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How many of your keyboards are virtual, and how many are hardware?


Phil O'Keefe
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I'm just curious about trends... so here's a few questions for everyone.

 

Do you have more virtual synths and keyboards than hardware?

 

About how many of each do you have?

 

Have you purchased any hardware in the past year or two? How about software instruments?

 

Do you still keep your older hardware instruments, or have you sold a lot of them?

 

Do OS and computer obsolescence issues ever concern you when it comes to software instrument purchases?

 

Which hardware / software advantages / disadvantages matter most to you?

 

Discuss! I'd really love to get everyone's thoughts on this. Thanks! smile.png

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I still have a DX7 which is on loan to a friend who is a visual artist with a piano background. He uses it with Garage Band. I also have a Yamaha SY85 that I used to use a lot for both live and studio work. My brother (a drummer) is taking care of that for me. I bought a Yamaha P120 (piano) and a used MU90R about fifteen years ago that essentially replaced the SY85 and I used that combo for quite a few years.

 

I got back into ProTools in '08 and purchased SylusRMX and Atmosphere (later upgraded to Omnishpere) which started the ball rolling with software synths. I got into SampleTank and some other IKMultimedia products and found the piano sounds to be better than the Yamaha hardware I was using. Of course Velvet was a big one for me having played Fender Rhodes a lot in the '70s. AAS had a big sale and I got into some of their stuff. Tassman 4 is really something and I like the sounds of Ultra Analog 1 and 2.

 

I picked up an Axiom61 MIDI keyboard/controller a few years ago and it turned out to be a good fit for software synths but it has suffered the common 'blue screen of death' problem and I have yet to do the repair. A couple of years ago I picked up a Yamaha CP5 stage piano which I think is a fabulous instrument (other than the portability issue) and it also has a large library of useful synth sounds for live performance.

 

I got an iPad about a year and a half ago and started with AniMoog. I went a little nuts with the iPad apps and have about a dozen software synths and some guitar amps. I use IK Multimedia iGrand and iLectric Pianos on the iPad, some Arturia synths (thanks for the tip Phil) and I really like Galileo for the Hammond Organ stuff. Galileo also allows me to run my guitar through its virtual Leslie (and it's really easy to carry around.)

 

After reading Craig Anderton's review on the CME XKey I decided to get one for the portability it provides. I like to compose music at the beach or in the woods and now I can record the ideas as they come to me.

 

I use Auria Pro and an AudioBox 1818VSL and it has the potential to replace everything. (I'm thinking of getting an AudioBox iTwo, again for the portability, since the 1818VSL requires external power and a powered USB hub.)

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Do you have more virtual synths and keyboards than hardware?

Probably more hardware. I only use virtual instruments to record things at home. I am considering buying a used iPad as a platform for live performance using virtual instruments (with a USB MIDI keyboard) in addition to my hardware keys.

 

About how many of each do you have?

I have several free virtual synths that I've played around with, but only two that I use consistently: SampleTank and Proteus. I think I have nine (9) hardware synths, but I regularly gig with only a Roland Jupiter-50 (JP-50) and occasionally a JX-8P. The others are inside synths. ;-)

 

Have you purchased any hardware in the past year or two? How about software instruments?

I purchased the JP-50 a couple years ago; bought an old Korg DW-8000 a couple years before that. Before the JP-50, the last new synth I bought was an Alesis QS8.1, the original black model. I have never bought a virtual instrument, but only use free versions.

 

Do you still keep your older hardware instruments, or have you sold a lot of them?

Never sold one. I still have my first electronic keyboard, a Farfisa Compact Deluxe that I bought around 1970. The last time I turned it on, several years ago, it still worked, but the key contacts were extremely dirty & noisy.

 

Do OS and computer obsolescence issues ever concern you when it ncomes to software instrument purchases?

Yes! I have had problems with OS and computer hardware upgrades in the past. I still have a 486 PC that I keep for the rare occasions that I need to use some old software that won't run on newer machines. I don't see VSTi's becoming obsolete any time soon, but I wonder about the host software.

 

Which hardware / software advantages / disadvantages matter most to you?

For live performance, I like hardware instruments for their durability, reliability and integration of features. I like soft synths for general recording at home because there are no cables to connect, nothing has to be removed from its case and set up, etc. But I believe that soft synths in a live setting can be a flexible and inexpensive way to add to one's existing setup without having to lug more heavy cases around and take up more space on stage.

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I'm definitely more of an old school hardware guy. I have one software synth (Rapture) that I bought on sale and have hardly used. Although I'd like to give Omnisphere a try.

As far as hardware synths, I currently have:

 

Korg - M3m, Karma, Wavestation SR, Trinity Rack, Micro X

Roland - V-Synth, JD-990 (and VG-99, GR-33 guitar synths)

Kurzweil K2000R

Novation UltraNova

Kawai K5000R, K4r

 

I also have an extensive library of sounds and samples for many of these - really old school on ram cards and floppy discs.

I've chosen these particular synths over the years because they have the right kind of sounds and textures for my style of music - ambient/electronic/new age

 

I'm on the computer enough for my work, as well as recording on ProTools, so I prefer to have the more hands on approach of working with hardware. My next purchase may be a Korg Kronos - 61 key. I started using synths back in the 80's with a Juno 60 & 106, and Oberheim OBXA, so I'm just used to them and feel more comfortable with them. But perhaps one day, I'll make the switch and start using more software synths.

 

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I don't necessarily favor one over the other; each has their pros and cons, depending on the situation. I purchased the Gaia a couple of years and I'm aiming - in all likelihood - at adding more hardware. The list below isn't all of my VST/soft synths; just the ones I use on a somewhat regular basis. The Gaia is physically easy for me to program as I have focal dystonia in my right hand which makes it difficult to monkey around with a mouse; this alone is a big plus with the Gaia.

 

Hardware:

Yamaha Mox6

Roland Gaia

Plugiator (ok, it's more of a module)

Sampson Graphite 49 controller

 

Virtual:

Dimension Pro

Z3TA 2

VB3 organ

Alchemy

Acoustica Pianissimo

Rapture

SampleMoog

Sonik Synth

 

Edit: if it's of any use to the demographics; I'm a jazz, fusion, and prog player.

Edited by koolkat
just thougth of something relevant
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I have one keyboard, two rack and one desktop hardware synths. For software that I intentionally got, five, of which I use four (I stopped using ABL2 after getting a x0xb0x.) I also have other soft synths that came with Digital Performer but I don't use them. I haven't bought any instruments in several years.

 

 

 

As might be expected, I like the extensive feature set of software, but I prefer programming sounds with knobs instead of a mouse.

 

 

 

I've had one keyboard in the past that I got rid of because it had nothing worth keeping after I got the new one. One of my rack modules I don't really use any more but I have no real reason to get rid of it. It's not taking up valuable space & it's not worth anything so I might as well hold on to it. There's a few interesting sounds in it I may find a use for again in the future.

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Hardware:

Yamaha MOX8

Roland FA-08

Korg SV1 -73

Roland VR-09

CASIO XW-P1

EWI USB Controller

M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro

Korg Wave Drum

5 guitars 3 of which are midi enabled (Godin & Carvin)

Ibanez Bass

Roland GR-55 Guitar Synth

Axon 100 mk2 Guitar Synth

Korg Radias Module

Roland Sonic Cell Module

Roland BK7m Arranger Module.

 

Software:

Mainstage 3

Omnisphere 2

Addictive Keys (Studio Grand, Rhodes & Electric Grand)

EZ-Drummer 2 + a lot of additional library sounds

Synthmaster 2.7

Komplete Elements

EZ-Keys Grand & Electric piano

Garritan Aria

Pianoteg 5 Stage D+K (Love it!!)

Arturia Minimoog

Arsenal (Trigger Finger Pro Libraries)

Amplitude 3&4

 

IPAD Software:

Animoog

Thor

Korg Polysix

Magenta

Sunriser

Korg MS-20

 

Plus a rack with guitar processor (Line 6), Line mixer & Carvin Power amp and speakers. And a Mac Book Pro and Roland Duo Capture. I do a lot of gigs and have at various times used any combination of these. Except the drum stuff I use that for creating tracks for solo & duo work. And a full PA system! I never really realized how much stuff I have bought over the last 7 years or so until now!

Edited by kbeaumont
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I don't necessarily favor one over the other; each has their pros and cons' date=' depending on the situation. [/quote']

 

I think that's very true... I personally feel a lot more comfortable with hardware in a live situation. While computers are generally a lot more stable than they once were, I still worry occasionally about software crashing at a gig. I tend to feel more comfortable with hardware because of that, even though many hardware synths now have onboard computers and their own operating systems. In the studio, anything's fair game. It's easier to get around the occasional software glitch in that environment, and the repercussions are less onerous.

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I used to be a real gear hound, but in my old age I stay with the same 4 hardware pieces of had for years and likely won't get anything soon. Although I did hear a reliable rumour about a potential poly Oberheim...which if that's the case, I will buy it. I doubt I could ever use software live and feel comfortable with it.

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I just use virtual, running Mainstage 3 with an 88 key and 61 key MIDI controllers. I have played gigs with just one controller, but like having two for flexibility. So far, I've bought exactly zero software instruments.

 

As far as the OS goes, I've turned off Software Update and don't change anything until things shake out a bit first.

 

I have had one issue during a performance when the sounds were distorted, caused by dropping something on the computer keyboard. A reboot fixed it, and with a SSD boot drive I was able to do a cold restart in the time between songs.

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I could have sworn I replied already to this thread. Oh well.

 

I have a Korg Kronos 88, a Yamaha MOXF6, and a Korg M3-73 (that I'm selling). For amps I use either Behringer B212 or B215, or my new favorite the CPS SpaceStation V3 . Also own a Variax Guitar and POD X3 Live, a Martin Acoustic/Electric, a 5-String Jazz Bass, and a mandolin.I also own several MIDI controllers - M-Audio Keystation 49 & 88, Arturia KeyLab 61 & MiniLab. That takes care of the hardware.

 

For software, I own NI Komplete 9 Ultimate, the AAS Modeling Collection, the Arturia V-Collection, SampleTank 3, OPX-Pro II, G-Force M-Tron and Oddity, all the Steinberg instruments and effects that come with Cubase (HALionSonic, The Grand 3, Retrologue, etc.) and all the Apple instruments that come with MainStage and Logic Pro X (Alchemy and so on), Ravenscroft 275, Spectrasonics Omnisphere and Trilian, Korg Legacy Collection, SynthMaster and others I'm sure I'm forgetting. It just dawned on me that most of these things are listed in my sig.

 

For DAWs I used Cubase for years, but recently started learning Logic Pro X when I bought a MacBook Pro. Also dabble in Ableton Live but I'm just not making the connection after so many years of linear-based recording. I love the concept and in theory it makes so much sense.

 

What I use depends entirely on the situation. If I want to go out with an 88-note controller on bottom and a 49 or 61 note on top controlling MainStage, I can. If I want the confidence of having a hardware backup in that mix, I put the MOXF6 on top. I rarely take the Kronos 88 out due to weight and the fact that I couldn't replace it if something happened to it. I'm really digging using MainStage as it gives me the ability to bring my A-game sounds with me out to a gig, or jam, audition or rehearsal. I have gotten spoiled on the VST instruments over the years, To me the hardware just doesn't get there anymore. The Kronos and MOXF are fine machines, and each in their own right will more than just get you through a gig, but to me they just don't reach the same level as the VSTs anymore. In the studio, I use whatever tool is best for the job, but it is slowly becoming more software than hardware.

 

My biggest problem now is finding the time to get to know each and every piece of hardware and software as well as we used to get to know each new synth or keyboard we bought years ago. I don't know if there is enough time left for me on this planet to reach that place. It used to be we would live with the manual for days, experimenting and trying things and pushing things to their limits. Now, the ceiling is so much higher than before, it almost makes it insurmountable.

Edited by midinut
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I really don't use any hardware synths in my live keyrig. I still use my Alesis Fusion, which is my primary 88-key controller, for a couple of songs, but it's being slowly phases out (just can't settle on another 88-key controller that I trust). I also use a Roland A-800 Pro 61 key controller.

 

My primary VSTs include:

 

Sylenth

NI Vintage Organs

Just started using XLN Audio's Addictive Keys Studio Grand and Electric Grand. . . pretty happy.

Tyrell N6

Sample Tank 2 Group. Just a big grab bag of decent sounds

First Call Horns by Big Fish Audio with NI Player

NI's FM8

NI Vintage Keys - My go to EPs

 

That's about it. . . running everything with Cantabile 2 on a laptop. Just switched to Windows 10 and I'm impressed so far.

 

I guess I buy a couple of VSTs a year. Always looking to sound better, or run faster, or expand my palette.

 

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