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#6679 - 07/15/05 10:10 AM No REASON for hardware anymore?
Pierry Offline
Member

Registered: 01/09/00
Posts: 98
Loc: Holland
What is your opinion:

Since software synth's are becoming more and more sophisticated, there is no longer any reason for purchasing much more expensive hardware synth's, samplers, drummodules, etc...

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#6680 - 07/15/05 10:08 PM Re: No REASON for hardware anymore?
Nigel Offline
Admin

Registered: 06/01/98
Posts: 6157
Loc: Ventura CA USA
Oh yeah there is. Softsynths are fine in the studio where a crashed computer just means a reboot. But in a live venue downtime caused by crashes is totally unacceptable. Dedicated hardware synths are much more reliable and have well designed user interfaces that make using then in a live situation much easier.

Hey that is not to say that one day I wouldn't add a laptop to my keyboard rig for playing live gigs. But rely on a laptop alone ???? NO WAY. I work daily with computers and know too well that their performance and reliablility is totally dependant on the the applications they run.

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#6681 - 07/19/05 08:11 AM Re: No REASON for hardware anymore?
3351 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/17/03
Posts: 1194
Loc: Toronto, Canada.
It all depends. You probably realize that no synth sounds exactly like the other. Don't think "Hardware/Software" just think different synths. Whenever you use one to emulate the other there are always differences in the results. Some people really really care about those differences. Some either don't care or simply don't have the ear to be able to tell the difference.

In other words it is a very individual thing.
Some guys don't mind mouse clicking. Some guys can't stand it and prefer knobs, sliders and even patchchords.

-ED-
_________________________
A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.
- - - Oscar Wilde

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#6682 - 07/23/05 04:52 PM Re: No REASON for hardware anymore?
Bluezplayer Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 11/10/00
Posts: 2195
Loc: Catskill Mountains, NY
I agree. I get different things from both. Even though they are close in a lot of ways, I don't expect my CS80V to be exactly like a real CS80, or the Pro53 to be an exact replica of the Prophet 5. I appreciate each module for what it can do instead.

Sometimes I appreciate being able to turn a piece of hardware on, and not having to fiddle with a mouse. Other times, I'm looking for a better sampleset, or an exotic analogue / hybrid sound that my hardware won't give me. Both have their place in my studio.

I've used my software synth setup live several times, with no issues or crashes to date.

AJ
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AJ

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#6683 - 07/26/05 10:02 PM Re: No REASON for hardware anymore?
Nigel Offline
Admin

Registered: 06/01/98
Posts: 6157
Loc: Ventura CA USA
When it comes to comparing modeling synths with the analog synths they try to imitate, try they do because modeling is not an exact science and modeling synths will never sound exactly like the instruments they try to be though the modeling algorithms will become more refined over time. On the plus side they can still sound great in their own way and can come very close to the synth/piano they try to be.

But when you compare software and hardware DIGITAL synths then the way they work is EXACTLY the same ie. microprocessors crunching numbers. FM, wavetable, sampler, ROMpler and modeling synths can all be implemented just the same on computers or stand alone keyboards ( really just proprietary music computers ) and don't differ at all except those running on PCs are running under operating systems like Windows, MacOS or Linux. The only real difference is the D/A converter hardware that also has a big bearing on the quality of the final sound. That is true for software synths as it is for hardware synths.

To be fair to Pierry my original post that indicated that computers are more likely to crash in a live situation should have mentioned that this is unlikely to happen if the computer is used solely for running music applications. If you don't install other non musical apps and don't use it for email and web browsing etc then it will most probably be a solid musical tone source.

I guess for me a lot of it is also the user interface. I like to have sliders and buttons to use playing live. To have to add a control surface to a laptop starts to complicate things though that would be the way to go for live performance.


[This message has been edited by Nigel (edited 07-26-2005).]

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#6684 - 07/27/05 04:51 PM Re: No REASON for hardware anymore?
3351 Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 08/17/03
Posts: 1194
Loc: Toronto, Canada.
Nigel, I will have to kind of disagree with you on that one. Since each hardware digital synth model uses different hardware components (circuitry, processors, converters etc) and software it results in slight (or sometimes dramatic) differences of tone character and response (by that I mean the way the envelopes and LFOs behave. The way the filters work, bit-rates, digital aliasing of all sort etc.)
There are many things that lead to those differences. Some you have mentioned yourself. Some will take up a few pages of diagrams and schematics and endless explanations.

So even though the software Wavestation uses basically the same waveforms there are still some things that make it sound different from the original. I can say so with absolute certainty. You've mentioned FM. Well, as you know I own tons of FM stuff. Even though most FM synths (software and hardware) feature original DX7 algorithms (obviously for backward compatibility reasons) if you try to load original DX7 patches on different FM synths (FS1R, SY(77-99), DX7II, FM7) you will find that each will add their own character to the sound. In some cases the patches won't even work and respond the same way. It's a fact.

So to say that digital hardware synths and their software emulations sound exactly the same because they all use micro-processors and crunch numbers is almost as contrived as saying that everything digital sounds the same because it is digital. Truth is, there is more to the process then just numbers.

I must also say that not being able to tell the difference isn't a crime. This isn't a contest on who can hear what and who can hear better. As I keep saying, it is very individual. Some care about that stuff. Some don't.

-ED-



[This message has been edited by 3351 (edited 07-28-2005).]
_________________________
A gentleman is one who never hurts anyone's feelings unintentionally.
- - - Oscar Wilde

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#6685 - 08/29/05 07:52 AM Re: No REASON for hardware anymore?
Pierry Offline
Member

Registered: 01/09/00
Posts: 98
Loc: Holland
Been away for a while...

As you mention 3351, it is not a crime not being able to tell whether a sound comes from a hardware or software synth. Also I agree with the statement that every synth has it's own characteristics: No synth sounds exactly like another.

More than that, I think nobody, not even a "trained ear" can hear the difference between a hardware and a software synth, if he doesn't know the characteristic sound of both the synths.

In other words: Software synths have evolved to match the sound quality of hardware synths (that is, if the right computer hardware is being used).

So, my problem lies here: Why would I still spend so much money on hardware, while I can achieve the same with much cheaper -and much more compact- software?

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#6686 - 08/29/05 10:19 AM Re: No REASON for hardware anymore?
abacus Offline
Senior Member

Registered: 07/21/05
Posts: 4771
Loc: English Riviera, UK
Hello Pierry
I agree with you, but at the present time only 2 manufactures make keyboards were this is possible, (Wersi & Lionstracs) and these are at the top end of the market.
The only other way is to take a computer and keyboard with you, which for OMB use means additional setup work.
Give it another 5 years or so then the Arranger keyboards and Workstations that we know today will probably be gone, and there will just be controller keyboards were you choose what software modules you require.

Bill
_________________________
English Riviera:
Live entertainment, Real Ale, Great Scenery, Great Beaches, why would anyone want to live anywhere else (I�m definitely staying put).

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#6687 - 09/21/05 07:14 AM Re: No REASON for hardware anymore?
Tim_S Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 12/24/03
Posts: 22
Loc: Christiana,PA,USA
I have been playing software synths live for awhile with no problems. I do keep a hardware unit just in case.I use M-audio keyrig and some of the Native instuments stuff. Using the Evolution UC33e I can control just about anything I want to. I use an Averatec laptop with the Echo 24 bit sound card and monster cable to the direct box. M-audio key rig is a really great setup with four modules including the B-3 sounds,FM,Analog.
I really like the ability to by another whole instrument for 200.00. The sounds are pristine.
_________________________
Tim

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#6688 - 09/24/05 02:40 PM Re: No REASON for hardware anymore?
evanh Offline
Junior Member

Registered: 09/24/05
Posts: 5
Loc: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
hey I'm new to the board... had questions about this particular subject... I'm wondering about a live setup. If I want to perform with sounds from various keyboard (ie. some unique sound I've recorded with a prophet 5), and need to represent these patches as accurately as possible live, should I use a software sampler like Kontakt to sample the tone? Also, if I'm using a Mac laptop, what kind of output device do I need?... do I need to go through an M-box or some other sort of external audio device? Appreciate any thoughts.

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