Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Hardware Vs. Software Synth / Sampler

As we all know that for past so many years we have been using hardware synthesizers and Samplers in creating music. But now the time have changed, we all mostly opt for software synth / Samplers ( better know as VSTi, DXi, RTAS and REWIRE Modules etc. ).

  1. The advantage of a software plugin is that it can be upgraded or modified over the period of time to keep pace with the technology, whereas hardware synth / sampler gets out dated over time and there is no resale value also.
  2. If your system ( Computer ) is giving trouble or not working, you can install the plugin on a different system and keep working while your first system gets repaired; whereas if your hardware synth / Sampler is not working you become helpless and have to wait till you get it repaired ( its difficult to obtain specific parts also ).
  3. It is a difficult job to carry all your rigs ( Samplers, Synthesizer, sound modules, mixer & cables etc.) to studio or any other place and make all cable connections to start working on the project. Whereas you can carry all your plugins ( VSTi, Dxi, RTAS & Rewire Modules etc. ) within your laptop or computer itself.
  4. FREE Hardware synth / Samplers are not available, whereas you get many FREE Vsti and Dxi plugins for download. Hence your number of virtual instruments can increase without increasing your cost.
  5. Quality of your software synth / samplers depend on you audio interface, So you can always upgrade to a higher quality sound card for better results. Whereas Hardware quality is dependent on its native circuitry and components used which cannot be upgraded.
If you are planning to buy any sampler or module then think thrice about the soft synth before you invest into it. Keep pace with time. These days computer has become the backbone of music production.


  1. you seem pretty biased towards software. Its just not that simple. Soft synths cannot compare to the latest hardware synths (Roland V-synth as an example) ... Soft synths are nice for replicating vintage synths, but thats it ... nothing more than that ...

    If it was so much better, Roland / Korg and everyone else would have stopped manufaturing hard synths and modules.

    Its just not that simple ...

  2. I am not biased at all. I have laid down the pros and cons...thats it. Its upto you to choose. It seems you are not aware of Sampling - "soft synth are nice for replicating vintage synths" is wrong as Software sample can sample your voice and then can play back throough midi triggering. Even all Roland / Korg synths are loaded with sampled sounds. Sounds are sampled, edited, processed in software and then they are loaded into Roms of hardware synth. I am a sound designer for samplers and also product demonstrater of one of the company you have mentioned (does not want to disclose my identity). As far as stop manufacturing is concerned - Did railways stopped after the advent of Airways which is better and Fast.

    Its not that anyway.


  3. The original paragraph did come accross a bit baised. I'm just about to purchase some top end Soft Synths, but only to accompany my hardware studio. So far the physiscal interaction whilse in producing is second to none with hardware, okay so it takes ages but that's the whole excitment albeit a lot more expensive too, but it's so much fun. Now, as a broadcaster and audio person, I've seen the audio programme Reason do its bit for Broacasting promos, and it's quite an amazing bit of software. However, even the engineers here still approve of hardware over Software when it comes to production, it's nice to see Pro-Tools interacting with Hardware and a digital desk. As for me, well, so far I've made my mind up. I've spent a lot of money on my set-up, and my last step is Software synths and a multi-audio out soundcard to route into my mixing desk. Both formats are so exilerating in their own way, then why not combine them. I can't wait! Vivaaa

  4. Let me clear a few things here.

    First of all - You should be aware that all synth (whether hardware or software) are software based. Any synth/Sampler/keyboard you pick from the market - it has a operating software with its version upgradable too which works for the sound proccessing and generating.

    Secondly there cannot be any sound without any hardware (you need to convert your audio data to analog so as to drive a amplifier or speaker. With the soft-synth the hardware is the sound card which has digital to analog covertors to output the sound. The better the card is - better will be the results too.

    This is for information only.

  5. Hi, I've got a big big question about my soft synths. That is,
    if i upgrade my cheap audio interface to a RME FF400 like machine, will my synths sound better than before? (not only better in monitering but also at final mix)

    or just no difference?

    i use Spectras both 3 big synths
    Atmos, trilogy, Stylus RMX and wanna get them sound better.

    Thanks !! :D

  6. It will sound better with a interface like FF400. The quality of final mix depends on the DAW you are using - whether it uses interface's DSP or works without it for processing.

    In any case the sound quality still improves with high end interfaces - since only processing is not responsible for the quality.
    High end interfaces has "better signal to noise ratio", "lower jittering due to stable clock" "better analog to digital (& Vice-versa) convertors" and other improved parameters which are responsible for the results.
    So having a better interface will always improve your final mixes despite whether your DAW uses the interface DSP or not.

    Hope that explains...

  7. i recommend to use Soundcard sound blaster live Audigy to optimal recording for beginner...enjoy it

  8. "First of all - You should be aware that all synth (whether hardware or software) are software based. Any synth/Sampler/keyboard you pick from the market - it has a operating software with its version upgradable too which works for the sound proccessing and generating."

    LOL dude the analog scene is huge right now. and my moog modular will literally kill your soft synths and your virus.. i don't care how many tube pre's you put on that sucker. those synths are still a ways from hitting as hard as analog.

  9. All I know is that software synths sound thin when compared to a hardware version. Trust me I have a very high end audio interface (MOTU 24io) and I can hear the difference. My virus C kills any software synth out there.

  10. People are pretty ignorant when it comes down to
    hardware synths....
    My memorymoog minimoog and arp 2600
    sound NO better than a good softsynth....

    I compared 1 on 1
    with imposcar,oddity minimonsta and
    arturia synths .....

    It's much more FUN to create on the hardware ofcourse...

    But a softsynth is much more effective....

    I can make a whole track with the time it takes to program /patch /route /record my analogues....

  11. i have a question about soft synths, if anyone knows for real, i would apreciatte son answers, when using soft synths in a daw, is it recommended to convert to audio track before mixing the proyect (and then apply compressors, limiters, efects, etc) ? or is it better if you bounce directly everything from midi as it is and apply all aditional procesing in the midi, soft synth form ? thanks

  12. eichdude Good question!. My softsynth don't sound like Vince Clarke sounds, vsti is thin compared with real analog synth, may be, with the real synth, in the process in the studio, analog recording tape machine, real analog compressors... etc etc. the sound get muscles!... in a pc with all "soft" the vsti loses "harmonics"... may be...
    sorry by my bad english. greetings from chile.

  13. Let me bring to your Notice that this is an ERA of Digital Media (i.e. CD, VCD, DVD, Blu-Ray etc.). Hence all work done - whether analogue or digital finally ends into a digital product such as ACD, VCD, DVD etc.

    And if the final product sounds good (which is a sampled/recorded digital format sound from either soft synth or analogue Hardware synth) - the sound sampled from a hardware synth playing through a sampler should also sound SAME (you must have a good sound card with good DA converters - since hardware synths use good DA converters so they always sound good).

    Lastly let me put things this way - "Races are won by Jokeys not Horses"(of-course Jokey with a good horse). So sound also depends on the Sound Technician/Engineer and the machine.

    Eichdude - if you have a good soundcard and powerful computer then mix the midi tracks directly, otherwise you can bounce to audio for stability (in case your machine stalls).

  14. Let's make a quick comparison. To begin with, analogue synths are in a completely different league and cannot be replaced. However, we can compare hardware digital synths with software synths:

    1. A hardware synth is a dedicated computer, because it has a microprocessor, memory, non-volatile storage, etc, much like a conventional computer. However, the hardware synth's operating system and software are optimised to produce sound, whereas your PC or Mac is not optimized for anything in particular.

    2. Your computer is already pretty busy doing lots of other things. A hardware synth will remove most of the overhead associated with sound generation becasue all the hard work is done by the external dedicated hardware.

    3. A lot of synths these days offer a plugin interface so that in your DAW it looks like a VST or AU plugin, with the actual work being done externally by the hardware synth's CPU(s).

    4. There are commercially available systems, such as Raptor, whic effectively is a pretty PC running softsynths. This will remove the overhead of producing sound from your main computer, but is not the same as a dedicated, fully optimised Korg, Roland or Yamaha synth.

    6. Software synths can crash more often than hardware synths. If a hardware synth crashes, it usually can be rebooted while your DAW continues to run, without affecting your work.

    7. Hardware takes up space, needs maintainance/dusting/wiping, gets scratched and cannot be carried around as easily as software.

    8. Hardware is more expensive.

  15. Juan Gabriel HernandezApril 20, 2009 at 5:52 AM

    Hello everyone,

    When it comes to software emulation of software synthesizers to hardware is performance and ease of production flow. There are pros and cons to each in it's own right.

    One challenge that I have encounter is that sometimes the virtual instrument we use can overload the CPU. It is this frustration that I find myself in when the computer crashes. This is a very high distraction while in the creative process.

    I have always kept up to date on drivers and technology evolution but the events of software failure are imminent.

    It is because of this that the integration between emulation and hardware base synthesizers raises a challenge for me on which one is best.

    As an Electronic Musician for over 25 years I believe if you setup a PC have it operate a single dedicated plugin or virtual emulation device. This can get costly.

    In time the big manufacturers will evolve and create dedicated PC sound synths for the fact that PC components become cheaper.

    Thank you all for reading my comment and as always it is a great time for audio engineering.

    Juan Gabriel Hernandez
    C.E.O. Hidden Path TM L.L.C.

  16. There are indeed advantages and disadvantages to both. Software is versatile, expandable and doesn't require repair. However it does have its issues:

    Firstly there is always a certain amount of latency when working with a computer, regardless of how good your sound card is. This delay isn't always much but it can make playing fast passages rather difficult.

    Secondly software synths are so refined that they are capable of just about anything. Consequently it doesn't force you to adopt a unique style or alter your playing techniques. This takes all the fun out of making music, and reduces the demand for real skill. Many modern techniques of playing arose originally because the musician’s hardware limited them, and they needed to be creative to circumvent the problem. (For example, the technique of playing 'crawling spider' chords arose because the Mellotron was unable to sustain a note for more than 8 seconds).

    Thirdly, it is embarrassing as hell to take a laptop computer on stage with you. I run several software synths myself, and I needed to use some of them in a Jethro Tull cover I was doing with some friends. What I ended up doing is creating a huge wooden box, stringing cables through the back of the Machine, and adding a bunch of bells and whistles. When I was done my laptop looked like a Moog Modular. 

    Software and hardware both have their disadvantages, which is why I’m so happy that more and more ‘hybrid synths’ are coming out. You can create patches on a computer, load them onto a hardware controller, and play them independently of the computer. That way you have the convenience of hardware with the flexibility of software. A great example is the Use Audio Plugiator. I think the Nord Modular Synth acts in the same way. Do you guys know of any other similar instruments? Thanks for the help.

  17. Days are gone when we had latency problem while playing soft synths.

    Are you aware that the fastest hardware synth available in the market has 4ms latency ? i.e. when you hit the key and the sound coming from the speaker.

    Do you know there are several sound cards available with latency as low as 2ms.

    I have not yet come across any keyboard player who plays notes at a speed of 2-4 milliseconds.

    Certain misconceptions dominate our thoughts and we are not able to come out of it even when provided with scientific evidence. The computers available today are so fast and powerful that there is no question of latency due to processor.

    The only thing is that it should be CONFIGURED properly for performance by some Qualified Engineer Only (Since every computer owner thinks himself competent enough to CONFIGURE his system).

    Have you seen New audio or video releases on Tape media these days? We all buy digital stuff - i.e. Audio/Video CD/DVD/BluRay Disc etc.

    This means all data is being processed in a computer based (High End) systems only whether produced by analog or digital hardware or software based synth.

    Quality of sound also depends on the DAW Software (Host) itself not just the Vsti Plugin and Sound Card. Of course all this running on a high end computer and not just any computer.

    So don't blame the technology for not getting good sound (equivalent to Hardware) from your computer based system.

  18. Softsynths are ruling the industry today. They are cheap and productive, yet giving you the HQ sound output.

    LOL but none of them can recreate the tasty analogous punch.

  19. hy guys this topic its intresting

    well my 1st hardware synth is korg prophecy

    i still keep it alive and i know its hard to repaired it while i cannot turn on the voltages

    well i compared my prophecy with old sh roland in some gigs

    well the true analog really get input and output base on circuit inside it

    i think everybody knew thats analog to digital cpu even on hardware synth had converter thats makes the voltages jump down

    i called it a hardware transistor as a big waves and hardware digital is small waves

    i already heard tr 808 sounded its really kickin ass on speaker

    i can hear it can slap like a bass guitar player punch off the speaker

    some digital hardware or softsynth i think still have diffrent ways than analog system

    analog system hardware sound well how do i know its plays lock on 44.1khz like (sh roland old)

    on prophecy there a setup 44.1khz output which when it can be adjust but dont give higher into 96khz

    my question is lot of vst softsynts etc sometimes yes eat lot cpu while other not eat cpu depending the computer u have

    but wat bout the signature sounds

    if i have a vst made by roland and the other is vst made by korg

    do they really have a same signature charateristic sound same like the real hardware

    becuz the fact is those two diffrent vst sound output come from same soundcard exp x-fi or wat ever

    its happens always in sampler hardware

    imagin u samples korg and roland in some machines exmp akai and emu

    do think those samples will sound same as the result between akai and emu?

    if i really think i need a same samples so theres must be should some one makes a hardware or software base sampler i think its like mirror glass

    but how do we know sampler this brand and other brand work like that

    a small thing i know is some sampler maker are goes into like a green screen on movies, is just like u can put a background sames like a reality

    i called it green layer which when u imagine u on stages alone while u hit the samples then the sound goes like u can see other drumer n basser etc standing behind u playing

    intresting is it

    i agree softsynt and many more soft synth are more effective now than hardware

    but i comparing between VGA card video technology and Soundcard technology is like earth n moon

    Vga card has more powerfull prosesor than soundcard techology to adopt

    i ve seen some brand already take up work and put some prosesor on it to handle soundcard adc dac as a host vst but i think theres bit probs cuz the brand said need to register vst into the card so the soundcard hosting it cuz i dont know how many vst can be hosted it and compabatible on it

    and i didnt really know is the card can do host plus as sample resample card


  20. Actually software doesn't have too much resale value. People don't like to buy used software. Sometimes the license doesn't even allow you to sell it. And if it does the hassle with the re-registration can be very annoying. Hardware has a much better resale value in general. In the case of hardware you own the product not just licensing it. Big difference.

  21. The idea of a virtual studio is very appealing because it is portable and cheaper (e.g. you can run multiple instance of a reverb plugin). The problem with software is that it's always buggy. Each update introduces new compatibility issues with the OS etc. With a hardware synth none of these problems exist: the MIDI protocol is well established and 100% bug-free. If a MIDI device fails, the DAW cannot crash: it simply loses communication with the MIDI device. I believe that at present most producers spend a good 20% of their time troubleshooting computer problems, whereas 15 years ago they used that time to make music. I think ReWire is as close as you can get to hardware in a virtual studio, because if the ReWire client crashes the host can keep running.

    In my opinion we are going through a stage of transition where nothing is well established. There are too many standards, most of them closed and proprietary standards, such as VST, which stop things from evolving. I wish all DAW manufacturers came to an agreement on stanards rather than fight against each other. MIDI once was the only standard, and everything worked like a dream.

  22. ok I just read this great descussion and i am confussed - can someone prove that hardware is better than softsynths - I really need to know since I am thimking of selling all my synths and going to software. These days I think that compact is not a bad thing.

  23. I spent a great deal of time reading all these comments and here we go. You CANNOT convince me that my $20,000 worth of synthesizers, cannot sound better then soft software from a computer? I have just to name a few, Fantom X, JV-80, JV-880, JV-30, U-110, D-110, Juno 106, and so on.

    Next, the software is meant for people who pirate it or who normally are not true musicians or just wanting cheap sounds. Who use FL or Garage band to peacemill loops together, IE most of Rap/Trance/House type music. Hell I got this program on my old PS2 called Music maker(I think). Yes I made song cool songs on it, but anyone can. It's just drop/drag, everything in the same Key and Tempo, A 4 year old can't make it sound bad. I will admit there are a lot of cheap hardware synths that are basically GM like my JV-30. You get what you pay for and I payed like $250 used and sad to admit it sits in my closet.

    Another example. There is a website out there called . This compares the same Midi file to 100's of hardware and soft synth plug in's using the same file. It is a piano emulation shootout. It has all the hard ones from Roland, Yamaha, Korg to all the plug in's like Native and so on. Other then the lower cost keyboards, The software ones sounded flat and so on.

    The reason for this is simple. Someone like Roland who has a reputation on the line, cannot put out a $3000 keyboard and have it sound like a $40 program and the $40 program (I know some cost in the $300-400 range)and the program sound better. Not possible as they don't have a sound engineer team spending a million dollars making sure the "Grand Piano" they are selling the whole concept on, is not as close to a dead on sound as possible.

    In a nutshell, a hardware synth is yes, software based as there is not a guitar player hiding in the case for that van halen lead sound. On the other hand it is not a cheap program. The are the best samples in the world that any software program under several thousand dollars will never get close to.

    I've never used software in my life after making music for 25 years and never will. Software is just for wanna be's. My 2 cents.

  24. Perhaps Jim is a victim of what is called expectation bias. Having spent $20,000 on his hardware synths, he must now believe they sound better, and he must disparage others who haven't done the same ("wanna-be's"). He can't be wrong, because then he will have wasted his money.

  25. soft synths are amazing but to me, hardware synths just sound more alive, real and organic.

  26. HY FOLKS LET ME SHOW YOU WHERE IS THE TRUTH!! It's ALL ABOUT THE prejudices and stereotypes of thinking

    first. you see... not the origin is that what make the good synth (analog, digital, software) but it's the way how they are make inside...
    There is a good enginiers wich make good softsynths with good procession codes therefore with sound better than the hardware snyhs...the soft synths was tinne and was plastic before because the computars was weak. Now there is not like that!! we can argue long long time with that ARE THE HARDWARE ARE BETTER....actually....and you will see they are not

    second. Roland V-synth is typical Arturia Origin software synthesizer but with not so vintage conception..I mean software in a BOX. That's why the name is v-synth (Virtual Synth)

    Three. It's not true there's no many powerful softsynths in the industry......Tone2, Arturia, Lennar Digital, Steinberg, NI, Propellerhead, FL Studio, reFX, Spectrasonics
    These synths are for powreful computers for multicore procesors.

    The softsynths (like Toxic Biohazard) are not tinne and plastic more than every professional hardware synth

    you may compare Sytrus with DX-10 from FL studio in the official web-page you will find audio demo and you folks will see that sytrus is better......better because is with better calculations and it's newer and eat more CPU power....also you may compare Sytrus or Harmless with NordLead2 wich from official web page also have audio demonstrations (with the same volume) and you will see how actually small is the sound of Nordlead!!

    The True is......You think the hardware synths is better because you are educated to think like that because many of you are old generation wich percieved the hardware and analog technology imperfections like perfections.It's ALL ABOUT THE prejudices and stereotypes of thinking just like the old man like to listen old music from his young age years......O! Old gramophone with old vinyl and ONE BIG NAIL MAKE NOISE O! SO ROMANTIC ha ha ha ha.... The hardware is not better you think it's better just the sound of the software synth is with more clean substance with no alloy because the virtual environment IS VACUUM environment.
    I may say they are more digital than the digital hardware synths.

    And please dont make deductions like " My virus C kills any software synth out there" because as I said this is only your imagination. THE NEW ENIGMA ALBUM IS COMING ON 100% VIRTUAL STUDIO.
    .....I'm interesting to see reply on mi comment............ha ha ha ha

  27. HY FOLKS LET ME SHOW YOU WHERE IS THE TRUTH!! It's ALL ABOUT THE prejudices and stereotypes of thinking

    first. you see... not the origin is that what make the good synth (analog, digital, software) but it's the way how they are make inside...
    There is a good enginiers wich make good softsynths with good procession codes therefore with sound better than the hardware snyhs...the soft synths was tinne and was plastic before because the computars was weak. Now there is not like that!! we can argue long long time with that ARE THE HARDWARE ARE BETTER....actually....and you will see they are not

    second. Roland V-synth is typical Arturia Origin software synthesizer but with not so vintage conception..I mean software in a BOX. That's why the name is v-synth (Virtual Synth)

    Three. It's not true there's no many powerful softsynths in the industry......Tone2, Arturia, Lennar Digital, Steinberg, NI, Propellerhead, FL Studio, reFX, Spectrasonics
    These synths are for powreful computers for multicore procesors.

    The softsynths (like Toxic Biohazard) are not tinne and plastic more than every professional hardware synth

    you may compare Sytrus with DX-10 from FL studio in the official web-page you will find audio demo and you folks will see that sytrus is better......better because is with better calculations and it's newer and eat more CPU power....also you may compare Sytrus or Harmless with NordLead2 wich from official web page also have audio demonstrations (with the same volume) and you will see how actually small is the sound of Nordlead!!

    1. Hi There, I have to say you are wrong. .second the art of making music its all about ideas and feelings. if your using analogue synth are softsynth it comes down to choice. what ever works for you and no NEW ENIGMA ALBUM IS COMING OUT IS NOT 100% VIRTUAL STUDIO.

  28. The True is......You think the hardware synths is better because you are educated to think like that because many of you are old generation wich percieved the hardware and analog technology imperfections like perfections.It's ALL ABOUT THE prejudices and stereotypes of thinking just like the old man like to listen old music from his young age years......O! Old gramophone with old vinyl and ONE BIG NAIL MAKE NOISE O! SO ROMANTIC ha ha ha ha.... The hardware is not better you think it's better just the sound of the software synth is with more clean substance with no alloy because the virtual environment IS VACUUM environment.
    I may say they are more digital than the digital hardware synths.

    And please dont make deductions like " My virus C kills any software synth out there" because as I said this is only your imagination. THE NEW ENIGMA ALBUM IS COMING ON 100% VIRTUAL STUDIO.
    .....I'm interesting to see reply on mi comment............ha ha ha ha

  29. although i agree with Ethnohumanoid
    about many stuff he said..that old people like old music and old habbits...i agree....but

    what i know is that a software synth runs on a computer usually on a pc so the software synth depends on the audio card and the pc's CPU.while you 're working with the soft synth a lot of things may happen at the background which can cause bad performance(even the sequencer and a finished project is heavy enough).When we talk about the Virus or the Supernova(Virtual analogs) we talk about
    a "single-tasking computer"not a multi-tasking does one thing emulating all the modules of an analog synthesizer and that's "it. it doesn't have to remember that you got 3 e-mails or something or that some crazy program you downloaded needs updates"

    I would say that the difference between the Virus and a soft synth.
    It is the same difference like with the PS3 and a PC.simply PS3 games look better because they are designed to run on a specific hardware.The same applies for VA hardware synths simply sound will always be depended on your sound card if you use soft synths and if your sound card is not top of the range you don't have much chances to sound better than a Supernova...

  30. people who support soft synths fanaticly, usually don't have hardware synths at all. i got two hardware units and 5 soft synths
    i have an HS-60(juno 106) and a novation nova, soft synths like imposcar sound so small next to these"guys".

  31. hello guys let me tell you something about sound engineers ...In 1998 Cher released her track believe with the famous "vocoder effect".
    when a magazine asked the sound engineers how did they do it...they said we used a vocoder...LOL!!
    all the Hardware VA of the time incorporated a vocoder because of that....hahah after years the same guys admitted the truth... WE DIDN'T USE A VOCODER!!!...actually they did it with the antares when you hear some famous bands saying I USE ONLY SOFTWARE...they lie, nobody reveals their secrets don't believe the hype... They don't want you to recreate their sound..
    and it makes sense.

  32. Hello again :-) .... Imposcar is synth from GForce Software as far as I know ..sorry I dont want to hurt somebody but Imposcar is not example of quality and they not make good synths so of course Juno 106 is better ...I wish them luck but for now for me Imposcar is like Yamaha PSR 78 ......of you know what I mean Sylenth is much much better....also Imposcar is very old. I'm with Tascam US1641 interface and the problem was that the driver was so heavy so I can't use the computer for nothing except harddisc recorder until I buy Asus m4a785td-v evo wich soundcard is good as Tascam us 1641 is good. I did not expect but I found a surprise ...actually the quality is the same! I compare it many many times so I use the interface only in the old computer and transfer with flash-memory :-) to the other comp. in fL studio is very flexible .......the "hardware" synths also make many tasks in the same time like Roland V-synth and Alesis Micron Roland Fantom and many others but they are limited instead the computers are open-expand systems there you can install (for exapmle) 3 multicore processors when only the one core is 2800 hrtz speed so the total speed is 15900 hrtz aaaaaaauuuuuuu.....another myth is that the hardware synths are with more powerful processors ...also i'm not shure actually what role play the soundcard except just output here everything is "going on" virtually. Also very interesting is Absynth-4!! Absynth-4 is synthesizer with not so fat sound like Sytrus but so incredible patch's with so talanted conception and the all construction of almost all invented synthesis technics avalable so......hmmmm ......the more you know more parse that can not be disadvantage. I mean that the sounds in the nature have different thickness and fatness like the flute is thin but the trumpet is more fat! But the flute is more flexible and fast but the trumpet have dynamic power!! So I do not think that this is a good indicator of the synthesizer quality because the digital synths are thin but cold and not so aggressive say: The analog synths are the best because are fat and warm" is just untenable interpretation beyond objective for me what do you think ???.........................

  33. go check hardware synths by yourself many people here explained in detail why hardware is much better and they know what they're talking about, but you seem like you don't understand.
    so go and check them by yourself in a store or something ,pretend you wanna buy it and they will let you check has many advantages against hardware but these advantages don't have to do with the audio quality of soft synths.

  34. O! I've dealt with many synthesizers, different synths from stores and friends from the branch also other places.From many years I have the opportunity to buy hardware synthesizers ... I like the hardware! I like Waldorf Blofeld (for example), recently I found where to buy one old classic digital Roland D-110 ..... I have Reason Electromecanical , Reason pianos and Abbey Road Keyboards REFILLS. Hey !! believe me there is no hardware ROM player, sampler or workstation wich sound is so impressive and natural in the same time ........or wich hardware ROM player sound like Omnisphere?'s true Omnisphere use samples from hardware source just like every other ROM player but not sound like that.....
    The other myth is that "the software is cheap for poor musicians" ha ha ha ha....the software is cheap because it is not wasted materials for chip cards, plastic which if they are too much will be too expensive. That's why MicroKorg cost only 500 euro!! Because it's small and the materials are 3 times less .......but Ompnisphere cost 379 euro. How much will cost that whit all bunch of 50 Ghrtz harddisk, chips, big screen and electronics in one big box with beautiful design and with 60 keys keyboard? ....... I think you have to go here

    or here is very interesting

    wach the video!!!!
    about the computer soundcards read again the post it's clear ....if the sound what you hear is bad from bad soundcard when you record it on CD and hear it somewhere else you will hear it better....I'm telling you from my own experience ...but only if you record inside not if you transfer the signal out or want to record from outside
    .......OK! The offer for Roland-110 is good tell me why I should buy the synthesizer and I will..........

  35. Hello Sarvesh,

    I have the S5000 AKAI sampler, unfortunately not used too often, and I am wondering ... is it still worthwile to use it for music production from a user friendly and time/effort point of view ... compared to those (unknown to me) softsamplers?

  36. Hello Anonymous! I have noting to add of the conversation about the hardware and software anymore ......for the PlayStation 2 I have not even thought about what you say because I've seen such amazing things from the Game Computers .... there is a special game computers designed only for games and "profesional" gamers I see you can't defeat nothing of my words what I post here :-) goodbye

  37. Hello Puskas1978 ....please may I also answer to your question?

    There is no usable and unusable instruments ..... it does not matter what you have but it does matter what you do. The instruments are just empty boxes ( the computer also)'s not important the instrument it's important your production ... I don't mean it's not important the quality! But in the sense of that - don't be slave of the instruments because the music is not there! It's in your mind when you may hear all symphonic orchestra and not have any instruments in your room around you.But when you give the box significance TO MUCH the 4 walls of the box of your instrument become the 4 walls of your jail and lock you .....OK? I'm telling you from my own experience I'm professional composer and producer. The right way is to use your imagination to hear the music in YOU! you are the instrument and then when you hear it search the right sound in your Akai S5000 sample library wich will fit PERFECT to your idea.....with Akai S5000 you can make wonderful things it's very good sampler! But if it's not the best your music will be the best because the result will be the best ...and then the box will be the best.
    ha ha ha ha........

    I have a collection of samples library from Akai S1000 and E-MU ESI32 patch/sample converted to different software formats : soundfont, Giga, NNXT and I use it with Halion 3 ....but as I said it does not matter.

    Buy buy ..............

  38. My main concerns is that in order to loop/synch/trim my samples with the S5000, i will loose so much time ... compared with softsamplers, which have a lot of tools for that i guess.

    I am into dance and electro, so not sure the S5000 is still a good tool ...

  39. after comparing my hardware with softsynths all day, i can confidently conlude that hardware does sound better. i made the exact same patches on my blofeld and softsynth, the hardware wins. but what i dont understand is that when analyzing the sound spectrum of both the hardware and software, the frequencies look almost the same...

  40. After 6 years of using VSTs, last week I bought a YAMAHA MOTIF XF8 and I tell you why.

    1-Using too much VSTs in a project will results in more crashes and errors. I had enough of that.

    2-Finding a suitable sound for a particular song sometimes was a pain in the ass, I had to process the sound to be able to use it. With hardware it's not the case.

    3-the overall quality of hardware is better than the softwares.

    Believe me I have experience with both and I will tell you don't fully rely on PC for making music. Computer should not turn into musical instrument. The best way is to buy a good hardware workstation and use some VSTs to compensate for your hardware shortcomings.

  41. I totally agree with Sarmad ... I will go to buy next week workstation ... in my case it is Kurzweil PC3X ... I think that after more than 10 years playing with softsynths, I will not have a lot of problems to get inside VAST. My style is ambient, downtempo, acid jazz and I found that this station realy fits me and sounds totally amazing ... none of my soft synths sounds like this without additional painfull processing ... and I'm not talking about mastering in studio ... lot of those soft synths become total pain when comes to the final master ... I have Spectrasonics set, NI komplete, and more other ... I have Quad Intel with 8GB RAM, NI Kontrol card, 10k rpm disks and DAW is Cubase. But I'm totally confused when I'm in the mood and soft suddenly crashes or produce harsh and whatever ... and I must restart Cubase ... it realy sucks and all the ideas just go out and I'm only pissed off ... So I go to the hardware ... first buy is Kurz, next in the plan is V-synth and than I will see ... may be Virus TI2, but I'm not sure that I will need this ... adio VSTi ... and for all who things that VA is the same as their PC, please read something about DSP and dedicated systems ... and the development of DSP was not discontinued ...

  42. And I don't talk what happens when you need to reinstall OS and you use X number of softsynths ....

  43. The Hardware wins!!!! REALLY! Do you know that if there were no computers there were no Yamaha DX7 ??? Yamaha DX7 was constructed on computer when the first FM synthesis technology was invented on computer??? Do you like Yamaha DX7 ??? Yamaha DX7 was computer development adapted in portable keyboard box !!!! The early digital synths was computer development. In fact the processors also are computer development from long long time ago before the first virtual analog synth and they are responsible for the the whole development of synthesizers! About the CPU & DSP the difference are formal but from CPU came DSP!The processor is a computer itself...everybody computer engineer know that!!
    And with wich softsynth you compare Waldorf Blofeld? It's very easy to me to compare some of my best softsynths with Yamaha PSR78 and to conclude that the software wins. I have no problems with programs simply because i use System Mechanic 4 and clean every junk in the system with the PC maintanence Wizard function, I have a friend who help me sometimes and my computer never block because I know how to exploit cearfuly.
    And what do you know ! I was thinking to buy exactly Waldorf Blofeld but soon I changed my mind
    The nature of the softsynths have different touch so they sound creamy & sweet compare to almost every hardware synth but tinne! plastic! NO. Here I hope we are professional and compare only the high class......Yamaha PSR also sound tinne & plastic and it's hardware!...not the origin is what make a good synth but how the engineers construct that instrument.

    Your evaluation is simply the result of deep prejudices and attitudes to reject the software synthesizes regardless of objectivity or truth you reject in advance ... and then you are fooling that compare and deny something that never really actually compare EVER !! Because you already reject!!But you never will confess to yourself it's because your you ?
    You thing only what is satisfy and comfort for you........
    I'm not like that. I can't tell you how to thinking & I must not BUT LET MY POSTS & COMMENTS BE A MODEL FOR MANY CONFUSED ARTISTS & MUSICANS FOUND THAT WEB-PAGE SEARCHING FOR ANSWERS.........................

  44. The question is not in that are the software synths thin or thick because Waldorf PPG also is extremely thin. The question is you do not form its assessment in objective conditions.
    EXAMPLE: Imagine you are musician in electronic music with career in the 70's. The only you know, the only you saw is short piece of the electronic instruments through the last 10 years....only analog. You work many years with that analog Moog, Oberheim, Elka synths and your idea about computers in that time was simply as ENIAC....a ugly big room with bunch of cabels and systems wich process very slowly.SO.....naturally you think Roland Jupiter is the best electronic instrument in the galaxy and think ENIAC is capable only for calculations........SO your conclusion is that Juipiter is the best & ENIAC is incapable crap. That's OK! But through the years & distant of time your observations became bias (prejudgement) SO..... you form your assessment influenced by many subjective factors. But how you can?? you still have not seen anything !! You dont know nothing about the electronics! You know only short don't realize that the analog synths are that what they are because the electronics was that what they WAS (were). Nothing more than that....the quality of the digital oscillator is better than the analog oscillator...but you dont realize it's because your predjudice wich are absolutely subjective SO THEY ARE NOT TRUTH!........" the analog synths are great because they are warm & fat and vibrant and tick and.....""..........what does it mean that??????????? Nothing!!!!!!

    In my country In the early days of electronic instruments many people was underestimated synthesizers because they are not natural sound like the viola and violin .......that's ridiculous naturally. The synths are not simulations of the acoustic instruments they are just other type of means of expression in the music. When you have idea to make col-legno you will use Violin but when you have idea to modulate you will use synthesizer. Yes we have simulation synthesis but it is a secondary phenomenon.......... The principles of the modern music are does not matter to sound natural it does matter to sound better than natural when some times the artificial sound can achieve better results!!

    I explore the hardware synths also by audio demonstrations and loops & sample library like Gorgio Moroder Synths from Akai S but converted through soundfont for my's possible because the samples for hardware samplers are rarely compressed & processed and as professional engineer I can hear when something is processed. The hardware samples are very RAW....i mean they are just raw looped audio tracks!!

    OOOOOOOOOOOO! stop bullshit!!!!!!
    THE SOFTWARE SYTHESIZERS ARE THE BEST!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    that's it.

  45. Its true that people working with soft synths have a difficult time getting out of their domain.Scott was right 200%.Just close ur eyes and compare any 2 instruments sound .Its bound to be in favour of hardware.I would have left recording completely if hardwares were absent now days.
    if its plastic sound waves ...its soft synths...
    the emulation ..not the REAL

  46. I think the anonymous post underneath is very interesting. He actually repeat the sense of my words ....approximately.

    Actually many people from the music business & industry repeat that words and I missed the moment when Scott mention FL Studio......Actually Mike Oldfield using exactly FL Studio on Lite & Shade album wich is (how he say) every thing software based! May be he have a difficult time getting out of their domain.....let see what he say about HERE

    Or just see the new studio of Michael Cretu (The father of Enigma) HERE

    FL-Studio are very very talented programmers. Their Sytrus is one of my favorite and I often compare it with Albino but Sytrus have better color nuance and somehow concentration of detail in sound.
    There is a dark bronze sound nuance specially in the new Harmless......lovely!!

  47. .....but I also compare it and compare so many others software synthesizers : Rapture, Gladiator2, FM8, Massive, MS20(Korg Legacy) with Roland Juno 106......and мy observations are that even in this situation to compare synths with so different characteristics there is no lack of fatness in the soft synths. When it's the same gain, octave and even when the sound is very different some software may sound more bright & clear but still wide and "the bottom" the low frequences are there 100%. Now I'm even more convinced about soft synths and have the feeling that even I underestimated them a little.....comparing to them Roland Juno 106 have no that clearness and wideness and gives an impression of shrink and cloudy picture.

    My conclusion is that people who reject the software or software synthesizers just are slaves of prejudices or probably try to discredit the software because they hate the computers by many reasons.....and that's why they search a explanation wich can look plausible and the same time comfortably for them.
    Don't believe to people hwo describe the software synthesizers as "tinne, plastic, toys simulations wich are not real" or "the quality of processors are not the same" or "they are not warm" and so on..............

  48. I have compared soft synths in Mytek converters.Still not warm enough.Even big productions like Enigma (if they used softsynths)will sound cold compared to the earlier releases.
    Same results applied in case on softsynth running on my fireface.Now fireface cannot be said to be a lousy ad-da converter.
    Maybe in the future softwares will produce good sound quality.
    However mixing in the box (daw) can provide excellent results if approached the right and disciplined way.

    I dont have any bias towards my pc.
    I love computers like anything .
    I know what it can do and what not

  49. Ok....I'm shure you don't hate the computers...My mistake is to said so many things but the conclusion was not fully... I think it can't be so keep in mind all my post like one big conclusion.
    About "the warmness" you are talking I mentioned some thing..........
    The analog synthesizers sound like that because their sound is a result of the inventions of the technology in the 70's...their sound is not a result of achieving the best sound or instrument! Their sound is what technology is those days. They sound really warm but this is only a characteristic like every other........and I think here is exactly one of the speculations.

  50. ....many people have just attitude to not recognize the software full potential because they spend money in luxury hardware studio or just are easily under the influence of prejudices of many people around or just they are pretty conservative..........There is a many reasons but every one is no objective.........The day when the software can produce good sound quality already past before 7-8 years wich are long distance of time for the computer technology.

    by the way I don't see modern synthesizer wich can sound warm more than the software synthesizer. Indeed they may in their own way but if you want warmness like analogue can do then I suggest you to buy Doepfer Dark Energy.....analogue synth with 100% analog engine from Doepfer

    ...and it's very affordable

  51. Thanks Ethohumanoid,
    That was a good link.
    I want to ask a question.Is it possible for you personally to achieve good sytnh sound out of software only...I cannot ..Rapture Dimension pro,stylus etc. I have.But after the mix why does it sound cold though the human factor is more present in softwares (like dif. controls for everything etc.)
    I need to find a way because I have invested a lot of money in softwares also . Those are lying idle.
    if u can give ur site ..where you have music done with ur software that will bbe a great help.


  52. About your softwares being 100 % in having the bottom end is also puzzling to me..Thats is the exact position of problem ...shallow low end....

  53. Sound quality with soft synths is no longer the issue. Latency is no longer the issue.

    The ONLY issue is CPU laod, or more precisely OVERLOAD.

    (The following assumes that the DAW and soft synths are running on different computers)

    What if you make music that is longer than your average commercial or pop song? Not short burst of synth washes, strings and throbbing sequences, as you would hear in a typical movie soundtrack, but music where the song clocks in at over 10 or 20 minutes long? If your soft synths are dragging your CPU down to, say, 80% load, yet there are only 2-4 patches running, what are you going to do when your composition demands that you CHANGE patches?

    Well, with soft synths you can't do as you would with hardware synths and send a program change MIDI message to swap the sound out of memory for a new one. Soft synths take way too long to unload/load patches, so patch change is out of the question.

    I hope you can see how that becomes a problem when music gets complicated, requiring MANY patch changes. Unless you make music that only uses, say, 6-10 patches per song, then you're OK. But if your songs are very long and complex, requiring 20, 40 or more different sounds, soft synths are problematic.

    Of course, some will say that it's not a problem at all and that soft synths can be recorded to audio tracks as the song progresses, thus nullifying the need for program changes. Once recorded, the user can replace old patches with new ones and keep composing and recording.

    Yes, that works. But, we're still not escaping the CPU overload monster. By rendering most, if not all, soft synth patches/instances to audio we stand the chance of overloading the CPU that's running the DAW! If a song is very long, it could result in hundreds of audio tracks and that kind of recording gets out of hand real quick.

    Why are hardware synths "better" in that case? Well, for starters, h/w synths swap their combinations(in Korg parlance) or programs as fast a lightning! They are dealing ONLY with chips and not a hard disk. So, when you send a program change from a MIDI track on your DAW to a hardware synth, the change happens nearly instantaneously. Something that is physically impossible for software synths to do, because most of their sounds live on the hard disk. Although some soft synths may allow pre-loading of sounds into RAM, the program switching doesn't occur fast enough to allow for continues and fluid program switching.

    A second problem with Software synths...they cost less, but are MORE expensive in the long run. There is no guarantee that XYZ s/w synth, that runs today on Win 7 or Mac OS X, will run TOMORROW on Win X or Mac OS XV. Software synth vendors will either discontinue a product or ask us to fork out more $$ to upgrade to a newer version that is compatible with your latest OS.

    NONE of those are issues with h/w synths. You buy a Triton, Fantom, Motif or Virus and unless it physically gets damaged, it SHOULD run for ever! Well, as long as MIDI is around ;-)

    So, am I a h/w guy? Not really. Am I a s/w guy? Not really. I look at both for what they are and each has its pros and cons.

    If you're able to render your s/w instances to audio without much problem and doing so addresses your personal music goals, then go for s/w. If, on the other hand, you find yourself punching holes in your studio's walls each time a CPU crashes or you run out of tracks on your DAW because your s/w instances take up most of your audio, then DO NOT get rid of your h/w.

    ~ J.R.

  54. One more point...

    For about the same amount of $$$ that you'd pay for a Minimoog Voyager or a Roland Fantom you can get 2-3 used PCs, with good quality sound cards(ie m-audio audiophile) and a half dozen, or MORE, top software synths plus some professional DSP effects. The output of the PCs can be routed into a USB sound module with multiple inputs(8 or more, typically) with built in mixing capabilities. Of course, you'd need MIDI controller/s, but those are cheap these days.

    That entire setup could be fitted onto a relatively small DESK, without the need for external instrument racks, cables, boxes(of many types) and the processing hardware(reverbs, compressors etc.) that populates those racks.

    Note: I say 2-3 PCs because it's not recommended to run ONLY ONE PC when using soft synths. The CPU overhead is way too costly and if you plan on running your soft synths on the same PC as your DAW, you WILL experience hangs and crashes. When I hear people talking about running their soft synths on the same box that they run their DAW, I always say: spend a bit more $ and get ANOTHER PC(or 2, or 3!) for your soft synths!

  55. We do have to admit that software has come a huge deal from 1980. Matter of fact, you can make a pretty rocking song from all software. I've done it for years.

    The problem is the technology, equipment, and time spent in hardware based applications like the Korg M3 are just gonna sound better. Not because hardware is better but because their resources available.

    The article above is lopsided to software and we all have to acknowledge it. The big boys who spend the time tweaking the sounds on the boards have done all the work for us. It's just that the software based instruments that are sampled will not sound as good because they dont have the environment and money it takes to sample a sound like roland, yamaha, korg, and kurzweil can.

    If you are using a vsti that uses synthesis then you can tweak it to sound just as good as a hardware based synth provided they provide you with enough parameters to adjust. But it is extremely difficult for a home user to replicate a sound because of the analog techniques used that the soft synth cant replicate.

    And while it is true that all sounds are software based these days (Some are just played back as raw samples from the hardware and this is considered software based), we must not be confused with software based vs software generated.

    My qualifications:
    I am a sound engineer, own a recording studio, and travel as a touring musician.

    Other than that I know nothing about sound.

  56. ha ha ha ha ha!! you make me laugh! You are very congested..are you?
    The mean of existing of the software synthesizers is not to replicate or imitate the hardware synths! Programs like Arturia Oddity, Korg Legacy collection or Predator are lateral case.The software synths are THE THIRD GENERATION of the synths & electronic music evolution!!! And that's why they open another endless world of sonic tape of stupid head!!!! The Arturia synths may not sound absolutely like the analog but the difference is so small so it's insignificant so far to achieve the effect you achieve the result.....

  57. And the software synths may sound some how thin & plastic( if they sound thin at all because there is a software synth wich sound is fat and warm like the most warm and fat analog synth) tell me with what that make them less good compare to every hardware and analog synth! There is nothing what make them less good.
    Thin!? PLastic!? Nasal!? EXACTLY!!! Are they so beautiful. Exactly that's why they are so remarkable wonderful synths with so beautiful sound with so fine colors and nuances of soft and creamy binary sound. Absynth, Reaktor, Vanguard, Massive, Albino. Wich hardware or analog synth can sound like the software? Tell me if you can.

  58. A great mix can be done with both software and hardware synths. Good processing can make soft synths sound pretty good because it is all in the digital domain.

    Hardware synths need good converters. If hardware synths are D.I.'ed into something like a 1073 and a great compressor, hardware is King because the sonic from transformers are like mojo. The sound is much superior and more professional. However, an engineer can take software synths and bus them out for the same processing as hardware. People made million of dollars with both. The workflow is great in the digital domain.

    Nevertheless, a good producer can make a mix sound good with anything.

  59. You should rename this blog SOFTWARE SYNTH'S ARE BETTER THAN HARDWARE SYNTHS. Where are the plus points for hardware?

  60. I have a couple top modern hardware synths (kurzweil, korg) and many software emulations like SampleTank, Atmosphere, Omnisphere, Hypersonic, Kontakt and many more...

    What is the truth?

    Giggin' musician will always use hardware on stage and software in the studio. Software synths have better sound and are more intuitive but are less stable than hardware. Guys... Try run during concert 6-7 software synths inside one PC/MAC in any host program. Then try to change patches... It's not impossible, but it takes a lot of time. To much time in case of playin' live! And remember... we have only two hands. What if you play a piano part and need to add strings as a layer? Laptop/Receptor is too far to make it quickly! So... software maniacs, I see Your point o view (I am also one of You!) but anyone who plays like me 200-250 concerts a year will say that hardware is quite enough and we don't need software force! For example, in my K2600, Korg Oasys and Korg M3 I have arsenal of sounds, that will fill my next 10-20 albums. I don't need software because it doesn't bring anything new to my keyboard rig. Think... how many leads, brasses, pads, strings do you need? Listen to e.g. Van Halen and write down sounds from any album to see that the key is... good music and good arrange! Even the best synths will sound like a shit in terrible composed & mixed, crappy songs.

    Last but not least ;)... Buy 2 hardware synths, record and than publish your album. When you start playin' your tour - belive me that sofware will be a relaxing toy (almost like vodka) for fun between shows ;))

    I think, that in not far future, software synths will be just a part of hardware's OS. It would be a dream... One keyboard with power of 10 PCs. Stable, powerful, compact, light weight, intuitive, with miolions of factory/user sounds, packed into one, sexy metal box ;).

    Greetings to All!

  61. Biased!

    Yes software synth's are good If you have a limited budget or little space... but lets just compare a software synth with an analogue beast like a Roland Jupiter 8 or a Juno 106. Software synths are extremely flat boring and digital sounding and have no character, while the analogue beasts sound a thousand times more gritty, uncontroled and real. Even "emulation" sounds nothing like the real thing.

    And if soft synths are so wonderful then how come every single real band (you know the ones that are talented enough to perform live, not just play a post-production recording) use hardware synths? E.g the prodigy use Moogs and things and they sound brilliant... Their not just talent-less DJ's


Popular Posts