plugins or hardware

Discussion in 'Mixing & Song Critique' started by audiokid, Sep 11, 2009.


I'm more interested in (Plug-ins or Hardware)

  1. plug-ins

  2. hardware

    0 vote(s)
  1. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    I'm curious to see the results and to read any opinions on this topic a year from now.

    Are you more inclined to buy hardware or plugins now?

    I'm inclined no predict a huge percentage of pro audio manufacturers that still make hardware, go out of business in the next few years. The only hardware I see selling strong are mics, converters and preamps. Anything that can be replaced by a plug-in, will be. Hardware comps, EQ's, processors are going to be near obsolete. Even if the plug-ins suck, the simplicity and convenience of plug-ins are going to put the good old boys out of business.

    Is our high end hardware going to remain useful or useless? Maybe that old hardware will be gold?

    This topic was inspired from the lack of interest for hardware inquiries this last year in our proshop. I'm seeing less banners being clicked for hardware and far more interest in DAW related products. Seems the new generation of music creators aren's at all interested in hardware. Anything to do with DAW's is of big interests and big business.

    Shopping for a nice big sounding stereo is becoming difficult to find in stores as well. Seems there isn't big interest in that good old 70's sound anymore . Its all going to hell.
    Prefab is killing the entire business. Pretty soon china will be making plugins lol.

    Its interesting but concerning. I don't know what to expect or how to guide my children. They are becoming excellent musicians. I'm teaching them how I used to make music and what I listened to. Then, preparing them for A/V engineering and keeping away from the increasing addiction to cell phones.
  2. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Lake Ki-Chi-Saga, Minnesota USA
    I am more inclined to buy hardware.

    I got a new C4 pro and (don't laugh) a used Mackie Ultramix. I have high hopes to be able to control it through Logic and have it automate my mixes digitally through midi.

    I must admit that I did buy more plugins this year than I had ever done in the past, mostly because of half off deals and so forth.

    Still I plan on getting some more equipment this year, perhaps a new preamp and an additional interface to expand analog output.

    I prefer to mix outside the box, however I am in the process of moving back into the realm of mixing on a desk.

    There is much more work involved, and its a much slower process.

    IMHO The result of more analog processing and hard work often leads to better mixes and smother, more enjoyable music.
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:

    I have many thousands in plugins and I couldn't care less to open one up at this point.
  4. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Mar 18, 2001
    Sunny & warm NC
    Home Page:
    I'm wearing my asbestos underwear, cause I'm sure to fan the flames with napalm.....

    I think that the robber baron's in Washington, who caused the collapse of the economy are the root cause of less professional hardware being sold for the obvious reason that there's just plain less profit dollars to invest in new gear. Hell, we all just trying to survive and put food on our plates.

    That and the Wal-Mart mentality of cheaper being better...

    Granted, my intern is possibly an exception to the rule, but what he's telling me, is that the majority of his class is drooling over hardware, and just being lukewarm over software and plugs.

    The "kids" are learning to do things with plugs, but it also appears that there's a mystique and a genuine "thirst" for good iron... and probably will be for the foreseeable future.

    Granted those numbers are going to continue to dwindle to a trickle as software continues to permeate the industry, but the desire and demand for high quality analog gear will always have a future.

    As long as the software manufacturers are held at arms length, as happened with the analog manufacturers, in the teaching institutes, there is hope that the next few generations of engineers will appreciate the fact that human hearing will always be an analog process.

    I also think that instant fame and fortune from being a rock star will also fade as the entire industry cheapens itself to a point that no one is able to rise above the cacophony due to all the cheap gear, lack of musicianship and inability to make any money. It's a non-sustainable business model. It will collapse just as rapidly as the economy did two years ago.

    Software piracy will continue to be such a problematic issue, that code-warriors will not be able to continue to write code that they aren't making income from... much less profit. So, the only software that will be left is that which is able to be totally open source, or that which is able to incorporate rather expensive security measures.... and thus, high end... which will be just as expensive as the hardware counterpart.
  5. audiokid

    audiokid Chris Staff

    Mar 20, 2000
    BC, Canada
    Home Page:
    I should add,

    Contrary to my current POV, I'm sure I will be totally converted as things improve with the DAW.

    I wonder if and when a plug-in will be exactly the same as a dedicated piece?
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Dec 18, 2008
    Western Pennsylvania, USA
    I don't think it will ever be exclusively one or the other. Modeling will continue to improve. And guys who reach for their wallets faster than a gunslinger at a strip club, will always keep manufacturers motivated to make the next sexy magic box-amajig.

    Currently on ebay there's a vintage Fairchild 670 for $37,500.00
    and a Bomb Factory plug-in of the Fairchild 670 for $37.95

    I have no illusions that the plug-in has the exact same audio fingerprint.
    But hand-wired vintage hardware didn't sound exactly the same one unit to the next either.

    If you've got the computing horsepower for your $37.95 you can simultaneously insert a reasonable/unreasonable facsimile of a $37k compressor onto 24 channels.

    I'd like to know if UA has made more dough in the past 5 years licensing plug-ins of the LA2A or selling the steel. 'cuz that's what it all boils down to.

    Technology comes and goes amid a whirlwind of hoopla and critics, but the music business will always come down to one thing... Can you write a song?
  7. jammster

    jammster Active Member

    Nov 30, 2008
    Lake Ki-Chi-Saga, Minnesota USA
    Do you have a feeling with the development of Direct Stream Digital (DSD) somewhere down the road we will see another big leap in fidelity with digital audio? I suppose that we will see very processor intensive tasks with this technology thereby putting it out of reach for most consumers.

    Ten years ago it was hard to predict the path the computer music world was headed. Makes me wonder what curves are ahead on the road to future music.

    Hopefully in the end the music will prevail and the technology will be in harmony with those of us who are making it.
  8. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Dec 10, 2001
    Pacific NW
    Hardware for the tracking process. Nothing sounds like the quality circuits you can get to run your mics through.

    After mixing my last record with ProTools HD3 and having a lot of computing power and
    endless plug-ins as well as the automation, I was very impressed with packages like the UA and some of the other stuff available. It will only get better, but I would always choose hardware over software for the capture.
  9. song4gabriel

    song4gabriel Active Member

    Mar 27, 2007
    NY, USA
    Home Page:
    For me-this is the major point. As a songriter (and i've been told i'm 1/2way decent) who writes music in my own home studio the "reasonable facsimile" is what I'm always after. And with my limited engineering skills- the plugins (for the most part) are the way to go. As I must believe most of the uses (and marketing) of daw software (platforms and plugs) are geared towards musicans/songwriters who, with 1/10th, maybe even 1/100th of the monetary outlay of the hardware can get close enough to having a finished product.

    Of course, gearwise, nothing will ever replace good mics, outboard preamps, compression, a/d/da and good monitors, but for me-i'd be dead in the water without the plugs i use. IN fact just lately I actually have been tracking with rchannel from waves, my favourite vocal plug and it has made my performances 10 times better. Plug ins help me get to the "song" faster and cheaper.

    One other thing- as a novice (or at least when i started i was a novice) using and experimenting with plug ins taught me what all the outboard gear was and how it worked. One of the ways I learned my craft was by inserting plug ins to tracks after recording and futzing around with all the dials to see just what they all do and how they affect sound.

    all that being said i think hybrid software/hardware likethe UA stuff is difintely the way of the future. surely that technology is going to improve greatly and we will start to see majore hardware makers take that road too. as long as they stay away from making it in china. please god let them stay away from making it in china.
  10. SonicIdiot

    SonicIdiot Guest

    I record mostly Indie bands. I have no budget. I built some SCA pres (which are very nice). I have a nice collection of decent budget mics and a couple of really nice ones. I rely a lot on the computer. I had been using some wave plugs but mostly a variety of decent freebies. Then I invested in and UA card. Then I invested in another. I can't wait to get a third.

    For someone like me who records in garages, rehearsal spaces, living rooms, etc., I see no practical reason to invest in hardware now that angels have delivered the UA plugs. Don't get me wrong - I love recording and if money were no object I'd have mountains of hardware. Nothing is as fun and I completely understand the real tools beat out the UA in a shootout conducted in a pro studio with a pro engineer. But that difference doesn't mean much when your main problem during a session is the ^#$%ing city buses making noise outside the apartment your recording in.

    Bottom line: before UA plugs, my recordings were ok but not great. With them, they would easily pass for pro to the average consumer.

    And these things will only get better. I can only imagine, twenty years down the road, what the plugins for the industry standard ProTools iPhone DAW will sound like.
  11. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Dec 11, 2007
    Scotland, UK
    " city"
    Is that the name of the place :lol:

    I agree; for me - plugins for recording (I have other issues than the fidelity of my audio such as getting hi-fidelity audio recorded in the first place).
    And cheap-ish hardware for the live band/PA aspect of it all.
  12. djmukilteo

    djmukilteo Well-Known Member

    Nov 23, 2008
    Rainy Roads WA USA
    I have to say I've seen alot of different audio signal processing and audio manipulation hardware and systems over the years..(I'm old) There has always been so many different pieces of equipment that have been designed out there, some of it was marginal, some of it was esoteric, some of it was pure professional industrial grade....all of it did a different job and produced different results but most of it had a specific purpose and if it did an exceptional job it was usually due to a very creative ingenious electronic design using very high grade components, many times using specially fabricated circuits....many of those designs made big names for themselves in the audio world and the result is they're still out there and still being used by people!
    Now we have this world of VLSI, DSP, ADC, Fast Fourier Transform algorithms etc. etc...on into infinity.....all the result of math....math that can be rendered in nanoseconds....this is the world we are in today....this is the plugin world...
    Eventually audio processing with this "new math" will undoubtedly go somewhere far beyond discrete electronic hardware...(and obviously there are systems out there that already have done this).
    I guess we just need to continue to review and choose plugins that are doing something more than what has already been done in hardware or choose to pay less for plugins that do the same thing as the tried and true hardware.....choice and competition is a good thing....
    I still like hardware but I still want to see what they will do with plugins and the new math....there will always be a need for the hardware and I believe in the future the plugins that will make a name for themselves will have accomplished that by creating new and exciting ways to manipulate audio...
  13. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    Hardware beats software
    Software beats hardware for cost, automation and instant recall.
    You get more for your money with software. Hardware outlasts software.
    Hardware is WAY cooler to look at and to use.

    In the end they are both tools. Just like a Mac and a PC. Choose and use the tools that you get closest to your sonic goals.

    I'd much rather have 1-2 pieces of great analog hardware than thousands of half ass crappy plugs.
  14. ouzo77

    ouzo77 Active Member

    Jan 16, 2006
    Nuremberg, Germany
    Home Page:
    except for my interface and my mic pre i own not a single piece of hardware. i've never needed one. everthing i do works easier and faster with plugins.

    what song4gabriel said applies to me as well. i'm a musician who started recording and mixing to be able to do my own stuff and make it sound as good as possible. the plugin way works for me perfectly so no need for boxes taking up place in my studio! ;-)

    though a good analog summing mixer would be nice...

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