I thought I'd start the blog with a post about equipment and the studio. I'm not geeky about what I use, but it can be interesting to have an insight into where I spend a lot of time and what bits of kit get used in there.
Here's a picture of my workspace. I love my chair. It's a Steelcase Think. I suffered some acute back pain a few years ago and the muscle spasms hurt so much I thought I was dying, so much so that, for that time, I overcame an extreme fear of needles and visited the GP who, of course, insisted on taking blood. At the time I was making music on a temporary set-up working on my laptop to make music in another room at a table sitting on a drum stool and it was this poor posture that caused my aches and pains. I saved a fortune on the chair by buying from an online refurbished office furniture store.
I use Apple Logic Pro X. I'm used to it and how it sounds and looks. It suits my way of working. I am amazed at what people do with Ableton Live and I enjoyed using Reason and Cubase in the past but Logic is what I've ended up with for the moment. It runs on a mini mac with a quad i7 processor and 16GB RAM. I tend not to use 3rd party plug ins, but only recently I received some Focusrite Red EQ and compressor plugins as part of a deal and I needed to purchase an audio restoration plug in so opted for this Izotopes package.
I've had my Event ASP8 monitor speakers and speaker stands for about a decade. 10 years is a fairly long while to keep speakers running every day but despite one of them being accidentally knocked off the stand onto the floor during the first week of ownership they have been trouble free. I'm dreading the day that they need replacing! I bought them for my old commercial studio Loficity and they stayed with me. There is a slight scoop and bass hump, but they sound smooth and I "know" them. They are probably a bit overkill for my very small room, but somewhat luckily this hasn't affected my mixes and I don't have to compensate in any way when mixing. I do have two broadband/bass traps on the right hand wall and the room is constructed so that the walls vibrate and the low frequencies are absorbed by a thick slabs of acoustic grade mineral insulation in the cavity between the bricks and board walls so that helps.
I purchased this Audient iD14 only 3 or 4 weeks ago. It was out of necessity as I was without an audio interface temporarily. This thing is amazing. It's function is simple and there's no bells & whistles, but it does what it is meant to do without any fuss. It's USB bus powered, has two mic/line inputs with 48v phantom power. There is also an ADAT light pipe input so it can be connected to an external pre-amp unit. The pre-amps are fantastically smooth. I've owned an Apogee Duet which was more than twice the price new and wasn't as user friendly ("iD", Audient's control software is super easy to use) and although it's subjective I think this Audient's pre-amps are superior. It was less than £200 new. Highly recommended if you are looking for a small footprint desktop audio interface that can be expanded.
I picked this up in the local cash convertors store for £60. It's an important bit of kit because it stays on my desk and allows me to play stuff into Logic without fuss. I also have a Roland Juno 61DS which tends to stay in its bag until I need a keyboard for playing in a group. I tend to rely on the synths in Logic - probably because it's quick and more convenient, but the majority of the sounds are decent and some are better than hardware equivalents. The idea of having a real analog synth appeals to me, but at the moment without space and wealth, I don't think it'd be money well spent.
My microphones (left to right, top to bottom):
So this year I am doing a lot of multi-track recording on location. For the money, sound quality, ease of use and customer service there was only one choice really: Focusrite Clarett. Using Thunderbolt instead of firewire and USB has been a revelation as I can set up a mix within Logic that can be used for headphone holdback and there's no noticeable latency. The headroom on the mic pre-amps is phenomenal and the AIR circuit on each one can be used to simulate the revered Focusrite ISA pre-amp. These live in an amazing SKB case that also safely houses my MacBook pro. I use a 2012 MacBook pro with 8GB RAM and has a SDRAM drive (the most solid MacBook in my opinion, great value for money and before MacBooks were designed to be non-user upgradable).
My lovely guitars (left to right):
I used to be a massive fan of guitar effects. I still am, but these days I'm a bit more comfortable with my playing ability to get a good tone and express myself without effects. What effects I do have are do-it-all solutions.
Zoom Multistomp - this thing can set up several instances of effects along with guitar pre-amp sim and cab sims - it is a swiss army knife of pedals - sound quality isn't too bad either
Line 6 M5 stomp box modeller - loads of pedals in one box - I think there are 100 different models - you can only dial up one instance, but that's enough for me before I get flustered in a live context and in the studio I tend to rely on post-processing if I want to get radical with effects. I got this by selling a Line 6 Delay pedal for more than the cost of this new despite that the M5 has the exact same model of the Line 6 delay pedal in it.
Joyo American Tone - this is a chinese clone of Sansamp Fender Tweed pre-amp simulator - it's great for £30 new. I plug my guitar into a keyboard amp with this in between and you wouldn't know it's not a proper guitar amp.
These are sitting on top of my Fender Champion 110 amp. People love or hate these things. I think it's a good 2nd hand buy. I'm planning to replace the stock speaker at some point as that will definitely improve matters, but only increase the weight (which is why I've not done it yet!). It's got a killer clean sound for less than £100 2nd hand.
I love the drums. If I could swap all my skills for the ability and talent of a top drummer I would I reckon. Let's say I'm musical and groovy when playing the drums - I have feel but no developed technique. One day I might find the discipline to become a skilled drummer. Good thing I know several really great players. It's handy for me to have my own kit though. It's a Premier Genista from the 90s that I bought a decade ago for £300 from Mike Simpson (who played in Eden Burning - remember them?) over a decade ago. Made in England and regarded as one of the best kits Premier ever made. Birch shells and amazing chromed hardware. Unusually I have a virgin (no hardware mounts for toms) 18" bass drum - I'm led to believe this is desirable to collectors. The snare drum is an aluminium Yamaha version of the Ludwig 400 (another bargain £100). There's also a nice Pearl Sensitone Kapur 6.5" snare drum in the case under the 14" tom. In the cymbal bag there's some 80s 14" Zildjian New Beat Hi-hats, a 20" K Custom Dark Ride and a Meinl 18" Sand Crash.
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