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best gear for daw studio

What's the best music gear for your home recording studio in 2017?

 

I get asked every week, "What gear do I use."  In this article, I'm going to tell you the EXACT gear I used to mix and master all of the songs submitted since 2008.  Here are some samples of the songs I mixed and/or mastered using the gear below.  

Since 1999, I've worked with very HIGH-end equipment, MED priced, and when I first started out I worked with the CHEAP stuff!  My suggestions below are personal preferences that I work for me and have gotten me GREAT results over the years.  

 

Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)

It all starts with the Digital Audio Workstation software.  There are so many choices out there, and each has its strengths, but I'm a big fan of Steinberg Cubase and have been using it ever since SX3!!  

There are other DAW choices out there that are a little better with the workflow for composing, some people swear by pro tools or logic for mixing, and there are different types of standalone mastering software, BUT if you want an ALL-AROUND BEST software that is GREAT at composing, mixing AND mastering, and comes with tons of options - Steinberg Cubase is the absolute winner!    

 

PC Desktop Computer

I don't really have a "specific brand" PC recommendation here, but I do recommend at least a 3.5GHZ QUAD core.  Anything slower and export times take too long.

 

My Speaker Setup

There are hundreds of different choices here!  I love Dynaudio speakers!  A great medium price set that I swear by are the Dynaudio BM6 MkIII.  They're powered, so you don't need an amp.  And they're crystal clear!  They also are pretty true to sound.  Also, you can EQ adjust the controls on the back of the speakers to tweak the output a bit.

These will be my MAIN monitor speakers until I retire.  I know them very well and my results are great.

The MUST HAVE item in your studio - the sub-woofer, I went pretty cheap with this one but it works well!!  I use a KRK K10s.  HUGE bass!!  You won't get 50hz-150hz wrong with these.

This sub-woofer is also powered and has a bass adjustment knob on the back.  So, you can set the bass how you like it and know it to be true.

 

Audio Interface

All of the mixing and mastering samples you hear on my website, I used an RME Fireface 400, which is now called RME Fireface UCX.  Great quality sound, and low latency.  Latency speed is 2-3 times faster than that of a cheap $300-$400 audio interface.

 

Analog Tube Pre Amplifier

The RME Fireface UCX has a preamp, so you can record using a mic or line in without having to buy an additional one.  But, if you want to soften up a vocal track during recording, I loved using the Universal Audio 2-610 Dual Channel Tube Preamplifier.  It only has a few knobs on it, so it's very easy to setup and use right out of the box.  The results are hard to explain without you listening to them.  The vocal track has a softer thicker sound to it when run through this tube preamp.  The vocal sound is more what you're used to when you listen to a song on the radio.

 

Analog Tube Passive Equalizer

I do have ONE very expensive piece of gear in my rack!  The Manley Massive Passive Mastering EQ!  I actually got it used from a studio that went out of business several years ago, but it's still the real deal!  About 20% of my clients want more of an analog sound.  When they do, I use this!

Like the tube preamp above, this thing gives your recordings that "radio sound" that you're used to hearing.  It's hard to explain.

 

Central Station

When I switch to different speaker sets and turn the music volume up and down, I use the Presonus Central Station.  I've had it since 2008 and it's a staple at my studio.

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

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1 cheaply soundproofing room studio

I had to write a quick note on this, as I was reminded about it while thumbing through a popular mixing book that had a 15 page section on speaker resonance and room sound proofing.  I must say, a very exciting 15 pages!  Ha!

 

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I would say YES, most people can become a great mastering engineer. I say this because most of the mixes I receive from clients are pretty good and I know the audio engineer (the band member with a computer) has only minimal training.  He could easily be great if he put a little more study and practice time into it.  And if he had this book to teach him what took me over 17 years to learn!  Ha!

 

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7 mastering hardware equipment daw recording studio

Here's the basic hardware you need to master music:

 

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9 what is audio mastering

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17 how create headroom in mix

To create a mix for mastering with proper headroom is pretty simple. 

 

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Can You Master A Song That's Already Been Mastered?
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What's The Vibrato And Tremolo Definition In Music | Differences Between Tremolo And Vibrato

The vibrato and tremolo effects both have their differences.  But the vibrato and tremolo effects also sound very similar; both slightly wave and pulsate the pitch of an audio track. You have to hear it for yourself to understand the sound.

 

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How To Mix And Master Songs

If you're into "do it yourself projects" my mastering book will show you EXACTLY how I mastered every style of music on this website.  Get it here Audio Mastering Secrets!

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audio music mixing mistakes
 
These are the Top 17 most common music mixing mistakes I see daily.  Correcting them could will improve your audio mastering results and make your mixes sound more professional.
 
 
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Learning And Calibrating Your Speakers For Your DAW In Audio Mastering

3 calibrate speakers audio mastering daw

Learning and calibrating your speakers for your DAW in audio mastering is a very important step in the audio mastering process.  When I first start out with NEW speakers (though I never change them now), I listen to my favorite hit songs in every genre and style.  Songs that I know from my years of experience have X amount of bass, X amount of brightness, etc.  I know how these songs are "supposed" to sound.

 

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Top 20 Audio Mastering Tips, Techniques, And FAQ
 
 

 

 

 

 

Here are the top 20 audio mastering tips, questions, and answers that I've been asked over the years.

 

 

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Best Mixing Levels Before Mastering

set mixing level meters

Correctly setting your mixing levels before mastering is essential for great mastering results.  Having the best DB levels for mixing is critical.  Here's how to properly do it! 

 

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How long does is take to master a song?  There are several extra song mastering procedures I offer that other mastering engineers will not do. 

 

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What Is Headroom In Mastering?

15 what is headroom in mastering

In order to produce a good master, a mix needs proper headroom and dynamic range.

 

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18 analog digital equipment

I started my career using the old analog stuff, since that was the only option.  I incorporated digital software plugins as soon as they became available, but it took many years before computers were fast enough to run them in realtime.  And also before they started making very high quality plugins. 

 

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What Does Channel Mean In Music And Mixing?

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How Much Headroom Before Mastering Should I Leave?

mastering headroom

How much headroom before mastering should you leave in your mix?  Here's the correct amount of headroom you should leave, using detailed graphic examples.

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Monitor Speaker Placement For Your Home Recording Studio And DAW Setup

4 speaker placemnt daw home recording studio

Here's the monitor speaker setup I use for my DAW, and the setup I recommend for your home recording studio.

 

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8 difference between mixing mastering

What's the difference between mixing and mastering?  A lot of people new to music don't know the answer to this.

 

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prepare songs for mixing

In this article, I'll show you how to prepare your songs for mixing.

 

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