Software Synths VS. Digital Hardware Synths.

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
Tino Fiumara
KVRist
64 posts since 18 Feb, 2020

Post Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:42 pm

I'm planning to buy a polysynth in the future and before making a decision or making a post asking for recommendations I would like to gather information to clear my mind of doubts.

I'm not a live performer, I make music mainly at my home studio so I would like to know what are the advantages of having a DIGITAL hardware synthesizer over a software one and viceversa (especially in terms of sound). Logic tells me that they would sound similar because they are digital, but I don't know, never tried a digital hardware synth before, I'm a novice when it comes to hardware synthesizers.

Thanks.

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thecontrolcentre
KVRAF
31497 posts since 27 Jul, 2005 from the wilds of wanny

Post Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:58 pm

No computer needed is the main advantage (altho a lot of hardware has computer editors) and hands-on control. Soundwise ... there are great sounding hardware & software synths. Best bet is go try a few.

I have a lot of hardware, but only 1 digital synth (Nord Micromodular) which sounds fantastic. I do prefer analog synths tbh :)

kvotchin
KVRian
729 posts since 9 Aug, 2018

Post Sun Mar 08, 2020 8:34 pm

There is no advantage at all to having digital hardware synths, especially if, as you say, you’re not performing, just recording.

Mm, love those hardware 1s and 0s, lol.

lfm
KVRAF
5756 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Post Sun Mar 08, 2020 10:36 pm

thecontrolcentre wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:58 pm
No computer needed is the main advantage (altho a lot of hardware has computer editors) and hands-on control. Soundwise ... there are great sounding hardware & software synths. Best bet is go try a few.
+1

To have controls to make tweakin fun is maybe most obvious difference. Apart from nothing to fire up - just a power button and play around a bit.

And since you render maybe a stereo track at a time from hardware - you have much more headroom in computer you have. Software synths use much more resources - memory and cpu.

I use mostly hardware too - and just render to audio as I am done with one instrument. Come back later and redo, but nothing much to it really.

You need one stereo - 2 mono inputs on audio interface though.

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Distorted Horizon
Banned
3896 posts since 17 Jan, 2017 from Planet of cats

Post Sun Mar 08, 2020 11:07 pm

Software sounds the same, no matter what computer you use.
Hardware is a bit dependent on what you use to record it. Use a crap mixer/audio interface = you get crap sound. Use a million dollar mixing desk and have a million dollar sound.
Of course you can add fx chain to vsti too, but running your hardware synth through an analog chain (even if it's built in in your mixer) has a different effect.

Arcvidean
KVRist
273 posts since 23 Feb, 2006 from Dematerialising

Post Mon Mar 09, 2020 1:33 am

No real difference in sound, just for hardware more expense but the benefit of no copy protection and no online nonsense .

Arcvidean.

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fmr
KVRAF
10670 posts since 16 Mar, 2003 from Porto - Portugal

Post Mon Mar 09, 2020 2:23 am

Usually, digital synths tend to me more complex (featurewise) than analog synths. Also, and mainly because of what I wrote before, hardware digital synths tend to be more complex to operate, mainly due to the fact that, even if the modern ones come with generous displays, they still have not the same easyness of operation you can achieve in software runing inside a computer (with multiple panels, multiple windows, mouse, alfa-numeric keyboard, two or three displays, etc.).

That said, there are some digital synths that still have no counterpart in software (like my beloved Yamaha SY99, for example).

But you can find equally powerful soft synths, with as many or even more features. Regarding analog, and although software doesn't have an exact replacemente for the electrical circuits, I find the current state of the art modeling algorithms perfect enough to achieve VERY good results. I am even convinced that we don't have even better results because developers don't want to risk blow up the computer CPU power with just one piece fo software. But as we get more CPU power, things keep imporving.

So, in the end, I don't see any advantage in getting an hardware synth (even analog) except for the immediacy.
Fernando (FMR)

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4damind
KVRAF
5502 posts since 17 Aug, 2004 from Berlin, Germany

Post Mon Mar 09, 2020 3:01 am

There are actually 3 points that speak for hardware.

1. life performance
2. analog synth or special digital synth
3. modular systems

On stage with a DAW and lots of plugins? This is too unsafe for many people because of possible crashes or audio dropouts. Hardware synths are simply more stable and less problematic.

Not every analog synth has an accurate emulation and even current emulations often sound only partially like the hardware.
If you want the original sound it can make sense to have the original.
There are also digital synths where there is no real alternative in software or they are so special that it can be interesting to have them. With more recent synths for example the System 8 from Roland.

Modular systems like Eurorack certainly have their appeal. Some even use them on stage (Thorsten Quaeschning "Tangerine Dream").

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foosnark
KVRAF
6024 posts since 9 Jan, 2003 from Saint Louis MO

Post Mon Mar 09, 2020 4:16 am

A digital hardware synth and a software synth should generally be on equal footing, but you could find examples of specific hardware synths that don't have a software version, and vice versa.

Probably a bigger factor is how the synth makes you feel when you play it -- how responsive it is to your control, how much it invites playing, how much inspiration it brings. Some synths are just really satisfying and will lead to making better music even if the sound isn't any better than a good plugin. Other hardware synths are just a pain in the ass :)

revvy
KVRAF
2638 posts since 15 Feb, 2020

Post Mon Mar 09, 2020 7:26 am

For me having a HW digital poly synth around is essential. I use it as my main controller so knobs, aftertouch and general nice-to-use interface are essential. Also a synthesis engine that speaks to me, not better than SW just a good sounding and somehow interesting engine.
I lost my heart in Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch

Paulmapp8306
KVRer
19 posts since 15 Mar, 2020

Post Sun Mar 15, 2020 3:21 am

Most advantages are performance related. I use them because I dont trust laptops live and grabbing real knobs/sliders in real time produces results a pure digital system cant.

Having said that, real knobs are far easier to manipulate, much easier to create sounds that was as well in a home environment too. Even if I was home use only I'd have at least one hardware synth just for that reason.

roman.i
KVRist
384 posts since 25 Aug, 2019

Post Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:24 pm

Tino Fiumara wrote:
Sun Mar 08, 2020 3:42 pm
I'm planning to buy a polysynth in the future and before making a decision or making a post asking for recommendations I would like to gather information to clear my mind of doubts.

I'm not a live performer, I make music mainly at my home studio so I would like to know what are the advantages of having a DIGITAL hardware synthesizer over a software one and viceversa (especially in terms of sound). Logic tells me that they would sound similar because they are digital, but I don't know, never tried a digital hardware synth before, I'm a novice when it comes to hardware synthesizers.

Thanks.
This is a wrong way to think about synthesizers. You should choose the right synthesizer for the genre you're producing. Your potential listener doesn't care if you're using a hardware or a software synthesizer. Every synth has it's own tone/flavor, try to get as close as you can to the top producers sound.

AnX
KVRAF
10351 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Post Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:46 pm

roman.i wrote:
Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:24 pm
try to get as close as you can to the top producers sound.
if you're in a covers band maybe, otherwise, just buy what YOU like the sound of, to make the music YOU like

roman.i
KVRist
384 posts since 25 Aug, 2019

Post Sun Mar 15, 2020 11:29 pm

AnX wrote:
Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:46 pm
if you're in a covers band maybe, otherwise, just buy what YOU like the sound of, to make the music YOU like
You can do that when you've already developed a good taste in sound design. As with fashion, there are trends in sound design and those dictate how the current music sounds like and what your listener expects to hear. Of course you can use sounds YOU like, that's what I do but only because it a hobby, not a job, and I don't expect my music to be commercially successful.

AnX
KVRAF
10351 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Post Sun Mar 15, 2020 11:57 pm

roman.i wrote:
Sun Mar 15, 2020 11:29 pm
AnX wrote:
Sun Mar 15, 2020 10:46 pm
if you're in a covers band maybe, otherwise, just buy what YOU like the sound of, to make the music YOU like
You can do that when you've already developed a good taste in sound design. As with fashion, there are trends in sound design and those dictate how the current music sounds like and what your listener expects to hear. Of course you can use sounds YOU like, that's what I do but only because it a hobby, not a job, and I don't expect my music to be commercially successful.
he did say he was a newbie and not doing live stuff, so imo it's best to spend money on what you think will give you more milage, and most decent va/subtractive stuff will get you in the same ballpark as whatever is trending

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