I have bounced back and forth over the years between using both beat maker software and various types of hardware drum machines. In fact, some of the software that I have used wasn’t necessarily geared towards making beats specifically, but I was able to get the job done.
If you think that there is nothing good out there to make beats easily, then you are just not getting creative enough. That is what trying to make beats in the 90’s taught me. I was always trying our different sequencers, samplers and drum machines and found that there are just as many ways to approach making beats as there are different styles you can go after.
One of my favorite combinations of hardware and software was when I had an Akai drum pad, which was USB connected, hooked up to a laptop running Propellerheads Reason. This might sound a little weird, but it worked really well and I was able to crank out so many beats so fast that I began to wonder why I had put all the time in to try to learn how to do it any other way. This combination seemed to fit me well, but I also had to spend a lot of money to get this setup put together. Think about it. I needed:
- A computer
- A quality sound card (essential for laptop audio production)
- The USB drum pads
- Monitor speakers or headphones
And that was just the basics. In 2001, that was a lot of money to put all that together.
Before I had set that up, I had even gone through a stage where I had an older laptop and an early version of Cakewalk that I simply used to manually arrange audio samples on a time line. That was even more hardcore in terms of the level of geekdom that I had to approach to compose a whole track.
What’s my point with all of this? The battle between hardware and software in terms of making beats is a big gray line. Here is what I would say about all that: find what works best for your situation and stick with it.
Don’t spend too much time trying out different ways of making beats. Just find something that works and then focus on making beats. That’s what it is all about in the end anyways.