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Are soft-synths stepping stones to hardware? (Pt. III) Keyboard Synthesizers
Old 3rd March 2012
  #91
Ged
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Halo View Post
Oh, I agree 100%, more often than not, a hardware synth will inspire a part or new track. There's something to being able to actually manipulate a synth, especially with ones like a Model D or Jupiter.

My point was that every instrument has it's place (and I fully admit, I lean heavily towards hardware) and that softsynths would be better off if they tried to push the medium of being softsynths rather than mostly trying to replicate analog synths that already achieved the perfect results decades ago.

I hope that distinction makes sense.

-a
perfect sense mate, I guess i'm just fed up "trying" to get the softsynths as fat as the records I like - a few days ago I just decided to record the microKorg instead and BAM!! I loved it - which has fuelled my quest for a true analog synth for Bass/ strings mainly -
Old 3rd March 2012
  #92
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ged View Post
perfect sense mate, I guess i'm just fed up "trying" to get the softsynths as fat as the records I like - a few days ago I just decided to record the microKorg instead and BAM!! I loved it - which has fuelled my quest for a true analog synth for Bass/ strings mainly -
I believe you have the answer of your initial frustrations right within your grasp. There is a way that, at least sonically, you can bring a well made software synthesizer into the same sudden revelation of enjoyment you found with your MK.

Some are aware of it, some are not, but the answer is in your last two posts!
Old 3rd March 2012
  #93
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Quote:
Originally Posted by studiomood View Post
wow I totally read this thread wrong LOL!!!!!!!!!

I thought people were talking about how software was a stepping stone, or a learning curve towards hardware..... hahahaha

whooooops

You know what, in many ways you don't have this thread topic wrong, you just bring up a great aspect to the discussion that hasn't really been touched on.

I think many people DO get their heads around synthesis starting with softsynths (becuase they are a bit cheaper, an easier entry point, etc) And then, like you point out, when they do move on to hardware, they have a solid understanding and foundation.

So, no worries mate. Good discussion.

-andrews
Old 3rd March 2012
  #94
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by Ged View Post
perfect sense mate, I guess i'm just fed up "trying" to get the softsynths as fat as the records I like - a few days ago I just decided to record the microKorg instead and BAM!! I loved it - which has fuelled my quest for a true analog synth for Bass/ strings mainly -
You know, it's funny; I've done this thread for 3 years now and for some reason, this year the response has been different.

The first two years I was accused of being a hardware snob, an elitist and all sorts of crap... funny really heh

The very idea that software is a "stepping stone" seemed to really offend people, even though, in the end, I think I've been proven more right than wrong.

And, I'll openly admit, i prefer hardware, it simply sounds better most of the time and is personally more enjoyable for me. But, like I said, I care most about the music, so if a softsynth offers something hardware doesn't, then that's what I'll use... just doesn't happen to be true most of the time heh

And, btw, the problem I have with the sonics of most softsynths isn't limited to just software, some hardware VA (not all, because some are AMAZING and are favorites), but some share this problem where they simply don't sit well in a mix!

I want to love the Novation UltraNova (I like their K-Station, SuperNova, etc) But that synth just sits there like a dead fish... and that seems to be the case with most softsynths... maybe it's for the same reason you're talking about.

And bringing it around to the bigger point, I think that's why most people eventually move on to hardware, when they hear it, they have that "Aha!" moment.

Thanks for a good discussion... and no worries on reviving an old thread, it's meant to be an ongoing topic anyway.

Where in Scotland are ya? My last name is Jenkins and most of my family are from there (not to mention my first name, which everyone in the states thinks is a typo, ha! )

-andrews
Old 3rd March 2012
  #95
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Quote:
Originally Posted by shadowfac View Post
I don't remember ever losing money when buying and selling second hand gear - in fact, many times I even made a nice profit. With software that is simply impossible.
Hey, I just sold NI Massive on another forum for profit- bought it half price during a sale for $99 and sold it for $150 to put towards my first hardware synth.


I joined this forum because I am someone this thread describes- I just don't like soft synths that much- or rather I want a few main workhorse hardware synths. Some VSTs sound fine but I hate tweaking knobs with a mouse and midi mapping a vst isn't the same as proper dedicated hardware.

It's really that I don't find VST synths inspiring and I feel like there is a barrier between me and creating sounds I- they just aren't inviting. I want gear that will ease the process as much as possible and make sound design fun.

It's not really hardware like we are talking about here, but maschine is a good example of this for me- I used to hate programming drums with a mouse and now with maschine I really like programming drum patterns since the controller is completely integrated and there isn't that barrier anymore. That's what I hope to get switching over to some hardware synths.
Old 3rd March 2012
  #96
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Xonetacular View Post
Hey, I just sold NI Massive on another forum for profit- bought it half price during a sale for $99 and sold it for $150 to put towards my first hardware synth.
Now that's 'The Real Deal'

Old 3rd March 2012
  #97
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I've been meaning to post in this thread for some time, but always got sidetracked. So, here goes.

I know that there's something to be said for the workflow side, and that has definite benefits for the softies. But I don't think that for most musicians, quick n easy workflow is the key ingredient. Like most of us contributing then, it's the sound.

I'm not sure how large a percentage of musicians will get the sonic differences between softs/VAs and analogs. I'm one of those that gets the fact that there are sonic differences between software and hardware, doing things completely in the box and using consoles. Even though VAs are really softsynths in a case, just having converters and output stages has some sort of effect on the sound, if subtle.

But people have to get that there are differences. I'm not sure how many do. This is like the debate between audiophile addicts and general music listeners. Some will sit in front of a $4000 stereo system wired with boutique cable and their jaws will drop. Others will shrug and say it sounds neat. Most of us here understand that Moogs have a certain sound, Oberheims, ARPs, Andromeda... and naturally analogs in general. I was lucky enough to experience a number of analog synths, and I really dig that sound.

But like some of the other guys, I understand the VA and softsynths have their own signatures. I like the Virus, Radias, Ion, Fusion, Nord - primarily the Modulars... in general, I like all the VAs a lot too. Likewise the softsyns and romplers. Unlike many here, I really like the sound of all the romplers, especially KORG and Kurzweil, and the Jupiter-80, though I've had to rely on high quality YouTubes and mp3s for my judgment on it. And as I said in another thread, the romplers are doing a lot of things right or they wouldn't have dominated the keyboard sales charts for a solid decade. But they do have their own character which sets them apart from softs, VAs and analogs.

I think one thing which hasn't been mentioned in this thread is the connection between a musician and a hunk of hardware. We're tactile beings, and draw a lot of our emotional connection with things we can handle. I think everyone responds differently to a keyboard instrument in a way they just won't with a piece of software on a screen, even if it's driven by a USB controller with a selection of physical controls and a piano touch keyboard. A keyboardist will approach, handle and play a five octave Virus synth with its knobby control panel more like they would an Andromeda, Prophet or Oberheim. I suspect that dealing with a vintage synth like a Jupiter-8 or Matrix-12 will instill a certain amount of respect or awe that a Virus wouldn't, due to the sense of fondling a legendary piece of synth history. Likewise, a real tonewheel Hammond organ hooked up to a real Leslie will invoke a different gestalt than a clonewheel in a Ventilator, or a rompler playing organ patches, even if it had waterfall keys. There's something majestic about playing a large piece of vibrating furniture with a roaring Leslie cabinet a few feet away from you. There's nothing like it, and to me, the playing of it is at a different level because the instrument itself is on another plane.

Maybe this helps us grasp immediately the sonic difference between a Minimoog, a Mini softsynth emulation and a Virus or Kurzweil with a patch using a Moog modeled filter. And likewise, playing a modular synth has to be rather like playing a Hammond. They look large, imposing, valiant. The 1/4" jacks and patch cords have a solid, substantial feel, the jacks when they clunk home, the ratch of a selector knob, the wood panels, the mass, the sense of electricity running all through it, even the smell seems to me to add up to something even a Jupiter isn't like.

Now, this is all isolated. In a musical mix, as someone pointed out, when you're sending all this sound into a DAW - and very few of us still use tape, and start massaging the sound with digital effects, then blending them down to the usual two channel stereo mix, some of that juice gets muddled in the clutter with other instruments and processes. But not all, and then there's the way we play them too.

For the musicians in general though, they have to work with what they have, and for those who were never lucky enough to have played a Jupiter or Prophet, those softs and VAs do a laudable job making some sweet tones. I know the EDM side gets some kind of wicked pleasure out of using their analogs, using crossmod and OSC modulation to make some horrendous sounds that are hard or impossible to do on digital synths. But for those looking for more normal sounds, leads, basses and pads, the analogs still have a juciness in their filters that the virtual guys lack.

I say this as a guy who loves the whole spectrum, and insist that if you can't make a good sound with any of these digital guys, you just aren't trying. But that little extra special something you can hear in an electronic voice circuit does seem to be apparent to most keyboardists that experience a real analog, so I agree with Mr Halo for the most part. It's just a matter of infecting more musicians with direct personal contact.
Old 3rd March 2012
  #98
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Halo View Post
You know, it's funny; I've done this thread for 3 years now and for some reason, this year the response has been different.

The first two years I was accused of being a hardware snob, an elitist and all sorts of crap... funny really heh

The very idea that software is a "stepping stone" seemed to really offend people, even though, in the end, I think I've been proven more right than wr
That's because everyone that disagrees with you has got bored telling you so and gone off to do something more interesting.
Old 3rd March 2012
  #99
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I started on VSTs then went to VAs and then moved to analogue. Soon I'll probably need a modular synth just to feel a buzz.
Old 3rd March 2012
  #100
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IMO it doesn't matter really, the most important thing is to have a BIG FUN and learn something out of it. i am having more fun using outboard gear, tweaking it and jumping all over the room, it's a good exercise too
Old 3rd March 2012
  #101
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Just my 0.002 cents :

Hw and SW synths have to be regarded as different. Different in sound, in features, in physical approach and relationship between the instrument and the musician.

As for VAs : They still sound different from their hardware counterparts, even if the gap between them is a bit reduced. There are good reasons for this, some can be explained, some still to discover, and some will remain hidden, because its impossible to replicate all the parameters. A single example is the zero-delay feedback filter problem : A few companies has found different solutions to handle this problem, each method having probably its merits and drawbacks. But this is not enough, there are multiple other parameters to handle.

As for digital hardware : Ni FM8 might be considered as a good emulation of old DX series. Wich might be regarded as "digital" ( or awfully digital soe will say, though I personnaly love them) Still there are differences in the sound of the FM8 and my DX7 II, and even more differences between it and my Tx-802. Wich therefore implies there are differences between my Dx7 and the TX. Wich is true. Is this the DACs ? Probably for a part, but the inside electronics of both synths have differences.

So, even ......... digital is not really reproducible 100%

The point is that in a musical instrument, SF or HW, everything is important : Its a work of art, a delicate piece of ingineering, where ALL parts interact.

So I'm not surprised that HW afficionados ( a community I belong to partly) find in the end that nothing will sound exactly similar to their instrument. Its true.

Is it to say that SW instruments are just useless, or second zone instruments ? Not imho : Some sound OK, while some sound less ok. The reason for the less OK part is quite simple : Its very easy to make a less ok sw synth : Put some stock mudules altogether, and tie them in an average way, or using specialised programs to do this. You're done. And there are dozens of SW things popping out every month. It's more difficult to make a -real- HW synth sound bad : Methods and components are quite standard and known for ages. ( I just said real, because as you certainly know some HW synths are only soft synths with an HW squeleton, and therefore only the relationship with hardware VS a screen has to be considered, some skeletons beeing btw more appealing and sexy than others )

Some software synths also have some features you cant see on HW synths, and I'm not talking here only of polyphony, multiple modulators like envelopes, or just the ability to manage soundlibraries, total recall etc. I'm speaking of never seen modules, totally new workflows.

So, at the end of the day, I use myself a mix of sw and hw synths. The main thing to consider is if the instruments will "sit" in a mix for me. Some other posters have expressed this POV, and I fuly agree with them. As for Hw "VS" Sw, its a valid debate, but if you consider that they are just different, it might be rather easy to solve it : Use both, or only one or the other : sonic results will be different, but your music might be good, or less good, in an equal way : The man behind the machine counts too, as this little thing called talent

Fwiw,

LtZ
Old 4th March 2012
  #102
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Lots of interesting thoughts in this thread. I particularly enjoyed this post and its twist on the topic at hand:

Quote:
Originally Posted by kpsiegel View Post
I am one of the older crowd that came of age just as hardware synths became commercially available in the early 70's. At that time there was no analog vs digital debate, PC's didn't exist, there was no internet, and music on computers was something you might read about occasionally in Popular Science magazine. So...I actually have come to software synths as a stepping stone FROM hardware. ...
I can definitely relate to this. I started out completely with hardware, before the age of personal computers... then slowly moved towards software... then back towards hardware. I now consider myself one of the "hybrid guys" with a strong preference for hardware.

Here's another take on the whole discussion of hardware vs. software: investment value. I recently decided to switch insurance companies for my studio and have been in the tedious process of taking inventory and making estimates of the value of my equipment. As a total loser in the stock market and other such traditional avenues of investment, I have to say I am right proud of myself for having invested in some quality instruments along the way. The increase in value of some of them is stunning... which certainly helps off-set such "poor investments" as computers and software. Granted, my Atari 1040 system may have some (sentimental) value, but as for the 486s, Pentium Is, Powermac G3/G4s and other relics inhabiting my attic, I doubt I will live long enough to ever see them fetch a re-sale price beyond painful.

Of course, it was never my intention to purchase anything in my studio as an "investment" in anything other than my music career. But while my copy of Native Instruments Pro-52 is practically worthless, my Prophet-10 has more than tripled in value since I bought it (used, of course). And while my copy of Steinberg's The Grand might prove useful someday as a beer coaster, my real Steinway grand has increased in value FIVE FOLD. Extreme examples, I'll admit, but I believe the point is obvious.

For me, computers and softsynths are like fiat currency: consumable and ultimately worthless as nothing more than expended fuel. Choice hardware instruments, on the other hand, are like gold and silver! Just my 200,000 cents (adjusted for hyper-inflation).

Old 4th March 2012
  #103
DSK
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Hardware synths were stepping stone for software.

There is nothing compared to having a dedicated control software with sliders for everyhting.
That't how I learned to make patches and now I'm using mostly SW synths even if I have great HW.
Old 4th March 2012
  #104
Ged
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basically every demo of hardware synths make me smile and give me goosebumps!!!

the softsynth demos, i feel im thinking...."hmmmm...almost sounds good..."
Old 5th March 2012
  #105
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Hardware is nice because it's harder to use but gets more visceral results. Being harder to use is nice because it makes you think about what the hell you're doing. Also, it's got a lot of unique character. Got myself a Roland VariOS and Eurorack stereo filter, for example, and those two pieces of gear can't be matched by software.
Old 5th March 2012
  #106
Ged
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Basically I really feel a hardware synth is simply not possible to replicate in a PC/MAC even these days - why ? I don'y know for sure, but there is a reason synth prices are soaring these days - It's not simply a case of sampling or "modelling" the hardware - even the Nebula guys have not cracked this yet - EQ yes - but actual non linear properties no - their compressors suck - and not in a good way!!! and they are using advanced VK math -
Old 5th March 2012
  #107
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Thread Starter
Quote:
Originally Posted by twisted-space View Post
That's because everyone that disagrees with you has got bored telling you so and gone off to do something more interesting.
Nope... seems like you're in the minority. Times have changed. And as software has been out and "developed," more and more people seemed to have stopped "waiting for software to get good."

I think interesting evidence is in the MiniBrute, the Micromac, the Minataur, the Tempest and so on... That's where the growth is.

(But, nice try heh)

-a
Old 5th March 2012
  #108
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ged View Post
even the Nebula guys have not cracked this yet - EQ yes
EQ yes?
Old 5th March 2012
  #109
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As i might say here, those who think of instruments as a good investment, or defining them good or bad are just a egoistic materialists and have little to none attributes of a real musician.
Even further: when it comes to listening to music, this kind of people can not hear it, they hear "analog", "warm", "raw" and other meaningless mental spam. And then they go to their studio to record some s.c. improvisations for matrixsynth.com, for example, and get nothing more than meaningles and soulless parodies on old composers like Vangelis or JMJ, or even just bleeps-and-bloops with sequencers. Berlin school, really?...This people, i might say, do not know, that music is a song of a soul.

I know, this is forum about instruments, but most people here not talking about musical instruments, they're talking about how big their egos are, they throwing poops to each other like monkeys, they sing(?) hymns to pieces of technology they recently bought, or raising greed for new pieces of technology.

I know, that average cultural level is pretty low nowadays all around the world, but when i was young such low level was an attribute of punks or metalheads with their "beer and chicks", and electronic artists or wannabees were kind of real high culture aristocrats, and not because of fact that their instruments and methods was much advanced...

I think we lost something here. We lost our soul, we are no more musicians, we're technicians, like plumbers or electricians.
Marketing and advanced technologies made us living and acting like an animals.

There's no "digital Vs analog" or "HW vs SW" dilemmas, there is a big problems inside of us.
I think this is not OT, this is the root of all evil here.
Old 5th March 2012
  #110
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The first synth I ever played was called winsynth or something like that. I found it on a BBS or early internet. It ran on my family's 486DX under windows 3.1. It sound like junk and there was no way to play it from a keyboard, but it did have virtual filter Fc and knobs and it inspired me to learn about synthesis. I spent several months following usenet groups, and then bought my first synth off of usenet, COD. This is how we did it before Epay.

It was a korg mono/poly and I still have it today. So I yeah, I did move from software to hardware.

I've checked back in on the software side now and then, but never felt like it gave me any benefit in terms of sound or workflow, plus it felt kinda depressing to look at tacky design virtual gear rather than use the hardware that I had available.

I do use computers for multi tracking and routing. And I really like dsp boards that you can drop in the computer for synthesis and routing -- scope/korg etc.

If I was just getting started today though, I probably would have a different perspective, as the music around is largely computer music, so the sound thats 'right' has changed. Everything that inspired me was pre VSTi, so either hardware or non VSTi computer music.
Old 5th March 2012
  #111
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zvukofor View Post
As i might say here, those who think of instruments as a good investment
I don't think of gear as 'good investments' but especially when I was a poor student and low on funds, it was nice to know that I could buy some hardware 2nd hand for a few hundred dollars, use it for a few months, and then sell it again for the same price, if I needed. I do realize that some people do sell software 2nd hand, but I've never known any real local market where you could easily convert a license into cash.
Old 7th April 2012
  #112
Gear interested
 

Software synths can be seen as stepping stones to hardware and some soft companies actively promote this view.

D16, NI, Synapse Audio and many more have put beautiful 3D renderings of their plugins in their promotional materials. These companies want their customers to believe that they are getting an equivalent of hardware.

For some, software is the same as hardware but cheaper and more convenient - a dream come true. For others, software is OK and they don't mind using it until they can get hardware - stepping stones indeed.

I don't like using software and it gets completely ignored. I go straight for hardware if I can. If I can't, I wait until I can without wasting money for software in the meantime. So, no stepping stones in my case.
Old 7th April 2012
  #113
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Synthedron View Post
... D16, NI, Synapse Audio and many more have put beautiful 3D renderings of their plugins in their promotional materials. These companies want their customers to believe that they are getting an equivalent of hardware.
nah, i don't think that's quite their intention.

Quote:
For some, software is the same as hardware but cheaper and more convenient - a dream come true. For others, software is OK and they don't mind using it until they can get hardware - stepping stones indeed.
for others, software does what no hardware can. it's not always about convenience or something to settle on until they can get hardware.
Old 7th April 2012
  #114
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zvukofor View Post
they throwing poops to each other like monkeys,

great image! and in some ways very true.......but throwing poops ain't really so bad. Also, you mention soul in your post, but that isn't such an easy thing to get in contact with....ok, some they come to music with soul right from the start! but most only find it through dedication and time. So even the ones throwing poop today may one day find the soul in their music and perhaps then they will get bored with the poop throwing?

On topic - softsynths a stepping stone to hardware? don't give a f..k, just wasting some time here while waiting to find the space to set up all my hardware in.
Old 8th April 2012
  #115
Gear interested
 

To be honest i really wish that i could move to hardware synths but the cost is really limiting. I've used software for years and have good results with it. Still there's that feeling in the back of my head that it would be better if i could have hardware. Next year.
Old 8th April 2012
  #116
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Ged View Post
basically every demo of hardware synths make me smile and give me goosebumps!!!

the softsynth demos, i feel im thinking...."hmmmm...almost sounds good..."
.... and i'm pretty sure, every blind test demo, where you don't know if it's hardware or software makes you feel like "oh ****, should i have goose bumps or not"
Old 8th April 2012
  #117
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sujofisk View Post
To be honest i really wish that i could move to hardware synths but the cost is really limiting. I've used software for years and have good results with it. Still there's that feeling in the back of my head that it would be better if i could have hardware. Next year.
Go for inexpensive vintage. There are a lot of great sounding hardware synths that can be had in the $500 range and often they sound better than their modern equivalents.
Old 8th April 2012
  #118
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric J View Post
Go for inexpensive vintage. There are a lot of great sounding hardware synths that can be had in the $500 range and often they sound better than their modern equivalents.
Hmm, could you point me in the general direction as to which type of synths i should look into?
Old 8th April 2012
  #119
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sujofisk View Post
Hmm, could you point me in the general direction as to which type of synths i should look into?
Use the search, mate. This question has been asked about 1000 times.
Old 8th April 2012
  #120
Gear interested
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eric J View Post
Use the search, mate. This question has been asked about 1000 times.
Merci.
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