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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.

The Music Production Secrets Series
by John Rogers

  

My Best Mixing & Mastering Articles

Best Mixing Levels Before Mastering

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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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Monitor Speaker Placement For Your Home Recording Studio And DAW Setup

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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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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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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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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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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 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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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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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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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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How Much Should I Charge For Mastering?

I've mastered over 40,000 songs since 1999.  I've charged $10 a song, $20, $30, $50 even $100!  Some prices worked better than others.  Here are a few facts to consider when deciding on what prices to charge.  Read more....

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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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#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

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

 

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How To Prepare Your Songs For Mixing
prepare songs for mixing

In this article, I'll show you how to prepare your songs for 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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What's The Difference Between Mixing And Mastering

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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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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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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?

 

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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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Top 17 Common Music Mixing Mistakes And How To Fix Them!
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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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!

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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