Hardware fun vs. DAW productivity


Just to throw out another perspective, I got my Elektrons to be part of a live improv jam station… Making polished finished tracks with them wasn’t even really a consideration for me.

Not saying they can’t, just saying I got em for improv jams and they’ve been soooo f***ing good for that!


true, that’s where they shine for sure.


I love the live jam route for the most part. I feel way more in the moment with the music, it’s also quicker putting something together that feels final because everything is output together on the stereo outs into the Daw. However…I hate lacking the ability to adjust levels / eq for mixing after it’s been tracked. Ultimately Overbridge 2.0 for the Digitone should solve this issue, otherwise have to get everything perfect on the levels (hard with filter movement)

Been recording jams from the patterns I create on my Digitone. DN midi controls my Reface CS, Virus C, and Bass Station II. I get a good working pattern or two that I’m vibing with. Mute / unmute tracks, switch patterns as I go and bring in filter movement, sub osc, lfo, etc…by hand. This creates my song structure as I go and just play my percussion in my head along with that recording.

Afterwards I run my Machinedrum in time with the previously recorded synths and record a separate stereo track for that. Mix the two, chop percussion up, glitch it and call it a day.

The dexterity needed to have everything fall into place can be very difficult at times for these live jams, but extremely rewarding when you get the track at the desired results. You can make good music with this process, but you have to have a great ear and know your machines inside out.


Personally I feel the pay off is worth the effort. I hate arranging. I need to feel it. So much so for the first 2 & a half years of making music ALL my tracks were made live, never arranged, never used a DAW. Just recently started using Maschine for arranging (using Mk3). I prefer doing it live. I get you can do more by arranging, but that’s because the computer is doing the work.

Payoff to playing live:

  1. You gain skill !!!
  2. You learn your hardware inside & out !!!
  3. It’s fun !!!
  4. When you play live in front of people you actually have experience & are good…less fuck ups !!!
  5. The track flows nice because you built it off feeling & vibe, not with a mouse !!!

Just off the top of my head.

Edit: Above isn’t towards anyone specific & I just realized @JuanSOLO wasn’t even talking about playing live not being worth the extra effort (think you’re referring to usinh OB to track out?). Guess I got excited!


Yes!! Extremely rewarding when you get the desired results!!

I’ll be honest, yes I love jamming & doing as much possible live, but at the same time I got to a point where I felt my tracks weren’t matching my skill level & knowledge. So much power using software & it didn’t feel right to avoid it. I’m really trying to get a nice hybrid workflow going…mixing arranging & live play & hardware & software.

Sometimes it can be frustrating finding a good workflow, especially when you have a lot of hardware, but it can be a lot of fun at the same time trying different workflows out. Seeing what works best.


Agree with all you’ve said, an ideal workflow can be difficult to acheive. I feel like I’m almost there myself. When OB 2.0 comes out, I won’t have the issues of getting levels right on the jams because everything will be tracked separately into the Daw, including 2 synths of my choice through the DN’s left and right inputs. Then I feel I will be most efficient.

Although I can always just track the instruments separate, just takes more time.


I’m going to go out on a limb here and say the following unsorted thoughts:

  1. Hardware is cool
  2. Software is cool
  3. DAWs are probably not cool

The reason why we’re stuck in this punitive oscillating dialectic between “software and hardware”’ is false consciousness. Software and hardware are fine. DAWs are the apex commercial predator in our ecosystem since they’re the industry’s way of saying “your music is done and finished and not before that.” Massive gatekeeping eh.

The veneer of respectability DAWs create is like cable TV companies trying to bullly people into still subscribing.

Hardware devices run… software. Software devices need… human interfaces. Big surprise.

These aren’t two communities at odds. What we’re at odds with is the linear, rigid, and novelistic DAW. The idea of “tracks” and “inputs” and “blah blah blah.”

How can a person, who uses hardware and/or software, release music without interacting with a legacy “recording arts” mentality? Thinking.


Interesting thoughts…

I do think that while DAWs may not be “cool” they are really the best, most convenient thing and they do their jobs well. They’re like your dad. Not very cool but super helpful and necessary and there’s a reason why lots of people have dads.

I guess.


I can only speak for myself, but there is an urge to go down the rabbit hole of micro mixing my masterpiece to perfection using all the latests and greatest hybridSoftOSware that I spent crazy money on.
Then there’s these songs I really love, that got me into making music that sounds like they were recorded on a dirty 4 track, or within that realm, with some rando gear
Then there’s others that just sound incredible because they went down the rabbit hole, with all the best gear.

At this point I’m choosing somewhere in between, more low end fer sure


Wait a minute! My dad’s actually really cool. And super helpful. He’s more like my Digitone. But all jokes aside, you make a good point. Daws are convenient, but are they necessary? Depends on the individual.


OK - here’s an attempt at staying focused and jamming a techno track on the Analog Rytm and then doing some other stuff to it in Ableton


DAWs are probably not cool as One-Ring-To-Rule-Them-All (where «rule» easily transforms into «mess» :stuck_out_tongue_winking_eye: )

but they are cool to do what they were invented for — mixing and mastering for conventional release.

(doing things where reel-to-reel tape recorder metaphor works good.)


You might not think your dad (DAW) is cool when your growing up, and don’t want the cool kids (hardware) to see them picking you up from the happening. But later in life you realize how much they did for you and you want to hang out with them more and be nice to them. They were actually cool the whole time but you were being uncool by trying to be cool…

What did your DAW ever do to you that makes you cast them away? You should love your DAW for all the good things they do…

All things are reconcilable, don’t judge a sequencer by its cover, equal rights for hardware and software…


For me, the max number of boxes I can control in a jam is 3. Past this number, my control gets sloppy.


i can tell that a MIDI control surface (like, say, Novation ReMOTE Zero SL) rocks when it comes to multiple devices.
when jamming, i don’t touch synths directly. to address certain device, i switch either MIDI channel or template. even patterns are switched this way (SysEx rocks).


I literally never save anything on my Elektrons. I work on one song idea until I feel like either recording it or moving on. no need to save, they recall where you were when you last powered off.

out of your setup, the Mother32 should be the only thing you need to save sequences in, right?

anyway, I’m in the hybrid camp. use things for what they’re good at. jam on your hardware and sketch out ideas. record 'em into DAW. edit. if the “record 'em into DAW and edit” part is a pain but you like the hardware jam part, maybe there’s something else going on with your setup that’s making it difficult…?


I prefer hardware interfaces but mainly because I am so stuck in the past computer wise that I never used one musicaly (or for much else) in the first place, If I had things may well be different. Using a DAW for me would be like learning two new languages.


A very interesting thread.

When it comes to music, I’ll admit it is in my nature to look at what is missing from a piece of hardware rather than what it can actually do. So, most hardware is doomed to disappoint when in my hands. I love hardware, I just can’t get particularly productive with it. I’m fairly ok with the OT and getting up to speed quick on the OPZ though but my A4 and Voyager have been gathering dust for a wile now.

I also hate clutter and wires everywhere! So really, in many ways I should just bite the bullet and admit hardware aint for me haha.

We all write music different though. I think there is a musical utopia out there for me that has a clearish desk, some choice gear (OT, OP-Z and something else) along with Push and Touche. I don’t want to waste too much time thinking about it just now. Just want to enjoy my music again and thanks to the OPZ I’m getting back into the swing of things.

This year, I plan to spend more time on music. While I will never release anything cohesive like an album, I do like structured tracks so whether that’s making sure I build songs on the OPZ or within Ableton that’s one of my goals - focus and finish the best of my ideas.


I wouldn’t say that DAWs were invented, it is more a case of a progression. First there were MIDI only sequencers, then digital audio recorders, then MIDI plus audio with real time audio manipulation.

This progression was basically aligned to advances in hardware, i.e. more powerful CPUs, more RAM and bigger and faster hard drives.

The modern day DAW offers way more than the functionality provided by a reel to reel tape recorder. A DAW can also replace the mixer, the FX racks and all the instruments if you so wish.


only buy rack hardware. then you can hide all the wires. :+1: