Why buy hardware synths?

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ledhed2222
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Why buy hardware synths?

Post by ledhed2222 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:54 am

This question is intended to be a little bit provocative, but it's all in the spirit of good music tech conversation.


I'm a serious classical composer with a strong interest in electronics. For fun, I make some house and trance. I run Logic Pro and use MaxMSP, Massive, Thor, Subtractor, and Logic's modeling synth for most of my synthesis. I went over to a friend's place the other day and he showed me his badass synths: a Micro Q, an Alesis Micron, and a Roland Juno. Since I have some cash to burn and I feel like buying a new toy, I'm considering getting a rackmount hardware synth but....


....why buy hardware synths when we can use such amazing softsynths? I get it if you're looking for analog (I don't have the $$ for that), but otherwise aren't hardware synths more expensive and less powerful than softsynths?


Prove me wrong or don't, I'm curious to see what you all think.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by megamanx » Thu Jul 02, 2009 1:59 am

because they are sexy...

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by AstroDan » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:03 am

I'm curious how you joined a day in the future.

A solid, dedicated engine that never (rarely) crashes and portability.
Too futurist to live.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:11 am

The reasons to go for hardware over software are:

a) Sound. Some hardware just sounds better ie if you want an analogue sound analogue isn't available in software.
b) Interface. Programming synths on a well designed interface made just for that synth is much better than programming on a computer. Most rack synths are a pain to program though.

If I were you I'd be looking at something you can't already get from software like a semi-modular analogue synth or a really nice effects unit. I get my best sounds from combining hardware and software, new and old. You can come up with sounds that nobody's made before that way, and it's much more interesting.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by JSRockit » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:15 am

Stab Frenzy wrote:
a) Sound. Some hardware just sounds better ie if you want an analogue sound analogue isn't available in software.
b) Interface. Programming synths on a well designed interface made just for that synth is much better than programming on a computer. Most rack synths are a pain to program though.
+1
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by RobotHeroes » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:18 am

The h**l with synths let's go back to rocks, sticks and acoustic guitars.



ledhed2222 wrote:I make some trance
/lock thread









I kidding...no I am not.
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by 8bit9bot » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:21 am

ledhed2222 wrote:why buy hardware synths when we can use such amazing softsynths? I get it if you're looking for analog (I don't have the $$ for that), but otherwise aren't hardware synths more expensive and less powerful than softsynths?
Depends on what you are looking for. If you want a very specific sound... the exact sound of a particular classic digital like the DX7... FM8 and other FM soft synths dont sound EXACTLY the same... so obviously hardware has big appeal in this way. Also, there are no soft synths that emulate certain digitals like the Casio CZ series (PlastiCZ does not count... it cannot even load CZ patches) and the Roland D-50... and a bunch of older samplers have analog filters and specific sample disks you will not find online ever. (I tried)

I am not looking for the most flexible synth in the world, so the fact that a lot of soft synths allow for so many modulation routings etc does not convince me to switch over. I have dabbled w/ VSTi's, but overall I only use them for trying ideas and I would probably never use them for my real music. (Have not yet)

Also, there is appeal to having gear which is dedicated to the single task of being an instrument... rather than a machine you have to boot up for 1-2 minutes just to play the 1st note. I'll let someone else go into some other reasons... but these are my reasons.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Operatron » Thu Jul 02, 2009 2:30 am

why join to vintage synth explorer ?
LOL

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by dimitris108 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:07 am

I have all these and more softsynths that you can imagine.

Check out Virus TI, Roland V Synth GT, Yamaha VL, Poly Evolver, Prophet 08, Mopho, Moog Voyager or Little Phatty, Oberheim, Alesis Andromeda A6 and compare them with your softsynths and then we will talk.

I have Native instruments Reaktor is a great program,Massive is good Virus TI has better wavetable and Waldorf stuff. Absynth is good for weird stuff not for dance. FM8 is great Fm synth maybe the best for me for FM again. The sound quality of NI is a little thin and weak sometimes if you compare them with Roland V synth GT for example.

For sampler Kontakt is the best ever no question, time and pitch stretching is very good but not as good as Kyma
Kontakt has also the script language that you can do crazy stuff microtonal for example.

I am letting you know that I have all of them and I am a max/msp user I am going to get a Kyma pacarana, I also have GRM tools for electroacoustic weird stuff.

I will give you an example if you want a good bass all the softsynths and the digital synths can not come close to moog voyager or old minimoog, Studio electronics SE-1X even mopho.

I do not think that the term hardware or the box can make the difference I think that is a dongle key for companies like Yamaha, Roland, Korg, Access Virus that the make digital synths in the box and people can not crack them like the softwares. But the real analog synths like Poly Evolver, Prophet 08, Mopho, Moog Voyager or Little Phatty, Oberheim, Alesis Andromeda A6 e.t.c can make a big difference in your music.

My favorite digital synths or software in the box or dongle key synths whatever, are Virus TI, Roland V Synth GT is a monster, and Yamaha VL for physical modeling it is a great unit. Lately I like Arturia Origin it is very good synth.

With kyma you can go very very far with great quality unlike max/msp it is difficult and the sound quality is not professional.

Last I want to tell you that Duende SSL has the best plug ins for EQs, and compressors out there. Waves L3 and L3-16
is my favorite out of all waves plugins. UAD is ok only for delay, Plate 140, Roland stuff the EQs and the compressors can not come close to DUENDE SSL. Powercore the Master X5, VSS reverb and some other plugins are good. All these are PCI cards except waves that use your CPU. Anyway DUENDE is the best mix tool by far for me.

Check all these out.

Good luck!!!
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Christopher Winkels » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:10 am

Why buy soft synths?

You're obliged to buy a computer, and possibly an external monitor (hey, look.. hardware!). Then you have to make sure the software installs cleanly, with no conflicts. After that, pray that the soundcard you purchased (you did get one of those too, right? More hardware!) and/or the computer's main CPU have enough computing power to run without pops, clicks, or other audio glitches. Next, resign yourself to the fact that if you want an interface using something other than a mouse or arcane QWERTY commands you'll need to buy another (hardware, bien sur) control surface to impart knobular fun. And then we still haven't touched on the (hardware) keyboard to play said synth - unless your idea of joy involves step entry and mouse clicks.

Then, when you've had a couple of years of "happy" synthesizing, it's time to junk your now ancient computer and start all over again with a new laptop because the new OS is guaranteed to work with your old programs, right? ;)

Sounds like fun to me!

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by OriginalJambo » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:17 am

1) Sound. Tone. Mojo.
2) Controls. Interface. Aesthetics.
3) Less of a burden on your DAW's CPU - audio tracks are generally easier to handle than softsynths.
4) They look rather bad a*s.
5) They often have a better resale value.
6) They might inspire you.

Of course there are many disadvantages too...

If software works for you don't feel the need to make the switch.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by ledhed2222 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:35 am

Nice discussion so far!


As far as the comments about computer, MIDI controllers, and audio interfaces being hardware, I think we both realize that one would get that stuff anyway: they are generic devices that can be used for many purposes whereas dedicated synths are decidedly limited.


I get the analog thing, saw another friend's Mini Moog....man that thing is BAD a*s. (Also I'm a Cornellian so Bob Moog feels like like a distant cousin or something).



@AstroDan: Because I'm from the future.


@Dimitris108: I have Kontakt (comes with Sibelius) but I use Reason's NNX-T for sampling purposes...What kinds of stuff are you doing with Kontakt?????? Sounds pretty awesome to me. As far as MaxMSP goes..you can totally get pro sounds outta that monster! Does take a lot of work though....




Since we've got such a lively discussion so far, here's another question:

Which hardware synths do you find produce sounds so unique that they cannot be emulated?

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by aeon » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:49 am

OriginalJambo wrote:1) Sound. Tone. Mojo.
2) Controls. Interface. Aesthetics.
3) Less of a burden on your DAW's CPU - audio tracks are generally easier to handle than softsynths.
4) They look rather bad a*s.
5) They often have a better resale value.
6) They might inspire you.

Of course there are many disadvantages too...

If software works for you don't feel the need to make the switch.
+1


cheers,
Ian

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by cartesia » Thu Jul 02, 2009 3:59 am

Have you played with any good hardware synthesizers?

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Neonlights84 » Thu Jul 02, 2009 4:04 am

ledhed2222 wrote:This question is intended to be a little bit provocative, but it's all in the spirit of good music tech conversation.


I'm a serious classical composer with a strong interest in electronics. For fun, I make some house and trance. I run Logic Pro and use MaxMSP, Massive, Thor, Subtractor, and Logic's modeling synth for most of my synthesis. I went over to a friend's place the other day and he showed me his badass synths: a Micro Q, an Alesis Micron, and a Roland Juno. Since I have some cash to burn and I feel like buying a new toy, I'm considering getting a rackmount hardware synth but....


....why buy hardware synths when we can use such amazing softsynths? I get it if you're looking for analog (I don't have the $$ for that), but otherwise aren't hardware synths more expensive and less powerful than softsynths?


Prove me wrong or don't, I'm curious to see what you all think.
It is quite simple. It has nothing to do with specifications or cost. There is simply nothing like toting your hardware synth to a gig or practice, plugging in, and having a visceral connection to the instrument. I may not be an analog snob (though i prefer those sounds), but I am indeed a hardware snob. Nothing can replace the interaction between the controls and your brain. A plugin synth has none of these qualities.
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