Music Hardware vs Music Software – Which Should You Choose?

Music Hardware vs Music Software

Here are my thoughts on Music Hardware vs Music Software. Which should you choose?

Music Hardware vs Music Software

When I began my journey of making music, I always saw people in music forums getting into heated debates on hardware versus software.

The hardware lovers would look down upon the FL Studio users, question Propellerhead Reason users, and not consider someone to be a serious music producer unless they have real physical equipment.

Are music software users less credible than hardware users? No, everyone is making music with software today.

The problem is the market is over saturated with everyone trying to be a music producer.

Here are examples of popular songs that were created with FL Studio:

There are many more examples you can find online.

You can use FL Studio, Reason, Logic, MPCs, Keyboards, etc. It doesn’t matter.

It’s not about the music equipment or music software, but about the person using the equipment. Your ear for music, skill, and talent matters more than the equipment you are using.

Dr. Dre’s music equipment didn’t make him the big music producer he is today. His ear and talent for music did. So don’t think you need a big studio to make good music.

Related: 7 Things Every Music Producer Should Have

Music Hardware or Music Software?

I suggest both. Depending on your budget you should start with music software because it’s not usually dependent on other hardware.

Once you start making music, slowly add more equipment.

Music hardware and software can work well together with getting your creative juices flowing. But don’t think having tons of hardware is a must because you see other music producers with it.

With music software, there are so many VST plugins, presets, effects, and add-ons that you should never run out of sounds.

Why I Love Music Hardware

  • Creativity – With hardware, you are more focused on sounds because you aren’t staring at a computer screen and clicking around on a mouse. 
  • No Audio Latency Issues – When you run a lot of plugins and sounds on your computer, you can get audio delay issues that drive you nuts. With hardware, you don’t have these issues.
  • Fewer Options – When you have an MPC or keyboard, you know exactly what it’s capable of. Too many options can be distracting from the creative process.
  • Something Physical – I’m on a computer all day. I’m not a fan of all the clicking you have to do with a mouse. It feels good to have something physical to make music on that isn’t a computer, and that doesn’t involve a mouse.

Reasons I Love Music Software

  • Portability – A laptop and a midi keyboard can be your entire set up. You can have thousands of sounds and a variety of software. You can take it with you anywhere and not be restricted to one place.
  • Editing – It is easier to edit audio, samples, and MIDI.
  • Free Music Software – Online you can find tons of free VST plugins, presets, and add-ons. In fact, some VST plugins are modeled after vintage hardware and carry the same sounds. They may even sound better.
  • Collaborate with Others – With many music programs you can package up your song and send it to others to work with.

I hope this article has helped you out in some way.

Remember, it’s not about the music equipment you have. It’s about the music you make with what you have. You can have a big studio and suck, or have FL Studio, Reason, of Logic and rock! It’s up to you.

Related: How to Make Beats ( Beginners Guide )

What are your thoughts on Music Hardware vs Music Software?

Posted by on Category: How to Make Beats


  1. For me hardware with a variety of bits of kit is king as your set-up will be likely be relatively unique and often the hands-on feel of hardware is more satisfying.


    Hardware takes more time to learn and set up. It’s less portable. It takes up space. It’s slower, sometimes much slower, to bash out a track and have it on SoundCloud. So if you are a not time-rich, juggling your music-making with other commitments, you can simply achieve more with a pure software set-up.

    While you can pick up still great-sounding 90s/2000s hardware synths for a tenth of what they originally cost, with software you can basically own any synth – even incredibly realistic software models of vintage analogue synths that tend to cost $100-$150, and sometimes much cheaper. Compare that to a real Moog or vintage modular synth! And the modelled emulations can be stupidly close to the point that you couldn’t tell them apart on a recording.

    Some argue hardware pumping through and analogue sounds better – more organic and lively. However, this really depends on the quality of your components and especially things like your mixing desk and outboard effects. Remember, if you have audio interfaces with loads of outputs you could still mix on a vintage mixing desk with cool old outboard at a pro studio if you wanted. Best of both worlds!

    I do have a sympathy for the hardware sounds better view, though. The crisp punch of an Akai rack sampler, the swing of a classic MPC, the wobbly old analogue synth, even the warm sound of a mid-90s Roland ROMpler does feel great. All-in-the-box software music is only as good as the summing algorithms that merge it all together.

    But overall, I’ve moved to an all-in-the-box Logic-based set-up. For me, I’ve always tended to hear the idea in my head – the beat, the riff, the hook, the bass line, so what system I lay that down on is pretty irrelevant as long as it works.

    Oh, and the audience for your music is not going to care what kit you did the track on.

    So in some ideal world where all I did was make music I’d be hardware 100% but software means I can get more work done quicker so I’m happy with that.

  2. Forgot to say. Reason is my favourite software, you can do things with it that would be long winded or impossible in other daws like connecting different modules up to do modulation and stuff. Even though I have been using cubase out of habit, Reason is definately the future of software or at least deserves to be.

  3. You can get a cheap hardware setup for less than a modern computer. An akai s3000xl, a soundcraft sx or similar, an atari 520 for sequencing(operational), a computer out of a skip would be good for sample editing and a cheap multi fx or whatever. As long as youve got a sampler you can make any sound. If you used a setup like that and moved to software you might have learned something useful. Or you could skip midi altogether. Youre not missing out either way. The musical ideas are what push music forward not the technology. Alot of technology just stops you learning how to make sounds for yourself.

  4. started with software and now I can’t fucking stand it. you just can’t get the same work flow with software that you can with hardware. Actually being able to turn the knobs of your hardware getting down and dirty with your music and going through all the bullshit of dealing with analogue is what it is all about. You become one with your track and it truly is YOURS. You are the one that went through all the hard work creating and tracking that song not Fl Studio or some guy who sells Sylenth patches.

  5. I am and have always been a software user. As a software or computer based producer songwriter, I still have to have controllers to input and manipulate the software. I use a keyboard controller and a control surface that emulates a 8 channel bankable mixer that can be configured to control other aspects of the software. I believe there is a very harmonious flow in this type of set up. I say though just get what you need and what works for you. Sound quality wise you get what you pay for. Any pro level software will let you control any parameters you can think of to tweek the sound to your liking.

  6. I have been producing beats since the days of analog and reel to reels and have seen music evolve into the digital age. There are strengths and weaknesses to both. My opinion is that it’s totally up to how you work and are comfortable with. In my studio, I use both software and hardware. I have Reason, Ableton Live, Master Tracks Pro and Pro Tools. The learning curve on the software was huge. I also have the TR-Rack, Planet Phatt, N5 and Proteus 2000 which I use for sounds. I run everything through an analog mixer to give it a warm and phat sound. For me, I find hardware easier to use because I don’t have to wait for sounds to load and you can scroll through sounds till you find the one you like. With software, you have to go through folders and kinda be specific on what you’re looking for. But, on the other hand, a laptop and USB MIDI controller can make it easy to create while being mobile. All in all, I feel that having both can bring out the best of both worlds. On a side note, I had all my equipment setup in a spare bedroom and recorded multiple projects in that room. Everything was rack mounted except two keyboards. So, it doesn’t take alot of space to have a hardware setup. Just some planning and forethought.

  7. I’m new to producing, but I have been doing it long enough to make my mistakes and form a workflow. I tried going all hardware, and it expensive and inconvenient. The slow sample load times and learning curve for every piece of equipment was really restricting what I was hearing in my head from getting out.

    What I think some aspiring producers can benefit from is a hybrid setup. Software is great for sequencing and controlling, even sound design. There are software effects that cannot be achieved with hardware economically, or at all. However, one should also recognize that certain pieces of hardware have unique character, effects, bit sampling rates, filters, and other biases that cannot be replicated by software. In an era of McProducers where anyone can learn the techniques, one shouldn’t lose passion for the quest of sonic identity, of having a signature sound, of exploring new interesting sonic textures (see Theo Parrish). Otherwise production will go the way that DJing has, where easy-to-use software with ultimate power and instant gratification has made life easier but also undermined the quest for finding one’s musical identity.

    That said, people should do what allows them to get the music in their head onto a track with the least resistance.

  8. I use almost all software…and have for years. The ONLY thing that software CAN’T do that hardware can is ANALOG…any master engineer can tell the different between analog and digital. It’s been proven that digital sound causes more ear fatigue. Othern than that MINOR little detail, which most people don’t care about…software is way more efficient…and the ones who knock software are just intimidated by new technology.


  10. hey bro…. u said hardwear has its attributes that cant be replaced by softwear…. like what? i would like too know thanx……. facebook =
    naya morrenito romerez

  11. FL Studio 4 ever!!!!!!!!!! No matter hardware users moking!!!!!

  12. Latency on software? :-/ I hope you heard about ASIO. Any decent Creative, M-Audio soundcard has it. You can then select the output through ASIO driver (and NOT directx or “default sound device” BS). You’ll have a latency of MAXIMUM 5ms, which is about 99,99999% REALTIME. :-D

  13. I just ventured into REASON straight from a piano and couldn’t be more proud of the results. Delay from the midi controller does take getting used to and never really feels right although you will edit every note with the software eventually anyways so ………

  14. I have been stressing lately about switching to software, but the truth is that’s where the future is at. I have spent way too much on hardware only to have it break down on me. I recently went in guitar center to look into purchasing Rolands MV-8800, which I have had my eye on since it came out. A worker there gave me his advice and sat me down and showed me how reason worked with a midi controller. I was very impressed, and he told me I could all that with another recording program for the same price I would spend on the MV-8800. I got converted, what can I say. For the same price I can do much more and I’ll still have a controler with drum pads to lay the drums down. I refuse to use the mouse for that.

  15. Wow you dudes are so crazy……most of the dudes who make money selling beats are using hardware with there software……Why would you sell your mpc when you can run logic as a rack or Live 8 and still record in your DAW.Best of both worlds.And most of you guys got slow computers a couple of racks can replace a few vstis …mo phatts going for $100 or Emu protus or A roland jv2080 or an Xv 3080 just like knock squared plug in your N.I Machine

  16. I am blessed to have come from the analog age and I have a huge reverence for pieces of hardware such as the MPC 2000(which I still Own). I have seen through the years the emergence of the digital age along with the software instruments and DAWS and I must say that I am now a true fan of software. Software simply gives you MUCH more for FAR less, all across the board and the pros far out weight the cons. How many of us can afford to purchase ten keyboards, let alone have room for all ten plus four or five compressors, Eqs, Reverb machines, mixing consoles, etc. Having a studio comprised of the hardware needed to build a suitable studio for composing, recording and mixing can be VERY costly, and not to mention you need the space for it! With software you can have as much equipment as the memory on your computer can handle. That means literally hundreds of instruments and effects at your command at a very small fraction of the cost. You can produce an album from start to finish in your bedroom! Believe me, I know cats in the industry who are doing it!!!!!

  17. Wait… Something physical? So there is no such thing as a midi controller when this article was made? This list is highly misleading.

  18. I think one shouldn’t be prefered over the other because each has their own unique characteristics that make it a great choice. See, all I have is Reason 4 and FL 8 and once I can afford hardware I’ll buy hardware. I believe it’s a war out there and all the other producers are your competitors and the knowledge you have about either is your weapon. The more you know the more you are armed. As much as I prefer software I don’t limit myself to software and believe no producer should.

    Xola X

  19. I’m like you bro, I sit in front of a computer for most of the day, so making music on a computer isn’t the best situation. Nothing like turning on the mpc, and just going to work.

    That said, software is much better than it has been, the options are crazy and with the hardware controllers available and different interfaces, you no longer have to feel like your working on a computer.

    The one thing that has really made me consider software is the OpenLabs joints.

    I know peeps say it’s just a computer and midi controller all together, but man…as a hardware dude, those joints are sexy. Something about having everything tweaked to just work, gives you that “hardware feel” with the unlimited options of software.

    I know there are peeps who will say all they need is an mpc and a turntable, and that’s true…they can make it happen with that.

    I’m always one to say use both, hardware and software together is a killer combo.

  20. I use both, always the best of two worlds, and if anyone finds something negative to say about either of the two, it is based on a lack of knowledge or money. Therefore, don’t trip over your pride,learn all you can at any cost.

  21. Love this post, even though I would have added a 9th reason… It’s always time to use hardware later in the studio. I mean once your track feels good, say if you need that extra gritty saturation on the bass line, you can just export your MIDI track and record the one instrument you want.

    I occasionally replace a Reason Thor by an MS-20 this way. You don’t loose time, you don’t loose much space as it allows to keep your hardware synths to the minimum.


  22. Software is great for making music. For me, it wins over hardware any day. However, when it comes to live performance, typing on your keyboard or clicking your mouse just isn’t going to impress anyone. That’s why I think the best solution is a combination of software and hardware controllers, such as a midi keyboard, monome, lemur, etc.

  23. Yes, I’m software lover. In this decade, we ‘d be a fool if we don’t take advantages from them. Fredman, who is fantastic engineer, is also switch to In-The-Box solution! You could listen to some of In Flames, Firewind stuffs to see how software kill hardware devices nowaday.

  24. First of all what a great site! I have to agree with the other post its all about money. The hardware lovers still look down on software users

  25. I agree with smoke and eyetel…

    Software is taking over. Over time hardware can eventually need repair, maintanance, cleaning. Software you just reinstall, update, and your good. The only thing you need to clean, repair, and maintain is your controller!

    And lets face it. In a world with more junk being thrown into landfills and stuff. Less waste in the end. For all the green people out there.

    And the versitilty of being able to have every thing you need to produce in one laptop! Now thats kicks a$$

    It just pi$$es off the big record companys and producers because it opens a window for EVERYONE to make great hits in there own home.


  26. all modern music producers need to read this blog!!! although i will say nothing adds grit to a track like samples played from an mpc2000.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Send this to a friend