Went OTB - and then ITB again

Anything about hardware musical instruments.
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KVRAF
19891 posts since 3 Feb, 2005 from in the wilds

Post Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:05 am

A couple things I like about OTB instruments.

With hardware I can invite some friends over and each person can take an instrument and we can have fun together. ITB is intrinsically a solitary affair when all the instruments are on a computer which only one person can use at a time.

OTB is flexible to just use one or a couple things this afternoon. I can take for example the Digitone and Analog Rytm and spend the afternoon making a composition on just the two of them with nothing else turned on. ITB it is kinda all or nothing. To do anything, I gotta turn on the computer, and then everything is on.

KVRian
856 posts since 8 May, 2018 from Sweden

Post Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:10 am

For me, a hybrid setup is the most inspiring, although working completely ITB would be more efficient.

I like playing around with hardware synths and tweaking knobs, but I couldn't imagine having to manually hook up and unplug instruments, effects boxes etc., depending on what I wanted to do. Each synth goes permanently into its dedicated input on the audio interface and into the DAW, where I can add, remove and route audio channels and effects using drag and drop. I also find actually arranging a song much easier in the DAW, on a proper computer monitor where you can easily visualize everything.

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KVRAF
2388 posts since 13 Jun, 2014

Post Tue Jul 27, 2021 6:34 am

foosnark wrote:
Mon Jul 26, 2021 4:47 am
This weekend I just released my 21st album since 2018
That's amazing man. Better than most of us who are complete time wasters and don't finish anything.

:clap: :tu: :tu:
<list all your stupid gear here>

KVRist
36 posts since 16 May, 2021

Post Fri Jul 30, 2021 11:11 am

I am mostly ITB but play a lot on hardware synths. I've played in bands for most of my musical life so hardware synths/keys are home to me. Earlier this year I wanted to try going OTB with a Tascam DP24SD portastudio, but man was I mistaken. Turns out I love writing sketches in Cubase, using low-CPU synths and piano sounds, arranger track, editing ideas in the piano roll and practicing them, quantizing them when I want to write the next part without practicing the first (often lose my flow if I need to practice what I just wrote the first thing I do).

I really like the sound of my HW synths, especially the analog Moog Grandmother & Korg Prologue. I also love the tactile feel of HW controllers like my Intellijel "Planar" joystick module. Sometimes I'll improvise on synths or whatever, but I generally just don't write well when I "jam", not alone neither with people. So I imagine I'll be stuck in Cubase, recording, editing, rerecording, and so on. It's a wonderful life :)

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KVRAF
19891 posts since 3 Feb, 2005 from in the wilds

Post Fri Jul 30, 2021 11:21 am

I spent a bit of time looking for a DAW alternative in hardware, but all that showed me was (at least for me) computer and DAW is just so far superior. For recording/sequencing I will always be ITB.

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KVRist
169 posts since 25 May, 2012 from Sunny Philly

Post Fri Jul 30, 2021 2:31 pm

pdxindy wrote:
Fri Jul 30, 2021 11:21 am
I spent a bit of time looking for a DAW alternative in hardware, but all that showed me was (at least for me) computer and DAW is just so far superior. For recording/sequencing I will always be ITB.
There is no real daw alternative in hardware imho….Im dawless for the most part but Id be lying if I said it was anywhere near as easy or as flexible as a Daw. I dont see how hardware will eversurpass it as long as your finger is the means of entering information via a screen versus a mouse.

I still prefer the experience but you kinda have to force yourself at first

Nrt
KVRer
9 posts since 1 May, 2007

Post Thu Sep 02, 2021 8:53 am

Only outboard processor I have is SSL bus comp. I want to remove it as soon as I can find software alternative.

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KVRian
1330 posts since 6 May, 2005 from Michigan, USA

Post Thu Sep 02, 2021 10:13 am

Those who are having issues with computers pestering/derailing you with updates need to get used to just keeping recording computers off the internet. Then nothing can phone home, find out there's an update and start hounding you about it. The only time I have software pestering me about an update is once every 3 months when my iLok licenses need to refresh. Other than that, it only sees the internet when I've heard about a cool update to a plugin and CHOOSE to update it, or when I install/authorize something new. Think of your computer as fixed system like hardware except when you deliberately decide to change something.

I'm hybrid atm, btw. But I find myself increasingly losing patience for learning the ins and outs of a new hardware instrument. Plugins are often easier to figure out intuitively without having to RTFM just to do basic things.
http://www.davidvector.com
New album, Chasing Fire, out now on Amazon, iTunes, etc.
Bandcamp: https://davidvector.bandcamp.com/releases

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KVRAF
19891 posts since 3 Feb, 2005 from in the wilds

Post Thu Sep 02, 2021 10:27 am

Vectorman wrote:
Thu Sep 02, 2021 10:13 am
Those who are having issues with computers pestering/derailing you with updates need to get used to just keeping recording computers off the internet. Then nothing can phone home, find out there's an update and start hounding you about it. The only time I have software pestering me about an update is once every 3 months when my iLok licenses need to refresh. Other than that, it only sees the internet when I've heard about a cool update to a plugin and CHOOSE to update it, or when I install/authorize something new. Think of your computer as fixed system like hardware except when you deliberately decide to change something.
And don't be in any hurry to update stuff. I let updates wait for months on my main audio machine.

I have a hybrid setup... I find for grooveboxes/drum machines, hardware just works better for me. When I say works better for me, I mean ending up with sonic results I am happier with and with less effort. I also have a few analog synths that I love the sound of... for example the Matriarch which just effortlessly sounds good. I am still always using some softsynths and recording is always in the DAW.

KVRian
991 posts since 25 Feb, 2008 from Sydney, Australia

Post Thu Sep 02, 2021 11:05 am

I have a yammy aw4416, with an ad-8 card, that I pair with a Roland mc80ex.

It's old school, but it's great when you want to go otb, which I do less and less these days.
The aw44 can take 16 inputs at once, so all my synths are jacked in, and can be recorded simultaneously, whilst being triggered and sequenced from the mc80.

I got a few half rack units to round it it all out (an mu90 and a 05wr)... plus an s2000 that I got for peanuts. All controlled from a Yamaha V50, and the mc80

Truth is, it all works great as an "OTB DAW", but the aw44 has no waveform editing, and the mc80 has a list editor, and some basic file commands, but no piano roll.

It takes some real discipline for me to complete a mix on that rig, and I usually fill up the tracks, as I'm writing or whatever, and then eventually dump them all into pro tools.
Prestissimo in Moto Perpetuo

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KVRAF
6886 posts since 7 Sep, 2006 from Roseville, CA

Post Thu Sep 02, 2021 7:18 pm

I’ve been hybrid for 20-ish years. I come from a performance background (bass/keys) and playing instruments is where I find most joy and inspiration when writing music. Also, my day job requires me to be tethered to a computer most of the time, so it’s nice to disconnect when I’m making music. But, the convenience and efficiency of the computer and soft synths and effects can’t be beat.

I have generally tended to split the duties evenly between hardware and soft synths. Lately, my hardware synths are being used for the majority of my tracks in each song, but I’ve made a handful of songs over the years that were completely/mostly ITB. I can’t recall the last time I made a song completely OTB.

My current hardware setup consists of my Prophet Rev2, Moog Slim Phatty, and my trusty ole Kurzweil PC3X, which is my main composition instrument (I usually start with just piano improvs). But, I’m also on the verge of buying another mono synth to fill that one annoying empty input on my interface, probably a Moog Minitaur, but also eyeing an Arturia Microbrute 2S or Roland SE-02.

Pick Me Pick me!
8973 posts since 12 Mar, 2002 from a state of confusion

Post Thu Sep 02, 2021 8:20 pm

I'm not a music performer or instrumentalist. But ITB allows me to be a lot more musically robust than I could ever be with hardware. Quantization, Multi-layered sequencing, automation all help and is easier on a big screen.

Plus I have projects that are 8+ years old that still load perfectly today. That's what I enjoy about plugins in a project file ITB. As long as you still own those plugins the projects seem to just work indefinitely. What to do a remix or a remaster in 20 years? you probably could bring up those old projects pretty easily. Couldn't easily do that totally OTB.

If I was using hardware, I'd have to render to wav, save paper patch overlay thingies, hope the hardware still works.. potentially dork around with timing and phasing issues too. The ease of editing that's found ITB is something I greatly value.

I tend to work with many, many layers so financially doing this with hardware would be unrealistic. Not to mention the organization of housing all the necessary hardware.

I don't even tweak synth patches a whole lot anymore. For many years that's all I did (that and waste time yaking it up here). Then I realized I wasn't making music, I was just making presets and noodling (big waste of time). Now I mostly use presets and actually write songs. I'm satisfied with this.

I just ordered a Korg Wavestate though. I think it will be more an inspiration machine than anything. Quite frankly I'm not sure how it will fit into my workflow at the moment. Maybe it doesn't have to and can just be it's own thing on the side.

The one big plus to (most) hardware is the tactile aspect. Physical controls in a dedicated interface can make interaction more pleasing. OTH, if you're like me and have no intention of live performing, a midi keyboard and a computer mouse can go very far in music production (control - wise).

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KVRAF

Topic Starter

2664 posts since 24 Oct, 2000 from A Swede Living in Budapest

Post Thu Sep 02, 2021 9:43 pm

Nrt wrote:
Thu Sep 02, 2021 8:53 am
Only outboard processor I have is SSL bus comp. I want to remove it as soon as I can find software alternative.
I thought SSL bus compressors were in absolute abundance in the software market. Never been much into SSL to I can't comment on the quality of the software emulations, but they can't all be bad can they?

/C
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KVRAF
12577 posts since 22 Nov, 2000 from Southern California

Post Thu Sep 02, 2021 10:08 pm

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GRRRRRRR!
12339 posts since 14 Jun, 2001 from Somewhere else, on principle

Post Thu Sep 02, 2021 11:24 pm

DrGonzo wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 1:03 am
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.
I'm that stupid. Even after 20 years of hardware misery, a few years ago I thought about getting a full hardware rig to use live. At one stage I think I had 9 hardware synths. The plan was to keep using my PC as a sequencer but for all the sound to come from hardware. What a f**king nightmare!!! I kept at it for a few months but eventually gave up, having not come close to getting even one song sounding anywhere near as good as the ITB versions.
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.
I've never experienced anything even close to that. No hardware I have ever owned has come within a bull's roar of the kinds of sounds I can get out of my softsynths these days, except maybe Ultranova. 10 years ago it would have been a close-run thing but today there is no comparison - softsynths romp away from hardware in pretty much every way.

I still love the hardware I've kept - Uno, Uno Pro and Rocket - but I don't for a minute kid myself that any of them are as good as the sub-$50 softsynths I use every day. It's a different experience but, ultimately, it's a much worse one and if we didn't play live, I would have got rid of all of it by now.
egbert101 wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:02 am
Nothing beats analog synths for messing about with
I never found that to be the case at all. The freedom we all have ITB, to undo 100 steps back if we need to, or fire up multiple instances of the same synth and go crazy with it all, gives us a freedom to experiment that no-one ever had with hardware, and especially not with classic analogue hardware.
EvilDragon wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 5:55 am
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.
Just the thought that software's purpose is to "nail" the sound of very average hardware is just about the dumbest thing I've heard this week (and we're in lockdown, so I've heard a lot of dumb shit this week). Especially given the instruments you've listed. I had a K5000R and I didn't think much of it at all. It stands as one of the poorer hardware buying decisions I made. I'd rather use Tyrell N6, thanks.

But I go the other way (of course I do, darling) and none of my hardware can come close to sounding like ArcSyn with 384 detuned saw waves or the massive squelchy fatness of a JP6K bassline. Ultranova comes close with some things but it doesn't get anywhere near for others. And those are just cheap, middle of the road VSTi. I can't imagine any hardware getting close to the sounds you can easily get from ANA 2 or some of the more impressive presets in DUNE.

The thing is, assessing one thing on it's ability to sound exactly like the other thing is a fool's errand. It's setting them up to fail from the get-go. I do it for practical reasons - to try and find a hardware synth to play on stage that will be able to sound as good as the softsynth we used on the recording. I'd never want it to sound exactly the same, that would be boring, but I'd like it to sound as good. Mostly I end up having to live with "good enough" or, more often, I end up playing the softsynth with my Rolis.

To make a blanket assertion that software isn't as good because it can't sound exactly the same as a line-up of pretty average, mostly digital hardware is just ridiculous on the face of it.
vitocorleone123 wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 9:11 am
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.
What an absolute load of bollocks. I could replace all that with freeware and be way better off. I have no doubt you prefer to work that way but that doesn't make it better in any way, shape of form. And there is certainly nothing special about any of those instruments that you couldn't do more easily and to a higher standard ITB. It's like saying "Diva isn't DUNE, therefore Diva is bad". There is no logic to it.
elxsound wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 9:46 am
I definitely enjoy the freedom of not needing to look at a screen for things
WTF!?! How is looking at a computer monitor any worse than looking at some low quality, monochrome LCD screen in a hardware synth? For that matter, how is it worse than looking at a hardware interface that doesn't include a tiny screen?
pekbro wrote:
Thu Jul 22, 2021 11:55 am
I use both and a mix. One thing about ITB for me is that it tears up my body, using a mouse, sitting in front of the screen for hours generally leaves me a physical mess.
It's interesting to hear you say that because I was about to write the exact opposite. When I worked in hardware, a long Saturday afternoon session would leave my back and neck aching for hours, even when I was in my 30s, because with a hardware set up you are always leaning over it and looking down. Now, in my 60s, I can sit in front of my laptop and work for a whole day without even the slightest problem, even with the shitty ergonomics on my boat.
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