Analog and Digital

With the advances in technology over the last 20 years, the logic behind staying with analog has disappeared. Particularly with sampling and playback there really isn’t anything you can’t get from a digital oscillator that you could get from an analog one.

What are your thoughts on this? Does analog still have a place? If so, where is that place? I’m especially interested in cases where an analog oscillator can do something a digital one cannot.


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Yes the Natural Gate is awesome!! Heard it at Knobcon and was like…


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I’m the same, don’t care either way!

Although for me the magic sonic unicorn sprinkles tend to come from the digital domain :smiley:

The Presonus 32.4.2 is a digital desk but with oodles of headroom and it sums beautifully - by far the best summing device I’ve ever owned. It also happens to ‘behave’ quite a lot like an analogue desk so it’s really easy to use, loads of digital convenience but with an analogue way of working - it’s ace!

There are exceptions of course, the most prominent analogue in my life at the moment is the Natural Gate - oh my god - this is a thing of extraordinary finesse and beauty:


They defininely have their place and always will i believe.
what cant you get form a digital oscillator that you could get from an analog one?
tone, charter, color. not that you can’t get that from digital, but it wont the the same tone, charter and color you would get from certain analog ones.
It’s like a painter choosing acrylic or oil paints.
In analog, there’s lots of imperfections that are actually often the beauty of it. for example, the sine/square/and saw waves on the sputink single oscillator are far from perfect. but that is what makes it interesting and unique, and its a result of the analog circuit. you might be able to make a wave table and try to copy the wave forms, but still might not sound identical.
another place analog is different than digital is audio rate fm. you’re just not going to get the exact same fm characteristics from a digital oscillator as a analog one. all my analog oscillators have unique fm characteristics and sound different from each other. i think digitally cloning them would be extremely difficult, perhaps impossible.

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I think this is the point being made, even though it is extremely difficult, it is actually possible!

Even Rupert Neve thinks so:

Skip to 21:00 if you want the juice on new tech! The whole thing is worth a watch though, loads of great information :cat:

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and in some cases, maybe, in other cases maybe not…
ill believe it when some body make a buchla 259 and 158 digital clone that is side by side 100% indistinguishable from the original analog ones.

i was just answering the op’s question.


Naturally - it’s all good :slight_smile:

To be completely fair, it is always subjective anyway.

I would imagine there are many more people in the world who would not be able to distinguish even a moderately reasonable clone, than there are people who would be able to distinguish a really good clone, from the real thing!

I find low resolution digital control to be more worrisome than digital synthesis. Tuning a filter using 7-bit parameters is no fun at all. I look upon the recent spate of analog synthesizers with a fair amount of chagrin for this very reason. MIDI supports 14-bit messages (with the potential for relatively graceful fallback to 7-bit), so I can’t see why manufacturers continue to hobble their instruments.


Haha I like the cheeky edit there @NeilParfitt

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oh whoops - I thought I was replying. Now it’s all out of order! :smiley:

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Is this a troll ?

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No… just a little bit of biological chaos - analogue systems do the weirdest things sometimes :smiley:


My live system is 85% digital sources but 50% goes through analogue parallel processing - I like this approach at the moment as I can always cross-fade back to the digital source but then add colouration, saturation & distortion quickly when needed.

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This part of the Lines thread about FM synthesis might be helpful:

That said, I’ve just started exploring the ER-301 and I’ve obtained some results that sound somewhat surprisingly Buchlish. Nice!

This is the argument that was true 40 years ago when technology was just making digital possible. Sadly this mindset has persisted. What we have on the other hand is factual data showing us that analog emulation are scope-wise identical to a certain resolution.

Hearing is subjective, and so factual signal analysis is the only thing we can use to quantify authenticity.

All that said I know what you mean. The problem though is that everything you have highlighted as being a reason to stick with analog can and has already been overcome in various applications. Another thing most people don’t understand is any module you use in your rack that is digital (whether it be an effect, oscillator, filter, etc.) is introducing digital into your signal path. (Mutable instruments for example are mostly digital. Clouds anyone?) Your analog signal comes out of its source pure, but then runs through that effect, for example, and has been truncated (based on the sample rate, etc.) for processing in the module. When it comes back out, it is being turned back into analog from digital. You don’t see anyone saying how terribly their effects are messing up their pure analog signal. This is because they don’t. If the ADC and DACs in those modules are good enough to handle that conversion process (maintaining all these imperfections, etc.) as a secondary nature of that module, is there really any danger that a dedicated high power ADC and DAC are going to get it wrong? Absolutely not. All the music we listen to is in a digital format. We still hear all of the details.

This is what I’m really talking about. The analog purist are for the most part all validating the ability for digital to do what analog does. I would challenge you to show me a eurorack that doesn’t have a digital module used in it.

What I really would like to see is for people to stop focusing on what technology is better, and instead focus on the technologies moving things forward and giving us more abilities.

The days of analog circuits are numbered. They will exist because they will be cheaper in some cases, but not because they are technically better than a digital implementation. We aren’t at a point where this is the case, but capability wise, we have been there for some time. We just need the software to harness that capability.

At the end of the day, it really doesn’t matter how you made the sound you are using as long as it works, and the workflow needed to use it is compatible with you.


One winning point for analog has been the way it handles audio-rate modulation, but don’t FPGA’s (and, well, the 301) make short work of the problems associated with high-frequency modulations?

Please lets not attack people for their tastes. Analog lovers and digital lovers are all welcome here. If you love digital creations then please do it without disparaging analog creations and those who love them. :bowing_man:


Just reading the description for that module makes me want it. I’m all about recreating acoustic instruments.


i get that you can emulate an analog wave form digitally.
but theres more to it than that. Like i was talking about audio rate FM modulation(where a lot of tone, charter, color come in), All my analog oscillators and filters have very different FM characteristics due to the different circuts. also what about feedback patching?
obviously this is going to be hard to replicate as well. as the they way feedback sounds and chaotic nature of certain modules is unique to the circuits and components used. The flaws in analog are often what make it beautiful. there’s a lot more to it than just replicating a wave form.


the analog vs. digital (mac vs. pc, etc) debate is hardly worth having anymore. and i won’t add to it besides recommending a great book that i’m reading now:

it talks about analog in a “tactile” “real things” kind of way… not about the OP question here on circuit design…

but, for me, it’s a huge reason i use analog equipment in my studio. the experience, for me, is more profound and soulful.