Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
BoddAH
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Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by BoddAH » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:27 pm

I'm tempted to get an actual hardware synth but I'm not sure it's actually a good idea. I have the strange conception that actual hardware synths are supposed to just sound better than some boring Analog or Operator presets but maybe it's just because actual synths look cooler and it's complete bullshit.

I guess pure analog synths like Moogs actually DO sound better/different because they're truly analog and not just a software emulation, but what about synths like the MicroKorg and other DSP synths or virtual analogue synths? Do they work in the exact same way as software or do they still sound somewhat better for some reason?

If they're the same or even worse than what a computer plugin is capable of (because they typically have much less computing power than a computer), it would hardly be worth the hassle for computer musicians to rock hardware DSP synths rather than a MIDI controller and some plugins right?

Do hardware synths actually sound better than plug-ins and Ableton's integrated synths or is it just about nostalgia and the more hands-on experience? :?:

Tarekith
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by Tarekith » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:40 pm

Ruling out the difference in a real analog synths, I think it's been years since hardware synths sounded better than software. All things being equal, I think software synths actually sound better these days, certainly when compared to the lower end stuff like microkorg.

FWIW, years ago I sold my Virus TI2 because I thought Omnisphere and Zebra2 sounded better.

BoddAH
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by BoddAH » Tue Jul 02, 2013 10:59 pm

Tarekith wrote:Ruling out the difference in a real analog synths, I think it's been years since hardware synths sounded better than software. All things being equal, I think software synths actually sound better these days, certainly when compared to the lower end stuff like microkorg.

FWIW, years ago I sold my Virus TI2 because I thought Omnisphere and Zebra2 sounded better.
So basically this means any hardware synth that isn't explicitly analog is just a MIDI controller with an integrated soundcard and DSP unit (usually much less powerful than a modern computer), nothing else, right?

There is no analog circuit stage at any point or some advanced DSP optimization (since the synth is dedicated hardware) making it somehow sound "better/warmer/more natural". No exceptions?

If the answer is yes, I understand why hardware synths are technically obsolete. That's kind of what I thought but it's nice to have confirmation from such an expert source. I guess I can happily carry on using my software synths then (and maybe get a Sub Phatty someday). 8)

JuanSOLO
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by JuanSOLO » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:01 pm

I choose/commit to sounds faster with my slimPhatty than anything else I use.
Most of the time I think it sounds better, especially for basses and leads when I just have a raw idea to put down.
But I like sounds that sound like analogue gear, A LOT.

However, I dont get the same predictable snappy envelopes as I would with Operator.
So if I want a straight up sub bass sine wave, nothing matches Operator for me in that area.

If I want something dusty VA sounding, I use my Poly 800.

Super long intricate FM sounds, I use FM8.

When I consider buying a hardware synth, usually the decision is about how it does this one magic thing better than anything else, and I want that hands on tweaking, simplicity, and instant gratification.

If Ableton made Operator as a piece of standalone hardware, even if it was still the same tech, I would want it just because it's this dedicated thing. I tend to like that more than using controllers etc.

Tarekith
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by Tarekith » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:22 pm

Well, the outputs of a synth can have something to to do with it's sound, likely a lot. Whether it's "better" or not is up to taste though I guess.

I think the real draw of a hardware synth these days is to have a physical instrument designed to be interacted with in a certain way. Even with the best midi controllers and the best softsynths, it just never feels as good as using a dedicated interface designed specifically for THAT synth. At least for me.

cyclicAMP
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by cyclicAMP » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:23 pm

JuanSOLO wrote:If Ableton made Operator as a piece of standalone hardware, even if it was still the same tech, I would want it just because it's this dedicated thing. I tend to like that more than using controllers etc.
I too would so go for that. I love that you can map parameters with softsynths but it seems there are always limitations to it. I wish there was an affordable softsynth with a full dedicated controller, where the software and the controller were designed together.

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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by Tarekith » Tue Jul 02, 2013 11:36 pm

That custom u_he Diva controller, drool.....

http://www.musicradar.com/news/tech/mus ... ler-535953

JAMM
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by JAMM » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:46 am

i had hardware synths in the past like SC pro-one, rolands, 2 midi elka synthex but switched to softsynths.
Besides the great looks and the feel of the hardware synths i prefer softsynths. Now i can take my laptop on the road and work everywere. And with the softsynths together with a few plug-ins like saturators, compression and distortions i got the same results in emulating the sound and punch off my old hardware synth or better results. (I don,t use the abletons softsynths but third party VST,s) Also total recall off the internal ableton mixer together with the softsynths is easier for my workflow. In the past it was to difficult to recall all the EQ/AUX settings of an external hardware mixer, hardware synths, external effect processors and you need a lot off space in your studio.

I only wish i kept one synthex. Not for the sound but for the great looks and because it,s almost impossible to find one in good condition. But i also understand why people love hardware synths. Some off them have great sounds and power. Also it also looks better on a live gig;)
Last edited by JAMM on Thu Jul 04, 2013 12:13 am, edited 2 times in total.

revoltcrew
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by revoltcrew » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:53 am

simply put. just rock both. any and all. sequence with software and visaversa.
no limits to the idea of control.
i've recently added a korg ms2000r to my set up. my 1st "hardware" synth.
i was simply tired of a the gazillion plugins needing updates and what not. its loads of fun.
so the hardware is simply the hardware.
the physical and virtual sonic realities merged a long time ago.
the discussion is the never ending story in reverse. flip the switches. twist the knobs.
work with a violinist. and never take a mouse on stage.
100000greenCanaries are either violin0rGreen
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regretfullySaid
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by regretfullySaid » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:55 am

Tarekith wrote:That custom u_he Diva controller, drool.....

http://www.musicradar.com/news/tech/mus ... ler-535953
:!:

Do you remember the controller for imposcar2?

Image
ImageImage

revoltcrew
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by revoltcrew » Wed Jul 03, 2013 12:58 am

this is a pic of Z777s' stage rig.
i shared the bill with him a couple weeks ago.
and i swear.... the top rack synth produced one the toughest, most amazing kicks i've ever heard.
and i've heard plenty. from 100's of live kits, to techno from a 30,000w system.
anywho. it was a RAd set up!!
notice how ableton is tucked in there.

Image
100000greenCanaries are either violin0rGreen
http://sunfalls.org ||http://soundcloud.com/sunfalls || http://vimeo.com/sunfalls

regretfullySaid
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by regretfullySaid » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:02 am

Do he do much patching during the show?
ImageImage

revoltcrew
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by revoltcrew » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:08 am

he was patching frequently, but also had his main sounds "mapped" out.
it was a pretty industrial sounding set.
oh, with a bass player throwing nice harmonic lines and steady thumping too.
100000greenCanaries are either violin0rGreen
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login
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by login » Wed Jul 03, 2013 1:16 am

The real point of hardware is to have an instrument or different workflow, specially away from the computer. Soundwise almost anything can be done with software and then so many stuff that hardware can enever dream of, at least not with tons of money.

I like both, the software for producing, the hardware for playing.

djadonis206
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Re: Hardware synths vs sofware synhs

Post by djadonis206 » Wed Jul 03, 2013 4:44 am

I dabble in both hardware and software. I have a Virus ti and the Analog 4. For soft synths I really like Albino and Sylenth. I just depends on the mood I'm in. I'm always surprised with what comes out of my hardware. Sometimes I can program something cool, sometimes I can't.
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