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Conbrio

What company made the first Virtual Analog Synth?

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Clavia claims to be first:

 

Nord Lead

 

The first virtual analog synthesizer ever. Classical analog sounds in a lightweight and intuitive format. 1995 - 1998.

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A lot of it comes down to how you define a VA.

 

The Nord Lead was the first to use modeled oscillators. That was in the mid 90s, so purists might cite that as the actual beginning.

 

But one could make a strong argument for the JD-800 being the first VA, or even the D50 -- again, depending on your definition. I have to say, Roland engineers did an amazing job emulating analog oscillators in both cases, especially for that time.

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Aren't the D-50/JD-800 "oscillators" just PCM samples?

 

A lot of it comes down to how you define a VA.


The Nord Lead was the first to use modeled oscillators. That was in the mid 90s, so purists might cite that as the actual beginning.


But one could make a strong argument for the JD-800 being the first VA, or even the D50 -- again, depending on your definition. I have to say, Roland engineers did an amazing job emulating analog oscillators in both cases, especially for that time.

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Oh no, here we go again into a discussion of what an oscillator is.

 

That depends on what the meaning of "is" is. As for the D-50, I remember that the oscillator was not presented as a PCM sample like the attack bits were. But as to the underlying technology, I doubt we will be able to find out whether the D-50 reads its waveform from a table or if it calculates it on the fly. I suspect the former.

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Wolfgang Palm of PPG designed the first one, the PPG Realizer. It actually emulated the panel of various analog synths onscreen. In 1986! Plus it had FM, vawetable synthesis, and a sampler.

It was too ahead of its times, and never went into production. So I guess Clavia keeps the primacy.

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Keep it simple: "virtual analogue" in its original definition means not just that you create a digital saw wave/pulse/tri/sin and digital filter, but that you actually go to the point of emulating, in software, the circuit structures of an analogue synthesizer. In scientific terms, this is much more like physical modelling for the theoretical underpinnings than any other kind of digital synthesis.

 

Otherwise, we could call the original Csound a VA, which it's not.

 

Clavia wins the prize, with Nord Lead, in 1995.

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A VA to me uses generated oscillators. A rompler uses waves and emulates VA synthesis IMHO.. for the sake of argument, it's all VA ..:idk:

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As for the D-50, I remember that the oscillator was not presented as a PCM sample like the attack bits were. But as to the underlying technology, I doubt we will be able to find out whether the D-50 reads its waveform from a table or if it calculates it on the fly. I suspect the former.

 

I found this explanation of LA Synthesis on the Wikipedia website.

LA Synthesis employed traditional subtractive synthesis combined with PCM-based samples.

 

The term Linear Arithmetic is derived from the facts that the synthesis is all digital (linear) and a summing (arithmetic) of sounds. Roland were careful not to use the term 'additive' as this is an entirely different method of synthesis.

 

At the time, resynthesizing samplers were very expensive, so Roland set out to present a machine to the general public that could be easy to program yet sound realistic and at the same time sound like a 'synth'. Also, Yamaha had previously gained world market lead with their DX7 FM synth, which excelled at metallic, percussive sounds, something that Roland's synths, using subtractive synthesis, were not good at.

 

Roland understood that their subtractive synthesis method needed to be changed. As the most complex and so difficult to program part of a sound is the attack transient, Roland had the innovative idea to add a suite of sampled attack transients to their tried, tested and loved subtractive synthesis. As well as the attack transients, Roland added a suite of single-cycle sampled waveforms that could be continuously looped. Sounds could now have three components: A lifelike attack, a body made from a subtractive synth sound (saw or pulse wave through a filter) and an 'embellishment' of one of many looped samples. Note: The looped samples also contained a collection of totally synthetic waves derived from additive synthesis, as well as sequences of inharmonic wave cycles. Thus, LA synthesis offered the realistic sounds of a sampler with the control and creativity of a synthesizer, all at an affordable price.

 

The PCM samples/waveforms could be modified with a pitch envelope and a Time Variant Amplifier. Waveforms from the sound wave generators, could be further modified with Time Variant Filters for cutoff frequency, and resonance. These modified waveforms were called Partials.

 

Two Partials grouped together created a Tone. Tones could be modified using up to three Low Frequency Oscillators, a pitch envelope, a programmable equalizer, and on-board effects such as reverb and chorus. Two Tones grouped together created a patch.

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The manual of Clavia Nord Lead from 1996 actually has that phrase "Virtual Analog" on it's first page, which might be the first ever use of that expression.

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Conbrio, that's essentially been the core of all Roland synthesis ever since. All based on an absolutely brilliant theoretical understanding of the microarchitecture of musical sounds. :)

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for my money it was the Roland JD-800. it may not have been emulating actual analog circuits but it was the first digital synth that i felt was trying to recapture what was awesome about analog.

 

jd800.jpg

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Kurzweil K2000 - 1990/91. Nord Lead 1995.

 

A Kurzweil rep told me that in the K2000 algorithms that use oscillator sync, the oscillators are modeled.

 

:idk:

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Well, I did originally say that workstations don't count.
:)

 

 

You asked 2 questions then.

 

1) Who made the first VA?

 

2) Who made the first VA that's not a workstation?

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Keep it simple: "virtual analogue" in its original definition means not just that you create a digital saw wave/pulse/tri/sin and digital filter, but that you actually go to the point of emulating, in software, the circuit structures of an analogue synthesizer. In scientific terms, this is much more like physical modelling for the theoretical underpinnings than any other kind of digital synthesis.

Tha PPG Realizer does satisfy these requirements - so it does qualify as "the first VA" in my opinion; unless you mean "the first commercially available VA", in which case I think Nord Lead was the first one.

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I hadn't even thought of the K2000. It's true, it fits the criteria. Even if we exempt "workstations," I think the K2000 belongs in a special category. VAST is definitely a distinct and real virtual analog synthesizer (and a very good one), regardless of what it's grafted onto.

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The other synths mentioned above get kudos for being both innovated and expressive but I am a true believer that the Nord Lead was the first VA. Now who made the first Workstation? :)

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Tha PPG Realizer does satisfy these requirements - so it does qualify as "the first VA" in my opinion; unless you mean "the first commercially available VA", in which case I think Nord Lead was the first one.

 

Speaking of PPG Realizer, Big City Music just put one up for sale:

 

http://bigcitymusic.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=2_55&products_id=735

 

ppg_realizer.jpg

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The other synths mentioned above get kudos for being both innovated and expressive but I am a true believer that the Nord Lead was the first VA. Now who made the first Workstation?
:)

 

That too will depend on one's definition of 'workstation.'

 

I'd say the CMI Fairlight or Synclavier, circa 1982. The Sequential Circuits Six-Trak might also qualify, depending on the criteria.

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You asked 2 questions then.


1) Who made the first VA?


2) Who made the first VA that's not a workstation?

 

Here's my original post:

 

Curious if anyone knows who made the first VA? Workstations and hybrid analog/digital synths don't count.

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Curious if anyone knows who made the first VA? Workstations and hybrid analog/digital synths don't count.

 

my question back at this question is WHY did they make a virtual analogue?

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