I have ProTools, Logic etc etc - mostly arrangement in Logic and 'band' recording, mixing etc in ProTools.
Equally at home in both apps.
I have a room full of hardware synths and stuff and was never satisfied with how they integrated into the DAW environment so mainly used plug ins for writing arrangements and maybe swapping out the plug in with a hardware synth for mix down (ie. using the programmed MIDI in Logic).
Some of my favourite music is early OMD, Yazoo, Berlin etc - the combination of sparse analog and simply sequenced music with or without added real time overdubs (either on synths or guitar, bass and then adding vocals).
If you have a listen to this type of music it is quite economic but sounds fantastic.
Quite a small number of tracks used but very effective.
Trying to get this sort of sound using a DAW with plug-ins is possible but not that easy, that is why I have recently hooked up all my hardware MIDI stuff with the aim of making music out of the box with less options and more focus on the music and 'sound'.
To start with I have hooked up my Yamaha QX3 MIDI, Yamaha RX5 drum machine and Nord Lead 3.
The RX5 and the Nord are sync'd to external clock from the QX3.
The QX3 has 16 MIDI tracks which are easy to record on.
I can sync the arpeggiator on the Nord to the QX3 and record all MIDI events, filter sweeps etc etc.
Events for each MIDI track on the QX3 can then be edited.
Drum patterns can be written on the RX5 and chained into a song which will play back in sync with the QX3 (so you aren't using up note data on the QX3). Of course you can do the same thing on any other MIDI drum machine which in my case is a TR909 which runs nicely in sync with QX3 also.
I'm running all the audio outs to a basic 2U 16 channel rack mount mixer which has high and low EQs and FX inserts (hardware FX units plugged in) and that goes into my 003 audio interface to be monitored in a DAW. The idea is to use the DAW as a tape recorder to put down the final arrangements as audio only then mix in the box (and add additional real-time keys, real guitar, vocals etc). No MIDI in the DAW. I'm looking at MTC or tape sync to get everything in time when it comes to tracking. Several of the devices (RX5 and 909) have individual instrument outputs which I'll take advantage of when tracking so I can keep each part separate (helpful for remixes, edits etc).
I'm just getting started with this set up but it sure is fun and it forces you to use the limitations to create some cool sounding music (well, if you like sequenced electronic music that is).
I do do have a bit of vintage gear but I'm also using modern hardware (like the Nord Lead 3) in conjunction with it.
My only question is how much data I'll be able to get into one song on the QX3 before it runs out of memory.
A song only has 24,000 events so I'll have to be economical.
I do have a Roland MV30 which is more in depth so I could end up using that instead.
Some people find step programming or event editing on tiny LCD screens a chore but I grew up doing that so its no big deal and can be effective. It depends on what your doing.
With this type of set up there is quite a bit of note keeping - patterns used, working out measures, trying to instigate programme changes into the MIDI set up of songs for each module so you don't have to manually set them up each time on power up... It's no big deal compared to the SOUND you get - it's just awesome!
So here's the set up I'm putting together which will be used together or parts of depending on the song I'm working on.
• Yamaha QX3 sequencer (16 tracks with floppy drive)
•*Roland MV30 sequencer (16 tracks with floppy drive, built in LA synth module with 2x factory sound bank cards)
• Korg S3 drum machine/8 track sequencer/sound module
• Yamaha RX5 drum machine with all four factory WRC ROM carts
• Roland TR909 drum machine + MC64 cart
• Roland MKS80 + MPG80 + MC64 carts
• Yamaha TX1P Piano module
• Yamaha TX802 module + RAM carts
• Yamaha KX88 master keyboard
• Yamaha DX7IIFD
• SCI Prophet 5 Rev 3.3 + MIDI
• Roland Juno 106 x2
• Roland Jupiter 4
• Casio CZ101
• Korg SDD3000 Triple Delay
• Roland A-80 MID controller
• Korg T2 EX
• Nord Lead 3
• Roland XV3080 expanded
• Korg Triton expanded
• Lexicon MPX 500
• Focusrite compressor
• MOTU Midi Timepiece AV 8x8 MIDI port
• MIDIMAN Midisport 8x8 MIDI port
So this stuff is all going to be connected up in some form or another.
Might sound like a lot of stuff but the idea is to keep it simple - think, if you were in the studio in 1982 and only had 8 or 16 tracks to use with minimal FX how would you go about making a song?
This is not about having endless tracks in a DAW, a gazillion FX and plug-ins - that negates the purpose and the ideals of using hardware.
Some people will say - why bother?
The answer is all about the sound and the feel which is sometimes only achievable with a hardware setup.