The question of the right gear to produce music is not so easy to answer these days. The market offers an incredible variety of equipment, from beginner to professional devices, from all-in-one grooveboxes to simple synths, from cheap to expensive, simple to extensive. It is really not easy to make the right choice, especially for beginners.
Because I went through a long and expensive adventure until I found what I was searching for, I want to tell you my story so you don't make the same mistakes than I did.
How all began - before the Digitakt dropped in
I started making music many, many years ago, but it really took off in 2018. At that time, the iOS platform produced an incredible number of great apps for phones and tables, and I was very busy with Auxy, a complete music studio for the iPhone.
I used it to produce complete tracks and eventually got to a point where I wanted more. More control over the mastering, more tracks, more power and I wanted to push buttons to control my output. Gear!
It started with the Maschine Mikro
So I first bought a Maschine Mikro, a full featured All-In-One Groovebox. I bought it without real research, I thought "yeah I will make super duper tracks in no time".
Unfortunately, I had absolutely no idea about all the Midi stuff that came with it, the many technical terms and the device. In addition, my old Mac was so slow that the Maschine softwares performance was just horrible. So it was no fun at all. I sold the device after only 3 months or so and after 6 more months Korg Volcas came into the game. 6 pieces. I bought them used.
Dawless with Korg Volcas?
The approach was simple: small boxes that made great sound, able to connect and extremely affordable. Only - I didn't use them. The knobs were way too small for my fingers, I couldn't record anything with them because the individual tracks always arrived in the DAW with an uncorrectable time offset and so on.
As much as I loved them, I sold the Volcas the other day, although I bought a sinfully expensive Multiclock master clock to correct the time issues.
Ableton Push or Digitakt?
Then came Ableton with the Push 2. This was followed by the OP-Z, very great part, a Novation Circuit Mono Station, several controllers for the iPad and yes the story I could continue for some more pages.
I don't even want to know the total amount of money I spent. But what was even more frustrating is that I was simply overwhelmed by the variety of devices and the increasing complexity with each added new piece of gear. So it was no fun at all to make music. The technical aspect was far too much the focus.
I was told to get a Digitakt but I didn't listen
I'm writing all this down for you because throughout the entire "career" of my hardware mania, I got several tips that I should buy a Digitakt from Elektron and would be happy with just that one package as it delivers all. Unfortunately (and you will have noticed that on my blog) I simply love to play around with devices LOL I have a big favor for machines, so I have skillfully ignored the hints.
Until then came the lockdown. At that point I had decided that I wanted to change musically and eventually earn real money from a long term perspective. I had been producing progressive house with Ableton at the time, but it had somehow become too boring and generic for me. I wanted to produce haptic, reproducible music that could be performed live. That's when the keyword "Dawless" popped finally up and I started to work intensively researching all-in-one grooveboxes.
I finally came to the Digitakt
And so I finally arrived at the Digitakt. Yes, it's expensive on first sight, but worth every Cent! After a short time, I was totally enthusiastic about the device. The workflow made me incredibly productive, there were lots of creative possibilities, and what was very important to me: I could finally make music with knobs and switches by hand, giving my music organic feels and mistakes.
Since then, I've been a complete fan of the device. I added some more gear meanwhile - Digitone, Model:Samples to name a few - but I always come back to make simple Digitakt only tracks, because it's so easy.
I wrote this whole story down because I'd like to save newcomers the expense and frustration that comes from ignorance. There are so many options on the market, and if you choose wrong, there can be a lot of frustration that ultimately kills your creativity.
I'll outline the pros and cons of Digitakt in the next blog post and give you a little concrete help in deciding. I will also compare the Digitakt with other current Grooveboxes.
What are your experiences with music hardware so far? Let us know in the comments!
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