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Is there such a thing as too many soft synths?

Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 3:27 pm
by NewEnglandSynthOrch
I remember getting Hermann Seib's PPG WaveSim plugin back in September 2017, and since then, I've downloaded a total of 38 software synthesizers. I was wondering, do you synth-heads think that's too many? Personally, I don't, mainly because I like finding different ways to re-create the vintage analog sounds I know and love.

Re: Is there such a thing as too many soft synths?

Posted: Mon Apr 01, 2019 4:38 pm
by meatballfulton
Yes, you can have too many and it's easy to do so.

The problem becomes deciding which one to use for a given sound. Making that decision requires spending a lot of time with each one and learning their strengths and weaknesses. Many modern softsynths tend to go for the kitchen sink approach, one or two of those is plenty because they can do so many things.

I currently use Logic and Ableton Live. Logic alone has over a dozen synths if you count all the legacy ones. For VA alone, there a half dozen choices. Then two FM synths, a physical modeling synth, a wavetable synth, a sampler and Alchemy (itself a kitchen sink: VA, additive, sample-based, granular), not to mention an organ modeler, an electric piano modeler and a drum machine. Live 9 Suite comes with two samplers, two modeling synths, a VA, an FM synth, a drum machine and a few more synths that run within Max4Live. So out of the gate I've got over two dozen options to consider before even turning to the dozen or so third party softsynths I have (some free, a few paid for). When adding up all the presets that came with these softsynths, it must be thousands...many of which I have never even heard!

Other than browsing factory presets by category (rather than by instrument) in the DAW, I only use a half dozen of the synths at most when it comes to creating new patches. The only third party synths I use are VAs and modulars.

When I was using all hardware, I never owned more than four synths at a time, and usually only two at a time. That was a lot less to manage.

Re: Is there such a thing as too many soft synths?

Posted: Wed Apr 03, 2019 12:57 am
by ninja6485
The answer is going to depend on the person. Some people have a hard time focusing if they have too many options. Other people feel bored if they don't have enough to explore. I think if the synths aren't bothering you, there's no need to get rid of them... especially since they're not taking up any physical space.

For example, I have about 8 drum machines, not counting samplers or my modular (which could be patched to be a drum machine if need be). Is that too many? For me it's not, because each drum machine fits with different projects and different styles. Sometimes switching machines that would seem to be overlapping makes a huge difference. And usually I build a song or two around each one, like a Jazzband where each member takes a solo, but on a larger scale.

Each machine has a great deal of personality that I find to be creatively stimulating. I love looking at them, and usually I pick one or two instruments and then the rest fit together with the project itself. I rarely use the same combinations twice in a row, always going where the music takes me; which I love. I play what I want to hear at the time, and if I haven't played something for a while, I'm usually excited to get to it in a future project. That alone has been an excellent source of inspiration for my music.

Ironically, even with 8 drum machines, I probably work with a smaller sound set than many people who sift through massive libraries of samples. It's sort of a wierd grey area in that's both too much and very limited in just the right ways for my particular taste.

Re: Is there such a thing as too many soft synths?

Posted: Sat Apr 06, 2019 3:40 am
by NewEnglandSynthOrch
Thanks for your answers, folks! Granted, I find that I use some more for experimentation rather than actual production, but it's still fun to see what they can do.

Also, if anybody wants to know where I stand on the whole Moog vs. ARP thing...well, I like both equally, though I have more plugins that are modelled after ARPs than Moogs.

Re: Is there such a thing as too many soft synths?

Posted: Fri Jul 05, 2019 7:57 am
by briandc
Hi NewEnglandSynthOrch,

I've been spending the last 10 years or so testing out various softsynths that are available for the linux platform (both free and commercial) and I now have more than 80 showcased on my website. And there are others that I haven't listed yet.... :lazy:

As such, I've had to limit myself. I've learned that smaller synths stimulate me to explore and tweak, more than the larger, more complicated ones. There are softsynths out there that can do just about anything and everything, but I usually get lost in those. Whereas when I have fewer parameters to work with, I push myself more--- and often with very satisfying results. I'm currently working with a synth called Wsynth, which is a bit old and causes some aliasing in the upper end a lot of the time. But with persistence and exploration, I've hit some sweet spots that are really expressive, useable and with a sound that's not easy to get with other synths.

I used to do some testing of VST instruments under Wine for linux, mostly with good results. With literally hundreds to choose from, it gets a bit mind-bending.

In any case, just working with native linux softsynths, there's so much available by now that I can't use *everything.* That said, each synth is indeed unique, and after getting to know the "character" of each, I am a bit better able to choose which synth does the best job for whatever I need at the moment. And, I think it's normal for people to have their "go-to" synth(s) for the majority of what they want to do.


Re: Is there such a thing as too many soft synths?

Posted: Wed Jul 17, 2019 2:07 pm
by Music Bird
I have over 600, close to 700 VSTs, mostly free and some commercial. I don’t think its too much.