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Hallo all you happy people. I love the synths , and the synth sounds. The problem is , i am sort of hardware noob.
I bought recently Supernova II from Novation. Apart from looking much sturdier and proffesional than the midi-controller shit overflowing the market nowadays, it has very uniqe sound and bazillions of knobs and potis to tweak ^^ They are all very clearly described, one could learn about the analogue synthesis just from looking at it ^^
I think its factory patches don't sound so good as Access Virus but they are netherless very unique and vibrant. As it is a bit older, it has only midi and audio in/outs.

I have 2 question which come to my mind, but feel free to elaborate on anything.

1. Are there any hardware synths , which has clearly super sound to anything the software can offer? Is there any box out there for which you would give an arm and leg to have it?
(i heard that Waldorf Blofeld is on paar or even surpasses the Access Virus, and i'm considering getting it. is it a good choice?)

2. Which synths has the best DAW integration? Should i always be on the lookout for something with USB?



  Resident 22.07.2009 22
i wouldn sel my x-station for nothing
  guest -- 0
"Openlabs Neko"Best of Both worlds Hardware look and feel and you can fill it up with as Many Synths as you like. - Cached. 2 Grand and up for a "Good" Synth is not worth it When you can get Omnisphere and the Like in the 300 - 500 dollar range and in some cases lower and Higher. better price per performance range. But if you got the money by all means splurge. you only live once. lol
  Resident 3.12.2008 92
If you ever played with a original MS-20, a Prohet 5, a Juno-106, a Jupiter 8 and so on, you will soon find, that all those "emulations" can't really compete with any of the original synths. With a real anaolg synth you can really "feel" the power of voltage controlled synthesis. The sound "lives", it's more dynamic - it simply has that magic, VSTis can hardly recreate. I mean VSTi are close, but that extrabit makes the difference IMHO. The better something sounds, the more fun you get while playing with it. And that gives your creativity an additional boost.
Virtual Analog synths like Virus, Nordlead, JP8000 are also better than software. First thing I always notice is that the envelope curves of HW-Synths are faster and therefore punchier. It's that specialized DSPs, that your CPU can't compete with.

The downside of Hardware is of course the price, the fiddling with cables etc., the implementation into a software host, Preset Handling and so on. I think it's good to pick the best of both worlds - have some hardware synths and some good VSTis as well!

The Waldorf synths are great for basses and Pads. I have a MicroQ and the basses are so punchy - punchier than any VSTi I have. So I think the Blofeld is a great synth for that little money!
  guest -- 0
Openlabs Daws has the best integration because the any Daw you like including Pro Tools Resides inside the Workstation/Keyboard itself. Hmmm, something to consider indeed That aspect alone blows. dedicated hardware synths away. yes
  guest -- 0
Best integration --> acces virus TI run like a vsti.

sometimes a good sound desing presets it's a part of the synth, try:

  guest -- 0
lol @
It's that specialized DSPs, that your CPU can't compete with.

Does fully digital hardware sound better than software? Maybe. But the only possible reason is in the code. Processors don't have a "sound", you can get the same fucking "sound" out of your pocket calculator or Turing's machine. I suggest you learn a bit more about computing.

Also, if you're recording your digital hardware synth in analog, you're effecting the sound with the analog-digital-conversions. Does it make it sound any BETTER? Probably not, especially since the convertors are usually shit.
  guest -- 0
when someone on stage pulls out your firewire cable and you have to reboot your laptop to get vst's back while the show must go on you'll be glad you spent few hundred bucks on some awesome sounding vintage board yes
  Resident 3.12.2008 92
"I suggest you learn a bit more about computing."

If you read my sentence more carefully >>> "It's that specialized DSPs, that your CPU can't compete with." All I said that the processing power of specialized DSP allows more complex code than a generic CPU. Thuis making more complex and bettersounding algorithms possible.

And about that AD/DA conversion - If you have a great sounding external instrument, even not so good AD-converters still prevail the sound, which is in many cases better than a lot of VSTis.
  Resident 28.07.2009 6 349
1 Everything Oldor said - yes they really actually sound better, you can 'hear' the diff.
2 Their resale value greatly increases over time (depends on model and condition) so can be considered as a good investment too
3 Pride and satisfaction
4 Cant remember will add later

happy in here... <^.^>
  guest -- 0
The only synth that I would consider (for myself)"worth bying it instead of a vsti", would be an Access Virus. Even with GM sounds on board, it has something that most vstis dont have: pressure, defenition and brutal dynamics.
Look at the top selling vsti synths like the Largo or Omnisphere: They dont sound that brutal and they dont make our trouser legs wave and they also have a lack of definition, without effects most sounds still would sound week.
Besides the Arturia minimoog emulation there isnt too much available as vsti that really blasts your ass off your pants. So I consider one or two "real things" in a studio as a good idea, besides the sound its also much more spiritual and inspirational.
  Resident 6.09.2009 26
Best hardware synths ive ever owned would be the Jupiter 8 Jupiter 6 and Pro One.
If not for the hardware control.
And nothing from software comes close, but in a mix its different, also when these daddies go wrong so does your bank account.

I just have plugins now and a Korg Radias.
  Resident 28.02.2009 15
@ oldor and of course all others,

i see it the same way,
nothing is able to produce the sounds of the hardware stuff so far,

sorry, but i think up to now hardware has more life

nevertheless, the plugins are great tools too,

have a good time with your toys guys...

  Resident 6.05.2010 330
Oldor said it best. HW for the most part has a bigger fuller sound. I used to own a waldorf micro q and nothing in SW sounds like that. I get by with software but it's like having to work around weakness. Even HW romplers are still ahead of SW. Patches on the motif xs have a stronger, more polished sound than even what's in the big sample libraries.
  Resident 24.05.2009 111
from holz: "when someone on stage pulls out your firewire cable and you have to reboot your laptop to get vst's back while the show must go on you'll be glad you spent few hundred bucks on some awesome sounding vintage board"

I couldn't agree more. Never put your eggs in one basket when performing. It's good to have at least one hardware synth ready to rock.

Stand-alone synths may sound better to some, but there are many plug-ins available to help beef up any virtual synth.
  guest -- 0
I sold my synths for various reasons, building a bigger (hackintosh) daw was one of them, so now I'm mainly working with software, BUT: 1- I kept my analog Waldorf Pulse and it gives me "that" bass, always punchy and clear even if in the middle of a "sound battle". 2- I miss my Virus C soooo much...and Yes, I think the TI has the best HW-SW integration so maybe I'll get one, some day. I think a good mix of real and soft synths gives the most colorfull sound, we must just try to catch the advantages that each of the 2 worlds has to offer.
  guest -- 0
Hardware Synths IMHO still sound better... ...I agree with everything that oldor said.... ...I would never sell my Hardware Synths !!!!
  guest -- 0
One word... Mopho, nuff said!
  Resident 12.12.2008 38
In my opinion the most important difference between Hardware and Software is the way you interact with it. Having an object in front of you with knobs, sliders and wires on it is a drastically different reality than clicking on symbols on a computer screen. I find it much more inspiring and rewarding dealing with hardware, but often time demands make software the more practical choice.

Nothing for me is more inspirational than turning away from the computer screen and facing some hardware. It is making music and sound with your ears instead of your eyes.

I don't think you can compare something like Omnisphere to something like a Moog Voyager. They do totally different things. They are completely different ways to spend your time. More important than Hard vs Soft is just the simple question of how well do you know what you have. One of the perils of software is that is has become an endless pit of options that ultimately lead to what some have called "option paralysis". This is an extreme hazard of computer assisted music production. The more chances you give yourself to avoid the computer screen the better your music will be. In my opinion. Less menus, less preset surfing more unique musical expression.

If you like getting lost in worlds of sound go with hardware. If you like to get things finished on time and have rigid sonic constraints on your music software is probably a better way to spend limited funds.

Personally I vote for all of the above! Get it all. They both have incredible potential if you can handle the power. If you are reading this, the price of software isn't really an obstacle is it? No excuse for not having a hardware budget.

If you want to learn about how to make sounds get yourself a modular rig. You can start small and grow it out as big as you want. It is the fastest and funnest way to become great at sound designing.

Happy hunting.

  guest -- 0
I like both worlds ....
each one got his own advantages ....
but I like more the analouge old school synths like the legandery MOOG modular (wall of knoba cabels etc...)
  Resident 10.03.2007 31
always a matter of taste ,too-but-soo many plus point for the vsti`s nowadays,in my opinion,in depends totally,which kind of music you want to play,produce..
of course,the hardware has that haptic plus,it is always nice to "feel",but,there are some nice controllers out there,so you can have that feel ,too!
live -is no question at all-of course hardware-even if i had some shows,where our keyboardplayer had even problems with his hardware synths!!!
about the punch-you can always tweak your sound-if you can!add some outputs on your daw-send it over to an external compressor-eq-tube amulation,channel strip-fx,and you can find your sound!
nice discussion here!!
have a wonderful day-be creative-that`s the most important-!!
  Resident 6.09.2009 26
The biggest thing in the way of my creativity isnt a choice between hardware and software, its the wife.
What a complete pain in the ass.
  guest -- 0
I have a Roland SH201 and SH01 Gaia for quick sound creation. Nothing beats knob fiddling.
Yes, there are midi controller keyboards but it is just not the same 'feel' you have.
Otherwise, soft synths are fantastic as a second tool.
  guest -- 0
hardware or software? no difference at all. its all bogus...
  guest -- 0
softsynths just suck, the largo is pretty nice - actually the first softsynth i'd buy. and neko has absolutely nothing to do with hardware, same receptor. virus ti offers best integration into your daw. the blofeld is a good choice.
  guest -- 0
I would never abondon hardware for virtual software stop
  Resident 2.10.2008 489
My 1st synth was a Korg Mono/Poly many years ago, and after a bunch of other 80's and 90's synths with unusable, tiny LCD menus, I was more than happy to see a synth like the Clavia Nord Lead 3 (NL3) arrive. Man, what an incredibly smooth sound design experience! And it can sound thin, metallic, but also ultra-fat and warm - depending on what you tell it to do. Run it through an SPL Vitalizer MK2-T, and you can create almost any synth sound on earth.
Bummer Clavia stopped using these (too expensive, as they said) custom rotary encoders with LED rings.
I have never seen any other synth that made it THAT easy to actually realize quite any sound that's in your head.
The Nord Wave would have been my go-to synth if it only had these better encoders!!! But now it's the NL3 and the Blofeld.

About the Blofeld (and @carambor): Very compact and rugged, lots of great wavetables, unvelievable modulation options (!), great sound and great filters, bad F/X (but using external F/X gives you more flexibility anyways).
I use it mainly for preset sounds, where the "License SL" 60MB sample upgrade comes in very handy, and there's a sample mapping editor (no velocity switching!) to import 60MB of your own samples.
Great thing is: You switch it on and have all your favourite samples instantly. Breakbeat loops included.

For me, the NL3 and the Blofeld make a stunning team, and for quick composition and capture of ideas, my old but trusty Roland XP80 with 4 expansions and a great pattern+track+phrase sequencer does exactly what I need.

Another hardware I won't get rid of is the Korg Karma, which looks a bit like a toy, but has great sounds and is simply very inspirational. Still. And don't miss the fantastic EXB-PCM08 Piano board, (listen to it at

To answer some of carambor's questions: Today, software emulations have reached a very high level of authenticity (have you heard the Creamware Noah synth yet? And it's a couple of years old already!), and if you have a good audio interface, you can get close enough, that's for sure. But I wouldn't only compare the sound, it's the "feel" of the hardware that makes a BIG difference in how you use it! You will get different sounds and play differently on the "real thing", compared to an LCD screen and mouse clicks.
It's a bit like touching a girl in contrast to just playing strip poker on the PC ;)

DAW integration is not a must-have feature for me - I'd rather record the MIDI and Stereo Audio output of the synth in the DAW and use the MIDI part only in case I want to "improve" the sound by e.g. adding a virtual synth on top. Although my Creamware Noah actually does have good DAW integration over USB...

Whatever you do, have fun and use what you own to the greatest extent possible :)
  Resident 5.08.2009 18
Hardwar soft is cool but i will go for vst and plug ins for life

not all vst synth are dope but some have an excellement quality (massive, synlenth, Arturia )
  Resident 8.02.2007 11 139
An Impressive machine Gruzina, one that was very successfully converted into an identical sounding VSTi by the French software maker, Arturia, The Moog Modular V2.0 sounds exactly like the original.
So, too does a tiny VSTi called the SQ8i sound exactly like the original Ensoniq ESQ-1/SQ-80 pair from the middle 1980s. This bears out fiction's statement that software emulations have become virtual clones of the original hardware.

I fully agree with Alchemist that the way to look at hardware/software is the way you work with it. If you can program your hard/software you have a major advantage over those who are limited to what their hardware/software offers but let me add to this debate that space requirements for some will be the decisive factor; if one lives in a cramped one-bedroom apartment, I doubt that you will have room for any hardware other than your computer.

I own 4 keyboards and 2 rack synths including 2 Ensoniq Samplers, a Roland D50, a Korg Karma, a Yamaha TX 802 and TG-77. I don't use the samplers anymore for sampling because their technology and memory is too antiquated for today's music but the EPS's incredible array of MIDI capabilities still outshines many of today's synths.
The D50's (noisy) sounds are probably the most widely immitated/emulated sounds on the planet and even the Karma/Triton series made almost 15 years after the D50 was released sport some of the D50's sounds, like Fantasia. If such sounds can be emulated on newer synthesizers then they can also be copied/immitated/emulated by computers.

Native Instruments really proved that point with their FM7 and the Pro 53 programs, faithful software reproductions of the two most famous synths of all time, the Yamaha DX-7 and the Sequential Prophet 5. These instruments sound exactly like the originals and the added advantage over the Prophet was that the musician did NOT have to spend half the time retuning the damn thing for which that analog beast was infamous: drift. Its oscillators needed to be warmed up for at least half an hour before the performance started or it would be out of tune halfway during the first song already. This was true of many other analog synths such as the Moogs and the ARPs as well.

Today's powerful software synths are capable of a lot more than some folks give them credit for. This is perhaps because they confuse synthesizers with what has become known as a Rompler. A Rompler is NOT a synth and no matter how much filtering, pitch/time stretching and envelopes you apply, if you started out with a crappy sound, you will end up with a very well crafted and modulated but crappy sound. It's that simple. The Nexus is a Rompler. it does not generate ANY of its own sounds, so, if you have a shitty SAW wave and a pair of really cheesy sounding spect2/bell sounds, you are not going to get a good Fantasia sound, no matter how fantastic the capabilities of the Nexus.

What you buy today is going to sound as good as you can program it. Get busy already :)
Those who cast the votes decide nothing; those who count the votes decide everything. — The Democrat Party
  Resident 2.10.2008 489
I'd just like to add to Caithleann's comment (hi, btw! :) that I consider the Waldorf Blofeld a perfect platform for emulating all the nice D50 sounds, but also other 80's/90's synths that had a somewhat hybrid structure (PCM waveforms combined with a Virtual Analog sound engine).

I'd also like to point out that many not-so-old Roland VA hardware synths had a very weak CPU, making the instruments' claimed polyphony hardly usable due to audible delays in case you really tried to exhaust it.
  Resident 1.05.2010 41
I think soft synths are the way to go, simply due to price.

There are a lot of crappy soft synths, but nobody is forcing you to use them.

As alchemist said,
"If you like to get things finished on time … software is probably a better way to spend limited funds.".

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