Free technical help for digital creators - music, video, art, photography, graphic & web design

Plug-ins vs hardware synths

We often receive emails from people who want to know which is best, software synthesisers (plug-ins) or hardware sound modules and keyboards. We're sitting on the fence for this one but here's s few thoughts to help you decide ...
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  Pros Cons

Hands on!

Great to program if you have a knob for each parameter

Real-time performance editing

Looks great!

Sounds better (yes they do!)

Don't crash (often)

No latency (yeah!)

Smells nice!


Repair costs

Takes up space

Harder to transport

Some are hard to keep in tune

Backing up patches is a pain



No repair costs!



Software often offers features hardware can't

Web collaboration

Easier to create and backup patch libraries

Patches saved with projects

Stays in tune

Setup and patches are saved with a project/song

Don't take up much space!

Emulations don't sound like the real thing(?)

Using the same CPU / DAW and DACs for all your plug-ins makes everything sound ... well ... kinda 2-dimensional

Programming with a mouse sucks



You better have some CPU horsepower!

Host software incompatibility problems

Software/driver conflicts