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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.
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The Music Production Secrets Series
by John Rogers

  

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

What Does Channel Mean In Music And Mixing?

It's the most basic of all questions, but someone asks it at least once a week.  In this article, I will explain what channel means in music and mixing

 

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Mid Side EQ In Mastering

This is a quick video on how a mid-side processor works, and how to check the stereo field of your mix using a mid-side processor equalizer.

 

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How To Prepare Your Songs For Mastering
preparing mixes for mastering

In this article, we'll show you how to prepare your mixes for mastering.

 

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How To Master A Song In Only 5 Minutes!

Would you like to know how to master a song or how to master your own music?  So many people think just making the volumes the same level for every song is "mastering" their CD.  Well, mastering is a lot more than just that! 

 

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What's The Difference Between Mixing And Mastering

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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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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A/B Comparison In Mastering
In this video I do a quick A/B comparison of a few songs.  In my audio mastering secrets video series, I get a lot more in-depth into exactly what you are trying to achieve sonically for your genre/style of music.
 
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Mastering Hardware Equipment You Need For Your DAW Home Recording Studio

7 mastering hardware equipment daw recording studio

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

 

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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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The Sound Engineer SCAM! Does More Expensive Mean Better?


The sound engineer scam, the online recording studio ripoff, whatever you want to call it.  I hear about it 3-4 times a month from my clients, since 1999.  It never changes!

 

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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!

Can Anyone Become A Great Sound Engineer?

11 become great sound engineer

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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Can You Master A Song That's Already Been Mastered?
Can I master a song that's already been mastered?  Yes!  Every month I master songs that have already been mastered.  Read more....
 
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Set Mixing Levels For Each Instrument

How to set mixing levels for each instrument is a question I see all over the Internet.  I'm going to explain exactly how to set mixing levels in this article.

 

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How To Master EDM, Pop Dance, Synth
 In this article I will discuss how to master EDM, pop dance and synth songs.  Every genre (style) of music has its own set of sonic qualities that are unique to the genre.  These sonic qualities are a "must to know" if you want to audio mastering your own EDM, pop dance and synth music. Read more ...
My First Music Video!

Here's the first music video I directed, Mahalin Muli by JAI, released on July 10th, 2018.  I also wrote more than half of the script. 

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Why Do Songs Need To Be Mastered?

12 why need audio mastering

Why do songs need to be mastered?  I've seen this question on the Internet many times.  The answer I always see is "Because all songs on the radio have been professionally mastered, yours should be too."  This is a true fact, but not an answer.

 

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#1 Best Website Hosting For Musicians, And Music Recording Studios

If you're looking for the best website hosting for musicians, bands, and music recording studios, here's my own personal experience with website hosting companies.

 

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Best Free Redbook CD Burning Software
Yes, burning your own redbook master CDs is very easy!  Here's how to make your own redbook CD masters for free! 
 
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Creating Headroom In A Mix

17 how create headroom in mix

OK

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

 

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Mastering A Song For Radio

14 song ready for radio

Here's another popular question I see online, always with the wrong answer! "There's no such thing as radio ready mastering!"  REALLY?  Read more....

 

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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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What Is Chorus Effect In Music | How To Use Chorus

This article discusses what is the chorus effect in music and how to use it?  The chorus effect makes a single audio track sound like a group. It achieves this by taking a single instrument or vocal track, multiplying it, and then slightly detunes each newly created track. The result is a fuller lush sounding audio track.

 

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Fixing A Bad Mix With Mastering

A lot of mastering engineers are afraid to make drastic changes to a mix they are working on.  That, or they're stuck in the familiarity of always making only small changes. 

In this video I show how you can turn a weak mix (definitely wouldn't call it bad) into a great sounding master, simply by pushing your levels a little more than you might be used to.

 

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How To Master Hard Rock And Heavy Metal
 In this article I will discuss how to master hard rock and heavy metal songs.  Every genre (style) of music has its own set of sonic qualities that are unique to the genre.  These sonic qualities are a "must to know" if you want to audio mastering your own hard rock or heavy metal music. Read more ...
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