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5th October, 2022

DAWless Production Units: Making Music Without a Computer

Digital Audio Workstations, known by the acronym DAW, are used by DJs all over the world to create and produce music. However, DAWless music production is becoming more and more popular. DAWless production is increasingly common among DJs who are just starting out and may not have the initial funds to purchase a high quality DAWs/computers and experienced DJs looking for a more tactile experience.

What’s the process like of making music without a computer?

What does a DAWless set-up look like?

Let’s dive in and discover everything you need to know to get started with DAWless music creation. 

What does it mean to work DAWless?

In the most simple of terms, to work DAWless simply means to make electronic music without using a computer. There are a range of other production equipment, such as sequencers or grooveboxes, which can be used in place of a DAW.

DJ equipment suppliers, such as us here at DJ City, have a range of different hardware devices to help musicians and artists compose, arrange and produce their own music. Working in a DAWless set-up may require a slightly different methodology to music making but there are certainly benefits to the trend as well.

Why work without a DAW?

1.More Engaging

For many motor enthusiasts, they simply cannot imagine driving a car without the intimate engagement of working manual gears. Somewhat similarly many musicians prefer to engage with hardware when producing music. The more tactile experience evokes a sense of engagement and immersion that an artist may find missing when working on a computer.

2.Less Screen Time

It’s becoming increasingly hard in the 21st century to reduce screen time. As a DJ or musician this can be even more of a challenge. A DAWless set-up goes a long way to reducing the amount of time spent on a computer. If this sounds appealing to you, it might be worth considering going DAWless.

3.Increases Creativity

DAWs are fantastic. The software is designed for convenience, efficiency and ease of use, but with that comes the normalisation of patterns and habits. Many musicians love the fact that DAWless music production forces them to break their usual ways of making and thinking about music. Instead of the instant visual feedback and track sequencing that a DAW offers, they are forced to exercise more creativity in their music and be more original.

4.Prioritises Simplicity

When you can do almost anything with a DAW, some musicians may suffer from choice paralysis. Working DAWless forces you to contend with some limitations but that simplicity allows for mental headspace and forces more musical ingenuity. Of course, that’s not to say that your DAWless set-up can’t be complex. Your personal configuration of synths, MIDIs and machinery can be as complicated or as streamlined as you like.

Setting Up A DAWless Station

Getting Started

If going DAWless appeals to you, it’s important to consider the following main factors before starting to set yourself up.


Music gear can be expensive, especially as you start expanding your set-up. Do your research or speak to the team here at DJ City for more advice on what sort of equipment is best value for money.


Some musicians value flexibility in their DAWless set-up while others want to opt for simplicity over anything else. Consider what you’re looking for to help you narrow down the best choices for you.


You will probably want your set-up to be expandable as your capabilities and needs grow and improve. Take this into consideration when you start to purchase gear and other hardware.

Options for Your DAWless Music Making

Standalone Workstations

Standalone workstations that include all the production requirements you need are very appealing. For example, a comprehensive groovebox is a piece of hardware that has been used widely in the past and is making a resurgence for many of the reasons outlined above.

Take the Native Instruments Maschine Plus. This DAWless device can be used both in your own studio and during your next live gig. Completely self-contained and with more than sufficient processing power, you can enjoy a complete workstation without using a computer or DAW.

Of course, if you do decide to move to a DAW or just want something with compatibility, all-in-one equipment like the Maschine Plus can certainly interface with your computer as well. But if you stick with your hardware set-up of synths and samplers, you’re certainly not going to need anything else! 

Below are some alternative standalone workstations you can use for DAWLess music production.

Portable Workstations

Working off a computer does provide a lot of mobility, but there are certainly DAWless music production set-ups that can offer similar benefits. A portable DAWless system can ensure that you’re able to carry your music with you and work in an environment that’s best suited to your particular creative needs and preferences.

The Novation Circuit Track, for example, is a comprehensive groovebox complete with everything you need from delay effects, two MIDI tracks, polyphonic synthesisers and more. You can always expand the set up by connecting the Circuit to other portable DAWless equipment as well.

Below are some popular portable workstations you can use for DAWLess music production.

Complex Workstations

If you’re ready to take your DAWless workstation to the next level and aren’t afraid to go bigger and better, a more complex set-up might be right for you. You can consider incorporating a polyphonic synthesiser, monophonic synthesiser, drum machines and more, depending on what you’re after. 

Remember that you’re going to want to use a sequencer to help you record, edit, save and play audio files, most likely with a MIDI or Musical Instrument Digital Interface. While there are USB MIDI connection options, if you’re wanting to stay completely DAWless make sure you opt for a pin MIDI cable instead.

While not necessarily the case for everyone, if you’re taking the time, effort and money to invest in a complex DAWless set-up you may want to opt for analogue gear. For many DJs, the crispness of audio and type of engagement with analogue equipment more than suits going DAWless.

Thinking of DAWless? Think of DJ City!

DJ City is one of the leaders in DJ equipment of all kinds, including DAWless set-ups. We love to help budding and even experienced musicians find the perfect gear at the perfect price point to suit their needs.

Give the DJ City team a call today if you’re thinking of going DAWless and let us help you put together the perfect set-up.


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