ESSENTIAL GEAR: The Equipment I Can't Live Without
As a music producer, one of the most common questions you will receive is
What gear do you use?
If you play someone one of your new tracks that goes down well, expect an avalanche of questions trying to decipher which synth you used, how you did your reverb, what you did to the guitar in that part. Similarly, if you are particularly fond of a certain producer, it’s worthwhile exploring the internet and checking interviews to see what equipment they are using to complete their tracks – this way you can understand how they polish their mixes and emulate some of the styles yourself.
So here’s my list of some essential gear in my studio.
Korg Minilogue XD
At first I was reluctant to use this powerful synthesiser due to its widespread popularity. This may seem nonsensical, but I was wary not to create music that sounds like everybody else’s.
Needless to say, I was wrong.
I was impressed by the extent of hands-on editing available, and the lush, full-bodied pad sounds are prevalent throughout my tracks.
The beast in my studio.
I have spent hours exploring the soundscape of this analog modular synthesiser - and it sounds simply phenomenal. The Moog can be heard all over Late Night Thrills, with the Mother-32 being used to create detuned leads, jumping arps and throbbing basslines. The built in sequencer opens a plethora of opportunities.
It’s my go to synth for creating grainy basslines and analog stabs.
Valhalla Vintage Verb
Reverb is a vital element in the mix, particularly for the style of music that I create. I used a few different reverb plugins with mixed results before I landed on Valhalla’s Vintage Verb. It’s quick and easy to use and sounds beautiful from the moment I stick it on an effects chain.
I mix the vast majority of my reverb sounds using this plugin.
TC Electronic ND-1 Nova Delay
This is the most used effect on my pedal board. I started out only using it on guitars, exhausting the reverse delay and ping-pong settings, but soon applied it to my synth sounds. The delay settings on this little pedal are punchy and powerful, and it will always be a part of my live setup.
Korg Kaosspad KP3
Admittedly, when I first received this dynamic effects sampler it sat untouched in my studio for about two weeks, which is unusual for me, but I wasn’t sure where to start with it.
I began using it to flip and manipulate live samples during DJ sets, with great results, and soon transitioned the Kaosspad into my studio, applying the built-in effects to synth sounds. But now I use the Kaosspad on samples within my tracks. It’s perfect for creating all kinds of crazy and unusual effects that make my samples sound unique and interesting, the possibilities are endless.
SSL G-Master Bus Compressor
Now this is a slightly less interesting piece of gear, but it has been used on every single track I’ve ever mixed.
The SSL Bus Compressor is my go-to compressor plugin. I use it on the vast majority of sounds during the mixing phase and it regularly appears in my masters. It’s easy to use and sounds great – what more could you want?
So there are a few of my most used studio gems. I try, where possible, to use a multitude of synthesisers and effects when creating a track, this way I can stimulate the creative process and build diversity amongst my music. But, of course, music equipment isn’t cheap, and I am limited to the equipment owned by myself and the people I know.
Either way, you can never have too many synths.