Vintage Digital Sound

To me, there is no such thing as “vintage digital”. The Korg DDM-110 is not “vintage”, it’s just “bad digital”. The Casio SK-1 is not “vintage”, it’s just bad digital.
Old analog gear has a lot of character. An old analog drum machine may have inductors and obsolete semiconductors and may indeed have a “special flavor”. Old digital gear is by its very nature super-deterministic. 8 or 12 bits at 22kHz? Yeah, I know what it sounds like. It sounds bad. Aliasing for under-sampled sound? Yeah I know what that sounds like. This is what a “bit-crusher” does.
If old analog electronics is poetry, old digital electronics is spreadsheets. Old analog is the art of constructing ridiculous imitations of natural sounds using completely inept tools. Old digital is the chore of constructing a model of a sound using quantitative heuristics with ridiculously under-powered computers.
When I was a kid, a solar-powered calculator was really cool and really useful. But today calculators are totally obsolete, because there’s no reason to ever do calculations in a device that can’t share data with other devices. The same is true with old digital gear. They are “bricked”; you can break them by trying to “bend” them, but the only bend you ever get is “glitch”.
Old analog gear is just begging to be modified and extended and the results are often beautiful.
My next gear purchase will certainly be digital. But I will not spend any money on old digital gear.


Leave a Comment