Hardware Versus Software
Dedicated hardware synthesizers can have software as complex as a soft synth. The distinction is that softsynths run on a general purpose computer with a sound card, and the hardware (dedicated) synthesizers have the custom software built-in. The advantage to dedicated hardware is that it can be more stable, and also that it often has a user interface that is physical (knobs and sliders) and therefore easier to manipulate during performances. Many softsynths use mathematical algorithms which directly emulate the electronic components and circuitry of the original hardware synthesizer. This results in an exceptionally authentic sound, as well as allowing for some of the inconsistencies, such as oscillator drift caused by the thermal sensitivity of the components, to be added.
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