Look and Feel
They look good and they feel good. Feel a real knob and a real switch. Oh yes. That feels right.
You can play a hardware synthesizer by twisting knobs. Of course, you can use a Midi Keyboard to play a soft synth. And, yes, you can assign MIDI-Buttons. But come on. Nothing compares to a nice box with real knobs.
While playing you can create sound and react to what is happening with the sound. I think this works with a hardware synth way better than with a soft synth.
Synths are shiny
Synths are shiny. No, seriously. I love those blinking LEDs and these beautiful screens. I love looking at my Eurorack by night – and I love it as background in my videos obviously.
Hardware synths are reliable
Hardware synths are in a box. The only thing their hardware must do is play sound. On a computer this is different. Your computer keeps a connection to the internet, it manages your emails, notifications, and all the other stuff an operating system needs to manage.
They help you to focus
You can stay focused on a hardware synth. No distractions, no messages popping up, no ads in a browser – nothing but the pure joy of playing.
They keep you away from your computer
Staying away from a computer is a big topic for many users. They spend their working days in front of a screen, hacking into a keyboard. After work, they need something without a screen. Or, well, with a small screen.
They age well
Hardware synths age well. An old synth is vintage – my old DV camera, bought in 2007 is rubbish. Nobody loves my camera’s special CCD look and the warmth only digital DV tapes have. Really, nobody. But you can still play old synths and enjoy their special character.
That being said: Hardware Synths tend to have a good resale value. That means you do not lose too much money when reselling your formerly beloved synth. Try reselling software. Good luck with that. On the other hand: most of the time you will lose some hundred Dollars or euros.
Limitation is good – sometimes
Hardware synths are limited. There is only so much you can squeeze in a box while you can stuff a VST with endless features.
This is not bad. This is good. A hardware Synth with limited capabilities teaches you how to make the best out of it. You might learn the very basics of synthesis and you will find uncommon ways to your goals.
If you tend to suffer from option paralysis a limited hardware synth is just right for you. You must work with what you got instead of getting stuck in thousands of options.