Hybrid or dawless

Hi guys,

I am faced with a difficult choice. I make Techno with a DAW, first with FL Studio and for a while now with Ableton. This is going well. An EP is coming soon. (which is made with the Digitakt the sketch then) I bought an Ableton Push a year ago, because I missed turning and the buttons. because I come from the DJ side. The Push was fun, but it didn’t do much and slowed down my workflow. Then I bought several Korg Volcas, the Sampler and the FM. I sold both of these and bought a Digitakt. I like this one very much and I make a lot of tracks with it, which I then finish in Ableton. Now I doubt: whether I will buy a Groovebox with it I doubt. Do I stay with Elektron and buy the Model Cycles or the Digitone which fits very well and I have 4 synths in Principle , FM then or do I go to the Akai Force which is basically a daw in a groovebox, or the MPC Live ditto and (Portable) or Pioneer SP 16, which also appeals to me from my DJ background. the other option is that I will buy a Synth with it, such as a Korg Miniloque for Pads and Chords and a Mono Synth as the Bass station 2 for leads, and Bass, and other sounds then I control these with Midi from my Digitakt and have more instruments I now only use soft Synths. Or do I sell my Digitakt and go for a new groove Box like the one above and then expand with synths. For example, I also find Portable useful and I don’t really want to sell the Digitakt either. Or do I buy the Push 2 again, and go completely on Soft Synths now, which I have quite a bit of, and buy a hardware synth later. I also want to see if I can set up a live set instead of a DJ set.
tricky dilemmas. what would you do and why?


My first advice is: Walls of text are not easy / fun to read :grinning: - line breaks could help

Hybrid > Dawless always.


Do what you want to do


If you like abelton, then why not try a 2nd hand force, i would keep the digitakt for creating unpredictable loops. Best is to work only with 2 pieces of equipment. (2 arms /hands) Better to save for the gear you actually want instead of compromises. Cheap gear is better to travel with, its also a factor.

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If the Digitakt/Ableton Hybrid combo works for you well…why change this?
Dawless is just a hype. Don´t fall for the Zeitgeist.

I am all with djadonis…do what you want to do…and if i may add…give a shit what others do.


My two thoughts are:

  1. I get why some people do “all Elektron” setups since the work flow is the same. But Elektrons all lead me down the same kind of creative paths so I don’t like to have too many at one time. I would get something that isn’t Elektron, personally.

  2. The SP-16 changed my life. For hybrid setup where one is starting tracks on hardware and finishing them in their DAW, I like it 100% better than the Digitakt which I was previously using for the same task. I also bought the SP-16 because it has DJ Link and will sync up with my Pioneer CDJs.

I have the SP-16 setup so I can sample my softsynths from my DAW into it, sample from my iPad, sample from my other. Its great. Then it renders the whole arrangement separated into 16 tracks to wav files I load up in my DAW.


Just also gotta say… live is more than a DAW. It’s in the name


Digitone and Digitakt in a hybrid system is a great compact system. Can’t go wrong because you’ll have all the building blocks to produce techno. The Digitone is a beast of a synth.

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I swear I’ve seen this thread a few times before :thinking:

Warning :warning: title contains a “trigger word” :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


Here’s how I generally go about making music.

DAW: live musician tracking, arranging, mixing and mastering

Hybrid: writing, tracking and arranging

DAWless: rehearsing, writing & live performance


One of the difficulties in answering these questions for me is, all of the permutations offered sound perfectly fine for music formulation, creation, and performance.

I would immediately dismiss that one way is superior to another as some have done above - ie that dawless is a fad or DAW is intrinsically better than something else. This assumes everyone creates and performs in the same way, or that all music should be judged by what the person making the claims thinks is the ‘correct’ way of doing things for everyone else.

I have 2 separate stations in my humble bedroom studio. One is a DAW and the other is Dawless. I have one Elektron machine hooked up to each among others. I can easily hook up the two stations together if needed, and can freely transfer sounds and stems between them depending on my needs.

I can create and perform on either one.

Having used a DAW for a long time, I can say that I love having a dawless setup that uses a Digitakt in conjunction with one of the dawless option mentioned in the original post. These days the DAW becomes a way to feed the dawless setup with most of the finishing happening dawless, utilizing the DAW if I can’t accomplish something the dawless can’t.

This goes back to why answering these questions is so hard. I could just say what works best for me is what must work best for you. But, that would be me assuming I know what is best for you, or that you must create exactly like I do. That, creatively, would be dreadful and uninspiring.


I was dawless for 15+ years then went totally ITB.

For me, nothing can beat the power of the DAW, as there are pretty much infinite possibilities. Groove boxes are fun though and their specific workflows often lead to things you would never conceive of in a DAW. I think it all comes down to what you are trying to accomplish and what you enjoy using. Different setups have their own color/timbre as well.

I’m actually planning on sort of a “reverse” hybrid setup with the new SP404mkii. Essentially, instead of making stuff on the groove box and then bringing it into the DAW to finish, I’m going to start ideas in the DAW, then throw it into the SP to do different arrangements. Hopefully combining live instruments as well.

For me personally, I need simple setups. For groove boxes, I like to just have one box, and really don’t do well with sequencing loads of gear. If I had tons of space and time I might feel differently.

Part of the reason I’m going this new route is that with the state of the world these days my wife is doing a lot of Zoom for work, so she often needs to use the office space where my DAW is setup. With the SP, I’ll be able to work on stuff wherever and whenever, and it looks easy to get stuff on and off of it. Plus, it’s designed to accommodate instruments as well. It’s gonna even be great for quietly practicing guitar and bass, and almost reminds me of a little multitrack.


Hybrid or dawless?

The eternal question. Impossible to answer as it’s an ego trip rather than a serious dilemma. The term ‘dawless’ is a monstrosity. MPCs have been doing most of what DAWs are doing now since the 80s. If you want to make serious productions without a computer, get an MPC. If you love the Elektron workflow, get an Octatrack. Or use all of them together.

What matters is you’re happy with your music. I wish you all the best in your journey.


Thanks everyone :grin:

using DAW for arrangement stage.
then using another DAW for mixing/mastering good takes (recorded OTB).
but my overall workflow is live performance-oriented, that’s why it is what it is.

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I don’t use a daw. But not because of some idea, but because I’ve simply found a workflow where I don’t need it, that fits with how my brain works.

If I came across a daw that was wired the way I am, I’d use it.

Idealism and concept have no place in these discussions. Try lots of tools. Be sensitive to the ones that seem to work with you, not against you. Use those tools. No matter which ones they are. Only you know which ones those are.


You’ve kind of answered yourself in the first sentence.

If you make Techno with a DAW, play Techno live with a DAW. Easy. :expressionless:

I think a laptop, a Push 2 and a USB capable DJ mixer would be the way I’d go, and I think it’d be as capably powerful as you would ever need.

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Use an iPad

Using software doesn’t mean you have to be using a DAW.