This was a good Christmas for me gear wise. I have been looking for some gear that would help me create and record music without having to rely on my laptop. I’ve written about this before, but having to boot up a computer and load a bunch of software before I can make music is tedious at best and creativity destroying at worst. Being able to record an idea on the spot is important, and these two items have been a big help.

Tascam DP-006

Tascam DP-006

In many ways using this digital 4 track instead of my “real” 16 track interface is a step backwards. Mixing on it is cumbersome, and editing almost impossible. But I can turn it on, hit record, and capture an idea with minimum fuss. There’s no need to fiddle with mics as the built in ones are not half bad. Here’s a short example: I dialed in a basic distortion sound, put the recorder on the floor front of the amp, and played some rock riffs.

That tone is a pretty good capture of the sound in the room, and plenty good enough for sketches and the beginnings of ideas. I think it might even be possible to record stuff on this thing that ends up on final tracks.

Arturia BeatStep

The other cool toy is the Arturia BeatStep.

Arturia BeatStep

This is a hardware step sequencer that makes it really easy to create patterns by moving knobs as opposed to fiddling with a mouse. In my first test I plugged it into my Paia Fatman synth, then sent the audio through my MoogerFooger low pass filter and into a rackmount effects unit to add delay and reverb. The sound was so cool I decided to capture it with DP-006. I cheated a little bit- I sent the audio into my laptop to to mix it with a simple drum beat, and then routed the output into the DP-006’s line input. The whole thing took maybe 10 minutes.

So there you have it- I’ve run out of excuses to put off brainstorming ideas because of the overhead of managing equipment.

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