We get to look at a lot of stuff running our blog, but what 5 additions to my studio am I most glad I made in 2015?
A Custom Built Studio Desk
I took the plunge and had a new studio desk custom built to design. It is so good to have everything all as you need it rather than trying to bodge your workspace with bits of furniture that don't quite work. I have plenty of rack space, a place for my 88 notes keyboard controller and also a cupboard for all my external drives and chassis to whir away to their heart's content without bothering me.
Sontronics ARIA Microphone
Housed inside the chromed grille is a large, 1.07-inch, edge-terminated capsule aimed at both male and female vocals. It features a hand-selected European 12AX7/ECC83 tube which lends a character that you’d expect to find in a classic vintage valve mic.
The accompanying SPS-2 power supply unit boasts pad (0, -10dB) and filter (linear, 75Hz) switches as well as a tube-ready LED, letting you know when the mic is warmed up and at its best to record. Inside the unit is a pro-quality, medical-grade electricity filter to ensure that the power supply is pure and interference-free. SSP is £899 UK
You can watch James' video review of the Sontronics Aria here
It's nice to own a high quality microphone, it's even nicer when you are friends with the people who design and manufacture them. It means you get a fantastic microphone and support the livelihoods of those you appreciate.
Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt
Packed with connectivity, great sounding and because of the Thunderbolt connectivity it's super fast (in fact so fast I'm yet to find anyone tell me there's a latency issue when tracking them), the Apogee Ensemble Thunderbolt is the interface that's a the centre of my studio. In 2014 I acquired a UAD Apollo Twin which I also use when I want to track with some of the amazing UAD plug-ins, especially the Unison ones. This one just about scrapped onto my list as I reviewed it last December before purchasing it.
Even after spending a couple of hours with the Maag Audio EQ4M 6-Band Dual Channel Mastering EQ I can hear the quality and the musicality of this unit - in the right hands this unit will deliver mastering magic. It's also possible to use the Maag EQ4M as an EQ on other material, in fact it's now part of my vocal tracking chain along with a Universal Audio 1176 compressor, the other channel I use for the click track...
PreSonus Studio One 3
Yes I know this is a Pro Tools blog, rest assured there is a dedicated team of Pro Tools professionals still at the core of Pro Tools Expert team. I also continue to use Pro Tools for some tasks, but once I tried Studio One 3 as a writing and composition tool I never looked back. The sheer power combined with simplicity means that I'm using a DAW that let's me write new material with the minimum of fuss and rarely do I struggle with either crashes or a lack system resources. When I need to move stuff to Pro Tools then the ease of freezing tracks and creating stems is a joy. As I said in my original article on the matter I don't expect anyone else to agree with me, but that's not the reason I'm hooked, it works for me and that's what matters most to me, as we say the best DAW is the one that works best for you.
It was hard to narrow this down to just 5 but all the above are things that I use all the time and know each one of them has helped improve my workflow, enhance my creativity and help me deliver a better end result.
So what about you - what gear additions are you glad you made in 2015?