My own debate wasn’t A’ton vs OT (I wasn’t into either anyway) but I just couldn’t stand computers anymore, for live music. I still use a laptop because I have ONE virtual instrument I really like and which is pretty much bound to one of my HW controllers (it’s Equator which comes with Roli’s Seaboards), and I run it standalone. And for librarian and configuration puposes. I really have tried to integrate DAW’s into my live performance but it’s just a HUGE pita.
The latest change in Window’s licence paradigm (switching from “product” to “service”) was what definitely pissed me off. (Please no Mac vs PC debate, I had both )
Even with this minimal use of computers it still gets in my way each time I try to do something with it. Unexplainable USB disconnects, Adobe updates that keep coming back, Window update we can’t switch off and can decide to reboot your computer when you leave it idling for half an hour, background tasks messing up ASIO drivers resulting in increased latency… (Just to get stuff in perspective, I’m was a VST coder myself as a side-project, I really dug deep into low level machinery for years, I studied OS’s from MacIntosh to Windows in-depth)
Also, using PC’s in the end turn out to be VERY expensive. A good audio PC will set you back quite some €€ /££/$$, then you need a good screen, ergonomic mouse and KB, a great soundcard ($$$/£££/€€€), licences for plugins and software (££££/$$$$/€€€€) and the whole thing will need to be upgraded after a couple of years because they decided to stop support for connector X/Y/Z, universally used all over the place, and the OS will then automatically update, and drivers for said connector protocol will not work anymore. This all adds up to huge amounts in the end. Oh, and did I mention the graphic card? Most modern software rely on the GPU of the the graphic card these days, so you need a computer with a powerful one, and guess what: the thing needs drivers!
On the other hand, I have my attic full of stuff from long time ago and guess what: everything just works, decades later.
So even if there are limitations, learning curves etc etc I feel I’m much more confortable with my hardware rig that I was with a computer-based workstation. It feels just better. This goes way beyond A’ton vs OT.
Here’s a pic of what was a audiophile-grade soundcard from 1998 (there’s a breakout box where the actual preamps and converters reside). Price was in the 1000€ (equiv) range. Does it still work? Sure it does (if I resolder that resistor). Do I have a motherboard that can host it? Yes in the attic. What would I need to run it? Windows XP (I believe that’s the latest version and it was buggy) Do I have software I can use it with? No, not anymore. And even if I mounted a PC to run this card, it would be a very frustrating experience, and a dangerous one if I connect it to the internet because there’s no antivirus software that support such computers anymore. No webbrowsers either, probably. Basically, it would be a huge loss of time. I still have it because I just cannot throw away a working 1000$ audiophile grade soundcard in the trash.
That’s why I prefer self-contained machines. I’m not willing anymore to fully depend on a service provided by a mastodont tech company from abroad.
I hear people complaining often that there’s not going to be any FW updates for this or that machine anymore, so they are contemplating selling it off. That’s a typical Computer Generation reflex. Even without updates, your machine will work until eternity unless you screw it up physically by spilling coffee over it or something… As long as you don’t need a computer based software to operate it.
So for me, no doubt about it, it’s OT. Not A’ton.
And now, even though I REALLY enjoy Equator for the Seaboard, I’m about to order a Micromonsta because it’s MPE enabled so whatever would happen to my PC-based Equator, I will not end up with a useless ROLI MPE keyboard