IMO Soft synths and plugins are much better than hardware

Discussion of music production, audio, equipment and any related topics, either with or without Ableton Live
Emanresu0891
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IMO Soft synths and plugins are much better than hardware

Post by Emanresu0891 » Wed Oct 28, 2015 2:31 am

The library where I live allows me to check out synthesizers and effects so the last few weeks I have demo'd a lot of hardware. I have to say in my opinion software blows the shit out of hardware. When it comes to versatility, ease of use, preset management, and the time and energy(including electrical energy) saved software is soooooo much better.

For a while I thought that maybe I was missing something not having a real synth. Now the only thing I can think of that I am missing is the headaches that come along with hardware. With software you really can get the same sounds or better than you get with analog and digital hardware.

I have read so many threads where guitarist prefer individual pedals over a multi effects units and they won't even touch software. I now feel these people must be stuck in some time warp. This is all Imho of course, but I really do not think a stomp box chorus sounds better than the software version of the same chorus. They might sound slightly different but definitely not better.
There is no lack of sound quality when choosing software over a hardware effect. I have found it to be the opposite.... software effects usually sounds better.
Most stomp boxes only do mono, plugins usually can be mono or stereo. Then there is all the cables and wasted power involved and the lack of preset saving..... really what is the point here? Nostalgia?

Now there is the analogue synths. I have only used the newest ones, but I didn't find any of them to sound better than my plugins. Most of these hardware synths I used where monophonic and could only be recorded in single channel mono. Also not many analog synths have preset saving nor do they come with effects.
I feel it took me 3 times as long to program a so so patch as would for me to program something really good in a soft synth equivalent. So again what is the point here? Nostalgia again? Do some people enjoy looking for the right ac adapter, plugging in leads and then twiddling away at something that has no recall? Is it all ego?

The only type of hardware I can see myself buying in the future is midi controllers. Listen up kids: unless the hardware does something that no software can do in an easy package (korg kaossilator for instance) a midi controller built for whatever purpose you need (foot pedal, keyboard, ect.) is really the only hardware you need to make music. Of course if you play a traditional instrument you need the traditional instrument, but when it comes to synths and effects in my opinion software is the way to go and has been for years.

some of the synths I took home and used:
moog sub phatty (can be done with ease with Diva)
korg arp odyssey (the software version is miles better)
korg ms20 mini (the software version is different but does not sound worse and is easier to use)
a semi modular unit I never heard of
arturia mini brute (junk)
Roland Tr-8 (so unnecessary )
Some junk korg mini synths that look like the 303 (again why?)

And many stomp box effects/ multi effect units.

When it comes to the bloated guitar amp I really doubt anyone is going to be able to tell the difference between the oversaturated market of amps vs the oversaturated market of amp sims within a recording....maybe you would notice something if the guitar was being played on its own with out backing music, but it still will not sound better just different.
Last edited by Emanresu0891 on Thu Oct 29, 2015 10:23 pm, edited 1 time in total.

jestermgee
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by jestermgee » Wed Oct 28, 2015 3:31 am

Time to grab some popcorn I recon.

I personally love software synths for many reasons you have posted BUT I would not agree that they are "useless" or argue with someone that wanted/preferred hardware.

Without getting into the Analogue V Digital debate that will soon follow what you may wish to consider is the following:

- Analogue hardware will always have a slightly different sound and way of responding from the software emulation and even from the exact same model due to age, component differences etc. This helps to add character that may not initially be apparent but sometimes helps to form a sound.
- If you have a hardware synth you really like using you will probably actually be better at using it to create sounds (and possibly train yourself in the use of synths better).

While it is not required to have hardware there is nothing in a PC/Software solution that allows you to walk in a room, switch it on and start designing a sound within a minute. Doesn't make that better/worse but even though I don't own a synth I always tend to feel happy using one and am simply drawn to them in the music store.

Just out of curiosity, where is this Library you speak of? These should exist in every country/state (hell)!!!

Don't take my word for it, Here are some users who can offer their opinions below....

chrissobo13
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by chrissobo13 » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:10 am

jestermgee wrote:Time to grab some popcorn I recon.
I'm bored at work currently, and have been watching this thread...

login
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by login » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:28 am

For production, yes they are superior for convinience, they also offer many more flavours and possibilities.

But for playing some hardware synths are gorgeous. Moog voyager blows my mind everytime I try it at a store. Not all, I have a nord lead 3 and I just don't get with it, I prefer diva all the time. In comparision when i play my moog minitaur I enjoy it a lot and I love to program patches on it.

So in fact I am searching/waiting for my dream hardware polysynth, one which I can develop a relationship with (people who play instruments know this), not only for "production, but for playing, exploring, etc.

If DIVA was hardware I would have bought it a long time ago, in fact I have considered building it my self.

Right now from the bunch of hardware synths only the new modal stuff (002 and 008) really seems desirable, excellent design, sound is up there, excellent interface and most of the features I want. But the price is well beyond my possibilities now, but I might start saving someday.

The other stuff is just not as exciting:

DSI: I really hate the industrial design from them, they seem cheap. Also OS development is slow. And well the p06 is great but 4 octaves...(yeah I know there is the module now but don't know, the design doesn't get me).

Elektron, I love their stuff, I had a machinedrum that I liked a lot. Their design is superb, the development is great. If they released an Analog keys with 8 voices and 61 keys that would be my first option.

Moog, love them but no poly.

Virus, seems great, except the interface is a PITA given how complex the synth is, you end forced to use the editor.

Nord, love the design, the quality. If the new NL4 had the UI of the NL3 with the new filters and waves it could be a winner, but it isn't. Also no damn AT.

Roland, I do like the sound of the system 1 and the new emulations, but for a digital synth I would want more polyphony and better keys. I am waiting to see if they release a System9 with 61 keys which could host plug outs of the polysynth emulations (jp8, juno). That would be great.

Korg, kingkorg sounds good but the keyboard feels horrible and the interface is bad.

Waldorf, I do like the blofeld but I would want more DSP and 61 keys.

Novation ultranova, Not bad, needs more keys and more DSP for multitimbrality. But feature wise I like it a lot. SOund, it's not bad it has it's own flavour and many options.

login
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by login » Wed Oct 28, 2015 5:29 am

Other thoughts:

For softsynths to really shine we need a controller with a intuitive and logical output, something like this:

Image

I thought NI would get it, after all they designed Maschine, and make a dedicated controller for soft synth that really becomes like an extension, as Maschine feels.

But it seems we still have to wait for a real good controller, but they day it is done correctly. Roland is near with the System 1, shame that they don't take it to the "high end".

Machinesworking
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by Machinesworking » Wed Oct 28, 2015 6:19 am

login you're perfectly illustrating the benefits of hardware by mentioning non-dedicated controllers.
Soft synths and controllers at this point are at Rompler level, 8 knobs dedicated by someone else to what you should tweak...

There is this: http://www.davesmithinstruments.com/product/prophet-6/

I own two poly analogs, and I use them all the time.
I also use a shit ton of soft synths, there really is no comparison, soft synths sound amazing, and do a dozen things really really well, but you have to coerce them to sound, for lack of a better word, organic. Hardware synths, especially analogs, don't have any issue with that. The main thing, and I suppose this is subjective, but a lot of people will agree with me, analog synths pretty much always sound good, hard to come up with anything like the digital harsh noise you can get out of just about any softs synth.

None of this is that important though, to think one is "superior" is jackassery. :P

Richie Witch
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by Richie Witch » Wed Oct 28, 2015 11:57 am

What hasn't been mentioned yet....

That softsynth you've been using for the last three years is no longer supported by the current OS/DAW.

Your hardware synth is 20 years old and still plays like the day you bought it.

8)
"Watching the Sky" ~ A 4-track EP of piano, strings, and Native American flute

TomViolenz
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by TomViolenz » Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:10 pm

login wrote: If DIVA was hardware I would have bought it a long time ago, in fact I have considered building it my self.
like this?!
http://www.synth-project.de/diva.html
8)

pencilrocket
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by pencilrocket » Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:12 pm

for instrumentalist, hardware surely wins. They can't gamble his live performance on a software.
Image

BoddAH
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by BoddAH » Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:33 pm

Depends on what you want to do. If you’re a computer-based music producer, sound wise, I think that there really is no point in using hardware over software anymore.

For digital synths and sample-based synthesis it’s obvious anyway because a computer basically does the same thing the synth would do.

For true analog synthesis, analog synths will probably always sound “different” (you know, because they ARE different) compared to software but the minute differences in sound quality (not inferior or superior, just different) certainly don’t even begin to justify the price differences, lack of flexibility, space requirements and overall clumsiness compared with just loading a VST saved preset without an unnecessary AD conversion.

If you’re just an actual musician or synthesis enthusiast however, I believe hardware will never be replaced by software. It’s just you and your instrument. You can grow attached to it, you know that it’ll still be there in twenty years, no OS incompatibilities or software updates. You can get to know it inside out and develop muscle memory. As an instrument should, it becomes an extension of yourself as a musician.

I think it’s that simple really. Different strokes for different folks. Software is a match made in heaven in the music producer’s studio just like a true musician probably couldn’t live without an actual instrument. And the other way around (hoarding a truckload of gear just to create mp3 files for your SoundCloud account or trying to become a well-versed musician with a MIDI controller and some computer instead of just getting an actual instrument) is probably equally stupid as well. At least that’s how I justify never giving in to my GAS. :mrgreen:
Last edited by BoddAH on Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:37 pm, edited 1 time in total.

BoddAH
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by BoddAH » Wed Oct 28, 2015 1:36 pm

:mrgreen:

Goddard
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by Goddard » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:18 pm

Richie Witch wrote:That softsynth you've been using for the last three years is no longer supported by the current OS/DAW
Can't agree more... That's why only idiots upgrade (sic!) their OS...
Every MacOS after 10.6.8 is nothing, but failure.
I wish that music software developers would quit their pursuit to made their bug free plug ins and even DAWs to work with OS that is nothing, but a facebook and twitter extension...
It's completely insane to "upgrade" to some Mavericks or Yosemite and complain that Live is buggy!
Grew up morons!
"Machines are the weapon employed by the capitalists to quell the revolt of specialized labor" Karl Marx

Zyko1
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by Zyko1 » Wed Oct 28, 2015 4:57 pm

Emanresu0891 wrote:
...

Now there is the analogue synths. I have only used the newest ones, but I didn't find any of them to sound better than my plugins. Most of these hardware synths I used where monophonic and could only be recorded in single channel mono. Also not many analog synths have preset saving nor do they come with effects.
I feel it took me 3 times as long to program a so so patch as would for me to program something really good in a soft synth equivalent. So again what is the point here? Nostalgia again? Do some people enjoy looking for the right ac adapter, plugging in leads and then twiddling away at something that has no recall? Is it all ego?

The only type of hardware I can see myself buying in the future is midi controllers. Listen up kids: unless the hardware does something that no software can do in an easy package (korg kaossilator for instance) a midi controller built for whatever purpose you need (foot pedal, keyboard, ect.) is really the only hardware you need to make music. Of course if you play a traditional instrument you need the traditional instrument, but when it comes to synths and effects in my opinion software is the way to go and has been for years.
...
You do realize that with a midi-controller you only have a resolution (for example a knob on a synth) of 128 steps? This is an advantage over the theoretically infinite number of steps of - for example - a CV controlled "knob"?

And what are you talkin about searching for ac-adapters??? Yes, some people do enjoy the hands-on feel of a real analog synth, where even the slightest movement can have drastic impact on the sound, to answer one your questions.

I started with Ableton, MPC and Komplete and went into analog/modular synthesis just recently, and for me it's alot more fun than loading up a preset in a soft synth and tweak some knobs with my mouse or midi-controller. When you know that the sound which comes out is actually from an all analog synth where YOU crafted a (not always ;-) ) great sound you couldn't even think of before, then that's the ultimate satisfaction for me. And I come up with sounds I wouldn't even try to replicate in a softsynth because I wouldn't have imagined it. With the analog stuff there is some dirt, some unforeseen stuff happening which you just don't get from the all perfect, clean digital synths. Of course there are emulations and virtual-analog and all that stuff. But it doesn't "just happen" on it's own... ah it's hard to explain. For me it's like this: I have a sound in mind i want to create -> I patch and tweak it on the analog synth -> it comes out 100 times more awesome than I ever imagined, because there is movement and imperfection in the whole signal-path which crafts a sound you probably COULD but WOULDN'T create in a digital synth because you don't know about it without experience it. Meh... really hard to explain.

Long story short - I think both worlds (digital soft-synth and analog hardware synths) have there pros and cons, but just bringing it down to a simple "one is better than the other" is just... well, too simple ;-)

beats me
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by beats me » Wed Oct 28, 2015 5:14 pm

Goddard wrote:
Richie Witch wrote:That softsynth you've been using for the last three years is no longer supported by the current OS/DAW
Can't agree more... That's why only idiots upgrade (sic!) their OS...
Every MacOS after 10.6.8 is nothing, but failure.
I wish that music software developers would quit their pursuit to made their bug free plug ins and even DAWs to work with OS that is nothing, but a facebook and twitter extension...
It's completely insane to "upgrade" to some Mavericks or Yosemite and complain that Live is buggy!
Grew up morons!
Some new software won’t work if you aren’t on the new (or more current) OS. Uh oh. Conundrum. Or not, I’m sure that never happens on Windows. Get a PC! Good for the next 2 decades without fail or needing to upgrade.

login
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Re: Soft synths and plugins are so much better than hardware

Post by login » Wed Oct 28, 2015 5:35 pm

beats me wrote:
Goddard wrote:
Richie Witch wrote:That softsynth you've been using for the last three years is no longer supported by the current OS/DAW
Can't agree more... That's why only idiots upgrade (sic!) their OS...
Every MacOS after 10.6.8 is nothing, but failure.
I wish that music software developers would quit their pursuit to made their bug free plug ins and even DAWs to work with OS that is nothing, but a facebook and twitter extension...
It's completely insane to "upgrade" to some Mavericks or Yosemite and complain that Live is buggy!
Grew up morons!
Some new software won’t work if you aren’t on the new (or more current) OS. Uh oh. Conundrum. Or not, I’m sure that never happens on Windows. Get a PC! Good for the next 2 decades without fail or needing to upgrade.

or install windows in your mac when you are fed up with Apple updates.

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