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The new synths in standalone really have been great!

When the standalone synth plugins were first added I really didn't find myself using them. I have quite a few hardware synths under MIDI control, all looped into my mixer and for the most part that covers all my bases. What really opened the synths up to me (and improved my studio experience with the MPC Live) was hooking up all the inputs and outputs on my mixer.

I have the inputs hooked up to a group bus out on the mixer and the outputs going to one stereo channel (for the master) and four mono channels. This setup really opened the way to use the MPC for more than just drums. I can use the group bus (panned hard left/right) to either sample or apply effects to other synths (and route them back out to the mixer mono or stereo). This lets me use the MPC as two effect units for my external synths (as sends or inserts depending on the settings). I can also auto sample any of my synths with ease, since they are all running into the mixer anyway. It also really opened up my use of the standalone plugin synths.

I rarely find myself using the plugins as primary elements of my tracks, but they really do come in handy. When I find myself wishing for another monosynth to reinforce a part, another poly to add some ambiance, a bright metallic tone to sit in the treble, the plugins are there. Once the MIDI routing is improved I can imagine these synths taking an even more important part in my Live setup, but for now I am surprised and happy with how much use they get in the studio.

The only annoyance for me is that often I want a dry signal to EQ/effect on my mixer (since I use sends where I can for consistency) and most of the presets (in tubesynth) include some chorus, delay and reverb. I often find a preset I like then have to go through disabling chorus, delay, reverb and sometimes compressor and hype. Perhaps if I used presets less this wouldn't be a problem, but if I want to dial in a sound my hardware synths make more sense; for secondary parts the plugins are ideal and the presets really simplify the process.

Anyway, the message here is that the standalone synth plugins really have been helpful to me. If we also get Hype then I think this will turn my use of plugins from supporting elements to some primary lines: Great work!