Computers getting in the way of creativity


Absolutely. I appreciate the inclusiveness as well as the spirit behind it. :slightly_smiling_face:

And full disclosure, I’ve been working with Macs professionally since 1990. So it’s always kind of amusing when these technologies are explained to me by super pro (male) musicians online.


I’ve fought with this a lot but I’ve never been able to get past the fact that I finish songs more with a DAW.

I use Logic and have my default template set up so I can play anything in my setup immediately. I can also tell my Digitakt to send any track (hardware or software) with a wire in the Environment. Everything is set up for immediacy. I can power on my Mac and have Logic ready to go in a matter of minutes.

In other words, I use it as an extremely flexible mixer in addition to a multi-track recorder. I work on synthpop and can’t imagine doing what I do with vocals without a DAW. I hand edit MIDI quite a bit, too, and it’s way quicker and easier to do detail work with a mouse than anything else I’ve used. Having a big screen is a huge help for working across a big project.

There’s definitely points of frustration that make me want to light it on fire but I’ve found my workflow with Logic smooths them out more than any other DAW I’ve tried. It has its weaknesses but it handles latency compensation and MIDI really well, which were two constant sources of headaches for me in Ableton.

But I can’t deny that jamming on hardware is way more fun, which is why I made sure plugging my Digitakt in to any synth was trivial. Not to mention that sequencing Logic’s incredibly built-in synths with a hardware sequencer is a joy.

Wow, that was a lot more than I intended to type on an iPad. :slight_smile: I guess I had feelings on the subject. :smiley:


I had interpreted your post as a genuine question. My bad


It was genuine, but I was unsure of the context. I thought there may be some sort of language barrier going on and I didn’t want to jump to conclusions out of hand.


I agree with all of what you have said(except I am an ableton user).
May I ask you why you say you are struggling with that? If it works for you?
Don’t want to sound over analitic , but seems like you are struggling with preconceptions of “hardware is better/ more pro/ doesn’t stop creativity” or something like that, based in verbal pyrotechnics by users that didn’t want to invest time in learning music related software and having a solid workflow (the same that learning OT+MnM+ spending time in forums could take) or didn’t had much contact with music software in the last ten years.


Question … how do you use your computer on stage?

I think, if it’s used as an audio-clip launcher (Ableton) or as an DJ system (NI-Traktor) a modern “well configured and managed” notbook should be reliable enough.

Would this also be true, if an entire setup of midi devices has to be controlled. Kebu and his setup comes to my mind. He uses hardware sequencers (I think it was Yamaha or Akai) for his gigs.


currently I’ve reduced my footprint to an octatrack, heat, space, and live (although I did just order a blofeld thanks to the thread and a couple friends…). I have the OT -> 828 mk3 -> Ableton for pre house EQ using Izotope Neutron, Mic1 -> 828 mk3 -> Ableton processed using various things, Izotope Nektar, Vocalsynth. The space is on a return. The heat I’m playing with where it sits, sometimes I like it just for the things coming out of the OT, other times it sits well in-between the 828 and the house. Within Ableton I’m using various FX plugins, FM8 (might move to operator) and Wavetable. I’m controlling everything in Ableton and using the OT as the master clock. Once the blofeld arrives I will likely stop using FM8 and Wavetable, leaving Ableton just for mixing/routing, fx processing and vocal processing. idk though, the blofeld was a compulsive GAS purchase (shame on me).

my rig is in a odyssey rolling dj rack, which allows me to close it up as it is in the studio and gig with it. I think this allows me to constantly test my performance configurations so that I reduce the amount of surprises.

I have some other rack gear like wireless in ear monitors and some guitar processing stuff. When I play guitars or anything else I still run them into ableton at the end. I am playing with some configurations that put a mackie vlz series mixer in the chain. It’s an attempt to find a way to only partially lose functionality if a crash on either the hardware or software side occurs, however this is kind of unnecessary. high availability and failovers are part of my job so it’s just how my brain operates.


I think there were a number of factors. One was definitely the “hardware doesn’t stop creativity” mindset that often permeates forums like this. Another was the immediacy of it; most hardware turns on in seconds and then boom you’re ready to go. It’s generally stable and won’t stop working one day because of drivers or OS updates or whatever. I also work in front of a computer all day and wanted to at least minimize how much the process felt like my average workday. That said, once I realized the trade-offs were worth it for me, it was about finding the balance between hardware and software that worked best.

Also, I didn’t really intend to slight Ableton there, I just didn’t gel with it and had issues with it in my particular setup. I know that plenty of hobbyists, professionals, and everything in between use it to great effect.

I wouldn’t say I’m struggling with it anymore. I’m really just fine-tuning a working system at this point. :slight_smile:


Thanks for the insight :smiley:

You made me re-thinking … since one year I use a music-only-notebook in the studio, which has never let me down since. The old-one did from time to time. :thinking:

Got my first Blofeld last week … it’s really a fine synth. For quite a time I considered to get one of the Microwaves second hand to have a decent hardware wavetable synth in the studio eventually.


Whatever works best for me is to have a machine that I can make almost a full track with. I’ll make the track then export it into a daw on iOS. In the daw I’ll listen specifically to what the track needs. Usually I’ll throw a limiter on it and clamp down on it 3 to 7 ish decibels. Then I listen. Sometimes the song just needs something far off in the background at times so I’ll put it there. Maybe a cymbal gets annoying so I’ll cut it out in a few spots, gate little pieces of the sequence to taste, or pull out a mic and an egg shaker if I need to! I just use a daw like a second pass at a track that feels finished but not all the way there. If I start in a daw I know I’ll rarely, if ever finish a track, and I’ll often get off track and lose the plot over too many choices. I usually use too many effects and EQ untill things sonically get weird. So a few pieces of gear (usually 3 to 5) are ideal for me to make a track with. (Another example of DAWing) if I get bored at a certain sixteen bar pass in a song I might slowly automate a phaser over the whole mix and then add a quiet splash cymbal at a key point or something to add movement that wasn’t there in the mix. This might also help creat anticipation for the next section. So sometimes i use the DAW as a subliminal post production tool rather than a machine for making music. It works for me but I’m not even reccomending it, it’s probably not the best way!


I do use templates man. I’m pretty much all software and samplers, Ive sold all my hard synths currently. I was just saying why I think a lot of people see computers as getting in the way, didn’t mean to come across anti software at all, Exactly the opposite, I love it personally. Even with templates though your whole FX chains can change up per channel strip, unless you’re bigtime im thinking most can’t compete with that level of flexibility using hardware, there are so many places things can get menu divey that people feel it gets in the way compared to on&go

Edit: also further to that point things do happen in software that don’t or at least not as frequently on hardware, updates for one, also one thing I don’t love is that I have all my software stored on an external drive, I don’t like it when my laptop dies before I eject the hard drive and everything forgets all the paths to where my stuff is located and I have to reset them all once it finally picks up that there’s a drive plugged in again. Minor frustrations for me but stuff like that seems to brickwall some people


I think there’s a few wires being crossed when it comes to creativity and efficiency. Computers are obviously more efficient to finish a track on and if you want to increase your output that’s the way to go. How-ever, hardware in my opinion inspires greater creativity but has it drawbacks when it comes to track completion. It’s so much more satisfying patching and tweaking a great sound and building a song from it than selecting a vst preset and modifying it with your mouse. :slight_smile:


I think in my setup the weakest link is the audio interface. I’ve had some issues here and there with the 828 mk3, which I think were related to system alerts (email chimes etc). After disabling those I haven’t had any issues. AFAIK RME is the way to go with Windows, so a future upgrade would be a RME interface. I just don’t have 2k worth of frustration with my current interface yet :smiley:

I also have Ableton installed on my wife’s laptop (she has a 2016 mbp 13"), so if something was to crap out on stage and a reboot didn’t fix it, I could complete a set with disabling most of the izotope plugins. That would be an edge case that I don’t see happening often enough to stress about.

One thing I’m currently testing is running visuals from the laptop as well, previously this has been a two laptop configuration because I was using resolume. So far it seems like MAX/MSP visuals are less taxing on the system.

totally understand the brickwall when issues arise. It was the same for me when say I miscalculated power consumption on euro, or can’t find the source of a noise hum. I remember discovering that I had some modules that were looking for 10v and the modulation sources I had at the time were putting out about half that…buzz kill :frowning:

FWIW my laptop uses the faster of the two SSDs for everything. Programs, Plugins and my current working set of samples. The second SSD is used for storage. I’m not sure what your reasons are for separating stuff out like that (I would assume storage limitations), but yeah having things located on an external drive sounds like it would cause headaches.


No no no. Never draw notes unless making a minor edit to something you actually played. For pop/dance you really want to use a step sequencer.


Nothing with the word “Pro” in its name…


Hardware is only necessary these days for the fun of tweaking knobs and studio street cred.
I still have hardware in my studio but sometimes I don’t bother turning it on.
Modern DAW and all the amazing software available is just too good.


I’m not going to tell other people how to work and I know different folks get their kicks from music differently. A few things that float around in my head when topics like this come up…

Most of the live jam, one-take stuff I hear on YouTube is pretty mediocre. And that’s fine, some people just like to jam (I love it too in fact), but I hear serious cases of loopitis in 90% of these type of tracks. For me both creativity and strucutre are lacking in my own work when I work this way and it seems to me that’s most other folks who are posting their results.

I’ve never been more productive or creative with a small hybrid setup. I have a three go to synths and currently do my drums ITB (I’m actually a drum machine/sampler/sample player fanatic). I’ve got a couple companion VST synths to fill out my sound palette. I love this setup. I use my DAW to record, arrange and mix.

Its a fact that to get the same quality in hardware land, I’d have to take out a second mortage (OK, hyperbole, but needless to say I can’t afford it). I tried the all OTB thing (using computer to record a single stereo track) and it was a spectacular, expensive disaster. I do value what I learned about EQ, gain staging et al. from working that way, but the hassles and expenses were many and the benefits and rewards few.

I use a computer daily for my job and am happy to come home and use a computer to help do some heavy lifting for my hobby. On the other hand, I find tons of value in owning real instruments and manipulating them live while recording.

Also…sorry not sorry…I always ROTFLMAO at the crowd who pines for “a stand alone multitrack recorder that does x y and z and the kitchen sink…” …they do…its called a DAW…I’ve been using the same Windows desktop for almost 8 years, three OS upgrades, componant upgrades, three audio interfaces, two MIDI interfaces, various MIDI controllers, software updates. now and I’ve had very few of the hassles this crowd claims to be plagued by…


lol I think it’s become trendy in some ways for certain groups to look down on DAWs but its not wise to look down on something that is so powerful and capable. It’s funny to pick one and negate the other because as soon as you say I’m all in the box, well, usually a midi controller and an audio interface are laying around somewhere. As soon as you say I dont use a computer, so I’m all hardware, well, there are computer chips in the harware… A few pieces of hardware like Organelle and Zoia (similar but still pretty different) have features more like a daw than traditional hardware… It’s a funny endless interesting debate though!


The interface to composition/playing is important to a lot of people, myself included. Sometimes I want to flick switches, turn pots, press tactile buttons and patch cables, other times I want to ignore that whole mess of finding leads and re-patching everything and just take a few clicks instead.

What gets in the way of my creativity is being tied down to a single method.


I go back and forth. Depends on my mood or which ever recent YouTube I’ve watched.

The reality is, the computer will always be able to do “more”. You just need to learn the key commands to speed things up. A good controller doesn’t hurt either.

Maschine is nice. The MPC is a nice hybrid.