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computer-less producing
Old 8th May 2019
  #1
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computer-less producing

After years of using a computer to produce my music, I took a step in producing music without a Computer. It literally takes me a half an hour to get a solid foundation down where on my computer I’d spend hours fiddling with sounds em and plugins. I use a MPC2500 and a sp 404A. Now the dilemma I’m dealing with is how am I going to track my beats out? With huge influences from Madlib and his simplistic setup to Ras G, I want to spend more time focusing on my music not my computer screen and it’s limitless abilities to make beats.

I would like some suggestions on what I can use to track my beats out on the go. I thought about using my iPad but meh...I’m going to Afghanistan and don’t have space for a full mixer or huge tape recorder. Buying a new laptop is my last resort. I was thinking about using a zoom Hn pro and making demos until I get back into my studio.
Old 9th May 2019
  #2
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atma's Avatar
I'd definitely go the laptop route because it gives you the flexibility to do anything you need; as simple or as complex.

Track your stems into a DAW and mix from there. When you separate the composition and mixing process into discrete steps, it can ease a lot of that tendency for endless meddling that often occurs if both steps are basically interchangeable, such as when working strictly on a computer.

Alternately, you can have someone else mix your tracks for you, once all your MPC stems are recorded into the DAW.

The real issue isn't actually the computer, it's you; you need to enforce limitations upon yourself in order to avoid the trap of endless indecision. Start with a fresh hard drive, and judiciously pick out a HANDFUL of essential plugins, and stick with them. If it were me, I'd choose something like the Brainworx_N Console (Neve), which you can run on every channel (just like using a real large format mixing console), which will give you a great EQ, Gate, Compressor, Saturation, etc., all in one plug. Beyond that, it really depends upon your own personal aesthetic tastes in terms of mixing. I'd personally go with some of the better (and newer) vintage analog models of comps, etc., though a really good surgical EQ is usually a must (i.e., Fabfilter Pro-Q 3, etc.). Just my 2 cents.
Old 9th May 2019
  #3
Quote:
I took a step in producing music without a Computer. It literally takes me a half an hour to get a solid foundation down where on my computer I’d spend hours fiddling with sounds em and plugins.
This has nothing to do with you using a PC. It has to do with how you go about doing everyone has a countless number of plugins (50 plus) and we all do not spend hours going through them to get a sound.
I already know in my head what plugins i need to use to get the sound i want, before even inserting the plugin. Its all about ear training and knowing your tools. If you know what each plugin does, then you know exactly which one to insert for each occasion.
Quote:
computer-less producing - I thought about using my iPad but meh...I’m going to Afghanistan and don’t have space for a full mixer or huge tape recorder. Buying a new laptop is my last resort
Then its not computer-less. An ipad and a laptop are types of PC's
Old 9th May 2019
  #4
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Peace and much appreciated atma for your comment. I already know what the issue is (myself) hence why I have already enforced limitations upon myself by not using a computer in my music making process. The only thing I wanted to know was recommended alternatives besides a laptop or pc, like a multitrack portable recorder someone has used and recommends. Maybe I should’ve been more clear on the start of my thread, this is my first time using this forum.
Old 9th May 2019
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by CJ Mastering View Post
This has nothing to do with you using a PC. It has to do with how you go about doing everyone has a countless number of plugins (50 plus) and we all do not spend hours going through them to get a sound.
Peace Cj and thank you for your comment. I’m sharing my personal experience of using a computer and what has led me to moving away from one due to moving to Afghanistan. Ear training and knowing my equipment is essential to me hence why I’m going minimalistic. You left two cents about what you do but yet have answered my question on what alternatives to tracking audio out on the go besides using a laptop or iPad.
Old 10th May 2019
  #6
Gear Head
 

MPC 2500 - headphone out 1/4'' to rca - into - sp 404 inputs - record your mp sequence/ track mutes into the sp as a two track song - then take the micro sd card from the sp and stick it into a laptop to get the two track wave, bonus points for using sp fxs while recording the mp beat in
Old 10th May 2019
  #7
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Interesting that this thread would come up. I just registered on this site, after not using my MPC2500 for essentially a decade. I used to love playing with it, but then life got in the way. Now, I’m looking to get back to using it and I feel like I’m trying to relearn how to ride a bike. I feel like I have the MPC down - and love the feel of it, sequencing/sampling/etc, but, I’m trying to figure out how best to lay down what I put out in my MPC into recorded form (presumably through some recording software — it used to be Cool Edit Pro or Adobe Audition, now I have no clue what’s the best to use). Also, just how to integrate any other hardware that would be helpful (certainly a synth of some kind to provide bass, strings, etc).

I’ll keep my eye open on this thread.
Old 10th May 2019
  #8
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KickDrum's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Gravy View Post
MPC 2500 - headphone out 1/4'' to rca - into - sp 404 inputs - record your mp sequence/ track mutes into the sp as a two track song - then take the micro sd card from the sp and stick it into a laptop to get the two track wave, bonus points for using sp fxs while recording the mp beat in
I like this suggestion because you can do it right now without having to buy any more gear.

Another computer-less option involves purchasing a multitrack recorder. The downside to doing this today is that all of the standalone multitrack recorders that you can buy new today have no MIDI input/output to simultaneously start the sequencer on your MPC. This means that you'll most likely have to capture everything in one pass or manually layer other tracks with perfect timing (kinda tedious). If you're okay with that limitation, check out recorders from Zoom, Boss, Sound Devices (I have the mixpre-3m and love it), Tascam and more. If you're okay with buying used, the older equipment from about ten years ago has midi, such as Korg, Roland, Yamaha.
Old 10th May 2019
  #9
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by tysontysontyson View Post
Interesting that this thread would come up. I just registered on this site, after not using my MPC2500 for essentially a decade. I used to love playing with it, but then life got in the way. Now, I’m looking to get back to using it and I feel like I’m trying to relearn how to ride a bike. I feel like I have the MPC down - and love the feel of it, sequencing/sampling/etc, but, I’m trying to figure out how best to lay down what I put out in my MPC into recorded form (presumably through some recording software — it used to be Cool Edit Pro or Adobe Audition, now I have no clue what’s the best to use). Also, just how to integrate any other hardware that would be helpful (certainly a synth of some kind to provide bass, strings, etc).

I’ll keep my eye open on this thread.
Of course, everyone is going to have a very different opinion regarding DAWs, but I think Presonus' Studio One is certainly one of the easiest to quickly pick up, though it also has some extremely advanced features; the deeper you dig. That being said, any of the modern DAWS out there do essentially the same things, so it really comes down to your personal workflow, preferences, etc., most of which simply take some time experimenting with different programs to figure out.

As far as additional hardware, I honestly wouldn't invest in anything until you have the experience to know exactly what YOU want. Audio software has exponentially evolved in the past decade—nearly literally anything that you can imagine wanting is almost certainly available in software nowadays, and you can usually demo or buy anything quite cheaply vs. hardware. Once you sort of get a grasp of what's out there, and what you're looking for/what appeals to you, THEN you can consider investing in hardware. Otherwise, you're flying blind and you're going to have a lot of regrets if you simply invest randomly in hardware based upon others' opinions.

Also, I'd say more important than whatever DAW you choose, is actually delving into the world of "mixing", which will allow you to eventually take your demo tracks to the level of "sounding like a record". But you may also simply want to have a professional mixing engineer mix your tracks, once recorded from your MPC. I've been mixing for over 20 years, and I can tell you it's an endless rabbit hole... You pretty much have to develop a genuine love for the technical processes involved as it takes up a lot of time to learn, and much, much longer to master. GS can definitely be a great place to begin learning, though.

Last edited by atma; 11th May 2019 at 08:17 PM..
Old 11th May 2019
  #10
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It costs a bit, but a 24 track 2" tape machine will make you track and not mess around. Except when you're realligning heads... again.

Old 11th May 2019
  #11
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atma's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Hardwire View Post
It costs a bit, but a 24 track 2" tape machine will make you track and not mess around. Except when you're realligning heads... again.

True, but not feasible at all—especially in Afghanistan.

And besides the cost up-front, the cost of repairing and maintaining is insane.
Old 12th May 2019
  #12
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I have been completely DAW based, mostly hardware based (various hardware machines mixed on my console, to a 2 track recording into my daw), to hardware creation (samplers and synths) but arrangement and mixing done in DAW. I think they all have pros and cons. Given your situation, I would use the last. Track out everything two a DAW (assuming you have enough I/O to do this in a short period of time, not one stereo track at a time), and then you can mix ITB, or just level everything and run it through outboard or plug ins on the master.

Two good things over getting rid of a computer. You have all your individual tracks if you need to send them out when you get a placement. File storage is reliable. Even machines with SD/CF cards or converting machines to use SD/CF/USB drives, though the storage medium is much more reliable, I know I back up my drive with my music files way more regularly than anything else.
Old 13th May 2019
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atma View Post
I've been mixing for over 20 years, and I can tell you it's an endless rabbit hole... You pretty much have to develop a genuine love for the technical processes involved as it takes up a lot of time to learn, and much, much longer to master.
Well said – you gotta want it. It's not one of those jobs, like working at a grocery, that you just take to pay the bills…that's a job you grow into, and it takes a lot of love and passion.
I make my living as an independent mixing and mastering engineer, and I started with electronic music in 1992 – not knowing back then where it'd lead, but I've enjoyed every single second ever since.
Old 14th May 2019
  #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Fanu View Post
I've enjoyed every single second ever since.
Wish i could say the same
Old 14th May 2019
  #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Goa-Dubs View Post
Wish i could say the same
Haha, well, sure I'm overdoing it a bit…but it's the best job I've ever had.
I've gained perspective from having other jobs, too, and know this is the thing I want to do.
Old 15th May 2019
  #16
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I’ve settled on a process that goes like this:
Get all patterns, loops etc. down in sequence on MPC
Experiment but have my core song done
Track everything out to SP 404, Resample. Save. By now I’m pretty much done with the beat, save it on my SD and move on.
Should I ever want to track out, I’m Getting an adapter so I can hook my audio interface into my iPad via usb for when the time comes I can track stuff out on garage band or some other daw app.
I’m not tracking out until I’ve officially mastered everything between my MPC and SP 404.
When it comes to making music I’ve streamlined my process so I don’t overthink anything. I Realized that creating without a computer helps me focus on mastering my hardware until Im ready to sit down behind a computer to mix and master the right way.
Old 15th May 2019
  #17
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KickDrum's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Eer_waks View Post
I’ve settled on a process that goes like this:
Get all patterns, loops etc. down in sequence on MPC
Experiment but have my core song done
Track everything out to SP 404, Resample. Save. By now I’m pretty much done with the beat, save it on my SD and move on.
Should I ever want to track out, I’m Getting an adapter so I can hook my audio interface into my iPad via usb for when the time comes I can track stuff out on garage band or some other daw app.
I’m not tracking out until I’ve officially mastered everything between my MPC and SP 404.
When it comes to making music I’ve streamlined my process so I don’t overthink anything. I Realized that creating without a computer helps me focus on mastering my hardware until Im ready to sit down behind a computer to mix and master the right way.
Congrats on working with the gear you have and shout out to Gravy for suggesting the solution.
Old 15th May 2019
  #18
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Quote:
Haha, well, sure I'm overdoing it a bit…but it's the best job I've ever had.
I've gained perspective from having other jobs, too, and know this is the thing I want to do.
Im getting back into it again and hopefully simplifying the process and creating a better flow.I dont think its the easiest job on the planet but is a lot of fun
Old 15th May 2019
  #19
Gear Head
Get a digital multitrack recorder. Record stems there. In the end, you're probably better off mixing ITB with some hardware if you have it. This way you can record without even turning on a computer.
Old 15th May 2019
  #20
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Fanu's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Goa-Dubs View Post
Im getting back into it again and hopefully simplifying the process and creating a better flow.I dont think its the easiest job on the planet but is a lot of fun
Not the easiest, but it being easy has to do with a lot: getting to work with the styles and genres you're good at / familiar with / quick with, developing a hunch for tough clients and scenarios, knowing what to avoid, and all that.
100% a customer service where you have to find the right balance of you being right vs the client being right.
Old 16th May 2019
  #21
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I was actually looking for something on this topic. I'm in a similar situation. I use the Roland MV8000 and a Fantom S. For recording I use a Tascam DP32 that way I have the option to track out to a DAW if the need arises. It worked out great. I've since added Maschine MK3 to my arsenal and i'm loving it. So if you want to go computerless but still have the option I would suggest the Tascam DP32.
Old 4th June 2019
  #22
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Roland VS-2480
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