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effects that just don't sound right when digital...

smitty.west

Senior Member
Messages
873
preface: i was an analog delay diehard for a very long time, but eventually had my opinion re: digital delay swayed a few years ago when all these killer analog/tape/oilcan/etc.-voiced digitals came on the scene. took me a while to warm up to the whole faux-analog concept, but when i stopped listening with snobbery and began listening with my ears, i truly began to see the potential of well-programmed digital; it could get that analog sound and at the same time add a virtually limitless feature set. no more being limited to 600ms, no more aliasing, clock noise, etc. seemed like if these builders could dream it up, they could put it into a stompbox.

this aforementioned epiphany lead to some casual experimentation with various digital effects, but helped me draw this conclusion:

certain effects just don't sound right when digital.

modulation, dirt and compression come to mind first and foremost (in that order).

there's something, to me, that just yearns for analog warmth when it comes to modulation. phase, flange, rotary, vibrato, chorus, you name it- it all sounds significantly better (read: more authentic/organic) when analog. i've tried various digital modulation effects and felt 95%+ to sound awfully synthetic. i'd take a second rate analog modulation pedal over a "first rate" digital modulation pedal any day. only digital modulation pedal i've personally ever encountered that sounded authentic and organic was the neo instruments ventilator (and mini vent). on paper, digital modulation opens up all sorts of sonic possibilities, but in practice comes short.

dirt pedals; fuzz, overdrive, distortion and boost- just no. this doesn't even require a blurb.

compression. similar to dirt, doesn't require much justification pertaining to the (sonic) advantages of remaining within the analog realm.

the above three effects groups, imo, benefit most from remaining within the analog domain.

pitch shifting-- used relatively primitively (a la foxrox octron)-- benefits from analog, but i've come to love digital pitch shifters due to their virtually limitless abilities. analog ones have that analog warmth and grit, but are fairly limited it what they can do. digital ones on the other hand have a more pristine sonic nature (which can be good or bad depending on what you want), but are boundless in what they can do.

i'm not trying to stir any pots, just an observation i've wanted to voice for a while now.

of course this is all highly subjective (except the dirt part- we can all agree digital dirt sounds terrible lol-), but why is it that certain effects just sound better when analog (or digital)?
 

Black_Label

Member
Messages
4,552
If agree with that assessment. Digital reverbs (which is most of them) can be pretty good. I like a lot of digital, non-emulation delays too. I use a pair of Chandler SDEs that - and I hate to say it - sound as good as my vintage Echoplexes.
 

PurpleJesus

Moderation is key
Staff member
Messages
8,679
Digital can't do rotary. Now that I have a Neo Vent 2 I can say I've basically tried them all and while it's the best I've played and pretty close it ain't the real deal even in stereo.

Now, if I recorded w it I doubt there'd be much difference but in person it's substantially not the same.

Basically agree w your entire post. I prefer analog for everything outside of harmonizer/pitch effects and crazy reverb. Digitech obscura and the new Boss dm500 may bring me around on delays.
 

td2243

Member
Messages
1,010
You nailed it. I bought a möbius and sold a bunch of analog modulation pedLs. I ended up sling the möbius and buying the individual pedals again. I just enjoyed the analog pedals better ...for that type of pedal.

Reverb is interesting because if it is in pedal form, you are faking it anyway (since real reverb is the effects of playing in a room). The notion of analog reverb always made me laugh. Digital reverb can sound amazing. The H9 reverbs are killer.
 

bratch

Member
Messages
853
The answer is none, basically. I'm including the great plugins I've messed with or heard folks use. Due to diligent programming, most great effects have been approximated pretty well.

I've noticed that it must not be easy to imitate the distortion artifacts of many popular old school classic analog devices. Like, seemingly a lot of programming is necessary to make digital sound "analog". Transformers, tubes, transistors, bbd chips, tape, et al.

For guitar effects, I prefer analog over digital in most cases for many reasons. If there was a digital multi-stomp pedal that was indistinguishable from my pedalboard in sound and function and cost less, I'd be all over it. I'm sure it could be done in theory, except for the price part. Guitar effects aren't expensive, so there's no point in having a great emulation that costs just as much. Fuzzes are, what, a couple transistors? Even modulation effects are just some cheap components.

The exception for me and for most of us are clear delays and tape echoes. Mechanical devices are expensive.

Other than that, Digital works best when it's not trying to emulate older technology. There are plenty of cool digital effects I would use that haven't been invented yet. Digital pitch shifting and/or chorus can be cool ...
 

Droptopandy

Silver Supporting Member
Messages
2,081
You nailed it. I bought a möbius and sold a bunch of analog modulation pedLs. I ended up sling the möbius and buying the individual pedals again. I just enjoyed the analog pedals better ...for that type of pedal.

Reverb is interesting because if it is in pedal form, you are faking it anyway (since real reverb is the effects of playing in a room). The notion of analog reverb always made me laugh. Digital reverb can sound amazing. The H9 reverbs are killer.
Me too. I owned the Mobius twice and the Eventide Modfactor once. Neither can do a convincing Phase 90 and when comparing flanger.......the Hartman FLanger sounds soo much better than anything from a multi unit.
 

Ugly Bunny

Member
Messages
1,817
Eventide just released their new CrushStation dirt/fuzz/OD algorithm today. It's actually really good...
 

Black_Label

Member
Messages
4,552
Me too. I owned the Mobius twice and the Eventide Modfactor once. Neither can do a convincing Phase 90 and when comparing flanger.......the Hartman FLanger sounds soo much better than anything from a multi unit.
I agree. When the Möbius came out, people were raving about the phaser mode. But I found it couldn't really come close to my old MXRs or Maestros.
 

yellowbaloon

Member
Messages
621
Some people DO have more 'tuned-in' ears than others, I hate to raise the point (for fear of sounding elitist) but my friends cannot hear stuff that I think sticks out like a sore thumb. I also 'see' sound (Synaethesia) which i think has attributed to the detail I hear. Obviously we can also 'train' our ears like a 'sound tech' does with all aspects of sound/response.

Back on topic I think Digital stuff can be equally awesome - obviously pedals like the amazing WET Reverb and some delays such as the memory lane JR, but even that has analog companding/expanding which is a BIG part of why it sounds so analog and 'natural' in it's RESPONSE/FEEL. This is a very important part of the equation : Feel!
Another example is the Boss DD2 - it sounds so great and feels so natural because every repeat is resampled so the repasts don't sound like carbon copies being spat out. These things make the difference between good sounding and great! Compare a DD2 to a DD5 and you will hear what I mean.

I guess it's all taste too, kids these days WANT to hear digital sounds because they were brought up on it. Analog may sound muddy and indistinct to them, who knows it's all perception.

I could go on and on but these are just a few of my very fragmented thoughts on the subject! :)
 

cbm

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,942
Digital can't do rotary. Now that I have a Neo Vent 2 I can say I've basically tried them all and while it's the best I've played and pretty close it ain't the real deal even in stereo.

Now, if I recorded w it I doubt there'd be much difference but in person it's substantially not the same.
By that reasoning (which is a totally valid point of view) electronics can't really do rotary. They're nothing like standing next to the electro-mechanical glory that is a real Leslie. That said, most people only experience that sort of sound through recordings.
 

Spooky Action

Member
Messages
3,467
You have to spend $500+ in the analog realm to get better compression than those found in your basic daw. For $40 you can buy a world class vst compressor like klanghelm or similar.
Your post reads like a white paper for TGP circa 2005.
You shouldn't limit yourself to pedals.
 

tremolo3

Member
Messages
4,780
You have to spend $500+ in the analog realm to get better compression than those found in your basic daw. For $40 you can buy a world class vst compressor like klanghelm or similar.
Your post reads like a white paper for 2005 TGP.
RNC can be found for ~$100 in the used market. But I got your point and I totally agree.
 

cbm

Gold Supporting Member
Messages
6,942
I totally agree that there are plug-in compressors that put all compressor pedals to shame.
 

smitty.west

Senior Member
Messages
873
You shouldn't limit yourself to pedals.
sure, but this is a sub-forum with emphasis on effects pedals (hence my original post focusing on them). apologies if my op failed to communicate that.
vst's are nice and all, but talk of "that stuff" might be better suited to the recording sub-forum.

re: digital reverbs; those are my favourite!
in my years as a reverb head nothing has come close to neunaber's wet algorithm- his new plate algo is fantastic as well.
i prefer using the neunaber to my bigsky.
 

smitty.west

Senior Member
Messages
873
Actually it's "Effects, Pedals...".

I'm sorry.
ha; don't be- i knew someone would call that semantic error out.
still, is there not an undoubted emphasis on pedals in this sub-forum? and is the recording sub-forum not more geared towards vst's?
i'm sorry.

moving on...
 




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