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Run soft-synths through analog hardware?
Old 22nd April 2009
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Run soft-synths through analog hardware?

If it were a perfect world Voyagers and Jupiter 8's (or money) would grow on trees, but until that day comes I'm sticking with my soft synths. I've been reading up on some ways to make my digital setup sound a bit more analog by adding some outboard gear (tubes, maybe a moogerfooger LP filter, etc). So, I want to know if any of you ear-heads out there have any experience with this type of thing. Can running a digital sound (synth) through a tube or an analog filter or a ring modulator really warm it up? If so what types of equipment are the most efficient for this? I realize that the best way to make a synth sound analog is to own and use an analog synth, but if running through analog hardware works at all though, even to some degree, then that's great. Thanks for the input.
Old 22nd April 2009
  #2
Gear Nut
 

Hi,

I would heartily recommend the sherman filterbank. Not only the analogue filters but the input overdrive makes things sound nice, very nice.

Or nasty.

But not digital.


Or pedals....lots of pedals.....


Having said that a little caveat. Forgive me if Im wrong, but from your question it would seem your at the start of your journey as it were. Be careful not to get too caught up in the analogue warmth thing imho. A good tune is a good tune and thats the priority. Its worth investing in gear that inspires, (if the tone makes you smile, its worth it!) But if your looking for warmth for warmth's sake you may be doing yourself an injustice. Maybe digital is your sound! And theres nothing wrong with that....! ie 80's synth stylee...

R
Old 23rd April 2009
  #3
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Try reamping them as well.. guitar amps, bass amps.. can work for some things very well.
Old 23rd April 2009
  #4
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cranesong hedd, fatso jr or big muff all work for me, on soft synths as well as hardware synths. raucous stuff like the big muff works better in parallel if you want it a bit more subtle
Old 23rd April 2009
  #5
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Theo Desktop's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by biggator6 View Post
Try reamping them as well.. guitar amps, bass amps.. can work for some things very well.
I agree that this makes a HUGE difference especially if you have decent mic's and pre's to run through.

Theo
Old 23rd April 2009
  #6
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Talking

if you have a soundcard that has at least 4 outputs, I would invest in a cheap working reel to reel tape machine. 15 ips would be ideal, 1/4" or 1/2". Get a 3 head deck and buy a reel of new tape and get some used tape. Put the deck in repro mode and form a loop using 2 DA outputs (this is why I asked if you had at least 4 outs) thru the deck and back into the AD. You're need to route the softsynth to the outs that are in that loop thru the tape deck. Create a new track thats receiving the return from the deck. Hit record on your deck and then hit play on your daw. Activate your internal monitoring and adjust the level going to the deck so there's no clipping distortion, but you will hear tape saturation. Once you're happy hit record on your DAW - record your segment. There will be a slight delay in the recording, u have to line it up with the orig but its easy if you zoom in and use offset. However, running those softsynths to tape will be a wet dream come true.! Drums too!

Peace
Illumination
Old 23rd April 2009
  #7
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+1 to the comment about songs coming before analog warmth...

But also, it seems like a lot of these suggestions (fatso, reel-to-reel machine, nice tube amps, etc....) cost about the same as some good vintage synths might....
Old 23rd April 2009
  #8
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I think analog gear definitely helps soft synths.

not cheap, but the Chandler TD-1 really sounds good on soft synths.
Old 23rd April 2009
  #9
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I'd rather get a good hardware synth and process it with plugins than the other way round. A good source signal is the most important part IMHO.
Old 23rd April 2009
  #10
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Go analogue for Dirt.

Currently I only have one hard-ware synth at my disposal so i'm using software synths quite a bit. And Drum Samples in battery.

I think it can definately be worth while running OTB for some types of Music to dirty up the signal. This can help it sit better in a mix with Guitars or bass etc.

And its not necessarily about getting 'tube warmth' or that crap.

Heres a few things i've been doing lately:

1. Mixer Grit: Sometimes I'll just run it through a Mixer Channel, EQ a little, add some hardware delay and record that to a new channel in the DAW. I find this can get rid of the clinical ITB sound of a lot of Soft Synths.

2. OTB Summing: Other times, when I can't get the Drum sound I want ITB I'll do a OTB mixdown of all the Drum tracks to a stereo pair and add a bit of 'manual automation' on the mixer. the imperfections of the hardware mixer channel can add something to it that helps it sit in the mix.

3. Amping: Say you have a softsynth Organ part or E-Piano part that you want in the back of the mix. One of my favourite ways of getting that is to run it out into a Guitar Amp and Mic it back a foot or two witha Sm 57. Record that down to use instead of the Softsynth. now it sounds nice and dirty and crap, not like this perfect pristine Software synth. (especially if you use the Amp reverb / tone controls as well - instead of the Daw EQ / Reverb.
Old 23rd April 2009
  #11
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Question You don't ALWAYS want a good source.

Quote:
Originally Posted by living sounds View Post
I'd rather get a good hardware synth and process it with plugins than the other way round. A good source signal is the most important part IMHO.
in a Mix there are occcasionally parts that need to be EQed / compressed / distorted and basically messed up a lot to get them to fit in the Mix well. At some point after all that it just doesn't matter what the original source was.
Old 23rd April 2009
  #12
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The Sherman Filter Bank is awesome and can put some great mojo on any synth (or anything for that matter) that you route through it. It goes for around 800 buck if you get it from a dealer, can be had cheaper used obviously.

The electrix filter factory is also a choice and can be had used for less than $300.

You could also pick up a Juno 60 for around $400 if you just wanted to have an actual synth, not just the filters.

But filtering your soft synths with these outboard filters will give you some pleasing sounds, plus they are midi sync-able so you can do a lot of stuff with them. That should get your fix for the next few months!!!
Old 23rd April 2009
  #13
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and if you want some synth re amping advice read the Bruce Swedien thread!
Old 24th April 2009
  #14
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bruce-swedien thread?

The Q&A with bruce Swedien is that?

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/bruce-swedien/

I can't find anything in there about Re-Amping or dirtying up Synthersizers.

trawling through thread after thread..

Actually Just found it:

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/bruce...thesizers.html
Quote:
Replication of the sounds of traditional instruments is the most academic application of the synthesizer; it is also the safest and most boring ground for the artist; I think the sythesizer holds far greater fascination for those of us who see it as a means for departing from the traditional, into new and unexplored areas of music and sound.

For the electronic music conceptualist, the synthesizer has the potential for creating thousands of timbres and orchestral combinations never heard before.

To me, in recording the synthesizer, I have found that the direct, virtual sound of a sythesizer plugged directly into a tape recorder, is not very interesting. In fact, I find it more than just a little drab and lifeless. In my work, the synthesizer is frequently used to represent the orchestra, either in part, or the whole orchestral sound. I have found that by adding the drama of acoustical support to the sonic image of the synthesizer, the result is far more satisfying.

I send the sound of the synthesizer out into the studio through loudspeakers, and then mike the room with my B & K omni’s, or similar, in a classic X/Y microphone set-up. Then I combine the resultant acoustical support with the direct outputs of the synthes. By miking the studio, in this manner, I add the early reflections that are present in the acoustics of the room to the sound-field of the synthesizer. These first, or early relections are not generated, in a high-quality manner by any reverb or effects device. These extremely short acoustical reflections make the synthesizers sound much warmer and more musical.

This use of co-incident mics in a classic X/Y configuaration, in an application such as this, gives us a sound-field with the direct sound of the early relections being almost totally phase coherent. The indirect sound is, of course, phase incoherent, giving that beautiful stereo spread. This technique, to my ear, adds a great amount of detail to the texture of a synthesized sound source.
Old 24th April 2009
  #15
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I've read an interview with Bruce once where he stated that he likes to re-record the synth tracks from the mains with the room ambience.
Old 24th April 2009
  #16
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Bruce Swedien on Amping Keyboards

https://www.gearslutz.com/board/bruce...keyboards.html

Quote:
I use room of about 40 feet by 25 feet with a 15 foot ceiling.....

I use wide range speakers capable of at least 100 spl....

The best microphone technique for this application is a Pure Blumlein set-up... Then during the mix I use a ratio of about 65% of the room added to the mix values... I make no attempt at discreet sound source values during the mix.... As you can imagine that's impossible anyway...

Bruce Swedien
Old 24th April 2009
  #17
Any time you send a signal through copper cable, it's going to affect the sound.

Warmth is usually a loss of high end with a boost in the low-mids. That's why older recordings sound different, it's more of an EQ thing.

The easiest thing IMHO is to run it through a quality pre (Daking comes to mind)

But PSP vintage warmer is a good plug that will give you a tape saturation sound.

And the whole record it from the mains is really just a reamp process.

It depends on the synth sound you're going for. Those big sub-bass lines will need to be treated differently than a heavy-overtone, buzzy lead.

But digital overtones have a different tone. Sometimes just running it from your DA, through a copper cable into your AD will add what you're looking for. Start there, it's cheap.
Old 24th April 2009
  #18
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There's a Sound on Sound article (whatever their classic albums section is) about Depeche Mode's 'Some Great Reward'.. they talk about running most of the synths through guitar amps and using both close and room mics - to give them grit and some natural room sound as well. Hard to argue with the results.
Old 25th April 2009
  #19
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Running it through an amp or monitors (and miking them) is going to make a WAY bigger difference than any analog filter.

When you get the soundwaves in the air and capture them shooting around the room, the source suddenly becomes dynamic, three dimensional... Analog! stike
Old 25th April 2009
  #20
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echoclerk's Avatar
 

Softsynths to Amps / Monitors

I did this once a while ago now that I remember. But the problem was I used my 'Control Room' (only room) monitors and Miced the 'Control Room'.

I don't have another Room to use.

This seemed bad as it was hard to monitor that part now in the control room as it was like it was already being Monitored? - it just sounded weird. hard to describe.

I think you need to do it in another room. - and possibly with a different sort of playback system to you monitors?

Can anyone confirm?
Old 25th April 2009
  #21
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I created a similar thread a month or two ago and the conclusion was pretty much that the sound source is of crucial importance i.e. powerful analogue oscillators. I'm therefore gradually going down the 'prefect world' route My 1st semi modular is on it's way - Future Retro XS. I a while maybe a Jupiter 6....I'll just enjoy getting it piece by piece and learning the different gear and in about 5 years time i'll have a sh1t load of awesome synths (what you really want). Get a flexible 'proper' synth that sounds beastly and go from there.
Old 26th April 2009
  #22
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echoclerk's Avatar
 

Sherman Filterbank - Overrated..

I also meant to dispute the Sherman Filterbank. I used one once and it really didn't seem that useful. It does a whole bunch of mangling filtery things to your sound but the results are not that useful in most situations.

They are over-rated. You would be better off spending the same money on a proper second hand synth.
Old 15th May 2009
  #23
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Lightbulb

Quote:
Originally Posted by PeteJames View Post
Get a flexible 'proper' synth that sounds beastly and go from there.
well sometimes you don't want all your sounds to be "beastly". I think particularly for more background pads, organs and incidental sounds going OTB into a Mixer or Re-Amping can give you a sound that is much easier to place in the Mix.

It can make it easier to find the right level and also going Out of the Box can make it easier to add some "manual" automation that livens up the part. say for quanitized sequenced synth strings / pads
Old 15th May 2009
  #24
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CapnMarvel's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by living sounds View Post
I'd rather get a good hardware synth and process it with plugins than the other way round. A good source signal is the most important part IMHO.

Hallelujah. Considering how cheap some vintage analog synths still are, attempting to polish a softsynth turd versus having a great sound to begin with seems to me to be a no-brainer.

Generally, you don't need a Minimoog or a Jupiter-8 to get great analog synth sounds, just like you don't need a plexi Marshall Super Lead and a '59 Les Paul to get great rock guitar sounds. It helps, but it's not a prerequisite. Try the following options for CHEAP true analog (well, some are DCO, but whatever) beasts (all prices used, BTW I've owned most, but not all of these and can vouch for their coolness and sound quality):

Roland Juno 6 - $400-600
Korg Polysix - $400-600
SCI Prophet 600 - $600-800
Oberheim Matrix 6r or 1000 - $100-200
Yamaha CS-15, etc. - $200-400
Moog Micromoog, Rogue, or Realistic Concertmate - $200-$500

Or try any of the AMAZING virtual analogs out there:

Roland JP-8000 - $400-600
Alesis ION or Micron - $200-400
Korg MS2000 - $200-400

Or, save up $500 and get a new Dave Smith Evolver or MoPho and get TRUE ANALOG sounds.
Old 16th May 2009
  #25
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I've had and still have a bunch of analog synths.. the difference between softsynths and the real deal is getting very small, honestly. I sold or traded off a lot of my collection (including a Prophet 5 - which went to Sonic Reality.. hope Dave used it for some good samples)

Quote:
Or try any of the AMAZING virtual analogs out there:

Roland JP-8000 - $400-600
Alesis ION or Micron - $200-400
Korg MS2000 - $200-400
How exactly is a virtual analog in an external box different from an virtual analog on your computer? Those are all good sounding synths, but what makes them different from a good Rob Papen softsynth?

FWIW - I will NOT sell my Virus.
Old 16th May 2009
  #26
Gear Addict
 
echoclerk's Avatar
 

Virtual Analogue vs Soft Synths.

Exactly - how can you say, with a straight face, that Virtuual Analogue Hardware is going to sound better than pure PC based SoftSynths?!

It just doesn't make sense.
Old 16th May 2009
  #27
RTR
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RTR's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by echoclerk View Post
Currently I only have one hard-ware synth at my disposal so i'm using software synths quite a bit. And Drum Samples in battery.

I think it can definately be worth while running OTB for some types of Music to dirty up the signal. This can help it sit better in a mix with Guitars or bass etc.

And its not necessarily about getting 'tube warmth' or that crap.

Heres a few things i've been doing lately:

1. Mixer Grit: Sometimes I'll just run it through a Mixer Channel, EQ a little, add some hardware delay and record that to a new channel in the DAW. I find this can get rid of the clinical ITB sound of a lot of Soft Synths.

2. OTB Summing: Other times, when I can't get the Drum sound I want ITB I'll do a OTB mixdown of all the Drum tracks to a stereo pair and add a bit of 'manual automation' on the mixer. the imperfections of the hardware mixer channel can add something to it that helps it sit in the mix.

3. Amping: Say you have a softsynth Organ part or E-Piano part that you want in the back of the mix. One of my favourite ways of getting that is to run it out into a Guitar Amp and Mic it back a foot or two witha Sm 57. Record that down to use instead of the Softsynth. now it sounds nice and dirty and crap, not like this perfect pristine Software synth. (especially if you use the Amp reverb / tone controls as well - instead of the Daw EQ / Reverb.
+1..Last week I ran a SS out into a Peavey classic 30 and mic'd it with a 57...I cant belive how well it just sit's in the back of the mix not bothering anything else!!
Old 16th May 2009
  #28
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It gets really really boring reading...... 'Oh noz, not soft synths, you needz the real thingz!'

Like shut up already please! Not everyone likes the same thing, some may like the real deal and some may like soft synths, each to their own and all of that, myself I'd rather use soft synths as I like the fact that they don't take up such massive amounts of space, and hey, they sound great too to my ears as crazy as that might sound!

I've had my racks of outboard and I'm pleased of what sounds can be created by softwares, something someone on here put my onto was the plug Zebra, man that sounds good

Back on topic, if the O.P has some outboard comps/pre's/guitar cabs give them a shot, I'm sure you'll like the end result.
Old 16th May 2009
  #29
RTR
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RTR's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Tony--> View Post
It gets really really boring reading...... 'Oh noz, not soft synths, you needz the real thingz!'

Like shut up already please! Not everyone likes the same thing, some may like the real deal and some may like soft synths, each to their own and all of that, myself I'd rather use soft synths as I like the fact that they don't take up such massive amounts of space, and hey, they sound great too to my ears as crazy as that might sound!

I've had my racks of outboard and I'm pleased of what sounds can be created by softwares, something someone on here put my onto was the plug Zebra, man that sounds good

Back on topic, if the O.P has some outboard comps/pre's/guitar cabs give them a shot, I'm sure you'll like the end result.
Quote:
needz the real thingz
Must be hip hop huh

At the end of your post you say the same thing as the rest of us, I dont get it!
Old 16th May 2009
  #30
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code 10's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by RTR View Post
Must be hip hop huh

At the end of your post you say the same thing as the rest of us, I dont get it!
I wasn't disagreeing with what the general consensus was, I was referring to these kind of remarks that gets a bit see below.....

Quote:
Originally Posted by living sounds View Post
I'd rather get a good hardware synth
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