What Controller Should I Buy?

Tech talk about audio recording and live stage production.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby clinton » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:26 pm

I sincerely appreciate all the responses fellas. I am sure this sounds like scattered ramblings here and for the most part, it probably is. This helps a lot though. I really enjoy making music and I really do wanna enter a new world of sounds. THis has given me lots to think about.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby Malcolm Boyce » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:27 pm

Another thing to keep in mind is if you find options to be daunting, for example, trying to decide which of 179 snare drums you want to use, something simple can help you avoid that trouble. If not, detailed is the bomb.

Different strokes for different folks.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:33 pm

You remember that little sequencer I had when we were goofing around for the Boz Skaggs? (Yamaha QY-70) You can get them on ebay for $110 - $200, they have lots of internal voices, effects, drum kits, etc. You can sequence songs with 16 different channels, or patterns with 8. They have midi out for controlling other synths/machines/computer, it's laid out like a tiny toy keyboard, etc. If you come visit me some time, I'll show you the ins and outs of how I use it, and decide if that's something you might be interested in. Of course, Andrew's caveat about tweaking dated presets applies...although that can be part of the fun, too.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby macrae11 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:33 pm

clinton wrote:I think you're right Andrew. One more question. Am I being lazy here or should I suck it up and learn how to record on a PC?

Well that's a large question that's pretty tough to answer. Here's my perspective though, and you can tell me if I'm wrong. You're a musician not an engineer, and I'm guessing that's the way you'd like to keep it. In an ideal world you'd hire someone like me, Matt, Malcolm, or Sean Boyer to sit behind the computer/console all day while you focus all your energies on being creative. That's probably never going to be a feasible solution. In my mind the next best solution is to work at home on demos with whatever type of recording equipment you have, then take that product and flesh it out in a proper studio, again with someone else handling all the techno jibber jabber so you can create and perform to the best of your abilities. I know(believe me I know) that this often isn't feasible either, and you've also gotten accustomed to being able to record and create at home at your leisure.

The problem with this approach is that you're always splitting yourself. Everybody has a finite amount of time available to them, and the more time you spend on tech matters the less you have to put into creative endeavors. Now sometimes diving into the tech world can be a creative reprieve, which can lead to renewed creativity and new ideas. More often than not though I see it as a stumbling block for artists who end up getting frustrated with the issues that they aren't equipped to solve. I really think this is part of the problem with modern music, that artists are split to many ways and end up being less effective at artists, which is what they're meant to be, due to the competing interests they've been forced into just to survive. So much for the democratization of music production eh?

So that's the negative.

On the positive learning to do this stuff in a computer, or a proper studio with a large format analogue console, can be very much like learning a new instrument, with many of the same rewards. However, as you know, there is time and effort required to reap the rewards. It's certainly my instrument, but it's not as simple as learning banjo when you can play guitar. It's more like learning music theory from the ground up.

I disagree with Matt and Malcolm that it would potentially take as little as a few days or hours to really "get this working". Yes you could be making some sounds, but nothing kills a creative vibe faster than having to go and change buffer settings because there's a delay from what your hands are doing to the sound your hearing. And that's assuming you recognize what the problem is and how to fix it. Now hypothetically if you had someone build a working system and show you the basics of how to use it, you could get to work right away and build from there. Basically the equivalent of learning G,C, and D(which is maybe all you'll ever need).
For me, if I'm learning some new software it takes me 3-5 days working 6-8 hours per day for me to get comfortable enough to get "creative". So that's 20-40 hoursish, which doesn't sound like a lot, but the more I spread it out, the longer I find it takes, which I'm assuming you'd have to do. Also I have 10 years of experience playing with similar programs, so I know where to watch for the pitfalls. Learning a new paradigm(computer vs desktop recording) adds a whole nother level of work to do, beyond just software knowledge. I know what this feels like because I've been learning 3 new graphics programs which I started in October, and I'm just barely starting to be able to be comfortably creative in them. And I'm using them for work, and often for 4-5 hours at a stretch.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby clinton » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:33 pm

Malcolm Boyce wrote:Another thing to keep in mind is if you find options to be daunting, for example, trying to decide which of 179 snare drums you want to use, something simple can help you avoid that trouble. If not, detailed is the bomb.

Different strokes for different folks.


haha, I can see that being something I would obsess over for sure. Not sure if that's a good thing or not.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby macrae11 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:35 pm

Malcolm Boyce wrote:Another thing to keep in mind is if you find options to be daunting, for example, trying to decide which of 179 snare drums you want to use, something simple can help you avoid that trouble. If not, detailed is the bomb.

Different strokes for different folks.

For emphasis. If you're looking at going down this road keep your options limited. As I'm sure you realized from the J2D project, limitations and deadlines help fuel creativity. Open endedness and unlimited options do the opposite.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby clinton » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:40 pm

macrae11 wrote:
clinton wrote:I think you're right Andrew. One more question. Am I being lazy here or should I suck it up and learn how to record on a PC?

Well that's a large question that's pretty tough to answer. Here's my perspective though, and you can tell me if I'm wrong. You're a musician not an engineer, and I'm guessing that's the way you'd like to keep it. In an ideal world you'd hire someone like me, Matt, Malcolm, or Sean Boyer to sit behind the computer/console all day while you focus all your energies on being creative. That's probably never going to be a feasible solution. In my mind the next best solution is to work at home on demos with whatever type of recording equipment you have, then take that product and flesh it out in a proper studio, again with someone else handling all the techno jibber jabber so you can create and perform to the best of your abilities. I know(believe me I know) that this often isn't feasible either, and you've also gotten accustomed to being able to record and create at home at your leisure.

The problem with this approach is that you're always splitting yourself. Everybody has a finite amount of time available to them, and the more time you spend on tech matters the less you have to put into creative endeavors. Now sometimes diving into the tech world can be a creative reprieve, which can lead to renewed creativity and new ideas. More often than not though I see it as a stumbling block for artists who end up getting frustrated with the issues that they aren't equipped to solve. I really think this is part of the problem with modern music, that artists are split to many ways and end up being less effective at artists, which is what they're meant to be, due to the competing interests they've been forced into just to survive. So much for the democratization of music production eh?

So that's the negative.

On the positive learning to do this stuff in a computer, or a proper studio with a large format analogue console, can be very much like learning a new instrument, with many of the same rewards. However, as you know, there is time and effort required to reap the rewards. It's certainly my instrument, but it's not as simple as learning banjo when you can play guitar. It's more like learning music theory from the ground up.

I disagree with Matt and Malcolm that it would potentially take as little as a few days or hours to really "get this working". Yes you could be making some sounds, but nothing kills a creative vibe faster than having to go and change buffer settings because there's a delay from what your hands are doing to the sound your hearing. And that's assuming you recognize what the problem is and how to fix it. Now hypothetically if you had someone build a working system and show you the basics of how to use it, you could get to work right away and build from there. Basically the equivalent of learning G,C, and D(which is maybe all you'll ever need)


Your assumption of what I want to do is 100% correct Andrew and I wish I had put it that way myself right from the get go. I do want to spend more time creating than problem solving and being an an engineer is not one of my ambitions. I am probably one of the least technical people you will ever meet and have trouble just using my computer for surfing the net, let alone trying to fix anything it does wrong (which is often).

If I understand what you're telling me correctly, I'm best off with a stand alone, "plug n play" unit like I have now? Sounds like you have a firm idea of what I'm looking to do, so I'll take your advice very seriously.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby macrae11 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:47 pm

I really don't want to be too discouraging, because the advantages and rewards can be very significant, but I just don't want you to go in thinking it'll be a breeze. I also made an edit to my post, but it's just more negative stuff, so you can ignore it! :oops:
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:55 pm

macrae11 wrote:The problem with this approach is that you're always splitting yourself. Everybody has a finite amount of time available to them, and the more time you spend on tech matters the less you have to put into creative endeavors. Now sometimes diving into the tech world can be a creative reprieve, which can lead to renewed creativity and new ideas. More often than not though I see it as a stumbling block for artists who end up getting frustrated with the issues that they aren't equipped to solve. I really think this is part of the problem with modern music, that artists are split to many ways and end up being less effective at artists, which is what they're meant to be, due to the competing interests they've been forced into just to survive. So much for the democratization of music production eh?

Story of my life. I want to have a doctorate in classical composition, while being a world class pianist, drummer, and guitarist. I also want to be an Astrophysicist in my spare time, while I win a nobel prize for disproving the second law of thermodynamics thus solving the world's energy crisis. Alas, all I've been able to pull off thus far is to be a decent drummer/pianist, and mediocre audio engineer/producer.


macrae11 wrote:I disagree with Matt and Malcolm that it would potentially take as little as a few days or hours to really "get this working".

Disagree with malcolm all you want but leave me out of it. I never said hours... I've done enough MIDI in the past 5 years that I'd never say such a thing. Days to get the swing of it, weeks to get comfortable, and months to get sublime with it is reasonable if you work at it.

EDIT: I may have come closer to thwarting the second law of thermodymics. It's seems that entropy only increases with the forward motion of time. If I can move time backwards I may be able to solve the energy crisis.... However I still need to spend time with the kids tonight. So that means I won't be able to do any mixing. I can't win.
Last edited by Mathieu Benoit on Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:59 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby clinton » Mon Jan 09, 2012 2:58 pm

No I think I get what you're saying. I'm an old school four-track guy and truth be told, it took me quite a while to learn how to use my little Boss unit I have now. Many of my friends have pushed me to learn pro-tools and I've held them off at arm's length with all my might. For the sounds I am looking to get, maybe I am better off with an actual piece of equipment I can learn to use as opposed to jumping into a whole world where I don't even speak the language. What I worry is that I'm gonna get to the point where I have a house full of gear and something will break and I'll be forced to use a PC anyway. Scarey thought!
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby clinton » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:02 pm

what I was hoping for would be that you guys would say "buy this, it has this and is all you need. It's like 60 bones and is easy to use". Figured that was too simple.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:11 pm

It's almost never $60 simple. It has gotten as low as $40 simple, though.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby macrae11 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:12 pm

clinton wrote:what I was hoping for would be that you guys would say "buy this, it has this and is all you need. It's like 60 bones and is easy to use". Figured that was too simple.

Way way too simple. While I'm being all negative I should point out one major negative point to the hardware route. If you want to work with drum loops and tempo based sounds, you will have to either sequence everything in whatever synth you end up buying(they all suck at sequencing to varying degrees), or print your first tempo based sound and then try to frig with everything else to get it close. This is one of those problems that you don't even have to think about with a computer, but can be a showstopper when dealing in the analog realm.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:13 pm

clinton wrote:what I was hoping for would be that you guys would say "buy this, it has this and is all you need. It's like 60 bones and is easy to use". Figured that was too simple.


I had a dream a while back that I bought this plugin that controls your DAW and you simply played the track as a loop and every pass it made improvements to the mix until the mix was perfect. The program would listen to the mix and make judgement calls bordering A.I. and it only cost $500. Everyone on gearslutz wanted one, since it took the guess work out of mixing. The next day the entire recording industry filed chapter 11.

Then I woke up.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby clinton » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:15 pm

Mathieu Benoit wrote:
clinton wrote:what I was hoping for would be that you guys would say "buy this, it has this and is all you need. It's like 60 bones and is easy to use". Figured that was too simple.


I had a dream a while back that I bought this plugin that controls your DAW and you simply played the track as a loop and every pass it made improvements to the mix until the mix was perfect. The program would listen to the mix and make judgement calls bordering A.I. and it only cost $500. Everyone on gearslutz wanted one, since it took the guess work out of mixing. The next day the entire recording industry filed chapter 11.

Then I woke up.


okay, okay
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:16 pm

macrae11 wrote:
clinton wrote:what I was hoping for would be that you guys would say "buy this, it has this and is all you need. It's like 60 bones and is easy to use". Figured that was too simple.

Way way too simple. While I'm being all negative I should point out one major negative point to the hardware route. If you want to work with drum loops and tempo based sounds, you will have to either sequence everything in whatever synth you end up buying(they all suck at sequencing to varying degrees), or print your first tempo based sound and then try to frig with everything else to get it close. This is one of those problems that you don't even have to think about with a computer, but can be a showstopper when dealing in the analog realm.


Mosts synths have a multitrack sequencer built into them that can help with that.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby macrae11 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:16 pm

Mathieu Benoit wrote:Disagree with malcolm all you want but leave me out of it. I never said hours... I've done enough MIDI in the past 5 years that I'd never say such a thing. Days to get the swing of it, weeks to get comfortable, and months to get sublime with it is reasonable if you work at it.


I still disagree with you too, just maybe not quite as much. :-P In my mind it's months to get comfortable and years to get sublime, ie being able to be creative without thinking too much about it. Like I said, I've been working heavily on Photoshop, Illustrator and After Effects for the last 4 months, and I'm just barely starting to feel comfortable now. And I've been dabbling in them for years, and already had a very strong computer background.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:17 pm

clinton wrote:okay, okay


;-)
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:19 pm

macrae11 wrote:I still disagree with you too, just maybe not quite as much.

As long as you agree with me more it's all good. He's been arguing with me all day... :twisted:
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby macrae11 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:19 pm

Mathieu Benoit wrote:
macrae11 wrote:
clinton wrote:what I was hoping for would be that you guys would say "buy this, it has this and is all you need. It's like 60 bones and is easy to use". Figured that was too simple.

Way way too simple. While I'm being all negative I should point out one major negative point to the hardware route. If you want to work with drum loops and tempo based sounds, you will have to either sequence everything in whatever synth you end up buying(they all suck at sequencing to varying degrees), or print your first tempo based sound and then try to frig with everything else to get it close. This is one of those problems that you don't even have to think about with a computer, but can be a showstopper when dealing in the analog realm.


Mosts synths have an absolute piece of crap multitrack sequencer built into them that can help with that.


Fixed it for you.

If Clinton's going to get into sequencing in a synth, he might as well get into computer recording because the learning curve will be almost the same, and at least that way he'll still have his fingers and eyes from not having torn them off and gouged them out respectively.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby clinton » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:20 pm

yeah I should have mentioned that a prerequisite of mine is keeping my limbs intact.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby Mathieu Benoit » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:25 pm

macrae11 wrote:
Mathieu Benoit wrote:Mosts synths have an absolute piece of crap multitrack sequencer built into them that can help with that.


Fixed it for you.

dielaugh I just had a client ask me what was so funny about their bequest. Thanks a lot....lol.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby Christian LeBlanc » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:29 pm

macrae11 wrote:If Clinton's going to get into sequencing in a synth, he might as well get into computer recording because the learning curve will be almost the same, and at least that way he'll still have his fingers and eyes from not having torn them off and gouged them out respectively.

I'll disagree here, as it really depends on the hardware and how it handles sequencing. Some devices are real user-friendly and intuitive, although I'll acknowledge that the other 99% of devices out there are creativity-prohibitive.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby clinton » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:31 pm

Christian, I'll take you up on that offer. I am going away until the end of the month but when I get back, let's have a date night.
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Re: What Controller Should I Buy?

Postby macrae11 » Mon Jan 09, 2012 3:35 pm

Christian LeBlanc wrote:
macrae11 wrote:If Clinton's going to get into sequencing in a synth, he might as well get into computer recording because the learning curve will be almost the same, and at least that way he'll still have his fingers and eyes from not having torn them off and gouged them out respectively.

I'll disagree here, as it really depends on the hardware and how it handles sequencing. Some devices are real user-friendly and intuitive, although I'll acknowledge that the other 99% of devices out there are creativity-prohibitive.

I'll certainly acknowledge that I haven't tried every sequencer out there, but I've never seen one even come close to how easy it is to do on a computer.
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