A Message to the Synthesizer Community
Synthesizers are a very beautiful thing, they are beautiful to look at, fun to play, and glorious to hear. Wherether it is an analog synth or digital, monophonic, paraphonic, or polyphonic, single or multiple oscillators, filters, arpeggiators, all these words bring a big smile to me when we hear them or discuss them in a group.
A Little History
In the begining there was the analog synth, because that was the available technology at the time, then the integrated circuit (IC) was born which progressed into microprocessors and the digital revolution was born. Since a few years ago, manufacturers have release inexpensive analog synthesizers within reach to most budgets. This allowed many to experience analog syntesizers something that was limited to people with deep pockets. Moogs and vintage analog Roland like the Jupiter 4/6/
8 synths are out of most people's range. Virtual analog synth were created to address the budget problem, and provide more polyphony and additional exciting features difficult or expensive to implement in a traditional analog synth.
Analog vs Digital
Both analog and digital synthesizers have a place in music. Analog cannot sound like digital, and digital cannot sound like analog. A digital oscillator cannot sound like a voltage controlled oscillator (VCO) and so on. The Roland D-50 which is a digital synth that doesn't try to sound analog is regarded as a classic and is making a come back. The Novation Summit another digital synth sounds simply glorious, the same goes for Clavia Nord, Kurzweil K2000 series synths. Minimoogs, Alesis Andromeda A6, Roland Jupiter 8, Juno 106, Arturia MatrixBrute, all are amazing analog synths. Choose your instrument based on what YOU like, not what others in the community says.
The Polyphony/Paraphony Debate
Polyphony as defined in all known dictionaries is the sound produced by two or more voices simultaneously. Polyphony in the synthesizer world has become an ambiguous term, due to advanced in electronics and technology. In the old days any synth producing two or more voices at once was considered polyphonic, whether each voice had its own VCA, VCF, or other sound shaping technology. Today some people consider synthesizers which produce multiple voices simultaneously and share a VCA or VCF as being paraphonic, and not polyphonic. Another group consider a synthesizer polyphonic if it produces two or more voices simultaneously, period. We subscribe to the latter group. At the end the debate is truly irrelevant, what is really important is how a synth sounds to the ear.
How We Rate Synths
Sound is very subjective, the ear and brain are trained to enjoy different sounds. A person may like the sound of an analog oscillator, another may prefer DSPs or digital wavetables, some may like the sound of a Moog, others may not, therefore we do not rate synths on the type of sound but rather by how flexible it is for a synth to produce a sound, such as the number of oscillators, envelopes, polyphony, multi-timbrality, how easy it is to develop the sound that you have in mind, or to experience various features. For example the Korg Wavestation of the 1990s produced exceptional sounds but programing those sounds was very difficult and required a lot of menu diving.
We hope that you enjoy our reviews and accept our rating as our own opinions, just as you have yours.