Brought to you by Cyrus & The Drum Broker
Brought to you by Cyrus & The Drum Broker
Very Dope Sampler shootout from Drum Broker customer Fanu (http://fanumusic.com/).
I’m a sampling freak. And a sampler freak.
I’ve been loving hardware samplers since early 2000.
Mostly, I’ve been using a whole lot of Akai as well as E-MU.
(At this point it’s relevant to say that if you’re one of those ADHD heads, or belong in the cult of TL;DR, I wouldn’t blame you for scrolling down till you see a Soundcloud player, as that’s where the goodies are)
Around 2009 I, like many, went all digital and thought my hardware days would be over as I considered DAWs so convenient and magnificent; quick, easy to use, and you can take them wherever you go. Little did I know that I’d go back to my roots. I made an album and some EPs with my all-digital setup (mixing some of it in an outboard desk for a while), but ever since I sold my hardware, I realized I missed working with a hardware sampler plugged into a desk.
You can say what you want about working with a laptop setup, but I’ve always found that hardware samplers, when plugged into a good desk, have that certain warmth that I find extremely pleasing to the ear.
Anyways, cut to the chase and fast forward to today: currently I’ve got an Akai s900, Akai s2000, Akai s3200, Akai MPC Renaissance, Akai MPC Studio, and E-MU E4XT Ultra. Here’s a few brief words about each.
The Akai s900 (made in 1986) I only use for sampling sounds, and then I sample sounds out of it into other samplers or my laptop. It’s got this sweet 12-bit crunch that nicely rounds off the top end and it brings some presence into the mids, which helps get especially the drums to stand out in the mix. Seriously. Someone once said, “Beats coming out of an old Akai sound like bricks”, which is a compliment. The s900 is still the choice for many hiphop producers because of its “organic” sound. Its drawback is the display which only has two lines of text. And oh, its ram is 0.7 megabytes. You read that right!
Have you ever glanced around your studio and asked yourself, “Why the fuck do I need all this gear?”. If you answered no, you are either going to absolutely love the idea of injecting a little minimalism into your workspace or totally reject it. Honey badger and I don’t give fuck. There is no denying that we find ourselves (beatmakers, producers, musicians, insert your audio related occupation or hobby here) the
victims product of capitalistic and consumerist clutter. Before you go into Red Scare mode, hear me out. Capitalism has blessed the audio production world with some innovative and arguably necessary products. In my humble opinion too many great products.
The by-product of cheap technology and development coupled with internet marketing is depression. We are bombarded with an endless stream of must have midi controllers, DAW’s, plug-ins, etc. Add the revitalization of the so called vintage gear craze to the equation and you might be feeling a tad bit inadequate in the gear department.
Over the last 10+ years I’ve owned my fair share of expensive hardware and dabbled in the expansive cloud of plug-ins and feature excessive DAW’s. You can easily find yourself down the rabbit hole chasing the latest and greatest or the oldest and sonically “best” equipment money can buy. You will certainly spend a substantial amount of time and possibly find yourself near bankruptcy chasing the perfect tool. In the end, you might go over the precipice and ask yourself “Why the fuck do I need all this gear?”
My latest experiment in producing music has been to inject a little minimalism into my workflow and production workspace. I find myself more productive and the creative process is beginning to be fun again.
I’ve made it no secret that I use Propellerhead’s Reason software to produce my music. I don’t use some strange combination of Reason & Pro Tools or Reason and Ableton Live. I don’t obsess over new features of version x,y, & z of a given product. I’ve learned to work within limitations of my DAW (especially with Reason). I can honestly give a fuck what your DAW or Drum Machine can do that mine can’t. Maybe you should too. I use a single production tool and plan to master it completely. The workflow makes sense and allows creativity to flourish. My plug-in (Rack Extensions) are minimal and essential and accomplish their desired task.
I’ll argue that you can never have enough sounds, so I’m always getting my hands on more drums samples, samples to chop, virtual synths, and so forth. Having a solid sound bank is crucial to creating fresh material, but without inspiration its useless.
I’ve narrowed down my multitude of midi controllers to a single device that integrates near perfectly with the Reason workflow (Nektar Panorama P4). I own a beefed up E-Mu SP-1200 for sound design projects and drums. Again, tools that I use frequently and add value to my creative production and workflow.
Overall I’ve reduced my setup to the bare minimum, the essentials if you will. I’ve reduced physical, mental, and virtual clutter to the point where I can master the few tools that I use most frequently and never have to worry about the latest and greatest and must have’s of the music industry.
Injecting a little minimalism into my life as a beatmaker has done personal wonders. Shit worked for me.
The next time you glance around your studio or bedroom, ask yourself, “Is all this gear necessary?”. The next time you spend hours on internet forums reading “This Machine vs. That Machine” posts, ask yourself, “Is this necessary?”.
In the end, most of our consumption does little to add value to what we do best… be creative and make music.