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Vintage or new?

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Vintage or new?

Postby IAA » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:19 am

I was thinking, after looking around Reverb/eBay/SOS classifieds, given that vintage prices still seem to be holding up (prophet 5 £5k, Jp6 £3k), for music making as opposed to collecting is there any point in buying vintage?

It’s sort of a serious question, as a keyboard player of some 45 years or so, I’ve had many synths and now I have new incarnations from Sequential and Moog, and wonder who buys vintage any more? Who actually believes a 40 year old Jupiter 6 sounds “better” than a modern analog? Who can tell? In his reviews often Gordon can’t tell, and he has them side by side, so who is still buying vintage and why?

Just curious this morning as I look at some of the modern Behringer reviews against the originals they are emulating ? :headbang:
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:34 am

I think buying vintage is purely down to nostalgia, or as an investment.
You don't need them to "get the job done" and now, sonic differences aren't an issue. But....it depends what you're looking for.
Yes, I really wish I had my old VCS3 back, and if the circumstances were right I'd buy an original again, definitely. This isn't really a good example, as there aren't any good clones of this synth, at the moment! But you get my drift, I would definitely not be buying it for its sonic possibilities, it would literally be a nostalgia trip, pure and simple, and as a bonus, an investment too,
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby Dave B » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:35 am

No. Not unless it has always been your dream to own a real Jupiter 8 or CS80 etc.

Modern gear is just so much better made - older gear has great nostalgia value but you have to budget for repairs / maintenance as well. Which is less time with gear.

I'll be interested to hear the planned Berry polysynths and a couple of their bits interest me but that's mainly because they are so cheap that I don't mind if I don't like them / they go belly up. But, frankly, I'm kind of geared out at the moment - there is just so much more than I need.
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby The Elf » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:22 am

If I was starting out right now I wouldn't buy a vintage synth, but that's the benefit of having been there first time around.

If I was starting out right now I'd probably be convinced that those old synths sounded 'better' in some way, and I'd always wonder 'what if?'.

I've been through all that old gear, and I can tell you that some of them simply have never been replicated or bettered. 10 minutes with an ARP Pro-Solist will tell you that that you don't know as much about synthesis as you thought you did - try to recreate some of those 'simple' sounds on other machines. And try really nailing that Moog Taurus sound with ANY other synth (and no, the Minitaur doesn't do it - I have one of those!). Four chords on an Oberheim poly and you'll know you've not heard that 'grown up' synth sound anywhere else.

I wish I could say that it isn't so. It would make my live rig much simpler.

The Behringer 'clones' are very good. They are not without their issues and compromises, but they are very good. Can you live with those compromises? I think the Model D is fabulous, but the pitch-bend problem is a real PITA for me. The VC340 satisfies my long-held wish for a VP-330, but a three octave keyboard and a transpose toggle? Sheesh!

And a JP8 they have not yet spawned.

In the past few months I've bought two synths made in the late 1970s, because I've never been able to recreate what they do to my satisfaction. No regrets here.

Does any of this matter? If you can't/don't want to hear the difference, then probably 'no', but if you do... then it will eat at you until you know for yourself. And can you live with those compromises? You will go on Internet forums and ask others 'Vintage or new?' in an attempt to convince yourself that you don't need any of that old, expensive, ailing, unreliable gear. Some will tell you that you don't need the old stuff and modern synths are as good, if not better... but it still won't quieten those voices in your head... "What if?"...
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:46 am

Elf, I agree up to a point, but when my friend bought his Behringer D around and compared it to my original, the difference in some cases was imperceptible, so much so, that in my mind it would make the purchase of an original completely unnecessary.
But......in some cases, there is an "alchemy" and an unexplainable magic, and I mean this seriously, it's a "fact" that the sum of the parts of some vintage synths ads up to a whole that is unreproducible. It's a combination of materials, period components, design and visuals, and a spiritual patina that's left behind, who's used it, and what for?
All these things will contribute to how you hear it, and that's just as important and valuable as any rational technical explanations.
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby The Elf » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:50 am

Arpangel wrote:Elf, I agree up to a point, but when my friend bought his Behringer D around and compared it to my original, the difference in some cases was imperceptible, so much so, that in my mind it would make the purchase of an original completely unnecessary.
I love the Model D, and it does sound almost exactly like my Mini - stays in tune better, too, but try a pitch-bend with a long release patch. Now does it sound like a real Mini? If you can live with these things, then it's nailed on, but...
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby Arpangel » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:54 am

The Elf wrote:
Arpangel wrote:Elf, I agree up to a point, but when my friend bought his Behringer D around and compared it to my original, the difference in some cases was imperceptible, so much so, that in my mind it would make the purchase of an original completely unnecessary.
I love the Model D, and it does sound almost exactly like my Mini - stays in tune better, too, but try a pitch-bend with a long release patch. Now does it sound like a real Mini? If you can live with these things, then it's nailed on, but...

Ha Ha! there you go, well, I never use pitch bend, so you're right, but I would never have noticed!
On some sounds also, the resonance behaviour was slightly different, but not a deal breaker.
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby Rich Hanson » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:05 am

I've never been overly worried about getting my hands on vintage gear, although if the situation was right neither would I turn it down. I just discipline myself to use what I've got in front of me.

Of course, if anyone has a spare MiniMoog they'd like to donate to me... ;)
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby BigRedX » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:08 am

As some one who had no money for synths in the 70s and only a very limited budget in the 80s that allowed me to buy a Wasp and then later a Korg MS20 and finally a Casio CZ5000, I found that in the 90s I was able to indulge in buying nearly all the gear I had lusted after in the past through a combination of a healthy amount of disposable income and stupidly low prices as everyone ditched their analogue synths in favour of "workstations" and "ROMplers".

And TBH I found that while the synths I was buying would have been exactly what I wanted at the time they were originally made, the many of them were limited by the interfacing options and extremely poor MIDI implementation. I ended up selling most of them and getting a Nord Lead and an Akai sampler. The sounds on their own of the vintage synths were good, but I could do everything I wanted with the newer gear and in the mix there was no significant difference.

Also when I came to sell the last of my vintage stuff a few years ago I found that much of it was starting the exhibit problems with reliability due to the age and heat stressing of the components - especially batteries and PSUs.

I'll take well-designed modern synths over vintage any day.
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby nathanscribe » Wed Nov 27, 2019 5:29 pm

I've got a pretty even mixture of new and old gear, not just synths but outboard and pedals as well. I've no shame admitting I enjoy simply owning and gazing lovingly at my vintage stuff (well, not in these circles anyway!) but there are certainly advantages to new gear. I recently sold my long-held Juno 60 but a) I still have a Juno 6, and b) it enabled me to buy a Peak, a tape echo, and a spring reverb, and still have change for a takeaway.

The new gear that emulates the old stuff comes superbly close, sonically at least. The thing I notice most is the feel of the units in question. Take the boutiques - decent synths, but tiny and compromised with their micro-USB power. Or the Behringer 'tributes' - better built than we used to expect from them, but again with a certain clunky design aesthetic and occasional odd functional differences. Korg's MS-20 mini sounds great, but feels like a wobbly toy; their Odyssey modules are much better, and I didn't feel the reduction in scale till I had one side by side with an original. But you also get multiple filters, MIDI, and a warranty.

There are a couple of reasons I still buy old stuff. Firstly, there is a kind of practical nostalgia about it - if you want those sounds, sometimes the old gear is the only authentic way. It's not just about the sound itself, it's also about the experience of playing the instrument and interacting with it to get those sounds. That's the main difference, I think, between old gear and its modern variants - no Behringer D eurorack module is going to feel like the original Moog. Whether that matters is a personal thing, it may or may not.

Secondly, although old gear is always broken or just about to break, and at any time half my stuff is wonky on some way or other, there is a charm to that wonkiness. New gear just isn't wonky. It's the main sonic difference, I think, rather than timbre or whatever, that lack of drift or weird tuning issues or noise floor. And part of this is the repairability of old gear. Nobody is going to want to hand-solder a blown resistor on surface mount components you can barely even see, let alone pick up with tweezers. Old gear, even when the parts are hard to get, is fixable. And old parts are being remade by various people, and new technologies are allowing drop-in replacements for unobtainable old parts in some cases. People are now casting or 3D printing spare control knobs, switch shafts, etc. Well-maintained old gear still has life in it. Whether that budget mini clone will still be running in 10 years, or whether you'll be able to source a replacement encoder for your Phatty, or troubleshoot the multilayer PCBs, is another issue.

If you like old gear and can afford it, buy and enjoy. Someone once told me you'd lust after everything till you'd tried it, and I think that's true to some extent. But also, don't feel sad if you can't justify 10k on a Jupiter, because who can. In cases like that, buy something new, and play the heck out of it.
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby desmond » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:36 pm

There's no doubt that some of those older instruments are lovely, but prices have put them into collector territory, and the musical value you can get out of the majority of them is way out of step with the current prices.

I mean, I'd love, say, a JP8, it's a beautiful thing, but the musical utility I'd get from £7-10K is tiny compared to other things that money could buy. Especially as I can pretty much get the sounds a real one makes with other means, and with more convenience and resources etc. Plus, having a bunch of the old beats means that you also become a kind of museum curator, and you never know what's going to die and how much time/work/effort/money it will take to keep it running.

So the vintage things for me will remain things of nostalgia and former lust from when I drooled over these things as a kid in magazines/TotP etc, and a certain part of my brain will probably always irrationally love those things. But, I can still get the sounds and virtually play with instruments that behave basically the same as the real thing, as that's good enough (as far as a lack of a bespoke synth control surface goes).

And even with a fictional substantial lottery win, even if I decided to pick up the odd thing I always wanted, I suspect all I would do is play it for a few months to scratch that itch, and then probably move it on anyway. The days when my dream studio contained walls of synths are long gone...
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby IAA » Wed Nov 27, 2019 9:58 pm

I mean, I'd love, say, a JP8, it's a beautiful thing, but the musical utility I'd get from £7-10K is tiny compared to other things that money could buy. Especially as I can pretty much get the sounds a real one makes with other means, and with more convenience and resources etc. Plus, having a bunch of the old beats means that you also become a kind of museum curator, and you never know what's going to die and how much time/work/effort/money it will take to keep it running.

I think this is where I am. Last year I bought an old Roland RS09 organ/string machine. I’d wanted one ever since I’d played one in 1979. I’d convinced myself my RS09 samples were not like I recalled it. Truth is...the samples I’d been using were spot on, in fact they were quieter and more consistent. I sold The vintage synth a week later. So I think the vintage Thing for me is more about musical connection. My Minimoog reissue sounds like a B model D but I relate to it very differently and play it very differently. My old mellotron sounds like my Kronos sample sets, but playing it was fundamentally different.
So maybe vintage is worth it (collecting aside) if it gets that connection that inspires?
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby desmond » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:09 pm

IAA wrote:So maybe vintage is worth it (collecting aside) if it gets that connection that inspires?

This would come into the musical utility equation, I think.

For some, the inspiration and enjoyment from playing a good condition vintage Minimoog (or, perhaps the coolness factor on stage/video etc), say, might be worth the overhead compared to a Behringer, or maybe even a reissue Minimoog, if budget allows for it. That's something only the individual can decide for themselves...

There are only few things that truly are very difficult to replace... say, a CS80 or a GX1, where the sheer physicality of the thing is a very fundamental part of the experience, and can't be replicated any other way.
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby The Elf » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:38 pm

I'll tell you one thing... this oft quoted 'truth' that JP8s are 'worth' 10k or more is dubious at best - mine auctioned for far, far below those kind of figures!

What people believe thing are worth, and what they actually change hands for are, I suspect, very different things.
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby Sam Inglis » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:48 pm

I still miss my Jupiter 8, but not really for its sound. It was a beautiful object that was built like a tank, in a way most modern gear isn't, and it always felt like a great luxury to have around.

I didn't get 10k for it either.
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby IAA » Wed Nov 27, 2019 10:54 pm

What people believe thing are worth, and what they actually change hands for are, I suspect, very different things.

I’m sure you’re right there. I thought quite a bit about going vintage JP8 but after seeing Darren’s restoration blog I knew that I’d be waiting for something to go awry rather than just play it!
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby desmond » Wed Nov 27, 2019 11:07 pm

Sure - I was saying 10K as a roundabout figure as prices are continually rising (like all vintage synths) and probably won't go back down much.

JP8's are routinely advertised for £5-8K, sometimes more for an immaculate one, but ok, let's say £5K ballpark rather than £10K. The exact figure doesn't really matter, the points I made still apply.

Really, you've got to have loads of disposable money and a love for synths to pick these things up these days, it's less about musical value for the most part. If you can afford it, and want this stuff, then go for it, knock yourself out. I hope the new tools affect the quality of your musical output by an amount corresponding to their cost... :thumbup:
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Re: Vintage or new?

Postby Arpangel » Thu Nov 28, 2019 11:01 am

desmond wrote:I hope the new tools affect the quality of your musical output by an amount corresponding to their cost... :thumbup:

Well seeing as I've only earnt about £20 from my music in the last three years, that's never going to happen, and can you actually put a price on the musical contribution of a device?
It depends who you are, how much money you've got, and how talented you are, a £25,000 Yamaha CS80 in the hands of Vangelis or someone else with that type of ability then the return creatively is going to be priceless and unmeasurable, but what if it goes to a collector who can't even play?
We all have different yardsticks, too, and let's not forget the major rule, none of this stuff is actually "essential" or "necessary" to get the job done, it's purely because we like it and can afford it. If people want to spend money like that fine, people work hard and spend their money on what they want.
What doesn't sit right with me though, are a few dealers at the moment, this has nothing to do with being entrepreneurial, or enterprising, it's purely taking the piss, being greedy.
These people are sometimes asking nearly twice what a synth is valued at realistically, or sold for by a private seller, and don't tell me they are pristine examples, serviced etc, sometimes they are far from it.
For me, paying anything above £10,000 plus for a synth is beyond the realms of any notion of value for money, or actual "worth"
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