Matrixxman’s Guide to Synths, Drum Machines and Music Gear

The Ghostly International alumnus schools us on the synths and hardware he uses and shares tales of travelling around the San Francisco Bay Area to find them.

In the early 2000s, I mostly used samplers and synths. Hardware samplers are very archaic by software standards, and they had a lot of weird hurdles, things that a computer can now do ten times faster. I had an E-mu e6400 sampler and ESI-32, a Yamaha A5000, and an Ensoniq ASR-X and ASR-10 rack. I would save and load a bunch of presets on a hard drive, and when they failed it made me want to kill someone. It was a bummer to spend 20 hours setting something up. Machines can be fickle little bastards, and that’s why the advent of computer software has made things exponentially easier: you can just load up noises. So while I’m one to extol the virtues of the hardware approach, I don’t think they’re ideal for everyone. A lot of musicians make extremely compelling music only with software. It really boils down to the impetus, rather than the gear. But that being said, we can talk about gear.


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