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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 Serie
by John Rogers

  

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

What Software Do You Need For Audio Mastering?

2 software for audio mastering

If you've mixed songs in the past, you more than likely can use that same software for audio mastering. As long as you can add effects to the stereo/main out bus, you're good to go.  Read more....

 

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Mastering Compression Techniques

This video shows one of the more imptotant compression techniques I use in audio mastering.  In my audio Mastering Secrets Video Series, I explain everything you need to know about audio mastering.

 

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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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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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What Is Audio Mastering?

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What is audio mastering?  I've seen a lot of different answers on the Internet to this simple question.  Some were pretty technical and confusing.

 

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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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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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Best Room Size For Audio Mastering DAW Home Recording Studio

6 best room size for audio mastering

So, what is the best room size for audio mastering in your DAW home recording studio?  Technically, you can properly mix or master in any room size.  But, I believe a smaller room is better than a very large one for someone who's just starting out. And when I say smaller I mean closer to 12'x15' than to 20'x30'.  I've mixed and mastered songs for a number of years in a 20'x30' room.  It took me a few days to get used to it, but after that I could do it.

 

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What Is Reverb Effect In Music | How To Use Reverb

This article discusses what is the reverb effect in music and how to use it?  The reverb effect is used to simulate space. When reverb is applied to a dry vocal or instrument track, it will sound like it was recorded live in the space size that was selected on the processor. Common space size options include a small room, vocal plate, large hall, etc.

 

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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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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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Why Does A Mix Need Headroom And Dynamic Range?

16 why do songs need mastering

Why does a mix need headroom and dynamic range?  In one sentence, it gives the mastering engineer more room to work with.
 

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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 Does Mastering Do To A Song?

10 what is audio mastering

What does mastering do to a song?  Your main goal in audio mastering is to replicate the sonic qualities of a well professionally mastered commercial song, in the same genre and style as the song mix you are working on.

 

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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 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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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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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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John Rogers - Danceur Magazine Interview (July 2018)

Since the begining of his solo career in 2008, I mastered over 80 songs with the top French recording artist NYLS.  Great pop dance music with a lot of remixes.  During his entire career (as of now), I mastered most of if not all the song he released.  It was a great pleasure working with NYLS and Nico at Icon Records!

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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!

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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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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#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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Which Is Better For Audio Mastering Analog Gear Or Digital Software Plugins?

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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Audio Engineer Hearing Loss And Tinnitus

5 sound engineer prevent tinnitus

Millions of people suffer from tinnitus.  A new study shows around 10% of the U.S. population suffers from it in some form, but many have never even heard of it until they get it!  Unfortunately, I was one of those people.  It can happen quickly and it lasts a lifetime... 

 

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