One of the questions commonly asked of musicians is what gear they are using, so here’s a list of the main pieces of kit that I’ve used to date, with some hints about where it or good equivalents can be found. If you’re thinking of setting up your own recording studio, hopefully it will be obvious that you don’t have to have spent a fortune on your audio gear to get decent results. (Full disclosure: links in this article are affiliate links, and if you use them, I will get a small amount of commission.)
Recording Hardware & Software
I use Logic Pro X digital audio workstation (DAW) on Macbook – available through the Apple App store. This software is not available for Windows, but there are great alternatives for Windows such as Pro Tools, and Cubase. Logic is one of the least expensive DAWs that are routinely used at a professional level, but you have to factor in the cost of the computer to run it on if you’re setting up from scratch.
Typically I have used a Red RV6 for vocal work. This is a large diameter condenser mic that I picked up second hand. You have to be careful when buying microphones second hand though, as you don’t want a mic that has been dropped or treated roughly, and not all mics can be serviced if they develop a fault. A good alternative that’s much more widely available than the RV6 would be the Audio Technica AT2020. I’ve also been pleased with the results I got in the ATM studio with their AKG Perception 820, which is a tube mic, so it gives a slightly warmer sound. Most of the large diameter condenser mics I have tried (from reputable brands) sound very similar to each other, though – even some of the more expensive ones that ATM had available.
I’ve also occasionally used recordings made using the Mac’s onboard microphone, which has surprisingly decent sound quality. Sometimes the initial guide vocal take is ‘the one’! I usually prefer the sound of a condenser mic though, as it captures that much more detail.
When I’m performing live, I use a BeyerDynamic TG-X 280 dynamic mic, as it is more robust than a large diameter condenser, and is better suited to the live environment, because it’s more directional. (This mic doesn’t appear to be available anywhere, not even second hand). I also really like the Shure SM58 microphone, an industry standard mic which suits my voice that is often available at venues where the PA is provided.
I use a stand for the laptop so that it is a suitable height so I can stand and sing and operate it all at once. This doubles as a mobile desk in the studio.