Arts & Entertainment, Music

Digital Vs. Analog Synths


Lesson time 15:13 min

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.

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


OK. 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. [DIGITAL TONES] 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 [NOTE SOUNDING] that note if I can. [BEEPING NOTES] Well, see the analog one is slightly out of tune because that's analog for you. [MATCHING TONES] 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-- [DISTORTED TONES] 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. [DIGITAL TONES] 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-- [WAVE TONE] --you're going to get-- [WHISTLE TONE] 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-- [MOVING DIGITAL TONE] 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...

About the Instructor

Before he was deadmau5, all Joel Zimmerman wanted for Christmas was old toasters to take apart. Now, you can watch him take his music apart. In his first-ever online class, Joel teaches you how he approaches melodies, mixing and mastering to make unique sounds you can't find in a cookie cutter sample pack. You'll not only get his lessons, you'll learn how to create your own music without spending money on million dollar gear.

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6 hours of instructions, 23 video lessons, and a downloadable course workbook.

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