Why buy hardware synths?

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Stab Frenzy
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:19 am

tyrannosaurus mark wrote:Software can be very unreliable live, and there is a stigma attached to using laptops and computers on stage in some settings
My band gigged with an all-hardware and MPC setup (MPC, Evolver, Juno 106, Juno 6, Poly 800, EA-1, YC-25D and a lot of pedals) for about three years and have been using a synth each + laptop for the last two and a half, and the laptop has been more reliable than the hardware was. It's also been more reliable than the gear of other bands we've played with, we've never had to cut a show short but we've played with bands that had to stop songs and in a couple of cases end the show after only a couple of songs because they had a pedal, guitar or amp break. Gear is never 100% reliable, but there's no reason you can't get a laptop working as reliably as anything else.

As well as being more reliable it's easier to transport (we can take the whole live rig in a taxi or on a plane for shows), much faster to set up on stage and sound quality is better (don't have to rely on the engineer as much to get the sound right and we can use a wider variety of sounds). It's fun to bring heaps of gear to a show but only if you have ages to set up and soundcheck and don't have to pack the gear down to give other bands room. Also it gets pretty annoying spending half an hour setting up before a show when you're playing a few shows a month and then not being able to drink because you've got to drive all the gear home.

Re: the whole stigma thing, I think that's more to do with the way people go passive when they're looking at a computer screen, and the brightness of the screen attracts the eye. When we play I have the laptop behind me so I don't get sucked into looking at it and it's like I'm using any other instrument. I use an MPD for playing it which sits to my side so I can play it without looking at the lappy. I also have the lappy turned round so the audience can see what's going on on the screen if they want and it doesn't seem like I'm hiding anything from them.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by ognolman » Wed Jul 08, 2009 3:51 am

Stab Frenzy wrote: As well as being more reliable it's easier to transport (we can take the whole live rig in a taxi or on a plane for shows), much faster to set up on stage and sound quality is better (don't have to rely on the engineer as much to get the sound right and we can use a wider variety of sounds).
Think of the money you save in flight cases! And you don't have to worry about some clod chunking your super-expensive, ultra-rare, vintage such-n-such into the cargo hold of the plane as if it were normal luggage.

And if your ultra-expensive vintage such-n-such craps out on you it's going to be a nightmare fixing or replacing it. If you have a laptop/desktop die on you, there are tons of people that can fix it fast and cheap. Re-load your software and you're back in the game...

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:20 am

I have seen a baggage handler drop my V-Synth (which I don't usually gig with anymore) from about five feet onto the ground. Luckily it was really well packed and in a flight case, but I wasn't really happy about it and let the guy know. :D

Oh yeah, I should also add that whenever we tour I make each band member a DVD with the Live installers for both Mac and PC and our live set on it, and I also carry them around on a thumb drive. That way even if my laptop explodes or gets stolen all we need is any other computer and we can get it the live show happening in about 5 minutes.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by shaft9000 » Wed Jul 08, 2009 4:43 am

rockmanrock wrote:
shaft9000 wrote:Keep it out of sight and use controllers, if you must.
the 'stigma' is well-founded - who the f**k wants to watch someone make music by working a typewriter??
Kraftwerk fans?

...and that's about the only 'band' that can get away with it because they are legends - backed up by a dazzling and unique visual presentation, and of course the "Oohs and Aahs" factor of seeing pioneers in the flesh - well two of them anyways. They DO use custom controllers, btw, not lappys.
They don't engage me musically live, though. They're awfully boring due to the stifling pre-production, imho.

Duran Duran tried lappys and most people were not impressed. They promptly went back to their axes.

Younger audiences typically like to see performers 'perform' like circus chimps - jump around and smash things.
Older audiences prefer musicianship and/or 'performer magnetism'.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Torstein » Wed Jul 08, 2009 5:56 am

mao wrote: Same here. But I think you are still lucky... My wife goes nuts if I simply... play. So it's not only a matter of money but of time too. Time I'm playing and having fun is time I don't use for her or the house so... well imagine this.

So my solution is: Don't tell her nothing about my purchases (I buy only racks... usually sell one old rack to buy a new one or two) . Play when she is sleeping or is out.
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Sorry, couldn't resist this correlation. You must be an amazing money launderer having that amazing synth setup without her knowing, and doing it in Venice--trade center of the medieval world. :)

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Yoozer » Wed Jul 08, 2009 9:56 am

shaft9000 wrote:the 'stigma' is well-founded - who the f**k wants to watch someone make music by working a typewriter??
The stigma is only there because a bunch of recluse nerds get their panties in a bunch about s**t like this. The rest of the people do not care and will continue quite gladly to dance their asses off.

Remind me that if I ever have to perform live I'll have 'm (forcefully) escorted out by the bouncer, so the dancefloor is filled with more hot girls.

Who the f**k wants to watch someone "make" music by spinning 2 vinyl platters that contain tracks that aren't even theirs? requires as much (or as little) skill as that, but it allows for far more experimentation. One of the best live sets I've enjoyed was laptop based (DMX Krew) - care about the music, not the performance.
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by pflosi » Wed Jul 08, 2009 10:10 am

Yoozer wrote:
shaft9000 wrote:Who the f**k wants to watch someone "make" music by spinning 2 vinyl platters that contain tracks that aren't even theirs? requires as much (or as little) skill as that, but it allows for far more experimentation. One of the best live sets I've enjoyed was laptop based (DMX Krew) - care about the music, not the performance.
agreed. i also enjoy it more to watch bands use shitloads of analog synths, but if the sound is good, i also like laptop livesets. it's just not as much to watch with laptops, but finally the music counts...

just PLEASE, stay away from the ableton beat repeat :?

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by mao » Wed Jul 08, 2009 2:28 pm

Torstein wrote: Sorry, couldn't resist this correlation. You must be an amazing money launderer having that amazing synth setup without her knowing, and doing it in Venice--trade center of the medieval world. :)
Well she knows that I do somekind of exchange time to time... but she never looks my racks because she hate them. So if a Roland Jv1080 goes out and a V-synth goes in nothing happens. So I simply put another rack stand over another and beginned filling. I'm not a money waster. I bought everything 2nd hand (not the A6 and the Voyager) wayting for the best price.

It's really a pity to hide these kind of things to a person you love... but she tried to stop my hobbies to many times and i felt really disappointed. It's part of my life... playing makes me forget about problems and hard work. She simply doesn't understand this. I'm sorry it's my life, I need it and this is the only way I found.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by tyrannosaurus mark » Wed Jul 08, 2009 11:26 pm

Interesting to hear about the laptops being more reliable for some people. I've had the reverse experience

Yeah, I've played with lots of rock bands who have had to stop their show because of guitars and amps and drums breaking. And I've never had to do that, using electronic stuff or guitar stuff. But that has less to do with the equipment and more to do with how prepared the performer is. I'm a little bit paranoid about these things so I tend to have a plan B and C, while some rock bands don't even carry a second guitar pick

Laptops are harder to trouble shoot than other instruments because they're more complicated. They do unexpected things. My modern hardware doesn't. Haha, don't use the hardware for email either hehe
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by CS_TBL » Thu Jul 09, 2009 12:02 am

mm.. dare I?

My desktop is used for music (tons of streaming, tons of FM8 calculations) and stable! Despite me using it for email, office stuff, pr0n, youtube, a little bit o' gaming, a bit o' programming, etc. etc. Once a clean system, now a fragmented pigstein. But.. seriously, I don't get crashes here, and my latency is nothing I'd care about (e.g. none). So, I'm not exactly sure how or why you all get crashes, it shouldn't need to happen. It's still the original install since summer 2006. So, that's about 3 years, and still solid as rock, and I'm not even a real computer expert (as in: sysop 'n such).
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by Stab Frenzy » Thu Jul 09, 2009 2:30 am

tyrannosaurus mark wrote:...But that has less to do with the equipment and more to do with how prepared the performer is. I'm a little bit paranoid about these things so I tend to have a plan B and C, while some rock bands don't even carry a second guitar pick

Laptops are harder to trouble shoot than other instruments because they're more complicated. They do unexpected things. My modern hardware doesn't. Haha, don't use the hardware for email either hehe
Yeah totally. I'm also one of those OCD overprepared people and I've also done two years of advanced computer operations for music making. I even have the current draw for all my gear written down somewhere so I know how many things I can run off one power point. :D

Our modern hardware is more reliable than our old hardware too. We had such exciting things happen as the Poly 800 slowly going more and more out of tune until the tuning slider was all the way to the end and it was still flat and the 106 dropping a voice at a gig. The weirdest thing ever was this glitch in an early MPC1000 OS where the playback would glitch after the machine had been turned on for about an hour, just once, but every time it's been on for that long. I could never figure out what was going on with it or even if it was just something that I'd imagined but then it was mentioned in an OS update as a fixed issue. Weird.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by ognolman » Thu Jul 09, 2009 6:02 am

mao wrote:Well she knows that I do somekind of exchange time to time... but she never looks my racks because she hate them. So if a Roland Jv1080 goes out and a V-synth goes in nothing happens. So I simply put another rack stand over another and beginned filling. I'm not a money waster. I bought everything 2nd hand (not the A6 and the Voyager) wayting for the best price.
Oh, wow. This sounds like me. I even had a JV1080 for a while... One strategy I use is that if I get some hardware it has to look like whatever it replaces. :lol: If it doesn't look like something it replaces then it has to be super cheap so I can say to my wife "Hey-- I got a deal on it: $35 off of craigslist!" Then it becomes the next shape-shifting piece of junk in my rack and it morphs into some $900 gadget after a while.

For example, my el cheapo Behringer headphone amp looks a little like my FantomXR. My $40 Alesis Quadraverb that is sitting unused in the rack will probably morph into something cool eventually. It's super generic looking so it will do nicely as a placeholder.

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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by tyrannosaurus mark » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:23 pm

CS_TBL wrote:mm.. dare I?

My desktop is used for music (tons of streaming, tons of FM8 calculations) and stable! Despite me using it for email, office stuff, pr0n, youtube, a little bit o' gaming, a bit o' programming, etc. etc. Once a clean system, now a fragmented pigstein. But.. seriously, I don't get crashes here, and my latency is nothing I'd care about (e.g. none). So, I'm not exactly sure how or why you all get crashes, it shouldn't need to happen. It's still the original install since summer 2006. So, that's about 3 years, and still solid as rock, and I'm not even a real computer expert (as in: sysop 'n such).
I never have my computer's crash either, but touring around seems to take it's toll on a laptop's reliability. For me personally, it's having heaps of controller's midi'd to it that does it I think. Sweating into them, moving them around every day, all that stuff. I think weird midi signals end up flying around and wreaking havok.

But I actually have no idea. When the tuning on my Little Phatty goes all weird I know that it's the tuning and I know what to do to fix it. But when the computer starts dropping midi notes or doing other weird stuff, most often new weird things it's never done before, it's a lot harder. So not crashes for me, but just general weirdness

But yeah, stressful stuff, like watching a horror movie, I'm sure Mr Frenzy has had similar experiences with gear on tour :D
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by CS_TBL » Thu Jul 09, 2009 9:35 pm

I could imagine that notebooks may be a bit more fragile then desktops, maybe slower harddisks, maybe the chips getting a bit too hot etc. But would all the nay-sayers dare to use a rock solid rackmounted music PC on the road instead? One with decent coolers, sturdy PC-case, and sturdy rack-case around it, with perhaps some shock absorbers built in and such?
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Re: Why buy hardware synths?

Post by tyrannosaurus mark » Thu Jul 09, 2009 10:23 pm

Yeah of course, sounds ideal. Make it a mac and sign me up

:p
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