Do drums sound better in hardware than software?

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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 orΒ 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.

Drumloop 1 by JK Swopes
Drumloop 2 by JK Swopes

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.

[poll id=”3″]

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99 Comments

  1. Loop 2 hit a little harder than Loop one, so I figure it was hardware, b/c of the sensitivity pads found in hardware, but can also be found in software, which I use. You should call this “The Great Debate.”

    Reply
    • @Echo, word thanks for the input, so you feel hardware would have a harder response do to the sensitivity of the pad/velocity settings? Cool…

      I just want to see people’s thoughts on what they feel attributes to a different sound and if it’s really easy to tell if something is made with hardware or software

      Reply
  2. Loop one is quieter than loop two, but I’ve found that you can get the same sound of either with hardware or software. I suppose its what you want to use in the end. I’m going to choose the reverse from the obvious and say that loop one is created in hardware and the second is software.

    Reply
  3. In my experience, Its always been difficult to find sound cards that do a great job in minimizing loss of fidelity. In a rough listen, I would have to say that Loop 2 sounds like Hardware. Its not just louder.
    The sounds appear thicker, punchier and snappier than the same drums in loop 1.

    I Completely agree with what you said regarding the trade offs between HW and SW, and this is why I use both. But these days, my MPC accounts for ALL of my drums. Mainly because I dread having to track my drums into DAW due to loss of fidelity. And not just at my spot.
    Whether through my M-Audio Delta, or my friends Motu 896 firewire, or into PTools, I can ALWAYS hear/detect a loss in fidelity going into a computer. I do appreciate the wide range of tools available to me in a DAW environment, and I use them accordingly, but I have just gotten used to having to keep my drums in the mpc if I wanna keep em big and punchy without having to spend a bunch of time replacing what I have lost after going from MPC to DAW.
    Honestly, it really boils down to the quality of the A/D and D/A converters used in the gear we all use, and the algorithms written into the software we use as well.

    Thats just life.

    Reply
  4. The first loop was a bit to tight and didn’t have loose enough groove but that still could be based on the the programmer, however the second was a bit looser and had a wider feel still it’s based on the way it was programmed. My true feelings is that software is not superior to hardware or vise versa, the key is knowing your sounds and knowing equipment. Also, having samples that or cut correctly for software and playing the same sounds played correctly for the hardware. Anywho, both have samples in them anyway. The only difference is that hardware is a bit dirty cus it may travel thru a jack but you can dirty the software sound up too. You just have to know your equipment. Neither wins! A hit is a hit no matter the way you got it. (ie: Soulja boy-Fruity Loops, 9th Wonder-Fruity Loops, Dj Khalih-Reason, Dj Toomp-Reason).

    Reply
    • @Louis, I hear ya man, it’s all about knowing your gear and the sound you want. FYI these are the same exact loops, midi for midi, so it’s not likely one will sound tighter or loser than the other πŸ˜‰

      Reply
  5. saintjoe, Great debate here, but should a truly creative person really care wether software or hardware drums are better than each other or should they just be creative? Yet another debate. Kind of like analog vs. digital, paper bags vs. plastic, Corvette vs. Porsche, or even Rakim vs. Jay Z. HW and SW has a significant place in music and its called, “one of the many tools used to get to whatever YOUR end result is in music”. To go even deeper sj, I know you know, lets not forget pioneers like Bobby Mcferrin and a cat named Larry Wright The Street Drummer. They didnt use HW or SW on their quest to success. So who had the better drums of the two? YET ANOTHER DEBATE!!!

    Just going IN, a little bit deeper.

    Make music you love making, and go creativly hard everytime!!!

    Reply
    • @Cane,
      Yeah thats all fine and dandy.. but I think we’re talking more about the impact using HW or SW can have on “said creativity”

      If you have an idea in your head.. and your trying to translate it to something tangible that you can playback, but everytime you record it and play it back its missing something…
      the magical grey area….
      thats what we’re addressing..

      ….. i think……
      lol

      Reply
      • @Triple-X, exactly, there is a magical grey areay, and it’s called our psyche, it’s how we feel about what we’re doing and how it has an effect on our creativity. Technically there may be very little difference, but that doesn’t matter, because if mentally there is a difference to you, it will mess your creativity up!

        If you’re dead set on having mpc drums or mv drums, then no software will replace that becuase it’s just never going to be “that gear”. That’s why for me, it’s more about “the sound” instead of a particular “gear sound”.

        If I want my drums to sound like an sp1200, no matter how many emulators they make, it’s best to just get a 1200! But if I’m not specifically after that 1200 sound, but yet I just like to have some gritty sounding drums, then I can do that pretty much with anything….

        that’s what I’m getting at.

        Reply
    • @Cane, Yeah that’s my point, it doesn’t really matter, thats what I’m saying here πŸ™‚ I know folks who debate this topic feverishly and will say they can instantly hear the difference between the two, my thoughts are it’s really more of a mental thing than anything. And that doesn’t make it wrong. I feel that if the mpc makes you bang out your drums the best, then do it, it’s something about the way you interact with that gear that works for you. Same with cats who feel they can really be the most creative when putting drums on the grid in flstudio, it’s really more about how the gear is an extension of your creativity than it is about the gear being the “source” of said creativity.

      Reply
  6. I like both loops but really think they sound about the same. I believe they are software based. Saying that, software is so much easier to manipulate by adding delays, compression, etc… I used to own an MPC 5000 but it was too much work to learn. For me software is the way to go.

    Hey great forum, great discussion.

    Reply
  7. I am sorry to inform you but your test seems to be flawed because of a major problem most people even professionals who has been mixing for 15 years don’t know about “Panning Laws”. Google “Panning Laws”

    Reply
    • @pppeeeppee, dude I don’t care about panning laws and all that crap lol, it’s a off the cuff test, based on perception of sound, period. How can this be flawed? There is no standard here, nothing scientific, just getting people’s input on the sound. When we listen to music, we don’t sit around and discuss panning laws lol… we instantly get a feel for the sound, it either sounds good, or not, it has a certain character we associate with certain things or it doesn’t. What the heck does a panning law have to do with this? Exactly nothing lol.

      Reply
      • @saintjoe, lol St. Joe I admire you but what your saying just made you look that much more gullible. The only reason why the drums sound different in the mpc compared to any other thing else is the “panning law”. This is not science its fact. If programs and hardware each had their panning law setting the same then we wouldn’t be having this conversation but problem is not every program panning law is the same. The panning laws IS THE ONLY REASON WHY YOU WOULD HEAR A BIG DIFFERENCE!!! and if I am correct the mpc panning law is set to +1db by default on the mpc. I will say it again the reason why this subject is an on going subject is because the people who test this kind of stuff don’t know anything about panning laws and therefore believe that a certain program or hardware sounds better. If you have cubase or reaper or any other daw look for an option called panning law setting and learn about it. http://www.harmonycentral.com/docs/DOC-1106

        (Read the article above)

        Reply
        • @pppeeeppee, ahahahahahaha!!!!!!!!!! lol…you’re hilarious man, get outta hear wit all that, it don’t matter, so what if the “panning law” is what causes the perception difference? That’s still a difference isn’t it?

          And for the record…I didn’t say drums sounded better in the mpc lol, I didn’t say either way? You didn’t pick though lol, so which one do you think sounds better, and why? Let me guess…panning laws?

          Thanks for sharing man, I like all comments, but you still helped prove that there is an initial difference lol. If you “say” the mpc has has it’s “panning law” set to +1db by default, that that would make it different than others, thus could be one reason people “perceive” a difference when comparing to something else.

          So explain this to us mr audio engineer, how does said “panning law” effect the perception of the listener so that they feel drums sound “harder” or “thicker” or “have more thump” etc…because I don’t think that’s a “panning law” issue πŸ™‚

          and please, cast your vote and explain it, it’s all in good fun I promise πŸ™‚

          Reply
          • @saintjoe,
            Interesting discussion, you, TripleX, and others have pretty much covered the real issues at hand. SW or HW can both take you to the same places, but the route is gonna differ drastically. Whether it’s how quick you can do editing or how long or short a time you have to work to dial in the sound you want. Joe you especially nailed it on speaking on how this debate is valid as it relates to the creator and the process itself.

            Anybody who’s been at this for a minute and can keep their inner fanboy in check knows there’s no right or wrong way to do this stuff. What’s right is gonna differ for a lot of people based on a variety of factors.
            Personally, I still love programming with minimal latency, so I keep MPC’s prominent in my setup, but honestly that’s the only reason. My audio interface let’s me run 30 tracks @ 128 samples with latency from 2.7-3.6ms. Solid numbers, but sometimes not good enough…for my own preference. Had I never touched hardware I’d probably perceive my software and controllers as feeling near zero latency, I only notice relative to my MPC experience.

            As for sound differences I feel that’s a moot point when discussing any MPC model from the 2000 to the present. The 2000/XL sound a little punchier on the low end than the 1000/2500/5000, but generally these newer MPC’s sound like a decent quality PC interface. With that said I agree with you and TripleX about not wanting to run through the pc interface if possible. Now if the debate is to pick out a MPC60/3000 sound from other MPC’s, yeah there’s a difference.

            The guy with the panning laws, I don’t know man. What he stated is true generally, but I don’t think it applies here. He’s likely one of those guys that says every DAW sounds identical, I see those debates on HC on the regular. It seems to me that people neglect to consider the re-summing in the DAWS differs, and I think this is where the on paper stuff goes out the window.

            But like I said I’m glad you guys pointed out this is more about the music maker and his flow than a Coke vs. Pepsi proposition. The amount of work and flow of the work is what will differ, not the end results if really go in and do your thing.

            Reply
            • @Metatron72, exactly man lol, especially on point about newer mpcs lol, that’s the same thing I said. I was a 4k man myself, and I got it for specific reasons none of which had to do with the “sound” of it. I don’t think it’s that bad going through an interface, but with most modern samplers you just don’t have to, just drag the wavs over. Again, the point here wasn’t to prove one better than the other, but to prove that it really doesn’t matter and a lot of what we “think” we hear is nothing more than what has been suggested to us πŸ™‚ I’m hoping folks let the tools and the ideas about them get out the way and just use what works for them because it does what they need, not because they feel one will guarantee a certain result over the other.

              Reply
          • @saintjoe, bro – all I gots to say is, if the difference in sound is a ‘panning law’ issue – which is very likely – then its not a ‘Software’ versus ‘Hardware’ issue.. Its a product by product issue…So many forums had the same debate between protools and logic… set to there default settings they sound different, but they are actually identical if you calibrate the pan law setting. Software and Hardware can technically sound identical if you calibrate them properly. Some hardware units have the same defaults as some software, some don’t.

            I don’t see how calibrating a pan law setting is not relevant… subtle shifts in panning radically effect phase, which directly effects the ‘beefiness’ of a sound (its not just a volume thing). This is the primary difference producers hear when putting the same track on different gear…

            Anyway, my vote goes to track two being the MPC.

            Reply
              • @saintjoe, Wow ST. Joe I am very sorry to inform you, but you proven to be clueless. When @NateG brought up panning law(which was the first thing I mentioned. Which why the test would be automatically flawed) you brushed it off. If you think panning law is a bunch of crap thats fine, but all Im asking of you is to do your research. There has been thread after thread post after post about this and the only thing that makes hardware or software sound different is the panning laws. Its not I who says it just read about it. Every conclusion to a thread about this topic ends with panning laws. Mate do your research. The reason why your test would be automatically flawed(If you were to show this a an engineer with 10+ years experience) is because you didn’t tell us what pannning law setting you had each drumloop on.

                Reply
                • @pppeeeppee, look man, if you feel you can make your software sound exactly like a piece of hardware by adjusting your panning law then go for it, this article wasn’t even about that, and the test was more about social influence than the sound of the loops. I believe there is a difference in initial sound between software and hardware, now if it’s the panning law, that’s fine, most don’t care, it’s more about the emotional aspect and response people have to gear. Some just plain prefer their drums coming out of a hardware machine, so panning laws aren’t going to change that for those people. It may be factual, that’s fine, but that doesn’t mean I feel like going all into it in this topic, that’s not the point. I’m sure everything can be made to sound like everything else in the end, the point is, initial response, and most people just don’t want to get all deep with it, they just want what sounds good to them from the start

  8. @SaintJoe, I picked Loop 1 SW, Loop 2 HW because of my perception. I perceived that the 2nd loop had more “played in real time” versus “Note Ons” being clicked in a Piano Roll. Still I don’t even have a 100% gut feel on it because I do believe that the majority factor is…creativity. By now most individual notes where sample-generated, sampled, or recorded to a file format or internal memory space. HW has single processor (digital or analog) and SW needs a physical sound card/audio interface to be heard. The lines are very blurry. Good debate fodder, btw, SaintJoe.

    Reply
    • @Gold Bass, thanks for the feedback! I feel you man, to me it don’t matter, that’s sorta the point of this, but I like discussing topics like these πŸ™‚

      FYI, I don’t “click” in any beats I make, I always play them out by hand with no quantize πŸ™‚

      These are the same exact loops, no difference in timing at all πŸ™‚ But it’s very interesting that loop 2 “seems” to have a loser feel to some, that’s very interesting to me!

      thanks for the input man!

      Reply
  9. Joe-
    I really enjoyed this posting. I am of the mind set that regardless of hardware or software it all begins with a great mix and CONCLUDES with awesome mastering. Give me any of the two and I’ll smash it with tight mix, ready for the commercial play with the right mastering. Now of course, there is a difference heard between loop 1 and 2..But fo’real, what average listen/consumer can tell the difference? They just want to know does it hit, is the hook nice, and can the performer flow wit it? As producers we first have a hit based on the arrangement of the project, then comes sound quality, proper mixing, and lastly mastering…I personally bounce between the, HD & SW. I do whatever it takes to make the song tight…To me it doesn’t start with HD, SW, or instruments, but with tracking good arrangements with whatever I use… Adding proper levels, e.qs, pans, & mix concluding with a “on spot” mastering.

    Reply
    • @Priych, Thank you!! These are the types of thoughts I want to extract because this is how I feel about it. Sometimes beatmakers/producers get sooooooooooo caught up in the tools/technical aspect, they forget about the creativity and musical aspects.

      One can spend years chasing “the sound of _____” when instead could have just been makin good music!

      Not saying no one is, but I see quite a few people constantly arguing about this type of stuff, that’s why I like to talk about it, because we got the dopest folks on the net reading and commenting here…

      I really appreciate every single comment! I love this stuff!

      thanks again

      Reply
  10. 1 from software 2 from hardware… basically because it’s loder and has a little more presence. but y’know what…. I dont know really, and dont care, as long as i can make whats in my head come through….
    I always thought that the sound of an mpc, had a grittier, punch and different envelope settings or something, and maybe it does.
    but when you look a little deeper, at what a lot of people are using now, its just an amalgamation of soft/hardware, creativity, and confidence…
    i watch you put together little beats/ ideas fro your reviews, and realise that its about creativity at th end of the day; no 2 people will make the same thing, even when given the exact same samples and tools.
    but yeah respect.

    Reply
    • @dredd i knight, exactly man, that’s the point, does it really matter and do we really know just by listening if something comes from software or hardware? I never said what I made these on either both could be hardware, both could be software lol….that’s the whole point, it don’t really matter, what matters is being able to get the sound you want in your music by using whatever tools make you feel comfortable. It’s not really about mimicking one tool with another.

      Reply
  11. I never used hardware, but I want to (jobless right now) but the second sample Hits a little harder than the first one,so I want to say the second one is hardware b/c of sensitive pads,I was looking for different levels in the loop from different pressure being placed on the pads but it was hard to tell!! Great conversation piece though I may post the same ? on my facebook!!!!!

    Reply
    • @Kavick, I’m not sure where the sensitive pads thing comes from, you can make any midi controller sensitive to your liking, that won’t immediately make your drums louder though. But again, the point here is that there is really no point in stressing over it, but just focus on whatever tools help you be creative, software, hardware, both, or neither lol.

      Reply
      • @saintjoe, I agree that you can make software pressure sensitive like hardware, but I figured that you wouldn’t take the time to do so. Of course I don’t know how you make your beats, but I figure you would put something together quickly for discussion purposes without going through a lot of detail.

        Reply
        • @Echo, hmmm…all of my midi controllers are velocity sensitive, there is really nothing to setup πŸ™‚ It’s a pretty basic feature of any midi controller that has come out within the last 10 years :), that doesn’t involve a lot of detail at all.

          I just was messing around for my own enjoyment, exploring my tools and getting the sounds I wanted, when I thought it would be a good discussion πŸ™‚

          Reply
  12. I worked With Software for a long time and i no that when you use a sample kick or snare or any drum you can here a little air behind it.and loop 2 has air loop 1 is crystal clear no air just like when i used my mpc 2000.the clarity is way better with hardware.

    Reply
    • @RevelaShaun68, I never said either way lol, I just asked if there is a difference and if folks think one is hardware and one software, or both hardware, both software, whatever…and why πŸ™‚ I will tell you in due time, but I wanted to show that this discussion is really a pointless one lol, cuz it doesn’t really matter!

      Reply
  13. I agree with you. It doesn’t matter what you work on or with. It’s about what enables you to be as creative as one can be. Old hardware has its magic and charm, no doubt bout that, but today’s software is more efficient and more comfortable to use. It’s always a personal decision. I stick to software..

    Reply
    • @Antoine, word man, it’s all about whatever let’s you get that sound out of your head into your music, tools are not the deciding factor, we just use hardware and software to facilitate the creativity we wish to express πŸ™‚

      Reply
    • @Daysun/Neal Helton, EXACTLY use what you LOVE because that’s what you want to use, all the time I see folks arguing that they NEED a specific software or hardware to get a certain thing done, so they focus more on not having something than just making music with what they have.

      Reply
    • @prophecy, thanks, I still find it hard to believe this pad velocity theory, having owned both, I’ve never seen pad velocity make a difference in how hard the drums sound. If anything it makes a difference in how precise I can get my ghost hits in there by softly tapping a pad.

      Reply
  14. Definitely loop 1 is hardware and loop 2 is software. Because in loop 1, the drum pattern timing has more human feel than loop 2. Plus Loop 2 drum pattern timing sounds 100% precise. But you can change that Robotic feeling into human by Snapping to grid the patterns without using a hardware.

    Reply
  15. Looking at the waveforms it seems loop 1 is hardware and 2 is software.

    Whether it’s hardware or software I couldn’t care less but I’d go for the sound of loop 2, which sounds punchier/bigger to me.

    Reply
    • @ronnie, exactly, it doesn’t matter where they came from and truthfully no one can really know for sure lol, that’s the point I’m making…it’s just about how you want stuff to sound. End users don’t care where it started, neither should we. I’ve owned, loved, and use both in my years based on what the tools allow me to do, but I don’t feel one is inherently better than the other πŸ™‚

      Reply
  16. whats good joe, this is a good debate.. here are my thoughts on this.. im going for loop 1 is software, loop 2 is hardware.. loop 1 is software because i think is set to stereo.. loop 2 is hardware because its set to mono.. (dont judge me yet, i know it sounds like an answer of a ten yr old but let me finish..) but im not quite sure, since i havnt used any hardware equipment yet.. but on the contrary, it can be other way around.. i think some perceive loop 2 as crispier and more “feel” to it because its set to mono.. but im not actually sure if it really is set to mono, im either correct, or somethings wrong with my hearing.. lol.. my reference was the uhh, i dont know what its called, after the 1st kick and before the 1st snare.. you’ll hear something like a scratched percussion.. lol.. i really dont know what to call it.. listening to it, i percieve that sound to be on the left, im not sure how far to the left.. and on the second loop, it seems to me that its on the center.. i tried a lil experiment after listening to this two loops, making a kit drum kit/loop mono.. it does make the kit sound clearer and louder.. for the skeptics, i used a vst called upstereo on my fl studio.. its a free vst, i suggest you check it out and experiment on it..

    hope ya’ll find this useful, and i hope my hearing is ok.. lol.. good thing bringing this up joe.. Some of us get to the point where we think that if you get a specific software/hardware your music will sound better (i admit, i WAS one of them) it really boils down on how you use your equipment.. Im not saying that all DAW’s are the same, sure, some DAW’s offer something that others dont.. (look, i dont want to open up another debate, lets stick to this) With that “craving” of getting more equipments, we lose track on making music.. (that ddnt come from me, forgot where i read that).. its not really the equipment.. its YOU..

    man, this got me hyped.. lol..

    Reply
    • P.S. i hope this made sense.. “Some of us get to the point where we think that if you get a specific software/hardware your music will sound better” – i think i made this unclear.. sometimes you do need additional software/hardware to get something better.. but, this is for another discussion..

      Reply
      • @Don Quitt, made sense, I feel you, there’s a difference between that, and feeling your stuff will never sound “right” because you don’t have “insert favorite desired software or hardware”

        Reply
    • @Don Quitt, very interesting input man! I like that it forced you to get creative and try some different things to get different sounds you were looking for, that’s what I was hoping for. I wasn’t trying to prove anything about the differences, as I never said what I used, I was just seeing if anyone perceived a difference between the two, and if they can confidently say one used x while the other used x, I don’t think you can, as my point is it doesn’t really matter does it?

      Reply
      • @saintjoe, on my opinion, nope, it doesnt really matter, if you really know your equipment, you can make it happen.

        .. but this shouldnt discourage people to buy an mpc.. it depends on the situation.. for example, i want to get an mpc because i can use it without turning my pc on.. and i really want to play with slides and knobs.. but thats just me.. like “who said it” said, it depends on where you get more creative and comfortable. but buying a drum machine to get that magic sound just wont work, (i specifically said drum machine, its a different story on getting analogue synths ,effects processors, mic, etc)

        Reply
        • @Don Quitt, yep, that’s the point, you have to know why certain tools will benefit you. When I got my mpc, I needed something to control all my synths, racks, etc. I didn’t have a powerful pc at the time and I didn’t like any of the software around lol…so that’s what I went with. I also wanted a sampler. Truth be told had the emu command stations had samplers in them I probably wouldn’t have bought the mpc, because midi sequencing wise they were pretty much the same πŸ™‚

          Reply
  17. ok so loop 2 definitely sound better than loop 1. the relative levels of the individual drum hits are closer (bit of compression), there’s definitely some saturation involved, and perhaps a tad bit of bit reduction?

    but, it’s not something that can’t be recreated in the software domain. from my experience, you can make the shitties music using awesome analog equipment, and some fantastic music using freeware audio tools. hardware may add some tasteof it’s own, but you can also do that using software emulations, and it won’t make your crap beat any better per se anyway.

    so with all that in mind, i voted for both hardware. ;]

    Reply
    • @bedroom producers blog, πŸ™‚ you definitely hit on some of the techniques used in the loops, where they came from doesn’t matter as your ear picked up on what made the difference between the two, that’s what I was going for πŸ™‚

      Reply
      • @saintjoe, cool! :]

        at first i wanted to vote for both of the loops being software-made, but then i figured that you perhaps wanted to prove the fact that hardware itself doesn’t necessarily make things sound better, so you made both loops on hardware.

        oh well, still this is a great idea and a fun contest!

        Reply
        • @bedroom producers blog, I will reveal it soon, but like I said, this wasn’t to prove a point about hardware or software, but more on how our mindset and ideas can effect how we perceive things. And that we have to use whatever allows us the most creativity πŸ™‚

          Most don’t care, can’t tell, and really aren’t interested in the source, it’s the end result that matters. Just trying to help folks get unstuck from the “tool war” and just realize it’s really pointless in the end, good music is made on tons of different tools, and wack music is made on those same tools…so the tools don’t really make that big of a difference, they are just an extension of our creativity πŸ™‚

          Reply
  18. Hey joe, Me personally,I really could care less about if music was done on a mpc, pc, or a trash can. If the music is hot it is hot. now what I do care for are the drums. they have to hit hard. you can pull it off in the virtual domain. look at Goldbaby mpc and tape 808 drums crispy thick and big. I mean what else do you need. thats just one of the drum kits that stand out to me. I wouldnt be shocked if 2 was software but I Thought loop 2 was hardware for the vote. cant wait to see the results. I like topics like these. gets the blood boiling for people who have used hardware vs software although thats not the point of the topic for which is better

    Reply
    • @Chuck, that’s the idea, it doesn’t really matter, who can really tell? Based on all the different reasons for thinking one is hardware and one is software, my conclusion is no one can really tell for sure. Sound is sound, and we go with what we like, now I never said I made these on software, nor did I say I made them on hardware, I just talked about the age old debate between the two and then posted two loops and asked if they sounded different and if so, why do folks think that πŸ™‚

      I never specifically said one was made with hardware and one with software πŸ™‚

      I know…it’s a little mean lol…but I’m trying to prove a point. A lot of what we hear and perceive is really tied to the ideas we have in our minds going into the situation. Sometimes we hear so many people say hardware sounds better, that everything we listen to that we think comes from hardware automatically sounds better to us…so we think, when really in a blind listen, without any pre coaching…we would just pick whatever sounds good to us.

      Similarly,many of us constantly heard that software was weak, thin, and didn’t sound “fat” so when we use software we have this overbearing idea that all of our stuff sounds thin and “digital”.

      This messes with our creativity in both ways, sometimes we spend too much time on the technical side of things and we don’t just let our creativity flow, also on the other hand we may feel we have a magic pill and then that causes us to not try to be as creative as normal because we feel we have the golden ticket.

      So this article was never really about hardware vs software, it was always about our mindsets, ideas, and how that effects our creativity and music production πŸ™‚

      now after all that…I know folks really want to know…I will tell ya lol…

      Reply
  19. The test is flawed.

    Both loops should have been the exact same volume to tell the difference. By pumping up only one you’re projecting a false result.

    But you can tell software drum samples or loops by the soft digital sounding copy sound in the sample versus the more robust and thicker drum machine sounds.

    I hear mixes all day, and the first thing I ask is was this done in a computer box? And they always say yeah.

    Reply
  20. The second one is louder. I use software and I use Hardware and to be honest it really depends on how loud you want your drums to sound. I have the MPC2000XL-MCD and no doubt the processor bangs out drums cause you can take a sound and make it louder internally to a point. On most software I have used I notice I have to add a Plug or adjust the RAM etc. I use Pro Tools 8 also and I found in the program Structure…man hands down if you put drum sounds in there its crazy louder than MPC’s with out plugs. Ok now I have also ram my MPC through Pro tools without plugs and its just as loud. I may have to test internal sounds and the same grounds. So I may need to upload my AKAI stock sounds on something that will not cheat the format dry. I know I have made custom loud sounds to put in my MPC but you have to have the right format for the MPC’s or its just a waste of time. Hmm I will look further into this πŸ™‚

    Reply
  21. Pretty sure the first one is hardware with no effects and the second one is software with saturation and maybe some compression and EQing. Kind of misleading to do it that way though lol.

    Reply
  22. I never understand this debate online because even though the loop was made with hardware it had to be brought through software anyway to upload it to soundcloud right? Please correct me if I’m wrong. I think the 2nd loop hit harder though. I’m going to say that its the hardware one.

    Reply
  23. Better late than never, MY Two Cents:

    Analog will always sound better than software. But in a mix this theory starts to become subjective. Because it’s all about the mix!! In laymans terms, if you can’t mix and master, your song will sound like $hiet, regardless what you use. And 99.9% of the listeners can’t tell if it’s analog or digital, lol. Music isn’t about “Perfectionism” it’s about the beat and getting the people to buy your $hiet!!

    Reply

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