Hardware v Software

Some people get irate over the silliest things. Take the debate on hardware versus software. Some people swear by rooms full of gear, others have their entire studio on the laptop. It’s many a time I read pitched battles going on at various internet fora which is better.

Non issue

I think it is a non issue. Why debate the two when you can so easily combine both worlds and reap the benefits. Why polarise an issue, when blending it can give you so much fun.


I make a point of using both analogue and digital stuff. Software and hardware. Emulation and the real thing. Why choose when using both creates unique sounds.


I love using my Android device to sample stuff outdoors (using Koala at the moment). At home I export the samples, either with or without edits, it depends. Then I use those sounds in my daw directly.


Another route is that I sample the output of the phone into the Akai S2000. Then I edit the samples in the Akai. This not only lends a typical Akai sound to the samples, it also forces me to think about the editing. This is due to the fact that editing samples in an old school sampler, like the S2000, forces you to take your time.


The latter method also creates a greater chance of mistakes. And we all know that lucky mistakes can often spice up a production no end. Using the Akai often helps create that little bit of luck.


Software is brilliant. I love tinkering with all kinds of plugins and daw features. However, there’s a danger in that. Using a modern daw can be the biggest pitfall in the deepest pit ever dug. There are too many ways to edit your sounds and arrangements. This means a production stalls in edit-mania.


For me using the daw as a glorified tape machine sometimes has its advantages. The main one is speed.

Using a bit of an analogue mindset can be a great help. I often record in audio as soon as I am remotely happy with the Midi performance. After that I do not touch the Midi again. Only in extreme faulty cases I allow myself to edit the Midi.

Session musician

The same is true of analogue sources: record them, check the recording, maybe do a few re-takes and that’s it. That’s the material you have to work with. It can be a great help to view your recording sessions as if you have a very expensive, charging by the hour, session musician in the studio. That way you prevent landing in a editing quagmire.


So why debate the hardware versus software issue. Just use both. And that doesn’t mean you need the budget of a tycoon. Hardware can be found for bargain prices as long as you don’t follow the herd. Case in point: I bought my S2000 for €80. And don’t forget: anything can be a valuable instrument in your production. From blocks of wood to penny whistles. From water drops falling in a metallic bowl to the rim of a glass rubbed with your finger. Just let your creative mind loose and hardware becomes a very, very broad term. Far removed from the premium stuff most of us can only dream of. That said, of course I wouldn’t say no to a Jupiter 8 or an Urei 1176 either.

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