You’re an aspiring producer waist deep into fall semester. Something’s off about the music you’ve been making, but you can’t quite put your finger on it. Is it the compression on your bus tracks? Is it the quality of the source audio? Is it the stereo width in your break?
I’m here to help:
This finely curated list of five gear essentials might make the difference between your friends repeatedly playing your songs on their phones or politely liking your announcement post only to never hear about your music ever again.
Gear Essential #1: The KRK ROKIT 8 Generation 3 monitors
KRK ROKIT 8 Generation 3 Studio Monitors are the people’s choice. Why are they called monitors instead of speakers? Because they monitor sound.
If you’ve ever felt a need for a clear, crisp and virtually distortion-free reference of your mix — don’t look any further. Whether you’re on your laptop in your bedroom or on the SSL console in the studio, KRK Rokits provide the natural and balanced tone lends itself to mid range clarity and low range extension.
These 24.6-pound monitors are built with a one inch tweeter with 25 watts of power behind it and an 8 inch woofer with 75 watts of power in the low register. You won’t find any boosts at the 3.5 khz range as typically found in other monitors so you can work confidently without stressing over ear fatigue.
The ROKIT’s front-firing bass port is not a secret stash spot, nice try. Their clever engineering is meant to reduce diffraction distortion and boundary coupling for the most accurate sonic image in any environment. The built in brick-wall limiter provides maximum headroom for a response as pure as Icelandic spring water.
Each monitor comes with high and low frequency adjustment knobs on the back so you can tune them to the quirks of your production space.
Gear Essential #2: Brett Manning’s Singing Success 360
Do you use your loofah as a faux microphone when singing in the shower? Do you post snap stories of yourself mouthing to words to your favorite songs? Do you dance on couches while singing karaoke at Korean karaoke bars with your friends? If you answered “yes” to all the above, Brett Manning’s Singing Success 360 should interest you.
Brett is a celebrity Judge from CMT’s show “Can You Duet?” and coach to A-list stars. He’s cut his teeth for 20 years in the music industry as a full-time vocal coach and now you can bite into his creation.
This info-product features two distinct sections: technique and style. Each features seven lessons and begins with Brett breaking down the key terms you’ll need to know. If your voice is a Bugatti Veyron, let Brett hand you the keys. His exercises are specifically designed to help singers hone in on vocal skills like reaching higher notes, singing with more power and producing charming melodies. The program is extremely mobile-friendly so you can go through it in the car, while walking your dog or while fishing.
On top of the streamed lessons, you get access to 500+ videos from Singingsuccess.com on all things “voice” and a private Skype lesson from a world-class vocal coach where you can clarify any residual concerns.
Gear Essential #3: Nexus Expansion Packs
Have you ever listened to your favorite DJ/Producers and thought to yourself “How do they get those sounds?” Maybe it’s hours of processing, or mayyyybe it’s Nexus Expansions!
The hottest preset packs on the market right now are Nexus’s EDM2, EDM Voices and Deep House expansions.
All three come with over 130 presets of multi-layered, ready-to-use, industry approved sounds. In reality there’s far more because the “break split” presets have different sounds above and below middle C on the piano roll. The sequencers come with a 4-8 bar groove (complete with drums, percussion, fills and a bass line) below middle C and lead or keyboard sound above middle C. We’re looking at over 200 presets in each pack in that case. Each preset is velocity sensitive and has a creative parameter mapped to the mod wheel.
Gear essential #4: Pro Audio File Tutorials
For mixing Hip-Hop:
If you’re a dorm room producer and have recently been trying to run the trap but can’t get that low end right, those vocals to fit properly and pop, or are just having a rough time mixing the song — this post should interest you.
We’re big fans of Matt Weiss’s mixing courses here at 20something, and if there’s one genre he’s become an authority on, it would be hip-hop. He’s mixed records for some of hip-hop’s heavyweights, including Snoop Dogg, Juicy J and “Tuesday” producer Sonny Digital. Learning Matt’s tools, approaches and techniques for setting proper levels, compressing and EQ’ing hip-hop instrumentals and rap vocals is arguably the equivalent of getting a 4-year degree in music engineering from a school like SAE or Full Sail, for a fraction of the price.
For mixing with EQ:
Equalizers are everywhere. Knowing how to EQ your audio recordings allows you to shape the energy with the meticulous craftsmanship of Michelangelo and his trusty chisel and hammer.
Originally developed to compensate for recordings with oddly positioned microphones, these devices adjust tone by changing the amplitude of specific frequency bands. Matt gives us their full history along with the physics that govern their function in the first part of the tutorial.
As you make your way through this EQ tutorial, you’ll have Matt define key terms, share his philosophy on EQ’ing and watch him demonstrate various equalization techniques on both individual audio tracks and the mix as a whole.
Gear Essential #5: Numark’s NV & Lightwave
These two pieces of hardware are a match made in heaven. The combo ideal for any social gathering that’s larger than three friends meeting up for coffee but smaller than a full-blown concert. The NV pioneers a new generation of Serato controllers that allow you to mix with the laptop closed! We have the two 4.3 inch full color screens to thank for this. The artfully crafted controller also comes with:
- Two classic five inch hyper-response metal plates for s-s-s-scratching
- 12 powerful effects from legendary plugin brand iZotope
- 16 velocity-sensitive trigger pads that light up with your cue points
- Three way touch activated filter knobs for each channel
The lightwave is an audio-visual experience that’ll leave party-goers and house guests thrilled. I can’t tell you how many of my friends have snapped the speaker’s 29.2 inch light strips dancing to the music when they’ve come over. It’s a hit with every audience because hey, who doesn’t like pretty lights? The class D amplification provides superior sound quality and chest-rattling bass that’s perfect for any occasion, whether you’re partying on a boat or rocking the boat. #ripaaliyah. This setup is great for tailgates, dorm parties and pool parties.
When you want to premier your new tunes in an intimate setting, these pieces of gear make it an event for your listeners!