Are Plug-Ins Just as Efficient as Hardware?
In this digital age we live in, crafting unique and appealing sounds has never been easier.
That is largely in part thanks to Plug-Ins.
A Plug-In is essentially an audio software signal processor that seamlessly integrates effects and virtual instruments in your DAW.
Plug-Ins come in different forms, whether it be a synth, a compressor, an EQ, or even a sampler.
There will always be an ongoing debate about whether Hardware or software plugins will be the better purchase and investment for your studio.
While both hardware and software have their shining points, we aren’t here to talk about which one is better.
We are here to explain three benefits of owning plugins!
Table Of Contents
- Price Point
- Parameter Availability
- Save On Space
- Get Plugins For Your Sound
1. Price Point
For instance, the Solid State Logic G-Series EQ is a fantastic piece of hardware equipment.
The plugin version of this SSL G-Series EQ is about $100, while even a used version of this hardware can run upwards of $900.
You can use your imagination on how much a new one would be!
For many up-and-coming producers, engineers, and musicians, these hardware prices are just not reasonable within their budget.
When you're just getting started and trying to lay out a foundation for yourself, it can be difficult to drop that much money on just one product.
Like we said earlier, hardware and software both have their pros and cons, but you will not be disappointed by software whatsoever.
More often than not, any plugin emulation of hardware will be more cost-effective, while still achieving an amazing sound.
It’s difficult to pinpoint each piece of hardware and software to compare, but to generalize, the original hardware compressors, EQ’s, etc. will have a slightly warmer sound to them.
People also tend to like the actual feeling of knobs with hardware. Perhaps it gives more of a vintage or realistic feel.
Although, in this day-and-age with technology, we are doing so many things online and on our flat surfaced phones, that younger producers might not “miss” or care about the feeling of twisting a knob.
2. Parameter Availability
They affect your audio signals in categories such as decibels, bandwidth, nominal level, or voltage level. There are many different parameters depending on the signal processor being applied.
Some plug-ins may only have a few or one “knob” or control. Some may have a lot. Generally the more parameters you have to work with, the more you can manipulate the sound.
This may not go for every synth or hardware, but a stand-out option regarding the availability of parameters would be the synth called Serum by Xfer Records.
Serum has a routing matrix in it where you can map different LFO’s, filters, and much more to one another.
You can affect these parameters in the matrix itself and manipulate the sound to your taste.
This synth is just one example of being able to have more options than a piece of hardware.
Something else that is beneficial in plugins is that they have presets!
Yes, hardware signal processors may have presets too, but having presets on something like a compressor can make your work flow much quicker.
There will be presets for your drums, vocals, and more that can really help you get going in the right direction.
Even reverb and delay plugins will have presets. The possibilities are endless!
3. Save on Space
If you are a producer or engineer in the early days of your career, you probably don’t have the biggest space to work in.
This is when software becomes your best friend.
If you do decide to use hardware and software, pick which hardware you really need, compared to what you really want.
Having a few synths and/or keyboards in your studio can take up valuable space quickly, so it is essential to choose wisely.
You don’t want to try to bring in an artist or band to record and not have any space to move around. It also becomes a hassle if you are trying to reorganize constantly to make space.
Software will serve you well!
Get Plugins for Your Sound
In the past, engineers only had the option of working with hardware, so that’s what they used.
Now, bedroom producers and top-tier producers can both use software that emulates great sounds from some of the most popular synths, EQ’s, samplers, and compressors available!
Having a lower price, smaller size, and a more extensive range of parameters allows many plugins to be a no-brainer purchase.
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