I LOVE just being able to work in Renoise… If it was any other software (Cubase, Ableton, etc.) I’d probably just buy an MPC and do everything in h/w, but Renoise is so solid and so quick and as intricate as you could ever need once you know it inside out.
Especially with the Sonnox plug-ins… I mean one reason I never liked going over to ITB mixing in the past is because plug-ins verbs and choruses and compressors and things don’t sound half as sweet as even low-end multifx boxes like the Boss SE70 and things… But the Sonnox stuff, when you really work it, sounds incredible.
But when it comes to instruments: finding/creating the perfect string patch; having great leads and huge basses on tap; that’s where I think s/w still has a long way to go… and also there’s the issue of power… My old XV3080 rack not only has a few thousand odd presets - including all the bread-and-butter stuff you ALWAYS need but can never find in s/w libraries - it has 128-note polyphony and a tonne of FX.
When I’ve taken my laptop on the road and tried to write from scratch with it, I’ve got no problems doing drums, with my sample library and Renoise, but: basses, strings, pads, atmospheres, etc. I just can’t get the sounds I want out of things like FM8, Absynth, etc. I set aside an hour or two to write music, and I find myself fiddling with a few patches then on KVR browsing thru the search engine, downloading things which sound like they give me what I need.
Just simple things like the Kurzweil string patch, which everyone on the planet needs at some point. I spent about 5 hours trying to find it. Best I could get was a freeware soundfont player and a ropey multisample.
Whereas with my gear, I can switch my keyboard on and have 100 different piano patches, 50 strings, etc. right there to start experimenting with… And obviously you’ve got things like the Virus which just has this near infinite scope of sound programming, and of course, things like Reaktor have too, but you’ll just never scratch the surface with that because it never becomes intuitive like a real instrument, and obviously the raw results you get won’t sound as good because Viruses and Nords are chucking a lot more processing at modelling filters and things.
But yeah, so much easier if you’ve got a desk. I don’t like having to route synths straight into the computer and mess with MIDI and stuff. Prefer to think of the computer as an MPC with a big screen and the desk as the nerve centre.
PS - Renoise has awesome pitching/anti-aliasing (whatever it is) as it is - among the best you can get in s/w afaik - but if it could match what an Akai/Emu does when it repitches samples, I’d be seriously sampling a lot of my gear and building a big library so I can work away from the studio more… When I a/b my Akai S5000 sampling and playing back something as it is, the difference is so subtle; but when I play something across a keyboard, like a synth bass, or when I pitch drums/loops up and down, there’s this incredible clarity you retain with Akai, even going up and down octaves, and as far as I’m concerned, THAT’S the one thing which stops Renoise taking over from it completely at the moment… I don’t know for sure whether it’s digital processing/interpolation, or something, or whether it could be something to do with the convertors they use, but whatever it is, it still makes h/w samplers feel more like high quality synths.