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anyone else underwhelmed with modern poly synths? Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 18th December 2016
  #1
Gear Addict
anyone else underwhelmed with modern poly synths?

I owned an OB-8 for a while, which I only realized the greatness of once it was gone. Ever since it parted I've been chasing after a great analog poly, but have been vastly underwhelmed with the modern poly's out there. I actually sold my OB-8 when word came out that a P~6 was to be released and man was that a big mistake, I actually couldn't stand the sound of the P~6, which I owned about a year; I found it way too neutral and lacklustre sounding- no character. I also owned a P08PE and have had pretty extensive longterm experience with some of the other offerings out there and have found it all to be quite anemic, sonically. All the old poly's I've spent time with have sounded alive in contrast- living, breathing, gritty organisms; love that! I have a theory that over time the electronic components mellow out so the top-end becomes much more pleasing to the ears and the entire sonic palette more usable, they just sweeten up. Frankly, I've preferred some plugin synths modelled after vintage ones to modern analog poly's.

Anyone else underwhelmed with the modern options? Are there any modern synths that can 'get there'? Is it maybe just a matter of finding the right things to process with externally? I'm open to any recommendations!

I'm totally open to going back to vintage, but would slightly prefer new due to better reliability (personal experience). I'd actually love another OB, but am just wanting to hear if anything else comes close... I'm even open to plugins, but def prefer hardware.
Old 18th December 2016
  #2
Gear Maniac
 

I was until I tried the ob6, it does sound modern but in a good way and has the vintage vibe which is why I bought one and have no regrets.
Old 18th December 2016
  #3
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
I like the sound of my OB6 hard through an old Tandy echo unit before going, 95% dry & still kinda hard into a Tascam m06.

Maybe it's just the VU meters but I think it really brings the crust
Old 18th December 2016
  #4
Gear Addict
Funny you both mention the OB-6 as I actually finally tried one out today and while I wasn't as impressed as I was with my OB-8, it was definitely pretty nice. Even the sales dude, who's a HARDCORE synth freak with extensive experience, suggested it won't cop the gritty big OB-8 sounds. But that's definitely one I'll look more at...
Old 18th December 2016
  #5
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The aforementioned OB-6 is more in the ballpark than the P6 IMO. Personally, I think Dreadbox are closest to vintage analog sound in a modern synth, but they don't yet have a polysynth. I would suggest keeping an ear to the ground about their upcoming Abyss analog poly.

Since you mentioned software, you should download the demo for U-He's Diva. It's damn close at capturing "that sound" in software, close enough that I've read of countless people choosing it over their wall of vintage synths. It's pretty CPU heavy, so definitely check out the demo first (which is actually quite useful even in demo mode-the noise it adds isn't obtrusive at all).

I like a lot of modern polysynths, but they do sound different than vintage. If nothing else will do, you may just have to suck it up and stick with the older beasts.
Old 18th December 2016
  #6
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I find an input chain that's a little bit dark and has some some mild drive can work wonders on smoothing off that modern, bright tone (assuming source instrument is already sounding close). Tape emulators are also a great tool for this purpose.

The Vermona PerFourmer has a lot of that 'vintage' tone, but has no patch memories and is only four voice polyphonic.

I've heard some demos of the Modal 002 that also sound wonderfully warm and alive, they've done something a bit special with the filter implementation where it sounds absolutely gorgeous if you hit it the right way. Weirdly, I've not yet heard the Modal 008 (despite being a full analogue unlike the hybrid 002) with its different filter design offer up anything so euphonic.

One of the key things about making sounds come alive on very stable poly synths are to program in lots of little non linearities. Applying a tiny bit stretch tuning to one of a pair of oscillators adds a warmth and 'breathing' quality when playing chords that simple detune or slop (drift) doesnt. i'll often assign a mod matrix slot to applying keytrack to one of oscillators pitch to acheive this where the instrument supports it. Just a touch of FM/cross mod can also really help animate a sound. Using some noise or fast sample and hold lfo subtly (or not) modulating cut off, rez, envelope stages etc can also loosen thing up in a pleasing way. Of course, these sorts of techniques will only get you so far if the fundamental tone of the instrument isn't there. And you're **** out of luck if your synth doesnt have decent modulation options (one of the reasons I've passed up on the Prophet 6 and OB 6).

Last edited by adydub; 18th December 2016 at 04:11 PM..
Old 18th December 2016
  #7
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manalishi's Avatar
I'm not at all underwhelmed by the Modal synth clips (not tried one in person yet). And the DM12 sounds great.

But you're in the same place as all of us oldies, and the only answer is to bite the bullet and buy an OB-8. It obviously has a sweetspot that matches your own tastes, so why resist the obvious answer?

(I did the same, albeit buying a Q+ a couple of weeks ago, having sold an original Q some 15 years ago).
Old 18th December 2016
  #8
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eXode's Avatar
 

I disagree that modern polys sound lack luster, I think the real problem is that you're trying to substitute the OB-8 with another instrument that isn't an OB-8.

To be honest I think this is the real problem with all old vs new analogs. People that are tuned in to the sound of a certain old poly approach the new ones as a possible replacement. Let's all agree that they will never be a replacement for those synths, but in my humble opinion they can still be fantastic instruments when taken for what they are, and not for what they aren't.

Finally, I think you should probably try to get an OB-8 again since it's obviously the sound you're after. Nothing else is going to satisfy.
Old 18th December 2016
  #9
Gear Maniac
 

I did take a while to get into the ob, after some time it became a keeper.
Old 18th December 2016
  #10
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TheBrightSide's Avatar
Nope, modern analog poly's are more than capable enough to make good music with.
Old 18th December 2016
  #11
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Depends which poly you reffer to.
The Omega 8 sounds wonderful! The modal 002 also up there with it.
Also, although not a traditional polysynth structure - the Vermona perfourmer mkii
sounds amazing and vintage.
And also that short demo of the upcoming abyss polysynth by Dreadbox.
Old 18th December 2016
  #12
Found the same thing, I sold my prophet 08 and then sold the 6. (Thought I was the only one) I do like my polymath though as a modern poly synth. I think Dave smith is doing a great thing putting out these new synths however I don't know what it is but to me, it does feel like the tone I'm personally looking for just isn't there.
Old 18th December 2016
  #13
Quote:
Originally Posted by zahush76 View Post
Depends which poly you reffer to.
The Omega 8 sounds wonderful! The modal 002 also up there with it.
Also, although not a traditional polysynth structure - the Vermona perfourmer mkii
sounds amazing and vintage.
And also that short demo of the upcoming abyss polysynth by Dreadbox.
yup I second the omega 8. it's not everyone's cup of tea, it has a forward character in it's timbre you have to like, but it does stack up to the great classic polysynths in my opinion.
Old 18th December 2016
  #14
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The Modals are quite capable. In the digital realm, the Montage and Solaris are quite impressive in their diverse functionalities.

I'd be bored with a modern recreation of vintage analog polys.
Old 18th December 2016
  #15
Quote:
Originally Posted by smitty.west View Post
I owned an OB-8 for a while, which I only realized the greatness of once it was gone. Ever since it parted I've been chasing after a great analog poly, but have been vastly underwhelmed with the modern poly's out there. I actually sold my OB-8 when word came out that a P~6 was to be released and man was that a big mistake, I actually couldn't stand the sound of the P~6, which I owned about a year; I found it way too neutral and lacklustre sounding- no character. I also owned a P08PE and have had pretty extensive longterm experience with some of the other offerings out there and have found it all to be quite anemic, sonically. All the old poly's I've spent time with have sounded alive in contrast- living, breathing, gritty organisms; love that! I have a theory that over time the electronic components mellow out so the top-end becomes much more pleasing to the ears and the entire sonic palette more usable, they just sweeten up. Frankly, I've preferred some plugin synths modelled after vintage ones to modern analog poly's.

Anyone else underwhelmed with the modern options? Are there any modern synths that can 'get there'? Is it maybe just a matter of finding the right things to process with externally? I'm open to any recommendations!

I'm totally open to going back to vintage, but would slightly prefer new due to better reliability (personal experience). I'd actually love another OB, but am just wanting to hear if anything else comes close... I'm even open to plugins, but def prefer hardware.
yes - I also have an OB8. I don't know about on gearslutz these days, but you ask a lot of the people who are running studios and love their analogue gear they will mostly agree with you. It has been the over-riding theme for years. I think a lot of the positive comments towards modern poly analogue is that people are happy they exist or appreciate the functionality, but when you play one of the good vintage ones, its pretty difficult to say the new ones sound better. From what I understand its mostly cheap design (to keep the costs down) and modern clean and precise components. I've tried most of the modern variants and found them lacking even tho they are decent instruments you can make music with. Im not a old guy who can't let go of the past - I tried practically every plugin then every modern analogue before I saved and saved for a vintage unit. It is true Diva IMO can sometimes be preferable to a modern poly analogue although 'different'...hell a lot of people preferred Diva to my OB8 last time I tested here...

Omega is decent but a lot of people end up selling them because they are not 'great' and you can prob get a classic for the price they sell for. Now I'm more into modern music I'd prob have an Andromeda which has its share of issues but also good things...

Probably the one modern poly I'd love to have is the Sunsyn which sadly will never happen due to the price...
Old 18th December 2016
  #16
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drockfresh's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jabar View Post
The Modals are quite capable. In the digital realm, the Montage and Solaris are quite impressive in their diverse functionalities.

I'd be bored with a modern recreation of vintage analog polys.
The modal gets respect for having its own sound and not trying to recreate the past.

I don't love it's very distinct sound in all the demos (and the 002 and 008 have similar character - must be the filter) but that's just a taste thing. I'd certainly take one if money didn't matter.

I have a feeling that Modal sound can really find its place in a mix.

Didn't connect with The P6.. at all. Quickly sold it.

Will soon have an Omega to try.. I wonder if it would be more of a classic if there was a keyboard version. It's an enormous box .. kind of awkward trying to find a spot for it, but it's got a creamy sound.

I kind of think Solaris is the most interesting sounding of them all.
Old 18th December 2016
  #17
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Rob Ocelot's Avatar
I'm about half and half on this issue.

I definitely think there's something in modern circuit design approaches and components that contributes to the non-vintage sound (Dreadbox and Vermona must be doing something right) but I also tend to think that few synths are actually appreciated in their heyday.

Sometimes it's only the rose-tinted glasses of hindsight that makes you want a synth you can no longer buy firsthand. Andromeda and Polyevolver spring to mind.

Where I think modern synths fall down compared to vintage is that they tend to shove too much under the hood, with the thinking that people want some magical features/value ratio. The more options, modulations, effects, routing, etc the smaller the sweet spot. The Xpander was in a lot of ways the prototype for modern analog polysynths -- lots of features, filter options and routing -- vastly rewarding for someone patient enough to sit down and peel away the layers of the onion. Most musicans (and people in general, really) aren't this patient. The Xpander is certainly talked about as a revered vintage synth but I see far fewer words spoken about it's sound. It's not that it sounds terrible (far from it) -- but it takes work and knowledge to sound good. It's not a "jump in and dial up earth shaking bass" synth.

People tend to put more weight on first impressions and if they can't nail the sound they are looking for they will move to something that gives them instant gratification. The simpler, more straightforward synths with big sweet spots (Juno-60, for example) are more likely to grab you. They are liked in spite of their limitations.

The first thing a synth player tries when cold demoing a new synth is inevitably their "can't miss" bass, lead or pad patch that they can pull off in their sleep while blindfolded on their favorite synth. Nine times out of ten you'll be disappointed, for reasons both physical and psychological.
Old 18th December 2016
  #18
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drockfresh's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rob Ocelot View Post
I'm about half and half on this issue.

I definitely think there's something in modern circuit design approaches and components that contributes to the non-vintage sound (Dreadbox and Vermona must be doing something right) but I also tend to think that few synths are actually appreciated in their heyday.

Sometimes it's only the rose-tinted glasses of hindsight that makes you want a synth you can no longer buy firsthand. Andromeda and Polyevolver spring to mind.

Where I think modern synths fall down compared to vintage is that they tend to shove too much under the hood, with the thinking that people want some magical features/value ratio. The more options, modulations, effects, routing, etc the smaller the sweet spot. The Xpander was in a lot of ways the prototype for modern analog polysynths -- lots of features, filter options and routing -- vastly rewarding for someone patient enough to sit down and peel away the layers of the onion. Most musicans (and people in general, really) aren't this patient. The Xpander is certainly talked about as a revered vintage synth but I see far fewer words spoken about it's sound. It's not that it sounds terrible (far from it) -- but it takes work and knowledge to sound good. It's not a "jump in and dial up earth shaking bass" synth.

People tend to put more weight on first impressions and if they can't nail the sound they are looking for they will move to something that gives them instant gratification. The simpler, more straightforward synths with a big sweet spots (Juno-60, for example) are more likely to grab you. They are liked in spite of their limitations.

The first thing a synth player tries when cold demoing a new synth is inevitably their "can't miss" bass, lead or pad patch that they can pull off in their sleep while blindfolded on their favorite synth. Nine times out of ten you'll be disappointed, for reasons both physical and psychological.
Excellent points on feature vs sound.

The design approach should be *sound>features*

A good question is *why* don't the new Polys have that sound. Maybe the new batch of recreation chips will *fix* this. Moog found a way to pull it off -for the first time - with the Mini reissue.
Old 18th December 2016
  #19
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Bach666's Avatar
 

Just get an OB8. The Roland Juno 106 was manufactured during the same time period; A Juno 106 will most likely not satisfy your analog poly needs. The time period the synth was manufactured might not be as great of a factor as you believe. I love my OB6, but that's an entirely different matter.
Old 18th December 2016
  #20
I'm definitely not underwhelmed. I believe the modern polysynth have a lot to offer and have very unique personalities. It just depends on which ones you gel with. I'm very happy with my poly's and every time I play them I learn something new.

The modern poly is a journey to the realm of discovery.
Old 18th December 2016
  #21
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I've sent it before on other threads so forgive me if you've heard these before, but here are a couple of Omega 8 demos i made of presets i programmed of pads, basses and lead sounds:






I think it's an awesome sounding synth. Not "sterile" in any way.
Old 18th December 2016
  #22
Here for the gear
 

I love modern analog synths. I think they sound fantastic, all of them. The prophet 08 is probably my favorite. i actually like the fact that most people don't gel with the sound. I don't want everyone and their mother owning the same synth I love.
Old 18th December 2016
  #23
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Gringo Starr's Avatar
 

I am a bit underwhelmed with modern analog polys but the OB6 is the exception. That's a great synth.
Old 18th December 2016
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gringo Starr View Post
I am a bit underwhelmed with modern analog polys but the OB6 is the exception. That's a great synth.
Agreed. My dreams came true when I was able to play a vintage-sounding OB with a PolyAT controller. Oh, and the Minimoog reissue...

Oh, before anyone comments on the classified ad below, I am selling it only to switch to the desktop module. The big danger is I may end up keeping both!
Old 18th December 2016
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by drockfresh View Post
The design approach should be *sound>features*
Absolutely. Most synth companies are now marketing-led when they used to be engineering-led. Strange times when sound is not the most important part of an instrument.

As someone upthread says, Vermona and Dreadbox are two companies that are still getting it right.
Old 18th December 2016
  #26
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The Beatsmith's Avatar
 

To the people who didn't gel with the P6 - do/did you like the sound of a P5?

Last edited by The Beatsmith; 18th December 2016 at 07:38 PM..
Old 18th December 2016
  #27
I think it is also important to understand that of course there is a difference when comparing analog mono to analog poly. A Moog Little Phatty Stage 2 goes for about $1200 these days in mint condition. Now imagine 6 voices of the same engine. What would the cost be? Now there is still only one keyboard, one set of knobs, one set of outputs, etc.......but the sounds source parts need to be X 6.

Manufacturers have to cut corners and sacrifice the highest quality components when creating synths that have essentially 12 oscillators, 6 VCAs, and 6 VCFs.

It wasn't but 2-3 years ago that Dave Smith, in a video interview, said that making a modern day analog VCO poly just wasn't practical. Now he has released two the Prophet 6 and OB-6. Are they perfect? Not at all, but they are pretty damn good when compared to the Prophet 08, which is still a useful synth IMO due to the soft-synth like mod matrix. It is still relevant for certain types of sound design.

It is a fantastic time to be a synth nerd. We are so lucky. We want for nothing. We have analog keyboards, modules, desktops, and racks. We have digital, hybrid, and tons of software which sound amazingly good when compared to just five years ago. They just remade the Model D FFS! Moog remade the Moog modular! Yamaha released a massive FM synth. Tom Oberheim is still going. Korg just keeps dropping one after another of really nice sounding budget analog synths. Waldorf is in business, and I think we are all hoping for a Blofeld 2.0 that is more like the Q/Microwave with a proper interface.

It is to be expected that the raw analog sound of a monosynth is going to out-do a single voice of an analog poly. The Dreadbox stuff, and the analog eurorack stuff sounds amazing. It is a far cry from recreating the same architecture in a poly format however. Luckily, its really easy to multi-track modern hardware from your DAW, and it can sound great.

FWIW, I also think Diva sounds better than most of the analog poly hardware out there today. I kept comparing Diva to recordings I'd make, and I had to give in time after time because I liked Diva, and it's 10K-12K parameter resolution, better usually. Miss out on the interaction with the instrument, yes.......but compared to my Matrix 6 or JX3P.....those are seriously not better, plus Diva never needs cleaning, a new battery, or recapping.

Let's see what is next. NAMM is around the corner. We have all been blown away the last two years with the offerings. NOBODY predicted a VCO poly from Dave Smith. We were all thinking poly Moog or Poly Bass Station. I give up guessing.
Old 18th December 2016
  #28
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Quote:
Originally Posted by EDGEK8D View Post
I think it is also important to understand that of course there is a difference when comparing analog mono to analog poly.
...
It is to be expected that the raw analog sound of a monosynth is going to out-do a single voice of an analog poly.
This thread is about vintage poly vs modern poly, nothing to do with mono.
Old 18th December 2016
  #29
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Owners of modern polys, who don't own vintage polys, don't want to be told, and don't want to accept, that the synths they have spent their hard earned $ on generally don't sound as good as the vintage polys.
Old 18th December 2016
  #30
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djstyleee's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by eXode View Post
I disagree that modern polys sound lack luster, I think the real problem is that you're trying to substitute the OB-8 with another instrument that isn't an OB-8.

To be honest I think this is the real problem with all old vs new analogs. People that are tuned in to the sound of a certain old poly approach the new ones as a possible replacement. Let's all agree that they will never be a replacement for those synths, but in my humble opinion they can still be fantastic instruments when taken for what they are, and not for what they aren't.

Finally, I think you should probably try to get an OB-8 again since it's obviously the sound you're after. Nothing else is going to satisfy.
Totally agree!

I am very happy with my modern analogue poly's but I want a modern analogue sound! Dare I say it on GS but I don't want too much of that old vintage sound, it just makes my tracks sound erm old and vintage...
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