Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Discussions on sound production outside the synthesizer such as mixing, processing, recording, editing and mastering.
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DLovas
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Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by DLovas » Fri Jan 20, 2012 10:26 pm

I've been reading a lot about some guys utilizing hardware effect processors within their studios. Even some people on here were talking about some Eventide Effects i believe?

Anyway - It got me curious... What are the benefits of having a hardware effect processor? Aside from the obvious dedicated memory allocated to the sounds (digital effects) So far I've gotten along just fine with the built in effects in FL Studio, only the basic ones though - reverb, delay, phaser, etc.

Also - if you had to recommend a processor, which would you reccomend?

I'm sure we'd all love to get our hands on an Eventide HF8000FW, but that is in no way an option :lol:

I've been looking into a TC Electronic FIREWORX - anyone know anything about that one?

anyway - thats that

Thanks in advance.

P.S.

For some reason, I'm reluctant to use external software effects on some of my synths with built in effects. I feel that the JP8000 sorely needs some reverb - but I try not to give it any effects other than its on board delay & chorus...

^^ is that a stupid thing to do? I feel as if I read somewhere that adding effects to synths with effects on them is not something you want to do often... I also feel that, that doesn't make any sense and its probably just some OCD of mine hindering my efforts...

Anyway. Thanks again.

-David

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by Z » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:00 pm

I only use outboard gear. Do all of you DAW guys have to fire up your computer to use effects even when you're just noodling around?

I'm quite fond of the Lexicon MX400 since it has two independent stereo effect processors. I also use the Roland Fantom X6's effects on other gear by running it into the X6's external inputs. I've got several 80s & 90s processors and lots of stomp box pedals, too. The Eventide Space is on my hot list of things to get.

There is no rule on fx. If you want to add 'verb to your JP-8000, DO IT!

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by DLovas » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:29 pm

Z wrote:I only use outboard gear. Do all of you DAW guys have to fire up your computer to use effects even when you're just noodling around?

I'm quite fond of the Lexicon MX400 since it has two independent stereo effect processors. I also use the Roland Fantom X6's effects on other gear by running it into the X6's external inputs. I've got several 80s & 90s processors and lots of stomp box pedals, too. The Eventide Space is on my hot list of things to get.

There is no rule on fx. If you want to add 'verb to your JP-8000, DO IT!
Nice! Good to know! Thanks!

I'll check out the Lexicon - yea with the DAW I have to power on the comp in order to use the effects - I also need the DAW open to play all of my synths simultaneously since I don't have a mixer - just an interface.

I know that my Fizmo can also technically be used as an effect processor - but I'm reluctant to use it since it only accepts mono inputs. I'll probably find a use for it soon though.

Also - I forgot to ask -

If I wanted to use an effect processor with multiple synths simultaneously, I assume I would need to acquire a mixer, no? Or are certain processors equipped with numerous ins / outs?

If I would need to use a mixer, wouldn't that obviate use of the multiple ins / outs of my audio interface?

thanks

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by Sweep » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:32 pm

I think the sensible rule is "Use whatever sounds right."

Effects will differ in quality and also in your subjective preference to the way they sound. That's quite independent of whether they're software or hardware. Personally, I use both, and one of my main tools is the Lexicon MPX550.

I don't really like using software much, to be honest, because of the hassle of depending on Microsoft or Apple's latest bouts of madness. If I buy something I want it to work without being dependent on something else.
DLovas wrote: For some reason, I'm reluctant to use external software effects on some of my synths with built in effects. I feel that the JP8000 sorely needs some reverb - but I try not to give it any effects other than its on board delay & chorus...

^^ is that a stupid thing to do? I feel as if I read somewhere that adding effects to synths with effects on them is not something you want to do often... I also feel that, that doesn't make any sense and its probably just some OCD of mine hindering my efforts...
Well, you can always make a choice between the internal effects or something else, depending on what sounds good. Maybe people advise against using too many effects in case it blurs the sound (though a blur may be what you want sometimes, anyway). But bear in mind if you play an acoustic intrument you have two different resonances - one from the instrument's soundbox and one from the room. So two different reverbs may be a natural sound that the ear can relate to, so long as they're well matched.
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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by DLovas » Fri Jan 20, 2012 11:46 pm

Sweep wrote:I think the sensible rule is "Use whatever sounds right."

Well, you can always make a choice between the internal effects or something else, depending on what sounds good. Maybe people advise against using too many effects in case it blurs the sound (though a blur may be what you want sometimes, anyway). But bear in mind if you play an acoustic intrument you have two different resonances - one from the instrument's soundbox and one from the room. So two different reverbs may be a natural sound that the ear can relate to, so long as they're well matched.
Those are some good points - I never thought that purposely drowning a sound in effects could result in some favorable sounds.

I agree with you in terms of DAW compatibility with software. I'd also rather be able use a piece of equipment indefinitely, thus I see hardware as a better course of action for me to take.

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by GuyaGuy » Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:21 am

1. Analog tones
2. Hands-on tweaking
3. Using the real-deal effects that are classics--analog delay, ring mod, etc. (And some people specifically want an even more specific sound like the EHX Memory Man sound, Moog ring mod, etc.)
4. Recording fx into an amp and micing the amp
5. Avoiding unnecessary post-production tweaking

There are, of course, lots of advantages of software fx. That's why I usually end up using both.

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by ninja6485 » Sat Jan 21, 2012 8:58 am

I just entered the world of hardware effects with an inexpensive delay I got from a forum member, and there's no going back. I never knew you could make so many sounds with a simple mod delay until I actually sat down with one and started tinkering with it. As far as the fizmo goes, a mono input isn't. Problem: take the headphones out of said gear (if available...) and use that for the effects as your wet channel, and then mix it in with the normal stereo outs as your dry channel. I just patch my delay to the aux send on one of my mixers and then send various things to it with the aux send knobs. You can get crazy with it if you take the effects into a stereo channel (provided you have a mixer) and send that to a different aux send, or make it feed back on itself and so on and so forth. I learned that trick froma video of Simon posford...
This looks like a psychotropic reaction. No wonder it's so popular...

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by CS_TBL » Sat Jan 21, 2012 10:30 am

hardware
pro
- dedicated cpu/mem
- works without pc
con
- expensive
- not part of the project in your daw
- it's only one machine
- if one goes up in smoke, you really need to hunt one down to replace it
- any in-depth editing will be done with a tiny screen and a tiny operating system
software
pro
- cheap (you don't pay for metal, copper, plastic and transport of such materials)
- multiple instances
- saved with the project
- any in-depth editing can be any size and uses an operating system you're used to
con
- you need a pc
- it'll cost some of your pc's resources

As for the software cons:
- my pc is switched on always anyway
- my projects are fairly big, and I never hit the ceiling, so this resource hog phenomenon may be a bit extreme - though I must add that my pc is rather meaty.

To me, the differences boil down to mere practical things: operating, instances, price. I don't think I'll suffer from bad sound quality with most software verbs.
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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by Stab Frenzy » Sat Jan 21, 2012 11:19 am

Synths are effects, effects are synths without oscillators, differentiating between them is silly in my opinion. My main gigging synth has a spring reverb and an analogue delay built into it, tremolo is just a VCA modulated by an LFO, wah is just filtering, distortion is a basic form of waveshaping, EQs are filters, etc. I prefer when I'm making my sounds to do the whole thing, synth and effect unit, all in one go, then record it. For other things like drums I record dry then add effects but for my there is no point with a synth.

Personally I'm not a big fan of the cheaper Lexicons, I find at that end of the market the TC stuff is better. The Fireworx is pretty cool, it's modular in a way that makes it a synth if you want it to be. For the price they go for second hand they're fantastic. My main multieffect unit is an Eventide Eclipse, it's an amazing unit. It cost a fair amount of money (more than most non-modular synths I've owned) but I don't regret it for a moment.

Effects are the things that make good records sound good. If you're spending a lot of money on synths and not much on effects you're not going to ever get the sounds that you hear on records, it's just not possible. Regarding software vs. hardware, everything has a sound and if you like that sound then the effect is doing its job. Even though I have the Eclipse I also really like the Ableton Live Reverb, set it to high quality and filter the top end out of the input a bit and it's great. I think often people get bad results from software because they're presented with too many options and ways to tweak the parameters and they end up making it sound bad themselves. A lot of hardware by the nature of its interface takes a lot of those choices away from you and the designers have made it so that it's hard for you to make things sound bad without trying really hard to. :D I realise this is a generalisation but it's what I've experienced myself from a lot of using effects both hardware and software. I certainly don't have an anti-software bias though, in fact I think a lot of cheap software sounds better than cheap hardware.

Effects are your friend, the only way you can go wrong with them is not using them at all or by having bad taste and using them badly. :thumbright:

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by nathanscribe » Sat Jan 21, 2012 12:04 pm

+that.

I got some interesting sound from chaining and playing multiple flangers the other day. Good background drone material. I also got some slowly evolving clangourous textures from white noise through no less than ten effects, each modulated differently. I wouldn't want to try that in software.

Sometimes it's all about a nice, high-quality outboard reverb, or genuine optical compression, or crappy old digital delay, or crappy old analogue delay - particular qualities that emerge when the hardware is pushed that only that gear gives.

But also it can be about a cheap (free) plugin. I'm using Logic's built-in plugs more these days, and if they work and do the job, fine. I have plenty of choice what I use for effects, and I use whatever is available that gives the results most like what I want.

Usual rules apply: buy, try, experiment; sell if not required.

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by DLovas » Sat Jan 21, 2012 6:14 pm

ninja6485 wrote:I just entered the world of hardware effects with an inexpensive delay I got from a forum member, and there's no going back. I never knew you could make so many sounds with a simple mod delay until I actually sat down with one and started tinkering with it. As far as the fizmo goes, a mono input isn't. Problem: take the headphones out of said gear (if available...) and use that for the effects as your wet channel, and then mix it in with the normal stereo outs as your dry channel. I just patch my delay to the aux send on one of my mixers and then send various things to it with the aux send knobs. You can get crazy with it if you take the effects into a stereo channel (provided you have a mixer) and send that to a different aux send, or make it feed back on itself and so on and so forth. I learned that trick froma video of Simon posford...
thanks! I'll be sure to give that a try!

thanks to everyone else as well!

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by astroidmist » Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:48 am

I'd say that software has only recently started to catch up with hardware in terms of widespread quality. Everyone else probably covered all the reasons for and against hardware or software; so I won't repeat those reasons. All I can say is that I started out 100% hardware, went to a hybrid setup, and now I work 100% "in the box" (computer). It's gotten easier to tweak stuff with MIDI controllers and control surfaces. So noodling around isn't so bad anymore. I can't see going back to hardware any time soon.

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by tallowwaters » Sun Jan 22, 2012 3:48 pm

DLovas wrote: For some reason, I'm reluctant to use external software effects on some of my synths with built in effects. I feel that the JP8000 sorely needs some reverb - but I try not to give it any effects other than its on board delay & chorus...

^^ is that a stupid thing to do? I feel as if I read somewhere that adding effects to synths with effects on them is not something you want to do often... I also feel that, that doesn't make any sense and its probably just some OCD of mine hindering my efforts...

Anyway. Thanks again.

-David
Total nonsense. It's your gear, your music, and your studio, there is no right or wrong.

It seems the point has already been made, but there is no 'con' to owning a piece of gear, at least not relative to another piece of gear. I use hardware effects because I like them. Am I capable of completely ruining a track by drowning it in reverb? Sure, but it's like anything else, you get the hang of it pretty soon.

So yeah, pick something up, try it, and if you don't like it, pass it on.
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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by DLovas » Sun Jan 22, 2012 11:59 pm

tallowwaters wrote:
It seems the point has already been made, but there is no 'con' to owning a piece of gear, at least not relative to another piece of gear. I use hardware effects because I like them. Am I capable of completely ruining a track by drowning it in reverb? Sure, but it's like anything else, you get the hang of it pretty soon.

So yeah, pick something up, try it, and if you don't like it, pass it on.

Yes - those are some good points. I'm not sure why I was so reluctant to use external effects on my JP... lol.

Your other point (and everyone elses) is also valid. I guess when I asked pros/cons, what I really should have asked is what one offers versus the other.

Anyway - you guys have been lots of help thanks again!

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Re: Pros / Cons of Effects Processors

Post by krzeppa » Mon Jan 23, 2012 8:50 pm

I used external fx on my JP-8000 all the time when I owned it. I have also used some hardware and software fx as well. I really like the effects on my Supernova II so I like to run things through that from time to time. Also, I really love the Space Designer Reverb in Logic Pro. So, as it has already been said, do whatever you with whatever you like. I don't believe there are any "rules" of right or wrong in our world. Experimentation and doing things that you wouldn't think to do sometimes come up with the best results. So hardware vs software - FX vs no FX....it really doesn't matter. Go out and have fun with it. And for what it's worth I really want an Eventide Eclipse!

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