I’ve often wondered whether using hardware for sequencing/synthing/sampling would allow me to make better music.
The abundance of options in software is daunting. By using a dedicated hardware box, I feel like it would force me to perfect simple ideas, rather than allowing me to make needlessly complex (and poor sounding) tracks. Its like I always add stuff because I can, rather then because it makes the song better.
Plus, in my experience, I tend to enjoy electronic made my hardware more. All the classic electronic albums I love (from autechre, aphex twin, squarepusher, boards of canada) were all made using hardware. When these artists started using software, they lost some of the charm and soul from their older works.
Would hardware help with this, or is it just more trouble than its worth, and is it just a matter of using software more effectively?
If you do your research you can find that some analogue gear can sound better than the DSP versions. Big commitment financially, especially if you’re going to bother with getting high end digital converters and preamps to capture it all anything close to ‘professional’ quality. It may be all worth it if you know what sound you are after.
But, I know guys with lots of ‘toys’ and not much output or productivity. You can have the same ‘endless choices’ problem with hardware.
Perhaps then it could be a matter of asking the question ‘what is getting me stuck with the mental process of creative work?’. The answer may reveal that you may be able to create wonders with strictly digital means but be guided by sure directive and efficient means of achievement. In sum, it may not be a matter of tools, but a matter of inspiration and vision. Define the aim and rest will follow.
I’m a growing hardware enthusiast - great input sounds cut out a lot of headache time in the mixing. Be prepared for lots of research.
For me at least, hardware helps to get away from the screen and take in a wide view of the whole composition.
I feel the concept of trying to perfect a simple (or complex) idea is a trap. What I mean is that the problem I run into when I only use computer software is that I get the idea that I can tweak something enough to make it work and it’s really when I take a step back and just let the music happen that it works the best and I get the results I’m the most satisfied with. If I’m not happy with the way a song comes out in the end I try again, maybe reusing parts of it, rather than overwork things to make it “perfect”.
So, while I’m sure a person could work this way using only software, for me, it’s easier and more enjoyable not to even try.
On the other hand, if you aren’t prepared to get started with hardware it can be a pain with all the functional stuff you have to get like an audio interface and so on. Still, a lot of decent late 80’s + early 90’s hardware is pretty cheap and with the tools available in Renoise you can sample them and create unique sounds.