Originally Posted by Bassmankr
Therealbigd, the reason you use "Monitors from PMC, Wilson Benesch + NS10Ms (plus some interesting monitors!), Amps from Bryston and Cyrus." instead of a set of powered Mackie nearfields is presumably a difference in sound quality. That quality difference is meaningful to you and your customers so that's why you have picked those tools over the just as usable, much cheaper Mackie setup. Hardware users hear the same difference over plugs and it's meaningful enough to them to them to pay the price. To muddy the waters even more, digital and analog have a different sound to them so the "apples and oranges" posters are right and additionally the weight given to either price or sound quality varies with each buyer. Doing price comparisons you have to look at total cost of ownership over X number of years. Software is not only the initial cost but upgrade costs and ALL your time costs for each install / update and dealing with bugs which can easily cost more than the plug itself. Given OS changes and software orphaning it's can be hard to get 10 years out of a software product, something else to factor in. So when running the numbers look at all the costs for both platforms over a long term INCLUDING your time costs. In regards to how studios are choosen and hired over the next 10 years. My prediction is that picking the person due to results, relationships, location, and budget/terms is going to continue to be the far more important factors over the specific tools available. What the future holds is at best just a guess, in the present sharing our own experiences with the tools we are using (the good and the bad of the specific tool) to help others here may be a more fruitful endevor.
I don't contend any of this. I like nice sounding speakers so I buy them. You buy nice sounding hardware because you like it. Whatever. That's fine, never contented it.
Point is only that if you can buy unlimited instances of outboard like the PYE, Helios etc (assumably others - SSL, API, Neve, Fairchild, Pultec, etc will follow suite in time), for $150 a go, when just one instance of any of those would cost you at least 10x that; it is reasonably obvious that high quality studios will be able to form, and run, at a fraction of the cost of others, due to their equipment overheads being so low.
The question "Does analogue hardware sound better than it's digital plugin equivalent? (A: Yes, or no)"
is UTTERLY, UTTERLY irrelevant. It is no more relevant than "does SSL sound better than Neve?
The relevant question is "does plugin software get mixes to a standard where they can be commercially released and make profitable sales?"
and the answer is absolutely, yes. If the mix is good enough, the label, who are essentially your (as a studio) employer, couldn't give a flying turd how you got there, and whether it was in the box, out the box, round the box or up the boxes arse. It sounds good, they can release it, job done.
This is the reality when working with material at corporate level, rather than for fun.
Take an alternative. Taxi to the airport. You could use a standard family saloon, or a top-brand sports car. They can both reach the speed limit, they're both safe, both air conditioned, both hold all your luggage. But one has lovely leather reclining seats, a big powerful engine, sport suspension, race tyres, the works.
Now, your wealthy VIP, who wants to arrive in style, might choose the sports car. But the corporations sending employees to the airport, who, at the end of the day, are in the game to make money, don't care if the engine has enough beef to double the speed limit. The drivers' not allowed to. So, if the standard saloon is going to be sufficient to get their man to the airport, they'll use it.
This is what I'm pointing to. It doesn't matter how much YOU prefer your hardware. You do not pay your own wages. The sound ONLY matters to those paying your wages. So, if you can achieve a sound which they are content with, at half the price, they will begin to filter over to your yard in time, as they realise the cost savings available. And it will become more viable to businesses, in time, to use the companies creating an equally good sound (that is DIFFERENT, but not BETTER or WORSE) ITB, at half the price.
I say again THIS IS NOT A SOUND COMPARISON
please please please leave your sound comparisons at home. this is about where business is going, at $150 for 2 quality plugins and prices only going in one direction, I find it hard to believe that hardware is going to remain the king in a declining industry, based on the fact that when A/B'd with the source material it's sound is arguably better.