With music technology and equipment constantly evolving it can be difficult to know when the best time to upgrade your gear is. It can also be very tempting to buy the best and newest gear when you might not necessarily need to. This would also be pretty unrealistic, considering how often new equipment is being brought out these days and how expensive it would be.
In this blog we're going to look at some factors that may help you answer the question: 'How do I know when I need to upgrade my equipment?'
The right balance between spending a small fortune on constantly buying new gear and the mindset of 'If it ain't broke, don't fix it' can be found by considering these factors:
1. If Something's Not Working Properly
2. Something’s Too Slow To Use Effectively
4. Servicing And Maintaining Vintage Equipment
If an item in your music technology inventory isn't working as it should, consider the following points:
Is it worth fixing or would it be better to upgrade it?
If it's a really nice piece of vintage equipment that gives you a great sound or effect that is hard to replicate on a modern equivalent, it's probably better to try and get it fixed. It could be that it just needs a new component such as a valve or capacitor, which would be a relatively easy fix.
If it's an easily replaceable and relatively low-price piece of kit, it might be better to replace it or upgrade to the newer model or version.
Is it just one component that's faulty or the whole unit?
If the whole unit is falling apart and dying, it’s advisable to upgrade to something newer, but if you think it could be a small fault, it may well be worth getting fixed.
Is it a common problem with the piece of gear in question?
A useful thing to do, if your piece of gear isn't working properly, is to perform an internet search to see if the problem you're experiencing is a common one relating to that specific item. You may well find a simple solution from your search before considering replacing it or getting it fixed.
If your DAW keeps crashing and you can't produce your music effectively because of it, it might be best to upgrade your machine. Not necessarily the whole computer because sometimes upgrading components such as RAM could fix the problem.
Even making sure that your desktop isn't full of files and closing other programs that you're not using, can help to speed up your machine.
As time goes on and technology evolves, so do the ways we connect our equipment to computers and the like.
Before connecting MIDI devices to our machines simply with USB cables, you had to use MIDI cables which could be connected to your computer through an interface or soundcard.
If you still have older MIDI devices that only have MIDI inputs and outputs you can still get modern audio interfaces which are compatible, but it might be worth upgrading to something with USB connectivity as it makes things simpler and will work a lot better with current virtual instruments.
Another issue around compatibility is if your computer is quite old, a lot of newer hardware and software won't always work with it.
The last point we're going to look at is pretty important, especially regarding health and safety in relation to vintage equipment.
A lot of vintage music equipment is very desirable to own and use, often due to the build and sound quality.
I believe it's always important to get these older pieces of gear serviced regularly especially when you've just bought it and aren't too sure of its current state. Just for the sake of safety and obviously you wouldn't want this great equipment to completely give up the ghost!
Issues such as old wiring or burnt out components can be easily fixed if not made worse by continuing to use the item in question.
I once bought an old power amplifier, and after about 5 minutes of use, smoke started bellowing out of it! If I wasn't in the room at the time and it had caught fire, then I'd rather not think about what had happened!
Finding that balance of wanting to carry on using your trusty old interface and buying every piece of new equipment under the sun can sometimes be tricky to find but the points covered in this blog should hopefully help you to achieve it.
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