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hardware effects vs software effects
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Author hardware effects vs software effects
3001
keeping modular and analog out of this...

What do you think about digital effects outboard? Is it better to go ITB? I've been hardware for a long time, but I'm thinking about switching to an itb mixing solution, and wondering, is it worth having these nice verbs hardware for so much money if there are plugins? or are they not the same?

I'm a computer audio noob, i'm used to just hitting record on 2 stereo inputs:)

I'm pondering picking up a tc electronic m3000 is why I ask, I love me some reverb SlayerBadger!
drewtoothpaste
I like outboard gear in theory but having to run stuff through it and re-record tracks and not being able to recall it all in the mix is a logistical nightmare compared to having mixes saved on the computer.

For many years I recorded with multi-track tape & a mixing desk & outboard effects and it was hard and time-consuming to get a decent mix. When I switched to doing 95% of everything inside the computer, my mixes sounded better and it fucked up my flow less.
shreddoggie
BOTH - I can't imagine living without either. The recall and endless bussing and automation ITB is fantastic and so convenient for little nuance stuff like those verbs you use everywhere at virtually inaudible levels and all the EQ you need to make a mix work. OTOH - I can't imagine trying to do cool stiff that has character ITB e.g. my hardware delays and filters have no beat-sync button THANK GOD - tune 'em in by ear and get the flavor of them working against the beat instead of hard synched + every unit has its own sound which really brings personality to what you are doing. I regularly - every tune in fact - print hardware fx as audio tracks, AND use ITB verbs and EQs and compressors to make mixes happen.
slovo
I have to lol at character as described above (unsync your itb effects duh) BUT there are other advantages to having at least SOME outboard fx.

- Things like lexicon plugs and stuff can be a cpu hog.
- Outboard fx can be more inspiring during the initial recording phase
- Certain artifacts from the analog domain can be nice -- even noise from input stages and line noise can be inspiring in its own way
- Certain hardware has brilliant madness to it that is rarely duplicated (even rarer, duplicated well) in software, whether it's weird BBD effects, feedback loops that get really crazy and start to bleed into other lines, etc...

I wouldn't make a huge investment into outboard fx at this time, personally. But I'm always on the lookout for interesting stuff that is cheap. It's just so FUN, takes up a lot of space though. So go crazy w itb fx, that's what it's for, for sure, and then turn to the hardware when you need to try something else.
NYMo
Ive previously owned a lot of classic hardware fx and everytime i have a/b ed the hardware to the software version the hardware sounds "3d" and the software sounds "2d"....but multi instances of hardware costs a bloody fortune !

Cheers
ignatius
i've own several hardware FX boxes at just about every price point.. cheapo digitech and boss to uber eventide H8000 and a few in between..

in a perfect world i'd still have ALL of them but ya know.. reality and shit..

my 2 cents..

if you are working with a mixer, some midi synths and drum machines etc.. then it's great to have some outboard FX units. so long as you have a patch bay or enough sends on your mixer to just have shit patched up all the time.

it's really fast to get things going when working w/hardware and mixer. easy to get delays etc sync'd up and reverbs made lush etc.

they do sound different.. offer unique algorithms and do lot's of cool stuff and in many cases in very intuitive ways.. like kurzweil mangler/rumor. and many are fun to program and nice to look at and you can flip through presets and edit and try a bunch of stuff while a drum loop etc is just playing and then add other song parts and you can create a weird groove and try things as you work and get new parts via the FX and all kinds of weird shit can happen that w/o that interface you wouldn't necessarily think of.

and these days lot's of good units are cheaper and cheaper.

but if you are working in the box and don't have a mixer then it can be kinda tedious to set up and latency becomes and issue and all that. but w/a hardware mixer and some gear it's kind of a godsend to have some hardware FX.

all that being said i've sold all my hardware units except boss sd-10 delay and Knas moisturizer spring reverb.

i had a spare old PC laptop and RME multiface MKI that i'd had forever so i hooked it up and streamlined as much as i could and now i have an 8 i/o FX box w/any kind of plug in chain i want to make in audiomulch or bidule etc.. and i have access to so many good old free windows plug ins and all the plug ins i've ever purchased are installed on that old windows laptop and they run fine and latency is manageable and it sounds damn good.

i use a mackie mixer.. has 6 sends plus 4 buses so i can get crazy w/the FX. it's nice to have valhalla reverbs and reaktor ensembles and lot's of old windows shit to work with. i'm pretty stoked about it. smile

i had coffee today so sorry for rambling ...

in a nut shell.. the plug ins are more than fine for mixing anything.

if you have a ton of cash burning a whole in your pocket and plenty of time to dick around setting things up then.. sure.. why not try and gear porn out w/some fancy FX and see if yo ulike it?

otherwise i think it's a time better served learning to mix better and learning to use the plug ins you have and all that...
Northbest
I couldn't begin to go OTB for effects, I have one outboard effects box (a Wavestation A/D) and one distortion pedal and other than that everything is ITB. I just imagine my computer is one giant effects box.

OTB effects is
criticalmonkey
if you are planning on tracking/mixing in the box - using external hardware has latency issues that you have to deal with -

i wouldn't trade some of my hardware for plugs, and i wouldn't trade some of my plugins for hardware - just depends on what i need done and what is the best tool for the job

tc verb is really nice
stk
criticalmonkey wrote:
if you are planning on tracking/mixing in the box - using external hardware has latency issues that you have to deal with -

i wouldn't trade some of my hardware for plugs, and i wouldn't trade some of my plugins for hardware - just depends on what i need done and what is the best tool for the job


^ That.
There's some awesome plugins available. Anyone who claims plugins can't sound as good as hardware is doing it wrong.

There's also some awesome outboard (heelllooooo Sherman love) that has no ITB equivalent. So, best of both worlds.

As a wise man once said (well, it was me hihi) - there is no Versus, only And thumbs up
stk
Also, workflow/ergonomics is a completely different kettle of fish, one that people often tend to confuse with sound, and thus spawn KVR/GS-style clusterfuck threads.. Which will never happen here (hides)
bmot
stk wrote:
there is no Versus, only And thumbs up


stk, I love that attitude. It's mostly why i'm on muffs and not in other forums so much.

I use both hardware an software effects, but I do find it difficult using them together. Mostly laziness on my part, lots of unplugging etc.

So in practice I use hardware effects (or built in to the hardware FX) with my hardware, and software effects with my DAW. I would love to be able to use the software FX with my hardware but again that's not so practical. If someone made a small stand-alone box the size of a stomp box that ran a few VST fx i'd get one. Often thought about the V-Machine but too many question marks over that machine.

Note that I have never been able to afford high end gear, so my experience and recommendations are not as well informed as others' here. fwiw on the software side I really like Korg's MDEX suite (part of KLC suite or available stand alone now I think), it has lots of effects and is especially good for subtle reverbs. I also like Audio Damage's Kombinat, a flexible distortion. I've had a lot of fun with this one. Each only cost 50 EUR. I can't imagine finding hardware like this for the same price. There are also lots of free software effects, always fun trying out something new.
stk
bmot wrote:
If someone made a small stand-alone box the size of a stomp box that ran a few VST fx i'd get one. Often thought about the V-Machine but too many question marks over that machine.


I too have been tempted many times by the V-Machine, purely to have a box that I can run my favourite plugins on without needing to boot up the PC. Just because, sometimes, you just don't feel like computing.

But, as you say, so many mixed reviews that I don;t want to risk it.
3001
How intensive are the reverbs on vsts nowadays?

I've got a macbook air, not too much CPU, I was pondering going ITB for mixing, grabbing a mackie conttrol and when my copy ofl ogic comes in, maybe doing that. i've got 12 ins, so one of the reasons I ask isif it'd be better to start going internal with effects.

My problemis I use effects many times as a part of the track. REverbs especially. I like too muchreverb, will it destroy cpus nowadays? or are they better now?

I haven't messed around with software much since making waves :-) and ableton maybe 10 yearsa go.
REwire
I have found digital reverb and delays to be just as good ITB but a few things no one has done well yet are BBD choruses, spring reverb and germanium/tube distortion which I track with externally.

I don't own a digital effects box like the Eventides. The Blackhole VST plugin sounds as good as the Space I sold. And in a dense track I keep delay and reverb down so it's hard to tell whether it's heavy convolution or just a simple algorithm made by my DAW.

Dan
induktor
I have a number of outboard fx that are seeing less use with the advance in plugin algo's. ValhallaVintageVerb is my go to reverb atm. I still use the shit out of BBD delays and choruses though.
CF3
I use both. I've yet to find an ITB reverb I like though (still think my $99 TC sounds better). Automation and recall can happen with hardware FX thru CC#'s (TC Fireworx, DP4+, etc.). I'm with ignatius, If you've got a mixer hardware FX make sense....and they're fun. Lots of really innovative software FX. It's hard not to use them. Much like the analog vs. digital synth debate, Why Choose?
slovo
I've yet to find a software reverb I didn't like d'oh!

Which can get messy, yes, as reverb can be one of the costliest effects (CPUwise) out there. There are some efficient ones, though, too. The Valhalla stuff is pretty lightweight. I still get a lot of use out of Toraverb which has three CPU-modes, so you can audition everything in Low and mixdown in High (if you aren't after the slightly greasy artifacts of the Low setting, as I am). Ofc compared to the modern trend of massive cpu-hog synths, most reverbs are fairly conservative these days, but yeah, they'll still add up quick on a macbook air. Still, it's no worse than a hardware box, if you like the sound the same. You just use one instance of the plug and use sends to effect every track to taste. Which is all you could ever get out of a hardware verb at any one time, too. Don't forget, if you have the money for hardware stuff and just want the workflow advantages of software, you could always try outboard processing things like Tc's whatevercore and the UA box...
LeFreq
I love hardware for all the reasons mentioned above, but the latency just kills me. It makes the whole process just piss me off, so my hardware FX really only get used when I'm tracking a hardware synth or something. Lately I've been trying to make myself use a lot more hardware on soft synths and samples to bring them to life, but sometimes it's just so ridiculous I give up. You can so easily lose a groove to latency. Yeah, you can move the waveform back, but it's never in that *exact* spot that made it funky enough to hit record to begin with. And I'm trying to make music, not do a bunch of tests and math so I can figure out exact ms delay.

It sucks, really. I'm not a position to only use my DAW as a recorder, either, but if I was, I would probably produce in the box, then stem it all out through a console and mix and then record to tape, then bounce to DAW... but as was said, reality n' shit.
3001
LeFreq wrote:
I love hardware for all the reasons mentioned above, but the latency just kills me. It makes the whole process just piss me off, so my hardware FX really only get used when I'm tracking a hardware synth or something. Lately I've been trying to make myself use a lot more hardware on soft synths and samples to bring them to life, but sometimes it's just so ridiculous I give up. You can so easily lose a groove to latency. Yeah, you can move the waveform back, but it's never in that *exact* spot that made it funky enough to hit record to begin with. And I'm trying to make music, not do a bunch of tests and math so I can figure out exact ms delay.

It sucks, really. I'm not a position to only use my DAW as a recorder, either, but if I was, I would probably produce in the box, then stem it all out through a console and mix and then record to tape, then bounce to DAW... but as was said, reality n' shit.


Latency is still an issue, I thought they overcame this already? The latency of software used to drive me nuts. I do everything "live" so when I hear a ms off...I can feel it and it really ruins the vibe for me while working on a track.
1986Bowler
I like outboard stuff- especially now that a lot of guitar pedals are stereo and you can throw them on a mixer to make them do double duty. Plus it's nice to hear stuff as you're recording it.

My recording PC is a little on the older side, so lots of software plugins makes me wary and my tracks end up lagging.
h4ndcrafted
I’ve mostly used plugins, save a few zoom racks. I’ve just been listening to a behringer virtualiser 3D. For 90 squid it sounds great, gonna have to pick one up.

For mixing plugs, my standard channels are the fab filter suite , I favour a lot of the Brainworxs stuff too, they sum well to mono.

Verbs, I just use convolution with lexicon and M8 or what ever it is called.
Bit of Lives native verb on economy setting sometimes for a ruff one.

Plugs I find a lot more straight forward, no hidden functions like on pedals, but I keep any I like, El Capitan is a keeper.
JediDJ
TC M3000 is superb machine.
But.... maybe Lexicon sound shall be more suitable for you.
It depends on the genre.

TC is more analytic and clinical precise sounding.
Lexicon is more vintage and vibey.

The best is to get both.
Lexicon PCM70 and TC M3000.
My opinion is there's NO PLUGIN can touch these units.
And probably won't ever.
Period !
3hands
I have a BBD delay that I use a lot, as both delay, and chorus. I also have an Alesis Midiverb 2 that has a dark lofi sound that suits me just nice. Compression is done either with plugs or with hardware depending on the situation.
lisa
I love effects ITB. love Being able to add and add without any care about how many units I've got is such a relief. Also, D16, Fabfilter, Audio Damage and others make such great VST effects. Expressive and sounds fantastic.
Funky40
as a original computer hater which was for a decade hardware only do i have to say that some of the FX ITB are soooo MUCH more forwardthinking or just better sounding than Hardware boxes, that i´m in the process to even replace my "stompboxes" with a second or third PC ( well, mac).
For Reverb and Delays do i consider latencys to be from NO problem.
Eventide Space is soooo outdated now vs. ITB. The OTO BAM might still keep a place.

ITB offers "creative FX" that are just on another level, while modular also has some.
But anything inbetween ( Hardware) will have a hard time here exept for some very special Boxes.
In my case that is: OTO BAM, OTO Biscuit, Bastl Thyme. Those i keep, well and some hardware compressors (cheap ones)

my go to Reverbs might become one of the Liquid Sonics ones when its about: "Sound Good be easy to dial in !"
creative FSU in a good way: "can´t tell cause its still a sleeper" + everything unfiltered audio


Never had any of the big or expensive FX Boxes, but i read or heard enough from and about them.
Those are good for traditional Music........ I don´t want to put that into question wink
But for modern electronic music ?.........personally: ITB has me.
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