Do I “need” analog synths?

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
User avatar
Jace-BeOS
KVRAF
4936 posts since 7 Jan, 2005 from Corporate States of America

Post Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:02 pm

(This is another thread about expressivity and control; NOT yet another thread about analog vs digital sound quality)

How is everyone dealing with low resolution MIDI? Or aren’t you?

I noticed zipper noise in low resolution MIDI CC. I can’t stop noticing it (I’ve made a post about this before, I think, but can’t find it). I’m also tired of on-screen controls. I’ve an MS-20ic USB MIDI controller; it solves the tactile problem, but not the zipper noise.

I’m also bored with the limited expression on keyboards. I’ll never have a Haken Continuum. The Roli Seaboard isn’t cheap either, especially considering the results. I’ve followed the Roli Seaboard thread and it seems they’re still not reliably built. It also has nothing to do with high resolution MIDI control, and has no analog connections; its entire use, including MIDI, is tied to computers.

I’m considering buying a Behringer Neutron & Model D, and controllers (like the Eowave Ribbon 2, since Doepfer’s is discontinued, and an Arturia KeyStep and/or a Korg SQ-1) and begining my first play with actual analog synthesis. I’ve had my eye on Korg’s MS-20 mini for ages but the $300 Behringer synths look like a lot of bang for buck, and would allow me to get experience with not only real analog but also with doing some modular routing. I want a ribbon for long continuous pitch slides/pressure, etc, and the SQ-1/KeyStep for obvious uses.

This requires spending some of the money set aside for a new Mac Pro (whenever the hell that comes along, I probably still won’t be able to afford it). I’m poor (this is tax rebate savings), but thinking about putting some priority on entertainment for quality-of-life reasons. Playing with sound on the 3rd floor keeps me away from the majority of the neighbors’ noise (they don’t seem to use their 3rd floors).

Priorities are hard. I once got caught up irrationally buying gear to “treat” misery, years back, but that was when I was under the influence of psych drugs (and had money & credit). Now I’m only under the influence of hating my life situation and desiring some kind of growth in my music gear experiences. Entertaining one’s self is important. So, I think I’m being rational here; I know buying stuff wont make me happy.

It’s either this or buying a new TV, a game console, games (or a new gaming PC, which I do not want)... and that’s even MORE expensive. Besides, music can be productive.

The question is: Do I “need” analog synths? I’m not keen on lacking patch recall, but it looks fun to play with that stuff; having a control for everything helps with expression, right? I have some nice digital hardware and a DAW, but that’s all work; I’m not having fun there. I want immediate feedback without menus & mousing. Touch screen stuff on my iPad isn’t doing it for me because it’s not tactile (though the most expressive synth I’ve used so far is FingerFiddle on iOS). A side benefit seems to be processing other gear through analog synths.

Generic controllers have yet to do any of this right, IMO, but they’re also limited to MIDI, and MIDI... MIDI never changes. The only controller I have with high-resolution knobs is Native Instruments’ Kore (discontinued years ago). It’s useless to me on current Mac OS (I could use it on Snow Leopard, but Kore is also lots of menu diving & mousing). Yeah, 14-bit MIDI exists, but most software / controllers don’t support it, and I’ve failed to figure out how I’d use it if I could (Logic supports it; none of my controllers do?). “14-bit” isn’t something you can search for on KVR. I’ve used Google and DuckDuckGo and read about it, to no avail. No search results for using Kore with 14-bit CC. It’s just not talked about much. When it is, it’s usually people discussing WHAT 14-bit CC means and how it works; not a practical “here’s how to make use of it”.

Is there a real solution to the low resolution controller problem with MIDI? Are we locked into a choice between “128-step CC” OR “analog gear”? I’ve been looking at this problem for years. I’ve yet to see a real solution. OSC is higher resolution, but has network latency, is a PITA to configure, has little support, and is all computer-based or touch-screen based, so the tactile thing is moot. HD MIDI/MIDI 2.0 seems like it won’t arrive in my lifetime (if it appeared today, nothing would support it anyway). Digital synths (and many portable analog synths!) have been like this since day one of MIDI. It’s like people don’t care (I didn’t grasp it until a few years ago). Those who do care are already(?) playing with analog synths and handling them like you’d do any live performance device (record the audio into the DAW and move on).

Ultimately, I want to make music and I want the process to be more dynamic. I’m not having fun now. Analog looks like it might be fun... but also frustrating... but also more immediate... except for patch recall; hence frustration...

??????
- dysamoria.com
my music @ SoundCloud

User avatar
SJ_Digriz
KVRAF
5908 posts since 5 Jul, 2001 from Just about .... there

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:11 pm

This is a real tough question to answer. The synths you listed suffer from some of the external MIDI controller woes that are irritating you with VSTi. I have a Boog D. It sounds great. It's legato and multi-trigger is terrible via MIDI. I don't have a Neutron so can't comment on it's implementation. But if they can't get it right on the D, did they get it right on the Neutron? Let's emphasize that both sound great though. And they are very affordable compared to the things that have fewer compromises.

Analog gear comes with a ton of other irritations. Yes, they have much more tactile control that has an immediacy that isn't currently possible with VSTi .. at least I don't find it so. But, you have noise floor, audio routing, effect routing, quality issues and other stuff that is uniquely frustrating .. *cough* presets *cough* .. to analog gear. Most people declare how cool they are because they don't need presets.. "I do my own sounds". This is total bullshit for 99% of people using synths and IMO why so many people struggle with hardware. It's a time killer.

Basically you are trading one bucket of stinky shit for a bucket of stinky shit that smells different.

I love external hardware synths. I love VSTi. I prefer to PLAY external gear because it is a lot more personal and direct feeling. But it's just a silly people thing. It's probably just an old guy thing that isn't anymore real than preferring old movies to new movies. The sound difference can be so negligible anymore that it isn't worth debating IMO.

I wish I could be more help because I enjoy both for different reasons. But if I'm playing, it's on external hardware. If I'm trying to find a "sound" it's on VSTi.

I will echo that I find MIDI control beyond basic note on/off to be atrocious. The problem is telling you to spend money on something that will likely not resolve your issue and just introduce other nut kickers. I can just say that hardware synths are much more enjoyable to play. But IMO if you get one of the semi modular things, you lose a lot of that direct gratification because you just plugging in another crappy controller .. which puts you mostly right back where you started.

Sorry again for not much help.
If you have to ask, you can't afford the answer

User avatar
SJ_Digriz
KVRAF
5908 posts since 5 Jul, 2001 from Just about .... there

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:19 pm

By the way I have 2.5 semi modulars; Mother 32, Boog D, Arturia Minibrute 2s. The M32 and 2S have internal sequencers that make them much more "fun" as stand along things than the Boog. Again, I don't know a lot about the Neutron other than the demos I've heard sound really good. If you go the semi modular route, you really need a fairly decent sequencer either embedded in the unit or patchable ... otherwise MIDI
If you have to ask, you can't afford the answer

User avatar
Michael L
KVRAF
2543 posts since 25 Jan, 2014 from the End of the World as we Knowit

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:59 pm

Jace-BeOS wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:02 pm
Ultimately, I want to make music and I want the process to be more dynamic. I’m not having fun now. Analog looks like it might be fun... but also frustrating
I'm not sure the solution to your problem is more gear.
SJ_Digriz wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:11 pm
Basically you are trading one bucket of stinky shit for a bucket of stinky shit that smells different.
You may want to first try making a change in a non-technology area like keyboard skills or theory or genre or musician friends or source of inspiration or ...

User avatar
nix808
KVRAF
3703 posts since 22 Jul, 2006 from Tasmania, Australia

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:04 pm

we can smooth the zippering, it's well, imperceptible then

acYm
KVRian
900 posts since 11 Sep, 2015

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:55 pm

Jace-BeOS wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:02 pm
How is everyone dealing with low resolution MIDI? Or aren’t you?
yeah that would be me, and perhaps your struggle is over as well. basically, re-install your Kore 2. now is as good a time as ever to reconnect a lost Kore. go on the NI forum and get modern control templates, almost every cool vst is there and more are on the way. give it a shot, who knows. maybe it's a ton of fun and you just saved yourself thousands on basic hardware stuff just so you can twiddle more knobs. btw you don't have to revert your OS, disable SIP and your instrument will come to life again.

User avatar
Niowiad
KVRist
326 posts since 25 Jan, 2017

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Thu Dec 13, 2018 7:51 am

nix808 wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:04 pm
we can smooth the zippering
Sorry, what do you mean? How?

Interesting thread by the way, this is something I've asked myself several times.
After so many years we're still stuck at 128 steps.

User avatar
vurt
addled muppet weed
41697 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Thu Dec 13, 2018 8:23 am

need? no.
might you enjoy it? possibly.

for the price of a beat step pro and a neutron you could find out, or if there's shops nearby test it a few times and see if it draws you in.

User avatar
Jace-BeOS
KVRAF
4936 posts since 7 Jan, 2005 from Corporate States of America

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:02 am

acYm wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:55 pm
Jace-BeOS wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:02 pm
How is everyone dealing with low resolution MIDI? Or aren’t you?
yeah that would be me, and perhaps your struggle is over as well. basically, re-install your Kore 2. now is as good a time as ever to reconnect a lost Kore. go on the NI forum and get modern control templates, almost every cool vst is there and more are on the way.
Does Kore control the plugins via low resolution MIDI or via some other method?
acYm wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:55 pm
btw you don't have to revert your OS, disable SIP and your instrument will come to life again.
I tried that. Instant kernel panic when connecting (similar to the M-Audio FireWire audio device drivers, which cause kernel panics on disconnect). It might’ve been a disconnection, actually. The USB-B socket on the Kore 1 controller has a very loose fit, resulting in a wobbly plug; disconnects happen often, so it’s an intolerable situation. I removed it; system stability matters more.
- dysamoria.com
my music @ SoundCloud

User avatar
Jace-BeOS
KVRAF
4936 posts since 7 Jan, 2005 from Corporate States of America

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:07 am

nix808 wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:04 pm
we can smooth the zippering, it's well, imperceptible then
How? To the best of my knowledge, smoothing has to be a function/feature of a product. You can’t just add it to existing synths.

When smoothing is done, as it is on the Access Virus TI, it introduces latency and there’s still no fine control. It simply avoids zipper noise.
- dysamoria.com
my music @ SoundCloud

User avatar
Jace-BeOS
KVRAF
4936 posts since 7 Jan, 2005 from Corporate States of America

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:20 am

Michael L wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:59 pm
Jace-BeOS wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:02 pm
Ultimately, I want to make music and I want the process to be more dynamic. I’m not having fun now. Analog looks like it might be fun... but also frustrating
I'm not sure the solution to your problem is more gear.
Nor am I. That’s why I made this thread. Do you have any suggestions? Is there some way to avoid zipper noise when controlling synths with MIDI controllers?
- dysamoria.com
my music @ SoundCloud

acYm
KVRian
900 posts since 11 Sep, 2015

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:30 pm

Jace-BeOS wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:02 am

Does Kore control the plugins via low resolution MIDI or via some other method?
acYm wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 11:55 pm
btw you don't have to revert your OS, disable SIP and your instrument will come to life again.
I tried that. Instant kernel panic when connecting (similar to the M-Audio FireWire audio device drivers, which cause kernel panics on disconnect). It might’ve been a disconnection, actually. The USB-B socket on the Kore 1 controller has a very loose fit, resulting in a wobbly plug; disconnects happen often, so it’s an intolerable situation. I removed it; system stability matters more.
Kore was the first modern control surface (along with the first novation automap I guess), it's soft-wired into the VST's automation. It offers up to 10 rotations on the knobs, so if you have a well-made VST and you want to sweep the filter on a hertz by hertz basis, you can. typically, between 360 and 450 degrees is enough for "analog smoothness" though. other than that, the reason Kore works well is that you can directly access the first 8 control pages of a template, which allows you to work from muscle memory once you're used to it.

my Kore1 has a worse connector than my Kore2, which fits more tightly. if I used my Kore1, I'd probably use the same workaround as the Maschine Mikro guys: angled cable plug with a tie-wrap so it stays put. my suggestion would be to find a second hand Kore2 for next to nothing, as they have better displays and buttons as well. I'm not on macOS but aMUSEd could help you get the controller working, I think he's on the latest OSX and has it running fine. right now he's checking out the latest batch of fresh templates I just uploaded for you. :tu: :phones:

User avatar
S0lo
KVRian
664 posts since 31 Dec, 2008

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Thu Dec 13, 2018 3:31 pm

Jace-BeOS wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 9:20 am
Michael L wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 10:59 pm
Jace-BeOS wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 8:02 pm
Ultimately, I want to make music and I want the process to be more dynamic. I’m not having fun now. Analog looks like it might be fun... but also frustrating
I'm not sure the solution to your problem is more gear.
Nor am I. That’s why I made this thread. Do you have any suggestions? Is there some way to avoid zipper noise when controlling synths with MIDI controllers?
It so happens that i'm researching that same topic recently else where. Thread here: https://www.muffwiggler.com/forum/viewt ... p?t=210642

I'm assuming here that you mean stepy or stair steps sound when controlling some thing like pitch or cutoff, etc. Not the ALIASING zipper sounds you hear while modulating oscillator pitch, these are completely different as aliasing will happen even when modulating with completely smooth hi-res LFO or so. 14-bit MIDI will not solve these zipper sounds because its not the reason it happens to begin with. The synth has to handle that internally.

SHall1000
KVRist
221 posts since 13 May, 2015

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Thu Dec 13, 2018 4:58 pm

SJ_Digriz wrote:
Wed Dec 12, 2018 9:11 pm
This is a real tough question to answer. The synths you listed suffer from some of the external MIDI controller woes that are irritating you with VSTi. I have a Boog D. It sounds great. It's legato and multi-trigger is terrible via MIDI.
Can you say more please SJ? I read about this in Gordon Reid’s review of the Boog in Sound on Sound but read somewhere that there has been a firmware update recently that may have improved this - but there was no detail.

User avatar
Jace-BeOS
KVRAF
4936 posts since 7 Jan, 2005 from Corporate States of America

Re: Do I “need” analog synths?

Post Thu Dec 13, 2018 5:36 pm

acYm wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:30 pm

Kore was the first modern control surface (along with the first novation automap I guess), it's soft-wired into the VST's automation.
Automation, ah, that makes sense. I know automation tends to be higher resolution than MIDI CC. I was wondering about that.
acYm wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:30 pm
It offers up to 10 rotations on the knobs, so if you have a well-made VST and you want to sweep the filter on a hertz by hertz basis, you can. typically, between 360 and 450 degrees is enough for "analog smoothness" though. other than that, the reason Kore works well is that you can directly access the first 8 control pages of a template, which allows you to work from muscle memory once you're used to it.
I will get it going on my Snow Leopard system. I never removed it, but the controller is stashed away. Since I have a tiny 13” MacBook Pro and an iMac, I might be able to use the MacBook Pro as a synth and move the results to my iMac. I never installed Kore 2’s software on the newer volumes because of the controller driver issues, but I seem to recall Kore 2’s last version was 64-bit. Maybe Logic X 10.4.x can still host it? Otherwise, I can bounce things to audio in Logic 9 on the laptop and drop it into Logic X on the iMac.
acYm wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:30 pm
my Kore1 has a worse connector than my Kore2, which fits more tightly. if I used my Kore1, I'd probably use the same workaround as the Maschine Mikro guys: angled cable plug with a tie-wrap so it stays put.
Yeah, I have two Kore 1 controllers and both are the same. Seems like they were all like this. NI didn’t help the platform any with that first release of controller and software.
acYm wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:30 pm
my suggestion would be to find a second hand Kore2 for next to nothing, as they have better displays and buttons as well.
I’ve considered that, but it’s money spent on old and unsupported equipment that requires a computer. I’m not into buying things that require a computer these days. Anything I buy from now on needs to be able to function without a computer when support ends (like my hardware synths that had a very brief era of computer integration before Korg, Roland, et al abandoned the development for the computer-end of the equation). I have TWO Kore 1 controllers, so that’s what I should use.
acYm wrote:
Thu Dec 13, 2018 1:30 pm
I'm not on macOS but aMUSEd could help you get the controller working, I think he's on the latest OSX and has it running fine. right now he's checking out the latest batch of fresh templates I just uploaded for you. :tu: :phones:
Can you post a link to the appropriate thread? I went looking for Kore templates the other day and didn’t find what I was looking for. Is there one repository? I checked the thread, but it seemed kind of spread out all over the postings. I used to hang out over there to keep an eye on people’s uses of Kore, but I eventually stopped, since I wasn’t using Kore at all.
- dysamoria.com
my music @ SoundCloud

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