Propellerhead Software
Old 2006-04-16, 05:51
tamias6 tamias6 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 0
Hardware or Software??

I'm hearing a lot of Reason users wishing to be able to have a MIDI out feature.. It would be nice to have a MIDI out to run other software synths like Moch Five from Reason or, maybe for power users out there, to go MIDI via ethernet to run a bank of computers each runing a software synth playing super high quality voices and samples that would put a single system alone on its knees then using Reason as a sequencer to drive them all. To me doing theses things would be the appeal of adding a Midi Out feature to Reason.

However, unless I'm missinterpreting, I preceive that many users would love to have a MIDI out feature to run hardware synths, samplers, and other such devices. This would be cool esp. for those who have a trusty hardware synth with that unigue sound they just can't give up for the world. But other than that, I say "Why?" Why spend tens of thousands of dollars on such hardware when just a few grand would allow one to create a softwere based system that sounds just as good as any hardware setup.

One might argue that hardware synths sounds better than softwere synths. Ten to fifteen years ago I would hold that fact as high as I do the Ten Commandments. In thoses days it would be really tech to run a collection of hardware and use a computer to sequence. But today computers are lightyears more powerful. A mid level to high end Rig has no problems playing a chorus of samples and synth voices at 96 K at 24 bits. Also if one looks at hardware they will find hundreds of voices, shoe-horned into a memory of a couple of dozen megabytes in size limiting sound quality. To make things worse, one cannot upgrade hardware all that much.On the other hand, one can install gigabytes of RAM into a computer's memory and top that off with a huge hardrive allowing for massive libraries of big and highly detailed voices with high end sample rates and long durations of 40 sec. or more. Just to top things off, one can add more voices to what's already there by simply dumping them into the hardrive. Last but not least, software and computers get better and more powerful with each upgrade made which expends crwative freedom. With hardware synths one is stuck with what's there unless one is willing to spend a few thousand dollars to replace a tired work horse for a newer and better hardware synth. If one is running a rack full of these things, do the math. As powerful as computers are today and as good softwere synths are becoming, to me, the "hardware synths sounds bettwer than softwere synths" argument is holding less and less water. Just give me a powerful computer with a good sound card and/ or audio/Midi interface to pipe data in and out of the system and I could sound very good indeed. Then when I factor in the cost of hardware synths and samplers verses the cost of a softwere based setups, I for one will jump on the software band wagon any day.

But that is my preferences for now. Since I'm exploring the wonderful and exotic world of sound production and still have alot of territory to cover before I'm can call myself a Jedi Master, I do want to hear from both sides of the fence on this.
Old 2006-04-16, 22:15
kuniklo kuniklo is offline
Join Date: Jun 2005
Posts: 3
Re: Hardware or Software??

As people tend to point out in these discussions, most hardware synths these days are just software in a box, so logically they don't intrinsically sound any better than software on a computer. Real high-grade analog hardware still can do things that software can't (IMO), but it comes at a real cost of money and convenience.

The one area where hardware can have a real advantage is the interface, because a well-designed dedicated interface is superior in many ways to clicking on a bunch of little knobs on a computer screen. A lot of hardware interfaces are awful though, with dozens of nested menus on a tiny little LCD screen, so you've got to choose your gear carefully to take any advantage of this. Things like the Remote SL are closing this gap though.

I've been thinking about this a lot recently and experimenting with a lot of hardware instruments and I'm slowly coming to the conclusion that might have seemed obvious from the beginning: tools matter a lot less that many other more important factors. Electronic music attracts technically minded people that tend to think in technical terms and focus on gear and equipment but skill, inspiration and perseverance are really what count. Reason is often dismissed as a toy but it's capable of doing almost anything in the right hands. Likewise many people with unbelievable collections of gear make boring or bad music if they produce any actual music at all.

The great thing about Reason is that it provides just about everything you need in a stable, low CPU package so you can focus on composition and technique instead of all the flashy new tools coming out every week and the strain they put on your machine.
Old 2006-04-16, 22:48
tamias6 tamias6 is offline
Join Date: Feb 2006
Posts: 0
Re: Hardware or Software??

: I do agree on your point about the tactile control advantages hardware has over software. That's why I find Reason very appealing. It's as close to real hardware as software will ever get. I.e. Installing and hooking up modules in a rack and cabling them up. It's also why I spent about two hundred dollars on a good midi controller with plenty of assignable knobs, buttons, and sliders. There's nothing like the since of control one has when pressing real buttons, turning real knobs, and fading with real sliders.

But I like the how software provides visual feedback. Seeing ones results on a large computer monitor, or in my case two monitors, is alot better than straining my eyeballs in a vein attempt to see my settings on a dimly lit LCD screen the size of a postage stamp.

I'm also happy to hear that I'm not alone in the fact that hardware or software is not the main point of making good music. Its the person using those tools that counts. One can see examples of verying musical skills on the Song Archives right here on Prop's website. I've downlowded rps files from writters that use a mimimum number of Reason devices but pumped out a killer song that sounded as clean as a whistle. I've also downloaded rps's cramed with so much devices that it would bring my CPU to its knees, but sound like garbage complete with a solid red clipping light. So yes indeed its the user that counts the most.

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