Can software synths truly emulate Hardware synths?

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ChasIII
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Can software synths truly emulate Hardware synths?

Post by ChasIII » Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:14 am

Do they come close?
Does it really matter?
Would you rather have software over hardware and why?
Do you think the Hardware aspect of synths will fade away over time?

Any thoughts or Ideas.

Thanks.

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Post by thisispainful » Mon Apr 09, 2007 5:58 am

its all about what you like to use .
i mean some software synths are great. some hardware ones are as well.
its all personal choice. will hardware disapear.
not by how things are going with moog and other smaller companies making synths.
i dont know if you will see roland introducing a new synth every five months like they have been. basicaly in many cases the same synth over and over with slightly different features and slightly different silk screening.
software synths are a big deal. they are thier own animal. some of them are amazing like the jupiter8 emulator and the cs80 emulator.
it is exactly the same sounding.
no but its realy close and even if it sounded completely different it would still be cool for what it is.
i think the bigger companies will make fewer and fewer new synth models and that smaller cottage companies will spring up.
if music sees another huge spike in electronic music the way it did in the era of the groove box and there was deman the bigger companies would for sure make hardware again.
the industry is in a evolutionary flux.
many people still wont work with hardware. many people wont work with software.
both will exist and continue to do so.
there will always be someone who wants a moog onstage or in the studio. and the laptop is a part of live music now as well.

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Re: Can software synths truly emulate Hardware synths?

Post by memo » Mon Apr 09, 2007 7:21 am

ChasIII wrote:Do they come close?
Emulate? Definitely. They're getting to the point that professionals can't tell during a blind A-B comparison. Sound-On-Sound, Keyboard, and Electronic Musician have all done those sorts of tests.

But they're never actually become the synth. Part of a particular synth's charm is its physical interface, the way everything is laid out, and the quality of the physical knobs and hardware.
Would you rather have software over hardware and why?
I prefer hardware because I don't like feeling that I'm playing/programming a synth from across the room using a paper airplane on a stick. That's what software feels like to me.

I also like having separate, independent machines for different purposes.
Do you think the Hardware aspect of synths will fade away over time?
No - paper books won't be replaced by e-books. There's something nice about having a real book in your hand, and there's something nice about playing a vintage instrument from its own carefully designed physical interface.

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Post by Thefumigator » Mon Apr 09, 2007 3:14 pm

As memo said.... I would add:

Software synths: plain boring (unless they come with great presets) even with a controller, the tweaking isn't that fun, also stepings may be noticeable still.

Hardware synths: you're out of a computer screen and mouse, on the real thing.

Notice that there are software synths that don't have a hardware counterpart. Also, the possibilities in software are endless, take linplug octopuss as an example, its an 8 osc digital hybrid that sounds like a beast itself.

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Post by stephen » Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:59 am

Hi,

I have limited space for gear so a laptop with softsynths is better than nothing. Mind you I spend all day at work staring at computer screens so it would be great to spend some time away from them.

My laptop uses linux so I'm a little limited with what I can use. There are some nice linux synths out there, plus I've got a few VSTs working with vsthost and WINE. Some day I might be persuaded to set up a dual boot system and have a play with the Korg Legacy or Arturia stuff.

Hardware's great for tweaking though - you can't beat the real thing for that. I use my microkorg away from the computer most of the time. Perhaps I should invest in a decent midi controller with lots of knobs to hookup to my laptop and use the mK as a separate instrument...

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Post by Soundwave » Tue Apr 10, 2007 4:35 pm

If you consider a digital hardware synth as basically a computer with a keyboard then having the same concept within a normal computer makes very little difference sound wise as long as you have a decent soundcard. I find that complex methods of digital synthesis are best left to a large open graphical user interface and a mouse for complex programming. The FM7 and Virsyn Cube and Terra excel in this department and go places no other digital hardware synth will ever go. Their nearest equivalents would be an FS1R, Wavestation, and K5000 which don’t even come close in features to their software counterparts and much harder to program using a limited cost effective front panel. There’s always the option of a software editor but that’s defeating the object in my mind and you may as well have got a softsynth in the first place. This is why more digital workstations are starting to resemble computers more and more theses days.

After that rant I still find the best method for creativeness and spontaneity is a tactile interface, most hardware synths are made with this in mind so it can be nice to get something simple under your mits to get things going rather than the constant tweaking and optimising which can take up far to much valuable music making time. :P

Analogue emulation is another debate entirely but the same was said for VA synths when they first came out. :roll:

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Re: Can software synths truly emulate Hardware synths?

Post by jonkull » Tue Apr 10, 2007 6:28 pm

ChasIII wrote:Do they come close?
I think they do. For one thing a digital synth is basically software running on a dedicated computer. As far as analog synths once you start using effects and eq it get's harder to tell the difference (at least to my ears).
ChasIII wrote:Does it really matter?
I used to be a hardware person. I hated software. But after playing around with programs like Absynth, FM8 and Zebra I'm starting to like software more. I still don't think the sound quality is the same as hardware (software is a bit thin sounding to my ears) but in my opinion that's a subjective thing and like I said once you start to add effects and eq it starts to blend anyway.
ChasIII wrote:Would you rather have software over hardware and why?
Both. I love my hardware synths because they're real objects I can interact with and feel like I'm playing an actual instrument. I can turn on my LP and simply play without the need for or distraction of a computer. I enjoy software because I can carry my laptop around with me and make music where ever I may be. That's kind of hard to do with an Andromeda.
ChasIII wrote:Do you think the Hardware aspect of synths will fade away over time?
No.

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Post by deb76 » Tue Apr 10, 2007 7:32 pm

I work with both, hardware and software, I like to mix them with the final one. This being, I come from electroacoustic, the Tap Music and I passed directly to the music on computer in 1981, at the time of a 40 days training course in Ircam. At the time one worked in time differed with Music 10. I say that to render comprehensible that I have an intimate relationship with the computer. I still like to work with CSound for his differed time. As much to say that today, I appreciate to use software like Moog Modular, Prophet VS, Korg Legacy for his MS20, Ems AVS which is a very successful emulation of Ems Synthi AKS. Moreover after the training course of Ircam, I invested in an APPLE II 64k with 2 soundcards of Mountain Hardware which transformed it into numerical synthetizer 16 vote and a EMS synthi Aks. And well, in term of musical creation, I make much more thing with the emulation, Ems Avs, than the Hardware machine… The emulation Ems Avs is more musical, more precise on the level of the frequencies, and the possibilities, in particular with a function random on the level of the matrix. On the other hand, I play with surfaces of control of which Bitstream 3X. I add that I control also Clavia Engine and Evolver, two synthés hardware, with their softwares dedicated. Not, definitely, I am a fan of the numerical emulations of the synthetizers. Lastly, thanks to them, I lay out on my PC and my laptop a instrumentarium which I could not acquire in hardware: Ems Avs, Moog Modular, Prophet VS, Minimonsta, Imposcar, Korg Legacy MS20 with its controller, MegaMatrix…
Sorry for my bad english.
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Post by 23 » Tue Apr 10, 2007 7:48 pm

Fact: The majority of synthesizers that have been produced have been Firmware

Question: What Is Firmware?
Answer: Software enclosed in it's own dedicated hardware shell.

........
now back to the question
Can Software emulate hardware?

Answer: Typically yes......because even most of the hardware is nothing but software. Typically, there is no difference between the to outside of physical appearence (and the physical control readily/immediately available).

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Post by Automatic Gainsay » Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:03 pm

As the definition of "emulate" is not just imitate, but rather "to try by imitating to equal or surpass," you have to define which qualities about hardware synthesizers that software synthesizers are trying to equal or surpass.
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Re: Can software synths truly emulate Hardware synths?

Post by Automatic Gainsay » Tue Apr 10, 2007 9:04 pm

memo wrote:I prefer hardware because I don't like feeling that I'm playing/programming a synth from across the room using a paper airplane on a stick. That's what software feels like to me.
Ha ha ha... that's awesome. Well put. :)
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Re: Can software synths truly emulate Hardware synths?

Post by Raiven » Wed Apr 11, 2007 12:16 am

ChasIII wrote: Do they come close?
Does it really matter?
Would you rather have software over hardware and why?
Do you think the Hardware aspect of synths will fade away over time?

Any thoughts or Ideas.

Thanks.
1. Yes, but it depends on the type and from what company.

2. No. It is what it is. Either you will like and use it or you won't.

3. When it comes to vintage synths, I'd rather have software. If the software has improved features over the hardware version then I'd rather have software.

4. No. Hardware integration is always a plus. It is a tangible self contained instrument. You'll never have to wory about compatibility problems or supported OS upgrades. There will always be a place for that.

The middle ground I run in this issue is part of the reason I bought an MV-8800. Sampler instruments can be tweaked on like any hardware synth. It's self contained like a synth and can emulate any vintage synth by the quality of the samples put into it, giving you the recorded sound of a vintage synth with modern reliability and features, and sliders and knobs to tweak your sounds. Not just some mouse but there is that option. :wink:

I think the market could use a modern W30. The V-Synth is nice, but all that isn't always necessary or desired by musicians.

IMHO every studio should have the joy of a hardware sampler. It's truly a shame that everybody stopped making them except Roland and Akai.
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Post by ChasIII » Wed Apr 11, 2007 2:46 am

Thanks everyone for your input. I recently have been deciding on whether I should build a new computer with really good resources or keep the one I have and keep all my hardware stuff.

thanks.

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Post by carbon111 » Wed Apr 11, 2007 5:22 am

ChasIII wrote:Thanks everyone for your input. I recently have been deciding on whether I should build a new computer with really good resources or keep the one I have and keep all my hardware stuff.

thanks.
Hi Chas, nice to see you this side of the fence.

You could always do both ;)

I was a dyed-in-the-wool hardware guy but with the power of current CPUs, you can get some very decent synths going on a PC. I wouldn't sell off all my hardware though. Software still has a hard time modelling non-linear systems like a resonant transistor ladder filter's response...at least some of the "chaos" is missing. Still, in a mix, sometimes its not half bad.
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Post by memo » Wed Apr 11, 2007 10:09 am

Automatic Gainsay wrote:As the definition of "emulate" is not just imitate, but rather "to try by imitating to equal or surpass," you have to define which qualities about hardware synthesizers that software synthesizers are trying to equal or surpass.
That's a good point - I think polyphony, signal-to-noise ratios, modulation/programming options, and other objective measurable features have all been successfully emulated. They have been equaled and surpassed using software.

But the interaction between the physical inputs - keys, knobs, etc, has only been imitated. There's a weird disconnect I get with software.

I don't get that feeling with digital recording software, probably because I grew up on it and it feels very natural. I figure people who grow up on software synths probably won't understand why I prefer hardware, and I'll just seem a bit silly.

I prefer charcoal BBQ to gas, manual transmission over automatic, non-electric razors instead of electric - and it's all totally subjective, even if I try to justify it by listing logical reasons why I prefer each of them. I think it just matters what you're first exposed to and that's what defines what's best.

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