Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow
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Hardware and Gear Hardware, gear, equipment; Whatever you call it, talk about tangible, physical music-making stuff here. Synths, Modular, drum machines, controllers etc all goes here.

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Old 01-07-2017, 03:24 PM   #1
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Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

As I was playing with the MPC last night working on some beats I had this sinking feeling... it never sounded right and I started really disliking access to my favorite sound sculpting FX. Went back to Maschine and it was instant bliss firing up Geist. I've noticed this recently more: I still do things more efficiently on Maschine. I'm experiencing a sort of hardware disenchantment. I'm starting to wonder if the limitations of hardware are really helping my creative process. I tend to be quite OCD, so if I can't achieve a desired result readily, I get frustrated. Some of it, undoubtedly, is owing to adding a lot of hardware in a very short span of time, but I feel I'm as familiar with all but the MPC as I am with Maschine or my plugins.

Anyone ever have feelings like this?

I think it's no accident I like my Rytm, Avalon, and Octatrack the most, as they have plenty of FX onboard or via routing through a rich outboard FX chain. I am an FX addict, I guess. Maybe I need to tweak my setup to accommodate that, such as routing through VSTs? Or just keep grossing on?

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Old 01-07-2017, 03:37 PM   #2
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

Yeah, in your case it might be a bit of overload but I don't want to judge, as I don't know your workflow.
That said I have similar misgivings from time to time, and I only have 3 pieces of hardware.
I agree about the octatrack, and in my case the a4. They are great, but it's true the mpc line historically is best used with external processing, thus all the outputs. That adds the nuisance of a plethora of cables.
Then I personally become lazy when it's time to track stuff out. There is a big advantage to itb for that.
So I am still thinking of thinning out a bit more and swapping the mpc back with the push 2.
That said sampling chords and pads in the mpc is great.
For me it should be a balance of fun and efficient, and I am not 100% sure I nailed it yet.

A big bonus of the push is the mixing capabilities it has, as that's my biggest shortcoming right now.
So I am thinking octatrack, analog 4, push 2 and a tiny keyboard might work for me. Not 100% yet either.

Rant ends, for now!

Edit: or if I had a bit more room! But really the mess of cables is a bit of a put off sometimes!

Edit, edit: that said, I think the easiest piece of kit for me to part with would be the a4, as I am currently sampling most of my synth sounds out of reason. I like the a 4 for some stuff, but I already struggle with the depth of the octatrack and tbh I don't really have the time or desire to deal with 2 machines that are so complex!
Plus the octatrack/ mpc combo is great and I think I am more into sampling now than just using synths!

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Old 01-07-2017, 04:10 PM   #3
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

I've always figured 'hardware as motivation' to be fairly psychosomatic. It works as long as you think it works, then it doesn't. People with talent and motivation will find ways to make good art with what they have at hand.

That said, I do think there's very real benefits to changing your work flow from time to time. Hardware can do that, eliminating the choice paralysis of all the damn VSTs can do that, new toys (soft or hard, harr harr) can do that, a different DAW, etc. You jumping back to something you're comfortable with just sounds like a change.

The real question is whether you go back to your comfort zone and do the exact same things. There's a big difference between using a specific tool to get a sound (ie being efficient) and making the same beats you always do (being predicable). As long as you're good with what you're making, I wouldn't worry about how you're making it.

The difference between the MPC and Mashine is the difference between needle nose pliers and vice grips - they're better at certain things in certain situations, but they're both just tools to grab shit with.
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Old 01-07-2017, 04:20 PM   #4
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

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I've always figured 'hardware as motivation' to be fairly psychosomatic.
I am gonna disagree with you just on this bit, although I agree with everything else you said.
From having used a fair bit of hardware, I have to say I find coming up with ideas with the computer off to be more enjoyable, then finishing itb is obviously where it's at with all the available options for mixing and editing.

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Old 01-07-2017, 04:25 PM   #5
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

Liquidating my hardware setup a year ago about this time was pretty much the best move I ever made for my music--though I am certainly not suggesting you go on a selling spree. The point of saying that is I basically spent three or four months only making tunes on my A4.

While I knew most of my gear in my combersome all-hardware setup pretty well and I had things routed to a patchbay so it wasn't much harder than opening a VST in a DAW to route things I hardly got any music made and what I made was pretty much all garbage.

I'm not sure if it was that with so much gear I really wasn't buckling down and learning things as I should or if it was too much or what. I got loopitis a lot.

My journey figuring out a workflow with hardware took a pretty long time. I started making music with software in like 2008/9. Maybe a little before that. And I am just now getting to a point where I've really figured out the right balance between DAW/computer and hardware.

All hardware is too slow for me. At the moment I've got just enough inputs that I have a static DAW template that lets me get working quickly. I've even ditched overbridge recently because I don't really need it. I like to get things recorded quickly and start arranging. I don't do any external FXs anymore, but since everything is routed straight to my DAW its quick to get my initial sound design done.

I think the big issue for you may just be the newness of everything or am I incorrect and you've made music ITB for sometime before hardware?

@Choice paralysis with software: my solution for that has been to leave all VSTs installed, but not present in my DAW's menus. I only have about 5 instruments and 20 FX. Has worked really well.

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Old 01-07-2017, 04:35 PM   #6
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

I still struggle with software, while still being aware of the limitations of my hardware, or of any hardware really. But the two worlds are not mutually exclusive, you can still use the mpc live and setup your mixer to send audio back and forth from your daw of chioce.

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Old 01-07-2017, 04:45 PM   #7
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

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I still struggle with software, while still being aware of the limitations of my hardware, or of any hardware really. But the two worlds are not mutually exclusive, you can still use the mpc live and setup your mixer to send audio back and forth from your daw of chioce.
Yea. I'd say hybrid is really the way to go, though I'm sure it won't work for everyone. For me the strengths of hardware are the immediacy and tactile nature of using a "real instrument". For recording, mixing and arranging a modern dance music or loop(ish) based electronic track, a just makes the most sense.

From a practical standpoint the cost:ease of use ratio is much better in software land. For most of us working in a spare room, we are going to get our best sounding final mix doing it ITB.

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Old 01-07-2017, 05:20 PM   #8
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

Thanks for all the input. Time, skill, and talent are clear limitations on my end, so I'll just get that out of the way. Unrestrained GAS as well. But then, I perhaps was using the wrong tool at the wrong time for a task it's not as well suited to. I've been a bit unmotivated lately.

No harm working ITB for a bit... gotta give Reason a spin again, too.

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Old 01-07-2017, 05:49 PM   #9
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

Skill and talent are a result of time, something we are all too short on!

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Old 01-07-2017, 06:05 PM   #10
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

I somehow found a decent compromise between software and hands on functions with the IPad. I wouldn't use Nave as a plugin, love using it as an app. Why? I think finger vs mouse. I guess once touch screen computers will be more frequent I'll happily switch over, seriously, think of the possibilities of a touch-based Ableton Live.

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Old 01-07-2017, 06:25 PM   #11
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

You can get part of that functionality with an external touch screen monitor. It's not like dedicated software for a touch screen based GUI, but you should be able to ditch the mouse for most things.

With the iPad Pro and the Mac book air it's just a question of time until we get a touch screen Mac. The tricky part is that this might require a dedicated OS, but would be really cool.

If you're a Mac user, there is an app that lets you use the iPad as a touchscreen. I think it's called Duet or something like it.

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Old 01-07-2017, 06:50 PM   #12
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

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Originally Posted by jbvdb493 View Post
Skill and talent are a result of time, something we are all too short on!
or too impatient, git gud quik

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Old 01-07-2017, 07:10 PM   #13
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Re: Hardware: mental block, doubts, and workflow

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Originally Posted by Automageddon View Post
I somehow found a decent compromise between software and hands on functions with the IPad. I wouldn't use Nave as a plugin, love using it as an app. Why? I think finger vs mouse. I guess once touch screen computers will be more frequent I'll happily switch over, seriously, think of the possibilities of a touch-based Ableton Live.
Yeah, I am still kinda interested in the surface computers for that reason as well! Especially if Reason ever becomes multi touch!

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