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Computer denouncers: What’s been your actual experience?
Old 29th July 2019
  #1
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Computer denouncers: What’s been your actual experience?

I’m not talking about those of you who hate looking at screens, using trackballs or mice, trackpads, etc. I get that the ITB workflow, or even a hybrid approach, isn’t for everyone. I’m more talking about people who seem to have an almost irrational hate for using computers based on what I see as misinformation or outdated information. A lot of what I read seems to be based on how the world of plugins was pre 2005. Here’s a few things I seem to read over and over again:

“Plugin emulations sound nothing like the real thing!” This is ridiculous. Do they sound exactly like the real thing? No, of course not. Not even two of the “real things” sound exactly like each other, or so the lore goes. But they do seem to sound very similar and in some cases indistinguishable from each other and usually offer other features that make them attractive as not a replacement for the O.G. but at least a good addition.

“They’re going to crash on you at the worst time!” We’ve all had crashes, but I’ve also had cables that have gone bad during gigs. Hardware malfunctions, etc. I’ve found that unless I do something stupid, like try to add a plugin while my DAW’s sequencer is going in a plugin laden project, things are very stable. I can’t even remember a time when my DAW software was brought down during a jam. (Bitwig)

“They’re a terrible investment that’s always about to stop working because of an OS update!” I know this is a problem that’s more Apple oriented, but even when they went from Motorola to Intel processors, I just didn’t update until my plugins were all supported and things went fine. I’ve had some plugins stop working, but their cost was often so low and the amount of use I got out of them before they stopped working seem to still make them a pretty good deal. They also seem to negate all the hardware instruments that drop in price, like the DX7 or most ROMplers.

Anyway, I’m in no way suggesting anyone toss out the hardware that they love, but I do see an awful lot of threads that seem to be complaining about the state of modern hardware and when the use of a laptop or computer is suggested, the response is similar to what I imagine they’d respond to if “sawing their leg off with a steak knife’ was suggested. The criticism just doesn’t seem to mesh up with my actual experience, so I’m wondering what the actual F? Don’t get me wrong, I had those opinions too... in the early 2000s. Things have come a very long way since.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #2
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I'm no expert by any means, but I do have a collection of software and hardware instruments and lately am replacing my favorite software instruments to their hardware equivalent. Why? Control.

If I would be like a lot of producers , programming the instrument, using a lot of automation etc then I could probably live with that, but that's not my thing. I play instruments and want to have the options to adjust parameters on the fly during my performance. I my opinion, there are no controllers with build quality and features enough for this task.

And stability, at least on hard- and software the last decade have been great for me. That goes for OS and updates too. The biggest issues I had were from audio interface or controller vendors cutting driver development too soon, leaving me with crapping out drivers now and again.

Just my $0.02
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Old 29th July 2019
  #3
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I would have thought that almost everybody knows exactly what computers can do now, but forego because of the reasons you listed. And if they do have a prejudice against computers, then that's fine too, isn't it? More of a preference than irrationality?
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Old 29th July 2019
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
The criticism just doesn’t seem to mesh up with my actual experience, so I’m wondering what the actual F? Don’t get me wrong, I had those opinions too... in the early 2000s. Things have come a very long way since.
It feels more like you're building a straw man argument to defend something preemptively...why not just let people have their opinions that are possibly valid for them even if you disagree? This isn't irrational, this is just a different perspective.

It's weird that in all these HW vs. SW debates it feels like:

HW users: "This works for me, SW was clunky, but you do you"
SW users: "No, SW works for everyone, you're just stubborn"

I was ITB for almost 10 years before I threw in the towel. It's the frictional cost of every avenue of incompatibility or failure. Some things want to do an internet check; some need one dongle or another one or another one; license server has to run; virus check causes issues; new version of DAW broke some plugins; new version of plugins broke some features; new version of OS broke a bunch of stuff; CPU/RAM limitations; memory leaks force me to restart DAW every couple hours; driver compatibility issues; etc.

None of these is insurmountable, but in aggregate -- compared to my studio where I hit power and start jamming immediately -- it was not a pleasant experience. It had fewer cables; was more portable; and was cheaper.

One thing I love about my HW is that audio signals are pretty standard. Power and audio electrical signals are a clear standard that are here to stay, unlike a lot of intermediate 'standards' that make owning some types of machines a nightmare (I'm looking at all the 90s samplers storage). This is one reason I don't own any older samplers.

tl;dr -- use what works for you, but don't assume that what doesn't work for others is due to ignorance
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Old 29th July 2019
  #5
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by ModularOverkill View Post
tl;dr -- use what works for you, but don't assume that what doesn't work for others is due to ignorance
I thought I was pretty clear that this thread wasn’t about preference differences like, “I don’t like having to work with software licensing issues.” That’s totally valid, and I get that those types of things can be a pain in the butt. I’m most interested in the people who say things like, “I once had a dongle go bad on me and I vowed never to use software again,” as if all software relies on dongles.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #6
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvrh View Post
I'm no expert by any means, but I do have a collection of software and hardware instruments and lately am replacing my favorite software instruments to their hardware equivalent. Why? Control.

If I would be like a lot of producers , programming the instrument, using a lot of automation etc then I could probably live with that, but that's not my thing. I play instruments and want to have the options to adjust parameters on the fly during my performance. I my opinion, there are no controllers with build quality and features enough for this task.

And stability, at least on hard- and software the last decade have been great for me. That goes for OS and updates too. The biggest issues I had were from audio interface or controller vendors cutting driver development too soon, leaving me with crapping out drivers now and again.

Just my $0.02
Who’s interfaces are you using? I’ve had limited experience with a MOTU 828 and an RME Fireface 400, and both seem to have great support that still continues. I tried one of my old 828s a while ago and it was still working. I’m on Windows.
Old 29th July 2019
  #7
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Originally Posted by tricera View Post
I would have thought that almost everybody knows exactly what computers can do now, but forego because of the reasons you listed. And if they do have a prejudice against computers, then that's fine too, isn't it? More of a preference than irrationality?
Sure, it’s fine. I’m just curious as to how these prejudices propagate. For instance, the post in this thread about interface driver support. I’ve never had similar problems, (but I did have an 828 die on me) so I wonder, am I the anomaly? I’d have thought that even among the plugin haters here, they’re still hitting a DAW at the end. Or are they using a hardware digital multitrack? Tape? Direct to wax cylinder?
Old 29th July 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ModularOverkill View Post
It's weird that in all these HW vs. SW debates it feels like:

HW users: "This works for me, SW was clunky, but you do you"

SW users: "No, SW works for everyone, you're just stubborn"
Actually, from my software/hardware agnostic stance (I have and use a lot of both), I can assure you that the way those conversations go is rarely like that. It’s more like this:

HW user: Software sounds like crap. Fake. If you’re OK with crappy sounds, have at it.

SW user: “but... in the Diva vs. OB-8 comparison, you picked Diva.”

HW user: “that test wasn’t fair!”
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Old 29th July 2019
  #9
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zerocrossing's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by mvrh View Post
I'm no expert by any means, but I do have a collection of software and hardware instruments and lately am replacing my favorite software instruments to their hardware equivalent. Why? Control.

If I would be like a lot of producers , programming the instrument, using a lot of automation etc then I could probably live with that, but that's not my thing. I play instruments and want to have the options to adjust parameters on the fly during my performance. I my opinion, there are no controllers with build quality and features enough for this task.
I totally agree here. Having the ability to reach out and make a tweak in real time is huge for me, though I’m more likely to do that via MPE than turning a knob, but i appreciate my hardware for that. When I do want the ability to automate things, software is (usually) king. For instance, when I’m doing a synth track, I often will do something like use Bitwig’s audio side chain device to control a plugin’s filter cutoff or oscillator levels so that when the track is at its busiest, the synth isn’t adding a lot of redundant frequency content, but when things open up, there’s extra detail and content. Of course I can do this with software eq as well and I suppose I could do this with a hardware synth that had good MIDI implementation, though usually I think of my hardware synths more like a guitar.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #10
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for me, the main problem with software-based setup was its limitlessness.
i spent hours playing with things and drowning in their possibilities instead of doing actual music. and i always had the ultimate excuse: but i'm learning the stuff i have!

hardware setup is much more restrictive, especially the poor man's one, especially when using ROMplers/grooveboxes (well, not Command Stations or P2500). sound is more or less what it is, routing of signal is limited, so it's a lot easier to start making sequences and combine them into something — which is the point of all that story.

another important thing is that i consider myself a musician — contrary to a producer — and always aimed to perform on stage. it's a lot easier to get booked with laptop-only rig, but fiddling with hardware on stage looks way more cool than staring at the screen, and this matters.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #11
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Originally Posted by chaocrator View Post
for me, the main problem with software-based setup was its limitlessness.
i spent hours playing with things and drowning in their possibilities instead of doing actual music. and i always had the ultimate excuse: but i'm learning the stuff i have!

hardware setup is much more restrictive, especially the poor man's one, especially when using ROMplers/grooveboxes (well, not Command Stations or P2500). sound is more or less what it is, routing of signal is limited, so it's a lot easier to start making sequences and combine them into something — which is the point of all that story.

another important thing is that i consider myself a musician — contrary to a producer — and always aimed to perform on stage. it's a lot easier to get booked with laptop-only rig, but fiddling with hardware on stage looks way more cool than staring at the screen, and this matters.
Those are a lot of my reasons for hardware now too.

And like the OP, I had a different feeling about it in the early 2000s, I didn't think highly of a lot of the software. I must think some people are stuck on that and either haven't investigated thoroughly in recent years or are just subject to confirmation bias.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #12
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ModularOverkill's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
I thought I was pretty clear that this thread wasn’t about preference differences like, “I don’t like having to work with software licensing issues.” That’s totally valid, and I get that those types of things can be a pain in the butt. I’m most interested in the people who say things like, “I once had a dongle go bad on me and I vowed never to use software again,” as if all software relies on dongles.
This seems to be a pretty fine hair to split? People who have run into these issues eventually may decide that they're not worth the effort. Just like SW folks that demand instant recall of all sessions have a valid reason not to go to a 2" tape all hardware system

Over the past 20 years I've had every kind of software failure imaginable. Drivers that stopped working or simply didn't work. Companies that disappeared. Products that were discontinued with no ongoing support. Missing/damaged/corrupted iLok keys. Auth servers that were down for an extended period of time. OS or DAW upgrades that created sudden incompatibilities.

I had these problems in the 90s, 2000s and 2010s, all in different forms, and I'm sure many are fixed or even irrelevant today (e.g. firewire compatibility headaches on PCs in the mid-2000s). I'm just as confident that many new and fun problems now exist and lurk.

These are all semi-specific examples (I am confident anyone interested can find numerous examples of all of the above, just like it's easy to find many reasons where HW fails) that lead to a pattern of "I'd rather just deal with known HW issues than random SW issues".

Another way I look at it is that when I have vintage gear, I know generally what can go wrong and avoid the gear that has known issues. In a steady state environment things are reliable. In a software world where literally all my SW could update arbitrarily at any time (and where NOT upgrading is often a bad idea because of the sheer # of security patches that fly out), I'm not confident that my machine will work one day from another.

And to be clear, I'm not generally anti-SW. In fact I recommend SW almost all the time. And in many, if not most, cases, software is really what you want in a production environment with tight deadlines and the need for late edits. An all HW studio is a luxury very few people have (even ignoring cost) because it's often impractical under modern commercial production conditions.

Music creation is a luxury hobby for me, and as such I'm optimizing for minimizing headache and maximizing joy. I love buttons, knobs, faders, and instant gratification, and thus HW makes more sense for me.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #13
Lives for gear
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Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
I thought I was pretty clear that this thread wasn’t about preference differences like, “I don’t like having to work with software licensing issues.” That’s totally valid, and I get that those types of things can be a pain in the butt. I’m most interested in the people who say things like, “I once had a dongle go bad on me and I vowed never to use software again,” as if all software relies on dongles.
Why are you choosing to invalidate that persons experience. The problem is not the rationale of the argument. The problem is the inability of people to accept the differences in others.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #14
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cjogo's Avatar
Been behind a board since the 70's ... still lean towards HW ----don't even edit WAV's ... Use less than 2 Plugs a full tracking session .. Early 80/90's ROMpler keyboards ..SCSI HD's ... just never made it to the real 2000's Clients don't seem to question > so we will stay on the same avenue

Sure wish someone could finish a important code we need to complete our software --


Stared with a All in One DAW >back with the AKAI DR 4a .. still work one ..



Last edited by cjogo; 30th July 2019 at 01:10 AM..
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Old 29th July 2019
  #15
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CarLofgren's Avatar
 

Haha... looks like someone just registered a new account to give some quality feedback

/C
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Old 29th July 2019
  #16
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IncarnateX's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
I’m not talking about those of you who hate looking at screens, using trackballs or mice, trackpads, etc. I get that the ITB workflow, or even a hybrid approach, isn’t for everyone.
Too bad, cannot contribute then. However, if the above were included, I could add that I nonetheless spent 10 years making music on PC and it was okay. But I grew up in the 80s and 90s and is biased toward hardware. A good all around workstation is what ITB meant before dawn of DAWs, and though all the modern stuff is just fine, there is no place like home. Simple as that. Do not need any stupid ass arguments against PCs to justify that choice.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #17
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CarLofgren's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 808like View Post
Right on
Dude. Go away.

/C
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Old 29th July 2019
  #18
Gear Maniac
 
mvrh's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
I totally agree here. Having the ability to reach out and make a tweak in real time is huge for me, though I’m more likely to do that via MPE than turning a knob, but i appreciate my hardware for that. When I do want the ability to automate things, software is (usually) king. For instance, when I’m doing a synth track, I often will do something like use Bitwig’s audio side chain device to control a plugin’s filter cutoff or oscillator levels so that when the track is at its busiest, the synth isn’t adding a lot of redundant frequency content, but when things open up, there’s extra detail and content. Of course I can do this with software eq as well and I suppose I could do this with a hardware synth that had good MIDI implementation, though usually I think of my hardware synths more like a guitar.

I actually do use my DAW to automate parameters of my hardware instruments when I need to, I only got two hands and feet after all, but that's mostly the cherry on top. I use mod matrices, wheels and pedals to the max for physical control as much as possible. For some that may be cumbersome and it is, but to me it's just learning to play the part as you would on the piano for example. That's the same experience I go for when I'm behind a synth.

If I may ask: have you found a keyboard controller that you actually connected to like it was an instrument versus bring just a controller, if you know what I mean?
Old 29th July 2019
  #19
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Lady Gaia's Avatar
There’s a lot to be said for the simplicity of a built-for-purpose piece of hardware. I’ve never had a hardware synth distract me with email notifications, nor have I wondered what the heck the caps lock key is for on one (much less the even more useless scroll lock key.) They’re optimized for a single purpose and that can be pretty inspiring and efficient. It can also be limiting and expensive. So it’s all a perspective thing, and thank goodness we don’t all share the same perspective on everything.

For every hardware aficionado who turns their nose up at a perfectly capable soft synth, there are software fans who sneer at the prospect of paying more than a few hundred dollars for a keyboard. This has given us a general de-valuation of music technology. Where there’s near universal agreement when it comes to the evils of physical theft, attitudes about software piracy are often shockingly lax, leading to a host of inconvenient licensing schemes that make upgrading computers (and sometimes operating systems) feel positively punitive. I still haven’t gotten around to re-licensing everything following a recent motherboard replacement.

We’re all capable of focusing narrowly on our own circumstances and experience in judging gear, for better or for worse.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #20
Gear Maniac
 
mvrh's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
Who’s interfaces are you using? I’ve had limited experience with a MOTU 828 and an RME Fireface 400, and both seem to have great support that still continues. I tried one of my old 828s a while ago and it was still working. I’m on Windows.
I had Roland interfaces and switched to two 2nd gen Focusrite interfaces which both have developed driver issues since the launch of their 3rd gen devices. They updated their drivers with the launch and since that time it's been crashing a lot. When I launch the control software and switch some settings around, which I do regularly, the driver crashes in the background and my DAW craps out (Reaper). I'm on Windows 10 up-to-date 2018 fall release.
Old 29th July 2019
  #21
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zerocrossing's Avatar
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Originally Posted by cixelsyd View Post
Why are you choosing to invalidate that persons experience. The problem is not the rationale of the argument. The problem is the inability of people to accept the differences in others.
I’m not choosing to invalidate someone’s experience, I’m just wondering if those experiences are still as valid as they may have once been. Like saying, I tried to learn to drive when I was a kid, but I hated using a stick shift,” when it’s currently hard to find a car with a stick shift.
Old 29th July 2019
  #22
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Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
I’m not choosing to invalidate someone’s experience, I’m just wondering if those experiences are still as valid as they may have once been. Like saying, I tried to learn to drive when I was a kid, but I hated using a stick shift,” when it’s currently hard to find a car with a stick shift.
The fact that it is their opinion for themselves makes it valid. You’re just requestioning the validity of it per my first post.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #23
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zerocrossing's Avatar
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Originally Posted by Lady Gaia View Post
I’ve never had a hardware synth distract me with email notifications...
This is exactly what I’m talking about. A properly configured computer that’s being used as a DAW will never do this, yet I read statements like this on here all the time. It’s frustrating, because it shows me that smart people are basing their ideas on incomplete information. 15 minutes in your OS settings will rid you of pesky OS stuff like this. I’ll grant you that Microsoft and Apple are super guilty of including such things, but they’re very easily defeated. At least in Windows they are. I don’t use my Macs for music, so I haven’t tried. Also, I keep my machine in airplane mode when doing audio anyway.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #24
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Acid Mitch's Avatar
 

It’s more fun to compute.
Old 29th July 2019
  #25
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Moonwhistle's Avatar
 

A dongle stole my baby.
My grandma skyped me when I was playing jump live.
Frooty Loops deleted my C drive.
I got Carpal Tunnel from trying to tweak cutoff with a mouse.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #26
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zerocrossing's Avatar
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Originally Posted by cixelsyd View Post
The fact that it is their opinion for themselves makes it valid. You’re just requestioning the validity of it per my first post.
OK, but let’s just say that not all opinions are as equally valid, eh? When I was 17, I absolutely hated Chinese food. Horrible. My experience was based on my mom’s cooking, which was La Choy, from a can. My girlfriend suggested we get some take out Chinese food, and asked me what I wanted. I told her my opinion and she was amazed. Luckily for me, she ordered me something anyway and I realized that I had formed an opinion based on bad and incomplete information. Similar to denouncing the use of a computer because of bad Roland Interface drivers.
Old 29th July 2019
  #27
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Originally Posted by chaocrator View Post
for me, the main problem with software-based setup was its limitlessness.
i spent hours playing with things and drowning in their possibilities instead of doing actual music. and i always had the ultimate excuse: but i'm learning the stuff i have!

hardware setup is much more restrictive, especially the poor man's one, especially when using ROMplers/grooveboxes (well, not Command Stations or P2500). sound is more or less what it is, routing of signal is limited, so it's a lot easier to start making sequences and combine them into something — which is the point of all that story.

another important thing is that i consider myself a musician — contrary to a producer — and always aimed to perform on stage. it's a lot easier to get booked with laptop-only rig, but fiddling with hardware on stage looks way more cool than staring at the screen, and this matters.
See, none of those reasons are what I’m talking about, though I’d say that the idea of someone who goes on stage with only a laptop is a pretty antiquated concept.
Old 29th July 2019
  #28
Lives for gear
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Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
This is exactly what I’m talking about. A properly configured computer that’s being used as a DAW will never do this, yet I read statements like this on here all the time. It’s frustrating, because it shows me that smart people are basing their ideas on incomplete information. 15 minutes in your OS settings will rid you of pesky OS stuff like this. I’ll grant you that Microsoft and Apple are super guilty of including such things, but they’re very easily defeated. At least in Windows they are. I don’t use my Macs for music, so I haven’t tried. Also, I keep my machine in airplane mode when doing audio anyway.
I’m not sure you can generalise everyone’s experience. I don’t even think you’re generalising it objectively. It seems like you’re generalising everyone based on your own perspective which again is part of the issue and probably the reason for the inappropriate posts earlier in the thread.

Maybe every discussion regarding synths as gear has been over covered on gs and we can now start discussing how to make better music.
Old 29th July 2019
  #29
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Lady Gaia's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by zerocrossing View Post
This is exactly what I’m talking about. A properly configured computer that’s being used as a DAW will never do this, yet I read statements like this on here all the time.
Am I supposed to spend 15 minutes reconfiguring my laptop every time I press it into DAW duty? And then reconfiguring it again when I’m done? Or am I supposed to keep multiple computers configured for different tasks? The advantage of a general-purpose device comes with disadvantages. That’s almost invariably the case.

Quote:
It’s frustrating, because it shows me that smart people are basing their ideas on incomplete information.
I have plenty of quirks and limitations, but being uniformed about what a computer can is not one of them. I spent years working at both Apple and Microsoft working on foundational technology and digging into obscure corners of their operating systems, so it most definitely has nothing to do with lack of awareness. Just legitimate personal observations about what inspires versus what I find unnecessarily distracting from my goals.

Quote:
Also, I keep my machine in airplane mode when doing audio anyway.
I control my audio interface over the same network that bridges to the rest of the world, so I’d have no access to control my mixer without networking. I guess I could reconfigure that, too, but again I’d be devoting more time to what feels like overhead every time I sit to down create. The situation might be different if I had more time to devote to music, or if I didn’t rely on my computer for so many other tasks.

One thing is for certain: I don’t have an optimal physical setup for interacting with my laptop while also sitting at my primary controller. I will definitely be experimenting with other options over time, but so far the computer has lost out in the war for limited space in an ideal location.
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Old 29th July 2019
  #30
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usedtohaveajuno's Avatar
I think it's simply this for me and lots of others - sitting in front of a computer making music isn't much fun for me ... interacting with a bunch of hardware is fun. I still use the computer (Ableton) as it makes it easy to record, mix (although I'd love a decent mixer), add effects and sequence my polys, but the computer is just part of the gear now, it's not all the gear.

I went ITB for about 10 years between selling all my kit and then buying more than I ever did in the first place - it was B O R I N G me and I could rarely get the interest up to turn on Reason.

Now I can't wait till I get into the studio again, like a fun hobby should be

You have to draw a distinction between music as a professional producer and music as personal art/hobby/fun/interest. They have very different goals. I don't care if most electro is now made sitting purely with a DAW. Might sound good and I might enjoy listening to it, but it sure ain't fun to make myself.

Imagine if the Egyptian Lover stood holding a Tower PC case !!

Last edited by usedtohaveajuno; 29th July 2019 at 10:19 PM.. Reason: THE HUMANOID MUST NOT ESCAPE
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