November 29, 2011
The Difference Between Vintage And Old...
by Chris Randall
Steinberg today announced that they updated their old Model E and VB-1 plug-ins from VST1 days to modern 32/64 VST2.4 standards, and made them free. They are available on Steinberg's site.
Model E, along with Neon (also available free here, but PC only, and don't expect it to work) is one of the very first softsynths that didn't require extra hardware--I believe Creamware made the first softsynth, but it required their cards to work--and at the time was one of the best. It is obviously based upon the MiniMoog, and is coded extremely tightly, in order to run at all on computers of the era. In today's terms, it uses essentially no CPU.
Anyhow, it's a fine softsynth, and a bargain at twice the price. It is quite bright by today's standards; Adam conjectures this is due to a lack of band-limited oscillators which would have been too heavy-duty at the time. Certainly usable for certain situations, though, and you can instance a bajillion of them on a modern computer.
It brings to light an interesting semantic issue, though. While the term "vintage" gets bandied about to the point of uselessness on eBay and Craigslist, in real life we all know what it means. The difference between "vintage" and "old" is essentially desirability. A Neve Melbourne console is vintage. A powered Conn console from the same era is "old." A Moog Source from '81 is "vintage," while a Bontempi chord organ from '81 is "old." Easy enough, right?
How does that relate to software, though? I use a lot of old software like TurboSynth, M, and UpBeat when the mood strikes me. But it would never occur to me to call UpBeat "vintage." It's just old. It runs on an old computer, and does old shit. In the computer world, though, it is so ancient as to be almost indecipherable. But by our normal metric as specified above, to me it is desirable; building a system running it that works with my modern rig is a worthy goal. That makes it "vintage," right?
Semantic issues like this are rife in the music industry. I think it's the result of music being an inherently subjective art form. Everyone working in the industry, or utilizing its resources, carries that thought process over to the gear itself. Millions of lines of code are devoted to recreating desirable (i.e. "vintage") gear in the modern DAW context, while almost none is devoted to recreating gear that is just plain old. Obviously, someone isn't going to go out of their way to try and clone something that was inherently shitty, but as we've learned, shitty is also in the eye/ear of the beholder.
This is a strange world we live in.