Beat Making can and should be a simple process, especially with all of the technology at our disposal today. Yet, often times it gets complicated for that very same reason: too much stuff!
Right now the main way that beat makers make their beats is with software and controllers, but the old reliable mouse is still not far behind. Both have their advantages and disadvantages, here are some:
Controllers Are The Now And The Future
The controller is an interesting thing because if you really look at what it’s become, it’s essentially what we already had years ago. Back then, beat makers would make beats with various hardware devices, such as the SP1200, MPC2000, and many different synthesizers. Once software started to creep into every studio on the planet, as well as most peoples’ homes, the hardware aspect started to die off.
But now the hardware is back. And it’s here to stay.
By using some sort of controller such as the Arturia or a pad-based unit like Maschine, you’re giving yourself a huge advantage in the studio. The reason why is because you don’t have to feel stuck using just a mouse to make beats, instead now it’s all about what you’re hearing, not what you’re seeing.
It was just announced recently that Arturia has teamed up with Bitwig to offer the “Producer Pack”, which is Bitwig Studio and your choice of a 25, 49, or 61-key KeyLab controller keyboard. Right there that tells me something: hardware is the way to go. This is because software isn’t just software anymore, now it’s actually the center of your studio.
In the past, your software was essentially just a DAW on your computer, but now it’s capable of handing any type of hardware controller you throw at it, plus you can have other software running INSIDE the DAW. Crazy, right?
The Mouse Is The Original And Is Here To Stay
I used to always use a mouse when making beats, because it just felt more comfortable to me (plus I didn’t have a hardware controller). So when I would sit down to make a beat, I would be clicking around my DAW like it was nobody’s business – I was a pro.
But the novelty wore off and it got to the point that using a mouse to make beats was quite annoying. You see, even though the mouse is extremely useful and easy to use, it felt like I was working with a spreadsheet and doing office work, rather than in the studio creating music.
With today’s software though, I have noticed a trend, and that is that they’re all starting to revert back to mouse-driven features. For example, if you take a look at Maschine 2.0, there were tons of features included in it, and even though Maschine relies heavily on the hardware controller, you can still do everything with just the mouse.
And that’s the way it should be.
When I first got Maschine, it took some time to get used to because I was so trained to use a mouse. Having all these pads and knobs right in front of me was actually a bit intimidating, but I learned to quickly utilize them to my advantage.
As It Stands Now
What’s great about the software out today is that it manages to blend both the controller and mouse into a great package. In the case of Maschine 2.0, or any DAW for that matter, you have your choice.
Do you want to make beats with pads, keys, and knobs? Or would you rather just point and click with a mouse?
When I was using Cakewalk in the 90’s, the mouse was my favorite tool in my arsenal. If you were to watch me make a beat, you would see how easy everything seemed because I was zipping through all the menus and moving audio and MIDI clips around with ease. Editing, moving, effects, mixing, were all only a click away.
With a controller, doing certain steps can take some extra time.
Case in point: Maschine 2.0.
Not to hate on the Maschine software, but when version 2.0 came out, it had tons of new features, but some of the old settings had been moved around. For example, with the previous version, if I wanted to set the Polyphony of my pads, it was an option that was so easy to find using the controller. With 2.0, I now have to go through all these extra steps to do the same thing.
So even though the controller is a great addition to any recording studio, it’s not necessarily the best tool for the job.
If you love using your mouse to make beats, keep doing that. Don’t move over to a hardware-based setup because everyone else is. The best thing you can do is use the best of both worlds: a hardware controller to bang on the pads, and the mouse to do quick edits. With a setup like that, you should be making banging beats in no time.