Hello @AphexTwinkletoes @Richie_Ronco & etc
well, where to begin
I’ve been making dance/house/techno/electronica since 20 years ago but only really in earnest for the last 8 - 10 years during which time my software of choice has been Ableton Live. Currently using version 9.7 but started with Live 4 (I think)
When I started doing this stuff back at the end of the 90s it was mainly hardware based as computers weren’t really all that. I used a Roland MC303 Groovebox for a 12" I did in '98
and shortly after that I got a Quasimidi Sirius
I still have both of them - they’re both shit BUT they taught me a lot about dealing with the limitations of your gear and how that can ultimately be a positive thing
So when I started using computers to make music around 10 years ago I thought 'wow, now I can do ANYTHING!'
but over the next couple of years I realised that most of the time what I was actually doing was clicking through presets trying to find something that sounded ‘real’ and endlessly tweaking and not really getting anywhere.
So 7 years ago I bought a Jupiter6 - a classic vintage analogue synth - for about £1400. I decided to make a conscious investment. And I fell in love with the thing - it was really something else. So limited in so many ways but so infinite in many others. Analogue subtractive synthesis is a marvellous thing you know. I bought a few other synths and bits & pieces - had a Moog Sub Phatty at one time, I have a doepfer Dark Energy & a Dark Time sequencer - and pretty much all I was using the computer for was beats & finalising/editing. Everything else was just live or MIDIed ‘takes’ ie recording audio from the synths
A couple of years ago I sold the Jupiter for £2600. I sold the Moog for only a little less than I bought it (new) for as well and I had a little rethink. Last year I bought a Dave Smith/Oberheim OB-6 for about the same as I got for the Jupiter. More here if you’re interested
Why am I telling you all this? Well, it’s because I honestly think that hardware is where you should be spending your money not software. Hardware sounds better, is more easily manipulated & messed with and is FUN. Plus, if you do get bored or lose interest it generally holds its value & can be sold on. This is not the case (or not so much anyway) with software.
Also, you can get software for free.
Ableton Live 9.7 Suite costs €1198 - but you can get a crack version off the internet for free. It has everything thing you could possibly need & more.
As for processing… Waves Mercury Bundle costs a staggering $7599 and the Abbey Road collection an extra $1200 but you can find these in a torrent and have them for nothing.
I’m not saying you should (or shouldn’t) I’m just saying you can…if you want
So, knowing everything I know now and given that you want to make House/Techno I would suggest you buy yourself a drum machine and learn how to program it.
Ideally you’d want something that has both analog & sampling abilities - something like the Elektron Analog Rytm or DSI Tempest though these both cost big bucks.
A cheaper alternative is to try & find a 2nd hand Jomox xbase 888 or 999.
You should be able to get one for around £400-£500 which may sound a lot but remember that you can sell it for the same price as you bought it so essentially it costs nothing.
There are a lot of options on the market for either analogue drum machines the new Arturia Drumbrute looks decent
and there a ton of other alternatives
or if you want to have the flexibility of sample-based stuff then the classic is an MPC - which comes in endless varieties these days from 2nd hand vintage classics where everything is on board, to shiny new controllers which just use your laptop as the sample memory but give you the classic workflow … and everything in between
I’m emphasising the drum element here because for house & techno it is absolutely primal that you concentrate on the beat & the groove - forget melody for a while …or entirely…just feel the rhythm
Of course, it’s up to you how you approach things but I would STRONGLY ADVISE that you do as much as you possibly can OUTSIDE of your DAW/Software and really when it comes to the computer focus on learning how to use it for finalising/editing/mixing. Learn about EQs and clipping and bit depth and sampling rates & dithering & latency & MIDI routing & compression & all that sound engineering stuff for the laptop.
This is a lot of words but I feel I haven’t even answered your question properly yet. Feel free to ask questions
Of course, if you’re using an outside sound source you’re going to need a soundcard … that’s a whole other subcategory of questions too… fire away