Analogue forces

Like many other producers, every year I stalk the blogs of those attending the NAMM show (one of the largest music product trade shows in the world) to see all the latest audio gadgets. Its been over a month since NAMM, and people are really starting to get into the pre-orders. This year it seems to be all about analogue synths; inexpensive little ones that would fit right into many a producer’s project studio. The timing with this couldn’t be more bizarre from my perspective. As I recently mentioned, I have just started my own little journey down analogue lane- albeit pensively and without the blind enthusiasm of a 40-something Kraftwerk fan. With that in mind, I’ve been studying the developments at NAMM a little closer than I usually would.

One of the more talked about items revealed was a small analogue synth (100% analogue signal path) made by Arturia, who ironically are famous for making ‘virtual’ analogue synths and plugins. This is the real deal though, complete with a few of their own custom features. These things will end up being sold new for $500 USD which is the cheapest I’ve seen a feature rich analogue synth. The problem is it seems to sound rather awful. Unfortunately all the features on the synth that Arturia are toting as the ‘good bits’ are the worst. Their ‘ultra saw’ feature is a thin little joke and so is their ‘brute factor’ control. That being said the arpeggiator is cool and I like the sub-osc stuff too. If I had a progressive house music project, or an old school techno project *maybe* I would buy this. But any notable (modern) analogue synth should be able to stand on its own in regards to character/timbre- and I think I’d need to feed this through some other hardware/software to make it sound interesting.

Synths like this annoy the hell out of me. And this year has seen a quite a few of these sort of things released so far. Just because it sounds ‘warm’ doesn’t mean it sounds good. Here’s my message to people considering buying any new budget analogue synths- warmed up crap is still crap.