I like it simple. I want it complicated. No screen. Small screen. Big screen. One do it all box. Lots of specialized boxes. Never touch a computer. Computer integration. It better be portable. The bigger the better. I like to make it do things it is not built for. Etc…
My self analysis…
It better have a screen. I think my biggest problem with the Novation Circuit is lack of clear feedback to tell me where I am.
I love complicated. The joy of Elektron is the ability to dial in a note to do exactly what I want and then throw in some probability. … yet …
Keep it simple. Why force a Digitone to be a drum machine when you have a TR-8s? I respect people who can and who do. I even watch their videos, but that is not me.
A new instrument is like a vacation. I love to explore and learn. If I cannot go to the beach (500 miles away) I can sit on the back porch with a new instrument and have an adventure. I’m talking anything from a Beat box to a harmonica.
You seem to have a bunch of grooveboxes.
Do you work on one groovebox at a time?
Or have you found yourself using more than one simultaneously?
Hardware is great. Software is great.
With hardware, I try to work with one machine at a time (maybe two).
The hardware box has to offer some type of unique character, feature, or sound. Or workflow. Unique doesn’t always equal complicated (Novation Circuits for example).
But with all that said, I can do just about anything and everything (and more) with software that I can do with hardware. Therefore, the hardware really has to offer something special.
I know that ANY sound I can make is possible without hardware at all.
Just with a computer and a daw, modular software or programatically (if that makes sense…).
In the end all >I< can do ends as file. Thats why.
But what I can’t do on the computer alone is faking the idea of particular instruments. The interface to it, the thought how to play it.
Thats the difference for me.
It just connect more. The process of patch building in a way it’s meant to be, and finding own ways to abuse that is what makes hardware interesting for me. I need to stick to that instrument at least for a time and learn to love or hate it. It’s something that does not work for me on a computer alone.
I’m a hybrid buddy, I sequence and build patches on hardware, sample on hardware, etc., but in the end i multitrack everything into the daw and do there the secret sauce.
You wanted to know!
I’ve recently discovered just how much more immediate and interesting patching analog CV is compared to digital midi. And it’s way more accurate for clock, for example. So, that’s my hardware theory right now: make sure it has CV.
I’m inclined to agree.
CV is way less bullshit than MIDI, if sometimes a little more complicated to set-up.
I just don’t think I can go back to boxes that rely on setting a tempo via a menu or whatever anymore. I’d rather have an LFO or oscillator or triggers clock a patch with immediate results at the turn of a knob. Everything intertwined. Love it.
When I squeeze in an hour or two of music, I don’t want to be menu diving the whole time. Devices like Model Cycles and 404sx may be limiting, but the immediacy of their workflow and distinct character make them a joy to play. Minilogue XD with it’s CVs is a fun experience when paired with Maths.
On the flip side, this means the OT and Zoia don’t get the same love. The more open ended a device’s purpose, the less fun it is for me. There’s a big disconnect when I start fiddling on a computer. Choice paralysis. I tried to go fully dawless, but can’t arrange without a timeline.
I want flow state, and the fewer decisions I can second guess along the way, the better. More live record and motion sequencing, less menu diving and preprogramming.
If the workflow gives me a result I can’t get as quickly in software, and it feels like there are few barriers / little friction to get from artistic thought to audio output, I use it.
It doesn’t negate software’s usefulness, however.
kind of all of the above…? it’s good to have a mixture available to you and change things up when you’re really not feeling connected with other gear. maybe you need a simple, focused synth to get the sound you’re after. maybe you don’t know what you’re after and need something deep and flexible. maybe you’re tired of the track you’re working on and need an open ended break to just make noise with the modular. etc… variety is good for your sonic palette and your brain.
but overall my hardware philosophy is that it’s all I use. my DAW is a tape machine/mixer/finalizing effects unit.
Lately, I want tools that are focused and intuitive. I got rid of my CL stuff for a number of reasons, then when things settled down I picked up some more “brainiac” stuff, which I had no fun using and sold.
I’m kind of regretting it, especially Plumbutter, but it’s just gear.
Having fun with an acoustic instrument and monome norns loopers recently though, so I really don’t need anything else.
So I just don’t like
Constant menu diving
A surplus of things
I like a mix of both cv and midi, synths and sampling, simple and complex.
What I don’t like is overly fiddly stuff, or stuff that depends on a computer to use - I’d never buy something like a Push no matter how capable they undoubtedly are.
I can’t stand flaky midi clock (or flaky CV/trigger clock for that matter) no matter how good something is, if it can’t sync with my other gear it is dead to me.
I think a lot of gear is crammed too full of features without enough emphasis on usability, and increasingly as time goes by and more gear passes through my hands I vastly prefer focussed gear, like Elektron stuff.
Not too into using a computer more than I have to, but this is mainly to do with my impatience with bloated and badly written desktop operating systems, and a lot of the stuff I want/need to use won’t run on linux. But for editing audio files, backups of my gear, etc I have to use a computer, but never for anything to do with creating/composing, got no time for that.
over the years i’ve realized that i absolutely have to have instant recall of everything…
so anything that allows that is the #1 priority… but because i have literally hundreds of sketches in various states of progress, i like to be able to specifically associate a saved preset with that sketch, so things with only like 16 or 30 presets (guitar pedals etc) i end up not using…
my brain absolutely cannot deal with the idea that i won’t be able to go back and continue something with the PRECISE sound it started out with…
I would’ve been terrible in the full analog era…
So anyway something like Overbridge is the best of both worlds to me, as long as it’s supported…
A lot of my use of Elektron gear was pre OB and these days it interests me so much more because without OB i would just have given up on incorporating them into my workflow.
i also like things with randomization, because almost everything good i do is stumbled upon in some way, rather than going from my head as a preconceived notion into the final product
it should sound good.
and be fun to use.
Develop a relationship with an instrument that can both lead and follow your expressive instincts in the moment.
I like hardware. But I don’t have much of an issue with software other than the fact that my computer is old and bad. I have no problem with using the Modal app for my Skulpt from time to time, for example.
I prefer to have only one sequencer running. Right now I’ve got two set ups kind of running in parallel. I’ve got my Digitone controlling my Skulpt and my old Uno synth, as well as my Sampletrak. The Skulpt and the Uno are going through the Sampletrak for fx (mainly the filter) and then to the Digitone. One thing that’s nice about this is that the tempos of the arps don’t need to match the Digitone’s tempo. I really like what I can get out of this little set up. Pretty much all of the samples on one of my last projects, 64, were made with this set up (along with the Modal Craft synth).
I’ve also got my Digitakt controlling my Novation Circuit Rhythm, which I’m using as a module. When I’m just trying out a sample I’ll use the Circuit’s sequencer but l would rather go through the trouble of doing all the weird parameter locking of cc messages to just run the Circuit from the Digitakt than try to run both sequencers.
I like the combination because I really like the sound of the low pass on the Rhythm. And you get not just the per track filter but a master filter. I did my last project, just called 02/22 Beats, with this set up. I think it came out really nice.
But yeah, the Rhythm’s great to just pull out of that and take to the couch. And I really like exploring the Digitakt on its own. I’d like to be able to make something I like on just the Digitone but I’m just not capable at the moment.
As for the screen no screen thing, I think as long as the instrument is well made it’s fine. The Digitakt’s menus are just about perfect to me. The Circuit doesn’t have and doesn’t need a screen. Although, the option to have values displayed when dialing in parameters would be great.
Gear is fun.
Hardware = fun
Software = work
(but is necessary to finish a track at the end of the day)
I want “playable FX”, both in groovebox modulation/p-locks and knobby devices for additional delay and reverb. The Zen Delay is working well for me, I’d like to pick up a super-colored tube spring reverb at some point. For integrated processors/filterbank duties, looking into the Overstayer Modular Channel and Euterpe Vertice to handle.
I can partially “mix” EQ per track with Elektron base-width filters in patterns, so that’s really keen.
The only thing I’m missing is a knobby mix-bus EQ. But saving up for a Manley Massive Passive is going to take quite a while.
I feel like a lot of my philosophy is built around using a DJ mixer. Synths I like complex with stereo output, screen is needed, menu diving only for mod matrix and some other fiddly bits… I don’t mind (actually kind if like) some archaic features that force me to learn some odd methods and put my mind in a different space but I also need it to be somewhat modern (Waldorf M is a great example of this). Midi is a bit of a must as I like sending patch changes via midi. Sampler/sequencer I kind of prefer a sort of medium level of complexity, Digitakt and M8 fill those needs very nicely and after I learned the “time stretch” tricks I actually prefer the type of control it gives compared to a real time stretch. 1 synth 1 sampler and 1 fx is more or less my preferred set up for actual compositions.
Then I also like to have a more experimental area that I sample/make loops from but currently my space basically only allows a bit of stuff set up in this area. Wish I had more space for this, currently it’s the syntrx + what ever various thing I am wanting to explore with it.