Music & Entertainment

From deadmau5's MasterClass: Digital Vs. Analog Synths

Written by MasterClass

Apr 23, 2019 • 3 min read

Analog synths are a big part of the deadmau5 sound and a great way to add creative elements to your productions. Hear the difference for yourself when Joel plays some of the same patches on digital and analog equipment.

Topics include: Hearing the Digital Analog Difference • Digital vs. Analog Cross Modulation • Synths in Snowcone


Preview of Digital Vs. Analog Synths

This is an excerpt from deadmau5's MasterClass.


So what I'm going to do is-- that, what you just heard there, was a pure as pure can be analog saw wave.

So I'm going to take that analog saw wave, go into an analog filter.

All right.

And what I'll do is I'll take a digital synth here.

Let's see, like what?

I don't know.

Anything will do it.

Massive or something, which is not analog.

And I'll match that frequency with a saw wave.

So massive here consists of three oscillators and a modulation oscillator and all that stuff.

But just for demos sake I'm going to use a single oscillator.

So what I need to do is just match that note if I can.

Well, see the analog one is slightly out of tune because that's analog for you.

Change that envelope a bit so we can actually hear it.

Raise the voice in a little.

So I got it close.

And this is something I tend to do a lot with analog census You have to reference your pitch to a digital synth because the digital synth will never be out of tune.

So I'm going to try my best to line up the pitch.

Close enough.

And the thing about analog is you don't necessarily want it precise because-- so this one is digital.

And that's analog.

So analog is giving it a little more warp to it even though I am running it through a low pass filter.

But the filter is wide open.

But if I go direct out-- Whoops.

So that's analog and that's digital.

Now, in a square wave, you're going to hear there's no filter being applied on this digital synth.

It's actually bypassed.

And it's pretty close because it's a saw.

But when you start introducing things like filters-- so say I put a low pass, a four pole low pass on that with no resonance.

You'll hear the way that-- No.

It's hard to A and B it at the same time.

But the way that works with this filter is if I--you're going to get--you'll hear things like this ringing IN the resonance in an analog filter.

But in a digital filter, unless it's being over sampled a ridiculous amount of times, you're not going to get that kind of resonance in a filter, a digital filter.

It's close, but it's step.

You can actually hear the steps in it as you're turning the-- So the analog, there's no amount of steps.

It's infinite.

But with digital, you're obviously locked into certain increments of values due to the interpolation of the filter or the oversampling amount, which is basically the more oversampling, the more divisions it'll have within a filter step, or an oscillator, or something like that.

That's what oversampling does.

Some digital synths have oversampling that can come pretty close to recreating that to the point where, shit, I wouldn't be able to tell the difference.

But then some don't and are just so obviously b...

Reviews for deadmau5's MasterClass

It was a cool experience to get to see the creative process. Was hoping for more technical in-depth content, but I understand it must be appealing to many levels. - Celestiate

Very helpful insight into the music business. I still have questions about mixing and mastering, but that is a going to be an ongoing journey--I will find the answers through experimentation. - Ahmond

I mean its just an intro. Not much to rate here. But I'm super stoked for this course! - Taylor C.

Generally as students, we want to know more technical aspects. The way he explains things in general is fine if you already have a technical background but for those who do not have this sort of exposure, this is where the workbook comes in. The workbook doesn't go into the technical details sufficiently. - A fellow student