25 Oct

Best studio monitoring headphones you can buy right now

You know those times when you get caught in the moment and the moment lasts all night? You are stuck in a long working session in your home studio and you don’t need any interruption. You definitely do not want your neighbors to hear your loud speakers and call the Police at 4 am, right? If you are living with your family or your friends, you don’t want to wake them in the middle of the night. At this time you are probably getting where I am going with this: you need a set of studio headphones that can be used for monitoring. Before getting into further details, you should know that it’s important to choose studio monitoring headphones that are comfortable and durable. Especially when you know you will use them every day for longer periods of time.

Although it is recommended to use a pair of studio monitors when you are mixing and mastering your songs, getting a set of studio monitoring headphones is just as important. This investment should be taken into consideration when you are building your home studio. Studio monitoring headphones come in different shapes, sizes and specifications. You will learn that not all are suited for a home studio. Just because they are advertised as “Studio Headsets” it doesn’t mean they are effective in that regard.

You will need to look for specific things like the manufacturer’s specifications, user reviews and you should test them before you buy in audio stores. With a pair of headphones, you can stay late in the night without any problems. More than that, they can be used as a primary or secondary source of monitoring in the mixing/mastering process.

Best studio monitoring headphones on the market

Let’s see which are the best pairs of studio headphones that are worth your attention.

Monitoring headphones Superlux-HD662-EVO

Superlux HD662 EVO

The first headphones that we recommend should be taken into consideration due to their extremely low price and high performance. Compared to professional studio headphones, these are 2-3 times cheaper. The Superlux HD662 EVO are suitable for audio monitoring and they are specially created for beginners that can not afford expensive equipment. Considering their price, these headphones are perfect for a home studio and they offer surprising performance. Superlux HD662 EVO are closed headphones with dynamic surround-sound and superior sound quality. The 50 mm speakers that offer 200 mW of power, enough for monitoring, audition and playback. At the same time, these headphones impresses with their durability. The headband is composed of two iron rods that fix the cups. Their impedance is 32 Ohms and it contains enough accessories in the box to compete with studio headphones that are way cheaper.

Pros:

  • Excellent quality in its price range
  • It can reach a frequency between 10 to 30,000 Hz
  • Speakers: 50 mm
  • High SPL: 98 dB
  • Includes an extra set of sponge made of detachable cable

Cons:

  • They are difficult to use for a long period of time due to the closed construction
  • Sometimes, the highs can be a bit annoying

Roland RH-200

Roland RH-200

The Roland RH-200 is a mid-range enclosed headphones set with a medium size. They were first introduced back in 2008 and people are praising them ever since. If you are looking for comfort for your ears, RH-200 is a good choice. Especially if we are talking about using them in long-term monitoring sessions. Roland RH-200 turns out to be a fortunate pick as well if you want to isolate external unwanted sounds. This way, you are able to focus on your music and nothing more.

These headphones are known for reproducing acoustic details with incredible accuracy, especially in the mid range frequecy. The frequencies are between 20 – 20,000 Hz and the acoustic pressure is up to 100 dB at a 65 Ohm impedance. Power is also an important factor, with the Roland RH-200 featuring 40mm speakers with neodymium magnets that push the air up to 1600mW. In this price range, Roland RH-200 are excellent, especially if you want to get more acoustic details.

Pros

  • Affordable price for a pair of comfortable earpieces
  • Comfortable to wear for long studio sessions
  • Great acoustic reproduction especially in the mid-frequency area
  • Golden plug connectors rotating cups @ 180 degrees

Cons

  • Nothing in particular

Studio Monitors Audio Technica ATH-M50X
Audio Technica ATH-M50X

Audio Technica ATH-M50X offers exceptional construction quality in combination with the audio quality required in any recording studio. They can also be used as monitors in your mixing sessions. The ATH M50X is present in most of the online studio headphones charts. They were designed to capture even the attention of picky customers, being capable of unmatched acoustic experience in mixing, DJ and auditing. These headphones provide great comfort and the cover cups do their job perfectly.

The cups can be tightened, rotated and pivoted up to 180 degrees, being extremely portable. Drivers have 45mm and 1600 mW at an acoustic pressure of 99 dB. The frequency goes from 15 Hz to 28,000 Hz with a 38 Ohm impedance. If we take into account their price, you get an unbeatable bargain and a great quality-price ratio. ATH M50X are probably the most popular monitoring studio headsets you can buy at this price and we recommend them at any given day.

Pros

  • Great audio quality
  • Very confortable when using for longer period of time
  • The cups ensures a great portability
  • You will find a protective case and cables in the box
  • Unbeatable quality-price ratio

Cons

  • The cable can be replaced only with Audio Technica spare cable.

Roland M-100 AIRA
Roland M-100 AIRA

These headphones were launched at the end of 2015 and they were designed for musicians who want to add real value to their recording studio. M-100 AIRA headphones offer quality that exceed the expected acoustic performance in their range price.

They feature dual 50 mm diaphragm drivers coupled with a superb response. The frequency ranges from 5 to 30,000 Hz. The acoustic pressure of 103 dB provides great monitoring quality. Besides the excellent sound reproduction, these headphones are equipped with a XL memory foam sponge for extra isolation and enhanced comfort, a 2 m heavy-duty professional cable with locking mechanism, Extra Share Play feature splitting an audio source with 2 pairs of headphones and a durable carrying case.

Pros

  • They offer clear tones both in high and low frequencies
  • The headphones set has a solid and durable construction
  • Sponge foam with memory lock mechanism
  • Cable sleeve with durable exo-skeleton
  • Lightweight and comfortable

Cons

  • The bass can be too powerful for some ears
  • It can be tiring for the ears after a very long listening session

A good pair of studio headphones will give you the sound quality you need to identify flaws in the mix and address them. This allows you to focus more on the hearing experience and less on the neighbors. Keep in mind that you should not mix and master a track entirely using headphones because the sound played on the headphones will be completely different from the sound on the studio monitors. This is especially due to the distance between the sound source and the ear. The sound produced by studio monitors interacts with the environment and that should be your main reference.

Studio Headphones: Final Verdict

These are the best monitoring headphones that you can buy right now. Of course, they are not the ultimate best, you can find better headphones at prices over $1000. We have tried to select headphones that are affordable while still maintaining the features and sound quality that’s required in a home recording studio. Keep in mind that all the headphones presented in this list can be used for mixing and mastering, but we strongly advice to use a pair of great studio monitors before publishing the songs online. Let us know which one is your favorite monitoring headphones set and why…

22 Oct

Best studio monitors that you can buy right now

Studio monitors are speakers or speaker systems that monitor the sound in a recording studio. They can be connected to the output source of mixers, masters, radio, TV, and more. In most cases, the monitors are extremely important in the mixing and mastering process, since the sound engineer tunes the sound of the songs according to what he hears in the monitors. That’s why I truly believe is equally important to get the best studio monitors you can afford when you are building your home recording studio. You want the final product to be as accurately as possible and to sound great on any audio system.

A crucial feature of studio monitors is the linear response in frequency. This feature allows the monitor to play the full range of audio frequencies, not necessarily to the liking of most people. Let’s not forget that the human ear is being more sensitive in the mid-range frequency. The linearity of monitoring comes from choosing the best monitoring system you can afford.

Best studio monitors for a home recording studio

Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers
Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers
There are two factors that should convince you to get this speaker for your home studio. It’s affordable and has plenty of features. It has 2 x aux inputs, it features studio sound quality, it has a remote control and a beautiful wooden design. If you decide to get Edifier R1280T Powered Bookshelf Speakers you will get 2 year warranty. It offers a transparent and rich sound reproduction that is faithful to the original source.

Mackie CR Series CR3 - 3
Mackie CR Series CR3 – 3″ Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors
This pair of studio monitors is ideal for mixing your songs in a home studio. The offer a frequency range from 80Hz to 20 kHz. It offers an aux input and a volume know that doubles as an on/off switch. Also, you can listen to music on these monitors via Bluetooth. Inside the box you will find cables, isolation pads.

KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitors
KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 Powered Studio Monitors
These studio monitors offer large headroom and low distortion thanks to the bi-amped class A/B amplifier. The waveguide is optimized for superior imaging and it provides great bass response, pristine clarity and frequencies up to 35 KHz. From this list, KRK RP5G3-NA Rokit 5 Generation 3 are offering the closest sound you can get in professional recording studios.
M-Audio AV32
M-Audio AV32
Just like its name, this pair of studio monitor is all about portability. You may not get the quality of the the previous monitors in this list, but you will get a pair of affordable studio monitors that will do the job and they’ll still fit in your backpack. Designed for entry level, these 10-watt monitors offer RCA inputs for connecting mixers, laptops or audio interface. The frequency response is between 80 Hz and 20,000 Hz. The box contains the acoustic pads, power cable, stereo cable, 1/8” RCA cable, speaker wire, user guide and safety warranty manual.

If the mix sounds great on your monitors, it will eventually sound as good as Hi-Fi, PA (public address) in clubs or shows, boomboxes and PC speakers, headphones, phones, etc. That’s why everyone is trying to get that perfect sound on their studio monitors, and that’s why a cheap and rusty pair of monitors could down the sound quality of your song, even if you have recorded it on the best home studio microphone you can think of.

Another crucial factor when using studio monitors is the acoustics of the room in which you mix and master the songs. You really don’t want to mix your songs in a room that creates echoes, especially echoes from the monitors. The sound needs to be heard as clear as possible. If your room creates the echo effect, you should probably get informed about how to treat it acoustically.

Studio monitors: Active or passive?

Active monitors have a built-in amplifier. They have a separate amplifier for each of the speakers, depending on the frequency range played by the speaker. The advantages are that you do not need to buy a separate amplifier. The signal coming out of the mixer or audio interface can be played directly to the monitors. Active monitors are usually recommended for home studio setups.

Passive monitors do not have a built-in amplifier, so you need to buy a separate amplifier. The advantages are that you can use any amplifier, and you can change it later if you want with a better one. You can combine any monitors with any amplifier. One disadvantage is that the whole monitoring setup will need extra space on your studio desk, and you will need a set of extra cables (from the line output to the amplifier, then from the amplifier to the monitors).

Bass reflex vs. Sealed monitors

The monitors can feature ported (bass reflex) or sealed (closed cabinet designs). The bass reflex have an orifice that allows the air pushed by the speaker to circulate through. Both types sound good on low frequencies, but some will argue that sealed monitors sound better. I believe this is a personal choice, according to your own taste.

Nearfield vs midfield monitors

Depending on the way you have designed your setup, some monitors are located close to the sound engineer, others at a larger distance or medium. Depending on this factor, you can get a “nearfield” or “mid field”. You can also get monitors that are suited for larger or medium distances if you want to see how your mix sounds on high volumes. But in general, the nearfield monitors are the ones you should buy, especially if you are building a home recording studio.

Studio Monitors Placement

In general, the studio monitors should be placed on a special stand, symmetrically to the side walls of the mixing room. The head of the sound engineer should form an equilateral triangle with the nearfield monitors. The picture above is a good example in this regard.

Also, the mixing room should feature symmetrical arrangement of furniture, audio tools, and other elements. The mixing desk should be placed somewhere at 35%-40% distance on the long axis of the room, just like in the image above. The vertical or horizontal positioning of monitors is based on the manufacturer’s specifications and you will probably find those recommendations in the manual. If you are not following these known patterns of placement, you will experience a degradation of the stereo image, and thus you will have a lower quality mix. I am sure you don’t really want that.

Conclusion:
The studio monitors you decide to buy are designed to help you mix the song in a way that sounds better than the original recordings. That’s way it’s important to choose a studio monitoring system that’s accurate and transparent. It is hard to pick the best studio monitors that fits all ears. They have various features that does not appeal to everyone. Also, the style of music you decide to mix is a good reference when you choose the monitors for your home studio.

You should consider factors like the size of the monitors (4-7 inch), nearfield or midflield, passive or active, ported or sealed. We hope that the selection above gave you a good idea on what the market has to offer at affordable prices. Don’t forget to buy studio monitor stands for your setup! What’s your favorite pair of studio monitors?

image sources: crossfadr.com

21 Feb

Cubase 5 – Getting started, configuration, settings, how to record songs

In this tutorial, I am going to share some of the things I’ve learned over the years that may get you started with your recording sessions in Cubase. I am going to focus mainly on the preparation process, general settings, inputs and VST settings in Cubase 5. The following pieces of advice may very well work on any upper versions of Cubase like Cubase PRO 8.5, but I have tested them only on Cubase 5, since that’s the version I own right now. Let’s get started:

0. The obvious

Before getting lost in the following configurations, make sure that your audio interface is connected to your computer and it is installed properly. You can verify this by listening to a Youtube song or playing any type of audio file from your local disk.

Cubase 5 Getting Started Tutorial

1. Getting started

When you start Cubase for the first time, you should choose New Project in the pop-up window or from the File > New Project option. A new pop-up should appear, asking you to choose the type of template you are going to use. Choose “Empty” and then press OK button. Next, you are asked to choose the working folder, the folder that will contain all the recordings you make for this particular project. I like to be organized, so I keep a separate folder for each song, so things won’t get to mixed up in the process. In the end, your screen should like just like in the image above.

Cubase 5 setting audio interface setting

2. Setting the Audio Interface in Cubase 5

In some cases, Cubase will auto-select your laptop/desktop’s audio interface instead of your audio interface. In order to make sure the proper interface is set on your project, go to Main menu > Devices > Device Setup > VST Audio System and select your audio interface. Once you’ve done that, press OK/Save.

3. VST Settings for microphone in Cubase

By default, Cubase 5 allows you to record using a stereo input. In other words, you will get the left and the right source on the same channel (if you are planning to record on a stereo channel). But there might be a problem, since most microphones are mono, so you will be getting signal only from left or right, the channel containing only the self noise that’s coming the recording chain. In this case, you should make some changes in the VST connection settings in order to capture only the channel that’s active.

Press F4 or select Main Menu > Devices > VST Connections. Choose the “Inputs” tab, and select 2xMono from the Presets drop down. If there is no such options there, you have to do it manually: delete everything in the BusName table and Press Add Bus twice in order to add two Mono Inputs. Make sure each Bus Name has both Left and Right as device port settings. Now, you should have two mono inputs set, one for the left and one for the right channel. Close this window and return to the main window.

Adding new channel in cubase

4. Adding a new channel in Cubase

In order to add a new audio channel to your project, select Main Menu > Project > Add Track > Audio. A new pop-up should appear, allowing you to choose the type of audio channel you are going to create. Create a new Stereo channel by pressing OK. Alternatively, you can do this by right cliking in the bluish vertical area, just like in the image above.

setting microphone input

5. Setting the microphone as mono input in Cubase

Open the mixer window by pressing F3 or by clicking on the small mixer button under the main menu. There, you should see the mix-volume for your newly created audio channel and the mono1 (Audio 01 in the image above), Mono1 and Mono 2 input channels (Mono In and Mono In 2 in the image above). In the upper area of Audio 01, just above “Stereo Out” lies the input settings for the Audio channel you have created. See which mono inputs has an active signal and select it as the the source for your audio channel. In my example above, I have set MonoIn as the recording source. Close the mixer window, make sure the recording is enabled on this channel and press record. If everything works smoothly, you should be able to record your voice on the audio channel you’ve just created. If there is no sound on the recording, you should probably choose the other Mono input.

Troubleshooting and hints:

  • By pressing the small speaker on the audio channel’s controls, you should be able to hear live what the channel captures.
  • If the process fails and there is no input signal from the condenser microphone, make sure the 48V Phantom Power is activated on your audio interface.
  • I like to record mono inputs on Stereo channels since there are times when you want to add a stereo effect to a particular channel, and if that channel is mono then you won’t be getting the effect you want.
13 Feb

Best condenser microphones for a home recording studio in 2016

As I said before, building a home recording studio is not an easy job. The brand of the product you choose is really important, especially if you plan to get one of the best condenser microphones of 2016 in order to ensure the quality of your recordings. Let’s not forget that the ultimate goal is for listeners to hear all the frequencies of the artist’s voice, at the highest quality possible.

If we are talking about live shows, the best microphones are the dynamic ones, but when it comes to building a home recording studio, the condenser microphone is definitely the optimal solution. In most cases, connecting the microphone with the rest of the equipment can be done through a classic XLR connector. The following list contains some of the best condenser microphones that you can buy in order to build a great home recording studio. Here are my top pics for 2016!

Sanken CU-44X MkII vocal condenser microphone for home studios

Sanken CU-44X MkII Condenser Studio Vocal Microphone

Sanken CU-44X MkII is a microphone having a specially designed capsule that has two channels: one for bass and one for high frequencies. This unique design features two titanium diaphragms, making this a condenser mic that captures sound in high quality. The titanium membranes are immune to the effects of moisture and various temperature changes, resulting in a constant response, regardless of external conditions.

Sanken-CU-55-vocal-studio-recording-microphone

SANKEN CU-55 Condenser Studio Vocal Microphone

SANKEN CU-55 incorporates the latest technology in a small design that’s easy to install and use. Dedicated to recording studios, this microphone features a cardioid pattern and it was designed to capture wide frequency ranges, thus providing a natural and transparent sound. It is ideal for a wide range of recording applications, from vocals to acoustic instruments or orchestra solos. CU-55 has a frequency response between 40Hz and 20kHz for a maximum SPL of 137dB, with a very wide dynamic range. Like all SANKEN microphones, CU-55 condenser microphone is recognized not only for its performance but also for flexibility and reliability.

As we are talking about the best recording microphones for a home recording studio, we could not miss SANKEN CO-100K, the world’s first microphone with a frequency response between 20Hz and 100kHz. SANKEN has created this device in collaboration with NHK Science and Technical Research Laboratories.

Neumann U87 - Best Condenser Studio Microphones

Neumann U87 Condenser Studio Vocal Microphone

Neumann U87 is undoubtedly the most famous microphone in music history. Over the years, an impressive number of famous singers recorded their albums using this microphone. U87 appeared in the late 60s and soon became the company’s top of the range. It features two diaphragms and three polar patterns.

This mic includes a -10dB pad switched in that can be turned on and off according to your needs. It enables the microphone to handle sound pressure levels of up to 127dB without distortion. The low frequency response can be reduced to compensate for proximity effect.

Neumann U87 is definitely a microphone that’s ideal for recording vocals for all musical genres, but it can also be used as a main microphone for orchestra recordings (if you’re into this). This mic has proved itself over the years and I am sure that it’s still one of the best condenser microphones of 2016.

Neumann U47 Condenser Studio Vocal Microphone

Neumann U47 Condenser Studio Vocal Microphone

Neumann U47 condenser microphones are more than classic or vintage, they are a work of art. This particular model has two versions: one with a tube and one with the FET design, adding a modern touch to it. Although comparisons can be made, both versions offer high quality sound. U47 FET includes the K47 capsule and a high SPL, allowing it to capture crystal clear sounds even if you are recording noisy guitars or drums. The vocals recorded with this microphone are described as full, warm and round.

AKG C214 - best condenser microphone for home recording studio

AKG C214 Condenser Studio Vocal Microphone

AKG C214 is one of the most affordable microphones in this list. With a sound pressure level that’s particularly high (156dB), C214 manages to cope even with the noisiest vocalists that you can think of. In addition, this great condenser microphone comes with a 20dB attenuator that is replaceable, as well as a bass filter.

C214 has a wide range of frequencies for accurate voice playback, and it comes with a protective cover, wind protection and shock protection.
Audio-Technica AT5040 Cardioid - Best Condenser Microphones

Audio-Technica AT5040 Cardioid Condenser Studio Vocal Microphone

AT5040 is Audio-Technica’s premier studio condenser vocal microphone and it was developed as a vocal mic but it is also suitable for acoustic instruments such as piano, guitar or saxophone. This condenser microphone activates 4 rectangular diaphragms in order to provide profound realism and depth, presence and purity of sound. It has a frequency response of 20-20000 HZ and an impedance of 50 Ohms.

The best condenser microphones of 2016. Conclusion

Even if some of these mics were included in my last year top picks, I still think that they’ll add quality value to your recordings. Don’t forget that a great condenser microphone is not the only item in your recording chain, and you definitely need to pay attention to other items like audio interface, cables, mixers or studio monitors.

27 Oct

MXL MIC MATE XLR To USB Preamp for Condenser Microphone Review

MXL-MIC MATE XLR To USB Preamp for Condenser Microphones

If you are looking for a small device that can replace your recording chain then you should definitely check the MXL MIC MATE XLR To USB Preamp, a cheap device that’s specially created for standard and condenser microphones, a device that’s definitely worth the money and your curiosity. The portable USB preamp was designed with care, and it delivers so much that it appears to. Don’t get fooled by the cheap package it comes with, the Mic Mate is actually better than other solutions twice its price (or more).

The body
This little gadget is no bigger than a magic marker, having only 10 x 2 x 6 inches and weighting only 4.8 ounces. You should know that Mic Mate does not with an USB cable, so you will have to buy that separately. Although the above image may be deceiving, the harsh truth is that this portable preamp is made of cast-aluminum. Even so, after reading some of the reviews written by other customers I understood that the internal components seem to be made of quality materials. A plastic case is not a big problem as long as you don’t drop it on the concrete.

MicMate-XLR-to-USB-condenser-microphone

The features
The Mic Mate has three settings: the low setting, the medium setting and the high setting. After testing all of them, I seem to love the high setting, since it gives me more power and my voice lays better in the mix. As I said in the beginning of this review, this XLR to USB preamp comes with Phantom Power, so you can use it with a condenser microphone. I’ve managed to test it with my AT2020 condenser mic and everything went smoothly. I can also give you a tip in this regard: if you remove the end-piece from the XLR connector, you will be able insert that connector directly into the mic, without having the XLR cable in the chain. This way, the quality of your recording gets even better, because most XLR cables add their own self-noise to the recording. Just see the image above to understand what I’m talking about. The manufacturer brags about the “studio-quality” of this microphone. Not sure about that, but the low noise analog front end does seem to be well balanced. If you decide to buy this mic you will also get the Free MXL USB Recorder Software which allows you to get a 2-Track recording out of it. After testing this great condenser mic for couple of days I’ve included it in my home studio setup, as a backup for my Audio Kontrol 1 interface.

The price
Most online shops are selling this small device for $40 – more or less. As usual, I advice you to get it from the most trusted seller of them all, Amazon.

Conclusion
For a device that costs only $41.99 you get a pretty decent quality. No, scrape that. The quality is better than decent, and most of the users on Amazon seem to agree with that conclusion. Having 4 out of 5 stars, you can expect for a device that will get the job done at an affordable price. This microphone is perfect for home recording studios created on tight budgets, but you can also use it in podcasts, various voice recording projects or even live music performance. I know that I’m definitively adding it to my portable home studio setup.

17 Oct

Røde NT-USB microphone review

Rode NT-USB condenser microphone 1

Let’s face it, these days everyone is mobile so it’s just natural to pick a USB condenser microphone that’s perfect for recording songs on the go. This way, your recording studio is made of your smartphone, tablet, laptop and your USB mic. Every week, I am asked to give advice on recording microphones that are of great quality, affordable and they are compatible mobile devices. My past USB mic reviews got some attention, so I decided to expand my reviews with another one. This time, I will review the new Røde NT-USB studio microphone and I truly hope that this article will help some of my readers in their endeavor to build a home recording studio.

Setting a ‘pickup and use’ mobile solution is really easy, all you have to do is use a microphone with a built in USB interface. In the Røde NT-USB’s package you will find a pop-filter, a sturdy stand mount that is compatible with industry standard 3/8” thread, and a fine small tripod stand that allows you to record podcasting while you place the NT-USB on your desktop and you sit comfortable in your chair. Talking about this USB mic, you should know that it is a heavy microphone, weighing around 500g. In the package you will also find a 6m USB cable that should be just enough for common needs and a carry case.

Rode NT-USB condenser microphone

Getting to the technical specifications, you should know that the microphone has a cardioid pattern capsule that will handle audio levels of 110db, a 96dB dynamic range and a fairly dynamic response that offers a presence peak at 5.5kHz. If you plan to monitor what you are recording you are lucky, since the 3.5 mm headphone jack that’s present on the microphone allows you to do just that. In order to use the NT-USB condenser mic with a PC or laptop you don’t have to perform any special preparations. The device is plug-n-play and it also works great with Apple devices. If you plan to use it with an iPhone or iPad you’ll have to get a Connection Kit. You should find one at a reasonable price on eBay. Once you will use the microphone for a while, you will notice that the headphone amp has just enough power to get you through the recording sessions. The controls and knobs are made of metal and they work very smooth and easy.

I’ve used this mic for a week and I can tell you that I will probably replace my old non-USB AT2020 with this one for my demo recording sessions. The mic worked perfect with my multi-track software, allowing me to record my vocals without any problems. Too bad I was not able to get my hands on a Apple Lightning to USB Camera Adapter in order to test it with an iPad.

The price

If you plan to buy this USB microphone you should head to Amazon.com in order to find additional details, the price ($169.00) and user reviews. At this time, 59 customers gave Rode NT-USB 5 out of 5 stars.

22 Nov

The best USB MIDI Keyboard for a home recording studio

Akai Professional MPK MINI MKII  The best USB MIDI Keyboard for a home recording studio (1)

In the previous posts, I was focused on reviewing some of the best items that you need in order to record vocals and instruments. But building a home recording studio is not all about microphones and audio interfaces. Before anything else, you need to create the music. In this article, I will focus on a part that’s really important for any musician: the actual music. You can’t have an original song without an instrumental or a beat. Here’s Akai Professional MPK MINI MKII, the best USB MIDI Keyboard for a home recording studio, an important piece of equipment that will ease your work and will help you create great music.

Akai Professional MPK MINI MKII  The best USB MIDI Keyboard for a home recording studio (2)

Features
Akai has a long history of creating great products for music engineers and beginners alike. With this product, a product that’s classified by me as the best USB MIDI Keyboard for a home recording studio, they have managed to create an entry-level product that surpasses any expectations. It has an incredible cheap price and features that will probably convince you too: 25 synth-action mini keys, 4-way thumb stick, 8 backlit velocity sensitive MPC pads with Note Repead and Full level, 8 assignable Q-Link knobs for mixing. As a bonus, if you do decide to buy this product, you will also get a complex production software package that includes Akai Pro MPC Essentials, SONiVOX Wobble, and Hybrid 3 by AIR Music Tech. The product’s dimensions are 7.1 x 12.4 x 1.8 inches and it measures 1.6 pounds.

Akai Professional MPK MINI MKII  The best USB MIDI Keyboard for a home recording studio (3)

Akai Professional MPK MINI MKII is a groove/beat production device and sample-triggering software that allows you to make music like a pro, allowing you to use the MPC workflow in your creative process. Of course, you will need to have basic knowledge on music, but you will be just fine without it.

Where to get it

While I was reading the reviews on this product, I learned that most users considered it to be the Best MIDI controller on a budget! You may find it at your local music store, or you can head to Amazon and get it from there at a special price: $99. Nothing can beat that pprice!

15 Nov

Best microphones for recording music in 2017

Following one of the most popular articles on the great microphones for building a home studio in 2017, I have decided to compile a whole new list with some of the best mics that you can get for your home studio project in 2017. These microphones are all new, they were picked considering their prices and I have never presented them before on CoreMic.

The best microphones for recording vocals

Let’s begin the list with…

Best microphones on the market - Rode M3 condenser microphone

Rode M3 Instrument Condenser Microphone

Although this microphone was marketed as an instrument mic, there is no limit to what it can do. In other words, you can use it to record guitars, trumpets, drums, percussion and most importantly, vocals. As you may know, I love Rode mics due to their high quality and exquisite performances and the M3 makes no exception. It has just enough features to make you consider it as your first choice: high level of RF rejection, high pass filter, low handling noise.  Once you unscrew the bottom you will find another switch which has a 0 decibel,  -10 decibel and -20 decibel pad. Another cool feature of this mic is that you can add a 9V battery inside which will remove the need for 48V Phantom Power. In terms of frequency response, it has a response between 40Hz and 20 KHz, a cardioid polar pattern, a -40 dB sensitivity and 142dB SPL. The output impedance has 200Ω.

The audio quality of this condenser mic is absolutely amazing, its all metal construction has a nice feeling and once you’ll get to hold it in your hand you will definitely notice its decent weight.

The box contains the microphone, microphone pouch, mic mount, mic stand adapter, windscreen, the manual and a sticker.

Remember that it requires Phantom Power, either from the battery either from an external source! Oh, did I mentioned the price? Rode M3 costs just only $149.

Best microphones - SE Electronic magento condenser microphone 2017

sE Electronics Magneto Limited Edition Studio Condenser Microphone

I’ve mentioned sE Electronics mics in the past, but this one is a special edition at a special price – $99. It’s not that microphone that can compete with Neumann TLM 102, but it will do the job if you are on a tight budget.

Avant Electronics Avantone CR-14 condenser microphone 2017

Avant Electronics Avantone CR-14

Boys and girls, welcome to the big league of the best microphones on the market. Avantone CR-14 has an unique design, an affordable price and most importantly, it captures vocals and instruments with a character that reminded me of the very finest Ribbon microphones. Basically, you get the same quality at a lower price. Nothing can beat that, right?

Best microphones - Sontronics STC-2X condenser microphone 2017

Sontronics STC-2X

Finding this microphone is not easy, but you will manage to buy it from most online music stores; you may need to scout for a bit in order to find it. But if you decide to complete your recording music studio with it, you will learn that it is worth your money (and your time). Among many interesting features, it offers a two-stage attenuation switch and a two-stage low-cut filter. An omni-directional switch is also present, so it’s probably the best choice if you plan to record vocals coming from multiple subjects at one time.

Best microphones - Lewitt LCT240 condenser microphone 2017

Lewitt Authentica LCT 240

While we go further with our list, fresh microphones are unrelieved. This 2/3-inch diaphragm condenser microphone stands next to AKG’s C414 in terms of features, performance and versatility, but the good thing is that you can buy it at a lower price. LCT 240 sets a new bar in terms of performance and all round flexibility, allowing you to record warm, distorted-free and natural sounds, just like a pro. It costs around $200.

 Best microphones - Maroon MT100 condenser microphone 2017

Maroon Audio MT100

MT100 is the last microphone from the list and it might seem like the least probable to be picked, right? Well, you should know that MT100 is a valve (tube) condenser with a very warm-sounding character. Despite the looks, most users noticed how smooth are the vocals captured by this microphone. At this price ($430), you can’t get a better mic that will bring that classic feel to your tracks. Oh, I hope you’ve noticed the unique design, right?

One last word…
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this list with some of the best microphones that you can find right now on the market. Bare in mind that any condenser microphone requires a phantom power source and if you are on the topic you should also get a mic stand and a pop filter. If you do decide to buy any of these mics, let me hear a sample of what you will record with it. Enjoy!

01 Apr

Zoom R8: A standalone multi track SD recorder for your home recording studio

Although most musicians are using a computer to make music in their own home studios, there are many reasons why you should choose a classic standalone multitrack recorder for your projects. First, it provides that analog feel that’s hard to duplicate with a computer or a laptop. Second, it offers a portability and ease of use. Third, compared to making music with a software like Reason or Cubase, you will actually feel the buttons and the knobs, and you will add a “touch of real” on your recordings. Nothing beats that, right? And the fourth reason for choosing a standalone recorder for your home studio is the budget. Why pay $299 just for the software , when you can have the complete recording package for the same price?

Zoom R8 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface

Zoom R8 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface

While I was trying to suggest a list of stand alone multritrack recorders for a friend, I found the Zoom R8, a simplified version of their 24-track R24 digital recorder. I was familiar with the manufacturer, since I’ve already reviewed their Handy portable advanced recorders in the past and I know that they have a long history in creating outstanding pieces of hardware for musicians all over the world. So, while I was going through the reviews of Zoom R8, I discovered a device with features that are perfect for someone who wants a complete portable recording studio on a tight budget. And when I say tight budget, I mean it: the R8 is an all-in-one device like no other. You can create your instrumentals with it, you can record your vocals and you can export the complete songs in an MP3 format. Everything for under $300.

Zoom R8: The body

The device is not as large as you may think, but it is made of high quality materials. With dimensions of 10.1 x 7.5 x 2 inches and weight 2.7 pounds, it will easily fit in your backpack or your bag and it can be used at any time, since it’s powered by 4 AA batteries. The main side of the R8 has various hardware knows, buttons and levels for various options, controls and functions. There is also a basic display in the center that allows the user to perform complex tasks and functions like creating music patterns or sampling various sounds.

Zoom-R8-Multitrack-SD-Recorder-Controller-and-Interface-2

Zoom R8: Audio quality, audio effects

This digital recorder allows you to playback up to 8 track simultaneous and record using 2 channels at the same time. The device can record audio files at 24-bit and a sample rate of 48KHz, but if you are using it as an audio interface for a computer (yes, it can be used in that manner!) you can record at a sample rate of 96 KHz. When it’s used in standalone mode, the audio files are recorded on the SD card you choose to use (it supports SD cards up to 32GB). Another cool feature that’s present on-board is the possibility to add various effects (pan, reverb, EQ) during or after the recording.

Zoom-R8-Multitrack-SD-Recorder-Controller-and-Interface-inputs

Zoom R8: Inputs and outputs

You can use the built-in stereo microphones to record your vocals or you can use one of the two XLR inputs with Phantom Power support to connect a condenser microphone. Also, you can use one of those inputs to connect a guitar. You can use the USB port to connect the device to a computer and use it as an audio interface. Also, there is an jack output for headphones and one for the studio monitors / speakers.

Zoom R8: The price

As I said, the R8 is far from expensive. You will find it on Amazon for $299. If that price is not convincing enough then you should know that the package includes the Steinberg Cubase LE DAW recording software.

Conclusion

It will take me forever to explain the functionality of every button and know that’s present on the board, but if you do get this device you don’t have to worry about that. YouTube is packed with tutorials on how to use the R8 when you create a song. If you are not convinced yet, just check the following video with a short introduction to this digital recorder.

13 Feb

How to insulate a home recording studio

When folks start making a plan to build a home studio, they usually miss a component that’s really important for the way you record and you mix songs. I’m talking about the acoustics of the recording and mixing room. The online stores are packed with audio foam panels, but buying two or three such panels and placing them behind the condenser microphone is not enough. If you want to build a quality studio, you need to learn which type of panels to buy and where to place them. The final goal of insulating your studio is to have a recording/mixing room with a dead sound (where audio waves does not bounce around, where is no reverb), so you can manipulate it later in the mixing sessions.

Recording-Booth

The recording booth

The recording booth is a closed space (usually a small room) where the actual recording is performed. There, we have the microphone, headphones, other acoustic instruments and… that’s all. For most types of music, this room needs to be as quite as possible, and most musicians prefer to add common acoustic foam panels on 100% of the surface. Since this room is small, you will not use too many such panels. If you don’t have two rooms for your recording studio, you can always build a small recording booth in a corner of your mixing room by adding to fake walls. Just look at the image above to get the idea.

The mixing room

The mixing room is usually larger than the recording booth, and placing the acoustic treatment here is more difficult. If you mix your own songs, you will spend a lot of time in this room and the acoustics need to be perfect, so you can create the perfect mix. Basically, you need to treat the most important areas of the room: the space behind the studio monitors, the side walls, the corners and the back wall.

mixing room

The computer area should be the first place to start your work. Place some panels right behind the studio monitors in order to cancel the early reflections that are causing the cancellation and filtering effect.

bass trappers for recording studio

Next, you need to take care of the bass reflections in the room. For this, you should use bass trappers and you should place them in the upper corners of the room. This way, you sill still have enough place in the lower corners to use it for anything else.

side-walls-acoustic-treatment

The sidewalls are also important, and you should place the foam panels at the ear level. Let them breathe, by allowing some space between them, just like in the picture above.

diffusion panels

For the back walls, you should use two or four diffusion panels placed in the exact middle of the wall. Don’t place them in the same pattern, but rather use a pattern that’s similar to the one in the image above. If you are on a tight budget, you can skip the diffusers and get common foam panels.

If you plan to insulate your recording room so your neighbors will not hear any noise, the typical egg crate foam panels are not enough. They are great when you need to cancel the reverb of the room, but they are not so great at stopping audio waves from getting past the walls. For that, you need a material with a larger/denser mass. Maybe I’ll talk about this topic in a future post.

Don’t forget to get some type of foam panels adhesive. You will find everything in your local music store, or you can check my recommendations from the slider above.

source:  home studio foam

image source: auralex.com