What are your opinions?
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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 10-05-2018, 08:07 AM   #1
NewWorldOrder
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What are your opinions?

Hey guys. I have been here for some year, and I have noticed a slowing down of my workflow. A lot of this started when I became obsessed with gear. My social media presence is slowly growing, and I want my music to be just as involved as the semantics are. The problem I am having is while I love gear and synths I do not have the money to buy all that I want and need to be dawless. In face the majority of my records have been produced using primarily software. I have owned many synths as you know if you have seen me on the forums. I've owned a prophet 6, 8, 12, tempest, elektron rythm, sub 37, dx-7, deepmind 12, and the list goes on. I have been slowing down on gear lust because I have stopped and looked at what I want to be. I want to be like those that inspire me Tricky, Akira yamaoka, Nine Inch Nails, Bjork, and Hendrix. Yet I've become more of a sound designer, a knob handling guy, and a guy who seldom makes music because my workflow is not as integrated as it was. When it was me and a maschine mk2 and a cheap yamaha that happened ot have midi I cranked tracks out. When I had the height of hardware I cranked tracks out. I am now in the middle of both worlds having 2 hardware synths and having many good software synths I can't tweak because I have a crappy midi controller. My question is should I go full digital? I'm not taking a matrixbrute on the road because I can't afford to replace it, but I need to play live more, need to make music more, and I need better intergration. I know I'll fail unless I make a full transformation. The music can get me money to buy another matrixbrute and deepmind 6and other things, but I can't continue as is. I've changed my music name so now might be the time, but I hate workstations, I would hate to settle for something, and I need integration. Sotware now is better than it was even a few years ago, midi controllers are still overpriced but better, and I have to have some kind of balance. This time is of the essence. So let me know what you guys think.

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mnkvolcno (11-05-2018)
Old 10-05-2018, 08:39 AM   #2
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Re: What are your opinions?

By your post it seems like unfortunately you need to compromise.

At your most productive and successful you had less, just a MAschine MKII and some softsynths.
So maybe go back to that as your core soundwriting gig and settle on a few good hardware synth for live playing and sound design and reduce the number of softsynths you have.

It might also be that not only your gear, but your "music time" changed, maybe think about having dedicated sound design sessions when you have less time and songwriting session when you have more.

So yeah, to sum it up and try to give a straight answer, if you need to approach this as a job, slim down, go software and add 1 extra synth you can "play" in studio and live.

I hate midi controller and mapping though, that's why Maschine was so good.

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Old 11-05-2018, 12:00 AM   #3
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Re: What are your opinions?

I saw some cheap Alesis Ion synths for cheaper than a native instruments controller. I will be deciding tonight weather I want to give up hardware for now or commit fully to hardware with the only exceptions being reaktor, maschine, and omnisphere. I don't plan on quiting, but I am going to start over for sure.

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Old 11-05-2018, 12:30 AM   #4
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Re: What are your opinions?

There's nothing wrong with starting over or downsizing, but the specifics will ultimately be up to you. I'm personally happier with less hardware after having to sell quite a bit of it, but I'm obviously in the minority there. I couldn't really afford $20,000 synths as it was so the pursuit seemed pretty shallow to begin with.

Some people do better with less and others obviously do better with more, but I've probably never regretted a DAW / editor / VST purchase in my life. I can't say the same for hardware - some pedals were fucking stupid, some tube amps sounded like ass and even some second hand synths wouldn't power on for longer than an hour without fucking exploding. Maybe some people are just hardwired for hardware, but I don't see the appeal to begin with.
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Old 11-05-2018, 12:39 AM   #5
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Re: What are your opinions?

Hey man, checked out your music and I dig it.


I can only speak from my experience, but for me, changing anything significant in my setup always sets me back for a while. It’s only after have been the same for a minute when I can really start to create stuff comfortably. I need that muscle memory.. flick these switches, click this icon, open this plugin.. etc. The routine frees up my brain to focus on ideas/music. For me, the setup doesn’t even matter a huge amount, I just have to settle into it.
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:47 AM   #6
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Re: What are your opinions?

Given that I am a hack hobbyist with too much expendable income, put what I say in an appropriate context, please.

I started with a minimalist setup of Maschine, decent monitors, and a shitload of software. Then I jumped on the hardware bandwagon big time. I think my “setup” has become more complex by almost the month while time honing a hardware workflow never kept up pace. So, I kind of know most machines reasonably well, but not like the back of my hand.
There is the perennial theme of shit-why-is-my-synth-not-responding-to-the-MIDI-message bullshit, combined with find the source of that humm activities, and the joyless tedium of arranging a song without visual aid on a sequencer with only a four digit old school LED clock style display or via cryptic MIDI processing gizmos because AKAI really didn’t think that sequencing PC messages on a MIDI track might be a useful feature. It’s a stop and go work”flow” interspersed with manual consultation, looking up MIDI implementations, and the deafening scream in your head asking why the fuck this isn’t working.

And in Maschine it all just flows nicely. Plug and play. A little iffy if you want to implement a MIDI LFO, but otherwise you can focus on the actual creative process. I suppose with enough time put in you can get there with hardware, but does it REALLY sound that much more awesome?

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Old 11-05-2018, 05:52 AM   #7
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Re: What are your opinions?

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thanks for checking my music out!

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I have defiantly gone through an expensive process of finding out what is the good hardware. I have made some very expensive test subjects because I don't like in a place like Austin or LA or even New York. there is no way for me to hear how these things really sound until I play them in person, and then you don't know how they fit in your workflow until you've had them for some time. That vs Arturia which would only cost me 200 bucks in comparison to a blofeld I got for 400-500 bucks and did not enjoy at all, but also did not end up being able to return, and now having a deepmind with issues. I do enjoy the sound, but all I want is synths I can control from a board without being distracted. I don't want to have to go across my studio to get to my hardware, and I dont want to have to worry about the big loss of spending 2000 and only being able to get 1400 back on it. Now the synths do sound good from hardware, but back when I first started getting into hardware I didn't know how to get the sound I wanted nor did I know how to make them. Now I have a lot more knowledge, experince, and skill. I feel like I could control even a digital synth to my liking if I had a controller like a komplete kontrol MK2 or Akai Advanced. I just want an intergrated work flow , and for my instrument to be as second nature as playing a guitar.

To stick to that example it would suck if I had to change a string, tune, and think about where my fingers went when I played guitar. I already think about how to get the theory, but unless I have endless amounts of money to spend on every little thing I want right now it does not seem as practical. Sometimes I want analog sounds, and other times I want digital and sampled sounds. I am seriously considering trading stuff in and getting like a komplete kontrol and minibrute 2. The hardware alternative in my opinion would be to buy at least two more synths that cover digital and maybe virtual analog to get the sounds I want to get or to at least not have to be at my computer at all besides sequencing and mixing. I got the maschine mk3 a few months ago, and I am wondering how I lived without it. I like it more than any maschine and any drum machine I've had in the past. I have not had problems with it, and I created one of my best sounding mixed songs I think ever (Media Mainstream). I have had great hardware, but I can't spend time learning everything, buying everyting, and researching everything. The gear is as good as the user at the end of the day, but the most important thing to me is time. I know in order to go to the next level I have to be able to compete with genres I don't make, musicians who are not trained like I am, and people who don't care if its a preset or not. I can no longer spend hours making a bass sound or a library and not making music. I have someone I know who is like a mentor and he always says don't buy stuff just make music. This guy worked with Ice -T , Ice Cube, and other hip hop acts back in the day, and another mentor I have who opened for depeche mode. Neither of them seem to care about gear as much as I have. They have few pieces, and don't seem to care what is digital or analog. They admit they like what analog sounds like and certain things have not been copied yet, but still that does not make music.I want to tell you my best synth experiences were on the prophet 12 or blofled, but they were on things like the korg monologue. If I could post the videos of the sick sounds I made I would. I created sounds I didn't even think were possible on a mono synth all because I could bond with the synth, and tweak it.

That is when I realized it is not the device or the possibilities the device has, but the bond with it. I seldom by guitars and can count on my hand how many of them I've bought, but yet I can tell I've purchased many synths. When I listen to bands who inspire me like Tricky, Depeche Mode, Bjork, Nine Inch Nails, and out cast I have to wonder how many synths were really needed for this album. The albums are a collection of ideas and creativity. Trent Reznor has stated his love for the model D many times. A synth which can't even arpeggio itself or play chords. Yet he has used it on so many works. Portishead played with guitars and sampled, but yet they kept it simple. All of these devices and money invested to learn this feels abysmal.

All I really need and needed was a few synths I connected with. Some I could plug and play or control. I like u-he repro, but midi mapping it everytime I turn my daw on to a controller not made for it makes things become more about thought than work. I am no longer making music for others for the most part, and am doing it for myself. I know now I need tight integration that can get my mind flowing, and not my pocket or nostalgia for a time I was not even born in.

I saw timecops video on "making" bass and he literally used a preset from a korg plug in. This is what I see in the market, and I want to be able to flow in my workspace. These past two years I have not been flowing I have been stopping and going. I want the sound of hardware, but I need integration. My biggest thing I am considering is the native instruments mk2 or going all in on hardware and looking for a cheap digital synth, but even a nord is like 1700. Seems like many things are in a sense over priced and I am tired of this and that.I want to pick a camp and stay there, and master that.

I noticed what made me better at music was not my synths or tech. It was listening to who I liked, analyzing it, and learning how to write songs better. I learned what to layer, what to do with silence, and how to write. Elektron analog rytm didn't show my how to make better drums, but I learned what kind of drums I really wanted to make and got them out of maschine. I want that work flow where I just have to create, and not comply.

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Old 11-05-2018, 06:05 AM   #8
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Re: What are your opinions?

I think perception really influences reality - if you think you'll be more productive ITB than with hardware, you likely will be. If you think you can't make music without a $5000 compressor, you probably won't. Etc, etc, on and on. It does sound like whichever direction you go, you need to turn your workflow on it's ear, break out of whatever habits you're in, and approach things from a fresh perspective.

The upside to going all digital is you can get a decent computer and a couple of really robust VSTs and get everything from classic analog to wild, out there experimental sounds. And hardware is a rabbit hole - there's always one more piece of gear, one more thing to do a thing, all of which necessitates more cords and space and inputs and power strips and money. Hardware begat hardware. On the other hand, it's hard to replace that tactile knob twist and key press you get from solid boxes. A really good hardware controller or two is mandatory for me.

My personal irony is when I was poor and cramped for space, I was a hardware addict. Now I'm at a point where money and space aren't really considerations, but I have less and less interest in traditional hardware as time goes on. I find I can do the exact same things and so much more with just a computer and a controller, and I'm greatly enjoying exploring areas and edge cases that hardware just doesn't support - things like robust stochastic programming, serious additive and bezier synthesis, and out-there warping, mangling, granulating effects that just aren't possible with the limited processing power of most hardware, and those are the things for me that gives me new perspectives on process. There's cool new stuff going on and most of it is in the box. But then we're after different things and it may be that getting on stage with nothing but a laptop and a controller isn't the vibe you're looking for. I'd totally get that.

Whatever you do, good luck with it. It can be weird and painful to start things over, but I think it can often dig you out of a rut.

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Old 11-05-2018, 12:18 PM   #9
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Re: What are your opinions?

You use live, why not get a push 2 and sequence your hardware from live?

Or if you are set on maschine, do that. Sequence your hardware from maschine.

Restarting from scratch is a pain imo, just use what you already know well.
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Old 11-05-2018, 02:37 PM   #10
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Re: What are your opinions?

If you do want to go all hardware, the most important thing will be a good sequencer. The old school ones are hands down the best bang for the buck. Yes they are stop and start recording, but if your composition skills are o.k, you'd be surprised how quick you can get a track going on them. The screens hold plenty enough details to make editing and adding control change messages quite painless really.



Analog, digital, analog modeling really doesn't matter as long as you like the sounds, but always best to go with lots of real time dials on the control panel though. Going DAWless doesn't have to cost the earth, it can be done quite reasonably. At the end of the day, what you use to produce your music wants to be what you play live.

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Old 11-05-2018, 07:27 PM   #11
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Re: What are your opinions?

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I do partially agree. I also think a lot of gear lust comes from what looks good, but it is easy for something to look or sound good on youtube or in a demo. The real test is when we get it what do we make with it. People seem to love the deepmind, but I've never found tha much joy in it. I find limitations when I want to design a sound, and not the good model D kind. I think what I really need is something I can properly interface with and touch.

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I've never been able to justify buying a midi controller for 700-800 bucks. One of my attatchments to my machine hardware synths might be the money I spent on them and not the sound sometimes, but I can not justify buying that thing for the price when I make all of my drums in machine.

@Dr.Sleeze I'd go dawless with instruments and not with sequencer. I come from playing instruments so I prefer the instruments dawless or a software instrument if I can tweak it.

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Old 11-05-2018, 11:38 PM   #12
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Re: What are your opinions?

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Originally Posted by Dr. Sleaze View Post
If you do want to go all hardware, the most important thing will be a good sequencer. The old school ones are hands down the best bang for the buck. Yes they are stop and start recording, but if your composition skills are o.k, you'd be surprised how quick you can get a track going on them. The screens hold plenty enough details to make editing and adding control change messages quite painless really.



Analog, digital, analog modeling really doesn't matter as long as you like the sounds, but always best to go with lots of real time dials on the control panel though. Going DAWless doesn't have to cost the earth, it can be done quite reasonably. At the end of the day, what you use to produce your music wants to be what you play live.
What are these old school sequencers you speak of, friend?

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Old 12-05-2018, 01:41 AM   #13
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Re: What are your opinions?

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What are these old school sequencers you speak of, friend?
He might be talking about one of these bad boys.

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Supposedly squarepusher uses it exclusively.
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Old 12-05-2018, 02:26 AM   #14
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Re: What are your opinions?

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I find that I don't have enough hands to play everything at once, so the sequencer comes in handy for that. I know that a lot of new synths come with sequencers built in, but most of my stuff is old, so it is the heart of my setup. It sends clock to everything I'm using at that time. Mostly I'll play the sequences in and record them. From there it's easy to route the recorded midi sequences to whichever synth or module I want to play that part. It's handy for things like my JV 1010 which has no keyboard or much in the way of front panel controls, or the MS 20 mini, which has no sequencer or arp of it's own leaving me with 2 hands free to tweak in real time to my hearts content, or leaving them free to play my Prophecy. I also use it to trigger my Electribe 2, so I can play parts off grid, which it's sequencer cannot do. Build your sequences, with control changes for voices and so on, chain the sequences together for your song, record it to a song in the sequencer. Then when you're doing a live performance, just go to the song and press play. All the settings are transmitted for that song and off you go.

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I have 2 at present. My trusty old Yamaha RM1x, which although thought of as an old groovebox with outdated sounds, also has a very good sequencer to boot. Hell I even like most of the old sounds too. It's a bit finicky, as it has the old Eprom chip in it, but not bad enough for me to bother sourcing out and replacing it for the v 1.3 one. The other is a recently acquired Yamaha QY700. which I haven't had time to get into yet, but my main reason for getting it was the 2 midi outs and 32 tracks, allowing me to use one midi and 16 tracks for the JV 1010 in performance mode, and the other for everything else.
Roland also did the MC series though I've not used them. I would check out the Yamaha RS7000. Very similar to the RM1x, but newer, with the Eprom sorted,so better, also has a built in sampler for that old skool grunge.

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Old 12-05-2018, 04:04 AM   #15
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Re: What are your opinions?

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I find I can do the exact same things and so much more with just a computer and a controller, and I'm greatly enjoying exploring areas and edge cases that hardware just doesn't support - things like robust stochastic programming, serious additive and bezier synthesis, and out-there warping, mangling, granulating effects that just aren't possible with the limited processing power of most hardware, and those are the things for me that gives me new perspectives on process. There's cool new stuff going on and most of it is in the box.
Firstly, New World Order, I wouldn't get rid of everything if you can still make music with the software you already have, perhaps just quit using the hardware and get something like a Nektar Impakt, which is pretty cheap for a controller that also gives you a lot of knobs/sliders pre-mapped to many of the bigger softsynths out there and a full keybed. You can save money if you go for a 61 key version and I don't think you lose any of the knobs. That's the controller I want, and you should be able to get it for under $300 anytime, maybe less if you look around. I don't know if space is an issue or how much budget constraints are, but that's my first gut reaction.

Now for the quote up above, Artificer, I've thought for a while that what hardware really needs to be is more advanced digital stuff than we can do on a PC with cray-z chips and faster memory, etc than would ever be possible on a PC of mentionable pricing. But now I've seen some stuff start to come along like that with Roland's System 8 (which uses DSD for it's DAC if I'm not mistaken), the Waldorf Quantum (which legitimately looks cool but is an unfortunate amount expensive), the Novation Peak (which I think is also DSD? and the big buzzword is FPGA which is being treated like it's new but I think they've been around since the 80s so IDK what the big deal is there), that one british guy basically making the successor to the Virus with FPGA (the Valkyrie), and this other synth I heard about at (I think) Musikmesse last year where it was some sort of FM but with a very different interface and some other trickery to make it a very organic, instrumental instrument. Anyways, I don't think anyone's quite got it yet (though Waldorf is close if they can bring the price down somehow) and I think if anyone of them put like a $500 multibit DAC on the output along the lines of what Schiit is making, then you'd have something interesting. IDK, just kinda what I think hardware should be and how it's getting closer I guess.

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Old 12-05-2018, 04:49 AM   #16
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Re: What are your opinions?

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I do partially agree. I also think a lot of gear lust comes from what looks good, but it is easy for something to look or sound good on youtube or in a demo. The real test is when we get it what do we make with it. People seem to love the deepmind, but I've never found tha much joy in it. I find limitations when I want to design a sound, and not the good model D kind. I think what I really need is something I can properly interface with and touch.

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I've never been able to justify buying a midi controller for 700-800 bucks. One of my attatchments to my machine hardware synths might be the money I spent on them and not the sound sometimes, but I can not justify buying that thing for the price when I make all of my drums in machine.

@Dr.Sleeze I'd go dawless with instruments and not with sequencer. I come from playing instruments so I prefer the instruments dawless or a software instrument if I can tweak it.
I donít get what you are saying, you have maschine, the software but not the hardware?
I think calling the likes of push and maschine midi controllers is missing the point big time!
Imo the difference between sequencing hardware from a stand alone mpc type box and maschine would be minimal.
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Old 12-05-2018, 06:09 AM   #17
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Re: What are your opinions?

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I donít get what you are saying, you have maschine, the software but not the hardware?
I think calling the likes of push and maschine midi controllers is missing the point big time!
Imo the difference between sequencing hardware from a stand alone mpc type box and maschine would be minimal.
No I have the hardware and software, but because I have maschine I have not been able to justify push. I work in ableton and record in maschine or hardware synths, and I would usually play say repro-5 as midi.

I was going to sell my matrixbrute, but I played it for a while and remembered why I bought it. The sound was so good I could not bring myself to sell it, and I feel so connected to the synth. I had one before it was available on even sweetwater, and I had probably the first one sent to any retailer in Texas. It was supposed to be a demo unit, but I bought it the day they got it.It made me remember why I wanted it. Not to copy trent reznor, kraftwerk, or daft punk, but to find my own way. For now I am giving more thought into software and hardware, but my workflow needs to change for sure. I am going to be looking into second hand mopho x4's and prohet 8's and seeing what I can find for 800 ad under. I am hoping resting my laurels primarily on my synths and trusting in the limitations will be what I need. I think one of the problems I had when I had so many synths was too many options. Now I think what I need is to be more in the moment with the synths. I will go and test a few midi keyboards out and the integration as well. I see a cheap Alesis Ion for 440 I may look into, and see if I can get the tones I need from that as well. Whatever I gravitate to and helps me get creative is what I will have. I have many ideas, but my big problem always comes down to feeling like I am working in blocks. Even on ableton I often record in the mix view and not arrangement view so I literally record in blocks. The latest updates to maschine have also left me unable to look at patterns and arrangements and has been replaces with Ideas and song view which have really hurt how I use it. It has broken even maschine into blocks for me. I don't like to be so uniform when I make music I want it to be free. I want it to be second nature to operate. when I had a mouse to tweak that hurt me as well because I was not shaping the sounds, but pointing and clicking.

I will test some synths and midi keyboards out, and see what will work for me.

I also am trying to get things I can take live. I can't DJ, so I have an idea for a set up. A buddy of mines has been borrowing my mk1 and is getting better, and he will be kind of my maschine guy when I play live.

I will get back to making songs under my new music name, and probably delete a lot of older songs. I plan on releasing ideas on soundcloud and albums on premium services like spotify, so I am going to test using all software for some sound cloud releases and see what I get, and I will test using only hardware. After that I think I will make my final decision.

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Old 13-05-2018, 07:06 PM   #18
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Re: What are your opinions?

^UPDATE^

I decided to tick to harder, and I am getting an ableton push 2 and saving for a nord lead a1. I am told push make you not have to look into ableton. I am also taking a day to set up midi in my home studio so that everything will just work when I plug it in. I am still having issues with my deepmind 6, and I have to find a box long enough to send it back to berhinger for them to work on it, but besides that minor annoyance expect big updates if you follow my music!

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Old 14-05-2018, 09:42 PM   #19
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Re: What are your opinions?

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^UPDATE^

I decided to tick to harder, and I am getting an ableton push 2 and saving for a nord lead a1. I am told push make you not have to look into ableton. I am also taking a day to set up midi in my home studio so that everything will just work when I plug it in. I am still having issues with my deepmind 6, and I have to find a box long enough to send it back to berhinger for them to work on it, but besides that minor annoyance expect big updates if you follow my music!
Oh man. Yea if you have more than like two pieces, you want that stuff pretty perma-routed so you can just turn it on and go! MIDI and audio patchbay are a must have IMO.

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Old 14-05-2018, 10:45 PM   #20
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Re: What are your opinions?

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^UPDATE^

I decided to tick to harder, and I am getting an ableton push 2 and saving for a nord lead a1. I am told push make you not have to look into ableton. I am also taking a day to set up midi in my home studio so that everything will just work when I plug it in. I am still having issues with my deepmind 6, and I have to find a box long enough to send it back to berhinger for them to work on it, but besides that minor annoyance expect big updates if you follow my music!
Right on!
So a FYI, push is amazing for clip mode I need ableton, and for mixing it is good too.
And I like that I could record arm my tracks etc with it.
But some stuff takes some preparation to use .
Like you might have to create racks first to be able to reall integrate all the functions with your hardware etc.
In the end it is great, and you can really maximize your time with it if you use some non music making time to do some of the leg work to make it work for you.
Enjoy. The screen is amazing and I hear the midi sequencing from the push on the new update is real good.

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