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Outboard vs Plug Ins- The Great Debate Reverb & Delay Plugins
Old 28th August 2007
  #1
Gear Addict
 
matt82aust's Avatar
 

Outboard vs Plug Ins- The Great Debate

Over many many threads the topic of Plug Ins v Outboards has always been a pretty heated one. The general consensus seems to be outboard sounds "better" while plugins range from "terrible" to "excellent" However, obviously a plugin can be used in more than one instance, to the limits of your DSP or CPU usage (which these days, can be had relatively cheap).

Despite this, people constantly are told not to "invest" in plugs, as they will have no value in 5 years time. Couldnt it be argued that the value of use you get out of all that time (say, 30 SSL channels a session, with 30 sessions a year for 5 years...) far outweigh the fact that they aren't quite as "good" sounding as the hardware counterpart? Even for high end plugs, the quality of them is sometimes not even an issue for most engineers!

The way i see it, ignoring the quality aspect of hardware for this moment, investing in plugins is a far more logical business move due to how you are only limited by your computer resources. If you look at it as bang for buck, it really is a no brainer.

Even if you could afford the real SSL, how easily could you justify the cost? and how do you see it impacting firstly your convenience of work, as well as your future profit margin as a studio?

I think for those reasons, i personally feel investing in plugins is a wise investment for the majority of people out there...

Thanks, please note this topic isn't limited to the SSL plugs! I would love to hear where you guys stand in a dedicated thread, and how you feel you justify your position?

Thanks, Matt
Old 28th August 2007
  #2
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ssaudio's Avatar
 

As long as you and your clients are happy, and continue to be so, then there is no argument, you do what makes the most sense for the situation you are in
Old 28th August 2007
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

hmm

I for one, think plug-ins will eventually be the way to go.

It only makes sense that eventually as computers get more powerful software makers will make plug-ins sound better and better. I'd give it another 5 years or so, and there will be no discussion about "this crappy sounding plug-in", well, at least to today's standards.

As far as "investing" in plug-ins, I don't think that is a wise thing to do at the moment. Until companies allow for free upgrades for the future, no matter what, I doubt that anyone will really "invest" in them.

Even if they did charge a certain amount, say 75 bucks every 5 years, would that be close to the equivalent of gear service for outboard?

Until some changes are made with plug-ins, I would say I'm an outboard loving guy - for me it has almost always been ten times easier to get the sound i'm looking for with outboard compared to plug-ins......but that may change......
Old 28th August 2007
  #4
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FossilTooth's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by ssaudio View Post
As long as you and your clients are happy, and continue to be so, then there is no argument, you do what makes the most sense for the situation you are in
What? A simple, rational, down-to-earth, universal, non-polarizing argument?

They let you on Gearslutz?

Go back to Russia you damn Liberal!
Old 28th August 2007
  #5
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ssaudio's Avatar
 

I'm on borrowed time

no doubt
Old 28th August 2007
  #6
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by FossilTooth View Post
What? A simple, rational, down-to-earth, non-polarizing argument?

They let you on Gearslutz?

Go back to Russia you damn Liberal!
lol.
Old 28th August 2007
  #7
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mixerguy's Avatar
somebody show me a plugin that does what a Distressor can do - when pushed very hard.... and sound as awesome

i'm talking 10-15 db gain reduction.

Old 28th August 2007
  #8
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Dirty Halo's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mixerguy View Post
somebody show me a plugin that does what a Distressor can do - when pushed very hard.... and sound as awesome

i'm talking 10-15 db gain reduction.

Agreed, but show me hardware than can do what Spektral Delay can do.

-a
Old 28th August 2007
  #9
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mixerguy's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bryan Talbot View Post
Multiple instances are a beautiful thing, but so is one big, bitchin machine that lights up and kicks ass from an analog aux send.

I thnk that in most cases, things even out. Have both.
+1!!!
Old 28th August 2007
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Plugins and outboard all have a place in the mix and the way you mix. Sometimes where there is very little time, using good plugins work out fine. There are some very good plugins out there these days.
McDSP
UA-D card
Theres more out there but these are the one that I know that sound cool.

nIC
Old 28th August 2007
  #11
Lives for Jesus
 
stevep's Avatar
All the plugs i have are on the end of wires coming from my outboard stike
heh


.
Old 28th August 2007
  #12
Quote:
Originally Posted by mixerguy View Post
somebody show me a plugin that does what a Distressor can do - when pushed very hard.... and sound as awesome

i'm talking 10-15 db gain reduction.


Quote:
Originally Posted by Dirty Halo View Post
Agreed, but show me hardware than can do what Spektral Delay can do.

-a

wow!!!!! that is a good one! and if would exist a hardware version would cost $20k or more!!.....but you can not have many instances!
Old 28th August 2007
  #13
Gear Addict
 
matt82aust's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by stevep View Post
All the plugs i have are on the end of wires coming from my outboard stike
heh


.
I'm curious, why don't you take the plug in route?
I have found the biggest weakness with plugins personally is not their sound quality, but using a mouse to control parameters.

you just dont get that "feel" you are shaping the sound...

I think that how you interact with a piece of hardware makes it easier to get the desired results (turning big dials, fine tuning settings in etc). This is made even worse if you don't "agree" with the GUI of it.

Just more food for thought!
Old 28th August 2007
  #14
Airwindows
 
chrisj's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by basskater87 View Post
As far as "investing" in plug-ins, I don't think that is a wise thing to do at the moment. Until companies allow for free upgrades for the future, no matter what, I doubt that anyone will really "invest" in them.
Um- I do that :D but my plugins STILL are not an 'investment'. Real estate is an investment. Plugins are just ear candy to do some particular thing.

I'm happiest when I'm doing some plugin that does a thing that no hardware I know of can do. (you never know what's out there, though). Example: the next stuff I have coming out is the opposite of my ResEQ plugin, which acted like a bunch of parallel resonant filters on an analog EQ to focus sound on things like guitar tones into a set of 'areas of power' (as Slipperman put it) so they don't get in the way of everything else and have more intensity.

I tried using that on kick and snare, and it was disastrous, so instead I'm doing two complementary plugins, Snares and Kiks. They work by taking the signal coming in, and using it to amplitude modulate either a white-noise or pink-noise signal (in Snares, which is finished but not out) or a sine (in Kiks, which I'm coding tonight if all goes well). Then you mix in a bit of the extra sound on top of the original source.

What happens is, it's like triggering a tone or a white noise burst, except the extra sound tracks the input wave SO CLOSELY that it absolutely breaks up and is trashed. With Snares, you get exactly the character of the snare envelope, only broadened and thickened, especially if the snare is ringy and has a lot of overtone- it can be morphed into more of a sample-like sound without changing the character. Cymbal bleed gets trashy but is more weighted towards the highs. Also the pink-noise Snares can be used on kick drum for a Bonham thunderous effect. The tone version, Kiks, isn't written yet, but the thing about it is that it will sort of ring modulate any existing tone in the kick drum and break it up violently rather than overlay a clean tone. So instead of a 909-like 'booop' it will be a big untonal bassy splat that will shake all forms of woofer no matter what their resonance is.

They will not be investments though :D

Oh, oh! My API preamps are like investments because particularly if I don't wreck them, they will retain value. Digital hardware is not ever an investment, not even stuff like synths, because it's obsolete too fast to be an investment. Stuff with a half-life is not an investment. Stuff that you have to pay leases on like WUP isn't an investment :D

I think the best we can do for those of us making the virtual gear is recognize that we're more a service than a manufacturing operation- stay humble- and work on delivering as much value as possible, both sonically and in ease and friendliness of use within the software context. That's part of why I don't make elaborate GUIs- less to go wrong in future OS upgrades. Though it's turned around and bitten me when Logic Pro forgets to refresh my plugins' settings- which itself might have something to do with the copy protection implementations of other people's plugins O_O

Anyway, software is not an investment. It is a service. If I code a cool flanger or something, it's like individually coding one for every person who found that particular type of flanger ideal for them. It's like the person goes 'I need a really subtle but liquid and airy (watery?) flanger for something' and your plugin goes 'here! try me!'. It's not going 'I sit on your shelf, appreciating', it's like 'I can help you do that, right now!' and priced accordingly.

If that makes any sense.

Wish me luck with Kiks
Old 28th August 2007
  #15
Lives for Jesus
 
stevep's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Marta's View Post
I'm curious, why don't you take the plug in route?
I love outboard heh ... i use Ptools like a multitrack machine plugged into my console, i do like to use plugins for special effects though




Old 28th August 2007
  #16
Lives for gear
 
thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mixerguy View Post
somebody show me a plugin that does what a Distressor can do - when pushed very hard.... and sound as awesome

i'm talking 10-15 db gain reduction.

Urs Strip? I use 15 db all the time on the distressor setting (parallel snare drum). Sounds pretty rock to me.
Old 28th August 2007
  #17
Gear Guru
No, plugs are not an investment. Nothing involving computers is. But, on the other hand, how much is an "1176" plug? How much is a real 1176? Now factor in the 1176 is one unit while the "1176" is as many as you have CPU for. Sure the 1176 is a whole 'nother animal. But there certainly is a place for the "1176".
Old 28th August 2007
  #18
jhg
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jhg's Avatar
 

Longevity. Who knows, classic API/SSL bundle on ilok may be ebay gold in the future...

Yours unknowingly,

jhg
Old 28th August 2007
  #19
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RCM - Ronan's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mixerguy View Post
somebody show me a plugin that does what a Distressor can do - when pushed very hard.... and sound as awesome

i'm talking 10-15 db gain reduction.

15db of gain reduction on a Distressor is not even getting it out of bed.
Old 28th August 2007
  #20
Lives for gear
 
bcgood's Avatar
 

Since Dirty Halo mentioned the Spectral Delay from Native Instruments I had to give it a test drive. Although I don't think I'll purchase it, it is really cool.

Check out this sample of me using the NI Spectral Delay among other plugs to create a unique, (And I think interesting) sonic stamp on this mix...

http://minorcrisis.net/files/bcg%20m...non%20stop.wav

P.S. Listen to this on your hi-fi headphones or get on your sweet spot between your nice monitors for this one. It is a WAV file so you may want to right click and save it on your desktop : )
Old 28th August 2007
  #21
Gear Addict
 
matt82aust's Avatar
 

Hmm maybe you could deem plugins an investment for your studio? think about it.. $500 invested in software gets you $XXXXX in potential outcome? Don't think of it as a tradition appreciating investment though, more so "$ in = $ out"
Old 28th August 2007
  #22
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cjogo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by stevep View Post
All the plugs i have are on the end of wires coming from my outboard stike
heh


.
We use all outboard ~~thumbsup via DIG I/O
Old 28th August 2007
  #23
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cjogo's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ssaudio View Post
As long as you and your clients are happy, and continue to be so, then there is no argument, you do what makes the most sense for the situation you are in

Totally -- To us there is a limit ~ to what a client will pay -- what makes the most CENTS >> is were our gear starts & stops
Old 28th August 2007
  #24
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Bounce's Avatar
I've been on a plug in buying frenzy lately and I love having some good plug ins. They are great for instant recall, multiple instances of the same hardware emulation, etc.

That said, one thing has really been bothering me about it now that I've been using Pro Tools now for 10 years (Geez!):

There are plug ins that have left us (good or not- Lexiverb, the original bombfactory LA2a left us I believe, no?, purepitch, some others that I had used on mixes YEARS ago). So now I'm in a quandry when I go to recall those old mixes to do some stems for someone or something or maybe a remix. Some of the plugs used then are no longer compatible with the newer pro tools rigs at al or have been discontinued altogether or I have to pay a LARGE upgrade price just to recall the mix because digi doesn't rent those old suckers. OR I have to try to find someone with an old rig somewhere and old plugs to try to bounce out those tracks. Or I have to mix the song ALL over again which may NOT be in the budget for the client. Sure everything could have been printed onto new tracks or playlists with fx but that wasn't done then or the time was not allocated by the client cuz, hey, it was pro tools...instant recall!

NOW, if this were old hardware like an Eventide h3000 or something, you don't HAVE to upgrade just to keep using the thing with your new rig. Once it's bought, it's BOUGHT. Sure some newer fx boxes that have digital I/O may not work at your new sample rate if you're using digital I/O, etc. but if you're running it analog, you're pretty much good to plug in to most any new rig. You can even save the MIDI sysex data in the session so your OLD patches get dumped into the box for recall 10 years from now.

So ya buy a hardware comp that costs $2000 and you think, wow I could have gotten the plug in version for $300 and used it on 15 tracks at once! Well, year after year you're paying the freakin' upgrades on the plug in and eventually you look back and go "wow, I've spent $4000 on this plug in now and it will never end." That's kind of a drag, no? True you can use it to get the job done and finish a mix but come recall time in a few years, uh oh, I didn't upgrade or they ditched that plug. RIP.

Not to mention the more plugs you have (I'm getting out of control in buying plugs), the more money it's gonna cost year after year after year to keep upgrading ALL of those to keep the ability to recall those mixes you're using them on (I'm ranting to myself right now). That's hurtful. That H3000 from 20 years ago still lights up and makes some nice sounds. No upgrades necessary (unless you want to). Same with that darn La-2A or Distressor or whatever. Now I'm a BIG proponent of technology and mixing in Pro Tools and the convenience of it all, etc. but these thoughts are really starting to give me a rash the more I realize that these plugs could literally be discontinued and I'll be stuck with something useless as I keep upgrading Pro Tools to stay current with what labels demand, yada yada. That H3000? Discontinued. But the use of it? Keeps on taking what ya give it.

Let me hear an Amen if ya think that at certain price points, plug ins should offer free lifetime upgrades? Yes, I know that a lot of development goes into each revision but if an older version was paid for and is NOT going to be upgraded JUST to be usable in the same app as it moves with the times, that's a RENTAL pretty much. It's inevitable. Some software companies do the lifetime upgrade plan. Hardware? Still makes noise, lights up, spits good stuff out. Repairs? Yes. Upgrades just to function? Um, no.

That said, I love my plugs. They're sounding REAL good these days. 'Specially you, Massey man. Get down.

Deep breath, reach for wallet, reach for suppository, er, uh, ilok.

Old 28th August 2007
  #25
Quote:
Originally Posted by matt82aust View Post
Over many many threads the topic of Plug Ins v Outboards has always been a pretty heated one. The general consensus seems to be outboard sounds "better" while plugins range from "terrible" to "excellent" However, obviously a plugin can be used in more than one instance, to the limits of your DSP or CPU usage (which these days, can be had relatively cheap).

Despite this, people constantly are told not to "invest" in plugs, as they will have no value in 5 years time. Couldnt it be argued that the value of use you get out of all that time (say, 30 SSL channels a session, with 30 sessions a year for 5 years...) far outweigh the fact that they aren't quite as "good" sounding as the hardware counterpart? Even for high end plugs, the quality of them is sometimes not even an issue for most engineers!

The way i see it, ignoring the quality aspect of hardware for this moment, investing in plugins is a far more logical business move due to how you are only limited by your computer resources. If you look at it as bang for buck, it really is a no brainer.

Even if you could afford the real SSL, how easily could you justify the cost? and how do you see it impacting firstly your convenience of work, as well as your future profit margin as a studio?

I think for those reasons, i personally feel investing in plugins is a wise investment for the majority of people out there...

Thanks, please note this topic isn't limited to the SSL plugs! I would love to hear where you guys stand in a dedicated thread, and how you feel you justify your position?

Thanks, Matt
The invesment issue is not that plugins will have no value in 5 years, it's a question of if you spend $5k on something now, which one is going to require you to spend another $5k a couple of years from now. (I'm biased towards analog gear obviously).

But even within analog gear, if you want a compressor that costs $3k, and you settle form one that cost $1500 now, then when you're frustrated and sell it for $750 and buy the $3k compressor, you're now out $3750, rather than the $3k if you had bought that in the first place.

Buying things that you will have to replace is a bad idea financially.


I've only owned one tape machine, but I've gone through for digital formats. Five years from now, I'm sure I'll still be using the same tape machine, but the digital format number will have increased. That's the investment issue.

Forget buying gear that will increase in value. That's speculative. Buy gear that will last a lifetime and you'll spend far less in the long run.
Old 28th August 2007
  #26
Airwindows
 
chrisj's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bounce View Post
Let me hear an Amen if ya think that at certain price points, plug ins should offer free lifetime upgrades?
Yup. $19.99. Any cheaper than that and you're on your own :D

...and people wonder why I don't branch out to support every format and platform known to musician...
Old 28th August 2007
  #27
Lives for gear
 
GYang's Avatar
In geneal plug-ins are way to go future-wise.
Usually no problem to try them before buy, U know that heh
Sonically some of them are better than any analog outboards.

Still, they are somehow dead, virtual, with lack of respond and that's the main point why I add iron boxes to racks. It has something with human nature in core.

Look at excellent Parker's Fly guitars. They are ultramodern, light, moderately expensive, ergonomically and functionally better than anything, still old Tele, Strat or Les Paul are chosen over them again and again.

Outboards will never cease to exist even if in proportion their share will decrease with time.

Last edited by GYang; 28th August 2007 at 01:32 PM.. Reason: HIGH MORAL LEVEL OF GYANG WARNS YOU BUY ONLY LICENSED COPIES OF SW AND BTW PAY THE FULL MRSP, NO DISCOUNTS PLEASE !!!
Old 28th August 2007
  #28
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superburtm's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by mixerguy View Post
somebody show me a plugin that does what a Distressor can do - when pushed very hard.... and sound as awesome

i'm talking 10-15 db gain reduction.


THE CHANDLER TG COMP plug in thumbsup
Old 28th August 2007
  #29
A new plug in can be a nice moral booster, just like a new piece of outboard.

if you are staring at a screen a lot of the time a new plug in can cheer that experience up a little..

Boost away!

Old 28th August 2007
  #30
Lives for gear
 
thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by GYang View Post
In geneal plug-ins are way to go future-wise.
Usually no problem to try them before buy, U know that heh
Sonically some of them are better than any analog outboards.

Still, they are somehow dead, virtual, with lack of respond and that's the main point why I add iron boxes to racks. It has something with human nature in core.

Look at excellent Parker's Fly guitars. They are ultramodern, light, moderately expensive, ergonomically and functionally better than anything, still old Tele, Strat or Les Paul are chosen over them again and again.

Outboards will never cease to exist even if in proportion their share will decrease with time.
I don't think thats a fair comparison. I think plugins are WAY closer to their analog counterparts than a parker fly is to a real guitar. Thats just me though. I wouldn't be caught dead with one of those things.
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