The heart of my music gear is the Roland Super JV-1080 synthesizer. Although I have heard other synthesizers with better individual sounds, a non-expanded JV-1080 has an awesome array of impressive sounds. Iím particularly impressed with Rolandís piano and string patches. What is particularly impressive about this synth is the performance option, or as I like to call it, "dial a mood." This is a bank of preset and user defined effect banks that process every track of a MIDI song in a particular way. You can define the reverb, chorus, as well as tons of other parameters for each track. This way you can make a song sound like it's in a massive auditorium, then just change to another performance and the song is now being played in a dampened room.
The other main piece of equipment that I use is a Roland A-30 keyboard input device. This does not have its own sound-set, but rather it serves as a nothing more than a MIDI keyboard. Being used to real pianos, I love the fact that this has around a 77 key range. Personally, I donít know how some people can tolerate using the 4-octave ranges that come on most synth keyboards. In certain songs Iíve sometimes dropped the keyboard an octave lower so I can get some real bass sounds.
All of my equipment is routed via MIDI into my computer. The software that I use is a version of Cakewalk Professional for Windows 95. I have seen some people do MIDI synchronization just on the tiny LCD displays on their keyboards. This is great for many people, but if you're interested in doing some serious MIDI composing you should try using a computer. Once youíve been able to see every note laid out on a screen where you can edit them to perfection via mouse, youíll never go back. I actually found that playing drum tracks in by hand, even at low tempos, is almost impossible for certain rhythms. Now I enter each percussion note by mouse. This is a long and tedious process, but the result is some accurate and advanced drum licks.