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

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.

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

10 Jan

How to build a rap / hip hop home recording studio with just $350

These days it’s easier than ever to become a music star. Of course, there is a lot of “politics” involved in the process, but it’s never been easier to propel yourself from someone who is making music in the bedroom to a world wide phenomenon. The music industry knows it, the radio stations know it and ultimately, the music fans know it: the future of music is on the Internet. But don’t get the story twisted, in order to become famous on Youtube, you need talent and a way to record your music. I get many questions regarding music equipment. Many of my followers are asking me to suggest the perfect equipment for building a hip hop home recording studio. As you know, I like to please my readers, so I decided to put together a low-budget setup that will get you started. This setup is great for other music genres, but especially for rap music. Oh, and it costs only $350!

How to buid a rap / hip hop home recording studio?

I will recommend a minimum recording setup of $350 that will get you started in your journey to build a hip hop home recording studio. It may look like an impossible mission, but I am fairly confident that we’ll get through. Let’s begin:

Microphone and Audio Interface

The microphone – AT2035
This is the first item in the hip hop home recording studio chain and you should not go cheap with it. For this type of low-budget recording setup, I usually recommend AT2020 as the best choice. But since its the upgraded version, the AT2035 got so cheap recently (around $150) that it would be a shame to miss it. If you are lucky, you might even get it in a combo offer with an audio interface.

The audio interface – Scarlett 2i2
The best possible choice for a low-cost audio interface is the Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface (priced around $150 on most online stores). I have reviewed this interface in a previous post and let my give you the short version of that review: it’s an awesome interface at a cheap price. Focusrite is known for its award-winning preamps that offer transparency and crystal clear analog to digital conversion.

Now, here comes the best part. At the time I am updating this article, both AT2035 microphone and Scarlett 2i2 audio interface can be found in a combo offer for $229. In addition, for that ridiculously low price, you will get an XLR cable and a pop filter.

Studio Monitors: Mackie CR Series CR3

The monitors, accessories
Unfortunately, the $350 budget is too low to consider a pair of expensive studio monitors, so you’ll have to work with the Mackie CR Series CR3 – 3″ Creative Reference Multimedia Monitors (Pair). They have great reviews and they will help you in the mixing process. At the moment I am updating this article, they are priced at $79. You will also need to buy a pair of closed headphones that will be used when you record the vocals. Tascam TH-02 Closed Back Studio Headphones is a good choice in this regard, and they are priced around $20. You may also want to buy a cheap mic stand that will cost around $20.

Other stuff that you can get for free
This setup does not include the computer/laptop, since I guess (hope) you already own one. Also, you should know that this recording setup does not include the acoustic treatment of the room. If you want to go the extra mile, you should check this article on best acoustic foam products. As an alternative to classic acoustic foam, you can use egg crates (which are priced close to $0). They work great as audio insulators. For recording songs, you can use the Ableton Live Lite 8 software + Focusrite plugins that should be included for free in the interface’s box or Ardour, an open source app that’s available for Windows, Linux and OS X. The monitors will do the job, and if you manage to handle the mix and master properly, you will be able to create music that’ll blow the speakers!

Promote yourself
Right now, Youtube is the main website to promote upcoming artists, but there are other alternatives like SoundCloud that are worth taking into consideration. Once you have a dope song, share it on Facebook, create a fan page, ask your friends to share it to their friends. If the song is good enough, you are one step away from celebrity. As Dr. Dre said in a commercial, “Good things come to those who work”. Don’t be disappointment if your first attempt doesn’t become a hit on the Internet. Get back in your studio and work harder, work later and put your soul into your music. That’s the ultimate recipe for success.

What’s your favorite rap studio setup?

30 Dec

Akai Professional EIE USB Audio Recording Interface Review

AKAI EIE audio interface

If you’ll ask me to make a quick recommendation of a great audio interface, I will probably have to pick Focusrite or M-Audio products. Although there are many other audio interface manufacturers out there, I really trust the products created by these two. Few months ago I was scooping in a music shop and I saw this USB interface with unique design. I’m not sure if it was the reddish design or the brand, but I wanted to learn more about it. So, here is my quick review on Akai Professional EIE, an audio interface like no other, with great features and affordable price.

The Body
Compared with other similar devices, the Akai EIE has a strong body made from durable metal that will endure drop shocks or scratches. The build quality is fantastic and you will agree with me once you get the chance to hold it in your hands.

Front controls
If you take a quick look at this interface you will immediately notice a feature that’s not encountered in similar products in this class: the inputs. Akai EIE has 4 front-facing XLR + 1/4-inch combination audio inputs along with mic/line switch and gain for each channel. Also, there is a 48+ Phantom Power switch for 1/2 inputs and 3/4 inputs. Instead of control LEDs, the manufacturer decided to implement to VU meters for input or output. Under the meters you will find the master volume, the mono/stereo switch, the headphones output and the headphones volume.

the back

The real panel
Here we’ll find the USB port, the MIDI In/Out, the DC controls, 4 audio inserts and 4 audio outputs. There is also a Power button that will switch off or on the interface. A cool feature of this interface is the three-port USB hub that allows you to connect various USB devices.

Features and functionality
Once you will see the features of this interface you will understand why it was priced so cheap. The maximum sample rates of 44.1kHz sampling rate @ 16-bit resolution are a bit outdated, since similar interfaces record at least at 96kHz and 24-bit resolution. The preamps are quite clean, even at maximum levels. The input/output meters are illuminated with white light that turns reddish once the signal clips, and this feature is really helpful when you record at high audio levels. The audio monitoring has zero latency thanks to a simple input/output balance control. The AD/DA convertors seem to work just fine considering the recording specs.

Price
As I said, the specs are a bit outdated, so the price was discounted from $300 to $150 on Amazon.com

Conclusion
Akai Professional EIE USB is an audio interface with a sturdy design and few pros and cons. I loved the 4 inputs, the metal case and the VU meters, but the audio recording sample rate is definitely a con. The overall quality of this product is not bad for its price, but if you don’t need to use 4 inputs at one time, you will find better products on the market. If you need to record at better audio quality, you should check the upgraded version of this interface, the Akai Professional EIE Pro 24-bit ($190 on Amazon)

02 Nov

A list of useful accessories for a home recording studio

Although in the last months I’ve recommended a lot of items that can be acquired in order to build a home recording studio, they are merely the core of it. Buying the proper recording equipment is not enough. If you want to create a complete studio, you need to get your hands on various accessories that will make the difference between a portable rookie studio and a real home studio.
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05 Oct

A complete portable studio setup: Rode NT1-A Cardioid Condenser Microphone Recording Package Review

If you need a portable studio setup or you plan to build your own recording studio on a tight budget of $500 while still keeping audio standards up, you should probably take Rode NT1-A Recording Package into consideration as one of your best options. This package features everything you need for making music independently: one of the best microphones for a home studio, the Rode NT1-A cardioid condenser microphone, the Presonus Audiobox USB, Sennheiser HD 202-II Studio Headphones and an adjustable mic stand.
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30 Sep

Blue Yeti USB Microphone Review and Price

If you read my previous article on how to choose the proper home studio equipment then you know that the microphone is the first piece in the recording chain and you should choose it carefully. If you decide to go with a USB microphone then you probably are on a tight budget or you need it for limited projects. Don’t get your hopes down yet, there are still few budget USB mics out there that are perfect for a small home studio, and Blue Yeti microphone is definitely in the top of the list.

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