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new to the land of looping


i'm relatively new to looping and the actual composition/performance of 
music in general.  i've been working with a combination of various 
software-based solutions for a little over a year now and badly want to 
dive into hardware.  i've primarily been working with fruityloops (i have 
this sneaking suspicion that there are a million individuals quite like 
myself :), sound forge, and various software synths.  

i know this is an extremely broad question, but where would anyone 
recommend i begin in terms of hardware?  i mean in the most general sense 
-- i don't mean specific pieces/brands of hardware, just general types of 
hardware (synths, samplers, drum machines, combos, etc.).  i've done 
mostly a cross-breeding of trance, pop (pop in that my work generally has 
vocals...not really pop in any other way, so i suppose the "pop" 
description is somewhat tenuous), drum'n'bass, with a somewhat noticeable 
warp records influence.  i'm looking to hardware because i'm becoming 
increasingly fed up with the noticeably poorer sound quality i get from 
being entirely software-based.  

again, just looking for advice, seeing as i've noticed that a large 
portion of the people on this list seem extremely helpful and 
knowledgeable (certainly moreso than myself).  

thanks very much...hope the person with the gig at knitting factory got 
everything up and running...that sounded rough...

barry nelson