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.


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Nov.30.2011 @ 8:06 AM
My netbook says thanks for the heads up!

Nov.30.2011 @ 3:53 PM
Cake has a similar "cheap" guitar sound to Beck (or Beck stole/sampled the idea). Once Cake got popular and started touring, that cheap guitar (Park?) became irreplaceable and it was tough to find a backup. Because it fell on the wrong side of the old/vintage guitar market and probably broke pretty often.

Nov.30.2011 @ 5:23 PM
First Steinberg releases Windows 7 64-bit and OS X Intel drivers (albeit, "unsupported") for the Midex interfaces, and now this? What's next, a new firmware/driver suite for the Houston?

Nov.30.2011 @ 5:31 PM
I wish Abes could sound as shitty as my Yamaha MT3x : ( ...miss it....

Nov.30.2011 @ 5:39 PM
Anyone remember these and these ?

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Or the Waldorf AFB stuff:

link []

Nov.30.2011 @ 9:47 PM
I'm with chaircrusher. Sitting in a pitch black LAX, paying a bar tab in cold hard cash, one has to wonder.. No power, how would it be to go back to making music without it? And how would it sound? Just like before there was any power, or? That might put "vintage" in a whole different light.

Nov.30.2011 @ 11:48 PM
For the record, I remember running Turbosynth on some pretty anemic computers. I had a Quadra 840AV (built-in wee video, oooh, ahh!) and an LCII at the workplace, and I remember Turbosynthing my little heart out. More, accurately, I remember Nine Inch Nailsfying a lot of electric guitar, until I figured out that my K2000 was capable of very similar waveshaping madness.

Dec.01.2011 @ 10:36 AM
This brought thoughts to mind of "old" tube consoles and hardware being chucked in the dumpster to make way for new solid-state hotness (late 60's). Analog synths & FX pedals sold at rock bottom prices in favor of the new digital stuff (early 90's).

As the worm turns...

Dec.01.2011 @ 10:54 AM
Chris Randall
No kidding. I can't begin to tell you how many cheap-as-fuck 2600s, 808s, and 303s I passed on in the early 90s. It's embarrassing. The Die Warzau guys knew what was going on. They built a monster collection of synths in that time period for next to nothing.


Dec.01.2011 @ 1:05 PM
Hollywood Sims
Whether old or vintage, quality or shitty, some gear, as mentioned, just has a vibe... maybe it's nostalgia, the interface, the limitations, the sound, whatever, what works, works. I had a substantial collection of Italian and Japanese organs (Yamaha with arpeggiator, I still miss it) and they were f'king awful, but you'd get these noises and textures that were great as sampling material. Same with my analogue delay collection... though they're not so shitty.
Mentioning Neon really brought me back to when I started with electronic production... that netbook might just get some use now!

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