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Working with hardware and software - How do you do it?
Old 1 week ago
  #1
Here for the gear
 

Working with hardware and software - How do you do it?

I know everyone has a different work flow but I would love to hear some insight on how others work when it comes to half hardware half software. Constantly switching from in the DAW to outside the DAW.

I always end up asking myself when working on a track, "Is there a better way I can do this?".

Typically I record everything separate. I first start off with the drum machine programming a full beat with all its parts. When I create the beat I like, I solo each instrument on the drum machine and record them individually (Kick, claps, hats etc).

I move onto the bass with another instrument and so on so fourth. Sometimes I use software for some certain sounds and other times hardware.

For the most part I find that it works but there are times where I feel that I am butchering my work flow more than I should be.

Anyone care to share how they work when it comes to this type of situation?
Old 1 week ago
  #2
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chaocrator's Avatar
me: recording OTB, mixing / mastering ITB.
that simple.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Nut
 

for me it's mostly mono synths and percussive sounds otb. then i'll add poly synths in my daw and additional drums and samples if needed .

i used to only use software effects but found adding a guitar pedal much more immediate and inspiring to alter along side my synths in real time as i make things so with my hardware synths i'll often use hardware effects too
Old 1 week ago
  #4
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rasseru's Avatar
hybrid mixer

save FX and mixing/mastering VST chains, bounce lots of stuff down to audio/freeze tracks so I can clean up and get zero latency for when using hardware and put the heavy CPU stuff back in when im mixing or listening

press buttons on hybrid mixer to swap between hardware inputs and ITB outputs

dance a lot
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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There are so many ways to go about it, the vast majority of which are "also right", but here are some thoughts that affect how I work:

* try to keep separate the related and often overlapping tasks of Jamming, Capturing Basic Ideas, Arranging, Tracking, Editing, and Mixing.

For instance - consider only capturing the main gist of a Drum beat/groove before moving onto your Bass or Lead parts, this way you are less prone to get mired in the details too soon. No need to "finish the Drums" before moving on to Bass, nor even a need to Track them right off, etc.

I find that when I don't keep the tasks more separate, my details in certain parts are better but the whole track doesn't gel together as well, because I've left less room for the whole track to evolve by doing too much too soon.

Further, with respect to Writing, Arranging, Tracking, Editing, and Mixing the Drum parts... I often just work with a stereo Scratch Mix of the Drums while I'm working on other parts. I often don't bother actually Tracking individual Drum Parts until I'm ready to track everything.

This example highlights, IMO, one of the difficulties electronic music artists often face more than other sorts of musicians - in that we often have to "wear more hats" (fulfill multiple distinct Roles) that are traditionally totally unique disciplines. We often have to be good Writers, Engineers, and Producers, and sometimes Mastering Engineers, and even something as "simple" as Writing really involves several sub-disciplines (Theory bits re Keys and Chords and whatnot, literal Arrangements, Sound Design, etc).

It's a lot to ask of anyone, and it all overlaps so much, that it can become a big blurry mess.

Maybe this isn't affecting you much, I can't say, but I respectfully suggest you think about these aspects and think about how you work, and see if some of that makes a positive difference for you.
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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rasseru's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bignatius View Post

Further, with respect to Writing, Arranging, Tracking, Editing, and Mixing the Drum parts... I often just work with a stereo Scratch Mix of the Drums while I'm working on other parts. I often don't bother actually Tracking individual Drum Parts until I'm ready to track everything.
Yeah, i find that often i'll end up changing the drums later to fit in with the mix better as with the compression or other fx added i need to fit something in that works with the music

(im also less bothered about the drum 'sound', more the music, and the groove, so that helps I can mess about with them later)
Old 1 week ago
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milosk View Post
I know everyone has a different work flow but I would love to hear some insight on how others work when it comes to half hardware half software. Constantly switching from in the DAW to outside the DAW.

I always end up asking myself when working on a track, "Is there a better way I can do this?".

Typically I record everything separate. I first start off with the drum machine programming a full beat with all its parts. When I create the beat I like, I solo each instrument on the drum machine and record them individually (Kick, claps, hats etc).

I move onto the bass with another instrument and so on so fourth. Sometimes I use software for some certain sounds and other times hardware.

For the most part I find that it works but there are times where I feel that I am butchering my work flow more than I should be.

Anyone care to share how they work when it comes to this type of situation?
Long story short...
For hardware synths doing melodic, bass, pad, lead stuff, I'll use placeholder softsynth whether that is on the laptop/desktop DAW or iPad.

For hardware synths doing drum duties, once I've done the sound design, I sample them, unless it is a more dynamic part, like a DFAM-esque thing.

I find sampling them is both faster than soloing each part and recording and also I often have some dynamic effects to given them some subtle variation, e.g. set the filter freq to be velocity controlled. Lots of the external drum machines either don't have that or it is not as good.

Then for both, bring the midi into the desktop and record back into the audio interface.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rasseru View Post
Yeah, i find that often i'll end up changing the drums later to fit in with the mix better as with the compression or other fx added i need to fit something in that works with the music

(im also less bothered about the drum 'sound', more the music, and the groove, so that helps I can mess about with them later)
Exactly.

It's also a fairly commom phenomenon in IT and elsewhere that plagues teams and negatively impacts overall productivity... the act of Switching Roles itself, especially too often, often comes with a price. Too much tine spent, mentally, switching...

Imagine a Trauma Surgeon who also does Telephone IT support having to switch gears in the middle of surgery to answer an IT support call... neither the patient on the table nor the person on the phone will be served as well had the Doctor just waited to answer the call until after surgery was done.

Focus is important.

And "it's all just making music" isn't really true in a meaningful sense. Tracking and Mixing are classics that need separating, IME. Entirely different goals and approaches.
Old 1 week ago
  #9
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rasseru's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Bignatius View Post

And "it's all just making music" isn't really true in a meaningful sense. Tracking and Mixing are classics that need separating, IME. Entirely different goals and approaches.
I also write down what key im in (usually in the title of the song) because its so very easy to forget what you were doing if its in hardware-land, and then having to try to audio-to-midi on something with 3+ oscillators & a resonant filter is a right ******
Old 1 week ago
  #10
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JemenJ's Avatar
 

First I’ll make whole track with DAW and plugins.
Now I know my final arrangement, key and where I want filter sweeps or other moving stuff.
Now I’m ready to track my hardware and replace some or most of those vst sounds. How much I replace with HW depends on the song of course and the sounds what I want in the final track.
This way I save time.
If working with only HW from the start I’d have to track new bass, chords etc. everytime I feel like I want to try new chord progression or something.
Crafting song is so much faster ITB than using HW.

And if I’m working a track with vocalist, it’s so easy to change the key of the whole song to fit the singers voice when done ITB.
After vocals are recorded HW can be tracked.

I produce synthwave and dance music.
Old 1 week ago
  #11
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rasseru's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by JemenJ View Post
First I’ll make whole track with DAW and plugins.
Now I know my final arrangement, key and where I want filter sweeps or other moving stuff.
Now I’m ready to track my hardware and replace some or most of those vst sounds. How much I replace with HW depends on the song of course and the sounds what I want in the final track.
This way I save time.
If working with only HW from the start I’d have to track new bass, chords etc. everytime I feel like I want to try new chord progression or something.
Crafting song is so much faster ITB than using HW.

And if I’m working a track with vocalist, it’s so easy to change the key of the whole song to fit the singers voice when done ITB.
After vocals are recorded HW can be tracked.

I produce synthwave and dance music.
i find that hard because I like the idiosyncrasies i get from HW

my stuff is very raw though, so it needs that weird hook that I can get easier from abusing hardware
Old 1 week ago
  #12
Gear Maniac
 

I do all the sequencing in Ableton - send MIDI to hardware synths, record them back into Ableton. The hardware parts live in perfect harmony with the softsynths and samples. I've been doing it this way for years with no significant issues that come to mind.

As long as you invest in a decent MIDI interface and audio interface with enough ports, it should be pretty easy once you get it set up.
Old 1 week ago
  #13
Here for the gear
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by bloodybob View Post
I do all the sequencing in Ableton - send MIDI to hardware synths, record them back into Ableton. The hardware parts live in perfect harmony with the softsynths and samples. I've been doing it this way for years with no significant issues that come to mind.

As long as you invest in a decent MIDI interface and audio interface with enough ports, it should be pretty easy once you get it set up.
What MIDI/ audio interface do you use?
Old 1 week ago
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by milosk View Post
I know everyone has a different work flow but I would love to hear some insight on how others work when it comes to half hardware half software. Constantly switching from in the DAW to outside the DAW.

I always end up asking myself when working on a track, "Is there a better way I can do this?".

Typically I record everything separate. I first start off with the drum machine programming a full beat with all its parts. When I create the beat I like, I solo each instrument on the drum machine and record them individually (Kick, claps, hats etc).

I move onto the bass with another instrument and so on so fourth. Sometimes I use software for some certain sounds and other times hardware.

For the most part I find that it works but there are times where I feel that I am butchering my work flow more than I should be.

Anyone care to share how they work when it comes to this type of situation?

Here is what I did - I sold all my hardware that wasn't a synth or hardware effect/preamp.

What I really like is programming a tight beat that feels how I want it to, getting the swing and feel right and then not having that change. I can do all of that stuff in an Ableton drum rack.

Anyway, in your case I'd suggest getting an idea ITB from hardware as fast as you can - get it in audio and then use the DAW to tighten it up. Kind of kills the feel from your drum machine, but what you could do is make a 16ths hi hat pattern and then use ableton to steal the grove from that and apply it to the audio.


I am just assuming you are using Ableton here. It is damn good with hardward. If you don't like that, try bitwig, which is also great. The only pain will be if you sequence with hardware as well but thats another ball of wax.

TLDR:

Make synth hardware idea.

Record as audio into DAW or trigger with DAW midi.

Make drum part. dial in swing - record 16ths pattern into DAW, steal that groove.

Take swing off of drum part - record into DAW. quantize to remove jitter then apply swing with stolen groove.



Alternative (faster) - sample your hardware drum hits and groove and sequence them in the DAW. Compose on hardware synths using ableton External instrument plugin or just record right in as audio.
Old 1 week ago
  #15
Here for the gear
Don't use any hardware drum machines but I have a few hardware synths.

When I'm just sketching out ideas, I treat VST's and hardware the same. The only difference is that the hardware synths each have an associated audio track in Monitor mode, where as VST's live on a single track in Studio One.

When I have the notes (or chords if it's a poly) and automation that I like and I feel reasonably sure I won't modify the patch or MIDI any further, I record the synth to its associated audio track, mute the MIDI track and disable monitoring of the inputs on the audio track. If it's just a repeating 4-bar pattern or similar, I only record it once and repeat the audio part where it's needed. If the part contains a lot of variations and/or the release is very long (or it has reverb etc. on it) I record it as a long, continuous audio part since it's too much hassle to make it loopable. I keep the muted MIDI track and associated Program/Bank info so I can go back in the rare case I need to.
Old 1 week ago
  #16
Gear Maniac
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by milosk View Post
What MIDI/ audio interface do you use?
MOTU for both - some might say they're "prosumer," but for me they sit at that nice crossover of decent quality but also decent price.
Old 1 week ago
  #17
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Acid Mitch's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by milosk View Post

Typically I record everything separate. I first start off with the drum machine programming a full beat with all its parts. When I create the beat I like, I solo each instrument on the drum machine and record them individually (Kick, claps, hats etc).
Why aren't you recording multiple tracks at a time?
Old 1 week ago
  #18
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xanderbeanz's Avatar
I literally plug one synth into my computer at a time via audio/midi and then track a few parts.

I have unused mixers, nice ones, but it hasn’t bothered me enough yet to set any of them up.
Old 1 week ago
  #19
Gear Guru
 
fiddlestickz's Avatar
I used to always start with drums now I hate that workflow. Every jam now I start off with a synth, any synth, just switch one on and get tweaking, turn on another and start to build something with a couple of different synths. Fully resisting the urge to turn on a drum machine I will turn on the the Nord Drum instead, it's awesome for jamming beats with drum sticks over synth lines to see how what kind of drum pattern suits.
Old 1 week ago
  #20
@OP - how about reversing the workflow...as an exercise: start with what you'd normally record last, etc. or, identify a few sources and randomly choose an order.
The tools and they way they operate (as distinct from the creative workflow) can be seen more clearly in unusual circumstances.
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