Hardware Vs. Software


A topic as HOT as this must have been discussed or at least thought about, by many of you producers out there. I feel we are currently in a transition period going from hardware and integrating that into software, but I have no idea where the future really lies. In todays society we have 3 ideal setups, only hardware, only software, or an integration of both. I’m not going to directly compare hardware with software, but this is a topic that has been discussed extensively for many years.


I currently have the MPC Renaissance by AKAI. It’s a great machine and I wont insult your intelligence and tell you what it is because you should already know! The MPC Ren is a halfway house between hardware and software. You get the hardware controller, but this isn’t a stand-alone hardware machine. It needs a pulse. This is given by the Mac or PC it is connected too. The MPC hardware controller requires the software to be installed before it can be used. The hardware and software interact to make a complete system. The hardware can be limited in certain functions, which paves way for the software. Depending on the function and your setup, it will be easier to do things on the hardware and certain functions will be easier using the software. The Maschine by Native Instruments is similar by design.


You have to appreciate your heritage and I for one, love old skool hardware like the SP-1200, MPC 60, MPC 2000, MPC 3000 etc. These are all stand alone machines and the Golden Age of Hip-Hop was manifested using stand alone hardware. Some of the biggest producers out there are still using their stand alone machines and making dope beats.


Some people think this is out-dated and they should step up to the current market. I feel you should use what ever suits your style and flow. I stand by this statement when comparing the MPC Ren with Maschine. If you boil it down, they do similar things, you just have to take a different path to get there.


So if your still using the iconic machines from the Hip-Hop golden age and still rockin out some hard beats, keep going, I salute you. A similar frame of mind goes for software only uses. I won’t lie, I feel this takes the creative side of music away by a significant margin. The reason being, is that if your just selecting where certain sounds go by a click of the mouse, do you really feel the music the same as if you’re playing the instrument. I don’t think so, but others will have their own opinion, but like I have stated, whatever works for!


There is no right or wrong when it comes to music. Just what ever feels good to you. What prompted me to write this blog is that I am seeing an increasing amount of old skool MPC’s being sold! Yeah, that’s right! People actually want to sell a piece of Hip-Hop history. This is either due to them upgrading and no longer require it, or the fact that its been sitting around, collecting dust and its time to move on. This is quite sad, as I love the hardware element and if I could pick the next MPC setup, I’d choose stand-alone.


There are advantages and disadvantages of all 3 setups, but only one will work best for you. Whatever you use stick to it and master it.  So what do y’all use and love? If you could design the next MPC or Maschine, would it be stand alone? Or would we stick with a combination.


Be sure to catch me at @UKAntSmith, and be sure to stay tuned to MaschineMasters for reviews on all the latest sound libraries and drum kits.




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