Went OTB - and then ITB again

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
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KVRAF
2715 posts since 24 Oct, 2000 from A Swede Living in Budapest

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 1:03 am

I know this is subject is like the sweetest nectar for the ITB/OTB-Talibans out there, so please contribute in a constructive manner.

Is there any of you who decided to go OTB just to recognise how convenient the world of ITB is, and you decided to go back? I'd love to hear your story on how and why.

Personally I've been torn between the OTB and ITB worlds for quite some time. There are things that works extremely good OTB and ITB. For example, the results I'm getting of using the Elektron Digitakt far exceeds the results I get when using Live or a drum sampler like Geist. And on the other hand, I bought into the Softube Console 1 hardware a couple of months ago - and although it sounds great and the hardware controllers are fantastic, I feel the hardware itself adds an extra layer of complexity that I really don't care for. I work quicker without the controller.

Personally I think certain things works better ITB, compared with OTB - and vice versa. And of course, personal preferences/workflow etc. But I'm curious to hear about other people who decided to jump on the OTB bandwagon just to feel things became too complicated for their workflow.

/C
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KVRAF
5752 posts since 22 Jan, 2005 from Sweden

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 2:24 am

Beginning millenium I used hdd portastudios after a long break starting my business in the 90's. Before that cassette portastudios in the 80's. Last 15 years using daw computer.

I went hardware for piano, organ and a couple of synths and that is going nowhere, really pleased in taking this route 10 years ago. Guitars and bass also hardware, which is part of music fun for me, being better at instruments. eDrums as well.

So many generations of my mixes getting better at each instrument redoing takes.

I recaptured the portastudio idea early this year and looked at a couple of solutions for sequencing and mixing.
- Tascam Model 12, 16 and 24
Rather neat and has all I need apart from automation when rendering.
Better quality electronics than their portastudio DP-series which is also reflected in double price tag.

- Akai MPC X
Seems really nice in everything as a standalone solution. Screen is ok and I could get a way with that. Only thing I missed was proper eDrum support directly, so prepared a bit by updating my eDrum module, DTX700, to have one with both midi in and midi out, and pretty good ability to load own samples too(4 layers).

If my windows 7 daw computer break, that is my path most probably. But might have a look at Tascam what is latest from them.

Tricky part was to get rid of computer for monitoring video, which is part of what I do also, then making music for that. So probably will use an old windows 7 laptop for that, and run MTC sync out.

But would surely miss computer as daw too, having 2 x 27" screens and that workflow is hard to replace. VST synths and stuff is lesser of a problem, I will do just fine with my external synths I have. You can always get a midi module if needed, but Kawai piano has some orchestral stuff and choirs etc.

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KVRAF
2397 posts since 13 Jun, 2014

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:02 am

Currently hybrid. Nothing beats analog synths for messing about with, but ITB for recording and using effects makes for a nice workflow. I use a tiny pocket PC (yes they exist) which connects to my mixer and records with effects and it's a far more pleasurable experience than being purely ITB or purely OTB for me at least.
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KVRAF
5934 posts since 9 Jan, 2003 from Saint Louis MO

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:03 am

DrGonzo wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 1:03 am
Personally I think certain things works better ITB, compared with OTB - and vice versa. And of course, personal preferences/workflow etc.
That's how I feel about it. I went from ITB to hybrid, with some mis-steps and learning along the way, and I love the current state of my setup.

To me, simple hands-on hardware synths, and modular synths, are great and inspiring.

Small digital hardware synths with menus etc. generally are not worth it -- VST plugins have a better interface.

FX pedals seemed like more of a hassle than they were worth compared to VST FX too. In fact the last straw was using Red Panda Particle 2 by controlling it via MIDI using Bitwig... I asked myself what the point was. (That said, Tensor was very cool and I kind of miss it.)

Also I found I could almost exactly imitate hardware spring reverb (Koma Field Kit FX & some 3-spring tank or other that I don't recall) using u-he Twangstrom, to the point where in A/B tests I couldn't figure out which one I was listening to.

I can't imagine the expensive rack of compressors and EQs it would take to imitate what I can easily do with plugins, and messing with tape doesn't sound like fun to me anymore.

I like using out-of-the-box sequencers. Make Noise 0-Ctrl. Modular combinations of gate and CV sequences that can be generated independently and processed. Really simple hardware sequencers and arpeggiators. Parameter locks like on Model:Cycles and Medusa. That's all good stuff and I enjoy it more than a piano roll -- which I will admit is better for more traditional composition. I tend to combine looped sequences with drones and manually played parts in an improvisation, though.

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KVRAF
3191 posts since 27 Mar, 2010 from UK

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:34 am

Personally whilst I love the otb experience. Workflow and producing in the box is much more fluent and adaptable.
No otb midi and audio syncing headaches and a tidier workspace.
That being said it's good and I do enjoy using the external Synths but tend to mixdown or capture to audio and finish the tracks itb.
Particularly on the mixdown it saves a lot of time and hassle.
That being said I am still looking to mix and mute externally for that tactile intuitive response to a production so either midi controller, adapting maschine for cubase mixer trigger or routing the fireface audio to an external mixer and back again. We will see 🙏😁
So a hybrid is my favoured response.
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KVRist
359 posts since 17 Sep, 2020

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:47 am

Been there done that... I only use a few bits of outboard gear today.

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KVRAF
21938 posts since 7 Jan, 2009 from Croatia

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:55 am

Great thread!


I mix the two. I've a bunch of synth racks some of which are just not available ITB (Yamaha FS1R, Korg TR-Rack, Roland JD-990, Microwave II, Kawai K5000R, Ambika) or if there's something close to it, it's not nailing IT.

Not to mention having a real analog synth (in my case: MKS-70, Neutron, MonoPoly and MS-20) is tons of fun and the unexpectedness factor can yield some really awesome results. Of course sometimes it can be just the opposite, but hey... it's all an adventure.

AnX
KVRAF
10147 posts since 17 Nov, 2015

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:03 am

Hybrid, best of both worlds.

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KVRAF
11372 posts since 26 Jun, 2006 from San Francisco Bay Area

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:16 am

I was OTB forever because the ITB tools really weren’t mature. I know some people love trackers, but they’re not for me. In the mid 00s, I saw a guy do an audio looping performance with a laptop and Möbius. I’d been waiting for the developer of the Looperlative to make good on his promises and that was the final straw. I returned the hardware looper (not sure if it ever got proper MIDI sync) and bought a laptop. I was using that laptop like a hardware looper and I was running into issues. I finally realized that my issues were because I was trying to keep a workstation keyboard the heart of my setup when it really just didn’t make sense. Making the laptop that was running Live and Möbius the heart was really the way to go.

Around that time, my wife and I decided to start saving for a house. Our lease was ending and we started looking to move to a one bedroom to save money. A friend talked us out of that and we bought with no money down (kind of stupid) and moved into a place where I had plenty of room for a studio. So, I did what any red blooded gear fan would do and slowly started replacing my discarded hardware…

But not really. My trip into Pluginlandia taught me that the VA and ROMplers that I got rid of were really not worth replacing. Instead, I noticed that true analog instruments seemed to have character that I wasn’t getting with my plugins and that I found to be really nice. I started with a DSI MoPho, but within a month I added a Studio Electronics ATC-1.

Now I have 10 hardware instruments (not including guitars and a keyboard that I use as a controller) and that feels about right. Each one was chosen because I liked the sound a lot and it was different from what I could do with a plugin. Say what you will, but I don’t feel like software has perfectly nailed certain aspects of analog synthesis. Are they as good? Sure. In ways they’re better, but for some sounds I find it really best to use an analog or a hybrid.

TL;DR: Hybrid studio’s the way to go. Choose each tool that’s best for your purpose.
Zerocrossing Media

4th Law of Robotics: When turning evil, display a red indicator light. ~[ ●_● ]~

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addled muppet weed
86091 posts since 26 Jan, 2003 from through the looking glass

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:34 am

neither in, nor out, the box is just a tool. don't let it define you!

Banned
393 posts since 13 Jul, 2021

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 6:46 am

Strictly ITB here. The workflow is superior in almost everyway compared to OTB. The value is better. And personally the audio quality is better in my experience. I would never go OTB.

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KVRAF
11372 posts since 26 Jun, 2006 from San Francisco Bay Area

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:04 am

It’s funny, people talk a lot about the value of the ITB workflow, and I agree it is much easier and a faster way to work, but for me I find that the friction I get from also using hardware is exactly what’s needed. It’s like the sand that’s the catalyst for a pearl.
Zerocrossing Media

4th Law of Robotics: When turning evil, display a red indicator light. ~[ ●_● ]~

KVRAF
29969 posts since 11 Apr, 2010 from Germany

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:11 am

DrGonzo wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 1:03 am
I know this is subject is like the sweetest nectar for the ITB/OTB-Talibans out there, so please contribute in a constructive manner.

Is there any of you who decided to go OTB just to recognise how convenient the world of ITB is, and you decided to go back?
Kind of. If you count owning a hardware synth for a week plus, and deciding that you vastly prefer software workflow. ;)

Happened to me with Waldorf Blofeld. Pretty awful waste of space, menu diving to program it, and the need for cables across the table. Especially when I compared it to Largo, it became very evident that I prefer to operate and handle software.

Some polyphonic analog with one control per function, that would be a different thing I guess (OB-6 would be nice candidate). But, I wouldn't want to part with so much money for that.
Plugins and a DAW. On an operating system. Which runs on a computer.

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KVRAF
11533 posts since 7 May, 2006 from Southern California

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:43 am

I went the other direction. I started working in a commercial studio but when I switched to working freelance, I couldn't really afford a hardware studio. So I started building DAW computers for local musicians/studios and taking on more jobs I could do completely within a DAW. I ended up putting a lot of hardware in storage when I couldn't afford my lockout space any longer and actually started to enjoy the ability to finish a project within my computer.

It didn't take long before I started to miss the hands-on aspect of working with hardware but I still wasn't in a position to buy a lot of recording gear, so I got into synths and stomp boxes. After we bought our first house, I figured it was time to expand the studio again, since I had the space, so I invested a lot in outboard gear and started taking on more tracking gigs again. Now in my second home, I have a dedicated control room and a second room where I can drag a stage box, so I can tracks drums and pretty much anything else. I recently got an old 24 channel 8-bus console and took my HD recorders out of storage, so I can also do location sessions. It's basically the same setup I had when I had my lock out space but now it's mobile.

It's tough to go completely hardware these days. I still transfer stuff from the HD recorders into my DAW for editing and I've yet to actually do a mix with the console (though I'm kinda itching to do it for some reason) but it's nice to have the best of both worlds. Working with hardware is often not as immediate as working with software but there is something I like about that. I tend to be much more deliberate and exacting, if I know there is no 'Undo' option. It's also a lot of fun to play in front of a wall of controls and flashing LEDs. :D

KVRian
1000 posts since 30 Jun, 2014 from Pacific NW

Post Thu Jul 22, 2021 9:11 am

chk071 wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 7:11 am
Some polyphonic analog with one control per function, that would be a different thing I guess (OB-6 would be nice candidate). But, I wouldn't want to part with so much money for that.
It's worth it :D

My music making was all software for around 20 years (ok I did take a break in there). I then decided to try hardware, and bought, over the course of 2 years or so: Roland SE-02, then an OB-6 desktop, then, finally, so I could turn the screen off if I wanted and also have drums, a Digitone. None of them have a clone (yet?), so they're all flavours of things you can't otherwise get, with an interaction model with no equal in software.

My 3 hardware synths and 3 effect boxes are all routed through my audio interface and require the PC to be on. I'm definitely in the "hybrid studio" camp, using all software, all hardware, or, most often, a mix.

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