Have Modern VST Instruments Replaced Your Hardware Synths ?

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
THE INTRANCER
KVRAF
1580 posts since 30 Dec, 2014

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 8:35 pm

In the 1990's, the world when the dreams of those of us who were young teenagers or that of those kicking the 40's and 50's back then, really didn't have a lot of choice other than, traditional trackers to create and form digital sounds out of which would have been with pretty limited computing power. You might have had one piece of software like a TB303 clone and a single instance of itself, or you might have had an algorythimic software based program running from what amounted to a command line interface to create music and of course later on there were software titles running on a Playstation console... but other than that, if you wanted to create music, you were pretty much shopping by foot to the local music store or ordering vie a mail order magazine to buy your XG50 soundcard to acquire new sounds, CDROM's with sounds, if not hardware synths, drum machines ect...or just stuck to the world of floppies.

By 2000, running a few of the now ancient VST instruments, brought a humble Athlon 750 to it's knee's. Today though and with the increase in CPU power and much more CPU friendly VST's which have been developed, and today's highly optimised DAW software in 2020. One has to ask... just where does all this modern advancement in technology leave the hardware we once used and depended on and the justification for outrageously priced synthesizers... and because it may be analogue, it's somehow better than what can be created in the software world. Like you see people going crazy over synths having 6 or possibly 8 analogue voices, and going wow, and I'm going wow, that's $6000.... Is that sound really worth $6000 bucks...? But it's got lots of knobs and buttons man, yes I say, but I'm, not an octopus either. It's got big a screen....the guy says, I say, my screen is at least 4 to 8 times bigger....so on and so on.. I mean sure I do have a couple of hardware synths but I rarely ever need to use more than one and it didn't cost me a boob job to buy it either...

Ok, I will admit that I wouldn't be able to take my big computer desktop set up down to the local cave when the tide is out but I would be able to do that with my synthesizer keyboard, so I guess that's one advantage, but I do have a laptop too. Now if I was in a cave with music and computer hardware...I would wonder just how long it would take before the sea air would take effect and turn the PCB into a chocolate orange, a few days..a week.. humm I'm not sure... I would have to be careful in not electrocuting the local crabs... so yeah... hardware isn't something you can do without entirely... but in the case of creating music..., the stuff I have created over the past 20 years has pretty much predominantly been software composed based, but almost entirely composed by my fingers on the keys first and foremost.
Last edited by THE INTRANCER on Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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TIMT
KVRian
774 posts since 8 Mar, 2009

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:05 pm

I use both.nothing has really replaced the outboard synths i have
I

MadUnit
KVRer
14 posts since 14 Mar, 2019

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:16 pm

Software cannot do everything, just like hardware cannot do everything, maybe the quantum is a happy medium of the 2.

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nachenko
KVRist
393 posts since 13 Mar, 2018

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:46 pm

The moment I got DUNE 3 I stopped missing my Virus C.
Half music, half random ramblings by a MAN FROM SPACE
https://soundcloud.com/manfromspace

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excuse me please
KVRian
736 posts since 10 Oct, 2018

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 9:55 pm

Expression. I now have created good sounds and they work well together. But I'm not using a keyboard. There are plugins for expression, I'm going to try those first. If I can't get close enough then I look for hw.

That said, the new Poly Brute looks promising in this aspect.

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HanafiH
KVRian
1297 posts since 6 Mar, 2001 from London, UK

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:11 pm

The problem with the local cave is that there are twenty thousand other dudes also with laptops all with the same software as you all making roughly the same sound with roughly the same presets.

I’ve gone the other way. I could have bought a car with what I’ve just spent on Eurorackery. It’s such fun. It’s so intense and it’s nearly unique. The flagship wavetable engine I took delivery of yesterday has a serial number 1,736. That’s how many other people out there can make same sound. How many hundreds of thousands of Xfer Serums are there? How many million Omnispheres (when you count the unofficial ones)? In a world of instantly reproducible software instruments hardware is unique. It’s like the original cover of JMJ’s Equinoxe. All those hopefuls, all scanning the same horizon for the same chance in the same lottery.

Somewhere there is some place
That one million eyes can't see
And somewhere there is someone
Who can see what I can see?
Someone, somewhere in summertime.

Simple Minds, 1982.

Dencheg
KVRist
171 posts since 10 Oct, 2018

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:36 pm

HanafiH wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:11 pm
The problem with the local cave is that there are twenty thousand other dudes also with laptops all with the same software as you all making roughly the same sound with roughly the same presets.
You overestimate sameness of software (or uniqueness of hardware).
Also hardware with a wavetable engine is software too ;)

FapFilter
KVRist
461 posts since 29 Oct, 2015 from Jupiter 8

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:51 pm

Also: many people craving hardware often times opt for the same stuff too, meaning literally everybody wants the sounds of certain iconic gear from Roland, Moog, Waldorf, Eventide, Universal Audio, etc.
Uniqueness comes from the user, not the gear.

For me: yes, software definately has “replaced“ hardware as my main tools.
Hardware still has it's place though, they are true instruments for starters and thus can be inspirational in different ways than software is (as long as they are not too convoluted to use digital synths from the 80's, 90's or early noughties)

Everyone is different, for some hardware will always rule, while for others HW is either obsolete or simply not required at all.
For some it is Reaper, for others it is the shittiest looking DAW in the world

anomandaris1
KVRist
452 posts since 26 Nov, 2009

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:58 pm

By 2010 I think most people were already heavily using software.
Imo, software synths are way-way ahead; I would rather buy reasonably priced hardware Zebra/Serum etc instead of analog poly or Eurorack.

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clipnotic
KVRist
492 posts since 19 Sep, 2007 from Germany

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:59 pm

I bought my first hardware synth 1992 and many others after that. My first software synth was Rebirth on Windows 98. But till 2006 I almost worked with a huge hardware setup and an Atari Mega ST4 with Notator.

Meanwhile I sold every hardware I had and don't miss one, because the VSTs I'm using now can do much more with much better quality overall and I make music in many genres. And I had many of the still "famous" analog and digital hardware synths.

Some years ago I also tested many of the current "modern" hardware synths and almost all of them are overall worse then VSTs and vintage hardware, too. Their overall sound and quality is bad, they have less features, especially the sequencers, much of the current analog gear sounds worse than VSTs, some are trying to emulate VSTs, especially workstations and you still have to use a DAW.

There is no reason and no advantage still buying and using hardware and of course it's possible to use a PC / Mac on stage and more and more live musicians are doing this, except those, which are still thinking they're "elite", because they can create sounds like decades before or cover musicians, which still living in the past and want still sound like in the 80s / 90s.
Last edited by clipnotic on Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:14 pm, edited 3 times in total.
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WasteLand
KVRian
969 posts since 8 Jun, 2018

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:59 pm

HanafiH wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:11 pm
The problem with the local cave is that there are twenty thousand other dudes also with laptops all with the same software as you all making roughly the same sound with roughly the same presets.

I’ve gone the other way. I could have bought a car with what I’ve just spent on Eurorackery. It’s such fun. It’s so intense and it’s nearly unique. The flagship wavetable engine I took delivery of yesterday has a serial number 1,736. That’s how many other people out there can make same sound. How many hundreds of thousands of Xfer Serums are there? How many million Omnispheres (when you count the unofficial ones)? In a world of instantly reproducible software instruments hardware is unique. It’s like the original cover of JMJ’s Equinoxe. All those hopefuls, all scanning the same horizon for the same chance in the same lottery.

Somewhere there is some place
That one million eyes can't see
And somewhere there is someone
Who can see what I can see?
Someone, somewhere in summertime.

Simple Minds, 1982.
Dencheg wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:36 pm
HanafiH wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:11 pm
The problem with the local cave is that there are twenty thousand other dudes also with laptops all with the same software as you all making roughly the same sound with roughly the same presets.
You overestimate sameness of software (or uniqueness of hardware).
Also hardware with a wavetable engine is software too ;)
beautiful number of simple minds (play the cd's of the earlier simple minds, regurlaly).

in way a state a fact, but with serum and omnisphere (which by the way i don't have) you can create of course your own "style" of sounds. this is a confusing senctence.

but what is problem with thousands of people, using presets and have fun? yes, there are lot, a lot of same sounding tracks (also on the radio, if i turn it on...). but fun? isn't also very important?

and with the same software you can also create things, you can only dream with a modular..

it depends on the hands...

and quite right, in the modular world, i hear the same stuff all over again. there are a lot of exceptions of course.

a wavetable module with serial 1736, makes it not unique. what you do with it, it makes it unique, do use feedback loops (cables), do you do sounddesign, make sounds that aren't that modular sounding, but the power of modular?

all scanning for a chance..

in ITB you can do extreme things. i don't will say hardware is better or software, it is up to you (the reader..), in hardware you can do extreme things.

omnisphere, it isn't for me, but i know someone, who uses it, and makes it is own.

modular and unique, yes of course it can be. but can you? can i make unique music, or music that has a recognizable style?
win 10 pro; cubase 10.5 pro, live 10 suite+push 2, reaper, reason 11 suite, bitwig studio 3, maschine mk3+jam, arturia V collection 7, korg collection, komplete 11 ultimate, softube modular, VM, meldaproduction etc.
https://soundcloud.com/sada-exposada

EnGee
KVRAF
6337 posts since 7 Oct, 2005

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:01 pm

I don't think similar sounds means similar music! Actually I find it hard to be productive with modular systems! All that cabling for one bleep or a sequence of bleeps! I much prefer non modular synths :)

Anyway, i use both and can do music with both (separately or together). Both has advantages and disadvantages, so I'm trying to have the positive experience from both :)

But to answer the question. Yes, I can replace the hardware with software without a problem.
My Setup: Windows 10 with Ryzen 1600x and nVidia GTX 1060 / Live 10 Suit with Push 2/ MODX 6 / MiniBrute 2 and KeyLab MK II / iTwo and HS7 monitors

AdvancedFollower
KVRian
694 posts since 8 May, 2018 from Sweden

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:11 pm

Once you get into highly experimental sound design, you start reaching the limits of musicality. For a sound to be considered "musical" by humans, it generally needs to have a pretty stable and strong fundamental, so we can determine its "pitch". Above the fundamental you generally only want multiples of the fundamental frequency. Anything in between tends to sound unpleasant and unmusical (which is why we want to avoid aliasing and unrelated frequencies folding back into the audible spectrum in digital synths and effect processors). So every musical sound is basically a fundamental, and various odd and even harmonics at different amplitudes, and there are limits on how "unique" you can be while still making tonal music.

User avatar
HanafiH
KVRian
1297 posts since 6 Mar, 2001 from London, UK

Post Tue Sep 15, 2020 11:42 pm

Dencheg wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:36 pm
HanafiH wrote:
Tue Sep 15, 2020 10:11 pm
The problem with the local cave is that there are twenty thousand other dudes also with laptops all with the same software as you all making roughly the same sound with roughly the same presets.
You overestimate sameness of software (or uniqueness of hardware).
Also hardware with a wavetable engine is software too ;)
Also a laptop running Omnisphere is hardware too.

Tannaliini
KVRist
301 posts since 12 Mar, 2020 from Toilet, or on the way to toilet

Post Wed Sep 16, 2020 12:56 am

I see the "using same sounds as everyone else" as if comparing it to paintings: everyone is using BLUE for ocean so every painting will look the same! Nope, it is the way you use it. You can use totally unique sounds, but who cares about those "unique" sounds if your songs aren't good (or if you don't get anything finished since you can't get any unique sounds since usually ALL sounds are already made).

You remember the famous Faithless pizz sound? That was used in sooooo many songs back then, and those songs still sounded different even they had that very very in your face famous sound. Sure they had the same feeling/vibe, but then again that was exactly what listener was hoping for: to hear something familiar but same time something new.

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