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VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

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VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Dashanna » Mon Jul 04, 2016 7:26 pm

I was thinking it would be useful to make a list of VA or hybrid synths that implement proper 'analog style' monophonic envelopes, which don't cut dead the release of one note when playing a slow attack on the next.
It seems like a difficult thing to get across, unless you have actually used an analog synth, whereupon you take it for granted, and it's something that doesn't seem to bother everyone - depending on how they use a synth, I guess.

This video compares the behaviour of the Korg Minilogue (real analog synth, but with virtual envelopes) and the old Roland SH-101. As one comment says, the SH-101 sings by comparison.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uF2F6MhWIm4

We know from Paul Nagel's SOS review that the Roland Gaia does not have he correct behaviour - I was wondering about other Roland VAs, and other synths of the last decade
or so.


VA/Hybrid Synths With Correct Monophonic Envelope Behaviour

List Version 4

Hardware - does it wrong:
Access Virus B in mono1 & mono 2 modes
Ensoniq SQ80
Korg Prophecy, Minilogue, Volca Keys
Nord Wave
Roland Gaia, Roland SH-201
Yamaha AN1X



Hardware - does it right:
Access Virus B in mono 3 & mono 4 modes
Alesis Fusion except when set to single voice
DSI Prophet 12 (hybrid)
KingKorg (confirmed twice)
Korg Kronos, doesn't retrigger in all engines which have envelopes available to user, but you have to enable MONO LEGATO
Korg MS20 (all versions)
Moog Little/Slim Phatty/Sub 37 with legato on (never retriggers), legato off (retriggers from where the envelope was at the time the note was played) but not and reset (retriggers every note)
Nord Modular 1, Lead 2X, Nord Rack 3
Novation Bass Station 2 (hybrid), KSRack (confirmed), Xio
Roland Boutique JU-06, JP-08, JX-03
Roland JP8000 if you if you press shift + mono button it turns on LEGATO mode and doesn't retrigger anymore
SCI Six Trak (hybrid)
Yamaha Reface CS



Software - does it wrong:
Ableton Analog retriggers the envelopes by default
Ableton M4L Laverne in Mono mode
Ableton Operator
Arturia SEM
Korg MonoPoly, iPolysix, Gadget mono-analogue synths (Berlin, Dublin, Chicago)
Logic ES2
Max for Cats Oscillot (needs verification)
Moog Animoog
Native Instruments FM8
Spectrasonics Omnisphere



Software - does it right:
Ableton Analog in mono Legato mode.
Ableton M4L Kasio in Mono mode
Ableton Live M4L Additive Heaven in Mono mode
Ableton Live M4L Bassline
Arturia Arp2600V
GForce impOSCar2, Minimonsta
Korg ARP ODYSSEi app in Mono, Duo, AND Poly mode
Korg iMS-20
Logic ES1
Moog Model 15
Native Instruments Reaktor 6
Propellerhead Thor for iPad
Rehberg Synthi Avs
Roland ACB plug-ins
U-He Diva



Updates by MW
20/07/16 Added contributions from BillB, johnny h, JRJulius & sorted list into manufacturer.

21/07/16 Added Novation Bass Station 2, SCI Six Trak (hybrid) , moved Gadget mono-analogue synths (Berlin, Dublin, Chicago) to software does it wrong section.

28/07/16 Added +1 confirmation for KingKorg, Novation Xio, Propellerhead Thor for iPad

12/11/16 Added Ableton Analog, Ableton Operator, Max for Cats Oscillot, Ableton M4L Kasio Additive Heaven, Bassline & Laverne, Korg ARP ODYSSEi app, Access Virus B in mono 1, mono 2, mono 3, and mono 4 modes, Alesis Fusion except when set to single voice, Korg Kronos, Moog Little/Slim Phatty: in advanced preset mode you can choose legato on (never retriggers), legato off (retriggers from where the envelope was at the time the note was played) and reset (retriggers every note), Roland JP8000.
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:33 pm

Well, "correct" is not necessarily the right terminology.

If a synth is emulating an existing synth, then it should of course get it's envelope behaviour correct and behaving as the original.

The Roland Gaia isn't an emulation of anything, and so they can choose to implement their envelopes however they like...
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Dashanna » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:43 pm

I was hoping not to get into an ontological discussion of this, far more hoping for a useful list of synths that played nicely... but if the Gaia is emulating 'analog', and 99.9% of analog synths behave in a certain way, then maybe the Gaia should "remember the humble capacitor". But it doesn't, and I for one would find playing it an ugly experience as it sucks each fading note away every time I play a new one.
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby desmond » Mon Jul 04, 2016 8:54 pm

Dashanna wrote:but if the Gaia is emulating 'analog',

Is it? I just thought it's another mid-range Roland digital synth with a bunch of controls on it. it's not emulating any specific analog synth, and as far as I know, it's not emulating anything, or trying to be analog. it's just a digital synth.

Dashanna wrote:and 99.9% of analog synths behave in a certain way, then maybe the Gaia should "remember the humble capacitor". But it doesn't, and I for one would find playing it an ugly experience as it sucks each fading note away every time I play a new one.

Envelopes are a common failing point for synths for me too. I'm not sure howerver that basically all analog synths have envelopes that act in that way - is that the general consensus?

But yes, if your point is that the Gaia is a sucky synth, then yes, I agree! ;)
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Mon Jul 04, 2016 9:40 pm

I think what you're talking about has very little to do with whether a synth is analogue or digital, and everything to do with how the keyboard creates gate/trigger signals and how those are employed in the triggering arrangements of the ADSR and its effect on the VCA.

The SH101 used in that video (and SH09 that it is derived from) have a switch in the ADSR section which selects either Gate + Trigger or just Gate modes. In the latter, legato playing will not re-trigger the envelope, allowing it to remain in its decay/sustain phase and thus 'let the notes sing'. The alternative G+T mode re-triggers the ADSR sequence on each new note, effectively 'killing' the sound if you have a slow attack setting as each new note has to build in level again.

Depending on what you're trying to do, both modes have their place and unique importance in the performance. Neither can be described as 'right' or 'wrong' -- they are just different ways of doing things to suit different applications and musical requirements.

I've not played the korg minilogue used in that demo, but it appears to be configured in the equivalent of the G+T mode where each and every new key press re-triggers the ADSR envelope. It may be possible to reconfigure the keyboard/ADSR triggering arrangements in the setup menu....

The only other analogue synth I have to hand is the Korg MS20 which works in the equivalent of the Roland Gate mode, where legato playing doesn't re-trigger the ADSR envelope.

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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Dashanna » Mon Jul 04, 2016 11:04 pm

So, to clarify, if I may, my original question:

Are there any owners of Korg KingKorg, MicroKorg, Nord Lead, Roland System 1, SH201, SH32, JP8000, JP8080, Access Virus, Alesis Ion, Micron, Miniak, Waldorf Blofeld, Yamaha Reface CS, AN1X, or any similar synths here?

If so, would you mind confirming if your synth's envelopes cut a long release dead when playing monophonically with a slow attack (as demonstrated in the video I linked to above) or do they begin the next note from the level that the last note has reached, without sucking the sound away?

I would find it a useful list of synths to avoid or seek out, and I trust it would also be useful for anyone else who considers these important differentiations in behaviour.

Thank you!
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Martin Walker » Tue Jul 05, 2016 1:48 pm

Hugh Robjohns wrote:I've not played the korg minilogue used in that demo, but it appears to be configured in the equivalent of the G+T mode...

Sorry to sidestep the thread, but this sounds such a wonderful new feature Hugh - can we have more details of this most relaxing 'G+T mode'? :thumbup:


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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Paul Nagle » Tue Jul 05, 2016 8:56 pm

Ah this old chestnut (and our most famous ever video). As soon as I see the word 'legato' I know the point's been missed. Remember that you don't encounter the release phase of an envelope if you play legato. Read the comments if you can bear it, see how long it took for Matrixsynth to get it. To his credit he did then publicise this.
A list of VA synths that behave 'badly', well there's the Korg Prophecy, Yamaha AN1X, Nord Wave, Korg's virtual MonoPoly, Arturia's virtual SEM, Omnisphere, lots more... I do mean to compile a list, but it's too depressing.

Synth Secrets has the answer (as you'd expect) - these software envelopes act in a 'return to zero' mode in which the (simulated) voltage of the envelope is forgotten between a fading release and a new attack. In a typical analogue circuit, the voltage is not discharged except in a very few examples (the Memorymoog has it as an option, a Digisound envelope did too I think. I'd love to know of ANY more because I'm anal like that). I could go on (and do), but, as I say, Synth Secrets is the place to look. The last time I Iooked at a Minilogue, it did the rtz thing, hence I conclude the envelopes are software and it could be fixed. Maybe it has already...
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby desmond » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:11 pm

Paul Nagle wrote:Synth Secrets has the answer (as you'd expect) - these software envelopes act in a 'return to zero' mode in which the (simulated) voltage of the envelope is forgotten between a fading release and a new attack. In a typical analogue circuit, the voltage is not discharged except in a very few examples (the Memorymoog has it as an option, a Digisound envelope did too I think. I'd love to know of ANY more because I'm anal like that).

Indeed, I would just assume that a decent emulation of a physical synth would model the envelope behaviour. Omni isn't modelling anything, so they can implement the envelopes how they'd like, for instance, and for the Arturia stuff - well, they miss many finer details of the instruments they are emulating, so it's to be expected.

As I said above, for digital synths, choosing an RTZ envelope behaviour is simple a design choice, it's not "correct" or "incorrect", it's just a choice. But if, for instance, the MonoPoly has envelopes that behave in this manner, I would expect the software to behave the same way, and if it doesn't, *then* I'd consider the behaviour "incorrect".
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Dashanna » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:13 pm

Oh, that's you in the video, Paul? Ha!
Thank you for doing your bit to publicize this, and for replying here (I was beginning to feel a bit gaslighted, tbh...)


Anyway, seems like the King Korg does do it right, according to Gordon Reid's review:
"..provides two dedicated monophonic modes (one with multi-triggering, one without) that enable you to play it like a true monosynth."
http://www.soundonsound.com/reviews/korg-kingkorg

Yes, his Synth Secrets explains it thoroughly.
Although it's quicker to just say one way sings, and the other way sucks.
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby desmond » Tue Jul 05, 2016 9:28 pm

Just had a look at the video - I agree that the SH101 traditional analog behaviour is preferable, and that's certainly how mono synths I had behaved...

impOSCar2 for example, has this behaviour, as it models the Oscar which also has it... Minimonsta too.

Surprised Omnisphere does this, though, given it's pedigree. I agree it's pretty sucky when you use the envelopes in a way that makes the behaviour obvious, and it's obviously most notable on mono sounds as poly mode tends to disguise it as you often aren't re-using the same voice much of the time.

Edit: tried another bunch of plugins, and most all of the monosynths that were modelling specific analog synths had the "nice" envelope behaviour including the Roland plugouts.

Some that didn't include Logic's Retrosynth (again, not a mono synth exclusively and it isn't a model of anything in particular, but it does reset envelopes in mono mode.), the Arturia SEM (which has horrible envelopes).

It's a random grab bag really, between ones that do and ones that don't...
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Dashanna » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:54 pm

Desmond, so that's three comments before you even knew what was actually being discussed. Cool!
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby desmond » Tue Jul 05, 2016 10:57 pm

Dashanna wrote:Desmond, so that's three comments before you even knew what was actually being discussed. Cool!

No, I knew exactly what was being discussed from your initial post. Sounds more like you didn't understand what I was saying... Maybe go back and re-read them, rather than assuming I don't know what I'm talking about.

I'm not a newbie to synths, ya'know ;) , including beta-testing and very specifically focusing on envelope behaviour in the past.

I only *watched the video* you quoted recently (which did nothing to change any of the points I had made above) and out of interest checked a few synths to hand, because the ones I typically use tend to work with your preferred behaviour - and others I use polyphonically, so it's less of an issue, in general.
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Dashanna » Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:03 pm

And I'm twelve years old and just learning about synthesis on a CS01.
At least, I was, thirty-five years ago.
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Dashanna » Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:19 pm

So now we're getting somewhere:

Hardware - does it wrong:
Korg Prophecy, Yamaha AN1X, Nord Wave, Bass Station II, Minilogue, Gaia

Hardware - does it right:
Nord Modular 1, King Korg


Software - does it wrong:
Korg MonoPoly, Arturia SEM, Omnisphere

Software - does it right:
Arturia Arp2600V, Rehberg Synthi Avs
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby desmond » Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:31 pm

Dashanna wrote:Software - does it right:
Arturia Arp2600V, Rehberg Synthi Avs

And if you can bring yourself to actually read my posts, you'll find some more. :roll:
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Paul Nagle » Tue Jul 05, 2016 11:47 pm

I've never played a King Korg but my pal who owned one reckoned it was rtz. Korg do know how to code beautiful envelopes though - the Radias is a fine example. Access added analogue behaviour since the Virus B (I was a beta tester for a while), Novation stuff is OK I'm pretty sure, the new Nords also, Roland's ACB naturally is good. The Xenophon lets you choose - which is best of all - so if you happen to like sucky, clicky envelopes you can have 'em. :)

BTW it is applicable to polysynths too, especially if they only have limited polyphony. It's just (in theory!) easier to explain for mono!
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Dashanna » Wed Jul 06, 2016 9:14 pm

Yes - definitely applies to polysynths too, making note stealing much less ugly.

I guess it's because most new synths are polyphonic, due to the power manufacturers now have at their disposal, that the proper monophonic mode envelope is ignored like it is. (I can hear them asking "Why would you WANT to only play one note at once!")

Am very sorry if the King Korg does it wrong after all.
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Dashanna » Thu Jul 07, 2016 5:23 pm

V2

Hardware - does it wrong:
Korg Prophecy, Yamaha AN1X, Nord Wave, Bass Station II, Minilogue, Gaia

Hardware - does it right:
Nord Modular 1, KingKorg(?)



Software - does it wrong:
Korg MonoPoly, Arturia SEM, Omnisphere

Software - does it right:
Arturia Arp2600V, Rehberg Synthi Avs, GForce impOSCar2, Minimonsta, Roland ACB-based plug-ins
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Re: VA synths with correct monophonic envelope behaviour

Postby Rich Hanson » Fri Jul 08, 2016 5:29 pm

Sticking my oar in - I just checked this on all three Roland Boutiques in solo mode, and they do it properly, i.e. do not return to zero.
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