When it comes to making beats, many new and seasoned producers are starting to make the shift towards software. Why would they do that? Simple – software brings more to the table, both in terms of flexibility and workflow.
Many new producers looking to jump into the game often have a tough time decided what is better – a rap beat maker program or hardware workstation. While they each have their different pros and cons, it really boils down to what makes you feel the most comfortable (and ultimately the most productive).
Software vs. Hardware
In this piece, I wanted to break down the major differences of software and hardware, as well as highlight the pros and cons of each. If you’re at a crossroads in determining what type of rap beat maker you need, this should help settle the score and move you in the right direction.
So, without wasting more time, let’s get on with the show!
Hardware – The Good and the Bad
When it comes to making beats, some people have the urge to be more “hands on”. They need to feel the music they make, and pounding away at keys and slamming drum pads gives them the ability to become a part of that music by playing it out naturally.
In hip-hop, hardware runs deep. The first line of MPC’s (such as the MPC60), as well as keyboards like the infamous ASR-10 set the pace and changed the hip-hop beat game completely (other popular hardware workstations include the Roland Phantom, Korg Triton and Yamaha Motif as well). Anyone familiar with either beat maker knows the power that each of them hold.
With that said, check out the small list below outlining the different pros and cons of using hardware as your primary rap beat maker:
– Vintage sounds that you can’t find anywhere else (or are tough to recreate).
– The feel that you get (hands on music production).
– Solid timing
– Low memory that limits sampling capabilities.
– Limited amount of on-board sounds. Purchasing more expansion boards is your only option to expand your sound range, which means you have to lay down more cash.
– Poor or limited sequencing and arrangement features.
– Typically expensive. The more you need, the more you will spend (we’re talking spending thousands, not hundreds).
Software – Good vs. Bad
Software has grown popular over the years and has changed the way many people produce and create music today. In fact, using software as a rap beat maker has become more of the norm. New producers on a limited budget are finding it easier to start making beats and producing music with nothing more than their computer, beat making software and a creative mind!
There are a number of different software programs available for music production. You might be familiar with popular programs like FL Studio and Reason (which are great, but can still be pricey for some), as well as other similar programs like DubTurbo.
With all of that said, let me quickly break down the benefits (as well as the downsides) of using software:
– Since software uses the hard drive on your computer for memory, your memory power is limited only to the size of your hard drive(s). This means room for as many sounds and effects as you want!
– Unlimited amount of options for plug-ins and expansion.
– All in one solution (sequencing, mixing, programming).
– Costs much less than most hardware, yet can achieve similar results (or better).
– Easy to update and maintain.
– Doesn’t require any external pieces for operation – just your computer (however, you can use midi controllers to play keys and drums to get that “feel”).
– Not as mobile as hardware (unless you want to lug your PC around).
– Quality poses a minor issue and may not be as good as some hardware workstations
– Higher-end software performance can be poor if not using a high-end PC.
As you can see, using either hardware or software has its benefits and downsides. The truth is, you can achieve a great sound by going either route, so it is ultimate up to you to decide. Now that you are aware of some of the differences and similarities, you should be capable of deciding what is best for you.
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