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Topic: Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

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  1. #1

    Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

    So my new room is all done (BTW, I highly recommend Francis Manzella if you are going to do a room!), and I am taking the occasion to explore VSTi's.
    All of my hardware is currently still packed away, and I'm not sure I can fit it into the new room. It's amazing how small a room becomes when it is turned into a critical listening area!

    My first inclination was to go totally virtual, so I downloaded demos from various sound developers, and while some of the sounds are very creative, it just seems like the overall sound is missing something.

    That "something" seems to be a "reach out an touch it" factor. This seems to show up less with the orchestral and giga stuff than some others.

    By comparision I just finished listening to the demos for the MOTIF by Yamaha, and the difference to me was amazing. Now again, I seriously doubt
    that an orchestral mock-up done on a MOTIF is going to attempt to shine the shoes of a giga-type mock up, but for all other types of music, I'm not sure.

    Has anyone noticed this as well? I mean for R&B, and pop type arrangements, it seems that there is a noticable lack of "punch" and "separation" in the VSTi.

    I know Reason is not known for it's fidelity, but I actually did a dance mix with it's instruments rendered track-by-track and imported into PARIS, and the results were OK. Again, not stellar, or as punchy as I have gotten with
    "real" synths, but OK. The advantage that Reason afforded me was that I got that arrangment up and happening is less than an hour on a laptop! I don't remember hardware being that fast.

    Has anyone done the same song in a hardware and software version? If so, what is your opinion of the results?

    Also, what are considered that "best of breed" right now in terms of vsti? As I do my comparisons, I want to be comparing the best hardware to the best software.

    I know I am coming dangerously close to starting a Hardware vs Software war, and that is not my intent. I just think it would be really cool to have a totally virtual studio, but I want to make sure I get the best and that it is capable of achieving the sound I used to get with hardware.


    jfair

  2. #2

    Re: Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

    I would say that Reason is not representative of the sound quality possible with soft synths. My favorites in that area are Stylus, BFD and Albino 2. Many of the included synths with Logic are great sounding.

    The better your I/O hardware on the computer, the better the software will sound.

  3. #3
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    Re: Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

    Stylus -- you ain't heard nothing yet. I feel they are good to great and moving ahead.

    Albino 2 is a masterwork by Rob Papen. I have used it when I particulary need to create a "Blade Runner" feeling.

    Sampler -- if you become involved with Kontakt 2 -- your life will be full of expectations of what it should have done years ago -- fulfilled! Scripting opens a whole new world and interface between synth and sampler that can change a crumhorn into a symphonic call to arms -- with a little work!

    I used to turn on all my hardware to keep warm in winter -- keyboards, computers, sampler rack modules, synths, sequencers and midi interfaces. It filled a room criss crossed with wires......

    Today I get better results from an iMac, 2 gig of ram, Kontakt 2, Logic Pro 7.1 with EXS 24, etc. and a few good sample libraries and synth packages foir "specials. Flat panel one piece computer,so now my reproduction system of speakers, etc. takes more room.

    Today I was able to use a demo of MOTUs Symphony -- and this generalized orchestra now surpasses my multiple station rig in quality (and it had samplers $2500 and up) for about $400 in my Mac.

    Just make sure you have very good transducers out -- and you'll be blown away.

  4. #4

    Re: Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

    I think a truly great sound is possible with software and am totally virtual myself. The difference is that you have to work a lot harder to get there. The sound programming is usually much more inconsistent. Totally so in most cases. On top of that, the programming for most software synths and samplers is missing the polish of compression, eq, etc that you'll find in the hardware stuff. Most sounds aren't "premixed" and you'll have to do more of that work yourself. If done well you should be able to get the same or better results, but again it's work you've got to do. So I think the last 10-20% to get a totally great modern sound is up to the user in software much more than in hardware yet it's easy to reach that point where something sounds good, but is just missing that extra something.

    It's only a matter of time before someone comes out with a product that matches the programming quality and versatility of hardware workstation in the software world but I haven't seen it yet. I think the synth engines and dsp quality are there, but most of the programming available for the samplers doesn't have the final polish and I have yet to see a soft synth that really competes for the "workstation" sound. Let's hope someone is working on it right now!

    Matthew

  5. #5

    Re: Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

    Quote Originally Posted by chmara
    Stylus -- you ain't heard nothing yet. I feel they are good to great and moving ahead.

    Albino 2 is a masterwork by Rob Papen. I have used it when I particulary need to create a "Blade Runner" feeling.

    Sampler -- if you become involved with Kontakt 2 -- your life will be full of expectations of what it should have done years ago -- fulfilled! Scripting opens a whole new world and interface between synth and sampler that can change a crumhorn into a symphonic call to arms -- with a little work!

    I used to turn on all my hardware to keep warm in winter -- keyboards, computers, sampler rack modules, synths, sequencers and midi interfaces. It filled a room criss crossed with wires......

    Today I get better results from an iMac, 2 gig of ram, Kontakt 2, Logic Pro 7.1 with EXS 24, etc. and a few good sample libraries and synth packages foir "specials. Flat panel one piece computer,so now my reproduction system of speakers, etc. takes more room.

    Today I was able to use a demo of MOTUs Symphony -- and this generalized orchestra now surpasses my multiple station rig in quality (and it had samplers $2500 and up) for about $400 in my Mac.

    Just make sure you have very good transducers out -- and you'll be blown away.
    I agree that for pure VA stuff and realistic multisampled stuff we're already there. But when you look at workstation synths as it sounds like jfair is doing there is definitely a certain vibe to them that doesn't exist in any software I've heard yet. It's a contemporary produced vibe for sure, but many like it quite a lot (I know I do!) and it hasn't been done very well in software yet.

    The other advantage to the hardware is that the UI is very well matched to the synth. We need a workstation synth type plug in with a very well matched controller and we'll be all set! Until then we've got to work hard to get a workstation type sound or use an actual hardware workstation...

    Matthew

  6. #6

    Re: Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

    Quote Originally Posted by musical.matthew
    there is definitely a certain vibe to them that doesn't exist in any software I've heard yet. It's a contemporary produced vibe for sure, but many like it quite a lot (I know I do!) and it hasn't been done very well in software yet.
    Exactly! Matthew said it better (and in fewer words) than I did. It's a certian
    "vibe" it almost IS a vibration. In all other aspects, I feel it's a no-brainer to go for the virtual setup. It has so much going for it. And I can't help but think that they will get to the point where the sound is everybit as comparable to any type of hardware, I just don't hear it yet. But then I don't pretend to have heard it all, or even most. I will check out the software that has been (or will be) mentioned in this thread, as I haven't heard most of the ones mentioned thus far.

    jfair
    Last edited by jfair; 08-18-2005 at 07:14 AM. Reason: added text

  7. #7

    Cool Re: Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

    Recently dropped all my hard synths, except my beloved fs1r and the djx2b (I just love its rendition of the b900 kit).
    Regarding the electronic stuff, I went 95% virtual and if you've got decent monitoring you'll be blown: it's when I hooked a yamaha 01x to my mac that I discovered how cool the sub bass filter was.
    I use castle speakers and an Albary pp1 amp.
    I just think it's very unlikely that an hardware synth (emulating another hardware synth) would have to sound better than a virtual one.
    it'd maybe be in the components, somewhere but I prefer thinking you've got to rely on your mastering plugins to master the sound the virtual inst shaped for you.
    The result will be much better integrated.
    And yes. I love Reason, especially when it comes to destroying sound, not to imitate it.

  8. #8

    Re: Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

    Quote Originally Posted by mirko
    I just think it's very unlikely that an hardware synth (emulating another hardware synth) would have to sound better than a virtual one.
    it'd maybe be in the components, somewhere but I prefer thinking you've got to rely on your mastering plugins to master the sound the virtual inst shaped for you.
    The result will be much better integrated.
    And yes. I love Reason, especially when it comes to destroying sound, not to imitate it.
    Yes, there's nothing about it being hardware that makes it sound better, it's just the sound programming that has a unique vibe to it that hasn't been done very well in software yet. If somebody took the sound design team from Roland and had them produce a library for Kontakt for example I think we'd hear a very Roland like result. Nobody seems to be doing that, however. There seem to be 2 extremes in software for the most part and not much middle - "classic synth" emulation and really experimental craziness. Maybe if the workstations weren't current someone would want to emulate them...

    I should also add here that all the Spectrasonics stuff is just as high quality as any of the hardware workstations. They went after a different sound with it and really tried to utilize the larger disk space, etc so it doesn't sound the same, but the quality is just as good. If they wanted to I'm sure they could come out with something that would do the workstation sound even better than Roland and Korg, but I think Eric has been there and done that. I think he's (understandably) much more interested in doing something new and creative rather than rehashing the past...

    Hopefully somebody with the skills will hear our voices and fill the need! This is the biggest character of sound I would like to add to complete my virtual palette (for now)...

    Matthew

  9. #9

    Re: Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

    Quote Originally Posted by musical.matthew
    Yes, there's nothing about it being hardware that makes it sound better, it's just the sound programming that has a unique vibe to it that hasn't been done very well in software yet. If somebody took the sound design team from Roland and had them produce a library for Kontakt for example I think we'd hear a very Roland like result. Nobody seems to be doing that, however. There seem to be 2 extremes in software for the most part and not much middle - "classic synth" emulation and really experimental craziness. Maybe if the workstations weren't current someone would want to emulate them...

    I should also add here that all the Spectrasonics stuff is just as high quality as any of the hardware workstations. They went after a different sound with it and really tried to utilize the larger disk space, etc so it doesn't sound the same, but the quality is just as good. If they wanted to I'm sure they could come out with something that would do the workstation sound even better than Roland and Korg, but I think Eric has been there and done that. I think he's (understandably) much more interested in doing something new and creative rather than rehashing the past...

    Hopefully somebody with the skills will hear our voices and fill the need! This is the biggest character of sound I would like to add to complete my virtual palette (for now)...

    Matthew
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  10. #10
    Senior Member Patthoven's Avatar
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    Talking Re: Opinions wanted about softsynths/samplers in general

    I agree with most of what is reflected here.

    I love all the Giga and virtual stuff to death!

    But as cool as Arturia's CS-80 is, there is a rather profound difference in the real hardware version that is hard to coax out of the plug even though the plug has more parameter power and a modulation matrix.

    I am hopeful that Arturia continues to develop this potential monster.

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