Computers, they aren't so bad! (aka Just Buy a Computer)

Do you mean you just use the built-in mic?

My experience has been that the built-in mic is pretty low quality… I’d be really interested in hearing some of your recordings …

Edit- also curious what iOS apps and DAW you’re using… and how are you getting the tracks from iOS to DAW?

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You might want to check thsi thread here initiated by @petesasqwax, which is precisely about that: Your iOS arsenal


No, I’ve been using a mixture of 30 pin mics (the Tascam iM2 and Fostex AR 4i) with my older devices and the iTrack Pocket with my lightning units. The internal mic isn’t bad though in terms of collecting sounds to use as the basis for percussive layer etc. Once you run them through effects they become something else entirely.

And yes - thanks @papernoise - please do check the thread :slight_smile:


nice, and here’s some love for the built in mic for vocals (iPhone version)

track’s been through the monolase(8bit) so…
also, theiPhone is a computer
(with a phone app and cell tower antenna)
inspired by the iOS Arsenal thread, nice work @petesasqwax

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Yes! Beautiful! And yes, I do love the irony of ditching a computer in favour of… a host of computers (ranging from iPhone 4 to iPad Pro and taking in a 4s, an iPad 3rd gen and an iPhone 6 along the way) - before feeding back into a computer to mix it all down! As you can see, I’ve thoroughly committed to my post-computer setup :wink:


So, this caught my eye recently:

While I’ve been eager for such a thing for a good while now, I hadn’t really considered it in terms of more audio-specific applications until now. While this is a bit overpriced for how it’s spec’d, the form-factor is quite compelling, as it’s close enough to laptop size to be decently portable while also lacking a powerbrick; more important are the PCIe slots, with which one could forgo the video card and have two slots for internal audio interface cards (I believe, assuming that x16 GPU slot will work, apart from that x4 slot which almost certainly should), or else one slot and two panels, which seems more common. Plus, since that NUC9 module has two thunderbolt3 ports (which I understand to be as fast as PCIe), there’s always the possibility of expansion using external PCIe chassis (particularly if one were to install a video card later on).

For my part, I’m thinking RME’s HDSPe RayDAT would be ideal on the higher end for maximizing the potential for interfacing with hardware (for the purpose, of course, of forgoing USB), particularly on the ADAT side of Expert Sleepers’ eurorack wares, though the two MIDI I/Os are a major plus, not to mention AES/EBU (which seems very useful, though I know little about it). But on the more affordable and less complicated side of things (i.e., just getting stereo into or out of the box), I imagine the Soundblaster AE-9 would work well. Then I suppose Lynx interfaces would fill out the middle quite well, but I’ll wager there are a plethora of aftermarket sound cards of every stripe that wouldn’t work terribly either (probably mostly aftermarket, considering these cards are a dying breed, though I fear there’s probably not much in PCIe, as opposed to PCI).

Probably one of the main downsides is the need for a monitor and keyboard and such, apart from the computer itself. There is the option of using something like a dumb laptop, but in the remote possibility that I ever go the route of acquiring such a machine as the Ghost Canyon, I would use my Planck Light and, preferably, some sort of portable multitouch display, the latter of which I guess works pretty okay with Bitwig and with VCV Rack (VCV should be improving upon this rather soonish, incidentally).

Anyway, it seemed like it could strike an interesting balance between the more professional-studio-side and the usual laptop-performance-side of computer music production, though, admittedly, this might be a solution in search of a problem. I’m just looking at the long-term and thinking it might be worthwhile to someday invest in such a modular, yet singular approach, most particularly in consideration of the PC’s expanding role in my own music production.


I put together a little kit of what one might hypothetically require to make good use of such a system:


I have a NUC, with a generation 8 i7 CPU. This sounds like a pretty linear upgrade to me.

I like my NUC. I does many wonderful computes. I use it as a render server for audio and I have no complaints.

Edit: slap a cheapo mini-HDMI monitor on this and you have a touring machine way better than most laptops. It stays safe on my shelf tho. Y’all can bring it on the road. I might eventually bring it on the road b/c it’s so tiny. Maybe use it for an installation. Keep it secret & keep it safe tho. It’s priced almost like a macintosh computer. (Nah j/k it’s not quite that expensive, still not cheap)

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Yeah, if I hadn’t gone with a gaming laptop, I might have jumped on a Skull Canyon NUC just for the portability (though would have missed having a discrete GPU), but I would almost certainly be holding out for a Ghost Canyon machine in that case. At this point, I would only get one if I were itching for an interface upgrade, but on the bright side, I can be satisfied with my ES8 for a good while longer while I patiently await some elusive justification to ditch USB for PCIe.

My journey (decades as well)

-working with a computer as a file managing base in a recording surrounding was groundbreaking for my job. It allowed me to browse sounds and bring them into new sessions-digital lego and a very new approach when prior to this everything had to be recorded in place.

-coming from the guitar i knew fairly quick that midi and a sequencer would upstep my musical output immensely. So i started creating music with a lot of computers only and in no time and abandoned my guitar shamefully for almost 2 decades.

This was the beginning of the nineties and i sort if knew nothing better than to cary on.

The Frustrations that everybody describe in this thread like ‚work-create-stare @ screens all the time‘ came knocking after some years. A little highlight was finding Ableton after being so fed up with all other Sequencers. Also, in my quest of having just 1Plugin suite to cater for all my needs was definitely perfected with Native instruments and Live.

The Situation at work had been stuck with Protools (hehehe that name) and shuffling files in context…but i could get my signature sound out of it anyhow. That Software is not creative at all, it actually screams ‚give me input!‘ i‘m fine with this as i can do a couple of tricks that sign Crazeebo underneath it.

Then 15 years ago i discovered the monome and found it highly inspiring to use with a computer. My creative block and also becoming a dad now needed new ways to be creative. I started a routine that has stuck with me: i switch things on, play completely unaware of whats coming-get my kick out of this and then switch it off again…no recording, no arranging whatsoever. I did this with my guitar again and ended in buying eurorack and patching from scratch-this has led me to find my own sound in rituals that i can only describe as cleansing. I hated my trillion of saved songideas on my computers and the notion that i should finish them one day-this was like 2015

I‘m done with hating on computers, i can use them efficiently to my liking in work or creation, sometime they take submissive roles sometimes they dominate whole projects.

One thing that i was surprised to find out was how i teach my children on how to use computers/software. This is always ‚you have to do it this way‘ there is never a route b or too many routes that will complicate their actions. Its completely different when you present them an unpatched euroracksystem-no mansplaining on my behalf and maximum fun for them to explore. Likewise my daughter after a few piano lessons enjoys improvising just for herself when she wants to-as immediate as the idea in ‚I’m confident, i want to play music‘ i can do that on a computer as well, but thats just because i‘m an experienced veteran with computers.

With that said maybe computer technology is not yet where it should be-interacting with us humans rather than gimmicks that facilitate our actions. Just look at these manual interfaces mouse or trackpad, it seems that they don‘t evolve.


I have been putting off buying a new machine for a long time, basically working with a string of inherited computers for the last 8 years or so… I’m afraid this option isn’t cutting it anymore and at this point I’m pretty naive about what makes for a good sound desktop set up. Any recommendations as to what is a minimum spec I should look at to ensure it doesn’t get slowed down/outdated in a couple of years? I don’t do any gaming or anything, so mostly just for audio but also other art related things like image editing and possibly some light video at some point. I like the look of these smaller desktops being a bit portable for moving to a location if needed, but I worry a bit about hard drive space as doing editing off of and keep track of piles of external drives is really frustrating. Maybe going for ye olde tower is a bit better for being able to have larger drives with some sort of RAID set-up, or doing a rackmount case.

I prefer the mac OS but I can’t afford to stay in, nor do I really want to stay in, Apple’s increasingly expensive and interconnected ecosystem that doesn’t have ports. I’ll probably see if I can upgrade my old pro a bit with an SSD drive so I also have a laptop and mac option for any software I can’t get on the PC.

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CPU specs are really kind of plateauing, and the push is toward multi-core. If you’re looking at desktops, I think you’ll get more bang for your buck with more cores and an older processor. Buy the one that was $15,000 and top of the line five or six years ago but is a fraction of that price now…

I think the next computer I get will be AMD because of all the horrible security issues with Intel processors but I’m not totally sure. I just upgraded my laptop to a 2015 thinkpad last year and don’t expect to replace it anytime soon. The older models in the AMD “threadripper” series are getting pretty cheap though.

Also: give linux a chance if you weren’t already thinking of it!

If you’re running linux a five year old i-series Intel CPU with 4 threads and 8GB of RAM is tons of horsepower. This is the CPU in my primary computer, an x250 thinkpad: (Which was ~$200 when I bought it about a year ago.)

Windows, I don’t know. You might be fine with something similar?

The NUC is cool too but if the size isn’t very important, you can do much better for much cheaper building a normal sized desktop tower… the difference between my $800 NUC and my $200 thinkpad isn’t so huge. I have the NUC mostly for shows and installations, although it’s nice having a dedicated render box in between!

Edit: also, while you consider it… maybe pick up a raspberry pi 4 & heat sink, overclock it and add an SSD and give that a spin for a while? They are surprisingly capable machines.


nor do I really want to stay in, Apple’s increasingly expensive and interconnected ecosystem that doesn’t have ports.

I’ve recently found myself in the same boat. My MBP has plenty of processing power for what I do but the disk is almost full and I want to split off sample storage and recording, as well as sample streaming into the DAW, away from the main system disk, e.g. the system drive for my DAW, external for recording, external for reading/streaming audio in. I could probably eek this out with an obscene frankenstein dongle connected to my MBP, or… I could purchase a refurbished Dell i7 with 32GB for ~$350.

I don’t know if there’s a better thread for this Andy Rooneyesque monologue, so it can go here:

Here’s something I’ve been thinking about for a while – considering the recent trend of getting away from the PC and moving toward a dawless world, where does the venerable workstation fit into all of this?

They can do sequencing, complicated patterns and parts, have a very natural human interface via real keyboards, incredible power – basically a DAW in a box. And while I you see countless people posting videos of Elektron and other grooveboxes, I never see someone on Reddit posting: “Check out this jam I made on my Korg Triton #dawless or “Here’s a new EP I did on my Roland Fantom”.

Workstations are arguably more capable than the grooveboxes / drum machines / samplers people are drawn to, so why don’t they get love? Price? Coolness? Are they the minivans of the dawless world? (I was going to say mom jeans but those are pretty hip right now.)


LOL, but a great point honestly. They’re more capable synths than most “serious” synths a lot of times too.

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the only person i can think of that really does this is dorian concept – part of me wonders if it’s a side effect of your musical training too as my piano teacher produces with a triton.

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Arca is also well known for using regularly a Korg Kronos, of course that’s not all she uses but that’s a crucial part of her process. I agree overall with the point made by @hermbot and I think I actually mentionned before how little love I saw in this community for workstation when they’re clearly aligned with much of the aspects people claim to seek in synths. Especially when you consider some of them have synthesis and midi engines that are actually just as (and in some cases more) exciting than on more focused synths.

This being said I see the appeal for all the little boxes, each of them with its focused interface and behavior, thus pushing you to explore a specific idea, but yeah there’s definitely an “uncool” factor about workstations which I think is a bit undeserved. I remember when we used to reproach them to be computers inside boxes, but now everything is, and they’ve come a long way to the point they’re probably some of the most powerful, expandable and well thought out computers in boxes there is.

Then the question is, is it really a “dawless” experience or is it just a “daw within a midi controller” experience, and it begs another question : what do we expect from “the dawless experience” that can’t be done with one?


I’m interested in seeing laptop only workflows that mimic the hardware flow. I really like the feedback loop I get into with hardware, where I can start with a simple idea, tweak, add parts, live perform variations, etc. I just…can’t get in the same zone when I’m just with my laptop.

Maybe I just hate the piano roll and MIDI editing (valid, it’s a creativity sapper for me), but surely there are some good alternatives here. Without prompting with the options I’m looking at, I’d love to hear from the community as to what’s been useful for an iterative workflow ITB.

(Mods if this is appropriately moved to another thread feel free, but a search on keywords didn’t turn anything up)

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I get a lot of nice results in Ableton using fairly simple sequences run into a lot of effects until the original sequence almost disappears. I’m particularly fond of granular processing…


Try using max for live or bitwig note grid sequencers to move away from the piano roll. Or use/build a sequencer from another software modular environment, either high level such as vcv rack, or lower level such as max or pd.

Get used to thinking about midi as a sort of virtual patch cable that ties things together.

Try a hybrid approach with a dc coupled audio interface. Expert sleepers makes eurorack modules for the purpose. Try using Ableton cv tools or bitwig grid cv outs to augment your hardware.

Lots of ways to make software more hardware-like, I’m just scratching the surface.


i feel this more often than not. my enjoyment of the piano roll usually requires a particular mood that isn’t always the one that is compatible with writing new ideas…

not totally ITB, but i recently had a very enjoyable time using an OP-Z to sequence my DAW. i set up 8 channels of software instruments, mapped to the MIDI channels of the OP-Z. when i had something i liked i’d record the midi into the daw for later editing.