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Old 08-01-2017, 09:12 PM   #1
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Minimum Kit

So a post by [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
got me thinking. What's the minimum equipment you need to do what you do? This isn't a right or wrong kind of thing, it's not a popularity contest, it's not a pissing contest, it's just a thought exercise about what it really takes to make your music.

For example:
  • Could you work without a DAW?
  • Could you work without outboard gear?
  • Could you work without any plugins/VSTs, or only using the ones native to your software?
  • Could you work without a MIDI controller?
  • Are you truly lacking something you think could make your music easier/better?

For most of what I do I think I could probably get away with my Zoom H4N, a delay and distortion pedal and something like a Tascam Portastudio (tape or digital). But it would be really, really difficult without a DAW. I don't use a lot of plugs, I could probably rock it with Ableton's natives without too much issue. The Fab stuff is pretty nice though..

So yeah, go crazy. What's your minimal setup to do what you do?

BONUS QUESTION: How would reducing your technical overhead change how you approach making music?

Last edited by Artificer; 08-01-2017 at 10:49 PM..

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Old 08-01-2017, 09:32 PM   #2
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Re: Minimum Kit

Could you work without a DAW? Yes but I would replace my software DAW with a hardware one (OT or MPC)
Could you work without outboard gear? Yes
Could you work without any plugins/VSTs, or only using the ones native to your software? Using only the ones native in my DAW
Could you work without a MIDI controller? Yes
Are you truly lacking something you think could make your music easier/better? Skills, time and dedication.

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Old 08-01-2017, 09:46 PM   #3
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Re: Minimum Kit

In the last few years I've tried pretty much all the methods of working you can think of...

I could work w/o a DAW. If forced to for some reason, that'd be fine with me as I mostly just enjoy the process in and of itself. Love just jamming for the sake of it.

If I was forced to go back to using only a computer to make music, I might throw in the towel and persue another creative hobby. If I couldn't even have a MIDI controller the answer would be a huge NO. I can do it and honestly the end product usually sounds a hell of a lot better, but I get almost nothing out of the process.

If I was working with hardware, but only native plug ins I could live with that. Even if the hardware setup was pretty minimal. A few reasonably priced pedals and a decent multi fx rack would sort me.

Could I work w/o a MIDI controller? In what situation? A general answer is yes, as I don't really like them much to begin with. That is what sent me down the hardware rabbit hole.

What am I lacking? Same as Auto. Skill, time and dedication. Lol

I feel like I can do what I do with a pretty minimal setup. Analog 4 plus a decent drum machine or sampler and some FX. A mixer and something to record to.

Kinda a bonus question answer: I used to have a fairly extensive hardware setup...a few analog synths, a few digital synths, couple options for drums, nice external fx units, all hooked up to a patch bay being recorded into my DAW with lots of flavors of processing as far as plug ins. My finances forced me to sell most of that off this summer. I decided no matter what I was keeping the Analog 4 and my DAW and I really got to know that one piece of equipment well. Now I have added a DrumBrute and really, that is about all I need.

I know I'll probably end up adding some things in next 18 months. There is a guitar pedal I'd like to have (again) and I'd like an analog synth with keys at some point. But that would about sort me. That super complicated hardware setup was not for me, I was making some awful music that way. All in the box doesn't interest me.

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Old 08-01-2017, 10:36 PM   #4
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Re: Minimum Kit

you all write interesting things ...

generally, what I see, almost all are more or less "virtual" ...

I do not want to say that the hardware is better than software, but for me it is more ... "real"?
Maybe I am "vintage" but I like to make and hear music like TG "Mission of dead souls" for example - live or near live.

The disadvantage of hardware are certainly limitations of their capabilities ... it is absolutely true

I don't use knowingly any DAW, no midi instruments (if I'm already using midi connection, only synchronized start / tempo), no plug-in instruments or effects, only (really) heavy hardware.

Recording most of the "industrial" performance (except some short songs in studio version), we - as a group - record them so, that at any moment can be make live - they are simply recorded live!

Sometimes come only some tracks with additional voices, sounds, instruments but only using the R24, sometimes like simply looper or add. tracks too - without a computer.

We don't sit with headphones correcting every detail for two weeks, and at the end of the work we are not satisfied ... ( of course maybe sometimes we would be much more satisfied, it is true! ).

I personally use a mixer with many inputs and some add mixers and splitters which are connected with all machines ready for work, the effects are connected in various live combinations.

Finally the recorded creation is more improvisation than "music production" ...

This is my "philosophy" of making music.

It's exhausting, it requires great openness of mind, concentration in very short time but it gives a lot of satisfaction ...

Crazy? Maybe but... why not?
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Old 08-01-2017, 10:39 PM   #5
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Re: Minimum Kit

My minimum rig would be Maschine with a few key plugs: Serum, Phoscyon, Kontakt, Omnisphere, and Reaktor. +1 on the FabFilter stuff.

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Old 08-01-2017, 10:41 PM   #6
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Re: Minimum Kit

Quote:
Originally Posted by pumpentrumpen View Post
you all write interesting things ...

generally, what I see, almost all are more or less "virtual" ...

I do not want to say that the hardware is better than software, but for me it is more ... "real"?
Maybe I am "vintage" but I like to make and hear music like TG "Mission of dead souls" for example - live or near live.

The disadvantage of hardware are certainly limitations of their capabilities ... it is absolutely true

I don't use knowingly any DAW, no midi instruments (if I'm already using midi connection, only synchronized start / tempo), no plug-in instruments or effects, only (really) heavy hardware.

Recording most of the "industrial" performance (except some short songs in studio version), we - as a group - record them so, that at any moment can be make live - they are simply recorded live!

Sometimes come only some tracks with additional voices, sounds, instruments but only using the R24, sometimes like simply looper or add. tracks too - without a computer.

We don't sit with headphones correcting every detail for two weeks, and at the end of the work we are not satisfied ... ( of course maybe sometimes we would be much more satisfied, it is true! ).

I personally use a mixer with many inputs and some add mixers and splitters which are connected with all machines ready for work, the effects are connected in various live combinations.

Finally the recorded creation is more improvisation than "music production" ...

This is my "philosophy" of making music.

It's exhausting, it requires great openness of mind, concentration in very short time but it gives a lot of satisfaction ...

Crazy? Maybe but... why not?
My setup is mostly hardware, I compose and record all on hardware and at the end record everything to software, but this was just a hypothetical question.

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Old 09-01-2017, 02:41 AM   #7
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Re: Minimum Kit

I'm already minimalist.
Ableton Live, $20 headphones, Serum, a stereo vst toy for stereo shaping as an effect, and a 2004 iMac...that's pretty much all I got.

Could I make stuff without it?
Sure.
I still have a 32 virtual track 4 track, and I could stick a mic in my guitar case and beat on it as a kick drum, raid the kitchen for top end hats sounds, clap and hit dresser drawers turned upside down for snares, warp my electric guitar with effects and Tom Morello out some sounds through flanges, chorus, reverb, pitch, and/or panners as oscillators, and do the same with my voice as a pad or synth. I could borrow daughter's keyboard as well if needed, but...then again...lol...why?
The DAW is more or less all I really need.
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Old 09-01-2017, 04:21 AM   #8
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Re: Minimum Kit

I have done that before. Sure I could get on fairly well with just a cassette 4 track and a drum machine along with my guitar and my bass guitar. Did that for years and years. I say cassette because I feel like compression would need to be incorporated somehow and that's a nice, cheap way of not having to buy a compressor unit. so my minimum compliment of gear would be:

1. guitar
2. bass guitar
3. guitar processor (used for everything from bass to guitar to vocals)
4. 4 track tape recorder w/ plenty of HQ tapes
5. drum machine (almost any will do)
6. mic (cheap headset mic would be fine)
7. headphones (can't do earbuds, so any actual cans would work)

Still seems like a lot actually.
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Old 09-01-2017, 05:38 AM   #9
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Re: Minimum Kit

Quote:
Originally Posted by Numerical View Post
Still seems like a lot actually.
Well if you itemize every last plugin and virtual instrument that most of us have in whatever DAWs, you have a relatively short list. Great point about the tape compression. I'd want one just so I can cut and paste and scrape ferox and play with speed, but there are some other advantages I hadn't considered. I actually did the same as you back in the day - so much bedroom metal recorded on 4-track Tascams. \m/

I'm fascinated by everyone's answers thus far and it's totally making me consider how I'm currently approaching things. Not that I have any inclination to actually give any equipment up, but it's fun for me to look at things from a different perspective and change things up from time to time. I guess that's what the whole question was about.
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Old 09-01-2017, 06:11 AM   #10
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Re: Minimum Kit

(I own everything listed here)

1. davison electric guitar (missing hi E string)
2. standard yamaha drum kit (1 snare, 1 ride, 1 hihat,1 crash, 1 kick (with kick pedal),1 hi tom,1 lo tom)

(I do not own these)

3. davison electric bass guitar
4. Nagra Kudelski IV s tape recorder

(I own these)
5.focusrite scarlett solo
6.Audix D4 Dynamic Drum Microphone
7.generic hollinger amplifier (came with the guitar)

it's not a cheap setup, but it's pretty dynamic as far as possibilities go.

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Old 09-01-2017, 06:34 AM   #11
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Re: Minimum Kit

added note because we talk about minimum kit:

I have written yesterday about a lot of things, mixers, loops between but...

it was maximum kit of course for all crazy music ideas... which still increase, reduce or change ( limited by lack of money, ideas, time, place etc. )

but for example minimum kit for last performance Processor Crash Button Music ( except one final song ) was only ONE machine plus add ONE delay only...

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Old 09-01-2017, 07:28 AM   #12
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Re: Minimum Kit

minimum kit for me would be a shitty laptop with fl studio on it and a friggin mouse because i hate trackpads. would want to have monitors not a huge headphones fan.

I like analog synths tho. but I could do without them.

working on a really underpowered laptop can be really fun. It forces you to remember all the crazy shit you can do just because it's a friggin computer. the extreme precision in sequencing that is possible with even a terrible laptop is amazing when you think about it. You could only have access to old free plugins and still do some amazing stuff. Just the fact that you can automate every parameter of pretty much any plugin makes it possible to do insane stuff with very little.

But, i guess that type of thing isn't really what most people are after. Most folks want to get some good sounds with minimal fuss, which is understandable. So, having a nicer setup is good for that. still, having a shitty one can make you be more focused on note choice, arrangement, automation, etc. because that's all you have. If you come up with a great track on this set up, bounce down stems and take it to a real studio to get mixed and it will sound as slick as anything.

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Old 09-01-2017, 07:46 AM   #13
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Re: Minimum Kit

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Originally Posted by mnkvolcno View Post
minimum kit for me would be a shitty laptop with fl studio on it and a friggin mouse because i hate trackpads.
Whoa there with you're big hardware requirements. A mouse? I dunno about all that.

Quote:
working on a really underpowered laptop can be really fun. It forces you to remember all the crazy shit you can do just because it's a friggin computer.
That's exactly what I was getting at. It boxes you in in unusual ways. So you have to start bouncing tracks to avoid dropouts, but which tracks? All that stuff. There's still so much power there over a traditional recording system. You just have to work within more limitations, which can be really cool. I think hardware stuff is similar in that it has real limits you have to work with and around and it forces a sort of creativity.

I don't want to get all Old Man Yelling At Clouds, but we're really spoiled for choice these days. So much so that sometimes I get option paralysis and can sit tweaking a chain of compressors on a single hit for hours and not get anything done. I start making up silly rules like not using any compressors or only writing in 5/8 for a couple of days, just to turn my head around and tune into something different. It's probably some mild ADD, but I can totally get lost in software-land from time to time, and not in a good way.
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Old 10-01-2017, 07:37 PM   #14
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Re: Minimum Kit

I can get by with a yamaha qy-70, usb to midi cable, and a cheap laptop running Reaper. However, I probably wouldn't use it for more than very rough demos....not that I ever seem to get past the very rough demo stage...but for getting a good sketch down that setup would, and has, worked for me before.

In a pinch the daw could be skipped and just record from the 70 into windows sound recorder. That's actually the way most of my current soundcloud tracks were recorded.

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Old 10-01-2017, 07:46 PM   #15
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Re: Minimum Kit

Quote:
Originally Posted by oDDgOD View Post
I can get by with a yamaha qy-70, usb to midi cable, and a cheap laptop running Reaper. However, I probably wouldn't use it for more than very rough demos....not that I ever seem to get past the very rough demo stage...but for getting a good sketch down that setup would, and has, worked for me before.

In a pinch the daw could be skipped and just record from the 70 into windows sound recorder. That's actually the way most of my current soundcloud tracks were recorded.
the qy-70 actually looks pretty cool, I need to watch some demo videos when I get time later.

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Old 10-01-2017, 08:53 PM   #16
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Re: Minimum Kit

Quote:
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the qy-70 actually looks pretty cool, I need to watch some demo videos when I get time later.
I love mine. Its a great portable way to record track sketches/ideas, or with enough skill, make a fairly complete song. Plus, its super easy to use with almost no learning curve compared to other sequencers. Its pretty much all the Freezepop dude uses. The sounds are a bit dated at this point, but that's what midi is for. Lay it out on the 70 then use it to control something else. I personally love the sounds though, you can get some Depeche Mode-y type grooves going on with this thing.

If you ever think you want one I'd recommend going with the qy-100 as it has expandable memory. The 70 doesn't, and usually runs out of space on song 8 or 9 depending on how complex the arrangements are. I wish I had known this when I bought the 70. Oh, and you'll need lots of rechargeable batteries. The 6 it takes will only last 1-2 hours before they run down.

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Old 10-01-2017, 09:09 PM   #17
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Re: Minimum Kit

Ableton live standard, some free synth plugs from computer music, push 2, my SG and the only plug I would pay for in this setup, guitar rig pro, and finally a small audio interface.
But honestly while I may have spent way more than I need on things, especially plugins that I never use anymore, some key hardware is money, especially pedals for guitar!

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Old 11-01-2017, 12:17 AM   #18
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Re: Minimum Kit

a good laptop, a midi keyboard and some good monitors and you can write and mix your tracks. in my experience good room sound treatment and great monitors are the best buy you can make. sometimes we find ourselves buying new stuff since we can't buy new ideas. and sometimes this works, I admit, playing with a new toy can actually revamp our interest and help us make something new.

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Old 11-01-2017, 01:30 AM   #19
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Re: Minimum Kit

I could make shit with just mixer feedback, but yeah it'd be shit.

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Old 11-01-2017, 04:45 AM   #20
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Re: Minimum Kit

An old laptop..a free / cheap daw..a handful of free vsts..a zoom or equivalent for recording samples and a good set of cans.

This is basically what I started out with, so I know it's all "I" really need to make music. I think things might start getting a little hairy if you took some of those listed items away from me.

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