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From software to hardware

Anything about hardware musical instruments.

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raikard233
KVRian
 
780 posts since 14 Apr, 2004, from Rome

Postby raikard233; Tue Mar 18, 2014 4:45 am From software to hardware

Hi guys, i'm thinking about switching from software to hardware synths, the main reason is about my everyday job, i stay in front of a monitor all day long and when i get back home i don't want to see any kind of monitor and mouse.
The same on weekend, i'm so saturated about computers that i would use it only as audio recorder.

About hardware i would like some advices from you, i really like modular stuff, in software i'm comfortable with stuff like ACE and Bazille, virtual modular, so i tought to start to build an eurorack grid.
But you know, probably eurorack could start to be an endless tax that will never finish and there are a lot of modules to choice from where will come really difficult to choose the right configuration out of the classic "Vco-Vca-Vcf".
I was watching also the Elektron stuff, like Analog4 and Octatrack, but i don't know if it would be better to start through the modular stuff or the all in one boxes like Elektron.
Or aslo single synths like the Arturia Brutes or new Rolands stuff.

I know that's a subjective topic, but any advice, ore better opinions and point of views, are really welcome!

Thank you!

:)
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KrisM
KVRian
 
811 posts since 25 Aug, 2009

Postby KrisM; Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:24 am Re: From software to hardware

well, you could sequence a modular with the Analog Four's CV track, or the Octatrack if you get a MIDI to CV module. The Microbrute can also be used to play/sequence a modular, and it can act as an extra set of modulators to patch in, too.

My main piece of advice is to buy one thing at a time, learn it well, and decide what else you want/need from there. Obviously with a modular this means a modest number of modules, don't just sit there with a VCO shrieking at you lol.

I will also say that the Octatrack is a ninja assassin of audio. If you gel with it, there is little you cannot do with it. If you hate it, of course, then that won't matter. But I love my Octatrack and Monomachine (and OP-1). Over time the Octatrack has taken over several duties that other gear took care of. It's now my drum machine, sampler, effects box, centerpiece, at times a wavetably sort of synth, and when I had things to sequence it was my MIDI sequencer, too.

Obviously hardware also gets really expensive really quickly, even just buying a bunch of older used synths. An Elektron box, while expensive, is hard to beat on shear versatility if you're into 'groovebox' workflow.
Meh.
lfm
KVRAF
 
2725 posts since 22 Jan, 2005, from Sweden

Postby lfm; Tue Mar 18, 2014 6:50 am Re: From software to hardware

I watched this pet for a friend while he was traveling in the 70's:
http://www.vintagesynth.com/misc/synthi.php

The patchbay approach is really nice to join modules.

So a eurorack - and maybe a fully programable floorboard like guitarplayers use nowadays, where any stompbox can be in sequence with another - and switch config with a stomp.

I would find it amusing to work in this way - virtually no limits.

To do it this modular way and try out the Karma FX synth modular is pretty cool.
http://karmafx.net/

I know it's computer and screen, but for trying out modules you really need.
ghettosynth
KVRAF
 
3832 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Postby ghettosynth; Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:12 am Re: From software to hardware

The actual sound sources don't matter as much as the work flow. What kind of music you want to create will really help to refine the work flow. I would seriously suggest trying to make a transition with something like maschine or push. I find that I can work for a long time on push without looking at the computer.

If your music is more traditional, consider just going with a workstation.

I used to do a lot with just treating my studio as a modular music machine. I'd combine cv/gate and midi to connect a bunch of old and even older gear to create live music machines. It can be fun, but, it's pretty much a one shot deal because it's never the same the second time. You don't really need a full modular to do this, just stuff that has enough sync and i/o options.

I agree with KrisM in that you should add pieces slow, I would say "integrate" pieces slowly. But, I strongly advise you to think about workflow before you buy even the first piece. It's way too easy to waste money on hardware.
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do_androids_dream
KVRian
 
928 posts since 26 Oct, 2007, from UK

Postby do_androids_dream; Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:20 am Re: From software to hardware

ghettosynth wrote:It's way too easy to waste money on hardware.


But the cool thing is that hardware generally maintains most of its value so selling pieces on is always an option.

@ the OP. Why don't you go for something like a korg MS20 mini to start with so you can have both fixed and modular architecture in one synth? It will whet your appettite and give you a feel for the workflow. I personally love hardware - it gets my creative side going much more so than moving a mouse on virtual knobs.
Professional online mixing and mastering at very competitive rates.
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ghettosynth
KVRAF
 
3832 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Postby ghettosynth; Tue Mar 18, 2014 7:30 am Re: From software to hardware

do_androids_dream wrote:
ghettosynth wrote:It's way too easy to waste money on hardware.


But the cool thing is that hardware generally maintains most of its value so selling pieces on is always an option.


No, it does not. Some hardware retains much of it's value, some hadware even appreicates, but not all hardware, and certainly not even all analog hardware retains "most" of its value. If you think about current trendy stuff and you think in terms of less than a year or two, it's not too risky.

But that's not the point anyway. It's not just expensive in terms of money, it's expensive in terms of time. I still have a ton of hardware from back in the 90s when there was little choice. I keep a small analog setup next to my computer monitor, but, workflow with that is still difficult and it's integrated fairly well into my setup.
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do_androids_dream
KVRian
 
928 posts since 26 Oct, 2007, from UK

Postby do_androids_dream; Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:18 am Re: From software to hardware

ghettosynth wrote:No, it does not. Some hardware retains much of it's value, some hadware even appreicates, but not all hardware, and certainly not even all analog hardware retains "most" of its value. If you think about current trendy stuff and you think in terms of less than a year or two, it's not too risky.


Well it certainly retains more value than software! I don't buy much hardware brand new but pretty much everything I've picked up on ebay and subsequently sold has turned a profit for me! Of course, I don't about other's experience.
Professional online mixing and mastering at very competitive rates.
Web / Soundcloud
raikard233
KVRian
 
780 posts since 14 Apr, 2004, from Rome

Postby raikard233; Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:29 am Re: From software to hardware

ghettosynth wrote:The actual sound sources don't matter as much as the work flow. What kind of music you want to create will really help to refine the work flow. I would seriously suggest trying to make a transition with something like maschine or push. I find that I can work for a long time on push without looking at the computer.


Yep, i already have Maschine, and it's the only thing that bring me away from the monitor, but for more "deep" programming you have to go with the vst gui's, also to program the knobs assign... so, at the end, always the computer is needed.

Actually i've an AN200 and a SammichSID as hardware tools, but both, to be fully edited, needs a software editor (XGWorks on XP for the AN200 and CTRLR panel for the SammichSID).

I'm more into classic electro stuff (Dopplereffekt, Drexcya, Aux88) and detroit techno, i know that tools aren't the makers of the music, but you know, some are more suited for specific purposes, i think that i could spend too much time to make an electro track with a yamaha workstation than a more dedicated machine.

I understand that the main thing is the workflow, and that's what i'm searching for as i'm tired of the computer based workflow.
I like cables and wires, so the modular options is surely a way that i'll get, but i don't know if that's better to start directly with modulars or the all in one boxes.

From your comments, that i appreciate and i'm grateful to, i have a picture where i read that would be better to start with a little box and then, slowly, adding pieces around.

Tought about the Octatrack as central unit to use for sampling (as you said with modulars gears you'll never get the same sound a second time), sequencing and tracking.
Then start to add tools around it, like a modular build piece by piece.

Thank you all for the advices!
raikard233
KVRian
 
780 posts since 14 Apr, 2004, from Rome

Postby raikard233; Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:35 am Re: From software to hardware

I'm quite fascinated also by this drum machine:

http://www.sonic-potions.com/lxr
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vurt
addled muppet weed
 
33595 posts since 25 Jan, 2003, from through the looking glass

Postby vurt; Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:45 am Re: From software to hardware

find a music store or local musicians who are willing to let you test their gear, test stuff out before you spend a penny!
yes the stuff you buy may retain its value, but who wants a lump of disappointment sat there waiting to sell it. it could end up putting you off.
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do_androids_dream
KVRian
 
928 posts since 26 Oct, 2007, from UK

Postby do_androids_dream; Tue Mar 18, 2014 8:49 am Re: From software to hardware

raikard233 wrote:I'm more into classic electro stuff (Dopplereffekt, Drexcya, Aux88) and detroit techno, i know that tools aren't the makers of the music, but you know, some are more suited for specific purposes, i think that i could spend too much time to make an electro track with a yamaha workstation than a more dedicated machine.


Now you're talking :D Detroit techno and most other syles of electro and techno are my bag - this is the style that I make too. Tools may not be the makers but with this kind of stuff I think it's pretty darn important. Just look at when A Guy Called Gerald or Aux88 started using Reason - they did not sound the same at all... the less said about that the better or I will start yet another debate :D (yes i know that is a 'sound' issue rather than workflow...). Specific purpose tools for this style of music are, in my opinion, paramount to actually producing tunes rather than faffing about with hundred plus parameter synths with infinite possibilities. Believe it or not but the main two tools for my music are a Korg Volca Keys and a Korg Monotron. Their sound and their restrictive nature are what makes them so great to work with.
Professional online mixing and mastering at very competitive rates.
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ghettosynth
KVRAF
 
3832 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Postby ghettosynth; Tue Mar 18, 2014 10:01 am Re: From software to hardware

raikard233 wrote:
ghettosynth wrote:The actual sound sources don't matter as much as the work flow. What kind of music you want to create will really help to refine the work flow. I would seriously suggest trying to make a transition with something like maschine or push. I find that I can work for a long time on push without looking at the computer.


Yep, i already have Maschine, and it's the only thing that bring me away from the monitor, but for more "deep" programming you have to go with the vst gui's, also to program the knobs assign... so, at the end, always the computer is needed.

Actually i've an AN200 and a SammichSID as hardware tools, but both, to be fully edited, needs a software editor (XGWorks on XP for the AN200 and CTRLR panel for the SammichSID).

I'm more into classic electro stuff (Dopplereffekt, Drexcya, Aux88) and detroit techno, i know that tools aren't the makers of the music, but you know, some are more suited for specific purposes, i think that i could spend too much time to make an electro track with a yamaha workstation than a more dedicated machine.


No, absolutely, I was probing to figure out where you were. If you said that you were into progressive rock then the suggestions would be completely different, and, well, not really in my wheelhouse.

I understand that the main thing is the workflow, and that's what i'm searching for as i'm tired of the computer based workflow.


Which parts of the workflow? Do you want to be able to sequence an entire linear track with a hardware sequencer? Or, are you comfortable creating the basic "looped" flow with hardware and then editing on computer, or, do you want to "jam" the track switching between patterns on the hardware sequencer, and if so, are you, again, ok with editing on the computer?

I've never got on with doing an entire linear track in a hardware sequencer even when the sequencer is fairly well designed, e.g. RS7000, and so I've always gravitated towards the latter two modes. I "try" to produce techno/house, (think 90s definitions of the words, not what people call house these days), and I find that jamming it works fairly well except for trying to get some builds and transitions right. So, I'm happy with a workflow where I jam the basic track which captures the feel of "the moment" and then editing/producing more detail on the computer.

When I used to play out live I started out with the 909 pattern/midi clock synced to an alesis MMT-8 and my tracks were largely composed from those independent sequencers along with an ARP1613. The 909 would do all of my drums along with using the midi sequencer side of the 909 to trigger a simple phrase sampler and the MMT8 would play an MKS50. The trigger out of the 909 was patched to reset on the ARP so that I could affect the timing of the analog sequencer with the drum sequence. Simple tricks like that are amazingly useful for getting more variation out of a simple live hardware setup. The arp would sequence a system 100/102 expander. So, my entire sound was 909+System 100 Bass+MKS50 chords+Phrase sampler all feeding a Mackie 1202 with reverb and delay and a micro-compressor on the output. That was it.

I later moved to doing two separate (and different) setups, clock synced, on either side of a DJ mixer which allowed me to do DJ tricks with the crossfader and also made cueing the next track/phrase simpler. I played a few gigs with 909+FR777 on one side and JD800+MMT8 on the other.

So, yes, tools matter a lot. You can see that, for the music that I was doing, I chose synths that specifically catered to the styles that I'm into, but that was the easy part, getting the workflow right so that I could deliver what was expected was the hard part.

Back then, I recorded to tape because multitrack DAWs were still expensive as hell. This was back when SAW was the only cheap choice and cheap wasn't cheap and was only four tracks. So any big builds or drops had to be done in the sequencer or live, but, expectations were simpler. Today, everyone knows that you have access to a DAW, so you can't get away with the simple tricks that you could then. That's why I'm asking how much of the computer you're willing to give up?

I like cables and wires, so the modular options is surely a way that i'll get, but i don't know if that's better to start directly with modulars or the all in one boxes.


I do too, but, let me say this about modular setups, cables get in the way of the "live performance" analogue workflow. I have a diy modular built in frac rack. I like it, but it is nowhere near as useful as my System 100 stuff. Not because the System 100 stuff sounds better, there are definitely cases where that isn't true, but because the system 100 stuff isn't too tightly packed, and because it's semi-modular.

Semi-modular gear is the best compromise for real time analog workflows. For most of the things that you do the basic routing is already there and you don't have a bunch of cables in your way. When you need that extra thing here or there, a few cables gets it done. IMNSHO, the microbrute is one of the best values available today. That tiny little patch bay up in the corner with a couple of eurorack modules will give you a world of variation. I also like the Future Retro XS, I don't have one, but I do have an FR777 so I'm familiar with how Jerod builds things and I think that the XS has nice features.

That said, another thing about semi modular gear is that where the jacks are makes a lot of difference. I use them less on the FR and more on the System 100 because on the System 100 they are on the front of the cabinet. The microbrute is a real winner here because not only are they on the front, but they are out of the way of the knobs. When you're in the groove, little things like this matter much more than you think that they would.

Also, people get caught up in the modular complexity thing. There are dozens of youtube videos with people doing pointless noodle jams that sound like shit. You don't need dozens of sound creation sources and modifiers. A basic modular that is nothing more than a minimoog in a rack with jacks will give you a huge sonic palette. What you do need is modules that help you create interesting timing variations. Things that give you triggers on 1/2/4/8 bar counts that you can connect to interesting percussion synths, or have interacting with your other analog sequencers. The ARP 1613s go for a mint and yet they are very simple. Part of the reason is that they are like a semi-modular analog sequencer with a few fantastic choices that make them great for introducing a lot of interesting variation.

I think that they're overpriced and part of this is driven by collectors, yet, building similar features into a small modular sequencing environment could really contribute to your workflow.

Anyway, I hope that you find this helpful and, by all means, let's continue to chat about what makes a good analog/techno production setup.
ghettosynth
KVRAF
 
3832 posts since 13 Oct, 2009

Postby ghettosynth; Wed Mar 19, 2014 4:42 pm Re: From software to hardware

codec_spurk posted the link to this article. It discusses several points that I've been talking about and that makes me wonder what people think a hardware workflow looks like today, whether live, or in the studio?

http://www.monolake.de/interviews/supercomputing.html

This development changed electronic live performance in significant ways. The more operations that a computer in the bedroom studio was able to carry out, the more complex the musical output could be, and the less possible it was to re-create the results live. A straight techno piece made with an Roland TR-808 and some effects and synth washes can be performed as an endlessly varying track for hours. A mid 90s drum&bass track, with all its timestretches, sampling tricks and carefully engineered and well-composed breaks is much harder to produce live, and marks pretty much the end of real live performance in most cases. To reproduce such a complex work one needs a lot of players, unless most parts are pre-recorded. As a result, most live performances became more tape concert-like again, with whole pieces played back triggered by one mouse click and the performer watching the computer doing the work.


I guess if you're making music that only you care about, 909+303=track isn't dead, but if you want to sell records, times have changed and computers have changed the expectations of how EDM should evolve.
rod_zero
KVRian
 
576 posts since 28 Jan, 2011, from MEXICO

Postby rod_zero; Wed Mar 19, 2014 6:19 pm Re: From software to hardware

Go elektron, start with a4.
dedication to flying
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Solum
KVRer
 
8 posts since 23 Mar, 2014, from Switzerland

Postby Solum; Sun Mar 23, 2014 12:32 pm Re: From software to hardware

Why not go mixed? Changing to only hardware will have certain impacts on your workflow and also probably on your music style. I use hardware and software at the same time. I do my beats in Maschine and most of the other sounds come from hardware synths. I used hardware drum machines in the past but got away from them as you are quite restricted. I never reached nice results when mixing drums from software and hardware and so I decided on software. But for sounds and synths it`s the opposite, I like the results more with hardware and love to have direct access through a real panel.

I also use a hardware sequencer for some synths that gets the clock from the DAW. This works well for me.
When it comes to effects I love the UAD stuff and therefore need a system running over a Mac or PC.
Youd need to find a systems that works best for you and so you wont get around experimenting with different setups. As others wrote above buy one nice piece of hardware and see what kind of change it brings to your studio. And from there decide in what direction you want to head.
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