Thinking of going back in the box

Because of the resent restrictions in many areas of life I’ve got plenty of time to think about changing my setup-workflow.

These are to following considerations i took into it:

  • Room: I don’t want to have everything filled up with gear, so the reductionist aspect comes in handy - and there is dust
  • Plugins: there are plenty of them and they are very good, some times exceptional (compressors, delays, modulation fx, reverb! and so on) - a DAW can speed up the workflow
  • Money: outboard is good and long lasting, but expensive - it doesn’t mean i will not use it anymore - it’s more a cherry on top of an ice-cream

any thoughts about it?


Do what ever makes you happy dude. The opinions of others are just that, opinions.
Follow the path of most interest to you personally. Fuck trends, make music.


Same here, I recently moved overseas and was only able to take a Digitone so am now relearning Ableton with a Launch Control XL. It’s currently a little stressful and overwhelming after years of using an Octatrack but I’m confident that once I push through this phase it’ll provide some good power in terms of sonics and arrangement.


I am doing the opposite, after many years of using Ableton and Reason, with the current life restriction the last thing I want to do is spend 16 hours on a computer- 8 for work+8 for music

I will be getting an OT and using it with my AR and DN


Lately a friend of mine got a Push, at some point in the jam session I was impressed how I couldn’t keep up with his piano skills. Turns out if you can hit anything and it plays the right note it’s easier ^^

I just can’t get a use for DAW myself outside arranging / mixing a track, and I don’t enjoy this that much on the computer. But I can understand it fits a lot of needs for others.
I just prefer 1000x turning Elektron knobs, for some reason.

Whatever your weapon is, make sure to practice a lot so that you reach the efficient workflow where you can drop the sounds or sequence you have in mind, or simply let your hands play with your ears.
All that matters, IMO.


I’ve slowly gone that way too. I’ll probably never be completely in the box, but I’ve realized that I’m happy with three Elektron boxes an MPC Live and few rack-thingies.

Arturia’s V Collection & Pigments and Valhalla Vintage Verb and some other random stuff like Waves Factory Cassette plug-in have made me fall in love with the laptop/computer again. I’ve always been a little too self conscious about my role as a rich western middle age guy who can afford a roomful of music gear. It is in conflict with my aspirations to tread lightly on mother earth.

Getting the MPC Live was a revelation for me. The ability to take it outside to the garden and make beats and come back inside and plug it in my computer and continue work there, adding plugins and whatnot is truly the best of both worlds. It bridges the gap between software and hardware worlds perfectly for me. If push came to shove I’d be happy with just the Live, a Zoom field recorder and my laptop.


Just when I thought I was going to go the same way as you, my computer screen started to go crazy with flickering, my laptop is now unusable. So with the quarantine, my only choice is to go the opposite way , fully out of the box, but also in a restricted space as my office computer is now full time installed on my desk.
So now I have the OT always plugged and available for recording, and other machines swap places as sound sources, I do recording sessions with my modular, my digitone, and plan on making everything come together with stems and my M:S as a drum machine in the end. Don’t know if I’ll record tracks or a full set yet, but I have the overall direction.


Philosophically, I’m heading in the same direction, though I’m sticking with hardware. But I’m at the point where I’m even considering dropping my synth and just go samples. If so, then my rig would be the Blackbox, the Chase Bliss Mood and Meris Polymoon.

Blackbox for putting stuff together. Anything from loops and clips to one shots, bass lines, chords and whatnot.

Mood and Polymoon for resampling said stuff.

Then everything goes out from the Blackbox three / six sends into the SSL SiX, where I master and record into a portable Zoom thingy.

I’m really starting to think that synths just aren’t my thing.


…first u need some instruments…then u play/program/trigger them…then ur idea is showing it’s face…than u fool around with it…record all that…and then u need a studio to sort it all out to end up with finshed ressults…

otb is always making music…itb is always studio work…so, for me there is no btib struggle at all…
it’s been always the two sides of the same coin…


this is my intention - right now I’m sitting in front of a 43" screen and a pimped up and fully fledged mini ITX-System (smaller than a shoe-box … after years i reactivated FL-Studio and… wow … what a perspective, i guess i have to think deeper about Overbridge :slight_smile:

Like most people, once I learn and develop a workflow with a piece of software or hardware, it only becomes a keeper if it’s quick and easy to perform the complex tasks and make the sounds that I need. Only a few things have satisifed me over the past 30 years of buying, selling, rebuying. (Monomachine, Nord Modular, Sonar, Reaktor, Sound Forge, iZotope, etc.) The key for me was to learn them inside and out first, and sell them if I didn’t like or need them. Plus the iPad has almost cured me of gear-lust, though I miss the immediacy of the Elektron sequencer, so I’m currently trying to decide on 1 piece of hardware. And a small Eurorack setup. It never ends.

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You can definitely get from start to finish ITB. The finish being more polished, refined, for sure.

I find a good, endless encoder based controller is very helpful to record some “live” stuff, tweaks, and such. Live Suite really has anything a person needs. Wavetable is phenomenal, and EQ+Sat+Limiter on the main channel is good enough for most.

With ITB production, for me, motivation is always the most important ingredient. Gear is a bit more approachable, so motivation is easier. And it’s easy to get into the jam mindset, ignoring a finished result.
Where as ITB you can often think more in terms of the final product being the possibility. So I try to bring a jam mentality when I am doing ITB work, when the motivation needs a boost.


i didn’t know how people jam before i tried dt for the first time, even having push2 at that time. but after dealing with number of elektron boxes, i recently discovered that in theory push2 will suffice for everything i’d do on ot/a4/dn including jams
now i can’t even justify why i still play on all those boxes instead of push) but elektron definitely changed the approach somehow


stumbled upon this absolutely wonderful Jordan Rakei’s stream of him working on a song

a good example of ITB and that it just doesn’t really matter


Alright, full otb wasn’t working for me, I need to make different tunes quickly for it to feel good, but I’m lucky, my computer stopped behaving, I am now fully back in the box again, having a lot of fun with Super 8 and Kaivo!


I enjoy DAWs and plugins. It doesnt kill my creativity to use a computer and it doubles my productivity to be honest. I think it’s really fast and precise to edit with a mouse and keyboard on a big screen. Composing with a piano roll is nice. Imagine trying out chord inversions on the 8th bar of a 8-bar chord-progression, or coming up with a drumroll on the end of 4 bar loop with a loop based sequencer (like Elektron): it’s a PITA because you have to wait for the loop to get back to the point where you did the edit, so experimenting and trying out different things takes forever. Though for improvising and jamming on the fly having a keyboard or controller is a must IMO.

It’s also great to have the freedom to create multiple instances of everything in the digital realm:
Duplicating a track with a sophisticated audio processing chain attached to it, it’s just CTRL+D now you got two versions and can experiment with the new one.
You want the same reverb with a longer tail on another track: just copy. Try duplicating a reverb pedal, you are going to have to click on “Pay with paypal” and wait 2 days for your pedal to arrive :wink:

People will say that computers distract them from being creative but they will jump through hoops to avoid using a computer, just to be dawless. Sometimes it’s almost comical:
Is it really enjoyable to do intricate sound design with your 10th synthesizer in that awkward spot on the top left while being hunched over your desk, hurting your back because you really dont have the place for that synth to use egonomically (looking at you “Your setups”-thread)?
Do people enjoy an Ipad workflow where something easy as exporting a file needs multiple middleware to export a file from A to B?
Is it really more enjoyable to create FM patches with a Korg Volca FM instead of using Dexed on a computer?
Is it really that bad to use a computer for recording your jam and is using a >200€-field recorder for that purpose necessary?
Do people really enjoy working with big desk-mixers, lots of cables, patchbays, dealing with ground hum and midi clock issues. Do they really use all that stuff on a regular basis or do they enjoy buying gear, setting it up and make their homestudio look like the command station of a battleship?

To be honest sometimes I am not sure (about my self, too. right now sitting on 3 elektron boxes and a semimodular).


me too actually.
I mentioned it quite often in similar threads but I’m still most productive ITB, finish nearly all tracks ITB and I’m most proud of tracks I created entirely ITB.
The elektron boxes are great fun, but they are full of 4 bar patterns that I will never finish. I’m honestly often too lazy to record them at all, I just rather make a new track in ableton. My moog mother32 sounds gorgeous, but recording it properly, build the next patch record again breaks my flow. I rather like to open just another instance of TAL 101, Repro or Monark.
Sketches I start in ableton I usually finish into full tracks in few hours. Only the mixing process can take a while.
Octatrack is the only hardware I really need, cause I do livesets with it and prefer it to computer livesets.
I think I might try push2 again, if it can give me the jamming feel, that I need on days when I’ve looked at screens too much. Simple since liked the mentioned TAL etc can be pretty nicely controlled by Push or my Komplete Kontrol keyboard. The launchpad pro mk3 is a better standalone sequencer than an ableton controller imo. The sequencer and ableton controls are not properly geared to each other…

Sometimes I’m asking myself if I keep certain hardware just for making videos on my youtube channel. If that’s the case I find that quite stupid… Or I just want to look at them, touch them from time to time and being proud to own these shiny devices. I know I would be more productive if I focused on my tracks instead of my boxes


It’s the cables that kills OTB for me. I don’t consider myself to be OCD about anything but when I’ve had stuff out on my desk with cables everywhere it just pisses me off enough that I lose the creative spark a bit!

And now that I’ve discovered audio streaming over a lightening cable from iPad to Mac I’m kind of thinking that could be it for me. Push, iPad, small controller keyboard and away I go. I had parked my iPad for a few years and hadn’t realised the integration of things when I picked up a MBP 14 months ago so it was a huge revelation over the weekend doing stuff you guys have probably been doing for years :man_facepalming::rofl:

I go through ITB/OTB re-evaluations regularly though but right now I’m much happier ITB.


I have a lot of hardware but if I’m honest with myself I find myself being more productive using Bitwig and Studio One.


I just think you need to be aware of the strengths and weaknesses of each option, and do whatever is fun for you at the moment. I am way more efficient and productive in Ableton, but noodling around and experimenting on my Elektron boxes or modular helped me come up with synth line I couldn’t have programmed ITB. And jamming/performing live on boxes designed for this purpose is super rewarding.
Also, don’t be a purist, but some time spend with limitations from using one machine exclusively helps get skills that can translate to your other stuff to, or just rekindle your love for music making when stuck in a rut.