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What is the point in digital hardware synths?
Old 15th August 2021
  #1
Here for the gear
 
What is the point in digital hardware synths?

Sorry for the clickbait title but i'm interested to hear peoples thoughts and opinions on this. I'm a big fan of analogue synths. I own three (Moog subsequent 37, Moog Matriarch, Vermona Perfourmer).

I have owned a digital synth before. The Sub 37 was my first hardware synth. About a year after buying it I got a Novation Peak. After that was the Vermona then the Matriarch (after selling the PEAK.) I enjoyed the interface and the mod matrix on the PEAK but after a year of owning it I realised that it hadn't actually made it onto any of my released tracks. The Sub 37, Matriarch and Perfourmer however have been used on every track i've released in the last year. So I know I made the right decision by selling it.

I am happy with the sounds i'm getting from this combination and don't feel the need to add anymore analogue synths to my collection. I've started looking into digital synths to give me a different flavour. I've been looking at the Prophet X a I like the idea of blending samples with synth voices, but I can do that with Omnisphere and other VTSs.

Other than the addition of an analogue filter why would you buy a Prophet X (or any other digital synth) over a VST, considering the £2,000 price difference.
Old 15th August 2021
  #2
Moderator
 
Don Solaris's Avatar
 
4 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Cause they sound so freaking awesome.

















Any more questions, man?
Old 15th August 2021
  #3
Gear Addict
The same reasons why you'd want a hardware analog over a VST.

Also they make more sounds than saw or pulse through a filter. I.E. not boring.
Old 15th August 2021
  #4
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
Kind of a tired subject tbh but to answer your question, hardware synths are fun to play and softsynths are not. Playing an instrument vs using an app. The sound is not the only important thing (to me).
Old 15th August 2021
  #5
Lives for gear
 
cane creek's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
1) take a blow up doll to a brothel,

2) try the blow up doll,

3) then try one of the fleshy variations on offer.

4) leave the brothel fully understanding the difference between a software plugin and a hardware digital synth.
Old 15th August 2021
  #6
Lives for gear
 
jazzcabbage's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Made By Pete ➡️
Other than the addition of an analogue filter why would you buy a Prophet X (or any other digital synth) over a VST, considering the £2,000 price difference.
Tone considerations aside? Speed of workflow.
Old 15th August 2021
  #7
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by Made By Pete ➡️
Sorry for the clickbait title but i'm interested to hear peoples thoughts and opinions on this. I'm a big fan of analogue synths. I own three (Moog subsequent 37, Moog Matriarch, Vermona Perfourmer).

I have owned a digital synth before. The Sub 37 was my first hardware synth. About a year after buying it I got a Novation Peak. After that was the Vermona then the Matriarch (after selling the PEAK.) I enjoyed the interface and the mod matrix on the PEAK but after a year of owning it I realised that it hadn't actually made it onto any of my released tracks. The Sub 37, Matriarch and Perfourmer however have been used on every track i've released in the last year. So I know I made the right decision by selling it.

I am happy with the sounds i'm getting from this combination and don't feel the need to add anymore analogue synths to my collection. I've started looking into digital synths to give me a different flavour. I've been looking at the Prophet X a I like the idea of blending samples with synth voices, but I can do that with Omnisphere and other VTSs.

Other than the addition of an analogue filter why would you buy a Prophet X (or any other digital synth) over a VST, considering the £2,000 price difference.
If you don't care about interface or working outside the DAW then there's no reason.

Calling the Peak a digital synth is a bit odd - even hybrid is a stretch (are Roland DCOs are also hybrids?). Maybe you just didn't like the sound of the synth.
Old 15th August 2021
  #8
Gear Maniac
 
🎧 10 years
I play in a band with other musicians, and my hydrasynth is:

nicer than bringing a controller and laptop

and

it's far, far cheaper than analogue equivalent (if there is a single equivalent that's portable).
Old 15th August 2021
  #9
Gear Head
 
just joining the choir to say "interface".
Old 15th August 2021
  #10
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
Will the big three ever go software only? Like in 40 years?
Old 15th August 2021 | Show parent
  #11
Lives for gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Savagery ➡️
Kind of a tired subject tbh but to answer your question, hardware synths are fun to play and softsynths are not. Playing an instrument vs using an app. The sound is not the only important thing (to me).
Some hardware synths are not fun to play with i.e. cruddy interface (common)

But anyway a digital synth gives you a built in computer to run it on. Not everyone wants or has a PC.

Digital synths are often much more deep and more interesting than straight analogues. Why would anyone want that?
Old 15th August 2021
  #12
Gear Addict
The efficient, fiscally responsible part of me thinks a totally ITB sourcing and recording chain is hyper-flexible, noise free and perfect. The human part of me likes physical knobs and imperfection and a little bit of nostalgia.

Some digital synths might be VSTs in a box but you still get the benefit of hands-on, muscle memory, eyes closed tweaking and an analog signal you can mess with in the analog domain (which might really be my favorite part).

The only digital keys I have at the moment are a Streichfett and an Emax 1. If I happen upon a good deal on a Virus C or a JD-800 I’d happily snap it up. My problem is more about space these days…and yes, those VSTs are pretty space efficient.
Old 15th August 2021 | Show parent
  #13
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Don Solaris ➡️
Cause they sound so freaking awesome.
Any more questions, man?
I wonder why you uploaded the pictures of the synths, not the sound, when you are talking about the sound. Some kind of irony?
Old 15th August 2021
  #14
Lives for gear
 
dj.anti.matter's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
*cracks fingers*

3 Reasons why you need digital hardware synths:

1. VSTs don't last forever and if the developer stops maintaining them, you can't use them anymore. This has happened to me already with some of my first gen softsynths.
2. Digital hardware has a character all its own and the AD conversion adds some extra oomph to the overall sound.
3. Your analog synths can't do this:

Last edited by dj.anti.matter; 15th August 2021 at 11:33 PM..
Old 15th August 2021 | Show parent
  #15
Gear Maniac
Quote:
Originally Posted by wooderson ➡️
Calling the Peak a digital synth is a bit odd - even hybrid is a stretch (are Roland DCOs are also hybrids?).
Hybrid synth usually refers to synths with digital oscillators and analog filters: PPG Wave, Waldorf Microwave, Waldorf Quantum. Which is exactly what Peak is. What would you call it?
Old 15th August 2021
  #16
Lives for gear
 
MixedSignals's Avatar
 
2 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Made By Pete ➡️

Other than the addition of an analogue filter why would you buy a Prophet X (or any other digital synth) over a VST, considering the £2,000 price difference.
Momma gets her new kitchen, you get your new keyboard.
It's called compromise.
Old 15th August 2021 | Show parent
  #17
Lives for gear
 
Quote:
Originally Posted by momomel ➡️
I wonder why you uploaded the pictures of the synths, not the sound, when you are talking about the sound. Some kind of irony?
Iconic digital synths. These are pictures you can hear.
Old 15th August 2021 | Show parent
  #18
Lives for gear
Quote:
Originally Posted by cognistudio ➡️
Hybrid synth usually refers to synths with digital oscillators and analog filters: PPG Wave, Waldorf Microwave, Waldorf Quantum. Which is exactly what Peak is. What would you call it?
Hybrid's fine, I just don't think there's a meaningful distinction being drawn with the term there, so probably just "a synth."

By meaningful distinction, I mean that unless you're an all-analog purist and only really old wavy ones, the digital aspect of how a NCO sawtooth is generated isn't why the OP might dislike the synth (unless one has it in your head that it's a digital synth).
Old 15th August 2021
  #19
Lives for gear
 
Vectorman's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Yeah, mostly interface, at least when it comes to the knobby/slidery ones on synths where the voice architecture isn't really deep. Once you reach a certain level of complexity where you're having to go through hundreds of pages in a touch screen (or click through deep menus on a little LCD), a big GUI on a computer screen can actually be preferable to the hardware. I found myself preferring to program my Virus TI via Virus Control.

As far as the separate issue of the sound goes, I guess once the DSP 563xx Emulator project comes to fruition and we can run Virus B's and C's and Microwave II's and such as plugins, we'll find out what measure of sonic magic they did/didn't acquire by virtue of running in a dedicated device. I have no doubt the inevitable blind tests will be interesting and require much stocking up of popcorn.
Old 15th August 2021
  #20
Lives for gear
 
drockfresh's Avatar
 
🎧 15 years
Play a Bowen Solaris
Old 15th August 2021 | Show parent
  #22
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by Vectorman ➡️
Yeah, mostly interface, at least when it comes to the knobby/slidery ones on synths where the voice architecture isn't really deep. Once you reach a certain level of complexity where you're having to go through hundreds of pages in a touch screen (or click through deep menus on a little LCD), a big GUI on a computer screen can actually be preferable to the hardware. I found myself preferring to program my Virus TI via Virus Control.

As far as the separate issue of the sound goes, I guess once the DSP 563xx Emulator project comes to fruition and we can run Virus B's and C's and Microwave II's and such as plugins, we'll find out what measure of sonic magic they did/didn't acquire by virtue of running in a dedicated device. I have no doubt the inevitable blind tests will be interesting and require much stocking up of popcorn.
If 563xx Emulator will be fully controllable by hardware counterpart, I'm expecting hardware Virus / NL will be more desirable than now, because the software can be used as a voice expander of the hardware. More voice for free. Also the software version will work as an advertisement of the hardware, so that it makes people realize how good Virus / NL are despite of the age. The history proved that people still want to pay $$$ for the authentic version of an instrument even if the copies sound indistinguishable.
Old 15th August 2021
  #23
Gear Addict
 
loziodavid's Avatar
PS: I take this opportunity to show some love for the Fairlight CMI, the very first digital sampler of music history
The ARR1 preset became epic!



Old 15th August 2021
  #24
Lives for gear
 
🎧 5 years
The way you interact with an instrument is not the same as the way you interact with VSTs/software on a computer (or computer with more or less tightly integrated MIDI controllers).

I can pick up my Reface CS and hand it to someone who don't know jack about VSTs and all that jazz and they'll make some music. I can stuff my Circuit in a bag and make phaaaat beattz at the green coffee place like all the hip kids. I can look at the semi modular pile of spaghetti in the corner and feel both anxiety and exciting ideas rush in, etc, etc.

The sound or tech is of little significance.
Old 15th August 2021
  #25
Lives for gear
 
conanb's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Waldorf Blofeld is a perfect example of an incredible sounding digital synth which SHOULD be available as a plugin but the company's own plugin version, Largo, just doesn't sound the same. Obviously something is happening in the hardware version which it's not possible to emulate perfectly in software. I think the same is probably true of most classic digital synths.
Old 15th August 2021 | Show parent
  #26
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by ToyBox ➡️
I can pick up my Reface CS and hand it to someone who don't know jack about VSTs and all that jazz and they'll make some music. I can stuff my Circuit in a bag and make phaaaat beattz at the green coffee place like all the hip kids. I can look at the semi modular pile of spaghetti in the corner and feel both anxiety and exciting ideas rush in, etc, etc.

The sound or tech is of little significance.
Yeah, Reface CS is an exceptional instrument in terms of interface/physical design, and it simply sounds great. It's one of my most favorite synth. Too bad it has been discontinued (seemingly)...
Old 15th August 2021
  #27
Lives for gear
 
daviddever's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Most, if not all, digital synths have a fixed-resource architecture that guarantees a low-latency, minimum-voice-count engine that, frankly, is better suited to task by not being encumbered with the running of a full graphical OS.
Old 15th August 2021 | Show parent
  #28
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by conanb ➡️
Waldorf Blofeld is a perfect example of an incredible sounding digital synth which SHOULD be available as a plugin but the company's own plugin version, Largo, just doesn't sound the same. Obviously something is happening in the hardware version which it's not possible to emulate perfectly in software. I think the same is probably true of most classic digital synths.
Conversely, Blofeld is unable to emulate Largo perfectly
Blofeld runs on a 180 MHz processor. Technically there isn't any reason why a modern PC wouldn't be able to emulate it perfectly (especially now that we have the DSP563xx Emulator). Probably they didn't port the code over from Freescale Assembly language to C++ or whatever, but instead rewrote the synth engine, approximating the algorithms of the hardware. This would also explain the slightly different feature sets (e.g. Blofeld has the PPG filter, Largo has subs, 4 layers, Stereo Spread in Unison etc. and the LFO's and effects are slightly different). I don't think it was ever intended to be an exact 1:1 clone of the Blofeld in software.

Also a Blofeld would be going through an analog signal chain before going into a DAW, while with Largo, you're tapping directly into the digital data stream, so there's no saturation, distortion or noise added (which can enhance a sound).
Old 15th August 2021
  #29
Lives for gear
 
Hollowman9's Avatar
Really? Software vs hardware again?
Will it ever end?

Oh and HW samplers rule forever!
Old 15th August 2021
  #30
Gear Nut
 
Gaul's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
Don't want to sound harsh, but you may ask yourself why do we need oranges when we have apples? Well, I like oranges.

To me, all-in-one packages are preferable to any modular systems when I need additional stuff to buy to make music. I dislike the messiness of cables, compatibility issues, setups, and such.

I press one button (on/off) and play.
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