I’ve even lurking here for a very long time before I finally decided to create an account and ask for help.
I’m 29 and I’ve been playing a bit of piano, guitar and ukulele for years (without ever getting good with even one of those) before deciding to stick with the latter, as it’s the instrument that gives me the most joy while playing.
I’m now trying to get better at it, learn some music theory and writing some music.
The kind of stuff I like to make is post rock/ambient stuff (for reference, this is the latest track I made and the kind of music I want to make: https://soundcloud.com/thetidalwave/tide)
My problem is: I like using computers for watching videos, listening to music, playing etc but I absolutely despise using them for music. Since me and the GF live in a decent sized but not huge flat I don’t really have a place where I can leave my stuff plugged and ready, so every time I want to record something I have to find a suitable place, connect the sound card, make sure everything works as expected and by the time everything’s set up the spark is usually gone or the time I have available is almost over.
Thus, my question: what’s the all in one groovebox/DAW in a box kind of device that I can use to record and write stuff without ever touching a computer, bar for recording the stuff I made? I don’t currently play live and I probably never will, so I’d really appreciate a song mode.
The Digitakt seems a solid device, but no song mode is a bit of a bummer. MPC One maybe? Or some other device I know nothing about?
Thanks in advance!
Edit: I realized I wrote a wall of text without writing important info, like I would like for it to have some synths to make pads or melodic lines, and onboard effects like delay and reverb that I can apply to the uke without taking out the pedalboard would be veeeeeery appreciated
Maybe a pedalboard plus a zoom r16 would do the trick?
I don’t use it heavily but I like the r16 quite a lot, and it’s nice to do multitrack recording on batteries when the mood strikes.
I honestly wanted something that I could use for more than just recording stuff, where I could add drums and synths, the kind of device where you can make full tracks on.
Does it even exist?
Maybe you’d dig on op-1? You can think of it as kind of a 4-track recorder with some nice synths, sequencers, and drum machines inside. Definitely something you can just pull out and make something with very quickly.
An MPC would be decent for this. It’s not a perfect sampler (you can’t mangle the samples as much as on an Octatrack or high-end sampler), a 7" screen is less ergonomic for deep MIDI or audio editing than a computer screen. The choice of effects is smaller. It’s “only” 8 stereo tracks. But I find the interface fairly well thought out and it will do all the things you ask. You can work with patterns that loop and string them together using song mode, or you can just make one 100 bar pattern if that’s your thing.
Just for getting ideas down? REAPER on a laptop if you don’t mind breaking your “without ever touching a computer” rule, otherwise, Voice Memos on an iPhone.
So a bit left field but Polyend Tracker? The workflow may not be your thing if you aren’t familiar with trackers, but definitely worth checking out.
Octatrack has entered the chat. I use one with a Pod pedalboard, they work nicely together.
Otherwise, possibly a Synthstrom Deluge?
I believe one can compose traxxx in the newer Roland MC-707.
Based on a quick listen of the track you posted, I’d suggest that you might find the Empress Zoia pedal to be something of a dream machine for your post-rock/ambient needs. There’s no built-in song mode, but you might find yourself not needing one, instead preferring to “play” sequencers or button-triggered keyboards that you build up modularly and route to different things. You can put together the multi-looper pedal of your dreams with it, and in the same patch, have a chain of effects affecting the signal like a virtual pedalboard. There are a lot of existing patches people have made with very high-quality effects well-suited for post-rock, ambient, shoegaze, drone, and glitch.
So: no song mode, and not a complete DAW replacement, yet at least (there’s no recording to SD card, but a sampler module is planned for an update sometime this year that will allow for that), bit of a learning curve to get into the modular way of doing things (I might be understating this - I think it’s friendly enough to learn the ropes in a matter of weeks, but everyone is different), but the sky’s the limit beyond that.
What about something like Caustic or similar for a phone? I havent used it for realtime audio capture, but it does have synths and drums etc. Cant beat the price. I think iPhones might have a better workflow, some research would be involved. I use caustic for noodling, beat making etc.