Top 5 Products Benefiting Dance Music Production in the Last 5 Years
The past few years have seen quality innovation in the realm of music production gear. Below is our take on the top 5 movers and shakers since 2008.
5. Moog Minitaur (2012)
This little synth exemplifies where we at Robotic Peacock predict many synth-makers will go. The sub-$1000 analog synth category is an excellent starting point into outboard gear for many producers. Features such as MIDI-over-USB integration and Control Voltage to MIDI allow the Minitaur to integrate seamlessly into digital audio workstations. Forget the presets and start experimenting with the intensity this dual oscillator bass synth brings. The Minituar represents a meeting of the vintage and cutting-edge. Korg is already following suit with their epic MS-20 mini. The future appears bright for computer-friendly analog outboard gear.
4. Tie: Solid State HDDs & 64-Bit Digital Audio Workstations (2009ish)
If it seems a little convenient these pieces of fresh tech are tied, it’s because it was on purpose. Solid state hard drives recently became affordable for home use, enabling mind-bogglingly fast access to samples on your hard drive. This means those sample-heavy plugins can now run much more smoothly, and more samples can be accessed at the same time.
64-bit workstations such as Ableton Live 9, FL Studio (Beta), Logic 9, and Pro Tools 11 are just hitting the shelves and have huge potential. The advantage over the previous 32-bit versions is the increase in RAM usage. 32-bit programs are limited to 4 GB, so if your computer has more, it isn’t being used by your workstation. 64-bit programs can access a nearly unlimited (16 extabytes?!) amount of RAM. This will allow you to run more soft-synths and have longer sessions than previously possible.
3. Maschine (2009)
Native Instruments’ Maschine found a sweet spot in the digital music production landscape. The idea was to use the power of the home computer with the hands-on control of Akai’s MPC samplers. The ability for complete control with minimal use of the mouse and keyboard remains the main draw for the Maschine. Additionally, it integrates rather nicely with DAWs if you don’t want to sacrifice the power and familiarity of your favorite workstation. This author finds Maschine really useful for creative kit/percussion track programming, and letting Ableton handle the other instrumentation.
2. Ableton/APC40/Push(?) (2009/2013)
Speaking of which, Ableton is becoming universally accepted among dance music producers for its innovative workflow. It certainly doesn’t hurt they teamed up with Akai back in 2009 to bring the APC40 which, again, gets the hands off the mouse & keyboard and onto knobs & sliders. The simple ability to easily modulate multiple parameters simultaneously is worth the APC40’s price of admission alone. The Push controller is slowly releasing into the hands of eager producers. It’s yet to be seen if this truly replaces or complements the APC40…and potentially the Maschine.
1. The iPad (2010)
Apple’s reputation with the music producing community caused the iPad to be looked on favorably from day one. It didn’t take long for quality apps to hit the market allowing the device to take the form of a modular synthesizer (Magellan), a quality set of decks (Traktor DJ), an innovative sampler (Samplr), or a multi-timbre, mind-bending soft-synth (Animoog). Now that sound cards for the newer iPads are catching on, we can expect some true studio-quality sound from these devices. Integration as a controller for existing software and hardware (Ableton, Traktor Pro, even Mackie Mixers) is just catching on. With well over 100 million iPads sold to date, it’s no wonder these devices are getting so many killer apps.