In the past decade, there have been great advancements when it comes to music production, and most of it is due to computers. Before we had the internet, producers had no choice but to use lots of hardware gear to record their music onto big and bulky tape units, but that quickly changed when software came into the picture.
I try to keep my setup as minimal as possible, and yet I still see lots of producers that continue to use hardware to record. The interesting thing is that they’ve integrated it well into their DAW, but it still makes me wonder why they have all this gear when they can simply just use a few software programs.
1. They Want A Vintage Feel
Whether they want to give their music a vintage feel, or they want to feel like they’re being vintage by having gear, many producers are hanging on to old equipment. Some of it could be nostalgic, but regardless, hardware still does a fine job and fits in well with today’s modern recording studios.
I think that a lot of producers just want to hang on to their gear because they just like having it around. I know I’m like that because when I had my drum machine and sampler in the 90’s, I still held on to them even though I was producing solely on my computer running a version of Cakewalk Pro Audio.
2. To Get That Certain Sound
Many producers will tell you that they just need “that” sound. For example, a lot of Hip Hop producers will stick with a piece like the SP1200, MPC2000, or ASR-10 because they just love the sound it reproduces.
The SP1200 is a perfect example because if you’ve ever heard a song done with it, you would recognize it immediately. It samples in 12-bit and gives the beat just the right amount of muffled dirt that a lot of producers have come to love. That’s why you can still find used SP1200’s being sold on eBay for at least $2,500!
3. It’s A Habit
A friend of mine had an ASR-10 from the 90’s that he held onto right up until just a few years ago, when I finally convinced him to buy Maschine. He’s really glad he did because he loves Maschine, but he still misses his beloved ASR because he was just used to it.
I had never used an ASR until I went to his house and saw him with it, and he was pressing all sorts of buttons like it was nothing to him. And this is a guy that learned the ASR without a manual!
So even though he’s moved on and has embraced a more modern approach to making beats, he still misses his old gear because he was just used to it and how easy it was for him to do certain things. Things that even Maschine can’t do.
4. They Want To Get Away From The Screen
One of the biggest reasons why I bought Maschine was because I wanted to get away from the computer screen. When I had my old setup of a drum machine and sampler, there was no computer screen for me to look at, and I wanted that feeling back.
Computers are great because of the power inside, plus you have tons of software at your disposal, but I find it always takes away from the creative side and it’s too easy getting caught up clicking on things, instead of just sitting down and making music – like we’re supposed to.
Having an MPC2000 in front of you to make beats sounds much more appealing than staring at a computer screen and clicking on buttons in Reason.
5. It Just Sounds Better
You know what I mean – music made with hardware just naturally sounds better, and not so “robotic” like a computer. I know that hardware gear basically has a computer inside of it, but it’s still the way it’s done and processed that makes a difference.
Looking back at the SP1200 example, you know right away if a beat was done with that or on a computer. If you take a look at Maschine or the MPC Renaissance, both have a “vintage” setting, which allows you to select what you want your sounds to sound like, such as the SP1200 or MPC60. When you use this setting though, it’s still not nearly as good as the real thing.
This is why a lot of producers are hanging on to old equipment, because they want to keep a part of history and at the same time get their music to sound a certain way. So before you go and sell your old drum machine, consider keeping it and using it in your current setup – you might be surprised.