Ever since I can remember software (computers) being a tool for music creation, there’s always been an argument as to which one sounds better.
Of course I always felt sound was very subjective and too many factors go into the end result to really say. Some use software but have analog (hardware) processing that gives it a different sound.
Some use hardware and process with software tools to get the “vibe” they need.
Yet some come straight out of their favorite sampler or workstation and that’s how they rock the track.
Others export directly out of their software platform and use whatever tools are there to do what they want.
Many just pick the right sounds from the beginning to get the sound they want.
My point is, there are so many variables why is this such a huge debate? I’ve heard so many say that an mpc, or asr, or this or that gives your drums a certain sound, or feel, or groove, or whatever.
I’ve heard it attributed to everything from the sloppiness off the sequencer to the super special magical chip inside of a specific drum machine. Even if that drum machine operates at 16 bit folks still say it has some sort of “grit” to it…hmmm.
I’m a firm supporter of using what you feel draws the best creativity out of you, for whatever reason. If you feel an mpc or mv, or asr, or a sp gives your drums a feel that nothing else can match, then by all means, use that…and don’t look for any alternatives to give you the same vibe as you get with that gear.
My point is it’s not just about the sound, it’s about how you interact with that equipment, how you know it, and how it allows you to work. If you feel buying a specific drum machine solely for it’s “magical touch” then you will be let down most of the time.
My own experiences with software and hardware sound
I’ve personally owned and used both software and hardware, and not just “a little bit”. I started out on hardware, and I was one of those that felt there was no way software could match the sound, vibe, groove, whatever….
Then I realized it wasn’t so much the sound, but the way the gear allowed me to work to produce the sound I liked.
But I also felt there was still “something” missing from my more digitally inclined drums and beats compared to that which was more or less…”tangible”…or shall I say, I noticed a difference in the sound between my software and hardware or at least I felt that way for sure.
But I felt in the end my workflow and creativity was more important than simply a “magic sound”….but after I while I wanted to explore some more just for my own pleasure, and maybe share with a few friends….while talking with them, I said “man I should just post this and see what people think” so….yeah…here we are.
Let’s have a little fun with this one…
Anyway…I thought it would be fun to post a little contest because so many think they can tell, just from listening, where a drum pattern was produced, hardware or software, based only on the sound.
I’m not getting all scientific here, I’m not going into input chains, interfaces, output modifications, etc. I just wanted to see if folks really think there is a huge SOUND difference (if any) between hardware and software and if it’s really easy to pick out which one .
What characteristics do you assign to which? Is it really that different or is it just a mental thing?
If you’ve been around here for a while or been on my mailing list, you know what gear I have, have had, and have access too. That doesn’t matter, so don’t worry about that, just focus on the sound and tell me which you think is hardware, software, or whatever, and why.
So check them out then cast your vote.
You can listen to the files via the soundcloud player below.
I used the same exact drum sounds to create both loops, they used the same midi data after I created the loops. I did not use normalize, not a fan of it lol.
After you vote, leave a comment and let me know your thoughts about the two loops, if you think they differ in sound, and if you feel you can tell if one is software or hardware.