JEFF SHATTUCK MUSIC

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Gear review: Digidesign Strike vs. Doggiebox.

If you're primarily a songwriter and know a thing or two about programming drums, you've no doubt fooled around with various drum machines. Take me for instance: For hardware, I've owned a Drumulator, a Linn Drum, and an Alesis SR-16. Lately, though, I've been using two software "machines": Digidesign Strike and the Doggiebox.

Given that Strike costs about $300 and Doggiebox costs about TEN TIMES LESS, this might seem like an unfair comparison. And if it had to do with pre-programmed beats, well, it would be no contest at all, since the Doggiebox offers only kits, no pre-programmed grooves.

But, if you're like me, and want to create your own drum patterns for demo purposes only, so that a real drummer can get a sense of what you're after, then the Doggiebox crushes Strike.

First, they're both buggy, but believe it or not, Doggiebox is less buggy than Strike. For whatever reason, Strike sometimes just won't play what you tell it to. IT'S EXASPERATING, and totally disrupts the creative flow. Doggiebox crashes every now and then, but just hit save regularly, and you'll be fine.

Second, the Doggiebox can programmed much, much faster than Strike. Sure, Strike gives you more control, but in the end, if you're just after a good feel, a lot of Strike's extra stuff isn't that cool.

Third, yes, Strike sounds better, but not ten times better, and besides, what good is all that extra sound quality if the programming experience just positively sucks because of bugs?

Fourth, Strike is massively CPU intensive at higher quality settings, causing my Mac Book Pro to choke regularly. Again, very disruptive.

Fifth, and final, the Doggiebox works without Pro Tools, so you don't have to worry about THOSE FUCKING iLOKs, or having your over-priced Digidesign hardware with you in order to use it.

Seriously, if you're a songwriter and you're tempted to buy Strike, DO NOT. Try Doggiebox first.

PS: This post was "inspired" during a songwriting session last night, near the end of which I was ready to fire a cruise missile at Digidesign. Pro Tools kept hanging, Strike wouldn't work, argh, it SUCKED. Finally, I shut down Pro Tools, fired up the Doggiebox and made more progress on my beats in 15 minutes than I had made in the previous two ours. I am not exaggerating, either.