3. Is a Groovebox for me?
If youre looking to get into music production but find computer setups intimidating or lacking immediacy and hands-on control, but still want a powerful, fully-featured compositional tool, then a Groovebox could be just what youre looking for. As theyre designed purely for music making and are generally quick to get to grips with, ease of use is the most telling term often used by reviewers and users. If youre a musician who is coming to technology for the first time, then a Groovebox can be a great introduction. And solo instrumentalists not wishing to learn how to program other instruments can make use of the hundreds of available preset patterns that cover many different music styles. Other compositional tools such as phrase patterns and arpeggiators can help to initiate ideas and be used as starting points for compositions, along with your own stored user patterns.
Even a live performer who already uses technology in their music may not wish to take their desktop computer out on the road, or invest in a new laptop with all the necessary peripherals. A Groovebox can make either a good alternative as a sole writing and performance tool, or something that can be used in conjunction with an existing home computer setup. A Grooveboxs chassis is designed to withstand the rigours of touring, and as they are self-contained, you dont have to worry about losing your audio interfaces FireWire cable, or the power supply for your laptop. For live dance music, realtime controls enhance spontaneous creativity, allowing you to open up a sounds filter cut-off, trigger a series of phrases, or make ad-hoc changes to the set structure.
Grooveboxes are also popular with DJs. DJing today consists of much more than just two turntables and a mixer, as decks are being replaced with high-spec laptops, and vinyl with mp3 files. Setups such as these can now be supplemented with additional sequences and sounds synced to your set, and in the case of products like the Roland MC series, specific DJ controls and turntable emulation are also on offer.
In a studio or home setup you could be excused for thinking that the Groovebox no longer has a place, having been usurped by the desktop computer system, but here it excels with its dedicated hardware and the ability to tweak step sequence pitches or rhythms on the fly, or to quickly sync up an arpeggiator to your software and record the part across into your computer.
So in many areas of music production, the Groovebox still has its place. Lets now take a look at a selection of the currently available products, and compare some of their groovemaking features.