God damn, it feels good to look back on something you've been practicing for a while and coming to the conclusion that you have actually improved since you started it. In this instance I'm thinking of keyboard-playing. I was practicing Joe Hisaishi's "The Summer" (from the soundtrack to Kikujiro's Summer) the other day when my brother commented that I've actually learnt to play a bit.
It's like a natural high when you notice improvement; you can't really see it while you're in the midst of practicing, but when you finally notice and start to think how it was in the beginning and see how far you've come, it's a damn good feeling. On a related note, this is also how most games work: when you level up, or get that new weapon, you experience a similar rush.
I practiced "The Summer" a bit on a piano at school, and was once again shocked at the difference between a real piano and the plastic-y MIDI keyboard I currently use (M-Audio Keystation 49). Not to mention that the 49 keys of my keyboard is getting a bit constrictive. Ideally I'd be using a full 88-key hammer-action keyboard like the Keystation Pro 88.But those are like 500€! With that I'd rather get a decent synthesizer for possible performances in a band-environment, like the Roland Juno-D.Roland have gotten some flack for the Juno-D since it's quite different from the previous incarnations in the Juno-line (to the point where some would probably say that it isn't even decent); but what it does seem to be is an affordable entry-level synthesizer. Yeah, it's only got 61 keys, but above that seems to be a completely different price-range for synthesizers.
Returning from gear-obsessing to the original topic, I've also noticed how my compositions seem to be getting better over time. This becomes especially obvious when I take a look at some of my earliest "musical note-pads" (I use these for just playing around in Garageband, if I come across something cool I can then quickly record it). The earlier ones really sound incredibly boring...
Going back to gear-obsessing for a while: Garageband only records in 44.1 kHz, 16-bit, which, while being CD-quality, isn't preferrable to mix in. So the plan is, that when I eventually get the Firewire Solo (which I have decided to get instead of the Behringer FCA-202 Firewire interface, due to a couple of reasons*), all the real instrument recordings will be done in Logic Express (which I have acquired), Apple's budget-version of the Logic audio sequenser. The incredible advantage of Logic over other audio sequensers (for me) is that it is able to directly open Garageband project files; this means I can use Garageband to make a "rough sketch" of the song, and when I want to take it to the next step, recording vocals or guitar, I can just pop the file into Logic Express.
* As for the reasons for me choosing the Firewire Solo over the FCA-202: the FW Solo has built-in pre-amps, meaning I'd have to buy separate pre-amps if I got the FCA-202; I've heard some reports of very high latency when recording and high processor-usage even when idle for the FCA-202; and finally, I guess Behringers reputation for sub-standard gear also had its fair share in the decision.