« on: August 01, 2008, 11:58:59 AM »
I think this is the case of any musician in his/hers early phase, to focus more on the technology instead of develop your own talent and skill. I will not deny that I am in the same phase, I definitely do not use my current technology which I have access to to full extent.
If what you say is true (and I don't think it is, not the way you mean it) then you need to get out of this phase as quickly as possible. If you think Steve Roach and Robert Rich make their soundscapes by pushing presets you are dead wrong and are heading down a dead end path. Both of those artists make their own sounds from scratch. What you need to learn is the basics of synthesis, how a synthesizer works so you can make your own sounds. I would recommend getting a book or taking a class or maybe finding something on the web before taking another step.
Just about all the soft synths you mentioned can make very good ambient sounds. The reason most of those presets suck for ambient music is because most people who buy those synths don't make this kind of music, so the programmers make sounds that will help sell them. Once you know how synthesizers work you can make all kinds of interesting sounds with them. I've made some really interesting long evolving sounds using Absynth and FM7.
Hardware vs software synths, my take is they are just tools. They both have advantages and disadvantages, I tend to mainly use hardware but I also use software whenever it seems right. I know for a fact that Steve hardly ever uses softsynths, and Robert uses a couple of softsynths but mostly uses his hardware. In the end its really about ideas everything else should be their just to help you realize them. Good luck.