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Was DAWless a Corona Phenomenon? Some thoughts.


Those who followed my journey know that I've been a big fan of music hardware for years and swear by the many advantages these machines can give.


A few days ago I wrote in another blog post about wanting my DAW back for different reasons I made during my latest projects. I thought this was my own little luxury problem only, but surprisingly, I'm seeing more and more musicians leading towards the same direction and a general desire to get back to DAW and setup hybrid constructions including both hardware AND software.


I often read that during Corona lockdown a lot of new hardware got purchased, apparently because there were enough savings due to the lack of travel and leisure activities. Now those restrictions have largely been lifted and artists are realizing that they simply bought too much stuff that they might never really master, and I notice that many musicians want to go back to the computer and combine some hardware with the advantages of software.


An interesting development in my opinion. I noticed this also during talks with musicians in my direct environment, as well as with myself, and I hear similar statements: "It's refreshing to work with the DAW again", "Very inspiring setup", "I completely forgot the possibilities of Software" and so on.


In addition to the financial aspect, which also played a role for myself, it's also certainly the case that many musicians could not perform due to years of Corona restrictions. Thus, the thought of portable setups did not arise at all.


Will DAWless stay?


I think there will still be a huge community of musicians who work with pure hardware setups, but I notice a slight flattening of pure DAWless productions. Maybe my perception is different than yours in that regard? Leave your opinion in the comments below. I love to hear others on this topics.


But I still find this development absolutely exciting. Because at the core it always leads to the same question: Namely, that creators have fun with their music, regardless how they make it.


I myself have the feeling that hardware has taught me a lot that I would not have been able to do with software alone. Actually, I only started working with music in a serious way because of Hardware that I purchased during Corona. That was when the Digitakt came into the game. The HW fever had grabbed me, I added more and more machines after a short time and I wanted to create partout no more with the DAW. I think I have developed a kind of "tunneled view", for whatever reason. The main thing was to produce "DAWless".


A setup should reflect the artistical goals


The reason for my first hardware acquisition was that I wasn't happy with my DAW produced tracks anymore. I wanted to make music that I could perform and shape with my hands, that contained mistakes, I wanted to move away from plugin orgies, play in front of an audience and connect with people at some point, and that thus had to be reproducible music.


That's why I decided at a point to try it with hardware. From today's perspective, this process was very helpful, because it taught me a lot with regard to these goals and brought me much closer to them then a computer could ever do.


And don't get me wrong, I will always use hardware cos I still think it's different to transform my emotions into sounds with direct access to a synthesizer. And the evolving sound of an analogue Vermona Perfourmer will never be replaced by a VST. But it totally makes sense to open up and take advantage of both worlds - smaller setups, less travel stress, cheaper, more flexibility.


I'm going to downsize my equipment park in the near future and sell some of the machines I haven't used lately. Don't worry, the Elektrons aren't among with them :) Even though I'm currently focusing on a small hybrid setup for travelling which doesn't involve Digitakt and Analog Rytm, they remain my favorite machines. For the latter, by the way, I'm developing a new video course to launch in late fall.


Build your own setup


If you got lost in MIDI, routing and synths, if you need someone to give track feedbacks, or help building your own setup, be it hardware, hybrid or software based - I offer individual coaching lessons. Book a free trial session now and we can discuss your needs!




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Talking about DAW, did you evaluate to but an Ableton Push? Probably that is the best solution, an hybrid setup: Push is the DAWless, Ableton the DAW...best of both worlds?

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59 Perlen
59 Perlen
Jun 23, 2023
Replying to

Hi Emanuele, this must have been vanished - I just saw your comment because of a new backend feature in Wix. I owned a Push but sold it in from today's perspective, I am happy about it. I was really convinced about the hyprid idea but producing with my hardware is still much more productive and more reliable. I had a couple of Live situations when Ableton behaved really weired.

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sumalesounds
sumalesounds
Sep 18, 2022

Fantastic article Mat! I am starting to understand the advantage of using hardware/stand alone equipment. It does feel nice to take a break from the computer screen and focus on the sound and groove with my Roland SP 404 Mk2. I am definitely interested in buying myself a physical synthesizer. Although Native Instruments makes amazing plug ins of virtual synthesizers....something about watching you and other favorite musicians of mine physical turning the knobs and exploring the possibilites is very appealing to me. I'm old school when it comes down to it. I need to physically feel what I am doing with my music. I love how you adapt to your journey even when it comes to selling equipment.…

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59 Perlen
59 Perlen
Sep 19, 2022
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Erik, what a pleasure to read your comment, thanks for taking your time :) i totally get you and yes, the physical magic is the little piece that made me dive into the hardware world and it’s also what significantly shaped my journey through sound design. Really, I would love to stay at this level forever, but it’s just impossible to put all hardware together for playing somewhere abroad and that was always my targets with this project haha Regarding selling stuff. I just spent too much on gear during Corona, honestly. There are really just a few pieces of gear that made it into my daily routine. To sell the rest is not really difficult from that perspective :)…

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HI Mathias!

Interesting article, especially for me: I started to buy gears exactly during the first lock-down in 2020.

I’m not a professional, I produce music for hobby and for learning (and I have a lot to learn). I used a DAW back in the past.

For me the real difference is in the gear that you choose to play. The Digitatk (and Digitone) that you know well, is completely different from a DAW, it’s workflow, the knobs, it’s immediacy, and the way you can play it live resemble more to a real music instrument than to a “hardware workstation” that’s what I like and that’s why the Dawless with it is better.

In these years I had the opportunity…

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59 Perlen
59 Perlen
Sep 17, 2022
Replying to

Hey Emanuele, Thanks for leaving your thoughts on this topic. I totally agree on your opinion, it highly depends on the hardware. Performing with a Digitakt is always like playing an instrument, just by its own sequencers and knobs. While others feel like they have to get combined with other gear. Right now, I love the combination of Both worlds - having something immediacy (the hardware synth) playing with a backbone that's structured (Ableton) can be just fun :D CHeers my friend Mat

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Hi Mat, nice article:)

I also returned back to Daw. I wanted longer steps and longer patterns and triplets without being cut off at the 1. But to run the elektrons along gives a wider and deeper spectrum in sound.

I totally agree, both hardware and DAW do what they do and work very nicely together:)

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59 Perlen
59 Perlen
Sep 14, 2022
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Hey Jasper, thanks for leaving your thoughts! Actually the article reflects only some random thoughts that came on my mind lately :) but I totally agree on your words man! Cheers :)

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Wow, what a great article, Matt! You summarized so many thoughts I've had along the same lines in the last 9 months. During Covid I produced many tracks inside the DAW, but now that things are opened up, I have started playing live gigs again on my keyboards and I want to perform on my Nord, Elektron and other instruments without the DAW. There is something about the control I don't want to give to the laptop, and having the laptop on the stage feels different to me. I am still on my journey figuring this out, but I'm getting there. Thanks!

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59 Perlen
59 Perlen
Sep 14, 2022
Replying to

Hey hey friend, thanks a lot, happy you enjoyed the read ! There was someone commenting on insta „at the end the listeners don’t care about hybrid , dawless or software“ and I think that’s totally right. But there is the other side of the business and that’s the creating part, and that’s - to me - the more important aspect , cos only if i enjoy the creation I think the audience will connect. And that’s where the knobs come into game again haha thanks for leaving your thoughts ! M

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