I’ve been making music ITB (In The Box) for about 16 years now and I think I’ve finally grown weary of it. I’m seriously considering a move back to hardware, at least for synths, fx, and a multitrack recorder. I’ll keep using a PC based sequencer but that’s about it. Have any of you done this yet? For those that have gone OTB, how’s it coming? How has your output changed?
I started on a computer, went full hardware expect for recording and mixing, went down to a small setup, back to computer only, now I have a couple pieces of hardware I use to write my main riffs/ideas/loops with, then finish in the box.
I’ve found my happy spot, I feel, in this latest incarnation. It brings out what I love most about each approach and I’m writing more tunes and getting more tunes that I’ll let people listen too.
Let’s see…I started making music quite a while a ago using software then I added bits of hardware over the years, used software less and less over time. Now I use hardware to generate 99% of my melodic sounds either by sampling notes or by recording entire tracks. percussion is still about 50/50 hardware/software. I still do my mixdown/sequencing/overdubbing/mastering on software since it’s more convenient for me. I’m happy with this setup because I feel it’s the best of both worlds. Purely software feels a bit sterile over time and purely hardware isn’t practical imho.
I like to think that my music has a hardware heart but a software brain. If that makes any sense.
I think @TheTeknomage is the most hardcore hardware-only guy we have (and still gets great tracks out of it). He should have some input.
I only use my hardware for inspiration basically, I take the musical or patch ideas and recreate them in software and do my music that way. But initial ideas usually come out of noodling at my synths for half an hour or so.
I’ve been giving serious consideration to a hybrid approach, with a PC strictly for audio and sequencing and a Tascam FW-1884 or FW-1082 audio interface/console to control it all. That’s kind of how I had it for a couple of years before going fully ITB.
I really want to go with a fully loaded Roland VS2480 and a pair of V3100 Pro mixers (connected via RBUS, each one for an MPC2000 and S3000XL or similar sampler w/8 outs), but getting one with all of the fx cards and meter bridge is fairly pricey. In my mind, totally worth it, but still expensive. The Tascam interface would give me the tactile control surface for recording and they’re pretty damned cheap these days 'cause nobody seems to want anything with FireWire anymore and they’re not supported with newer OS’es (which is not a problem for me, I’m more than happy to slap together a C2Q XP machine just for recording)
Still debating a lot of things, but the only thing I’ve really settled on is buying an MPC2000 with all the goodies and an S3000XL or fully expanded S2000.
Sounds cool man : ) Most of that gear is out of my wheelhouse so I don’t have an opinion really.
I started off with software, but being a hands on kind of person ended up first getting a groove-box. Got a Korg Electribe 2, but found it a bit limiting with only 4 bars. Picked up an old RM1x, which although not as immediate as the Electribe, but blew the Electribe out of the water as far as sequencing is concerned. During that time I picked up a Korg Prophecy, a Roland JV1010 and a MS20 mini. Then I had the problem that you can’t block midi to the separate channels in the JV1010, which is a problem when you only have 1 midi out. That prompted me to getting a Yamaha QY700, which is now what all my sequencing is done on: 32 tracks and 2 midi outs and ins. Midi channel B goes to the JV and A to a quadra thru to whatever I’m using for that track, usually the MS20, Volca FM and Su200.
These go to 2 mixers. A little Behringer Q502 usb, which is connected to my computer, so I can listen through my headphones. This also has the outs from the QY700, if I’m using the onboard engine, and either the Volca FM or SU200, if I’m using them at the time. My clean mic signal if I’m doing vocals, or the MS20 if I;m not. This is currently going out via a Zoom CDR 70 effects pedal to my other mixer; a Boss BX 600. The Prophcey, Micron and effected vocal out come in at this point. The BX’s send is currently going to a Boss VF-1 processor.
This then goes to a Zoom R8 recorder. I record in one take as a rule, even if I’m doing vocals. This can take some time on vocal tracks, until I’m happy with the vocal. I work this way because I feel that the track just seems to gel so much more. I don’t use EQ’s or compressors except on vocals. To me it’s about sound choice, levels and panning.
That’s the long and long of it I guess.