Making music with computers may seem easy and affordable option for everyone. I got my first computer back in late 90s and it definitely changed my world. I didn’t pay attention to analogue gear at the time because I couldn’t even think of affording it as I was still a kid. So a computer, with all the early software, digital synths and drum machines was all I could ever need. I didn’t know any engineering tricks back then, so all I did was – write stuff, bounce to audio, set the levels accordingly, add a little effect here and there – done. No compression, no EQ , no hi-pass filter. And I was happy with the process and results. Until years later the market became full of different DAWs, uncountable options for the best synth plugin, best compressor, best everything. Naturally you want to try everything out. So with time computers became biggest distraction when making music on.. well.. computers. It’s so difficult to pick up the best plugin and stay away from hundreds of other best options. I ended up trying to be too technical, wanting to make my digital mixdowns sound analog. Instead of focusing on expressing ideas, I would just spend days and nights on unnecessary stuff and feel guilty for wasting my time afterwards.
I had to come up with a different way I could enjoy making music again. Therefor I have turned into the world of analog hardware. If I’m about to spend some money on legitimate software, I might as well buy real things. This obviously mean, I would have to deal with a lot of cables and all this mess, not being able to fit all my studio in to one laptop bag, but I can live with that. On the other hand, being limited with my instruments and sound palette, I can get more creative, and I like this sort of challenge. The good part is – I don’t have to spend hours and hours on my mixdowns as everything sounds good enough already. A little EQ boost or cut here and there, simple delay or reverb on couple of channels, and it’s done. Need to twist a knob on a synth? Takes only a second. Need to add distortion on those drums? Just turn up that gain knob on a mixer. Computer serves me only as a sequencer to control all my gear via MIDI, and that’s more than enough. It doesn’t even have to be the best computer in the world, it can be something from the past era. All the gear doesn’t cost much either, especially if second hand.
Writing a progressive house track or EDM tune would be impossible the way I have my studio running, meaning I would need 40 to 80 channels of audio. Mixing it all down would be a nightmare and one month’s work at least. But I am not interested in that anyway as this is already commercial music territory that has very little to offer in terms of interesting ideas. Good things are simple things.
The biggest advantage of a hardware based studio is the sonic sound characteristics that I was never able to achieve while working exclusively with software. At the end of the day, it’s all down to a personal taste and workflow. There are many ways you can have a hybrid set up and use both worlds equally. To me it’s all about the joy of a creative process.
I hope you can relate to a degree. How do you feel about computers taking a creative focus out of the way? Perhaps on a contrary, you think all the gear is a waste of space and money? Do you struggle with that? What is your story?