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Waldorf Blofeld vs. Virus TI Snow
Old 21st May 2014
  #1
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Gimmick's Avatar
Waldorf Blofeld vs. Virus TI Snow

I'm looking to buy my first hard synth, and was dead set on the Blofeld until I heard that it does not send audio over USB, and was told that I would need to hook it up with an external sound card.

This would not be a problem for me if I was a wizard at playing the keyboard, but I am not. I make many mistakes, and do not have the worlds best timing either.

I was wondering if I would be able to hook the blofeld to my computer via usb and my controller to my computer via usb, and then use a 1/4" cable to plug it into my external sound card.

To be honest the "complexity" of the setup is enough to make me want to just save my money and purchase a Virus Ti Snow. Which brings me to my next question. Since I make trance music I wanted to make sure that either synth was good for it. Obviously the Virus was incredible, and I have even found some great synth patches for it as well. The Virus and Blofeld wer both awesome although the virus to the cake, but also cost considerably more than the Blofeld (at least for me it is a considerable amount of money) the Blofeld is also simple and easy to use.

I was wondering if I would be better of just getting a Ti Snow, and forgetting about the Blofeld. If I was able to play the keyboard constantly I would buy the blofeld in a heart beat, but the inability to record the audio and midi simultaneously would cause a lot of issues.

I apologize if any of my questions about the setup seem stupid. I'm very new to the world of hard synths and was wondering what an optimal setup for someone in my situation would be.

Thanks for any help that you can give.
Old 21st May 2014
  #2
(Disclaimer: I don't own a blofeld, but the following is a general description of how you would setup a USB-MIDI synth with audio outs).

In order to quantize notes (e.g. have them lock in timing so you don't need to play perfectly) you would record MIDI first (instead of audio).

You should:
1) Connect the blofeld's USB (or MIDI DIN IN) to your computer.
2) Connect the blofeld audio out to your audio interface.

Then in your DAW you would setup a MIDI track to output to the blofeld and a separate audio track to receive the audio from the blofeld (through your interface).

You can then hear the blofeld through the audio track, but when you record you'd record into the MIDI track directly (that way you can quantize the MIDI notes). Once you like your performance you can just bounce the audio (e.g. playback the MIDI track and record the audio track). This is where you might experience some latency. If you're using Ableton Live you can use the "external instrument" rack which is made for this type of setup (e.g. sending MIDI to hardware and receiving the audio back).

Sure, it's a little more complex then a straight USB audio/midi hybrid, but the capabilities are the same.

So in the end just pick the synth you like the best because in the end you'll be able to record them the same way.

Hope that helps.
Old 21st May 2014
  #3
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tehlord's Avatar
 

Having had both (and still owning the Snow) you want the Virus, hands down.

I do love the Blofeld and at the price it can't be beaten, but choosing one over the other if money isn't the deciding factor is really rather easy. Especially for teh tarnce.
Old 21st May 2014
  #4
As far as I know, the Virus TIs are the only synths that do audio over USB in their particular fashion- they kind of trick your computer into thinking they're a soft synth. Elektron is going to be updating some of their synths soon with a similar technology, but it is still pretty rare. There are other synths that do USB audio (like the new Roland AIRA line), but they actually appear to your DAW as if they are "sound cards" themselves, presenting problems if you already have an audio interface of your own.

But I don't understand why you seem to think that lack of USB audio has anything to do with how well you can play a keyboard? Like the Virus, the Blofeld accepts MIDI over USB (and over physical MIDI ports as well). It can be sequenced from a computer just like any other hardware synth manufactured since the early 80s.

I would also disagree with your assertion about sound. If you take the Total Integration plugin out of the equation, the Blofeld and the Snow are closely matched in terms of programmability, features, and sound. The Blofeld's on-board effects mostly aren't as good, but you can always use plugins or outboard gear for that (and most Blofeld owners do). The TI plugin is the only reason Access can charge 3 times as much for the Snow.

Also, while the Virus's TI plugin is really cool and definitely makes programming patches easier, in my mind it's not any less "complex" than using a Blofeld or any other MIDI capable synth. In fact, if you use the USB streaming audio, it can get a little hairy, depending on your setup and what you're trying to do with it. A lot of Virus owners don't use the plugin for anything other than editing patches, and use the synth's analog outs for audio.

EDIT: I sold my Virus TI2 a month ago since I never used it for anything that I couldn't have done with plugins. I kept the Blofeld because it has some unique sound qualities, and is also a lot of fun to program from the hardware.
Old 21st May 2014
  #5
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tehlord's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateOutsider View Post
As far as I know, the Virus TIs are the only synths that do audio over USB in their particular fashion- they kind of trick your computer into thinking they're a soft synth. Elektron is going to be updating some of their synths soon with a similar technology, but it is still pretty rare. There are other synths that do USB audio (like the new Roland AIRA line), but they actually appear to your DAW as if they are "sound cards" themselves, presenting problems if you already have an audio interface of your own.

But I don't understand why you seem to think that lack of USB audio has anything to do with how well you can play a keyboard? Like the Virus, the Blofeld accepts MIDI over USB (and over physical MIDI ports as well). It can be sequenced from a computer just like any other hardware synth manufactured since the early 80s.

I would also disagree with your assertion about sound. If you take the Total Integration plugin out of the equation, the Blofeld and the Snow are closely matched in terms of programmability, features, and sound. The Blofeld's on-board effects mostly aren't as good, but you can always use plugins or outboard gear for that (and most Blofeld owners do). The TI plugin is the only reason Access can charge 3 times as much for the Snow.

Also, while the Virus's TI plugin is really cool and definitely makes programming patches easier, in my mind it's not any less "complex" than using a Blofeld or any other MIDI capable synth. In fact, if you use the USB streaming audio, it can get a little hairy, depending on your setup and what you're trying to do with it. A lot of Virus owners don't use the plugin for anything other than editing patches, and use the synth's analog outs for audio.

EDIT: I sold my Virus TI2 a month ago since I never used it for anything that I couldn't have done with plugins. I kept the Blofeld because it has some unique sound qualities, and is also a lot of fun to program from the hardware.
I don't think the plugin aspect of the Virus is that insignificant. It's an integral part of what makes the virus what it is, not to mention the fact that (sync issues aside) Access are pretty good at providing regular and free updates and free sounds (if you want that kind of thing).

Furthermore, for the specific genre the OP wants to make, the Virus is a no brainer. The hypersaw and filter character is in a league of its own.
Old 21st May 2014
  #6
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Gimmick's Avatar
Wow, thank you all for the quick and helpful responses. Understanding the the setup process has caused me to lean more towards the Blofeld, but there is still a chance that I may get the Virus instead.
Old 21st May 2014
  #7
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tehlord's Avatar
 

It's probably worth noting that the Virus is truly multi timbral (3 parts over USB plus audio outs) whereas the Blofeld is not.

That's quite useful when you're composing.
Old 21st May 2014
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by tehlord View Post
Furthermore, for the specific genre the OP wants to make, the Virus is a no brainer. The hypersaw and filter character is in a league of its own.
The hypersaw OSC was the one reason I hung on to the Virus for as long as I did. And I will agree that when compared to other hardware synths, there is probably no equal to its specific character (particularly when you add the stereo width of the unison).

But while the mutitimbral potential of the TIs you mentioned is nice, it's effectively mutually exclusive with the hypersaw OSC- particularly on the Snow. This synth line I wrote for the hypersaw originally used 4-note chords, but I had to re-write it to use 3-note chords because my TI2 desktop kept running out of DSP resources (and I wasn't even using on-board FX) trying to play it. I was basically limited to 3-note polyphony on a single part because of hypersaw + unison. The TI2 at least is able to distribute multi-timbral across it's two DSP chips, but the Snow has to do it all on one.

All of the above said, in a world without Zebra, Spire, Alchemy or DUNE, I'd take the Snow over the Blofeld, too. So, if hardware's the only thing on the table, you can't go wrong with the Snow, and I apologize for diluting the discussion. I just stick up for the lowly Blofeld now and then.
Old 21st May 2014
  #9
Lives for gear
 

I've got both the Blo and the TI. I think that while there are some similarities between these synths....there are far more differences in the sound creation and synthesis architecture. Each has their strengths, and weaknesses.

IMHO....

1. First and foremost....trust your own ears. These synths sound different. Which one do YOU prefer the SOUND of? That's the one you should buy.

2. The Virus TI is vastly more diverse than the Blofeld. Its effects section is wonderful (in comparison to the Blo's lackluster effects), and its therefore more universal as an all in one, covers all bases, synth. Some might say a "bread and butter" synth.

3. But where the Blofeld shines is in its particular wavetable based synthesis architecture. Here....it blows away just about anything. yes....the TI does wavetable synthesis...but not to the degree or success of Waldorf's long heritage of wavetable synths. The Blofeld has the most compelling and complete architecture for wavetable synthesis, arguably in existence. The key, IME, to wonderful success with Blofeld is to use outboard effects. Simply turn off the internal effects, and run it through the likes of a Strymon or Eventide outboard(s). The results will be marvelous.

I for one wouldn't pick just one. I NEED both! But if this was my FIRST hardware synth, as the OP says...and cost were not the over-riding factor...then I would start with the Virus. Its just a swiss army knife of synthesizers. However, if cost IS the decider....then you will do VERY well with the Blofeld, and could spend a lifetime exploring its sonic capabilities. Money tends to make decisions for folks. But if you have the luxury of letting your EARS make the decision for yourself....regardless of the cost....then buy the synth that excites you more! They are very different sounding synths, and architectures.

The user-interface is very good on both of these synths....even more parallel since you're asking about the Snow version of the TI. Leaving the actual TI aspect of the Virus out of it (which may work for you or not, and may be important to you or not)...just as hardware synths....I lean towards the UI of the Blofeld a bit over the TI. Its VERY intuitive. And pair it with any of the many PC editors out there...and it becomes an absolute monster! TI involves far more menu diving and hunting and pecking for parameters and features. Once you learn it....its all good....but it has a steeper UI learning curve IMHO.

Hope that helps some.
Old 21st May 2014
  #10
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danielb's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateOutsider View Post
But while the mutitimbral potential of the TIs you mentioned is nice, it's effectively mutually exclusive with the hypersaw OSC- particularly on the Snow. This synth line I wrote for the hypersaw originally used 4-note chords, but I had to re-write it to use 3-note chords because my TI2 desktop kept running out of DSP resources (and I wasn't even using on-board FX) trying to play it. I was basically limited to 3-note polyphony on a single part because of hypersaw + unison. The TI2 at least is able to distribute multi-timbral across it's two DSP chips, but the Snow has to do it all on one.
Three notes? How much unison were you using? Turn it down from 8 to about 5. It sounds exactly the same, and doesn't eat anywhere near as much polyphony.



D.
Old 22nd May 2014
  #11
Lives for gear
 

Op should seriously consider getting largo instead and choose another type of synth as his first external synth.
Old 22nd May 2014
  #12
Lives for gear
 

Since trance is your thing, you might want to go for the Snow. I don't know if you like creating your own sounds or if you're ok with using presets, but there are in any case loads of trance-type sounds available for the Virus TI range. The Blofeld is certainly an awesome synth as well, but for me it was more for experimental/strange sounds. Hope to get one again, but I'll try to get hold of a Virus TI first
Old 22nd May 2014
  #13
Deleted User
Guest
i have a virus and not a blofeld.

i tried waldorf largo (their plug in version of the blofeld) and was not impressed by the sound, nor the programming of it since the GUI was everywhere.

The Virus Plug In is annoying with usb audio, but the GUI on that thing makes so much more sense that programming is much easier and flows quicker.
Old 22nd May 2014
  #14
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Gimmick View Post
Wow, thank you all for the quick and helpful responses. Understanding the the setup process has caused me to lean more towards the Blofeld, but there is still a chance that I may get the Virus instead.
You dont know how to play keyboard buy you are a trance producer? You should learn how to play this will help with your musical capabiliites/
Old 22nd May 2014
  #15
Lives for gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by smoothjazz View Post
i have a virus and not a blofeld.

i tried waldorf largo (their plug in version of the blofeld) and was not impressed by the sound, nor the programming of it since the GUI was everywhere.

The Virus Plug In is annoying with usb audio, but the GUI on that thing makes so much more sense that programming is much easier and flows quicker.
Well you better not look at the blofeld then as the largo certainly has a superior user interface to that.
Old 22nd May 2014
  #16
Gear Addict
 

Judging from comments I have made in other threads, you might think that I hate soft synths. And while that's mostly true (ha ha,) I don't think you will gain much with either the Snow or especially the Blofeld that you can't get in software. Yes, the Virus/Snow is still arguably the best sounding, most powerful "dance" synth (compared to plugins like Sylenth, Spire, Diversion, Dune, etc.). But these plugins have come a long way. For the price of the Snow, you could buy all of them and still have plenty of money left over for other gear.

Largo is essentially a Blofeld in software form. There are some differences. But for your purposes, they probably don't matter. If your laptop/computer is powerful enough to run multiple soft synths, then there really isn't any reason to get the hardware Blofeld unit and complicate your setup.

So my advice is to stick with software for now and buy Largo if you really want the Blofeld sound. I would get a hardware synth only if it's analog and has a great, knob/slider-laden user interface. That would add the sonic variety and hands on control that is usually lacking in a pure software setup.
Old 27th January 2015
  #17
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by tehlord View Post
It's probably worth noting that the Virus is truly multi timbral (3 parts over USB plus audio outs) whereas the Blofeld is not.

That's quite useful when you're composing.
apologies for bumping a old thread.

But I just have to add that the Virus is not truly polyphonic multi timbral. It can only handle polyphonic on 1 part at a time.

So while it can be a multi timbral instrument you must be aware that only 1 part can be played in polyphony & the other 2 parts will be monophonic because it simply doesn't have the DSP power, which is well...limited to say the least. This is stated in the manual & unfortunately is a confusing & unclear aspect about the Virus as it is not talked about enough yet on the internet.

Multi Timbral is truly not a strong point of the virus, & doesn't need to be in my opinion, while you can just layer individual Virus tracks aswell as a alternative.
Old 20th January 2017
  #18
Wavetable deathmatch: who wins? Blofeld or Virus TI?
Old 9th February 2017
  #19
Deleted User
Guest
I'll line up behind the Blofeld, who will line up for the VIRUS TI?

Also, can we do it like this?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-zqneBur6X8 :



Quote:
Originally Posted by EDGEK8D View Post
Wavetable deathmatch: who wins? Blofeld or Virus TI?
Old 9th February 2017
  #20
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login's Avatar
Blofeld has better interface than the snow, the latter needs to be edited with the software. Blofeld is well designed and can be edited from the front panel comfortably.

I would prefer to use Serum, massive, Spire, Hive, Zebra ver the snow, avoiding dealing with the connection, set up and playing around to get a gound amount of polyphony out of it.

The desktop, polar and keyboard versions are way better and enjoyable instruments, but the interface should be improved. I really dislike having so many knobs with so many double functions on a 2000 USD synth.
Old 11th February 2017
  #21
Lives for gear
 

This thread's almost 3 years old, but I'll still chime in.
I bought a Blofeld keyboard and sold a Virus TI desktop last year.

Things change quick. If I were doing it today, I'd get the
DeepMind 12 for a keyboard, and Largo, and one of the listed
Virus softsynth substitutes.


Oh - and about the first post - if you can't play keyboards,
you're going to pretty much have to rely on step recording or a score editor
if you want to do anything besides holding a key and having it arp, which
although common, is pretty boring.
Old 11th February 2017
  #22
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by login View Post
I would prefer to use Serum, massive, Spire, Hive, Zebra ver the snow, avoiding dealing with the connection, set up and playing around to get a gound amount of polyphony out of it.
My experience with the snow is the opposite. Ti and audio over usb works great. I get 3 stereo channels no problem. For how much I use it on each track I never have dsp limit issues.

...and I've got a blofeld permanently plugged into its external inputs.

Last edited by bluegreengold; 11th February 2017 at 06:15 PM..
Old 18th October 2017
  #23
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smoovemode's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by UltimateOutsider View Post
As far as I know, the Virus TIs are the only synths that do audio over USB in their particular fashion- they kind of trick your computer into thinking they're a soft synth. Elektron is going to be updating some of their synths soon with a similar technology, but it is still pretty rare. There are other synths that do USB audio (like the new Roland AIRA line), but they actually appear to your DAW as if they are "sound cards" themselves, presenting problems if you already have an audio interface of your own.

But I don't understand why you seem to think that lack of USB audio has anything to do with how well you can play a keyboard? Like the Virus, the Blofeld accepts MIDI over USB (and over physical MIDI ports as well). It can be sequenced from a computer just like any other hardware synth manufactured since the early 80s.

I would also disagree with your assertion about sound. If you take the Total Integration plugin out of the equation, the Blofeld and the Snow are closely matched in terms of programmability, features, and sound. The Blofeld's on-board effects mostly aren't as good, but you can always use plugins or outboard gear for that (and most Blofeld owners do). The TI plugin is the only reason Access can charge 3 times as much for the Snow.

Also, while the Virus's TI plugin is really cool and definitely makes programming patches easier, in my mind it's not any less "complex" than using a Blofeld or any other MIDI capable synth. In fact, if you use the USB streaming audio, it can get a little hairy, depending on your setup and what you're trying to do with it. A lot of Virus owners don't use the plugin for anything other than editing patches, and use the synth's analog outs for audio.

EDIT: I sold my Virus TI2 a month ago since I never used it for anything that I couldn't have done with plugins. I kept the Blofeld because it has some unique sound qualities, and is also a lot of fun to program from the hardware.
Would you say that you saw not sonic differences between the Virus TI and let's say something like Serum or can you easily tell which sound source is hardware or not? I was wondering about this because it seems like "digital" would be "digital" and little if any difference would be heard over something like an analog synth but, I'm not sure.
Old 19th October 2017
  #24
Gear Nut
 
WhiteBeetle's Avatar
 

I've had both; I kept the TI Snow, it's still in a different league to most synths. It can emulate almost anything and has the best high pass filter I've ever heard.
Old 19th October 2017
  #25
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smoovemode's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by WhiteBeetle View Post
I've had both; I kept the TI Snow, it's still in a different league to most synths. It can emulate almost anything and has the best high pass filter I've ever heard.
I know this may sound crazy to ask. But, does it blow away your plugins too and can you tell the difference better the same patch in a plugin than in your hardware?
Old 19th October 2017
  #26
Lives for gear
Why I don't like the Virus: for exactly the reason other people like it. The accompanying software. People rave about the software, which is fine, but in my view the software is a planned obsolescence for the Virus. When Access goes under, or decides no longer to support your Virus model, or the plug-in is no longer compatible with your latest OS or DAW, you're left with a piece of hardware whose interface and usability is less than admirable. And which has suddenly dropped markedly in value as well.

It's the same reason why I'm worried about my Microsampler: it's heavily reliant on custom software written by Korg to upload and download samples -- you can't do it any other way. As soon as Korg decides to pull the plug on that software, or it is incompatible with the latest OS release, the Microsampler's value is radically diminished.

I think this is a terrible trend. Software is fine, but an instrument should not be reliant on it to work well (or at all).
Old 19th October 2017
  #27
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robotunes's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by feijai View Post
I'm worried about my Microsampler: it's heavily reliant on custom software written by Korg to upload and download samples -- you can't do it any other way. As soon as Korg decides to pull the plug on that software, or it is incompatible with the latest OS release, the Microsampler's value is radically diminished.
It's already doomed. As you know, the editor was created in 2009 and is still on version 1.0.0. I have kept an OS9 laptop, an XP laptop, and an iPad -- none connected to the Internet -- for software that will make my synths impossible to edit should the software disappear. That's kinda ridiculous when you think about it.

Quote:
I think this is a terrible trend. Software is fine, but an instrument should not be reliant on it to work well (or at all).
Lesson learned back in 2000 when I fell in love with the DX200 and AN200. Still have the original DX200 disk but have no idea where the AN200 disk is. Fortunately I still have the software on OS9 and on the XP laptop. Kinda ridiculous when you think about it.

Slightly off topic, thanks for your Edisyn microSampler editor.

Using Edisyn 12 on OSX 10.10.5, I set up the microSampler as instructed but can control only a few things in the Global area:
  • Current Pattern
  • Push Record Button
  • Push Sampling Button
  • Input (Audio In or Resample)
Nothing else responds to Edisyn. Figured you'd want to know.

Can't believe all the free work you're putting into Edisyn. I don't use computer editors but because you're doing the work, I feel like we should help you when/if we can, even if it's just a little help. Props to you, friend.
Old 19th October 2017
  #28
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tehlord's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by feijai View Post
Why I don't like the Virus: for exactly the reason other people like it. The accompanying software. People rave about the software, which is fine, but in my view the software is a planned obsolescence for the Virus. When Access goes under, or decides no longer to support your Virus model, or the plug-in is no longer compatible with your latest OS or DAW, you're left with a piece of hardware whose interface and usability is less than admirable.
This is not really true at all. Access have been supporting it for 12 years now, they didn't make the original Ti obsolete when the introduced the Ti2, and the synth would be perfectly usable (given the feature set) from the UI if and when you can no longer use the software. The idea that obsolescence was planned and built in is ridiculous. Look at your Apple products for that, or more recently Elektron who said Overbridge would always be free....until they introduced the A4/Rytm Mk2's after only a couple of years and then started charging for it.
Old 19th October 2017
  #29
Gear Maniac
 

The Virus TI Snow wins hands down.

I'm in the same boat as you i.e. trance/progressive house producer and bought the Snow as well.

1) The sheer no. of freely available sound-sets/patches coupled with excellent programming capabilities,
makes the Snow suitable for both preset junkies and those who want to dive deep into synthesis.

2) Although the TI is a workhorse across multiple genres,it absolutely excels at dance music (trance included).
3) The on-board FX are excellent (love the EQ, Analog Boost and Reverb, Distortions are pretty damn good as well)
4) Assuming you have basic synth programming capabilities, you will find that with a little effort, Virus sounds tend to sit rather well in a mix

5) TI has the Hypersaw (Supersaw equivalent) that can create up to 9 de-tuned saws; especially relevant for trance/trance 2.0
6) The Virus sound itself

7)

As you're aware, the whole TI concept is sending audio over USB, and using the TI as you would any other VST plugin.
The key point is that you don't have to select the Virus TI as an audio interface, in order to send sounds from the TI plugin to the DAW through USB.
It works like any other VST plugin (the TI does have to be plugged in and powered on though )

I'd save up for the Snow, but here's the caveat:
The Snow has been discontinued for some time already, so you'll have to find it second-hand.
Old 19th October 2017
  #30
Gear Maniac
I own both of them and lots of other gear, but almost everything is switched off while making psytrance with Virus. It's really powerfull workhorse and became cener of my setup after I purchased it. Total integration is another benefit giving you better control over patch editing and automation.

But Blofeld is still good for it's price. Especially when it's used with SL option.
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