Analog vs Virtual Analog - Can you tell which is which?

Made a little VA vs Real Analog comparison while tweaking things in our upcoming synth today. Figured I'll let you guys in on the fun and have a guess which is which.

In order to compare them I tried to replicate one of my favourite patches from the Prophet08 on a number of synths and recorded a dry sample of each.

Have a listen and take a guess!

Synths are (in no particular order): DSI OB6, Prophet-12, Prophet08 & unreleased soft synth

Synth Comparison
  1. Which is the VA one21 votes
    1. Sample #1
      23.81%
    2. Sample #2
      19.05%
    3. Sample #3
      47.62%
    4. Sample #4
        9.52%

Comments

  • Was the second one analog both times? I wasn’t listening with headphones but the way my iPad vibrated implied more harmonics were present in sample 2 and 4.

  • The last two are Prophets.

  • edited March 9

    My guess is the first note is virtual and the rest are analog.

  • Out of the studio monitors, I liked the tone of the second and fourth ones, smoother and fuzzier than the others. If one of those is your new soft synth I would say you're there.

  • No, I suck at this game. :(

  • Someone got it right :)

    @Processaurus said:
    Out of the studio monitors, I liked the tone of the second and fourth ones, smoother and fuzzier than the others. If one of those is your new soft synth I would say you're there.

    Interesting, personally I prefer the first but that's a matter of taste I think. Can't say too much now or I'll give it away.

  • All four sound pretty much the same with only tiny timbral variances. So...yeah, what’s the point of guessing if the virtual analogue part of your VA sounds indistinguishable from the three hardware units? :smirk:

    Glad to have you on board at these forums here mate. :) The synth sounds great, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. (Then again, pro-tip: this forum is also the perfect place to pick up an extra beta tester or two. ;) ;) ;) )

  • I voted. Honestly they're all pretty good sounding. #2 sounds very digital to my ears but the rest were a tough call. I went with #3

  • Only if its sound is silence. ;) VA gives it away because there is neither hum nor noise. Just kidding.

  • I heard a video comparison between an old OB-Xa and a DSI OB-6 and the difference was huge in quality (organic vibrancy) at some settings. Well, Behringer is working on that.

  • My vote went with number 4 being the VA.
    But over all I'd be happy with any of them as an AUv3 for my iPad. The difference quite marginal to be honest.

  • edited March 9

    Alright then, those who picked sample #3 were right, here's the order I recorded in:
    1. Prohpet 08
    2. Prophet 12
    3. Soft Synth
    4. OB6

    I think the CEM based P08 and P12 clearly stand out, some might call them harsh but like their roughness. The OB6 certainly is the smoothest of the bunch and the softsynth while sounding somewhat off holds up fairly well I think.

    What do you guys think?

    @jwmmakerofmusic said:
    All four sound pretty much the same with only tiny timbral variances. So...yeah, what’s the point of guessing if the virtual analogue part of your VA sounds indistinguishable from the three hardware units? :smirk:

    Glad to have you on board at these forums here mate. :) The synth sounds great, and I can’t wait to get my hands on it. (Then again, pro-tip: this forum is also the perfect place to pick up an extra beta tester or two. ;) ;) ;) )

    Well, the point was to show how close VA does get. Many (for a long time myself included) are quick to dismiss VA as being inferior to real analog which in some aspects surly is true bit I think comparisons like this go to show that in most cases VA does to job well enough.

    @Max_Free said:
    I heard a video comparison between an old OB-Xa and a DSI OB-6 and the difference was huge in quality (organic vibrancy) at some settings. Well, Behringer is working on that.

    Getting off-topic here but I just need to point out that the OB-Xa does have little in common with OB6 or any of the early Oberheim Synths. Reason being that all newer synths such as da OB-Xa are built on CEMs unlike the OB6 or OB-X which have discrete circuitry going back to that of the original SEM.
    So really the OB-Xa is much more similar to a Prophet-08 than an OB6 (compare Sample #1, CEM based P08 and #4, discrete OB6 - they're very different) which is why I don't get why people are hyped for that behringer clone when you can pick up a used P08 at a reasonable price today.

  • I say three but they all sound pretty good. I'd take the VA as an AUv3 thank you!

  • Turn the resonance up and make a very slow filter sweep.

  • Digital has been close enough for me for years and this shows how indistinguishable the good ones can be. Plus they are cheaper, more versatile, takes up less space, etc. What’s not to like!

  • @ka010

    Can you see who voted? I believe I was the first person to identify that #3 was the correct answer in the poll yesterday.

    What do I win?!

    B)

    BTW, great job on the comparison.

  • edited March 9

    @Max_Free said:
    I heard a video comparison between an old OB-Xa and a DSI OB-6 and the difference was huge in quality (organic vibrancy) at some settings. Well, Behringer is working on that.

    Getting off-topic here but I just need to point out that the OB-Xa does have little in common with OB6 or any of the early Oberheim Synths. Reason being that all newer synths such as da OB-Xa are built on CEMs unlike the OB6 or OB-X which have discrete circuitry going back to that of the original SEM.
    So really the OB-Xa is much more similar to a Prophet-08 than an OB6 (compare Sample #1, CEM based P08 and #4, discrete OB6 - they're very different) which is why I don't get why people are hyped for that behringer clone when you can pick up a used P08 at a reasonable price today.

    Alright, thanks for the info, but OB-6 is VCO while P08 is DCO and a lot of people (like myself) think this is relevant.
    I really strongly believe a P08 does not replace an OB-Xa in sound (as also an OB-6 oviously does not).
    Even DSI agrees there, at least so far with emulating general considered more pleasing VCO sloppiness by a special (digitally calculated) parameter on their DCO synths.
    We can argue if they are capturing it with this.

  • I would like to have Syntronik as a partner for comparison here. The real contender on iOS, I believe.

  • @Max_Free said:
    I would like to have Syntronik as a partner for comparison here. The real contender on iOS, I believe.

    Maybe because they’re samples

  • edited March 9

    @Cib said:
    Turn the resonance up and make a very slow filter sweep.

    that and a (very) fast attack in the bass domain may reveal the difference.
    But it's a rather limited aspect, and for most other settings the better engines like DRC's or Zeeon's are impossible (for my ears) to tell from recorded analog stuff.
    (maybe different if jamming in a pure analog setup - but after all it ends in the digital domain and gets digital fx treatment anyway)
    I liked the sound of the 4th section most and didn't know about the OB-6 Dave/Tom colab, so I learned something. :)

  • @analog_matt said:
    @ka010

    Can you see who voted? I believe I was the first person to identify that #3 was the correct answer in the poll yesterday.

    What do I win?!

    High five! :smiley:

    No, I only see the votes.

    @Cib said:
    Turn the resonance up and make a very slow filter sweep.

    Well, that's what I did, the filter goes from fully open to almost closed via envelope at (almost) max release. I should note that two of the synths were 2poles tho so I had to dial back the other two to get a useful comparison.

    @Max_Free said:
    Alright, thanks for the info, but OB-6 is VCO while P08 is DCO and a lot of people (like myself) think this is relevant.
    I really strongly believe a P08 does not replace an OB-Xa in sound (as also an OB-6 oviously does not).
    Even DSI agrees there, at least so far with emulating general considered more pleasing VCO sloppiness by a special (digitally calculated) parameter on their DCO synths.
    We can argue if they are capturing it with this.

    Sure, I'm not saying they're identical but they are made up of the same pre-made circuits so overall they will sound very similar and that's fine it just seems to me if they had announced the same synth without the Oberheim name attached nobody would have cared. So I'm not buying the hype B)

  • I have been a fan of the Nord Electro for many years but recently watched a guy on youtube showing the difference between the a real analog Rhodes piano and the Nord Electro.
    The only reason I prefer the virtual one is to get the sound on a controler with real weighted keys which I don't really get with the analog version.

  • edited March 17

    I went to a big music shop here in Berlin some time ago, checked out maybe 20 synths, digital, analog, hybrid, without preconception. The only think that actually sounded good to me was the OB-6 in the desktop version. Gave me the warm, fuzzy feeling and the shivers. Prophet-6, -12, -2, -08 didn‘t thrill me. I was growin up in the 70s with Jarre, Tangerine Dream, Pink Floyd, Walter Carlos as my electronic influences. Maybe that‘s why. If the Behringer UB-Xa (announced OB-Xa clone) is good, I will try to get my hands on it, for sure. I don‘t care what other people hear or think.

  • Honorable mention for the Roland JD-Xa. Could work with that. I also can use an Analog Four here and it‘s not bad.

  • CibCib
    edited March 17

    Just in the last few months i became a huge fan of those analog tones. I really don´t care how accurate an emulation is as long as it just impress me and let me think "woah what an organic sounding juicy tone".
    Since it´s hard to really compare these all for me it is a combination of excellent filters, OSC, as well as modeled FX.
    I didn´t had the joy to play with lots of real analog synths and soundcloud and you-tube videos often can´t really show the real power.
    I wasn´t impressed mostly at all by many demos of Minimoog and other famous analog synths, especially if they are totally dry and most videos seems to use simple sounds even mediocre subtractive digital synths can do these days.
    Analog sound is hard to describe for me and i mostly just post sound demos from what i mean.
    I think there can be a huge difference, especially at very high resonance plus amounts of saturation and really slow (as well as really fast/audio rate) modulations. A lot digital synths sound a bit static and steppy for me when you turn knobs and tweak that stuff.
    At the end some synths really stands out for me. On iOS it would be Zeeon and Model 15 at the moment but Repro is another league and P900 is the beast in nature for me what describes analog/vintage power as best. I like it even more than most of the real analogs i heard yet. Again sad to say that it was planned to be on iOS but since Moog released their app at the same time the developer made it mac only so far. It sounds sooooo much more Moog than Moog itself :D It just has a raw power that i didn´t heard anywhere else yet. It shows that software can sound as good if not better these days. High cpu-usage might be a price to pay.....
    Analog is yesterday :p

  • With music and art in general, it is always back to the future. Analog synths are already classic instruments, there will be a place for them, just there will always be a place for the human voice and a guitar, at the campfire. You‘re kidding yourself if you think, they will be „replaced“, just go away soon. It doesn‘t work this way, in human culture.

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