With Behringer’s attack of the clones marching onward, along with plenty of other cheap gear, the affordable synth world has suddenly become an embarrassment of riches. My question these days is becoming less “what can I afford to own” and more “what do I need to pass on?”. The answer to this question will obviously be different for everyone, but I thought it’d be interesting to hear when people feel enough is enough. When flexibility and endless options begin to hinder productivity.
Personally, I’m trying to decide if I want to add Behringer’s soon to be released MS-101 to my setup. With a Digitakt, Access Virus, and Model D working in tandem I feel there’s not much I can’t currently do. However, the possibility of selling my Keystep and using the Roland clone as my controller seems too tempting to pass up. Why not have two legendary mono synths and a Virus working as a trio? It would certainly be fun, but I may also end up spreading myself too thin. The Digitakt alone is enough to keep me busy until the sun comes up, and there’s surely some overlap between the Moog and Roland sounds.
What works (or doesn’t work) for you?
Great question. If you have to think about it, it might be too much.
Everything you listed can do anything you want.
For me its excessive once I have more than 1 piece of gear doing a function. The ideal for me would be one Poly (harmonies), one mono (lead or bass) and then something for drums like a sampler or drum machine. If I have to ask “What should I use for bass in this track” then its past that point for me, others might be different but I work best when I have a setup in which every piece serves a purpose or function, just how a bassist in a band plays the bass parts while the drummer plays rhythm and maybe a horn player or singer might play the leads.
Thats why Id actually recommend you checking out the Deepmind if you wanted to add a synth with a keyboard to control stuff. You have the virus but between a Deepmind and ms-101, your setup could use a deepmind more.
Well, let’s put it this way. I justified the purchase of Novation Bass Station II and a Cyclone Analogic TT-606 through rigorous mental gymnastics in the past few months. They are both great pieces of gear, but I’ve been using my Reface CS, Machinedrum, and Digitone for most of my tracks for the past few months. I feel bad now purchasing them, especially when they get minimal use since I purchased them.
This lets me know I’ve hit a limit on what I need. If the stuff is not getting used, it’s time to stop the GAS. Given, these new items I have will get use, they just haven’t fit into many projects recently.
Furthermore, I’ve completely ran out of
- physical space for any more gear
- power outlets to plug them into
- mixer channels / inputs on gear for audio
At this point, more gear for me will make things much more difficult / complicated for numerous reasons. Time to dig in to what I’ve got!
From a musician’s point of view as long as you can take something away and still achieve what you want to it‘s excessive. Of course from a gear fiend‘s perspective things look a lot different.
When hoarders ask you to be in the next series.
if something is collecting dust, and you can’t remember the last time you used it, it’s probably too much
The point where it stops you from being creative.
More and more I’m feeling ashamed of my setup which previously made me proud. I make close to no money at all, but still I can afford this tabletop filled with synths and stuff which I rarely use for anything worthwhile. I’m a rich 44-year old kid with expensive toys.
The way I read your question is different. Way I see it:
If you want to pass anything on (to your kids one day) make sure it works 20yrs from now. It aint gonna be a Behringer…
This is generally a good philosophy for any physical possession. If you haven’t even touched it in 6-12 months, do you really need it? I cleared a bunch of stuff out early this year with that mindset, and it was actually quite liberating. Of course, I turned around and got some more gear, but from a more focused perspective at least.
I think a this topic is a good springboard for something that is rarely talked about or even acknowledged in ‘this thing of ours’
The financial impact.
Like a poster above I too have learned the hard way. At one point I had 3 akai mpcs, one akai s3000, a huge Yamaha mixing desk with hs80 monitors and various controllers, accessories, interfaces etc have came and went.
When I look back at the money I spent i think about the following.
I was wreckless at one stage. Owning a Mpc 2000 xl for its hip hop bloodline and not to make music with, while having a maxed out mpc 1000 was silly of me.
I didn’t prioritise my money as I should have been. I remember when I was buying my dj setup (pioneer CD-Js and DJM6000 mixer with stand. All in about £3000. I worked my ass off, didn’t socialise, neglected my relationship, didn’t spend a penny unless I absolutely needed to. In the end when I bought the equipment I actually felt quite hollow.
One good thing is I have cut down the gear to be as minimal as I can. These lessons learned have made me think and behave differently.
And still trying to make sample based hip hop with a digitakt, novation circuit and a Volca fm lol.
Feel exactly the same way. No desktop space, no more mixer audio routing options without upgrading this part. You hit a point where selling what you have is the only way to clear space for something else.
I hate endless options. I haven’t bought any gear in 4 years, not since I completed the trinity.
…when you have all this gear you never turn on.
IMO only when you either run out of dedicated synth space, or can’t make music because you can’t decide what to use. (or both)
As long as you’re the type that can compartmentalize and choose functional subsets of gear then you can’t have too much.
I’m personally somewhere in between. I like a focused setup, but can also choose a subset if needed. Honestly though if I have too many things sitting idle I will consider moving some on. It kind of bothers my brain otherwise.
My criteria has shifted from “will this sound cool” to “will this give me immediate musical results”. I’ve been through the phase of buying cool sounding gear that didn’t actually encourage me to make music and I just ended up jaded and p*ssed off that the focus had shifted to the gear rather than creating sounds and tunes.
I’ve ended up selling a bunch of hardware (mixer, sampler/sequencer, synths and FX) and going back to Ableton + Push for more immediate, recall-able results. I’ve kept only the hardware that either:
- helps me get musical ideas into the computer quicker than using the equivalent ‘in the box’ tool (for me that’s my Sub 37, MachineDrum and Boog), or
- makes sounds that software can’t (for me that’s grungy BBD delays and distortion pedals)
- promotes ‘serendipity’ by creating sounds I didn’t set out to find (for me that’s my PitchFactor, DIY modular FX, and an iPad loaded with ApeMatrix and a bunch of AUv3 plugins).
Since I took this approach I’ve been far more productive musically, which IMO is the ultimate goal of any setup.