deadmau5 on plugins vs. hardware: “For me, fun isn’t struggling on a laptop”

He’d rather make use of his $195,000 Neve desk – but is that the gear that gets him the biggest paychecks?

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deadmau5, take by Fiona Garden and plugins

Image: Fiona Garden for MusicTech (left)

Superstar producer deadmau5 has expressed his frustrations around the lack of “fun” when using plugins compared to hardware he’s saved up for “for 15 years of [his] life”.

Discussed during a recent interview alongside his Kx5 partner Kaskade, the Canadian producer, who has a mammoth recording studio at his home in Ontario, tells MusicTech about how plugins are accessible compared to “some of the stuff I’ve been saving up for, for 15 years of my life”. Such equipment includes a Neve 5088 mixing desk – of which some variants rack up to a whopping $195,000.

He talks about the satisfaction that he draws from working with physical instruments and equipment. “For me, fun isn’t struggling on a laptop monitor, trying to find a plugin and doing everything in the box,” he says. “But then [I’ll] possibly make a great song [that way] and release it and make more money off of that piece of shit than I ever did sitting down behind a Neve desk and applying some of the stuff I’ve been saving up for for 15 years of my life. And [I’m] like, ’Damn, that really hurts.'”

Also, in the interview, deadmau5 shares stark advice for budding producers, saying “don’t sign with a major label. Ever.” He goes on to talk about AI’s song writing capabilities, mentioning that “it’s pretty scary in the sense of how stupid music already is”.

Zimmerman’s not the only producer to critique the abundance of plugins available. Grammy-winning producer Trent Reznor said in September 2022 that affordable plugin synths were leading to “lifeless” music. He said: “I try not to take an elitist stance [but I think we need to try and] to not overcorrect and over deploy the tools that can become lifeless, a sterile sound, too perfect.”

In contrast, FKJ revealed his favourite plugins in February, naming instruments and effects developed by the likes of Native Instruments, Soundtoys, Antares, Schoeps, Neumann, WMD and Ableton.

Read the full interview with Kx5 at


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