Those of you who make music or sound art or ambience or whatever... what are your latest favorite tools, and working methods?
My methods have remained very stable over the past 7-8 years, which may just be something I ought to change. I create a lot of my own samples, process them in Sound Forge (still no good Mac equivalent to that one), and spend a lot of time in Ableton Live with various plugins, making collages of long loops.
The last several years I've used all kinds of sound sources, including "found" samples, guitar and bass guitar, and my own voice.
I miss playing synthesizers with my hands, and I miss midi sequencing. I miss a more "electronic" sound. I miss rhythms. I guess this reveals which direction my future work may go.
I still can't say enough good things about Ableton Live. I used to be a big believer in Sonic Foundry (now Sony) ACID but anything you can do in ACID, you can do in Ableton Live, or Soundtrack Pro. Still would love to find a really good stereo wave editor for Mac. I sometimes use Quattro DSP or Bias Peak for this stuff but I feel like Sound Forge is where I always return when I need to cut and paste, crossface, layer, noise reduce, and process the crap out of something. I guess it helps that I have the full Waves plugin bundle for Windows but not for Mac. I mean, Waves makes the bundle for Mac obviously, but I haven't purchased it.
Recently I've done a bit of work in Logic Studio and while it has some very cool capabilities, I always feel overwhelmed by the insane complexity of it. It's like piloting a 747 or something, too many controls and sliders and gadgets. I wish there was a way of "skinning" Logic Studio so it could be more of a simple digital 8 track or something (really, more like Soundtrack Pro, which I suppose is why I've been using that lately), without all the bus sends and virtual instruments and bullshit cluttering up the screen and distracting me. I feel like this is a product built more for a truly pro studio than for someone like me. Some of the instruments, I must admit, are really very good, considering they're a free throw-in with the program.
So, what are the rest of you loving these days? Cool virtual synths? Real synths you actually play with your fingers?
I know a lot of people are evolving to entirely virtual setups and I find that rather depressing, interacting with nothing but a mouse and keyboard and computer screen, which "contains" your instruments and fx plugins and sequencing and multitrack audio recording. I mean, that system works, and I've certainly created a fair amount of music that way (and I disagree that you can hear the difference between a virtual studio creation and a "real" studio creation with keyboards and hardware fx and so on) but there's just something so bleak and dead-end about it. Thinking about it makes me want to buy more keyboards or something.