Why do I seem to like free synths better ?

VST, AU, AAX, etc. plug-in Virtual Instruments discussion
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KVRian
1019 posts since 25 Sep, 2014 from Specific Northwest

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:07 am

whyterabbyt wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:56 am

The other thing I'd say is that the more dogmatic proponents of the 'less is more' thing seem, for some reason, to deliberately overlook the fact that its entirely possible for someone to work minimally at any given point in time by using a subset of a larger pool of gear.
That quite makes me think of Lars von Trier and his Dogma 95 school of filmmaking. Basically, a small set of rules to get back to basic storytelling without all the fancy makeup, sfx, etc. that can distract. He made some stuff in this style, took what he learnt and applied it to his later work, which did let the distractions slip in, but never to overwhelm the actors or the story.

Musically, I've done similar. When I was stuck, I limited myself to one synth--Logic's ES1, IIRC, with that gloriously awful GUI :lol: --for all sound sources except voice. I was able to bang out a song in an hour and finish it with vocals within a couple of days.

I've run up against limitations due to lack of gear (read: money) which do force you to get creative. I had artist friends with the same issues--lack of money for actual real art supplies, so cardboard, glass, wood panels, house paint, ramen, etc. we're all used and abused.

When I got my first DAW, Logic 5, it was severely limited, so my songs were carefully built from samples and a couple of the original Steinberg VSTs they released when VSTs first came out.

It wasn't until I got Logic 6 Platinum(? I forget their metal scheme now...) with all those plugins that I started running into not so much creative blocks, but choice fatigue. Too many choices means making too many decisions w which causes your poor brain to just roll over and play dead.

Anyway, my two minimal currency units...

KVRAF

Topic Starter

1694 posts since 28 Mar, 2007

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:24 am

chk071 wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:39 am
That said, if I had the choice between Synth1 and Spire, I would buy Spire over Synth1, every day. Simply because I think it's the much better instrument. In any regard.
Please stop making this a free versus paid thing, its not. Its more paid + free, or the other way around for some. Both have there place. Many developers started off by making free synths.

So I downloaded Spire and installed the demo and looked for an electric piano because I play keys. Its no better than in most free stuff. I had a quick hike around but was immediately turned off by the "drowned in fx" reverb and delay, which is always a bad sign. I will have another listen later but its very doubtful I would ever pay out $189 dollars for it on first listen.

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KVRist
437 posts since 27 Aug, 2020

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:32 am

BONES wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:52 am
But what if you don't want any of that rubbish? I certainly don't. A couple of simple V/As is all I need.
Well, then that's that, no need to explain further than that. Just use what you need. If I were forced to choose between paid mixing/mastering plugins and paid instrument plugins, I would definitely choose the former because that's what gets the job done for me at the end of the day. I guess I would still miss some payware softsynths, but I guess I only really need a nice FM synth to make music.
BONES wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:52 am
Sounds like a lifetime of great music, right there.
Dexed alone sounds like a lifetime of great music to be honest.
BONES wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:52 am
I don't need ZDF filters or audio rate modulation and, in my experience 99% of all VSTi are incredibly stable, freeware or payware.
I have to confess I'm beginning to steer clear of CPU intensive synths (ZDF filters, audio mod and all that) because the ancient CPU on my crappy laptop doesn't handle it too well and I prefer to spend processing power on mixing tools, which often contribute more to the overall sound. I prioritize CPU efficiency in softsynths more these days. So honestly, that's not even that much of a priority for me either, it might be for some folks though, which is why I mentioned it.
BONES wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:52 am
More shit I don't need.
By support, I also meant updates. I must admit I prefer rock-solid stability to endless updates, updates and support are still kind of cool too though.
BONES wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:52 am
Honestly, use what you want, who cares? My two most used VSTi cost me $29 (JP6K) and $9 (Union) and I probably have a grand's worth of VSTi that I never use and never want to use again.
I guess I might've been misunderstood. I'm not telling people to do anything, I'm merely theorizing about why payware is still appealing to a lot of folks. My point is that there are still areas in the freeware realm which are not quite as bountiful in synths as in the case of the payware field. In other words, if you theoretically do not like Vital or Surge as far as free wavetable action is concerned, then there aren't too many other options left to choose from. But hey, I like both, so that's not my problem.
Last edited by crickey13 on Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:47 am, edited 2 times in total.

KVRAF
29293 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:38 am

dellboy wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:24 am
Please stop making this a free versus paid thing, its not.
Than I have to wonder why you are looking for confirmation for your choice of freeware in the first place.

And, for the rest of your post, I can only point to the last paragraph of my former post. :shrug:
Plugins and a DAW. On an operating system. Which runs on a computer.

KVRAF
29293 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:39 am

crickey13 wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:32 am
BONES wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 6:52 am
I don't need ZDF filters or audio rate modulation and, in my experience 99% of all VSTi are incredibly stable, freeware or payware.
I have to confess I'm beginning to steer clear of CPU intensive synths (ZDF filters, audio mod and all that) because the ancient CPU on my crappy laptop doesn't handle it too well
They sound so frigging good though.

Seriously. That alone makes it absolutely worth it for me. Although I have to say that my CPU is capable of running at least a few instances of the even more expensive plugins, before I run into crackles.

Anyway, I don't always need that level of analog modelling, it's just that it comes very handy for some sounds I'm doing.
Plugins and a DAW. On an operating system. Which runs on a computer.

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KVRist
437 posts since 27 Aug, 2020

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:45 am

chk071 wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:39 am
They sound so frigging good though.
They do sound nice, but these days, I just reach for stuff that gets the job done. The thing is these nice sounds start to sound less nice the moment I look at the CPU consumption. They might sound nicer on my second computer with that fancy ass Coffee Lake processor, but I'm using my crappy laptop for the time being. :wink:

Honestly, processing is just as important though, which is why I'm not so anal about the pristine quality of the sound source anymore.

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KVRist
205 posts since 2 Nov, 2017

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:50 pm

dellboy wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:24 am
chk071 wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:39 am
That said, if I had the choice between Synth1 and Spire, I would buy Spire over Synth1, every day. Simply because I think it's the much better instrument. In any regard.
Please stop making this a free versus paid thing, its not. Its more paid + free, or the other way around for some. Both have there place. Many developers started off by making free synths.
What does his statement have to do with free vs. paid? He said he thinks its a better instrument regardless.
dellboy wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:24 am
So I downloaded Spire and installed the demo and looked for an electric piano because I play keys. Its no better than in most free stuff. I had a quick hike around but was immediately turned off by the "drowned in fx" reverb and delay, which is always a bad sign. I will have another listen later but its very doubtful I would ever pay out $189 dollars for it on first listen.
Nobody is buying Spire for an electric piano sound so you’re in good company if you wouldn’t spend $189 on it for that. And I expect nobody would spend $189 on “first listen” either. Because first listen isn’t going to show you everything its capable of. I’ve got a System-8 that cost me about $1300. As much as love the System-8 the sound engine isn’t as good as Spire.

Let’s not even get into this idea that reverb/delay as part of the sound design is a bad thing. It’s no different than adding it later as everyone does, even in the “golden age” of the 80s.

KVRAF
29293 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 1:31 pm

The funny thing is that Spire is actually one of the few synths where it makes sense to drown your sounds into fx, because they all sound great across the board. :)

I never judged a synth by its presets though. Even though, again, I have to say that the presets in Spire are great, and better than on many other synths I own.

As I said, in general, another league, compared to something like Synth1. Pearls before swine in this case, I guess.
Plugins and a DAW. On an operating system. Which runs on a computer.

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KVRAF
5629 posts since 8 Dec, 2004 from The Twin Cities

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:24 pm

Tj Shredder wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 7:18 am
Teksonik wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 5:57 am
dfraze wrote:
Sat Jun 12, 2021 5:15 am
Limitations stimulate creativity.
That's a myth. :wink:
Its not a myth, its a technique!
First and foremost it's an ambiguity.

Adding the word 'can' results in the much less controversial: "limitations can stimulate creativity".

KVRAF

Topic Starter

1694 posts since 28 Mar, 2007

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:25 pm

jasonekratz wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:50 pm

Let’s not even get into this idea that reverb/delay as part of the sound design is a bad thing. It’s no different than adding it later as everyone does, even in the “golden age” of the 80s.
It is a bad thing and always was.

I always judge synths before FX is applied not after. I gave Spire another couple of minutes and deleted it. I can see its appeal to people who like fast snappy envelopes and acid type sounds, but I do not do EDM or any of that stuff, so its not for me. It seems to do bass the best, but the rest just seemed average Joe to me.

For that sort of money I could buy Diva which is in a different ballpark to that synth to my ears. But taste is subjective, each to his own.

KVRAF

Topic Starter

1694 posts since 28 Mar, 2007

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:27 pm

chk071 wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:38 am
dellboy wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:24 am
Please stop making this a free versus paid thing, its not.
Than I have to wonder why you are looking for confirmation for your choice of freeware in the first place.

And, for the rest of your post, I can only point to the last paragraph of my former post. :shrug:
There must be better threads than this one for you to troll ?

KVRist
247 posts since 10 Feb, 2017

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 4:14 pm

It's subjective, Spire is amazing to me not just bass and I don't like EDM nor Acid

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GRRRRRRR!
12356 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:23 pm

vurt wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:56 am
what kind of orchestra has a player with a stradivarius in chair one and a 50 quid off amazon in 3rd?
Maybe the 3rd chair accidentally stepped on his Stradivari just before they went on and had to run down to Aldi and get a replacement?.
and yes, i imagine you would hear the difference, unless you had cloth ears full of wax and fluff.
I doubt I'd know which was which in a blind test. I've always assumed that an expensive violin was all about feel and playability and that the difference in tone would require a practiced ear. I sure as hell can't tell the difference between a Les Paul and a Stratocaster (or a $50 electric guitar from Aldi for that matter). They are all just guitars to me.
pixel85 wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:06 am
What orchestra? Today it's a laptop on a stage with Kontakt's Orchestra Library playing midi from a DAW. Why a concert venue and conductor would have to spend money and time on musicians, practice and instruments when nobody can hear a difference anyway.
You forget that governments funnel millions into "the arts" and a lot of that gets hoovered up by orchestras. Kontakt libraries are expensive by comparison. And, honestly, nothing beats a full symphony when it comes to power and majesty. They have evolved over the centuries into a perfect beast. It's a very special experience.
Well, listening through the speakers on my Surface Pro, I didn't even realise when he switched from one to the other. They both sounded close enough to the same that you absolutely wouldn't pick it in the setting of a full symphony orchestra.
chk071 wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 10:39 am
The unfortunate thing for that kind of argumentation is that noone, I mean, really, NOONE who plays professionally in an orchestra would play a $50 violin from Amazon. No matter if he/she plays it alone or not.
That's not the f**king point, though, is it? The point is that they both sound enough alike that in context it doesn't f**king matter. Ditto for freeware synths. You wankers carry on all the time about shit that just doesn't matter in a mix. Seriously, if it makes such a huge difference, you would have no trouble listening to any piece and picking what instruments were used on each part but I can guarantee that if you went to YouTube or Spotify and listened to any NOVAkILL song, you wouldn't be able to pick even one instrument, except maybe for some Wasp basslines that I tend to rabbit on about now and again.

They are all synths and the range of timbres that show off one synth's character to the extent that you'd know what it was right away is probably about 1% of the use-cases for that instrument. Therefore, 99% of the time any synth will do.
So, yeah, logical? Sensible? Not really. It's no fun and not inspiring to play on an instrument which is neither fun nor inspiring.
Yep, and for me that would be instruments like Hive, DUNE, Serum. Falcon, Omnisphere and all those other over-complicated, over-priced uber-synths.
I just had to think of two people who visit a restaurant, and one gets served a 30 € per kilo steak, and the other one a steak from the discount store, and they both have nothing but praise for the quality of the steak. I wonder what the cook thinks about it.
The cook would think he was a genius because he could make a $5 steak taste as good as a $15 one. But, of course, it would come down to the cut. I know from experience that an $8 T-Bone from Aldi tastes just as good as a $25 T-Bone from the butcher shop down the road. Cook them the same and nobody would know the difference.

Price has never been a guarantee of quality. e.g. Next time you see someone getting out of a Ferrari or a Lamborghini, ask them how many times they've had to have it towed. I've asked half-a-dozen people over the years and the minimum number was three times, the average more like 5. It seems hand built cars just aren't that reliable, even though they cost $300,000 or more.
crickey13 wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:32 am
By support, I also meant updates. I must admit I prefer rock-solid stability to endless updates, updates and support are still kind of cool too though.
I honestly don't care even a little bit about updates. In fact, updates are just as likely to ruin a synth as improve it. e.g. I much prefer the original DUNE to v2 or v3 and I used to use Hive quite a bit until it got updated to v2, now I never touch it. Even the firmware update for Uno Synth that allowed me to access both ADSRs from the front panel annoys me because the added functionality no longer matches the labelling on the chassis.
I guess I might've been misunderstood.
No, not at all. That part of my post was just my general contribution, not a response to anything in particular.
chk071 wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 11:39 am
They sound so frigging good though.
Maybe in 1% of use-cases but not the other 99% of the time. I don't even know which synths have a ZDF filter, can you point me at one or two?
NOVAkILL : Zenbook Duo, Core i7, 16GB RAM, Win10, UR44C | Studio One | JP6K, Union, Hexeract, bx_oberhausen, Odyssey, TRK-01, Vacuum Pro, Invader, Concept, GR-8, Thorn, Equator, VG Carbon | Uno Pro Desktop, Uno, Rocket.

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KVRist
205 posts since 2 Nov, 2017

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:34 pm

dellboy wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:25 pm
jasonekratz wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 12:50 pm

Let’s not even get into this idea that reverb/delay as part of the sound design is a bad thing. It’s no different than adding it later as everyone does, even in the “golden age” of the 80s.
It is a bad thing and always was.

I always judge synths before FX is applied not after.
If that were the case nobody would have done it. Everyone did. Jupiter-8, king of vintage, doesn’t sound all that great without effects. None of them do. There is no reason that effects can’t be part of the sound design. I mean hell, on the Junos (or Korg with the Polysix) they added chorus to thicken up a weak sound and its an integral part of the sound of those synths. Do you judge the sound of a 60 or 106 without the chorus?
dellboy wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:25 pm
I gave Spire another couple of minutes and deleted it. I can see its appeal to people who like fast snappy envelopes and acid type sounds, but I do not do EDM or any of that stuff, so its not for me. It seems to do bass the best, but the rest just seemed average Joe to me.
Oooh you gave it a whole couple of minutes more. How generous! I’m sure in that time you got a full idea of the oscillator modes for the 4 oscillators per voice with gobs of waveform choices, the 6 filter types for the 2 filters per voice, the huge mod matrix, etc. Oddly enough if you look at their preset store there is a lot of EDM stuff there, and a lot of other stuff. It excels at EDM sounds but by no means limited to those. Like this preset pack of theirs, Synthwave 2: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mYc7DZfUBaQ

Drips 80’s and sounds fantastic.
dellboy wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 3:25 pm
For that sort of money I could buy Diva which is in a different ballpark to that synth to my ears. But taste is subjective, each to his own.
Diva is an analog emulation, Spire is not. I own both. Different synths totally. A more apt comparison to Spire is Hive, not Diva. What is your opinion on the sounds drenched in effects in Diva? Because they’re there, just like in any other synth that has built-in effects. Diva is a different ballpark because nobody has been arguing with you about Diva. You weren’t interested in really trying Spire, you just wanted to act like you gave it a shot…for two whole minutes.

But lets get back to free. The only true freebie out there that really is anything like Spire is Surge which definitely gives Spire a run for its money. But of course Surge used to be a commercial product that had the source generously donated. Great synth with a great group of devs working on it.

Lastly, to answer your initial question, of course there are people out there that prefer the free stuff over the paid-for. There are millions upon millions of people who use this stuff on a daily basis. I’d expect for those who have both the majority use the stuff they paid for more for various reasons.

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KVRist
205 posts since 2 Nov, 2017

Post Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:54 pm

BONES wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 5:23 pm
vurt wrote:
Sun Jun 13, 2021 9:56 am
and yes, i imagine you would hear the difference, unless you had cloth ears full of wax and fluff.
I doubt I'd know which was which in a blind test. I've always assumed that an expensive violin was all about feel and playability and that the difference in tone would require a practiced ear. I sure as hell can't tell the difference between a Les Paul and a Stratocaster (or a $50 electric guitar from Aldi for that matter). They are all just guitars to me.
The expensive violin, like most expensive instruments, is about feel and playability AND sound. Cheap factory made violins sound like it. The sound is thin and they’re harder to play. The sound on that video, as he gets into the harder material is obvious and has nothing to do with the price. It has to do with the fact that the Stradivari violin was handmade by a master craftsman hundreds of years ago. Watch again and listen more closely. I could hear the difference on my freaking ipad. This video is even better. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9e0Tuvitkgs

Its the same for brass and woodwind instruments. There is a reason why professionals pay thousands of dollars for good brass instruments: they’re easier to play and have better tone.

Cheap instruments have their place but yes there is a huge difference. Would you hear one cheap violin among a group of expensive ones? Probably not in the setting of a full orchestra. If you replaced every one of the violins with cheap ones? Yes you’d definitely hear it.

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