Could software plug-ins take over hardware gear??

Discussion in 'Mixing' started by swanmusic, Nov 30, 2005.

  1. swanmusic

    swanmusic Guest

    Looking at all the growth in the effects plug-ins in the last 2 years, some of them are better than the hardware effects units, I was wondering if software compressors would meet with the quality of hardware compressors anytime soon. Do you think it's possible? If not, please tell me why.
  2. Auxsam

    Auxsam Guest

    Tough question considering that there are still many pros and cons of each that seem to "level" the playing field in all aspects. For example, the izotpe ozone 3 and Psp vintage warmers (plugins) do miracles on my Nuendo "in the box" mix sessions, but sometimes i see myself trying to recreate the sound of a trident series 80 on board compressor and not getting the same sonic results. Then again, most of my stuff isnt being released on Sony records :wink:
    Which brings me to the next aspect which is of course price. If you're on a budget, have little space, and work digital 85% of the time, plug ins might do your studio a world of good especially when you know what you're doing. lots of pros do some amazing stuff with the Compressor plug ins out there. Now if you can spend money on good outboard compressors( DBX 160, La 2a, Millennias, etc) you will practically gear thats proven to sound good, music loves the analog domain. once again, if you know what you're doing.
    The way i see it, ill compress to tape with an outboard compressor, especially one with tubes. Sometimes, i'll run my whole mix through it at the end. Sometimes......i get better results leaving my mix in the box. I will say this; the plug in version of some hardware compressors dont really live up to the sonic Qualities of their hardware predecessors. Overall, i have to say that plug ins cant take over hardware gear( yet) buteach day i feel they get a little bit closer.
  3. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fredericksburg, VA
    I could see that they would take a niche hold in the market (as they've pretty much already done) but I don't see them dessimating or replacing hardware units.

    I've used very few plug-in compressors that I actually like - none of which I would rate higher than even a basic (think dbx266) compressor.

    Don't get me wrong, they do their job effectively enough, but the tactile feel of the knob and the instant gratification is what does it for me. Plus, by their very nature, there are physical problems with hardware devices (as electrons travelling through a circuit will have loss), but these problems are actually what give a compressor its color. Software compressors are, by their very nature are perfect. When a computer program sees a signal rise above a certain point, it is able to perfectly compress it. It only "colors" the signal intentionally (such as creating 2nd or 3rd order resonances to simulate tube or transformer saturation) and can easily be identified as "intentional coloring."

    I've only found 2 software compressors that I actually like and am willing to use.

    1 is the analog suite compressor plug-in that comes with Sequoia V8. The second is the WaveArts plug-in (available at I'll actually be writing a review of the WaveArts stuff here soon, which, for this site, I really only write positive reviews.

    Just my thoughts.

  4. jonnyc

    jonnyc Member

    You really liked the wave arts plugs? I demo'd them and thought they were very lackluster. I actually prefered my eq3 to the wave arts one, and didn't really like the compressor much. Might have to give them another shot.
  5. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Fredericksburg, VA
    Out of the plug-ins that I've used, yeah, I found it to be intuitive and accurate.

    I still prefer outside boxes, but when I need a plug-in compressor, it's one of the 2 that I'll turn to. Basically, I was pleased that, the results that I expect when I put a knob somewhere, are the results that I get. There are some glitches that I'm working with the programmer to fix (such as better metering and save-capable settings - an all too frustrating task with these plugs...)

    It sounds pretty good though. Their new version is supposed to be more visually friendly (which was probably my biggest gripe anyway.)

  6. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    what plugs are better than the hardware???
  7. swanmusic

    swanmusic Guest

    Waves Convolution Reverbs, Software samplers like Kontakt, Dr.Rex, etc.
  8. jonnyc

    jonnyc Member

    Well based on what you said here I decided to give the plug another try. Turns out I had version 4's and I noticed version 5's seemed a bit nicer. Decided to go ahead and buy the masterverb and mulitdynamics and I like both very much. I'm extremely pleased with both, the reverb is far better than dverb, which is what I used to always use, and the multiband compressor is amazing. I get the exact kick drum sound I want with no eqing. Just use the kick drum preset and tweak that a bit and it sounds beautiful. Only drawback is they tax my cpu a little, can only get 4-5 multidyn and 2-3 reverbs.
  9. UncleBob58

    UncleBob58 Active Member

    Fairfield County, CT
    Home Page:
    As bit rates and sample rates get higher software will sound and react more like the real thing. I'm much happier with my plugs since I've gone to 24bit/96kHz.
  10. Midlandmorgan

    Midlandmorgan Active Member

    I think it also depends of what type of plug, and what you are comparing it to in the real world....

    The longer I am in the business, the less I rely on compressor plugs, opting more for mid level hardware than software recreations of hardware...(Analog Suite is unto a class of its own)...Ashly CL52s just sound more natural and real than UAD LA2s; RNLA better than UAD 1176 (again - to my ears)

    Don't really EQ much, prefer getting it more from the am forced to stay software until funds become available for what I want in the hardware department....

    Echo and delays are getting very good in software...but for what I want to hear, there are no hardware reverbs under $4000 that can touch some of the better software verbs....even freebie reverbs such as Kjaerhus Classic and Anweida Lite sound better to me than mid level hardware devices...

    My opinion ...
  11. alimoniack

    alimoniack Guest

    Hardware rules.

    Hardware devices don't tend to crash (yet), and I agree with cuccos's comments about colouration - especially when tracking, since everyone's signal path to multitrack will have different characteristics. It's nice to able to compress at the mic input's insert, right? Depends on your front end.

    Sometimes I'm tracking to tape, sometimes to DAW, so I for one still need racks.

    As far as reverbs go, rather than plugs becoming dominant I reckon they'll simply increasingly integrate hardware and software, for example like Lexington have been doing with their recent hardware reverb units. Not tried it out but nice idea (latency?). Anyone here know if it works? Hardware units also used as plugs would use less CPU power, so there's potentially another factor in favour of hardware...

    As far as compression goes I reckon given the choice, the vast majority of us would rather operate a huge chunk of steel with angry red valves and big glowing VU's, changing settings by yanking round massive bakolite doorknobs...

    Also, it's more toys for us and all the nice people who make rack gear still have jobs!
  12. iznogood

    iznogood Member

    how does one compress with a reverb??

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