 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Post Wed May 18, 2022 10:16 pm

Bob Hemsby wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 9:25 pm
lfm wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 8:05 pm
Although I like my DeepMind 6, sound is not like Prologue 8 or Polybrute.
In what way? I mean, they're not meant to sound the same, are they?

I doubt anyone would buy an 8 voice over a 16 voice for a sound difference they can't really hear.
The idea is that you hear a difference with better quality components. With an 8-voice you have 16 oscillators and 8 filters and a little better on each voice will make total better as they are mixed onto stereo out.

This guy I mentioned shortselling P5 for P10 must be individual variations since most likely same electronics.

Some mean that BARP 2600 sound nothing like Korg/Arp 2600 etc. Even though copying like crazy to make circuits the same.

But is Behringer picking cheaper components all the way making it sound different?

No synths should not sound the same, I am talking sound quality. Think about two different records with different artists even, and you listen to different hifi chain of amps and speaker and whatnot(some nerds include cables too). These different recordings will both sound better on some equipment than others. Better gear will give better definition of each instrument and a more clear sound, or how to put it.

Maybe should make a comparison like Starsky Carr do with just a single saw oscillator through an all open filter and listen, and be sure to have the same SPL on each.

As soon you start with filter sweeps and stuff you get that synths character more, and more oscillators also are synced or not as triggered by keyboard.

I will come back with that eventually when I get around to it to settle my mind on this. How much is imaginary and what can be proven.

ghettosynth
KVRAF
13883 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Post Wed May 18, 2022 11:01 pm

lfm wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 10:16 pm This guy I mentioned shortselling P5 for P10 must be individual variations since most likely same electronics.
More likely it's confirmation bias.

AdvancedFollower
KVRian
994 posts since 8 May, 2018 from Sweden

Post Wed May 18, 2022 11:41 pm

No synths should not sound the same, I am talking sound quality
What is "sound quality" in this context? Some of the most revered synth of the past suffered from a lot of noise and distortion, and it was part of their character. Synths that sound too clean are often dismissed a sounding "lifeless" or "sterile".

Chip manufacturing is so mature these days that it's probably easier to make a synth sound extremely clean than to imbue it with character. That's why synths these days tend to come with a "Vintage knob", "Drift knob" etc. to artificially add some of the inconsistencies and grit we know from older gear.

lfm
KVRAF
Topic Starter
5835 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Post Thu May 19, 2022 1:18 am

AdvancedFollower wrote: Wed May 18, 2022 11:41 pm
No synths should not sound the same, I am talking sound quality
What is "sound quality" in this context? Some of the most revered synth of the past suffered from a lot of noise and distortion, and it was part of their character. Synths that sound too clean are often dismissed a sounding "lifeless" or "sterile".

Chip manufacturing is so mature these days that it's probably easier to make a synth sound extremely clean than to imbue it with character. That's why synths these days tend to come with a "Vintage knob", "Drift knob" etc. to artificially add some of the inconsistencies and grit we know from older gear.
That is pretty much what thread could be about.

Where is the line between character and quality of tone?

Toleranses of components will make an analog anything, filter etc different for one voice that is later blended with the other voices.

Modern synths have digital control everywhere and can calibrate envelopes to be the same for each voice, and maybe too precise. Same for pitch of voice. So the vintage knobs and other settings alter that to deviate parameters for each voice. I had VA synths that do this too, emulating wobble of oscillators and such.

I would consider these things part of character of instrument.

If the mixer stages between oscillators and then amp from amp envelope has the cheapest chips it will create more muffled sound in the end. If you do this for 8-16 voices it starts to matter more. Hardly an advantage, as I see it.

It may also be the complexity of all interconnections inside that has capacitances everywhere that muffle sound, so good design and sometimes simplicity has some advantages.

The complexity inside Polybrute for one must be extensive with everything that can be made dependent on something else for modulation and such. Even if a lot is digital, I am sure, but still potentiometers all over. You can continuously blend Steiner filter out with Ladder, continuous move of Steiner LP into notch, to HP and then BP.

Good capacitors where needed can make a difference. Right over power to chips to deliver proper voltage every microsecond. When upgrading the DAC I mentioned, OS-CONS were about $6 each and then Tantal on top of those still made all the difference. This replaced the surface mount something there from start.

So the analog path, that it matters with quality chips where signal is forwarded. A quality mixer/console makes a difference even inside an instrument.

For some may run heavy chorus effect on everything so signal is destroyed anyway. So depends on the full signal chain I suppose. Chorus convert a lot of harsch components also and smooth things out. Probably why you don't see much VA synths without effects. Exception being my Nordlead 2X, all focused on core sound being as good as possible.

I had a KingKorg for a while, but core sound was not that good and effects section really needed on every preset.

While tweaking sounds I have no effects at all running, it just muffle things usually. If the core sound without effect is good it is getting near a keeper preset.

Just some of my views on the matter.

ReleaseCandidate
KVRian
620 posts since 19 Oct, 2020

Post Thu May 19, 2022 2:08 am

Do 'HiFi' MIDI, Jack and USB cables exist? I guess no special synth power cables are needed.

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whyterabbyt
Beware the Quoth
31068 posts since 4 Sep, 2001 from R'lyeh Oceanic Amusement Park and Funfair

Post Thu May 19, 2022 2:33 am

ReleaseCandidate wrote: Thu May 19, 2022 2:08 am Do 'HiFi' MIDI, Jack and USB cables exist?
In the sense that some companies will lie to you and say they do, and sell them to you for stupid prices, yes, things branded like that do exist.

In reality, its bullshit bordering on fraud. Especially for digital connections like MIDI or USB.
:?:

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