Hardware synths not for me?
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Old 12-07-2011, 01:26 AM   #1
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Hardware synths not for me?

Lately I've been working solely with software due to temporary space restrictions and to be honest, I'm starting to really wonder if it's worth owning the hardware I have. It's not even like I own a plethora of gear either, my "collection" consists of a Little Phatty, a FRXS, a Sherman Filterbank v2 and some distortion pedals. I was actually considering getting a Virus TI in the near future on top of that.

The problem I find is that my productions are too all over the place to be writing with the synths I own. I usually sit there with my laptop and pull out ACE or Strobe for most of my VA synthesis. The problem is that they usually end up distorted with Ohmicide, too complex and/or with too much polyphony to recreate with my hardware synths. I keep spending a lot of time trying to replace the parts with my hardware and sometimes I really wonder if it was even worth the extra effort for a difference that no one can really appreciate other than me knowing that I sat there moving knobs around and recording for hours.

The "problem" with Ohmicide is that I can't stop using it. The whole multiband distortion thing has become a crucial part of my productions and to be honest I don't think it's worth spending time recording analog synths trying to match the software sounds I already made to be distorted with digital distortion specially since it just makes my synths so damn noisy after being distorted. I also find myself doing things like using ACE's built-in chorus and sometimes distorting with ohmicide after so why bother recording synths if I'm just gonna use a ton of digital processing on top of them?

On top of that, I keep reading about successful artists I admire using either software only or mostly software. For example: Feed Me/Spor, Skrillex, Zedd, Lazy Rich, Noisia, Pendulum, Wolfgang Gartner, etc.

My hardware does have it's good points, but I don't think they really fit the type of music I'm trying to make. They are great for making analog percussion and effects, specially the FRXS and SFB2, but are they really worth all the money for just that? Am I crazy, spoiled, lazy, stupid, etc or is there really no real point for me to own all this hardware? Maybe I just need to spend more time and money trying to make something using mostly hardware? Maybe I should sell both my synths, keep the sherman filterbank, and invest in more software, analog effects and/or perhaps a modular synth? I seriously don't know..

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Old 12-07-2011, 01:35 AM   #2
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

I'm right there with you. I personally dont see the allure or worth of going with hardware synths.

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Old 12-07-2011, 02:53 AM   #3
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

Hardware synths are just more fun to play with. Period. Physically moving parts with your hands is much more interacting and creative then with a mouse. I know that you can control synth parameters with a MIDI control, but most of the time you have to assign the controls yourself. Plus, its just not the same.

Software synths, in general, sound thin compared to hardware synths (especially analog). However, soft synths are getting better and better every year, so that will change in the near future. Software, thoe, has more potential for creative possibilities then hardware (Reaktor, anyone?), so that's a plus for getting soft over hard.

You dont really have to get a hardware synth, unless you can put up with controlling the synth through a mouse 90% of the time.
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Old 12-07-2011, 02:56 AM   #4
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

Osc drift......

the little nuances in sound......

analog filters......

oh gawd I miss my korg and Crumar......

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Old 12-07-2011, 03:52 AM   #5
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

A lot of people doubt me, but I think software will eventually overtake hardware. We don't have steam powered trains dominating anymore. Think about it. Candle light might be prettier to some, but electricity is dominant. Software will dominate in the long run. It's already happened to drum machines (they were overtaken by samplers, especially software samplers/sequencers).
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Old 12-07-2011, 04:04 AM   #6
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

and yet some how we are going back to modulars?

I mean I get what your saying, but with audio.....

Analog will still always have it's place.

and let me guess......tube amps suck.....right?

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Old 12-07-2011, 04:31 AM   #7
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

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Originally Posted by astroidmist View Post
A lot of people doubt me, but I think software will eventually overtake hardware).
I agree. It will only be a matter of time when software instruments will completely overtake hardware, both in capability and sound.
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Old 12-07-2011, 04:46 AM   #8
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

I find that software is more productive, but hardware is more fun. And more inspiring.

I'd only get rid of my hardware out of economic necessity.

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Old 12-07-2011, 07:50 AM   #9
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

It's not a matter of hardware vs software, it's a matter of 'it works for me' or 'it doesn't'.

If it doesn't fit your workflow then don't use it.

Hardware works for me and I run it through ohmicide too.


Also, you mentioned investing in more software, I'm pretty much sure you would have the same problem, a handful of to go synths and lots of unused ones. Stick to what you have and make the most of it

Last edited by Automageddon; 12-07-2011 at 07:59 AM..

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Old 12-07-2011, 07:56 AM   #10
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

I find hardware & things like it (maschine for example) to be more instant, more fun to jam with and in a lot of cases more inspiring than software. But software is definitely more feature laden and better bang for the buck. But sometimes "less is more".

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Old 12-07-2011, 08:57 AM   #11
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

I have a Korg R3, I neeeever use it, half because it is a head ache to and half because software is just so much more convenient!

Hardware in my mind has almost become a novelty not a necessity...
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Old 13-07-2011, 12:05 AM   #12
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

I dont understand why you WOULDNT use a hardware synth. The lack of flexibility is a huge bonus in my mind. Lay down your riffs, record to audio, done. No getting yourself cornered into an endless tweaker hell. (JUST ONE MORE AUTOMATION AND IT WILL BE PERFECT)

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Old 13-07-2011, 12:43 AM   #13
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

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No getting yourself cornered into an endless tweaker hell. (JUST ONE MORE AUTOMATION AND IT WILL BE PERFECT)
This is why I use my hardware. The lack of flexability saves me from myself. Same reason I had to cut back on the vsts.

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Old 13-07-2011, 01:09 AM   #14
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

There are benefits/tradoff to using hardware.

Things I like about hardware:

It's more hands-on. Turn it on and go to town. You can map a controller with knobs to your softsynth, but it's not quite the same, where you can instantly put your hand on a knob on any synth.

Hardware synths have characteristic sounds. To some extent softsynths do as well, but softsynths tend to be so powerful and so good at so many sounds that it can be hard to decide where to go with them when it comes to sound design. With hardware synths, I know the type of sound each synth is good at and that gives me a clear direction when it comes to sound design. That's another way of saying that I actually like the fact that hardware can be more limiting.

Hardware synths can last for decades. They might need a repair now and again, but they're usually fixable. Softsynths come and go, and it's unlikely that you'll be able to run today's softsynths on your computer 20 years from now (I'm leaving out the fact that softsynths are so much cheaper, that's in the negative column for hardware).

Hardware is fun. It just is. For me, working with softsynths feels like work, while working with hardware feels like play. I have a geeky love of synths, and for me working with a softsynth instead of hardware is like cybersex instead of real sex. I like the real thing.

Hardware is (usually) much more stable. A softsynth is only as stable as the computer it's running on, and often less stable than that.

There is no perfect substitute for true analog. There are lots of good substitutes, but no softsynth or digital synth can truly capture the richness of a true analog sound. Don't get me wrong, I'm not an analog snob, I value digital synths and softsynths for the sounds that they can do that analog synths can't. But when it comes to what analog synths do, they do best.

Hardware motivates me. It stares me in the face and says "use me or sell me."

Things I don't like about hardware:

It's expensive. I only spend about $500 a year on studio stuff (including software), so it's rare that I buy hardware. The only reason I have much of any hardware at all is because I've been buying it for almost 15 years.

They take up space. Many of us have limited space in our home studios, and this can be a real issue.

You'll need mixers and cables, that's more money. Also, if you're using multitimbral synths that only have single pairs of audio outs, then you're mixing all voices on one channel on the mixer. That's not an issue for actual mixing because you'll probably want to bounce each voice to its own audio track for that anyway, but for jamming and composing you're pretty much going to have to put each synth in its own frequency space, which can be limiting. Some hardware synths have multiple audio outs which helps with this.


Wow, this is getting way to long, I must be bored. I used software for a long time before incorporating hardware, and now I use hardware-only for sound and sequence/record/mix on the computer. That's me. Others went the other direction and are glad they did.

Last edited by Marklar; 13-07-2011 at 01:16 AM.. Reason: Tweaked some punctuation
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Old 13-07-2011, 01:22 AM   #15
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

There's not really a reason to use hardware just like there's not really a reason to use vinyl. Not knocking either, as you like what you like but people's reasons most of the time aren't based on straight logic, or we'd all be on laptops or some other AIO / covers the most bases solution.

I grew up on computers though, so I guess I can use my own bias as understanding toward other viewpoints. And as for the thread topic, I'd ditch your hardware.

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Old 13-07-2011, 01:46 AM   #16
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

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Originally Posted by metalzone2000 View Post
and yet some how we are going back to modulars?

I mean I get what your saying, but with audio.....

Analog will still always have it's place.

and let me guess......tube amps suck.....right?
Software modulars are popular too. And most people aren't buying modulars. You're talking about a minority of the DAW/composing population. And I was talking about synths, not effects.
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Old 13-07-2011, 03:06 AM   #17
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

I just, as in today, got an MS2000r. In reply to the topic at hand:

Its like a fucking dream. No, well actually, a wet fucking dream.

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Old 13-07-2011, 03:41 AM   #18
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

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Originally Posted by Mr.RFJ View Post
I just, as in today, got an MS2000r. In reply to the topic at hand:

Its like a fucking dream. No, well actually, a wet fucking dream.
MS2K is full of win.

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Old 13-07-2011, 07:52 AM   #19
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

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Originally Posted by Mr.RFJ View Post
I just, as in today, got an MS2000r. In reply to the topic at hand:

Its like a fucking dream. No, well actually, a wet fucking dream.

Post some porno-pics of it!

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Old 13-07-2011, 09:27 AM   #20
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Re: Hardware synths not for me?

My hardware does inspire me and it sounds great, I just always end up writing with software and trying to replace with software which can get frustrating. I really don't want to miss out on what I can do with it so I guess it's worth a shot to try and change the way I go about making a track so I can use my hardware in the writing process.

I know that artists like Wolfgang Gartner, Innerpartysystem, Deadmau5 etc. sit and record their hardware and then go back to it, cut and edit the best parts, and then some crazy stuff comes out. I think I'm going to try this approach before I decide to rid myself of the hardware I own.

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