[sdiy] There is no fun analogue chips anymore!

Tom Wiltshire tom at electricdruid.net
Thu Jun 28 15:28:51 CEST 2012

On 28 Jun 2012, at 02:18, KD KD wrote:

> And now a "evil whiners" reflection!

If I might play devil's advocate for a moment;

Why exactly *would* there be any new interesting analog audio chips about?

Given the cost of current digital audio solutions, there's really no need. You can get 24-bit 192KHz codecs for less than a beer, and powerful DSPs to go with them for only a couple of beers. The result will do anything your analog chip could manage, and then some. Who except a fool would buy an expensive specialised chip to do something that you could do better with a cheap general-purpose one?

Once upon a time, I was a hardcore analogophile and looked down my nose at digital. But that was back in the days when you could still tell the difference. Nowadays, the sampling rates are so high, and the word sizes so large that digital is analog. The LSB is way below the noise floor. On top of that, algorithms have developed enormously and the understanding of the role played by non-linear elements in many analog circuits has improved no end. Judicious use of non-linear elements in digital designs has enabled them to get the same sound as the analog stuff, since now we're copying the limitations too. We're not far away from being able to run Spice sims in realtime and get audio out. How would that be for prototyping?!

The really interesting stuff will happen/happens when we go beyond copying old analog gear (virtual analog is tiresome - why do I want a digital oscillator that only has the same three boring waveforms as some junk synth from the seventies?!) and start doing stuff you can only do with digital, but adding in the weird non-linearities and complexity that we've learned from studying the analog stuff. Then we create digital synthesis with character.

So forget about not having analog chips and go and do some *really* crazy stuff with DSP instead.


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