Why buy hardware synths?

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Architecture » Wed Oct 28, 2009 11:54 pm

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.
Amazing softsynths.....HAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHHAHAHAHAH.

thats funny.

I mean...

Funny. Excuse my grammar.

power is suggestive, a Dot Com modular can sound more powerful than any softsynth.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by drsynth » Sat Oct 31, 2009 3:14 pm

Dis' autta git me banned...

NovaMusik has the best deals right now on Arturia bundles. You can get several top notch soft synths along with a controller for a really good price. I especially would consider the bundle softsynths with the Novation 37SL ReMOTE mk1. A nice deal.

http://www.novamusik.com/search.aspx?ty ... =89&mid=89

I'm putting this up because your initial inquiry suggested you are trying to decide between the relative values of hardware and software synthesizers. I like the Arturia line over many of the vendors but it is a real source of controversy among users. I have the MinimoogV, CS80V, Arp2600V and Moog ModularV. They aren't used as much as my hardware synths but sometimes I really like the environment of softsynths and go to them.

My most used soft synths? MTron (GForce), FM8 (Native Instruments), String Machine (GForce), and Octopus (LinPlug).

--

Another important aspect of soft synths and music creation that you (as a serious classical composer) may need to consider is the use of tuning programs.

I use Lil' Miss Scale Oven

http://www.nonoctave.com/tuning/LilMissScaleOven/

and 16tone - Max Magic Microtuner

http://launch.groups.yahoo.com/group/16tone/

mostly for the control of scales and microtuning.

These programs are easy to work with Kontakt2, FM8 and such. LMSO can alter midi tunings in real time via midi tuning standard on any midi instrument so I can use it with any hardware too. The point is with Kontakt2 you can use scripts to generate very exacting tunings for the myriad of sampled sounds. Very exciting for a contemporary composer.

That said, there is no limitation to either soft or hardware synths when using microtuning control. The funny thing is that it is all software that allows this. There aren't many hardware synths that have microtuning control. Yamaha DX7, some Waldorf and there are a handful of others that offer 1/4 tone or something as innocuous, but true non-octave or non-equal tempered tunings are relatively unheard of in hardware realm. There are useful modules in the modular synth world but that is very expensive way to go. The very best control is through software and midi.

If you need further examples of music with these tools or anything else, I'll be glad to provide links and/or examples.

-David
-I was a teenage synthaholic-

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by druzz » Sat Oct 31, 2009 3:52 pm

software synths needs hardware to run on !!(a computer).

if you have a dedicated and powerfull machine,"software" can be reliable and usefull i guess. but you have to buy expensive HARDWARE and go trough tedious optimisation of your system (in windows at least) to get something serious going on . then if you want good software you have to pay for it. install it . save your patchs in a folder and dont loose it . all this takes some organisation but can end up being very "practial" in the end if you are good with computers . then you need to wire up midi controllers and configure them. and then oops that old pluggin doesnt work with vista or wathever. you can even spend the whole night trying to download free usable pluggins and then bust your pc with its unreliable codings

or you could buy a synth power it up and play music.

but thats a matter of taste i guess

a hardware synth is a dedicated machine. it does nothing else than what it is made for and that is its strength . it will never lack cpu and is pretty straigth forward to use.

and anyway i already spend too much time on the computer just looking for good deals on synths. :wink:

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by CS_TBL » Sat Oct 31, 2009 5:51 pm

druzz wrote:software synths needs hardware to run on !!(a computer).
Which most people already have..
if you have a dedicated and powerfull machine,"software" can be reliable and usefull i guess. but you have to buy expensive HARDWARE
No, the only thing I'd advice is a decent soundcard, 4GB mem and two fast harddisks + RAID for double speed (if you want streaming samples). These certainly won't break the bank. In summer 2006 my music PC (no mon/key/mouse)cost me less than 1000 euros ex VAT, and that was a dual i3.4Ghz, 64bit, 4GB, 2x 320GB + yadayadayada. I still use it, hasn't really aged since then. And no, it doesn't have to be a bare music-only PC, I do email, programming, some gaming, movies etc. with it as well. We're in 2009, computers can really do all this!
and go trough tedious optimisation of your system (in windows at least) to get something serious going on.
Uhm, like what? I did nothing. It just works. Didn't even have to install asio4all, my Terratek comes with perfect asio drivers, no audible latency whatsoever.
then if you want good software you have to pay for it.
Which is cheaper than a typical synth, and depending on your style/preferences, you don't need tons o' softsynths anyway. Besides, more and more decent freeware enters this world.
. save your patchs in a folder and dont loose it . all this takes some organisation
..which is as trivial as setting up a folder for your email, a folder for your mp3 files, a folder for your pr0n, etc.
then you need to wire up midi controllers and configure them.
My Studiologic keyboard was just "plug it in , install midi drivers, and go".
and then oops that old pluggin doesnt work with vista or wathever. you can even spend the whole night trying to download free usable pluggins and then bust your pc with its unreliable codings
No one forces you to install Vista. I've never seen plugins that were really instable
or you could buy a synth power it up and play music.
right
but thats a matter of taste i guess
right
a hardware synth is a dedicated machine. it does nothing else than what it is made for and that is its strength . it will never lack cpu and is pretty straigth forward to use.
It's a strength and a weakness. It will never lack CPU .. instead it's just limited in what it can do.

Note that I'm not trying to attack hardware here, I'm merely defending software against a freak wave of outdated nonsense.
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Yoozer » Sat Oct 31, 2009 5:54 pm

CS_TBL wrote:Note that I'm not trying to attack hardware here, I'm merely defending software against a freak wave of outdated nonsense.
Yeah, it's like they can't see that "I like the way it sounds" and "I like the way it looks/feels" are already two great arguments, but instead all kinds stupid analogies and fairy tales have to be made up.
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:19 pm

All I can say is that it is foolish to make musical decisions based upon convenience, affordability, or trend.
If you're a musician, you make or play music with a device that you've found to be effective in expressing what you feel compelled to express with music.
That seems like a facile statement, but it's not. Any musician who has happened to find exactly what they need in order to do what they want on the first try either isn't a musician, or isn't likely to be one. Finding your musical voice takes time and effort and experience.
Anyone can take the above and use it to defend their particular musical expressive choice against the other, but in the end, if it's too easy, it sounds like it's too easy. Stop defending choices of convenience, choices of trend, choices of status, choices of the average of people, blah blah blah and find out what instrument expresses what you have to express.
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by b3groover » Sat Oct 31, 2009 6:44 pm

Right on.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by rickyd » Sat Oct 31, 2009 7:51 pm

druzz wrote:software synths needs hardware to run on !!(a computer).

if you have a dedicated and powerfull machine,"software" can be reliable and usefull i guess. but you have to buy expensive HARDWARE and go trough tedious optimisation of your system (in windows at least) to get something serious going on .
Well, digital synths are just software in a hardware box.

And on the contrary, buying hardware for your system is very inexpensive now. It just depends on the type of setup you want. Oh, and the reason you have to buy hardware for your system is because it is a DAW as well just being a, you know............ "computer" :D .

You do have to optimize your system, but it's not tedious; just depends on how complicated you make it.


druzz wrote:then if you want good software you have to pay for it.
Well uh....................If you want a good synth you have to pay for that too.

druzz wrote: install it . save your patchs in a folder and dont loose it . all this takes some organisation but can end up being very "practial" in the end if you are good with computers .
Saving patches on some synths can be just as tedious. You don't have to be that good with computers in order to do this either.

druzz wrote:then you need to wire up midi controllers and configure them.
You have to do this with hardware synths too.

druzz wrote:and then oops that old pluggin doesnt work with vista or wathever.
You don't have to use Vista. You don't have to upgrade at all just because the newest thing comes out. If you upgrade, it's because of choice; not that you have to in order for your system to keep working in the future.

druzz wrote:you can even spend the whole night trying to download free usable pluggins and then bust your pc with its unreliable codings
You don't have to use that many plugins. You don't have to use plugins at all; depending on your setup, you can route to external gear.

druzz wrote:or you could buy a synth power it up and play music.
You can do that with a computer too. ;).


Some hardware purists seem to have the mindset that softsynths are something that's trying to take over and compete with the hardware world. It's just another method to make music is all. As long as your expectations from both types are realistic, then there is no reason to have to make arguments about them. I use both hardware and softsynths (Look at my list to the right). I love 'em both and there's nothing wrong with either.

I would honestly have to say that most of these points you made would be vaild just a few years ago, but things have changed ALOT now.
Last edited by rickyd on Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:49 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by sensorium » Sat Oct 31, 2009 8:35 pm

When I bought GMedia ImpOSCAR, I was amazed with the sound. All this did was make me want the real thing, because I know it would sound even better, and it would be more fun to play. I bought one and I was right on both counts. People always justify their software purchases because they can't justify the cost of their hardware counterparts. I want to make something VERY clear.

When you buy software, you are BUYING something. Spending money which you will NEVER get back.
When you buy hardware, you are making an INVESTMENT,and will almost always get a return when/if you decide to sell.

Over the last 7-8 years, my synth collection has done MUCH better than my 401K, and better as a percentage return than any other investment I have made. My Prophet 5, Memorymoog, Oscar, Synthex, and Xpander have all appreciated over 20% since I purchased them. If that's not a reason to buy hardware, then I don't know what it. YOU ARE NOT SPENDING MONEY WHEN YOU BUY VINTAGE HARDWARE. YOU ARE MAKING MONEY!

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by druzz » Sat Oct 31, 2009 9:35 pm

why get so defensive ? i'm not attacking computers . computers are great ! if your setup run without a glitch i am happy for you but it is not the case for everybody.
i am just sharing with you people why i am buying hardware synths wich is the topic right? i am not into pointless argumentation . i just want to express my position about this tread. my post reflect my own experience in home music engineering and my preferences .not yours.

i am jealous of the practical aspects of a complete DAW with integrated virtual instruments .
i never said hardware was less trouble. its just the kind of trouble that i like.


anyway i am no technician or professional or anything. just a musician who wants to create.


i do use a computer and the only bad thing about it (exept for unreliability) is that i always end up here when i should make music.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by rickyd » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:38 pm

sensorium wrote:When I bought GMedia ImpOSCAR, I was amazed with the sound. All this did was make me want the real thing, because I know it would sound even better, and it would be more fun to play. I bought one and I was right on both counts. People always justify their software purchases because they can't justify the cost of their hardware counterparts. I want to make something VERY clear.

When you buy software, you are BUYING something. Spending money which you will NEVER get back.
When you buy hardware, you are making an INVESTMENT,and will almost always get a return when/if you decide to sell.

Over the last 7-8 years, my synth collection has done MUCH better than my 401K, and better as a percentage return than any other investment I have made. My Prophet 5, Memorymoog, Oscar, Synthex, and Xpander have all appreciated over 20% since I purchased them. If that's not a reason to buy hardware, then I don't know what it. YOU ARE NOT SPENDING MONEY WHEN YOU BUY VINTAGE HARDWARE. YOU ARE MAKING MONEY!
I totally agree with your post, sensorium. Hardware synths are a definite investment. I just got my motif rack a few days ago, which is my only hardware synth (Look at my list to the right). I do not plan on ever selling it, but I will try to keep it in top condition just in case I have to someday. As mentioned several times before, I am a softsynth user also, but obviously you cannot expect them to be an investment.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by pricklyrobot » Sat Oct 31, 2009 10:42 pm

Automatic Gainsay wrote:All I can say is that it is foolish to make musical decisions based upon convenience, affordability, or trend.
If you're a musician, you make or play music with a device that you've found to be effective in expressing what you feel compelled to express with music.
That seems like a facile statement, but it's not. Any musician who has happened to find exactly what they need in order to do what they want on the first try either isn't a musician, or isn't likely to be one. Finding your musical voice takes time and effort and experience.
Anyone can take the above and use it to defend their particular musical expressive choice against the other, but in the end, if it's too easy, it sounds like it's too easy. Stop defending choices of convenience, choices of trend, choices of status, choices of the average of people, blah blah blah and find out what instrument expresses what you have to express.
Word!

I think you've nailed it (and relatively concisely, for once :wink: ); now can we take that nail and put it in the coffin of this lame thread?
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by volumetrik » Sun Nov 01, 2009 2:48 am

Here's an interesting comment on the topic on another forum by Richard D. James (Aphex Twin)
RDJ wrote: some people bought the analogue equipment when it was unfashionable and very cheap though.
some of us are over 30 you know!
anyone remember when 303`s were £50? and coke was 16p a tin? crisps 5p

also you have overlooked A LOT of other points because its not all about the overall frequency response of the recording system its how the sound gets there in the first place.
here are some things which you can`t get from a plugin,they are often emulated but due to their hugely complex nature are always pretty crass aproximations..

the sound of analogue equpiment including EQ, changes very noticably over even a few hours due to temperature changes within a circuit.
Anyone who has tried to make tracs on a few analogue synths and make them stay in tune can tell you this,you leave a trac running for a few hours come back and think Im sure I didnt f**k write that,I must be going mental!

this affects all the components in a synth/EQ in an almost infinte amount of tiny ways.
and the amount differs from circuit to circuit depending on the design.

the interaction of different channels and their respective signals with an analogue mixer are very complex,EQ,dynamics....
any fx, analogue or digital that are plugged into it all have their own special complex characteristics and all interact with each other differently and change depending on their routing.
Nobody that ive heard of has even begun to start emulating analogue mixer circuitry in software,just the aesthetics,it will come but im sure it will be a c**p half hearted effort like most pretend synth plugins are.
they should be called PST synths, P for pretend not virtual.

Every piece of outboard gear has its own sound ,reverbs,modulation effects etc
real room reverb, this in itself companies have spent decades trying to emulate and not even got close in my opinion, even the best attempts like Quantec and EMT only scratch the surface.

analogue EQ is currently impossible in theory to be emulated digitally,quite intense maths s**t involed in this if youre really that interested,you could look it up...good luck.

your soundcard will always make things sound like its come from THAT soundcard..they ALL impose their different sound characteristics onto whatever comes out of them they are far from being totally neutral devices.

all the components of a circuit like resistors and capacitors subtley differ from each other depending on their quality but even the most high quality milatary spec ones are never EXACTLY the same.

no two analogue synths can ever be built exactly the same,there are tiny human/automated errors in building the circuits,tweaking the trimpots for example which is usually done manually in a lot of analogue s**t.
just compare the sound of 2 808 drum machines next to each other and you will see what I mean,you always thought an 808 was an 808 right?
same goes for 303`s they all sound subltey different,different voltage scaling of the oscillator is usually quite noticable.

VST plugins are restricted by a finite number of calculations per second these factors are WAY beyond their CURRENT capability.

Then there is the question of the physicallity of the instrument this affects the way a human will emotionally interact with it and therfore affect what they will actually do with it! often overlooked from the maths heads,this is probably the biggest factor I think.
for example the smell of analogue stuff as well as the look of it puts you in a certain mental state which is very different from looking at a computer screen.

then there is analogue tape...ah this really could go on forever....

im quite drunk cant be bothered to type anymore...
so yeah,whatever, you obviously dont have to have analogue equipment to make `good` music in case thats the impression im giving,EVERYTHING has its uses .And not all anlaogue equipment is expensive you can still get bargains like old high end military audio devices,tape machines fx etc just go for the unfashionable stuff.

Richard.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sun Nov 01, 2009 5:17 am


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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by griffin avid » Mon Nov 02, 2009 2:46 am

As far as Richard D. James goes, I don't find those analogue nuances to be the kinds of things that makes me like or dislike a song. I've never felt an emotional impact from analogue drift or the subtle variations of a circuit in flux. When I ALREADY LIKE A SONG - I become interested in the story behind its creation, the tools used etc.

The SoundOnSound example is an industry professional who makes jingles. Hardly the discerning voice for hobbyists, weekend warriors, collectors, enthusiasts and general synth lovers. If I'm making a quick submission for a car commercial maybe I should use that baseline from a sample CD. If it fits, roll with it. BUT if I'm trying to make a song to capture the emotions behind the breakup of a long term relationship, maybe I should spend days fretting over the perfect element that says what I feel and NOT go with what fits, but go with what's meaningful instead. Hey, If I can find that prefab than just great.

It's two different approaches for two different goals. And I'm not saying a software user is pouring any less of themselves into their music. When I'm creating I only think of two things, my instrument (usually a keyboard) and where I want to go with it. I usually don't look at any screen (certainly not the tiny led naming the patch number) and I might look at my hands or close my eyes.

Some of us use Sounds to build songs...(good)
Some of us write Songs and search for the Sounds...(better)
Some songs have a certain sound regardless of their Sounds.(best)
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