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What's the physical difference between hardware and plugins
Old 12th August 2018
  #1
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What's the physical difference between hardware and plugins

A vst compressor turns little numbers on and off via a chip(processor?) and someones programed math equation? Is this correct? Does a hardware compressor use the same concept?

Is the built in compressor effect on a cheap digital recorder any different from a plugin compressor? Is there a special chip that sounds better, or is it all just math when it comes to digital?
Old 12th August 2018
  #2
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Get a screwdriver and open up one of each.
See whats inside and you'll know!
Old 12th August 2018
  #3
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Hardware is heavier.
Old 12th August 2018
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by YourBestFriend View Post
A vst compressor turns little numbers on and off via a chip(processor?) and someones programed math equation? Is this correct?
It's math, yes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by YourBestFriend View Post
Does a hardware compressor use the same concept?
No.

In a hardware compressor you have electrical signals being manipulated in real time by various components. In analog the signal is never "in one place", it's continuously variable. In digital you're dealing with discrete numbers.

Also in analog you have different restrictions. Because of physics you can't just send a signal through a component and expect it comes out on the other side unchanged, it'll be different and the only question is how different. So with an analog compressor you can typically compress a signal and it'll sound fine within a range, but outside of that range you start getting distortion because of physics.

A plugin either doesn't do that (i.e. it has other restrictions) or the programmer may choose to create algorithms that change the signal dynamically in a similar way.

Quote:
Originally Posted by YourBestFriend View Post
Is the built in compressor effect on a cheap digital recorder any different from a plugin compressor?
Depends on the programming.

Quote:
Originally Posted by YourBestFriend View Post
Is there a special chip that sounds better, or is it all just math when it comes to digital?
All math. If the chips allow for the same 'software' to be run and you plug in the same software then you get the same result coming out of it.
Old 12th August 2018
  #5
technically speaking even hardware electronics are all math. Electrical Engineering in and of itself is all math.

Software uses the mathematical equations used in electrical engineering to alter a digital stream of data to output the same mathematical answer as the electrical equipment would in the analog world.

When you start trying to convert everything to voltage (whether it be a formula in a computer or a formula for an electrical circuit)... it starts to all make more sense and you can see the parallels.

But as Mattaisnyc pointed out. There are a lot more limitations physically (due to the physical construction of electrical components and physics) on hardware than on software. Like for example, there is no real way to do a brick wall limiter in analog. There is also no way to do an FIR filter in analog.
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