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TheRedGiant says

Synth enthusiast/nerd here. :)

HW synths are expensive, breakable, take up space, and offer literally zero advantages sound-wise.

The main components of synthesis (amp, oscillator, filter, volume envelope, filter envelope, pitch envelope, and LFO ) should be there, and work exactly the same, on any good soft synth. Additionally, they should be more flexible and allow you to program dynamic behavior into them and give you a more granular control.

There are some cases in the world of audio where digital emulation does have a long way to go, but plain, traditional, let’s-create-a-bass-sound-for-my-techno-track type of synthesis is not one of them.

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Sonic_System says

Synth enthusiast/nerd here. :)

HW synths are expensive, breakable, take up space, and offer literally zero advantages sound-wise.

The main components of synthesis (amp, oscillator, filter, volume envelope, filter envelope, pitch envelope, and LFO ) should be there, and work exactly the same, on any good soft synth. Additionally, they should be more flexible and allow you to program dynamic behavior into them and give you a more granular control.

There are some cases in the world of audio where digital emulation does have a long way to go, but plain, traditional, let’s-create-a-bass-sound-for-my-techno-track type of synthesis is not one of them.

Hmmm…ok, so what is your go-to software synth for “let’s-create-a-bass-sound-for-my-techno-track type of synthesis”?

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TheRedGiant says

Hmmm…ok, so what is your go-to software synth for “let’s-create-a-bass-sound-for-my-techno-track type of synthesis”?

I think it usually depends on what the piece in question needs.

However, I do usually go first to Logic’s classic set of synths (ES M, ES P , ESx, etc), its more modern and super flexible Sculpture, and Camel Audio’s Alchemy (which is one of the best synths, analog or digital, I’ve ever used. The factory presets already have bass sounds that are mindblowing). Those are pretty much always present, playing some bass-related role in my “electronica” tracks (though Sculpture and Alchemy can do much much more than that).

Don’t get me wrong, I think the most fun I ever had with HW devices was when I got to play with an old Korg MS-20 and other (less ancient and more advanced) analog synths for a couple of years, for study purposes. It’s just that nowadays with software I can get any of those sounds (and more!) with properly configured soft synths.

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dejans says

Have the Virus TI and pretty happy with it so far, I just love the sound. It can be really phatt the filters are quite powerful, the only problem is that you lose polyphony if you have much going on on a patch… However, the newest Sylenth update has such a nice warm sound and sounds much better than the previous versions, many times I’m using the VTI and Sylenth in tandem but you can get pretty far with using only the Sylenth…

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BeyondTheVeil says

i think its a case of doing it the soft version for me, is 100 times faster route than say messing with a few keyboards and racks.i did enjoy the process for sure, i love that hands on sense of discovery and i was adamant that i would never leave my hard synth ethos behind but for all my heel digging, i totally did.

even up to a few years back i still had a triton rack which i adored,Roland D50 (which lives under the bed wrapped in blankets), Akai S5000 ,Korg MS2000 amongts others.

but i bought a fresher copy of cubase back then.the old SX version and very gingerly stepped into this virtual world.i was literally doing what alot of composers at the time were doing, which was waiting for the technology to be truly capable of supporting these lofty soft synth ideas.

most PC’s were still single chipset and got hot enough to warm a small room lol.hard drives were tiny etc etc. but even with the advent of the core 2 duo chips, things were on the up.

i was DIE HARD for hard synths.i eventually buckled and realised i was working a lot faster,i needed those hard synths less and less and with the skills i had learned over 24 years using them i COULD actually replicate everything i had every wanted on a virtual synth.

that lifetime education meant i def didnt need to worry about locating that sound anymore. so my final ebay sale was my Roland XV5080 which i adored.but yes, it was redundant.

i do find the attempts to clone the vast beasts of yesteryear close enough for my liking but i do appreciate that you want that one step closer.you really do want the real thing.

but i struggle like mad now to peel apart what is digital and whats analog when it boils down to pure analog modelling if you catch my drift. we needed those PC’s and macs to deliver and right now,finally!! they do.

my friend still has his SH101 and his controller XP80 .but for all their nostalgic value, they sounded so very lacking and too an age to get something from compared to what i can do virtually. my heart will always say the real deal.but i havent won the lottery yet so my head says, stick with what is winning for you right now.so im afraid im a plug in kinda chap from now till that elusive lotto ticket.

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TheRedGiant says

even up to a few years back i still had a triton rack which i adored,Roland D50 (which lives under the bed wrapped in blankets), Akai S5000 ,Korg MS2000 amongts others.

I bet a yamaha DX7 was among those “others” :)

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Basspartout says

Interesting discussion :)
I sold my last hardware synth, a Roland D70 , a few years ago. Then I took a break from music and during that time I only used my Kawai ES5 digital piano in my teaching room. So since I started again last year with DAW /sequencing etc, I dont have a direct comparison between hardware and software synth anymore. I borrowed an old Roland U20 Rompler from a friend which I’m using as my masterkeyboard. (D70 and U20 have many samples in common). But I never use any sounds from the U20 , they’re just too outdated.
Now I decided to give the U20 back and buy…..something, but what?
I realize, that for what I’m doing right now, a nice master-/controller-keyboard would be the best choice, but I still find myself struggling against the thought of spending more than €400 Euro for “just a controller keyboard”.
I love so many of the softsynths and I HATE using the mouse to “control” them, edit them, so it would be a logical choice. I guess it’s due to the fact that I grew up with hardware synths (Crumar Bit One, Yamaha PF15 , Roland JX3P , Kawai K1, Roland D50 , Yamaha DX7IIE , Roland D70 , Ensoniq ASR10 ), that makes it so hard for me to decide right now. At the moment, I’d rather buy a second hand EX7 , RS 70, AN1x or similar than such a damn plastic controller with no sound.
Last week I went to the local music store and checked some of the controller keyboards. They almost all got shitty keyboards, except some expensive novation controller. Worse, even the Roland JunoGI and DI got ridiculously bad keyboards, Roland should be ashamed of themselves! Its 100 steps back compared to the keyboard of the U20 and that one’s 20 years old!
I always loved the keyboard and feel of my DX7II , but I doubt I would use any sound of it, except for a bass here and there ;)

The sound? In my memory, nothing beats the sound of my old Ensoniq ASR10 sampler. But there might be a lot of nostalgia involved, I’d really love to make a 1:1 comparison nowadays.
I think it’s a little bit like all the guitar simulations: GuitarRig, Amplitube, POD and co, they’re wonderful and easy to handle for recording, but plug your guitar into some really good stompboxes and a MesaBoogie and you hear and FEEL the difference. You play different!
They had a Korg Kronos in that store – not only did it sound incredibly good, the feel of the whole instrument is inspiring and, like Matt pointed out, I think this is a real important factor, be it real or psychological, it doesnt matter, because in the end the ONLY thing that matters is that you’re having fun playing your instrument.
Long story short – if I could afford it, I’d go both ways: have a really nice masterkeyboard with automap etc for my softsynths and a few nice hardware synths to fumble around with. :)

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Sonic_System says

Interesting discussion :)
I sold my last hardware synth, a Roland D70 , a few years ago. Then I took a break from music and during that time I only used my Kawai ES5 digital piano in my teaching room. So since I started again last year with DAW /sequencing etc, I dont have a direct comparison between hardware and software synth anymore. I borrowed an old Roland U20 Rompler from a friend which I’m using as my masterkeyboard. (D70 and U20 have many samples in common). But I never use any sounds from the U20 , they’re just too outdated.
Now I decided to give the U20 back and buy…..something, but what?
I realize, that for what I’m doing right now, a nice master-/controller-keyboard would be the best choice, but I still find myself struggling against the thought of spending more than €400 Euro for “just a controller keyboard”.
I love so many of the softsynths and I HATE using the mouse to “control” them, edit them, so it would be a logical choice. I guess it’s due to the fact that I grew up with hardware synths (Crumar Bit One, Yamaha PF15 , Roland JX3P , Kawai K1, Roland D50 , Yamaha DX7IIE , Roland D70 , Ensoniq ASR10 ), that makes it so hard for me to decide right now. At the moment, I’d rather buy a second hand EX7 , RS 70, AN1x or similar than such a damn plastic controller with no sound.
Last week I went to the local music store and checked some of the controller keyboards. They almost all got shitty keyboards, except some expensive novation controller. Worse, even the Roland JunoGI and DI got ridiculously bad keyboards, Roland should be ashamed of themselves! Its 100 steps back compared to the keyboard of the U20 and that one’s 20 years old!
I always loved the keyboard and feel of my DX7II , but I doubt I would use any sound of it, except for a bass here and there ;)
The sound? In my memory, nothing beats the sound of my old Ensoniq ASR10 sampler. But there might be a lot of nostalgia involved, I’d really love to make a 1:1 comparison nowadays.
I think it’s a little bit like all the guitar simulations: GuitarRig, Amplitube, POD and co, they’re wonderful and easy to handle for recording, but plug your guitar into some really good stompboxes and a MesaBoogie and you hear and FEEL the difference. You play different!
They had a Korg Kronos in that store – not only did it sound incredibly good, the feel of the whole instrument is inspiring and, like Matt pointed out, I think this is a real important factor, be it real or psychological, it doesnt matter, because in the end the ONLY thing that matters is that you’re having fun playing your instrument.
Long story short – if I could afford it, I’d go both ways: have a really nice masterkeyboard with automap etc for my softsynths and a few nice hardware synths to fumble around with. :)

Great post! I’m very much with you on the idea of hybrid setup; with that in mind and if I were you, I’d invest in good Novation (or similar) controller. I have old Evolution MK 461c controller and it’s very nice for tweaking various parameters of softsynths and my DSI Mopho.
Let me be clear on this – I have nothing against softsynths. I use them every day in my work and some of them are spectacular. Heck, I’d use something like Alchemy (gotta buy that soon) over some mediocre hardware machines released in the past decade. But , I believe that hybrid is the way to go, especially with companies finally catching up with customer’s wishes and releasing affordable analogue. Couple of monophonic analogues + Virus TI + good controller + selection of softsynths = my ideal setup.
I’m pretty sure that your old Ensoniq sounds better than any software sampler, and that goes for old Akai, E-mu, Yamaha and Roland machines, too. I’d like to buy Akai S950 /1000/1100 and use it just for drums – the punch and weight in those converters is unbelievable. That being said, I’d still continue to use software sampler as a main sampler of my setup and use hardware for specific tasks and flavor, and that goes for synths, too.
I don’t think that difference between software and hardware is just psychological, but even if that was the case, the fun factor and hands-on experience you get with hardware justifies the amount of time and money you have to put into hardware…what I am aware of, though, is that 5-10% of difference in quality is not really important with 128kbps MP3 being a standard for music listening and RMS averaging near -4dB. In our industry, it is more important to get the job done and meet all the deadlines; I’m just trying to figure out the best way of adding more options to my sonic arsenal :) in the areas where software is (imo) still a little lacking, but without breaking workflow and my family’s piggy bank :(

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richspeller_music says

I just like having the hardware…. Luckily, I have some new found space so my Roland Juno and MS2000 sit nicely alongside! When I lack some ideas I will often patch one in. I like collecting all things musical and if I had the money I’d still be buying synths… Still have my old modules too, and although I’ll generally be using Logic’s soft synths, I don’t think I could ever bring myself to sell any of my old gear.

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garethcoker Envato team says

Had a Novation Supernova II a few years ago. Wonderful sound.

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