I just dusted off my guitar rack and took out my TC G-Major and connected it to my AMT stomp box. Then on to my little mixer where I plugged in my CD player, too. From there it's a very short way to my hifi amp and to my not so bad speakers. A very basic setup, enough to keep my fingers moving and maybe getting a few song ideas. But it's a bit too much hardware for that. What are the pros, what the cons?
Pros: I rediscovered my G-Major and the simple joy of playing silly nonsense with crazy effects and jamming alongside regular CD tracks (Phil Collins, Floyd, Gary Moore etc.). I had fun with all the cables and what to connect with what. I feel like I'm thirteen again, sitting with my guitar in a nest of cables with very limited equipment but huge headphones on.
Cons: All the cables and hardware. With the computer it's basically the PC, a soundcard, a cable and my guitar (and still huge headphones). I like it basic and tidy, although my girlfriend would disagree. My Linux has everything I could ever want: DAW, routing, effects, synths, processing of all sorts. Who would not want that?
Me, I think.
I admit, I have a soft spot for everything with faders and knobs in a beautiful metal case. But it's the simplicity that drives me towards my simple setup, or rather the complexity of the computer solution: boot up PC, start Ardour, make new session, make new track (import backing track if I only want to play some solos), arm track, plug in guitar, hit record, play (then adjust volumes until finally satisfied, hit the wrong button, lose track and/or session, start again - but that happens in an analogue scenario as well).
My simple setup lets me do things instinctively: Sitting in front of my hifi, turning a knob here (gently!) and pressing a button there. I know how to do that since my father was letting me record radio shows on his tape deck. I don't even have to think about it, I can concentrate on playing.
The PC has obvious advantages. No one can beat the range of sounds, instruments, effects and possibilities you can have with a computer. Fifteen years ago I could not have dreamt of the sound I can get with my Linux PC now, and I now use it of course. If I want to control every detail of my recording, I turn to the computer.
The Linux box is my rock star recording studio. And not just mine. But you have to pay. If not with money, then with something else. In my case it seems to be a little bit of the joy of music making that I am paying. I love the technology and I think I can use it fairly well, but it's distracting. Today I was experimenting with sounds, which led to little riff ideas and before I knew it my girlfriend asked me if it's not uncomfortable sitting on the floor for this long. On the PC I normally would have played for ten minutes, fiddle around with some compressor or so, looking for documentation online and then end up checking my mail and giving up.
The simple setup is much more limited, but I did things with it I didn't do for a long time and discovered sounds that are weird but put a smile on my face. Of course, I see the loads of gear I want/need if I want a little recording setup - a tiny multitrack (maybe an old Tascam Portastudio?), a little synth, the wrath of my girlfriend (okay, I don't need that). All the analogue studio things I wanted to have when I was 15 are now basically scrap and go on eBay for not much less than the shipping costs. My little analogue domain would give me a nice cosy feeling in the winter and if my brother still has his tape deck I can record the sound of my guitar warmer than the crackling of embers in the fireplace.
What do you think? Are you an analogue guy at heart or do you live in 0s and 1s?
Talk about your MIDI interfaces, microphones, keyboards...
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