For as long as I can remember, I’ve been a hardware synthesizer kind of guy.
I started making music in the late 80’s and early 90’s when computers were just not capable of the sorts of DSP magic we see today. In fact, beyond MIDI sequencing, computers were not of much use. In a MIDI based synthesizer rig like mine, I didn’t even deem it neccessary, and I actively resisted giving up on my various hardware sequencers.
That was then.
For about the last 10 years or so, its been very possible to work completely inside the box while composing. Everything from sound design, sample capture, arrangmeent, mixing, mastering and even publishing can all be done inside one box. It is also amazingly convenient to do so, since you can just load a single file in your DAW instead of having to take notes and reset dozens of devices back to a prior state.
But still…I resisted.
I love my hardware synthesizers. I love the way it feels to play an instrument that has a case and controls purpose built for the synthesis engine inside of it. I love exploring their nuances and tweaking them to get just the right sound. And I love, love, love, my modular synthesizer. It’s a playground for electrons, and I get to build the rollar coasters. Working with it is a joyful, almost meditational, experience.
But something is wrong. While I’ve got a room filled with hardware, I haven’t actually recorded a single sound from any of it in almost a year.
It all started a few years ago when I adopted Propellerheads Reason as my new DAW. The convenience of that environment coupled with it’s flexibilty have completely changed my workflow. It’s gone almost *completely* inside the box. As I’ve gotten to learn how to really use Thor and NNXT, it’s slowly become just more of a chore to work with anything outside the box. I may *play* with my hardware, but almost exclusively compose inside of Reason.
Considering my signficant investment in hardware, what does this mean? Should I sell off all my gear and just work with my iMac and a controller? Is that really the future?
At this point…no. I can’t see myself giving up that which I worked so hard to build. My instrument collection is more than a composition tool for me, but something I can look at that I feel I’ve earned. Maybe that’s a little weird, but it’s how I feel about it.
Back to composition.