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Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

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Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby forumuser653351 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:53 am

I was just wondering what preference, if any, people have for a DAW that works well within a hardware synth set up? Also what pros and cons there might be with a particular DAW? For example; ease of use for setting up the hardware synth in the DAW, using patch names and bank changes within the DAW and syncing the DAW and hardware synth together for sequencing. I know this is a bit open ended and it might be a question of ‘insert your favourite DAW here’ type discussion but I am interested in how different DAWs might implement hardware synth setups.
For me I’ve mainly used Logic for years and years, used to use Pro Tools a lot just for audio though and a bit of Cubase but not for about 5 years. I don’t have any complaints about Logic - some things are easy, others take a bit of setting up and can be a bit frustrating. I’m just curious on other peoples experience's with a DAW and hardware synths.
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby The Elf » Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:05 am

Cubase implements an 'External Hardware' (has a dedicate definition window) concept that defines audio and MIDI ports for each piece of hardware and allows you to choose these as an 'Instrument'. Add to this the ability to create named bank/patch lists and it remains a great solution for those of us with a long list of hardware.

It's a long time since I used Logic, but it was a nightmare with multi-timbral instruments when I tried.

As to other DAWs...?
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby IAA » Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:30 am

Logic user here. Lots of hardware synths. No problems to report. Set up a template and away you go.
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby forumuser653351 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 8:49 am

The Elf wrote:Cubase implements an 'External Hardware' (has a dedicate definition window) concept that defines audio and MIDI ports for each piece of hardware and allows you to choose these as an 'Instrument'. Add to this the ability to create named bank/patch lists and it remains a great solution for those of us with a long list of hardware.

It's a long time since I used Logic, but it was a nightmare with multi-timbral instruments when I tried.

As to other DAWs...?

Interesting to know about Cubase and it's ability with named bank/patch lists, Logic can do similar but like you I've experienced difficulties with a multi -timbral synth (all sorted now but a bit frustrating to set up).
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby desmond » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:27 am

The Elf wrote:Cubase implements an 'External Hardware' (has a dedicate definition window) concept that defines audio and MIDI ports for each piece of hardware and allows you to choose these as an 'Instrument'.

Logic has the same thing (although there are other ways of doing this too.)

The Elf wrote:Add to this the ability to create named bank/patch lists and it remains a great solution for those of us with a long list of hardware.

But you can't do patch lists with the "External instrument" plugin in Logic, which is a shame. All the patch listing stuff comes from Logic 1.x so it's the same old environment solutions that are limited and haven't been touched or improved in years.

The Elf wrote:It's a long time since I used Logic, but it was a nightmare with multi-timbral instruments when I tried.

Logic has changed a lot and has been made more accessible, so there are now simpler options to create multitimbral and multioutput instruments and all associated tracks etc.
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby Dave B » Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:41 am

I suspect that most DAWs are all pretty much the same these days - pros and cons all round.

I have a fair amount of hardware kicking around and run a bit of a hybrid system in Logic. What I have done recently, is program tracks with soft synths initially, then use the external instrument plugin to drive the hardware and tweak until I'm happy. I know that the softsynth sounds are just placeholders and don't get too precious about them - something vaguely in the ballpark works fine when writing / arranging.

Apparently, Vince Clarke now does this as well. And he has one or two hardware synths too ..

:D
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby adrian_k » Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:47 am

FWIW I used to use Cakewalk with a Kurzweil MicroEnsemble, I found it very easy to set up and it came with a a whole load of instrument definitions including the Kurtz PC2 which was at least 90% the same as the ME so Bank/Patch changes could be selected by name from a drop down. I’m going back at least 10 years though. I don’t use much midi these days. I don’t recall any multimbral issues once you’d sorted out the channel assignments.

It’s free these days so you can just download it and try it out.
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby forumuser653351 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 11:02 am

Dave B wrote:I suspect that most DAWs are all pretty much the same these days - pros and cons all round.

I have a fair amount of hardware kicking around and run a bit of a hybrid system in Logic. What I have done recently, is program tracks with soft synths initially, then use the external instrument plugin to drive the hardware and tweak until I'm happy. I know that the softsynth sounds are just placeholders and don't get too precious about them - something vaguely in the ballpark works fine when writing / arranging.

Apparently, Vince Clarke now does this as well. And he has one or two hardware synths too ..

:D

I've started doing this sort of thing as well - I compose with a soft synth, then when everything is arranged, I record the hardware synth in place of the soft synth. This works most of the time but then sometimes the hardware synth sound is integral to the composition then I use it from the start.
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby nathanscribe » Sat Jul 11, 2020 12:33 pm

I'm using Mixbus and was going to rant about how bad its MIDI editing is, but nobody needs to read my grumpy ravings. There's enough of that around here anyway. :P I do like Mixbus for basic audio workflow, though it's probably not going to convince many PT users to swap over, and I don't know anybody else who uses it to compare notes. I do all my sequencing etc using external hardware and only use DAW MIDI if I feel like punishing myself. And it's cheap. So it broadly suits me.

Short version is, if you want to use your computer as a glorified tape recorder, try Mixbus. If you want complex MIDI control, look elsewhere.
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby innerchord » Sat Jul 11, 2020 6:27 pm

Studio One Pro has added some relevant features in version 5, just out.
Cubase Pro is great for this, too.

Mixbus does not get a recommendation for MIDI use. (I use it as an audio mix tool, for fun mostly, although I have done paid work using it, too.)
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby forumuser653351 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 7:30 pm

innerchord wrote:Studio One Pro has added some relevant features in version 5, just out.
Cubase Pro is great for this, too.

Mixbus does not get a recommendation for MIDI use. (I use it as an audio mix tool, for fun mostly, although I have done paid work using it, too.)

I've been interested in Studio One before but lack of hardware integration put me off, the new Aux Channel sounds promising but can't find much detail.
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby CS70 » Sat Jul 11, 2020 9:07 pm

forumuser653351 wrote:I was just wondering what preference, if any, people have for a DAW that works well within a hardware synth set up?

I would expect most do? Besides of course sending to an output ad recording from another, Cakewalk have the "hardware insert" which allows you to use hardware as (doh!) an insert.

I would more be thinking about the interface, as you may need some serious routing capabilities to allow virtual patching as opposite to the real one.

RME TotalMix with the snapshots and the ARC is brilliant for that, but I guess other interfaces may also work well.
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby BigRedX » Sat Jul 11, 2020 10:02 pm

I’d use a DAW that has it’s roots in the pre-audio days of MIDI sequencing. So Something like Logic, Cubase or Performer.
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby fruitcake » Sun Jul 12, 2020 1:12 am

I’ll throw in a plug for Digital Performer. I’ve been using it since the beginning when the DAW choice was either Performer or Vision. As such, I’m fairly unfamiliar with the competition. Although I’ve played with Logic.
DP can save patch names and if you’re adventurous you can create Consoles to send CC and Sysex messages to your hardware synths. Consoles are made up of sliders, knobs, buttons that can send and receive MIDI data of all kinds. Handy for automating filter sweeps and other knob twiddling duties.
I would guess other DAWs can do much of the same. The learning curve for a DAW is long as there is so much they can (or should be able to) do. So I stick with DP because I don’t have the time to learn another one.
For anyone that’s interested, MOTU as been doing webinars 3 times a week on different topic in DP since April. The info should be on their website.
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Re: Preferred DAW for working with hardware synths - pros and cons?

Postby innerchord » Sun Jul 12, 2020 2:07 am

Is librarian software like MIDI Quest helpful at all?
https://squest.com/index.html
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