A Complete Guide to the Best Condenser Microphones

  1. Audio-Technica AT4060 Cardioid Condenser Tube Microphone
  2. Audio-Technica AT4060 Cardioid Condenser Tube Microphone

    This mic, by design, isn't bulky or too heavy. It's easy to set up in a home recording studio. 

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  3. TZ Stellar X2 Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser XLR Microphone
  4. TZ Stellar X2 Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser XLR Microphone
    4.5

    It's on the more affordable end, costing an average of $150-$200. Don't be fooled by the low price because there's nothing low quality about this microphone. 

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  5. Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package
  6. Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package

    Because its self-noise level is only 5dBA, producers love how it's one of the quietest microphones to work within the studio. Your studio sessions will be a breeze with this choice!

    Rating:
    5.0
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  7. Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic for Recording and Streaming on PC and Mac, Cardioid Condenser Capsule, Adjustable Stand, Plug and Play – White
  8. Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic for Recording and Streaming on PC and Mac, Cardioid Condenser Capsule, Adjustable Stand, Plug and Play – White
    4.5

    This is by far one of the best condenser microphones for beginners. It's only $50 or so, but its quality doesn't sound cheap.

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  9. Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone - Nickel Color
  10. Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone - Nickel Color

    This versatile microphone offers 3 different polar patterns and has a switchable pad and low cut. You'll recognize the classic sound on any playback. 

    Check Latest Price

The new year is the best time to take your ambitions to the next level. 

The accuracy of their recordings is achieved by their delicate construction. A thin, lightweight diaphragm is carefully held in place by a fixed plate. When sound hits the diaphragm, it moves. 

Push yourself harder in the gym, and brainstorm creative ways to get that promotion at work. Do you have a hobby? If so, it's time to upgrade your craft too. 

For those who write and record music, take a look at your equipment. It's time to invest in professional-grade gear. 

To get you on the right track, we'll point you towards some of the best condenser microphones. You'll be producing some of the sickest tracks soon enough. 

The Purpose of Condenser Microphones

There are two common types of microphones used in the music industry: Dynamic and condenser microphones. 

Dynamic microphones are most often used in live show settings because they're more bulky and rugged than condenser mics. They convert the sound of a singer or instrument into the electrical current that's output through the big speakers. 

Condenser microphones are best for studio settings. This type of microphone does well recording clean vocals and capturing higher frequencies. You may have also heard of them referred to as capacitor microphones

Because they're so delicate, if you're recording a heavy bass riff or a guitar solo, we suggest a dynamic microphone. 

Top Condenser Microphones

We'll show you a range of microphones that'll find a variety of home setups and budgets. Not everyone can afford the fancy stuff so make sure to check out the less expensive options. You can always work your way up!

Audio-Technica’s AT4060 Tube Microphone

Audio-Technica AT4060 Cardioid Condenser Tube Microphone Audio-Technica AT4060 Cardioid Condenser Tube Microphone

This mic, by design, isn't bulky or too heavy. It's easy to set up in a home recording studio. 

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If you're into vintage-sounding vocals, this is the microphone for you. You can typically grab it for $300-$400. 

Because of its high sound pressure level (SPL) recording abilities, it's ideal for recording rap vocals and any vocals where annunciation is key. In addition to that, the tubes used in this mic are individually selected and tested to guarantee quality. 

This mic, by design, isn't bulky or too heavy. It's easy to set up in a home recording studio. 

TechZone Stellar X2 Large Diaphragm Microphone

TZ Stellar X2 Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser XLR Microphone TZ Stellar X2 Large Diaphragm Cardioid Condenser XLR Microphone
4.5

It's on the more affordable end, costing an average of $150-$200. Don't be fooled by the low price because there's nothing low quality about this microphone. 

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No condenser microphones buying guide is complete without mentioning this amazing creation by TechZone. 

It's on the more affordable end, costing an average of $150-$200. Don't be fooled by the low price because there's nothing low quality about this microphone. 

Producers enjoy this microphone because its recordings don't stand out or sound harsh on a track. Whatever you record will beautifully blend with other beats and instrumentals. 

The construction is also impressive with its high-grade brass diaphragm. Spit a few bars into this mic and soak in the sweet, smooth sounds. 

Rode NT1A Microphone

Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package Rode NT1-A Anniversary Vocal Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package

Because its self-noise level is only 5dBA, producers love how it's one of the quietest microphones to work within the studio. Your studio sessions will be a breeze with this choice!

Rating:
5.0
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Many home producers love Rode because of its affordable products and wide range of microphones. One of the most well-known and top condenser microphones produced by this company is the NT1A.

It features a large gold diaphragm and comes with several accessories, including a shock mount and pop filter. The price runs anywhere between $250 and $350.

Because its self-noise level is only 5dBA, producers love how it's one of the quietest microphones to work within the studio. Your studio sessions will be a breeze with this choice!

Blue Snowball iCE Condensor Microphone

Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic for Recording and Streaming on PC and Mac, Cardioid Condenser Capsule, Adjustable Stand, Plug and Play – White Blue Snowball iCE USB Mic for Recording and Streaming on PC and Mac, Cardioid Condenser Capsule, Adjustable Stand, Plug and Play – White
4.5

This is by far one of the best condenser microphones for beginners. It's only $50 or so, but its quality doesn't sound cheap.

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It's portable, easy to use, and is great for recording a variety of vocals and instrumentals. It even comes with a custom condenser capsule so you can use it on video chats and live streaming videos. 

This is by far one of the best condenser microphones for beginners. It's only $50 or so, but its quality doesn't sound cheap.

Are you needing a microphone to record long-distance interviews? This microphone is Skype certified. All you have to do is plug it into your computer. 

Neumann U87 Microphone

Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone - Nickel Color Neumann U 87 Ai Switchable Studio Microphone - Nickel Color

This versatile microphone offers 3 different polar patterns and has a switchable pad and low cut. You'll recognize the classic sound on any playback. 

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The Neumann U87 is one of, if not the most, classic mentions on this condenser microphones guide. We will warn you that it's expensive (about $3,200) but worth it. There are years worth of musicians that can back up that statement. 

It's been around for several decades and is used in professional studios all around the globe. The exterior design is sleek, and the recorded sounds are smooth as butter. 

This versatile microphone offers 3 different polar patterns and has a switchable pad and low cut. You'll recognize the classic sound on any playback. 

Tips for Choosing a Condenser Microphone

Before purchasing a condenser microphone, guarantee it's worth your cash. There are several things to look out for when selecting one. 

Double-check the microphone's pick-up patterns. A pick-up pattern is a sound field in which the mic will pick up and record sound. Look for a microphone with switchable pickup capability if you want flexibility. 

You'll also want to look at the microphone's noise floor, or self-noise level. Other things affecting the noise floor in your studio include your cable setup, other recording devices, and your preamp. 

Are you planning to record on the go? Double-check what type of power supply is needed for a microphone. Some microphones require bulky power supply packs. 

We know you might not be able to get everything you want in a microphone if you're rocking on a budget. But remember that you can always work up to more expensive setups. 

Check out refurbished or resale mics to see if anyone can cut you a deal!

The Best Condenser Microphones for Your Home Studio

Take some time at the beginning of the new year to tidy up and elevate your home studio. Update your digital audio workstation, and invest in a new one of the above-mentioned microphones. 

Luckily for you, the list of the best condenser microphones is a diverse one. There are options for beginners, professionals, and everyone in between. 

Are you wanting to become a better producer this year? Check out the guides on our site, and sign up for our free beat-making course. You can become a pro anywhere, even in your bedroom.

What DAW Does Kanye West Use?

I’ve been a big Kanye West fan for a long time now. I love his music and because of the fact that I’m also producing music I was wondering what DAW Kanye West is using to produce his music.

But if you’re maybe not a music producer like me or Kanye West you are probably asking yourself what a DAW actually is.

What is a DAW?

Well, DAW is a shortcut and stands for Digital Audio Workstation.

A Digital Audio Workstation is computer software that you can use to produce music.

There’s a big selection of different kinds of DAWs.

The most popular/most used DAWs in the music industry are FL Studio, Ableton Live, Logic Pro, Cubase & Pro Tools.

But if you are a big Kanye West just like me then you’re probably wondering now which DAW Kanye West is actually using to produce his amazing songs.

What DAW does Kanye West use?

As an aspiring producer or just a fan of Kanye West it’s always very interesting to get to know more about the music creation process. Maybe you’re a producer and want to create music like Kanye West that will potentially also make you as successful as him. This could be the reason why you’re reading this article. To find out what one of your biggest idols is using to create his great music.

To this day it is still unknown which DAW Kany West is using because he never really talked about this in public. Although it’s unknown which DAW Kanye West is using it’s known that he has used analog synthesizers to produce his songs back then.

Maybe now you’re wondering why Kanye used analog synthesizers instead of a digital DAW. Well, it’s due to the fact that Kanye West started producing in the last century.

During that time DAWs were not really a thing and not really common to use to produce music back then. According to his old interviews, Kanye West is only using analog hardware such as the Roland VS 1880 24-Bit Digital Audio Workstation and the Gemini PT-1000 II Turntable.

How does Kanye West produce his music nowadays?

As much as Kanye West loved to use analog synthesizers to produce his music back then. Nowadays he is also using a DAW to create his music. Today in the 21st Century it’s just more convenient to also use digital tools and not only analog hardware to produce music.

So after Kanye West creates his beats with his analog gear he is using the Digital Audio Workstation called Pro Tools for the processing.

He is mostly using Pro Tools just to record a track but not really to fully produce his tracks. Maybe Kanye West changed his approach to producing music now and is working more digitally but nobody really knows that for sure.

The majority of music artists nowadays use different DAWs because they just wanna have an easy & creative workflow while making music and they also want to benefit from all of the features each Digital Audio Workstation has.

Do you have to use the exact same DAW as Kanye West to become a successful music artist?

Definitely NOT.

In my opinion you should not focus too much on other music artists and maybe even try to copy some things they do to become successful.

Rather you should just look at some of your favorite music artists to get inspired and motivated to work hard and create amazing music yourself.

Focus on building your brand as a musician and try to find things about you and your music that are unique and special.

It doesn’t matter which DAW or equipment you’re using to produce music.

In the end it’s just important that you feel comfortable with your DAW and equipment and that you are able to fully let your creativity flow and create music that you’re happy with.

Speakers

KRK Rokit 5 G3 Studio Monitors Review

KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5 G3 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor (Discontinued), Black, 5-Inch (RP5G3-NA) KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5 G3 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor (Discontinued), Black, 5-Inch (RP5G3-NA)

The Rokit G3 is a professional studio-quality speaker for mixing and mastering at home. It is a predecessor of the Rokit G4, the company’s latest generation of monitors.

Rating:
4.5
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Rokit 5 G3 faithfully recreates your sounds, providing you with an accurate impression of how your mix will come across in the final reckoning. The G3 builds on the legendary performance of the G2, the series that cemented Rokit as one of the best budget monitor manufacturers in the market. 

The sound that my regular speakers create probably isn’t an accurate reflection of the real audio of my mixes. It’s passable, but if I want my productions to scale across different environments, like the car, I need studio-quality monitors. 

Pros

  • High-grade kevlar woofer and tweeter
  •  Low resonance speaker enclosure for minimal feedback
  •  Low power amplifier for improved audio integrity
  •  Ideal for a variety of music creation techniques, including mixing and mastering

Cons

  • Some users have noticed a high level of self-noise generated by these speakers compared to their predecessors
  •  Automatically switch off if no sound present 
  •  Frequency response doesn’t go any lower than 45 Hz which may make it unsuitable for some mixes

Introducing The KRK Rokit 5 G3 

Here's where The KRK Rokit 5 G3 comes in. The Rokit G3 is a professional studio-quality speaker for mixing and mastering at home. It is a predecessor of the Rokit G4, the company’s latest generation of monitors.

Features & Benefits Of The KRK Rokit 5 G3

If you’re mastering or mixing at home, the KRK Rokit 5 G3 studio monitors offer you practically all the performance that you’ll need. The marketing might tempt you to go with larger 8-inch varieties, but it’s unlikely you’ll ever need that kind of power. The five inches of the Rokit 5 are sufficient for all but the most intensive applications. If you have a small recording studio in your home, you don’t need to go bigger. 

Bass Port

A lot of speakers in the price range of the KRK Rokit 5 G3 come with a “bass port,” a small opening at the bottom of the speaker that funnels the long-wave bass notes from the woofer and makes them sound better. 

Monitors similar in the Rokit G3 price range usually have a bass port, but the majority place it at the back, facing away from the user. Rokit, however, place theirs at the front so that it pushes sound in your direction.

The reason for this is simple: most people with small home studios push their monitors up against the wall. Putting a bass port at the back of monitors in this category, therefore, doesn’t make sense. Rear-facing ports wreck the acoustic performance and trick you into thinking you have more bass in your mix than you actually do. 

High-Frequency Level Adjust Knob

High-frequency level adjusts knobs are relatively common among speakers in the Rokit 5 G3 category. These dials allow users to adjust the volume of the high pitched sounds coming out of the tweeter independently from the rest of the unit. 

I didn’t realize how important this was until I listened to my mixes in the car. In the recording studio, the high-frequency sounds were crisp and shimmery, convincing me that I calibrated my mix just right. Then when I tried playing the same output in the car, I was sorely disappointed with how dull and lifeless it sounded. 

The high-frequency adjust knob is, therefore, invaluable. With it, I can cut back all the high-frequency sounds to give a more accurate impression of what the mix will sound like in the real world. If the high-frequency stuff is too muted, Rokit gives you an option to increase the volume, independent of your software. 

What The Reviews Say About The Rokit 5 G3

It’s not just me who thinks that the KRK Rokit 5 G3 is the leader in its segment. It’s an impression that people across the internet appear to share. Here are some reviews from other users: 

Alternatives To The Rokit 5 G3

  1. Edifier R1280DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers - Optical Input - Wireless Studio Monitors - 4 Inch Near Field Speaker - 42w RMS - Wood Grain
  2. Edifier R1280DB Powered Bluetooth Bookshelf Speakers - Optical Input - Wireless Studio Monitors - 4 Inch Near Field Speaker - 42w RMS - Wood Grain
    4.5

    The Edifier R1280DB comes with duel RCA input, coaxial, optical, and Bluetooth, as well as a wireless remote for adjusting your sound preferences

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  3. PDSM5 Pair of 5" Active Powered Kevlar Cone Speaker Monitors 160w
  4. PDSM5 Pair of 5" Active Powered Kevlar Cone Speaker Monitors 160w
    4.5

    The PDSM5 5-inch speakers are made of kevlar and provides a loud sound, going up to 112 dB.

    Check Latest Price
  5. Mackie CR5BT - 5" Multimedia Monitors with Bluetooth (Pair)
  6. Mackie CR5BT - 5" Multimedia Monitors with Bluetooth (Pair)
    4.0

    Mackie uses a ferrofluid-cooled tweeter with a silk membrane for enhanced audio quality. 

    Check Latest Price

Of course, the KRK Rokit 5 G3 is not the only speaker in its space. Here are three alternatives. 

  • Edifier R1280DB Active Remote Control Bookshelf Studio Bluetooth Speakers. Edifier wanted to make a set of studio speakers that would offer users not only the quality of professional monitors but also connectivity that users expect. As such, the Edifier R1280DB comes with duel RCA input, coaxial, optical, and Bluetooth, as well as a wireless remote for adjusting your sound preferences (so you don’t have to reach around the back, as you do with the KRK). Check them out here
    • Comes with Bluetooth connectivity which the KRK does not
    • The 4-inch bass driver is smaller than that of the KRK
    • Comes with wireless remote to change the volume. Rokit 5 does not. 
  • PDSM5 Pair of 5″ Active Powered Kevlar Cone Speaker Monitors. Like the KRK, the PDSM5 5-inch speakers are also made of kevlar. The main difference between these and the KRK is the inclusion of magnetic shielding around the bass for a crisper sound. Check these speakers out here.
    • Magnetic shielding around the bass unit
    • Has a rear-facing bass port compared to the front-facing variety on the Rokit 5
    • Provides a slightly louder sound than the Rokit 5, going up to 112 dB compared to 106 dB
  • Mackie CR4 Creative Reference Multimedia Studio Monitors/Speakers. These speakers are slightly smaller and more expensive than the KRK underscoring just what great value the Rokit 5 G3 is, now that the G4 has become the flagship product from the company. Mackie uses a ferrofluid-cooled tweeter with a silk membrane for enhanced audio quality. Check them out here.
    • Smaller than the Rokit 5 and less capable of delivering loud sounds
    • Comes with foam isolation pads which the Rokit 5 G3 does not
    • Use special ferrofluid cooking which the Rokit 5 G3 does not

Conclusion 

People who want to mix and master at home need accurate speakers that faithfull recreate the sounds created in software, giving them confidence that they will sound great when piped out in real-world settings. The KRK offers superb compliance by giving you a speaker that accurately portrays the true sound of your mix, helping you avoid disappointment when you play it outside of the studio. The combination of the front-facing bass port and high-frequency adjust makes this a better product than practically any other in its class. Make sure you check it out. 

Things to consider before buying a studio monitor

Studio monitors are vital pieces of equipment for those wanting to mix or master at home. Some people describe the sound these speakers create as being “true to life,” neither emphasizing the bass nor the treble.

Of course, this is precisely what you want. You need a monitor that will enable you to get an accurate sense of what the mix sounds like, even in a studio environment. 

If you’re just in the business of listening to audio and not creating it, then you might want to give these speakers a miss. They come with a host of features, like the high-frequency adjuster, that you’re probably never going to use. You are much better off spending your money on a regular set of speakers. 

If, however, you’re an enthusiast who wants studio-quality sound at home, then monitors are essential. There’s just no substitute for professional recording equipment that provides you with an accurate rendition of your mix. 

Here’s what you should consider before you buy studio monitors: 

  • Whether you record, mix and master sounds
  • If you need a rear-facing bass port to avoid excessive bass notes
  • Whether your recording studio overemphasizes the tweeter and you need a high-frequency adjust
  • What type of connectivity you need (Bluetooth, coaxial, etc.)
KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5 G3 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor (Discontinued), Black, 5-Inch (RP5G3-NA) KRK RP5G3 ROKIT 5 G3 2-Way Powered Studio Monitor (Discontinued), Black, 5-Inch (RP5G3-NA)

The Rokit G3 is a professional studio-quality speaker for mixing and mastering at home. It is a predecessor of the Rokit G4, the company’s latest generation of monitors.

Rating:
4.5
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Audio Synthesizer

Moog Mother 32 Review – The Ultimate Super Synth For Beginners?

Moog Mother-32 Semi Modular Analog Synthesizer Moog Mother-32 Semi Modular Analog Synthesizer
5.0

A must-have synth, with a 32-step sequencer, and a whole heap of character. 

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Are you sick of hearing those awful tracks selling well, while your free downloads are barely touched? We feel your pain! But we might just have the answer to your prayers, in the form of the Moog Mother 32 synthesizer! Aspiring music producers have so much to help them these days, and there has never been a better time to enter this industry. Ever since his death at the age of 71, Robert Moog’s legacy has endured, and his synthesizers have become the go-to choice for experimental producers and musicians the world over.

With the world of technology how it is, there is so much amazing equipment coming out that can be used to help you maximize your role as a producer and get the best possible outcome for your music. Even the top producers in the world need to have the right equipment to work with if they are to secure the sound they want. So, we’re going to review the Moog Mother 32 synth and look at what it’s like for beginners, what it can offer, and whether it lives up to the hype.

A Modern Classic?

When trying to choose a synth, you want to pick something that’s built to last. A model you can still be using in a few years. A modern classic, built to last, and the verdict seems to be that the Moog Mother 32 is certainly worthy of this category. To be honest, with my experiences so far, I could honestly see myself looking back in 10 years and ranking this as a classic model. After their Sub-37 model, Moog have knocked it out of the park once again, with the Mother 32; a must-have synth, with a 32-step sequencer, and a whole heap of character. 

I’m going to take you on a journey now, as I delve into the different perks and disadvantages of this model, and how much of an impact it can have for you as a beginner to the world of music production!

Design

One of the things that first drew my attention to this synth was the design. I’m a stickler for aesthetics, and this just looks great. It’s certainly got that professional, high-quality design to it, and this makes it a great choice for beginners who want to have something that looks great. Packaged inside a smart-looking ergonomic aluminum box with wooden ends, this is a product that just feels so unmistakably Moog-ish!

This semi-modular desktop synthesizer packs a pint-sized punch. I love the fact that it offers great quality, is highly affordable, and it looks great to boot!

Features

Obviously, if you want to get the most out of a synth like this, you’re going to need to know about the different features it offers. I was very impressed by the range of different features that this synth possesses, and these are some of the main ones that I feel make this product stand out:

  • 32-Step Sequencer
  • Semi-Modular Efficiency
  • Low Pass & High Pass Ladder Filter
  • 2 Voltage Controlled Mixers
  • 5-Pin MIDI Input

These are just some of the excellent features that play a role in helping you to make the most of this synth. But you don’t just want a list of features; you want to know about the sound of this synthesizer, and how it can be used by budding music producers! So, without further ado, let’s take a look at the sound of this synth, as well as the best way of using it to get the best possible sound you can. 

The Sound

When it comes to using this synthesizer, the most important thing to keep in mind is the way it sounds, and the quality of the sound. What I love with this is that you don’t have to be super experienced at using synths to be able to make a great sound. The full, warm sound is impressive, and I love that it’s so easy to experiment with it. The primary sound comes from a single oscillator producing two waveforms, while a secondary sound source (in the form of an analog white noise generator) can be combined and mixed with the oscillator. 

You can achieve the full spectrum of sound using the Mother 32, going with darker and lighter tones, as well as high & low, or dark & soft tones. The sound has enough of a spectrum that I found it was perfect for using in a lot of different scenarios. Creating new sounds, and telling stories through sound is the real strength offered by this synthesizer, and I’d recommend it to anyone looking to do things a little differently and explore alternate sounds.

Using It

So, now we come to the part I assume you’ve been waiting patiently for… what’s it like to use? Too many synthesizers out there rely on expertise, and you need to have in-depth knowledge and experience of synthesizers to be able to use them. That’s not the case here, you’ll be happy to hear! What I love about the Moog Mother 32 is that the manual has 9 different example patches that can be used, that are aimed specifically at helping beginners get to grips with the synth, and find their way around it. 

And it’s just as well because I can see why this might be a confusing interface for novices. The knobs are not grouped into sections as sometimes happens with certain synths. However, you do only have 14 knobs and 9 switches, so I’d say it falls just shy of becoming a little overwhelming. I would recommend you start experimenting with sounds right away, and you will find that there is a lot to love about this model. The VCO and noise generators offer a lot of depth and range, while the PWM tone is sumptuous and stunning. 

After just a couple of days, I had gotten the hang of this and created some really great patches. There is also a great range of presets and patch points, and I found this to offer precisely what I needed. I did make some errors when programming, but I enjoy the chance element to that sort of thing, and this made it more authentic for me. If you would prefer everything to be perfect, then I suggest reading the manual cover to cover, and watching some YouTube tutorials

Ideal for Beginners

Some of the larger, bulkier synthesizers can be very intimidating to beginners. I know when I first dipped my toe in the waters of music production, I found the massive models completely overwhelming. What makes the Mother 32 perfect is that it is small and compact, but still packs a punch in terms of sound depth and quality. It can also be combined with other Eurotrack semi-modular equipment, making it a versatile, expandable, and efficient choice for those just starting out. 

Price

Music production can be an expensive hobby, I’m not going to lie about that. But, that’s why you need to make sure you make shrewd purchases as much as possible. The great thing about the Moog Mother 32 is that it is highly affordable and it plays a massive part in helping you make an affordable purchase that represents great value. At around $600, this is one of the best-value purchases you can make at the start of your adventure, and it’s going to open so many more doors for you in terms of sound experimentation. 

Sequencing Tips

If you want a bit of an insight into using this synth, then I’m going to share with you some of the sequencing tips that I found really useful when using this. During the creation of a sequence, you can pause what you’re doing, and edit the parameters you want. Here are some of my top sequencing tips for you to consider:

Duration

If you want to set note duration, you can use the Tempo knob to help you with this. The Octave LEDs can provide a nice guide to indicate the tempo, so make sure you use this. Make sure you turn the Tempo knob fully clockwise if you want to start creating a longer note. 

Accent

If you press Accent, you will be able to add an accent, opening the VCA and VCF a little more during that step. If you play a MIDI note with high velocity, it will automatically set up an accent for you. 

Ratchet

Ratcheting is a technique in which one stage of a sequence and be quickly triggered numerous times, with the idea of allowing greater control over timing and duration of sound. 

Conclusion 

Overall, this is definitely one synthesizer I would highly recommend for beginners. It has a few minor negatives, but on the whole, I found it easy and fun to use, and great value for money. I love the range and scope of sounds on offer, as well as the fact that it’s easily expandable. The design and portable nature make this a must-have for those who like to make music on the go, and this is definitely another Moog offering that will have a lot of fans. 

Moog Mother-32 Semi Modular Analog Synthesizer Moog Mother-32 Semi Modular Analog Synthesizer
5.0

A must-have synth, with a 32-step sequencer, and a whole heap of character. 

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Microphones

Audio Technica AT2035 Microphone Review – Don’t Buy Until…

Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone, Perfect for Studio, Podcasting & Streaming, XLR Output, Includes Custom Shock Mount Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone, Perfect for Studio, Podcasting & Streaming, XLR Output, Includes Custom Shock Mount
4.5

I think a condenser mic is best described as the stereotypical microphone that we imagine when we think about artists recording. 

It has that classic look and it’s an important piece of kit for providing the right quality production needed. 

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Introduction 

I think a condenser mic is best described as the stereotypical microphone that we imagine when we think about artists recording. 

It has that classic look and it’s an important piece of kit for providing the right quality production needed. 

I’ve used a few of these myself and that’s why I know that they can be quite expensive. You might be looking for one that is more affordable.

If that’s the case the Audio-Technica AT2035 could be a suitable fit. 

About Audio Technica AT2035

The AT2035 mic was released alongside the AT2050. I think it’s important to note that both of these microphones were inspired by the AT2020. All three are designed to be a budget-friendly choice which you can pick up for under $150. 

As such I think it could be a smart choice for your first LDC. While there are cheaper options on the market, this one provides a balance of both affordability and features. 

Compared to both the 2020 and the 2050 you will gain the benefits of a flatter response and lower noise. 

Pros 

  • The classy design provides a professional appearance
  • Good value for money
  • High-quality construction designed to be durable 
  • Variety of different features 

Cons 

  • The overpowering bass response may impact certain vocalists
  • Low level of versatility which limits the suitability
  • Requires +48V phantom power 
  • Doesn’t provide the audio experience of more expensive options 

Features & Benefits 

Vocal Performance 

Your results here are going to differ depending on who is actually singing. If for instance, a male vocalist used this mic and they have a dynamic performance, I think the bass will suit quite well. 

You also have the option of a low cut and you can use this to compensate where the needs of a particular vocalist become apparent. So, I think a lot of people are going to find this is a useful feature. 

There’s definitely warm bass reproduction here and I believe this is going to help fill out the sound. 

I believe you’ll find that that mids sound great and you also get smooth highs. 

Design 

If you are thinking about the style I don’t think this mic is going to disappoint because it has controls that are understated. The matte black finish further adds to the final aesthetic. 

It’s a durable design too and this means that I don’t think you need to worry about dropping it. 

It has a well-designed shock mount which means that you won’t have any issues here. Basically, I think this means that you can avoid noise traveling up the mic. This is usually going to happen with a sensitive mic if you just rely on a clip. 

With a shock mount, the mic is suspended by elastic bands and I think this is great because it means that low-frequency noises aren’t going to be a problem. 

The mic also has a cardioid polar pattern. This isn’t for looks but I think it’s important because it means that you can reduce unwanted sounds from both the rear and the sides. 

Specs 

With this LDC or large-diaphragm condenser mic, you will benefit from a frequency response that is between 20Hz and 20kHZ. This is great and it does mean that you get a response that is quite flat. 

Although, you might notice a presence peak which may become apparent at about 12 kHz

This LDC can also get about 148db. However, if you engage the pad then this adds on another 10db which offers a little more versatility. 

It also means that the mic can handle loud signals, even without the pad. As such, you won’t have to worry about distortion issues at this level. 

Since we mentioned versatility I do think that you’ll find this handles most sources without any trouble. 

With this option, you are getting a mic that is quite sensitive and one that provides a lower level of self-noise. 

Instruments 

A key benefit of this LDC is that it can be used on various different instruments. It has a flat broad response and I think this means you’ll find it matches perfectly with both pianos as well as acoustic options. 

You could also use this as an option for a drum overhead while the high sound pressure level means that it is also suitable for an electric guitar as well as brass instruments. This does mean that depending on the instruments you’re working with, you can pair with the AT2035 to fill out the sound at different frequencies. 

Features

There are two main features that you can access when you choose this particular mic. The first is a high pass filter. That means that you can reduce the low frequencies when you’re working at 80 Hz. 

There’s also the option that we have already mentioned before, which will allow you to reduce the signal by 10 decibels that is coming from the microphone. 

I think that feature is great because it means that you are going to be able to tame louder signals even after you have made some adjustments in a recording session. 

What Do Others Think?

When you’re selecting an LDC it’s important to make the right choice because otherwise, you won’t be able to get the sound quality and final recording that you need. 

The Audio Technica AD2035 is available at a lower price than other options on the market. However, it still marks a sizeable investment, particularly when you are just getting started. 

I have explored different options on the web from trusted resources to get some reviews of real users. 

I think you’ll be pleased to find that the feedback is overwhelmingly positive for this mic. 

As you can see, many reviewers are amazed by the quality that this mic provides for what is a budget price. They also note several stand out features including the shock mount. 

Alternatives To Consider

  1. Rode NT1KIT Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package
  2. Rode NT1KIT Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package
    4.5

    The mic has a low self-noise, so it’s a great option for digital recording. You also get clean and clear voice recording with this choice.

    Check Latest Price
  3. AKG Pro Audio Pro Audio Perception 220 Professional Studio Microphone
  4. AKG Pro Audio Pro Audio Perception 220 Professional Studio Microphone
    4.5

    Multi-function condenser microphone and provides a warm and clear sound!

    Check Latest Price

Rode NT1

Rode NT1KIT Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package Rode NT1KIT Cardioid Condenser Microphone Package
4.5

The mic has a low self-noise, so it’s a great option for digital recording. You also get clean and clear voice recording with this choice.

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With the Rode NT1, you are provided with a higher level of performance and more features than the AT2035. However, it costs more. 

The mic has a low self-noise, so it’s a great option for digital recording. You also get clean and clear voice recording with this choice. 

Your studio sessions will be a breeze with this choice! It features a large gold diaphragm and comes with several accessories, including a shock mount and pop filter.

Key features

  • Internal capsule shock mounting 
  • Dust cover and pop filter
  • Extended dynamic range
  • High SPL capacity

If you’re willing to pay a little more I definitely suggest you check this option out for yourself. 

AKG Perception 2020

AKG Pro Audio Pro Audio Perception 220 Professional Studio Microphone AKG Pro Audio Pro Audio Perception 220 Professional Studio Microphone
4.5

Multi-function condenser microphone and provides a warm and clear sound!

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In terms of features and quality, this mic is quite similar to the AT2035. However, you do get a little more for your money including a carry case. The switchable base cut ensures that you can reduce issues and there’s a high SPL too. 

Key Features

  • Multi-function condenser microphone
  • Provides warm and clear sound 
  • Spider-type shock mount 
  • Aluminium carry case

Consider this option if you want a little more features and support for your money. 

Rode NT-USB 

Rode Microphones NT-USB Studio-Quality USB Microphone - Bundle with Rode PSA-1 Professional Studio Boom Arm Rode Microphones NT-USB Studio-Quality USB Microphone - Bundle with Rode PSA-1 Professional Studio Boom Arm
4.5

One of the key benefits of this choice is that it does provide USB connectivity

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As the name suggests one of the key benefits of this choice is that it does provide USB connectivity. It’s particularly useful if you’re going to be relying on an iPad or similar tech. 

The product also provides a tripod desk stand and ring mount. It has a similar design to the AT2030 

Key Features

  • Supports both Windows and Mac
  • 6m USB cable
  • 3.5mm stereo headphone jack 

If you want a hi-tech LDC, make sure that you consider this option. 

Conclusion 

There are many options when choosing the right LDC. The AT2030 aims to make this choice easier by providing a budget-friendly option that still provides a high level of quality. 

It succeeds here with a flat low-end response as well as lower noise levels. There are some great design choices too which mean you get more control over your audio. It marks a definite improvement over the AT2020 with more technical features added. 

You can select this mic yourself by clicking on this link. 

What Should You Consider Before Buying A Condenser Mic

When you’re selecting a studio condenser mic, there’s a lot of choices on the market. It’s particularly important that you make the right decision for your home studio because this is the mic you’re going to rely on as your go-to option. 

Here are some of the most important features and variables that you need to keep in mind when making this choice. 

Pick Up Patterns

It’s important to be aware that some condenser mics will have selectable pickup patterns. That can be useful because you’ll be able to control the sound field where you are picking up the sound.

It will help for particular environments. 

Proximity Effect Sensitivity

If you’re using a mic for professional support, then this is an important factor. It’s particularly useful for artists who may not stay fixed in front of the mic. With the right proximity effect, you can gain the same high-quality result, regardless of how far they are from the mic. 

Power Supply

Many high-end mics will come with their own power supply. If they don’t, they will need a particular level of phantom power. It’s an important consideration if you want a mobile mic. 

A required power supply can make moving the mic around far more difficult. 

Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone, Perfect for Studio, Podcasting & Streaming, XLR Output, Includes Custom Shock Mount Audio-Technica AT2035 Cardioid Condenser Microphone, Perfect for Studio, Podcasting & Streaming, XLR Output, Includes Custom Shock Mount
4.5

I think a condenser mic is best described as the stereotypical microphone that we imagine when we think about artists recording. 

It has that classic look and it’s an important piece of kit for providing the right quality production needed. 

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Headphones

AKG M220 Headphones Review – Should You Buy?

AKG M220 Pro Stylist Professional Large Diaphragm DJ Semi-Open High Definition Over-Ear Studio Headphones - Black AKG M220 Pro Stylist Professional Large Diaphragm DJ Semi-Open High Definition Over-Ear Studio Headphones - Black
4.5

With these headphones, the developers have favored providing a budget-friendly option that could be an ideal starting point while still providing the high-quality sound experience that is needed for producing music. 

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Introduction

The right pair of headphones will be an essential part of your music production setup. 

I’m often amazed by the massive number of choices on the market and the variations in price. 

High-quality studio headphones can be expensive, particularly for the right open-ended experience. 

With the AKG M220 headphones, you’re provided with a pair of headphones that won’t break the bank. 

About The AKG M20 Headphones 

The AKG M220 headphones have a design that is based on AKG K240 Studio. This has been used since 1972. 

It’s still favoured by audio professionals on an international level. AKG entered the music market in 1947 and launched their first headphones in 1949. 

By the 70’s they had released the popular K140 which eventually lead to the AKG M220. 

With these headphones, the developers have favored providing a budget-friendly option that could be an ideal starting point while still providing the high-quality sound experience that is needed for producing music. 

The AKG offers studio-level sound with the key features that audio professionals would expect. 

Pros 

  • Good quality with a decent bass
  • Clear mid-range 
  • Comfortable to use 
  • Headband automatically adjusts 
  • Value For Money

Cons 

  • Nearly completely plastic with replaceable earpads
  • Vocals aren’t well pronounced 
  • May not be suitable for recording sessions that last longer than an hour
  • Volume limited compared to other options

Features And Benefits 

Design 

The first thing you notice about these headphones is that they do have a stylish design. While they are priced to value I don’t think you’ll be able to tell by looking at them. 

That’s great because I believe a lot of buyers are going to want to use these for DJ gigs and other open events where style is important. 

They are available in two different colors including white and black with red lettering and stand out features. 

Practicality 

The headphones do have ear cups that are mounted onto gimbals that offer a two-axis rotation. That’s important because it means that these can be worn in a variety of different positions.

So, they could be suitable for lots of different types of performances. Another reason why I like this design choice is that it ensures that the headphones remain comfortable with a circumaural fit. 

The headphones are light too and this is another reason why I think they could be great as recording headphones. 

There are other practical features too. The headphones provide a ¼’’ adapter which means that there is a lot of flexibility for different sources and options here. 

You will also get a 10 ft capable which is fully detachable. This provides complete freedom of movement and I think this is fantastic for a professional audio environment. 

Semi-Open 

These headphones are designed with semi-open technology. This means that you will get both a solid level of the base as well as clear highs. 

I think this means that you can rely on these headphones for music production because they will provide a clear and clean representation of what you are listening to. 

I think that when you use these headphones, you’ll find that the semi-open sign provides both impressive isolation and a spacious soundstage. 

This is a unique option for studio headphones and it means it can be used for both professional mixing as well as for critical listening. 

Quality Of Sound 

The sound quality is impressive and I think it will ensure that listening with these headphones won’t cause audio fatigue. 

Highs are detailed, mids are smooth and lows are accurate with this choice. I think this means the audio can be heard exactly as the original artist intended which is great for music producers. 

Some headphones are designed to give you a final sound that has been altered to provide the best effect. These headphones won’t do that and that means that producers will be able to immediately note what needs to be changed. 

It’s definitely a personal note but when I listen to music I always appreciate hearing what the artist originally intended. 

The sound is flat and you do get plenty of clarity here. The bass with this option won’t overpower the mids either. 

I think the mid-range available with these headphones is particularly important because that’s where most of the music people listen to resides. 

Accuracy is good which is just one more reason why I believe these could be suitable for music production. 

Features

These headphones have not been made with features in mind and I think that’s evident as soon as you start using them. 

Instead, the focus has been on providing the right level of audio quality as well as the comfortable design. On this level, I believe the headphones are a good choice, even without wireless connectivity or noise-cancelling tech that you might expect. 

Durable

I was surprised to find that these headphones are durable, despite the price. Quality construction is certainly apparent and this means that you don’t need to worry about bumps or knocks damaging them.

What Do Others Think?

AKG is a well-known brand and that means there are plenty of people who favor this choice. 

They have been producing headphones for decades. Both amateurs and professionals have opted for the AKG M220 headphones. 

Exploring reviews amateurs and professionals are impressed with the level of sound quality available here. Many also note the practical benefits that these headphones provide. 

I’ve found some fantastic examples of users that have been thrilled with these headphones and rely on them in both a personal and professional setting. 

As you can see, while they may not match the sound quality of more expensive options, they definitely seem to provide brilliant value for money. 

Alternative Options To Consider 

  1. Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
  2. Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
    5.0

    The Sony MDR 7506 headphones provide the features of pro headphones you would expect for under $100. Audio quality is great and you get isolation characteristics so they could be suitable for tracking. 

    Check Latest Price
  3. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphone, Black, with Cutting Edge Engineering, 90 Degree Swiveling Earcups, Pro-grade Earpads/Headband, Detachable Cables Included
  4. Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphone, Black, with Cutting Edge Engineering, 90 Degree Swiveling Earcups, Pro-grade Earpads/Headband, Detachable Cables Included
    4.5

    If you’re looking for headphones for studio monitoring or DJing, with a swivel design, you should definitely consider trying these. 

    Check Latest Price

Sony MDR 7506 

Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone Sony MDR7506 Professional Large Diaphragm Headphone
5.0

The Sony MDR 7506 headphones provide the features of pro headphones you would expect for under $100. Audio quality is great and you get isolation characteristics so they could be suitable for tracking. 

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The Sony MDR 7506 headphones provide the features of pro headphones you would expect for under $100. Audio quality is great and you get isolation characteristics so they could be suitable for tracking. 

Mids and highs are ultra-clear too while the bass is not overpowering. These could be suitable if you’re looking for cheap studio headphones that are comfortable and practical.

Key Features

  • Flat frequency response
  • Lightweight design suitable for longer hours
  • High-quality sound 

Audio Technica ATH-M40x 

Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphone, Black, with Cutting Edge Engineering, 90 Degree Swiveling Earcups, Pro-grade Earpads/Headband, Detachable Cables Included Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Professional Studio Monitor Headphone, Black, with Cutting Edge Engineering, 90 Degree Swiveling Earcups, Pro-grade Earpads/Headband, Detachable Cables Included
4.5

If you’re looking for headphones for studio monitoring or DJing, with a swivel design, you should definitely consider trying these. 

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These could be a great pair of headphones for mixing purposes. They have large swivel ear cups and the larger design is suitable for sound isolation. 

Key features 

  • 40 mm drivers provide earth magnets and copper-clad aluminium wire voice coils. 
  • Two detachable cables (standard and coiled) 

If you’re looking for headphones for studio monitoring or DJing, with a swivel design, you should definitely consider trying these. 

LyxPro HAS-30

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The LyxPro HAS-30 headphones provide a lot of features for a lower price than you might expect. The volume boost also ensures that you can get a stronger bass that sounds more present. As such, they could be a great choice for working in particular music genres where this is going to be important. 

Key features

  • Good bass response 
  • 50mm drivers 
  • Volume boost 
  • Quality design with a leather headband

If you are searching for headphones with a premium feel that are best for hip-hop or EDM music, I recommend selecting these. 

Conclusion 

Studio headphones will often come with a high price tag. Most new to the music industry and even those looking for personal headphones don’t realize that this is due to the numerous features included.

Whether it’s Bluetooth tech or sound cancellation, this all adds to the price and the weight of the headphones. 

With AKG M220 headphones, all the extra features are cut away providing you with a simple design that provides crisp sound quality. 

The high quality and comfortable design ensure that these headphones could be just what you need for recording, tracking and critical listening. 

You can explore the headphones for yourself by clicking on this link. 

What To Consider Before Buying Studio Headphones

When you’re working in the studio, it’s important to have a clear listening environment. You need to be able to make sure that you can hear specific details of tracks. This is important for critical listening as well as editing and various other aspects of production.

Studio headphones are designed to provide a higher quality of sound compared to other options on the market. 

There are numerous factors to consider before buying your own pair. 

Durability

It is important to make sure that you find a pair that is durable. Parts of the headphone should be replaceable and this will ensure that you can rely on them for years. 

Comfort

Remember, you will be spending hours with these headphones over your ears. As such, they do need to be comfortable. Many provide a versatile design for different listening styles. 

There are two main types which are known as circumaural and supra-aural. With circumaural headphones, you are provided earphones that cover the whole ear. This is ideal for sound isolation. 

The latter type rests on your ears. They are more portable and lightweight however, they won’t provide the same level of comfort. 

Flat Frequency Response

You need to make sure that you choose a pair of studio headphones that provides the right flat frequency response. In other words, the headphones shouldn’t adjust the sound, even if it’s to make it sound better. 

This will mean the headphones are not suitable for recording or mixing. 

AKG M220 Pro Stylist Professional Large Diaphragm DJ Semi-Open High Definition Over-Ear Studio Headphones - Black AKG M220 Pro Stylist Professional Large Diaphragm DJ Semi-Open High Definition Over-Ear Studio Headphones - Black
4.5

With these headphones, the developers have favored providing a budget-friendly option that could be an ideal starting point while still providing the high-quality sound experience that is needed for producing music. 

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Audio Interface

Which Is The Best Audio Interface Under $500? Find out here

If you want to create high-quality recordings at home of yourself playing a musical instrument or singing, and don’t want something that will break the bank, then you are going to need the best audio interface under 500. Anyone who knows anything about home recording knows that the audio interface is at the heart of the system. It allows you to make excellent recordings of the guitar, or the keyboard, or vocal performances, for example. If you and your new band want to create a record, you are going to need an excellent audio interface to make it just that little bit special. 

We have done a little research and found five great products under $500 for you to consider:

Focusrite Clarett 2Pre USB 10-In/4-Out Audio Interface

Click here to check best price

If you want a high-quality audio interface that is great for all you singer-songwriters out there, then the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre USB is the one for you. Focusrite is a trusted brand, and this audio interface does not disappoint. It is not only a great color, but it is also pro studio-grade and so much more: 

Pros

  • It is compatible with both MAC and PC. 
  • The product comes with two USB cables.
  • It has two Air-enabled mic preamp features. These increase the performance and are so good they are able to mimic the original sound of Focusrite ISA mic preamp.
  • It has four outputs.
  • It has a gain control knob.
  • There is a true line-in to bypass the preamps. 
  • It is equipped with precision A-D D-A connectivity and conversion technology so that you can record more, including that drum kit.
  • There is no unwanted distortion, with ultra-low distortion technology incorporated.
  • It is a thunderbolt interface.
  • The design is ultra-linear, which guarantees clean recordings. No detail you want in the song will be left out of the final cut.
  • It also comes with Ableton Live 10 Lite, Focusrite Control, XLN Audio Addictive Keys, Softube Time and Tone Bundle, Focusrite Red Plug-in Suite, Focusrite Plug-in Collective, and 2GB of Loopmasters free sample music.
  • No hassle of latency.
  • It is straightforward to set up. 
  • Great value for the money.

Cons

  • Can’t find any. This is a great product.

Roland Octa-Capture USB 2.0 Audio Interface

Click here to check best price

This product is powerful, easy to set up, and sounds absolutely awesome. It is a high-quality recording studio, being advanced and versatile. If you get this, you will not be left disappointed. 

Pros

  • This is a Japanese electronic product.
  • The software works for both MAC and PC, and also most DAWs.
  • It has ten input and ten outputs
  • It has eight premium mic preamps, two coaxial outputs. 
  • There are compact in/out ports.
  • It has a pristine and very well balanced sound, no matter how loud you play your music, the quality of the recording will not be compromised.
  • You can record a whole band on this device as you usually only need eight inputs and output. This had ten.
  • Very low latency.
  • It has four independent mixing features. This means that all members of your band can mix it up the way they want.
  • Auto-Sens function allows you to set input levels for all preamps intelligently and means you can start recording in seconds.
  • You get Cakewalk Production Plus software with the product and Ableton Live Lite.

Cons

  • This is not much of a con, to be honest, but it has a lot of inputs, some people say too many.
  • Slightly more expensive than the others. 
  • It does not have thunderbolt technology.

BEHRINGER U-PHORIA UMC1820, Black, 8-Channel

Click here to check best price

If you want an audio interface that offers a lot in terms of price, then this is the product. 

Pros

  • It is compatible with both MAC and PC and most major DAWS.
  • It has eight inputs featuring both XLR/TRS ports. These preamps are MIDAS design. 
  • There is a pad for each preamp.
  • There is a gain control knob for each preamp.
  • There is dual monitor output
  • The sound quality is excellent.
  • You get a mix monitoring control knob.
  • It is able to stream 18 inputs and 20 outputs.
  • It has ultra-low latency.
  • You can use some of the most popular recording software with this product, such as Avid Pro Tools, Ableton Live, Steinberg Cubase, etc.
  • The installation of this product is very straightforward, and it is easy to use.
  • Great value for money, it is a great competitor for some of the more expensive products.

Cons

  • Unfortunately, there is only one phantom power switch for all four channels, so either they are all on, or all off.
  • You are unable to have any sound effects in your headphones during low latency.
  • Occasionally you may have driver issues with your computer. You may need to install old drivers or download patches.

Resident Audio T4 Thunderbolt Audio Interface

Click here to check best price

This product is a simple design and is built to withstand a high-pressured environment. So if you want something that is strong and at a good price, then this is the audio interface for you. 

Pros

  • It is compatible with both MAC and PC.
  • It obviously comes with Thunderbolt technology. So it is lighting speed.
  • Absolutely no latency problems, go for it.
  • There are four XLR/TRS inputs, all with gain control knobs for both mic and instrument.
  • It has a control cluster feature.
  • The channels have M-Audio’s Octane Preamp Technology, so this makes the product robust and efficient.
  • It is fully bus-powered, so it is portable.
  • The sound is awesome.
  • It has Smart-monitoring so you can switch between stereo and mono depending on the input.
  • The chassis is die-cast
  • It is a reliable little product.
  • It is a great, competitive price.

Cons

  • You need to have Microsoft Office 8 or above, and some customers have complained it does not work with Windows 10, and it needs MAC OS 10.9 or higher, and some people have stated it does not work with a MacBook.
  • Computers need to be thunderbolt equipped for it to work properly.
  • In a nutshell, do not buy unless you have a compatible computer.
  • No preamps, no virtual emulators.
  • Quality is not the best, but still good.
  • It needs a bit of work to improve it but it could be a good little starter kit.

M-Audio M-Track Eight | 8-Channel High-Resolution USB 2.0 Audio Interface with Octane Preamp (24-bit/96 kHz)

Click here to check best price

This is a versatile product which offers you that little bit of professionalism, you and the band can record live with ease. It has some great features, let’s have a look at a few.  

Pros

  • It works with both MAC and PC.
  • It has eight mic preamps, two on the front, six on the back.
  • It has eight gain control knobs.
  • It has XLR/TRS inputs, so you can record with a microphone or an instrument.
  • The sound is pristine and precise. It is very professional and pretty much studio-grade you, and the band will love the recordings this little box allows you to create.
  • It has zero-latency monitoring.
  • The balance control is fantastic.
  • Every input comes with its own line-input circuit. This allows you to track external preamps.
  • The box screams quality; it works silently and is totally consistent. 
  • It has a phantom power option integrated. 
  • Great price.

Cons

  • No ideal for smaller home recording studios as it is a rack-mounted box.
  • A lot of customers who use Windows have complained about driver issues.
  • The box heats up. It actually gets hot.

The conclusion to the product reviews

The recommended product is the Focusrite Clarett 2Pre USB 10-In/4-Out Audio Interface. This is because there are no real cons. It is fitted with thunderbolt technology so works at lightning speed, it sounds great, it is a great color, and the price is extremely reasonable. Focusrite is a trusted brand, and they have not done themselves a disservice with this product. This is our recommendation. The star buy audio interface.

How to choose the best audio interface

As you can see from the product reviews above, there are so many home audio interfaces to choose from, so how do you pick the best one for you? First, you need to think about what you are recording, is it just yourself singing, or perhaps you are a classical guitarist, so you only need a couple of inputs. However, if you will be recording music with a band, you will need at least eight inputs on the interface. If you are recording a drum kit, you definitely need at least eight to ensure quality in sound. A lot of interfaces only have two preamps, which means if you are recording with microphones and need as many preamps as mic sources, you may have to purchase extra cables and connections. You need to think about your software and the drivers you have as you may have compatibility issues, so do a little research in this area. Will you want thunderbolt technology? Think about the network connectivity issues you may have. You may need MIDI in and out, for example. What kind of sound quality are you after? You need to give some consideration to what you are going to be doing with the finished product. Will you be sending it to an agent? Or perhaps it is a recording for a music exam. How often will you be using it, and will you need to take it with you to many different places? You also need to consider the price. Obviously, you get what you pay for, so what kind of quality are you after.

What are the advantages/benefits of an audio interface?

There are many advantages to using an audio interface. If you currently use a soundcard on your computer, you will have limitations that the interface does not have. You can mix music with the audio interface. It has high-quality recording, and you can do this with ease. You can connect to many different professional recording devices. Due to the size of the audio device, it has much greater accessibility over sound cards, so you can make better use of the ports that are there. In addition, because it has so many accessible ports, you can connect different instruments and mics to it at the same time without it overwhelming the system. Most of these systems have a MIDI, so if you wanted to, you could connect a keyboard as well as everything else. You have no problem recording your band. They have a much more accurate representation of the actual sound played. Also, you have far greater control over the sounds you want to produce by the use of various knobs, such as gain control and phantom power switches. The signal through the USB is plainly sent and easily converts the sound from analog to digital data. In conclusion, the main benefit of the audio interface is the control and the quality, and unlike a soundcard, it is a purpose build device with one function in mind. There are so many different types that they are completing to be the best in terms of quality, so if you want something to sound awesome, get an audio interface.

Things to look for/attributes that differentiate these products

First, there is the computer system that the audio interface is compatible with, some of them may not work with older operating systems. There are also various problems around drivers to think about. There may be some compatibility issues between various pieces of software, so keep an eye out for this. Some have the thunderbolt technology, which speeds everything up and will ensure there are no problems with latency. There are also differences in terms of the number of inputs and outputs, so you need to know what you want before you go out and get one. Some of them have no preamps. In terms of sound, there is quite a lot of variation in quality. If you need pristine sound, not good sound, then you will need to ensure that this is what it says in the description. At the end of the day, the more you spend, the better the product, so if you can afford the high end and need high end, go for it.   

Best Digital Piano

The Best Digital Piano Under $1000 (Top 5)

Introduction

There’s no denying that the landscape of music production looks vastly different in 2019 from the way it looked in 1999. In fact, the landscape looks vastly different from the way it looked in 2009. There are more bedroom musicians than ever in the modern world because it’s easier than ever to create music in the modern world. All you need is some cheap software and equipment to get started; you can even get GarageBand for free on your iPhone. That’s the current age. Still, there’s no substitute for tangible instruments – it’s more fun to create music on a proper instrument, rather than a screen. If you’re constrained by a restrictive budget, however, then you might have to make some compromises. One day, you might own a grand piano, but you probably want to start with something more affordable. A digital piano could be the answer, and these are some of the best digital pianos under $1000.

Reviews

Alesis Recital Digital Piano

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Let’s start off with one of the most basic models on the market. Of course, that doesn’t reflect negatively on the quality of this product. On the contrary, a straightforward piece of equipment such as this is often the best option for a beginner. Alesis nails simplicity with this sleek and minimalistic keyboard. It might have limitations, as outlined at Digital Piano, but it’s a valuable piece of kit for the price tag that comes with it.

That being said, as will be the case for all of the products on this list of reviews, there are a few cons, and it’s important to flag up these minor downsides. You need to know what you’re buying. So, these are the cons:

  • It’s not a digital piano for professionals. If you’re a professional musician who’s looking for a cheap piece of equipment for live shows, then you should probably keep scrolling.
  • There are only 5 sample sounds. Minimalism comes at the expense of useful added features. Again, this is an entry-level piano.

For a beginner, of course, those cons are probably irrelevant. So, let’s assess the pros of the product:

  • It is a light and portable device. Want to start a band? You’ll find it easy to take this to practices.
  • It connects via USB to Midi. If you have a low budget but you want to start recording and producing music, this piano can handle that. Just don’t expect the bells and whistles that come with higher-end models.

You’re really going to struggle to find a better keyboard than this if you’re getting started and you want a straightforward device that’s been designed for complete beginners. Simplicity isn’t a negative if you’re new to digital pianos. Seasoned professionals might want to check out the following options.

Yamaha P-115 Digital Piano

Yamaha is one of the most famous keyboard brands. Even people who display no interest in music creation have come across this brand at some point in their lives. So, you know that this piano has name power on its side. Does it have anything else going for it?

It sure does. Of course, before we take a look at the pros, let’s discuss the cons. It’s important to ensure that you’re the right kind of customer for this particular model:

  • It’s not the newest model in its range. Yamaha has higher-quality products on offer in the P-category.
  • If you want added app functionality, then you’d probably prefer the P-125. It all depends on your specific requirements in terms of your music production style, of course, but it’s always worth noting that affordability means fewer features.

Still, the P-115 hasn’t been included on this list for no reason. For its price, I was pleasantly surprised by the features that were included. These are the pros of the piano:

  • It has weighted keys. There’s nothing more disappointing than a digital piano which feels stiff and unresponsive. I’ve felt that resounding sinking feeling in my stomach as I’ve pressed down on keyboard keys which felt clunky and wooden. The P-115, much like its preceding versions, feels like an authentic piano.
  • Given that it’s modeled on a Yamaha Grand piano, this digital keyboard is well suited to a player who’s moving to digital technology from an acoustic instrument. It suits beginners, of course, but I think intermediate musicians would feel comfortable playing on this piano.
  • This is a cheap model. Yes, there is a subsequent P-model, but if you want to save some money and get the majority of the same features as the newer P-125, then opt for this. That’s just my suggestion, of course. It depends entirely on your specific musical requirements.

Casio Privia PX-160 Digital Piano

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Here’s another big brand. Casio has reputability on its side, obviously, much like Yamaha. Nevertheless, I try not to dive into product testing with preconceived notions as to what I should expect. Big names can let you down, and small names can surprise you. That’ll be discussed in greater detail at the end of this article. So, if we ignored a supposed foregone conclusion, how did the PX-160 fare in comparison to other digital pianos that I tested? Quite well, I thought. That doesn’t mean it had no negative aspects, but let’s weigh up the pros and cons.

Cons:

  • The speaker isn’t as powerful as others on digital pianos in a similar price range. From such a gargantuan music-technology manufacturer, this surprised me.
  • It’s a great piano for a beginner, but that means it lacks quite a few features which can be found in more technical models – this will become clear when you read about some of the other pianos that I tested.

Pros:

  • It comes with fantastic samples from real grand pianos. If you’re trying to create an authentic sound, then I imagine you’d be satisfied with this feature.
  • The hammer action and textured keys make this digital piano feel like an acoustic piano, too. Casio have done a good job of making a keyboard which feels classic and genuine, in my opinion.

Lagrima LG-8830 Digital Piano

This is a brand name which is probably entirely alien to you. Still, don’t be immediately swayed by the magnitude of a name such as Casio in comparison to a name such as Lagrima. The LG-8830 is a keyboard with positives and negatives, so here they are.

Cons:

  • It’s not portable. So, if you’re looking for a lightweight piano that’s easy to transport, then I’d suggest looking elsewhere.
  • The samples aren’t quite as good as many of the models offered by Yamaha and Casio. That’s the compromise you make when you choose a cheaper keyboard, I guess.

Pros:

  • The first con could actually be seen as a pro, depending on your perspective. The LG-8830 is hard to move because it’s designed to be a permanent fixture in your home. It has an authentic stand; so, if you’re looking for a digital piano with the appearance of an acoustic piano, then I think this could be the right option for you.
  • I also have to note that it offers an extensive range of features to the user, given its low price tag, and that impressed me. It has a teaching mode, a recording feature, and even reverb. For a cheap keyboard, you get a lot.

Kawai ES-110 Digital Piano

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Now, this is just my opinion, but Kawai is one of the best manufacturers in the industry when it comes to digital stage pianos. So, right off the bat, it’s worth taking that into account if you’re a musician who currently performs in a live setting or wants to perform in a live setting. The ES-110 could be the right option for you and your musical needs.

That being said, there are upsides and downsides to this model, as you’ll find with all of the keyboards that I’ve reviewed. Let’s go over the good and bad points that you should take into account.

Con:

  • It’s slightly more expensive than other options on this list, though it is still cheaper than $1000, so you shouldn’t completely dismiss this digital piano.

Pros:

  • This is another piano with high-quality sampling, and that’s what I love about it. For experienced musicians out there, you should love this, too. How often have you longed for a keyboard that could sound like a “real” piano? That was a real treat for me.
  • Again, this is a digital piano with weighted keys. I haven’t found many quality digital pianos under $1000 with weighted keys, but the ES-110 definitely delivers in that sense. I think Kawai have outdone themselves with this one.

A lot of keyboards with authentic keys and sounds have been discussed in this list, but the ES-110 was certainly one of the best ones that I tried. 

Conclusion

Which digital piano was the best? I’d have to say the Casio Privia PX-160 impressed me to the greatest extent. As mentioned above, I’ve reviewed a lot of digital pianos with authentic sounds, but the PX-160 has the best balance, in terms of cost and features. It’s affordable, but it doesn’t compromise on the aspects that truly matter. The main negative points include a slightly quiet stereo speaker and a lack of features, but those cons are outweighed, in my view, by the incredibly intuitive and realistic keys. Plus, the high-quality samples are so authentic. That sold this keyboard to me. Of course, I wasn’t surprised, as I couldn’t help but expect big things from Casio. They’re the industry leaders when it comes to music technology.

Value Editorial

But which digital piano is best for me?

Even after reading this article, you might still struggle to answer that question. This is understandable. My reviews were based on the things I seek from a good digital piano under $1000. You might be looking for something different. You can assess the pros and cons that I laid out and apply them to your own situation, but you might still find it difficult to pick out a keyboard that’s right for you. So, make a list of your needs. Are you a performing musician? You should look for digital pianos that are portable. Are you a producer? You should look for digital pianos with good connectivity options, in order to record compositions directly to your computer. Lay out your wants, and work from there.

Do I even need a keyboard?

Only you can answer that. Obviously, with every digital piano, there are advantages and disadvantages. In order to figure out whether you want or even need one, you should outline your goals. Plenty of producers are content to use virtual keyboards for music production. Others want to use a tactile instrument. Which category sounds like the right fit for you?

How should I differentiate between digital pianos?

This is another tricky question. The differences between pianos can be easy to pinpoint when you’re looking at lists of pros and cons in a list of reviews. It’s not always easy to distinguish between keyboards when you do your own research, however. The key is to make your own lists of pros and cons. After all, pros and cons depend on the perspective of the reviewer. You might want to check out this insightful article that provides more information regarding the best ways to choose the right digital piano for you.

How do I use one?

You might think this is a strange question. If you know anything about pianos, then you probably understand the general gist of using one. But this is about more than just pressing keys. In order to know how to use a keyboard, you need to understand the technical side of using one and setting it up, as well as the musical side of doing so. For example, if you want to know how to connect your piano to a computer, you might want to check out this useful YouTube tutorial which makes the process quite straightforward. YouTube is a great resource for instructional videos on using digital pianos, so go down the rabbit hole.

Which digital pianos would be wrong for me?

Again, you have to figure this one out by conducting research. You can read endless lists and reviews regarding the best keyboards on the market, but you’ll find plenty of solid evidence both for and against buying every individual digital piano that you see. At the end of the day, you just have to weigh up multiple options to assess which piano is the best fit for you. Check out YouTube walkthroughs of different keyboard models to gauge how they function in reality. That’s much more effective than simply reading about them.

How do I take the necessary precautions?

This is one of the most important questions to ask. Obviously, you shouldn’t be worried about this question. A digital piano isn’t a dangerous device, evidently. However, it is a fragile device. Yes, many keyboards might be more durable than many grand pianos, and they certainly require less maintenance (you don’t have to worry about retuning keys). Still, you will be using a sensitive piece of technology, and it’s essential to recognize that. You can still be too rough with keys and damage them, for example.

You should also be cautious with regards to buying and selling used keyboards. This applies to any technological product, of course, but you might want to check out this YouTube video for some useful advice on the topic. Before you purchase a digital piano, it’s essential that you do the necessary research. A keyboard is an expensive asset, so you don’t want to buy the wrong one or buy the right one at the wrong price. Be diligent to avoid disappointment. That’s the best advice I can offer to you.

Best Turntables

The Best Turntable Under $1000 in 2020 – Reviews & Rated

Introduction

Despite the fact that the music industry has changed quite significantly over the past couple of decades and software has taken over in terms of not only music production but music creation, people still love tactile things. That’s why vinyl players have seen a recent resurgence in popularity. It’s also why turntables are still a popular medium of music creators. If you’re looking for a high-quality turntable, then this list of reviews should give you some insight. These are some of the best turntables under $1000.

Reviews

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable

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Audio-Technica is one of the biggest turntable brands in the industry, so it made sense to review one of their affordable models. The AT-LP120XUSB is a fantastic piece of kit. If you’re looking for a fairly-priced turntable with sufficient features to create well-produced tracks, then this model from Audio-Technica seems to do the job nicely.

Obviously, as with any product (especially a product in the low-end range of music technology), there are a few shortcomings.

  • This turntable lacks bass control, so it might not be well suited to bass-focused producers.
  • And it’s worth noting that other turntables can produce digital copies of recordings that are much better, in terms of quality.

That being said, I noticed plenty of intriguing features with this particular turntable model.

  • The AT-LP120XUSB is a multifunctional masterpiece; it has a built-in pre-amp and even pitch control settings.
  • Given that it offers USB connectivity, it’s a great turntable for a producer who’s looking to record their creations, rather than simply mess around.

For the producer who salivates over bonus features, this is the perfect turntable within a $1000 spending limit.

Stanton STR8.150 MKII Professional Direct Drive DJ Turntable

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Stanton is another big brand, so I was rather excited to try out this turntable. As the name suggests, this is a professional piece of technology. It seemed essential to find some high-quality turntables under $1000, and the STR8.150 fits the bill if surface appearances can be believed. Well, this Stanton model comes in under $500, so, right off the bat, it offers great value for money. Given the features that are included in this model, you’d be paying half of what you’d usually need to pay to get a professional piece of technology, such as this.

Still, I was thorough in my assessment of this turntable, and I ensured that I didn’t allow its glossy aesthetic or awe-inspiring features distract me from its cons.

  • It’s a heavy piece of kit, so you would need to transport it in a vehicle from show to show; carrying it could prove to be a real strain.
  • And the turntable might be appropriate for professional DJ-ing, but it doesn’t seem to be suitable for home use; the tonearm didn’t allow for good music playback in a smaller room.
  • Plus, there’s no built-in pre-amp, and that felt like a bit of a let-down after using the Audio-Technica. The STR8.150 is well-priced, but it seems that you’d have to fork out additional funds for added features, and that made me wonder whether it was actually good value for money.

Of course, I’m not overlooking the pros.

  • It’s an incredibly-durable turntable, with a torque motor that could withstand more than any other turntable’s torque motor.
  • And the heaviness is the result of the manufacturer’s mission to reduce audio feedback, so Stanton’s engineering decisions make perfect sense. It’s just not as portable or high-quality as other turntables that I’ve tried.
  • Nonetheless, it includes an adjustable brake speed and removable target light, so I was suitably impressed by the value for money.

Crosley C200 Direct-Drive Turntable with S-Shaped Tonearm

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Seeing as this list of reviews is supposed to focus on affordable turntables, it seemed appropriate to test Crossley’s C200 Direct-Drive turntable. After all, Crossley is a brand that’s known for its low prices, so I thought it’d be wise to see what they could offer within a $1000 budget. Well, the C200 didn’t disappoint. It’s impressive! The turntable includes components from Audio-Technica, which was the fantastic brand discussed at the top of this list, so I knew to expect good things.

Pros:

  • Its Audio-Technica magnetic cartridge produces a beautiful sound, and it also gives the turntable excellent pitch-control capabilities.
  • The needle can be updated to improve the device’s performance.

Cons:

  • A slight drawback is that the C200 only features two playback speeds, rather than the three speeds available on many other models, but that might be a greedy desire on my part.
  • At higher volumes, the phono pre-amp can become distorted.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Turntable

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The Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC is, undoubtedly, one of the most visually-spectacular turntables that I’ve ever had the pleasure of using. If you like your gadgets to be aesthetically pleasing, then this is probably the right option for you. Of course, it’s about more than looks. Right? You need a reliable piece of technology. Even turntable hobbyists need high-quality equipment. How does the Carbon DC hold up? Well. It holds up well.

Pros:

  • It’s sleek.
  • Alongside its stunning appearance, this turntable offers damping capabilities to prevent unnecessary vibrations, and I found that to drastically improve the sound quality, in comparison to other turntables that I’ve used.

Cons:

  • I did find it a little awkward to get the tonearm properly set up.
  • And the Carbon DC doesn’t offer as much bass as some other models from competing brands.

Of course, it all depends on your requirements when it comes to purchasing a turntable. For me, those downsides didn’t majorly impede the overall quality of the product.

Rega Planar 2

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You might also want to check out the Rega Planar 2 if you’re looking for a high-quality turntable at a reasonable price. I got the impression that this model was created for home-based musicians, rather than club-based DJs, but that’s not a criticism. Rega might not be as well-known as some of the other brands on this list, but I thought it’d be worth reviewing a turntable by a company that might’ve been overlooked by many producers and hobbyists in the music world. Sometimes, hidden gems can be found when you look beyond the typical brands which dominate the market. Is that the case with this model? Well, in many cases, the answer is ‘yes’.

There are positive and negative aspects to this turntable, of course.

Con:

  • Sound quality and durability were definitely priorities for this manufacturer, but the Planar’s dust cover felt a little sub-par, so it is worth noting that there are often limitations when it comes to turntables which fall into the affordable price range.

Still, this feels like nitpicking, given that the Rega Planar 2 had many positive features, in my opinion.

Pros:

  • The Carbon MM Cartridge offers astounding audio.
  • The turntable’s stabilizing feet keep it level, to prevent any unwanted buzzing from vibrations. It’s hard to count the amount of times that a mix of mine has been hindered from an incessant buzzing noise, so I really appreciate this addition.

For such a reasonably-priced piece of audio tech, I had few qualms with this turntable. Rega definitely seems to be a worthy brand that should join the ranks of the other big turntable brands on this list. 

Conclusion

To me, it seems clear that the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC turntable is the winner of this contest. All of the turntables are reasonably priced. In fact, many of them cost less than $500, never mind $1000. It’s not the price that sets this turntable apart from the others; it’s the sheer quality of the product. It’s not just a pretty piece of equipment. The DC performs. Its damping feature gives it superior sound quality, but it also lacks the drawbacks of its competitors. Other than an awkward setup process and a slight lack of bass, I struggled to pick this turntable apart. It’s very professional for the price being charged.

Value Editorial

How do I choose the best turntable?

Firstly, you need to understand how to think critically with regards to music production equipment. Many brands will throw technical terms at you, in order to make their products appear impressive, but you need to be able to decipher the jargon and understand what you’re truly being offered. Most importantly, you need to figure out whether you’re being offered a product which suits your needs. Some producers just want to make something fun at home, but other producers have big dreams of playing shows to crowds at sold-out venues. Which kind of producer are you? When you can answer that question, you’ll know which turntable best meets your requirements.

Why should I get one?

Well, there are numerous advantages to owning a turntable. As mentioned in the introduction, the world of music has changed. People can produce songs with little more than GarageBand on an iPhone. That’s the current state of music. But many people still want something tactile; they want to create music through a more tangible medium than a screen. A turntable gives you that opportunity. It’s a vintage style of music creation that fits into the modern world.

How does one turntable differ from the next?

The reviews listed above should help you to understand the attributes that differentiate turntables. When picking the right model for you, you have to think about the type of music that you want to create. Is it bass-heavy? If so, then you have to focus on the bass capabilities of the turntable or turntables that you’re considering. You have to think about whether you’re going to bring this device with you to live shows or not. Is the turntable light and easily movable? If not, then it might not be suitable for gigs; you need something portable. These attributes are examples of the things that distinguish one turntable from another. So, it’s crucial to pay attention to these things when picking the right device for you.

What's the best way to use a turntable?

If you’re new to the world of turntables, you might be daunted by the prospect of getting started. You might be fascinated by these pieces of tech but totally clueless as to how you should use one. Well, firstly, you need to know how to play a record on a turntable. I found this content quite informative. It simplifies the entire process for an absolute newbie, and that’s exactly what you need when you feel overwhelmed by technical jargon. If you find yourself constantly Googling terms and getting fed up with the world of turntables in a linguistic sense, then you might want to stop reading about them and start watching instructional videos, instead. This one made things quite straightforward. Dive down the rabbit hole of turntable videos on YouTube because you’ll find plenty of useful information.

Which turntables should I avoid?

It’s not as simple as making a list of bad models. As the reviews should have made clear, a turntable feature that’s a pro for a hobbyist might be a con for a live performer. You have to be able to discern between different models from different brands. Most manufacturers are relatively consistent with their output of products in this industry, so you’ll probably find that you’ll want to stick with a particular brand, once you’ve found a turntable which suits your needs. That way, when you want to replace or upgrade your current device, you’ll know that you can rely on a certain manufacturer to sell you another turntable which will suit your specific requirements.

Are there any precautions I should take before using one?

It is also important to note that turntables are fragile devices. Whilst you might want to start using one so you can create music and play it back through a tactile medium, you should be wary of the fragility of these products. That’s the primary precaution to take. Needles can be expensive to replace, and slight damages or alterations to your setup can massively affect the quality of your sound and end-production. As explained here, the signal is very sensitive, so you need to be careful with your turntable.

Audio Interface

Which Cheap Audio Interface Should You Buy?

So, you want to do what every budding musician and DJ is trying to figure out – record your demos to a high standard, without having to fork out an absolute fortune. You may even want your audio interface for collaborating with other artists, or simply karaoke. Using a cheap audio interface for this can really help, but you need to make sure that it doesn’t suck before you splash out. 

Here, we’re going to talk you through a few of the best cheap audio interfaces so you can start creating demos that you’re proud of! 

PreSonus AudioBox USB 96 2×2 USB Audio Interface

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The PreSonus AudioBox is described by the brand as simple, reliable, and portable – and I do tend to agree! It’s just the right size for travel, and you also get a pair of balanced line-level outputs, along with an ultra-loud, crystal-clear headphone out. I was quite impressed upon using this for the first time. 

This USB audio interface is 24-bit resolution;44.1,48,88.2 and 96kHz sampling rates. It presents 5 dedicated dials 2 for line in gain control modules, one for monitor level, one for the DJ mixer, and one for mains.

It’s well built, and for this reason it can stand some knocks when you’re taking it out and about with you – It definitely withstood some bashings in the back of my van. It’s also USB 2.0 bus-powered, so you can record with it anywhere you can use a laptop. 

Pros:

  • Affordable 
  • + MIDI in/out.
  • World-class recording software included
  • + Suitable for most DAWS
  • Seriously durable
  • Perfect for travel 

Cons

  • Takes a up a lot of your time when you have to register
  • Many people don’t like the included software 
  • Can be fiddly to use at times

Ultimately, this option is great for travel but has no ease of use – but not ideal for those who may be starting out and want something simple. I must admit, the sign up process is quite tiring and I was almost ready to give up with it for this reason. I know many other people who have felt the same. 

M Audio M Track 2X2 | 2 In / 2 Out 24/192 USB Audio Interface

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This one was fine at first, but after using it for a few months I found more and more problems with it. The cable is particularly troublesome – I find myself constantly having to unplug it and plug it back in, even if it moves just a tiny bit. Sometimes, it even stops working altogether for no apparent reason at all. 

It’s pretty great when it works, with 24 bit/192kHz resolution for professional recording and monitoring with all new Crystal Preamps that deliver pristine, transparent sound. It also features +48v Phantom Power accommodates all microphone types. That being said, it’s just not reliable enough for my needs and I found myself getting increasingly frustrated with this model. 

Pros

  • Great when it works 

Cons

  • Doesn’t always work 
  • Not right for mics that need phantom power

If I were you and thinking about buying this, I’d save my money. However, if you are using it for monitor outs, go ahead as it seems to be only good for that reason alone. This model could be more trouble than it’s worth. 

Mackie Audio Interface, 1 Mic Pre (Onyx Artist 1-2)

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As somebody who has tried numerous Mackie products, it’s the brand I tend to reach for first. I’ve found over the course of many years that you just can’t go wrong with it – they don’t build equipment by halves and I always find myself pleased with what I buy from them. However, I have tried to use this one with a neutral mindset and go about the review as unbiased as possible. 

With this audio interface, you get a boutique-quality onyx mic preamp with class-leading fidelity and dynamic range 48V phantom power for use with Studio condenser mics ¼” TRS input with Hi-Z switch for connecting guitar, bass, and more. There’s also a high-resolution 2 in x 2 Out 24-bit/192kHz recording zero-latency direct monitoring of Analog inputs dedicated outputs for connecting studio monitors powerful headphone output. 

What I truly love about this one is the responsive design. I find it so easy to use and far more enjoyable than other audio interfaces I own. 

Pros 

  • Nobs are heavy
  • High quality build 
  • Responsive design 
  • Indestructible (I’ve dropped mine three times) 

Con

  • May show signs of wear after a few months 

This is probably the best interface you could get for the price. Although it shows signs of wear after just a few months, that may be my own fault as I seem to have a habit of dropping mine! 

Tascam US-1×2 USB Audio/MIDI Interface with Microphone Preamps and iOS Compatibility

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I found that this model works really well on a Linux. It features a high-quality Ultra-HDDA microphone preamp as well as a 1/4” line input–switchable to instrument level for guitar or bass. Plus, the unique design of the bio-cell side panels angles the US-1×2 up from the desktop for easier usability. 

When I opened this, I had it up and running in mere minutes, which isn't something you can say about most cheap audio interfaces. In fact, I have read numerous reviews stating that other people have struggled to set this up, which surprised me. Once it’s working, it’s a really good model. I found using it for karaoke particularly satisfying, although that was just a bit of fun and nothing serious. 

Seems too good to be true? Unfortunately, yes. I had mine for one year and it broke. I hadn’t even dropped this one for a change! 

Pros

  • Easy to set up (for me personally) 
  • Ease of use 
  • Great when it works 

Cons

  • Some find it difficult to set up
  • May not work outside of one year 

This product was one of my favorites until it up and broke for no reason at all. Buyer beware! 

Steinberg UR12 USB Audio Interface

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The most important thing to note before you begin using your Steimberg is that you shouldn’t plug it in when you first get it. Instead, go and get the drivers from Yamaha/Steinburg and then install them. You can then turn on the UR12, and then plug it in. You should find that it works really well upon taking this approach. 

The UR12 comes with a 24-bit/192 kHz USB 2.0 audio interface, 1 Class-A D-PRE mic preamp supporting +48V phantom power, and cross-platform compatibility with Windows, OS X and iPad (with Apple iPad Camera Connection Kit/Lightning to USB Camera Adapter)

I know many people tend to have issues with windows, but I have had 0 issues on Windows 10 using the UR12. Really happy that I did purchase this interface, as I previously had an old mixer, which was also used as interface for my guitar – this one however, is much better in terms of sound and control over amplification. 

Pros

  • Controls are easy to handle 
  • Very sturdy build
  • No humming (even when the box is close to electrical items) 

Cons 

  • Not great with karaoke 
  • Can be difficult to set up 

 I loved using this one for making music with my guitar, and found it far superior to others I had used. However, the set up process made it slightly less enjoyable for me. 

Conclusion: Which Cheap Audio Interface Should You Buy?

Overall, I believe that the Mackie Audio Interface is the best option for the money. Not only does it feel high quality and can withstand a bashing (I should know), the only issue I’ve found is a few scratches, and they are entirely my own fault. 

Although I experienced annoying niggles with the other models in terms of installation and getting everything set up, this one was a dream to set up and use and I would wholeheartedly recommend it, especially for people who may wish to travel with theirs. If you’re worried about your audio interface being bashed around with all of your other equipment, you can have confidence this one will live through it. 

Tips And Tricks To Find The Best Cheap Audio Interface 

If you want to find the best cheap audio interface, you must do some research to ensure the materials used in manufacture are not low quality – you don’t want to end up having to replace it too quickly. You can still find well built, affordable audio interfaces that will last a long time. 

You’ll also want to ensure ease of use so that you can begin the creative process right away – who wants to have to fiddle with multiple knobs when inspiration hits? Durability, and perhaps even portability should also be determining factors in finding the best cheap audio interface for you. It all depends on what you want to use it for most, however. 

You can find more pointers on finding the best audio interface for you in the informational video below. 

Things To Look For In A Quality Audio Interface 

Ultimately, the features you look for in your audio interface are likely going to be unique to you. Think about what kind of features might be most useful to you, enabling you to achieve the best, most creative results. You might want multiple headphone outputs so that you can collaborate with somebody else, for example, instrument inputs, and so on. Other points to consider include:

  • An eight input interface may be sufficient. 
  • It’s better to have extra inputs if you can afford them to allow maximum clarity and control. 
  • If you want to record with microphones you’ll need as many preamps as you have microphone sources.
  • Check the phantom power situation. Ideally, individual phantom-power for each channel gives you more flexibility, so you can use different mixes of condenser mics, ribbon mics, etc. without accidentally torching a ribbon microphone with phantom power. 

What Is The Right Way To Use An Audio Interface? 

There is no one way to use an audio interface – but having a good idea of the basics of cabling is important if you want to get the best from your audio interface instantly. 

Your interface will be packaged with a power cable or power adaptor which obviously has to be plugged into the wall or your power conditioner before you can even turn it on. You’ll also need to make sure it comes with the right kind of cable and that you plug this into your computer before you begin using it. 

Why Not Spend A Lot Of Money On Your Audio Interface? 

Is there a reason you shouldn’t spend a lot of money on your audio interface? Not really. Even if you are on a budget, if you want great results from your creative efforts, you should buy the best one you can afford. You may be able to find one at a bargain price, but if you can afford to spend a little more on a slightly better model, you should do so. Your creative projects will benefit!

Things To Remember When Using Your Cheap Audio Interface 

I have found that portable audio interfaces are always far more practical than those I cannot take with me. Portable audio interfaces make for easier collaboration. It’s also worth mentioning that if you’re recording or live mixing a band, you’ll need an audio interface that is easy to carry and easy to use once the session begins. For me, it’s just not worth buying an audio interface that I cannot easily transport. 

Make sure you look for an interface that is well built if you plan on taking it around with you, too – cheap plastic casing smashes easily when dropped. I should know – it has happened to me twice. You might think that you’ll be super careful, but you just can’t be sure. 

If you’re using your audio interface on the road, paying extra for an interface that is built to last will be one of the best things you decide to do. 

Best Headphones

The Best Affordable Wireless Headphones in 2020

How Can You Choose The Best Affordable Wireless Headphones in 2020?

With so many different styles, features, and options available, it can be extremely difficult to figure out what the best affordable wireless headphones are right now. 

These reviews are going to talk about a few of the most affordable and popular options at the moment, so you can compare and figure out which set suits your needs. I am also going to give you some useful advice on considerations to make before purchasing your headphones, so you can be sure you’re going to be delighted with your purchase. Whether you want your headphones for gaming, travelling, or general music listening, these reviews have you covered! 

Sennheiser PXC 550

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The Sennheiser PXC 550 can be expensive, but you may be able to find a deal to make this purchase a little more tempting. With this model you can enjoy voice prompts, touch controls, NFC pairing, smart pause and automatic on/off. This means you don’t have to think or fiddle much while you use the headphones, which makes them a good choice for those who want minimal hassle. 

The Sennheiser PXC 550 has been tailored specifically for the discerning business traveller, so if you’re constantly attending business trips, they could be right for you. They need 3 hours of charging time, after which they have 30 hours of battery life. They also have OK noise cancellation – not spectacular in comparison to other models, but beneficial in certain situations. 

Pros

  • Ideal for travel 
  • Stylish 
  • Noise cancellation 
  • Intuitive user control and convenience
  • 30 hour Battery life 
  • Connect to multiple devices at a time 

Cons

  • Can be expensive 
  • Take a little longer to charge 
  • Occasionally notice white noise
  • Some users have noticed buggy firmware

Although the Sennheiser PXC 550 model could work really well for some people, I would say that there are potentially too many issues for the price. As you’re expected to fork out a decent chunk on these headphones, it’s disappointing when they won’t even completely block out noise on a flight. 

V-MODA Crossfade

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The V-MODA Crossfade headphones come in a choice of colors, and the award-winning signature sound has won 50+ editors' choice awards. After charging, you can enjoy 14 or more hours of continuous music, entertainment and calls. Wearing the V-MODA Crossfade is extremely comfortable, and they are crafted in luxurious steel and vegan leather. They both look good and feel good on the ear (providing you have the right sized cushions). 

One issue I have found with the V-MODA Crossfade, is that you may need to purchase the XL cushions if you don’t have tiny ears. For those who have small ears, they are a brilliant choice. However, as I have slightly larger ears, I had to purchase the XL ear cushions. Once they were on, they were much better. However, I did resent having to fork out even more just so I could use these headphones! 

Pro

  • Charges in just 100 minutes 
  • Wired mode for gamers/musicians/Djs
  • Vegan leather – no animals were harmed in the making of these headphones 

Con

  • Occasionally a lack of sub bass 
  • Ear pads may be too small for some 
  • May not be the most comfortable to wear 

The V-MODA Crossfade sound is decent, and they have a number of uses, making them a good choice for somebody who wants a great, all round headphone. That being said, it’s super annoying that you may have to buy your own XL earpads, so that’s something to bear in mind. 

Cowin E7 PRO

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The Cowin E7 Pro Headphones are actually very affordable – they won’t break the bank if you’re looking to find a great pair for a decent price. The headphones are perfect for music, movies, and videos, as well as ideal for travelers, as the noise cancelling function will dull the roar and background noise of your flight. I used these on a plane and the noise cancelling was quite good – however, it wasn’t a particularly noisy flight. I can see what some reviewers mean when they report the noise cancelling feature not being as powerful as other models. The 30 hour playback was a dream come true, however, and I managed to listen to plenty of playlists and watch films on the flight without issue. 

I have even used these headphones in a busy office, and I found that they manage to bring out subtle details in music that you may never have noticed. They are truly excellent in sound quality for the price – I just wouldn’t buy them if noise cancellation is your main need. 

Pro

  • Won’t cost a fortune 
  • Various colors available 
  • Noise cancelling technology 
  • 30 hour play time per full charge 

Con

  • Potentially easy to break due to the way the joints rotate 
  • Many users report their model falling apart within 6-12 months 
  • Noise cancelling not as effective as other headphones
  • Bulky 

A fair pair of headphones for the price – buyers just need to beware that the build quality may not be that good. 

Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II

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The Bose QuietComfort 35 Series II are a premium feeling model that even come with an app! Yep, there really is an app for everything these days. 

The app is truly a great feature, as you are able to completely customize your listening experience. You can use it to adjust the level of noise cancellation, unlock Bose AR, enable music sharing, manage Bluetooth connections and access software updates. Your listening experience is entirely your own for this reason. They also come with a back-up audio cable so you can use them on your on flight entertainment systems if you need to.

Something I really enjoyed was the very loud and impressive bass, which I made the most of when I used these headphones in the gym. I even came to the conclusion that they are lighter, easier to live with, and more roomy than the Sony’s! Make of that what you will if you’re a fan of the Sony brand. 

One thing to be aware of, however: the noise cancelling feature disappeared after the firmware update – I found this very disappointing for the price, although customer service was fairly quick to help me out. 

Pro

  • A choice of colors 
  • An app to completely customize your listening experience 
  • Great bass

Con

  • Expensive 
  • Noise cancelling disappeared after firmware update 

I did love using these headphones, the only downside being the slight disappointment I experienced. This, paired with the price means I felt let down by Bose. 

DOQAUS Bluetooth Headphones

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The DOQAUS bluetooth headphones are without question the most affordable on the list – especially if you can find a good deal. I found myself very impressed with the sound quality of the headphones, which is truly outstanding for the price. I felt like I was using a pair of headphones almost 10 times the price tag! Honestly, these headphones are better than many of the premium brands out there. Why pay more when these do the job just fine? 

Pro

  • Extremely affordable 
  • Look great 
  • Memory protein ear muffs 
  • 52 hours of continuous music 
  • Amazing sound quality 

Con

  • Plastic heavy 
  • Sound can escape – not ideal in quiet areas 

Of course, there are a few small setbacks with this set. I did feel that they were plastic heavy, but that doesn’t necessarily impact the way they look too much. I did find, though, that the sound can escape. I didn’t always feel comfortable using them at work and in the library for this reason. 

Conclusion: Which Wireless Headphones Win? 

Ok, so now we’re going to name the winner of the roundup! For me personally, the DOQUAS are the clear winner on the list. Although they may be made of plastic and allow sound to escape, I simply could not believe the sound quality for the price. That, paired with 52 hours of continuous music blew me away! 

While other models on the list may look a little more pleasing to the eye or be made from more high end materials, the sound quality does not come close to that of the DOQUAS. 

How To Choose The Best Wireless Headphones 

You now have an idea of some of the best wireless headphones around, but how do you even begin to decide which set is right for you?

Ultimately, choosing the best wireless headphones means asking yourself a few important questions:

  • How do I plan on using these headphones most? 
  • What is the main feature/features I want from these headphones?
  • What is my price range? 

If you plan on using your headphones for blocking out noise in the office, you’re going to be more bothered about a feature like noise cancellation than you would if you were planning on using them in the gym. Having a good idea of the features you’d like will help you to narrow down your options. 

Of course, your price range is also an extremely important factor. You don’t have to spend a fortune to enjoy a decent set of headphones! 

What Are The Advantages Of Wireless Headphones? 

Why go for wireless headphones over wired versions? Well, for a start, you’re able to move freely without worrying about yanking out cables or things getting in the way. This may not matter so much to you if you sit pretty still while using your headphones, but it’s going to be a concern if you wear them while using the gym, running, or doing any sort of errand. There’s nothing more annoying than yanking out your cable and having to stop what you’re doing to plug it back in. 

You also don’t have to worry about losing your cable – there are less parts to a wireless headphone, and for this reason you can just grab them and go. All you need is the headphones and the device you plan on listening with. 

Things To Look For 

There are many things you can look for in a set of wireless headphones, but again, it all depends on how you’d like to use them. Doing plenty of your own research beforehand is key, as you may not even realize that you want/need a feature until you know that it exists. The video below is extremely informative and can help you to make sense of some of the confusing numbers found on boxes and in product descriptions. 

As well as taking into consideration the above video, you may also want to look for:

  • Headphones that can easily fold away for travel
  • The option to plug the wireless headphones in for low battery days 
  • Larger earpads for comfortable wear 

How Should You Use Wireless Headphones? 

How you use your wireless headphones is largely down to you, but you should carefully read the instructions that come with yours to ensure you’re not going to void the warranty by using your particular set incorrectly. For example, you shouldn't go swimming wearing them! 

Many people enjoy wearing their wireless headphones to the gym, but again, if you sweat a lot it might be a bad idea. Wireless headphones are usually most effective for travel and work, as many of them cancel out background noise. 

Are Wireless Headphones Better Than Wireless Earphones/buds? 

This one is all down to personal preference. Some people find that when they wear their over ear headphones they are able to block out the world and get focused, which is why they go for this style over in-ear buds and earphones. However, some people do find the latter more comfortable and easier to fit into their ear, no matter the shape or size. 

You won’t find certain features with in-ear buds though, so bear this in mind. Noise cancelling is strictly a feature of over-ear headphones. 

Things To Be Aware Of Before Using Wireless Headphones 

You must stay mindful while using your wireless headphones. While they can be hugely beneficial on a plane or in the office, wearing noise cancelling headphones while walking down the street can actually be dangerous. The sounds of traffic and people nearby often help to alert us to danger. It’s also worth noting that you will need to have your device fairly close by, but many models have various distances they can work from, so you’ll need to check this out. 

You may not be able to leave your phone upstairs and listen downstairs without interruptions in your sound, for example. 

Audio Software

Pro Tools First Review

Introduction

For sound producers, a digital audio workstation will be a crucial element and I understand this. 

When you first get started in the industry, the cost of DAW can be quite overwhelming. 

You may also need to get to grips with a system before making a final choice. 

I think Pro Tools First might be a good option here, particularly for younger singers, producers and musicians. 

Presenting The Product 

Pro Tools is a digital audio workstation or DAW developed by Avid Technology. It has been available for over 30 years and many consider it to be a key tool. 

The software can run as a stand-alone system or with analogue and digital converters. With Pro Tools, you have both an audio mixer and a multitrack tape recorder at your fingertips as well as features like non-destructive editing. 

Pro Tools First is the free version of the software that anyone can access, regardless of budget limitations. 

Rather than spending hundreds on DAW software, a new user can get to grips with this option first. You can access various software features but some are off-limits. 

Pros 

  • Free to use software 
  • No Powerful system required
  • Provides an option to experiment with the solution
  • Paid cloud storage plan may allow you to save to local hard drive
  • Able to record, mix and edit multiple channels of audio 

Cons 

  • Files can only be saved on the cloud, not on the hard drive 
  • Sample rate limited to 96 kHz 
  • Limited level of supported tracks
  • The lower number of effects and sound processes 
  • Reduced number of available virtual instruments and inputs

Features And Benefits 

Install And Use

I think it’s important to note that this is a free version of a paid software. This is important because it could provide various new professionals in different industries a chance to test drive the software. 

It’s your basic ‘try before you buy’ solution and this does explain some of the limitations. I don’t think it’s intended as a version that you will be able to rely on for years. 

Operating System 

With this option, you don’t need a powerful computer to run it. Instead of requiring 32GB of RAM you only need 4GB. 

In my opinion, this is great because it again opens the software up to the wider audience. Eventually, if you want a professional DAW you will need to invest in a more powerful system. 

With Pro Tools First, you can experiment and decide whether this particular DAW is the right choice before you buy that new computer. 

Great Design 

Pro Tools First has a similar design to the paid version of the software. It does look a little dated but it is user-friendly. I think this is important because this is definitely aimed at those new to a DAW.

The interface is designed to ease them in and help them find their footing. This does mean options like synths are limited. There’s no piano with this version but, that keeps the options clearer and easier to understand. 

Free Bundled Loops

Pro Tools First does not allow you to import different virtual instruments from first parties. To compensate, the software does include a range of the free bundled loop.

I think this is useful because it means that you can get any project started even if you can’t get the full final result you want. 

The MIDI 

The musical instrument digital interface of MIDI is almost exactly the same as the full version. This is great because it means it’s easy to use and it will feel familiar. It also provides a short learning curve for new professionals. 

You can even freeze the MIDI which is another feature of the full version of the software. 

The Plugins 

Plugins for software are kept simple which is brilliant because it highlights who this is designed for. It’s definitely basic and I think that means that beginners aren’t going to need to siphon through lots of options. 

There’s really only one choice here and that means that you can immediately start producing. 

Effects 

With effects, you are limited to just one reverb and one delay. While this might seem a little disappointing, with this right talent and imagination, a beginner is going to be able to do a lot with these options. 

No third party effects are available here either and I think that’s to be expected. Remember, this is designed to eventually help you move towards the full version of the software. 

Bouncing is simple too. Just like the full option bouncing is an easy step to take after you have filled up your 16 tracks. You are only provided with WAV and there’s no option for MP3 but you can easily get by with this choice. 

Sound Quality

Pro Tools first does provide you with access to the level of quality that the latest tracks and records are made from. 

I think this is important because while it’s a beginners tool, you can already create and produce high-quality sound and music. You will be able to create a song on this that sounds fantastic.

Mix Window 

The number of tracks is always going to be important when producing music and Pro Tools First provides you with 16. That’s a great starting point even though you will need a larger selection as you increase your skills.

Social Proof 

You don’t want to waste your time with a DAW that isn’t providing the right solution you need. That remains the case, regardless of whether your paying for one or not.

I’ve searched the web and I think you’ll be pleased to find that I’ve found some fantastic reviews for this particular DAW software. 

As expected, it’s mainly beginners in the music industry that seem to favor this choice. 

Alternate Possibilities

Audacity 

Similar to Pro Tools First, Audacity is a free to use the software. Open source, it can be used for recording and editing sounds. You can use it to record audio live, convert tapes and edit sound files. It’s ideal for beginners who want to try a DAW before investing.

Key Features

  • Compatible with Windows, Linux, OSX
  • Suitable for multitrack recording and editing
  • Free to use 

If you think recording and editing music is something you’re interested in, try Audacity for free now. 

Cubase LE

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This is a free version of Cubase Pro Software which currently has a price tag of more than $500. With Cubase LE, just like Pro Tools First, you can explore the option before you commit to a purchase. 

The free software provides access to HALion Sonic DE and provides a range of features straight out of the gate. 

Key Features 

  • 24 MDI tracks
  • 16 Audio tracks
  • 8 Physical inputs
  • Recording quality 24-bit/192 kHz
  • 18 basic plugins

If you’re not scared of a more complex software, make sure that you explore Cubase LE today. It’s perfect for getting to grips with this software. 

Ableton Live 9 Lite

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Ableton Live is a popular choice when exploring DAWs suitable for MIDI sequencing as well as electronic music production. It’s also suitable for editing and recording audio as well. With the Lite version, you can access the software for free and determine if it is the right choice for you. 

Key Features

  • Offers select effects
  • Plugins including EQ, compressor, delay and reverb
  • Total of 3 virtual instruments including Drum Rack, Impulse and SImpler

Conclusion 

It’s no secret that DAWs are expensive. If you’re just starting to dip your toes into the music industry, you are not going to want to spend a lot immediately. 

You also may wish to avoid investing in expensive hardware too like a Mac Pro. With Pro Tools First, you can avoid these issues. You can get a basic DAWs to experiment with which provides an easy learning curve. 

As expected with free software options are limited. Some might suggest that the developer has fenced off too many options. 

However, it does mean you can jump right in and start producing without getting lost in choices. 

You can explore this possibility by downloading it yourself right now, clicking on this link. 

Points To Consider Before Choosing A DAW

A DAW will provide you with a comprehensive piece of software that you will be able to use to produce, record and edit audio. 

Ideally, you will gain access to virtual instruments and plugins that will ensure that the finished result sounds like a professionally produced record. 

It is ideal for anyone in the music industry from a producer to a singer or songwriter. 

It’s important to consider a variety of different factors before settling on the right DAW for your needs. 

What Operating System Do You Have?

There’s a lot of debate over which options are superior when selecting your DAW. One of the first points to consider is whether your current operating system will support the software.

Most basic computers won’t and you may need to upgrade. If you do need an upgrade, think about whether to select a Mac or PC.

Be aware that while certain DAWs will work on both, certain DAWs are limited including Logic Pro X which only runs on a Mac.

Your Production Goal

You need to think about how fast you will be able to operate using your DAW. Speed can be important for any music producer.

Some DAWs have user-friendly designs specifically for this reason. Consider your workflow and use trial versions of the software to find the option that suits your needs. 

Budget

DAWs come with a variety of different prices with some requiring a monthly fee. It’s important to select an option that matches your budget. You may want to consider using an old DAW system. This will allow you to save money while still getting all the benefits and effects you need. 

Audio Plugin Compatibility 

You do need to make sure that the DAW you choose accepts the formats you need. The main formats are:

  • Audio Units
  • Virtual Studio Technology
  • Real-Time Audio Suite

It’s possible that your DAW will not support virtual studio technology plugins and will only work with audio units. 

Moving Projects Around 

Some producers will need to move different mixes around. For this, you will need a DAW that does provide batch export stems. This is going to save a lot of hours of work. 

You should also consider using the same DAW which is set up in your chosen studio. Be aware that some DAWs are uniquely designed for this type of process. However, if you are working in your own studio, this is less of a requirement. 

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Multitrack Recorder

Tascam Model 24 Review

Introduction 

I use sound mixers regularly for audio recording. That’s why I know a digital mixer can be frustrating. They are typically filled with complex menus. 

It can leave you craving a time when each function on a sound mixer had a dedicated control. 

That’s definitely true for live shows when you want the immediate response an analog system provides. 

In the past, you would need to choose between a comprehensive digital system or a rapid control analog device. Wouldn’t it be great if you could combine the two? 

The Tascam model 24 aims to provide a retro answer to this issue. 

Section 2: Introducing The Tascam Model 24

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The Tascam Model 24 doesn’t provide you with one product. Instead, you get three. It’s basically a throwback to the age of the all-in-one portable multitrack studio. 

Tascam invented this category with its Model 144 Portastudio. Tech has moved on and while the Model 144 was casettte based the Model 24 brings digital connections to an analog control system. 

With the new system, you get the controls of old combined with key functions of the tech age. This includes recording the sound and then working with it on any digital audio workstation (DAW). 

Tascam is leading the charge with this type of all-in-one design. While there are alternatives on the market, none provide the complete setup of the Model 24. 

Pros 

  • Gain more precise control with 1000mm faders
  • Simple to use 24 track recording solution suitable for live performance and studio work
  • A rugged design that is also lightweight for great portability
  • Onboard and routing effects that are completely flexible 
  • A classic style analog mixer that provides the rapid response of a digital system 
  • Fantastic cost per channel

Cons 

  • EQs provide great sound but suffer from limited adjustability 
  • There are no solo buttons 
  • You can only control phantom power from a single global switch
  • Unable to move recorded tracks without a computer connection
  • Limits on the processing of DAW recordings 
  • No metronome facility

Section 3: Features & Benefits 

Lightweight Design 

The multi-track recorder and sound mixer is a lot lighter than you might expect. It weighs just 10.4kg and this is great because it means that you will be able to carry it anywhere. It makes it suitable for the studio, the stage, and the conference room. 

The sound mixer is also designed to be tough and durable which means that you won’t have to worry about it getting damaged during transportation. It provides the reliability you could need if you are planning a set up for a live performance. 

Great Layout 

As well as offering everything at your fingertips there are some clever layout choices. For instance, you’ll notice that the jacks are at the front of the panel. 

While this is a matter of preference I find this incredibly useful for live performances. You can easily see which labeled cables are going to which inputs. 

That’s important, particularly when you have 12 mono channels and 4 stereo channels on this device. 

Friendly User Interface

You'll find this system is set up for easy use. That could make this the perfect tool for teaching audio mixing and recording.

Since this is mainly an analog system the digital display is quite small. However, it’s also bright and crisp and this means that you won’t have issues reading the key details. It also provides all the controls you need to quickly change between settings. 

There are some hidden features to explore here too.  This includes audio stream input-output and windows audio playback. You can run this simultaniously. 

Immediate Operation 

Sound mixers often have long set up times and lengthy learning curves. You can use the Tascam Model 24 immediately with little to no setup. 

This is fantastic because you will be able to get started without delay and everything you need is ready for you. 

You will have precise control over the volume with the 100mm faders. Menu diving isn’t an issue either because you can use the Auxillary and EQ knobs to quickly switch between settings. 

Digital Effects Processor 

The system does provide a digital effects processor. That’s useful because you can use it to send signals using the FX knobs to individual channels. You can only use one effect at a time but there are multiple options that are combinations. 

The effects available provide a chorus, flanger, rebels, and delays. You can also combine these different features and these do add a new level to your sound. 

These options are going to be suitable for either live mixing or monitoring the sound during studio recording. 

Audio Interface 

The <odel 24 does provide you with a full audio interface which means that you are getting great value with multiple functions. 

You can use this feature by connecting through the USB port. Your digital audio workstation (DAW) will recognize the Model 24 as long as you install the correct drivers. 

The USB interface is easy to use which means that you won’t have to waste time figuring out the controls. It closely resembles the standard computer USB connections. Since it provides a 2.0 port, it also delivers a fast connection. 

You get several features as part of the interface which will be useful for recording ensembles. This includes 16 channels with line and mic inputs. 

There are also mixing features including the EQ and compressor on input. You can use this when you record to your DAW and that’s great because it gives you an additional level of control. 

Multitrack Recorder

The onboard multitrack recorder operates via SD cards. These are not included with the device so you will need to purchase them yourself for this feature. 

The unit is versatile and will accept a variety of SD cards from 512 up to 2 GB. This is fantastic because it means you have more choices and can store large files. You also get a large selection of resolutions and sampling rates too. 

You will find that recording to SD is slower than straight to a hard drive. You need to wait a few seconds after taking the unit out of record for it to finish writing the data. 

There is a wealth of features that are fantastic because you can customize the tracks however you like. This includes pre-roll, overdub, locator, and punch-in. You can even use a footswitch jack for punch-ins and that’s going to be useful if you’re operating it by yourself. 

The only problem here is the small LCD screen. This makes managing files difficult and time-consuming. 

If you create a song, it’s automatically given a long name full of numbers. To change that you need to use the jog shuttle wheel and this is a slow process. 

However, you do get fantastic sound quality and aside from this, it's very convenient. This means it’s going to be useful for rehearsals or live shows. 

If you’re a solo act or a recording artist this feature will make recording new tracks simple and provide a lot of control. 

In storage mode, you can quickly move any tracks you record to your computer drive. You can also import any music back onto the Model 24 for further editing. 

Unfortunately, the channel 23-24 mixdowns show up on the computer as separate files. This means that you’ll have to combine them yourself using an audio editor. You might also find that there’s a lot of temporary files that create clutter. 

Bluetooth Support

Explore the device and you’ll notice you can also feed in a mutable Bluetooth signal into the inputs. I really like this feature because it means you can stream audio from a device like a tablet or even a smartphone. 

That’s useful because it means you’ll be able to hear what the sound system is like in a room. You can also easily switch the mode for every channel from multitrack to live or USB. 

Section 4: Social Proof

Buying an all in one sound mixer is always going to be a substantial investment. The top models including the Tascam Model 24 can exceed $1000. 

As such, I think it’s important to know that you are buying a product trusted by users like you. I’ve scoured the web and found some fantastic examples of great reviews for this particular sound mixer. 

Musicians, amateur recorders and sound engineers alike seem to favor this option. 

Reviewers welcome the abundance of different features available and even find the SD card system quick to use too. As expected, it has been embraced for controlling sound in a live environment. 

I think this delivers a clear image that you are getting the all-in-one system promised with all the features built in. 

Section 5: Alternatives

Zoom LiveTrack L-20

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This provides a fantastic level of functionality and similar to the Model 24 it has a portable design. However, it doesn’t deliver the analog compression or the EQ offered with the Model 24. 

It is more compact than the Model 24 and it does offer the ability to mix wirelessly. This is great if you want a larger digital interface for control. The LiveTrack L-20 also boasts a high-quality sound that won’t disappoint professional artists and six custom monitor mixers. You can handle both vocals and instruments with pan controls and a compressor.

Like the Model 24, you need SD cards to record. You can then mix the tracks recorded using your chosen DAW. 

Key Features

  • Full recording capabilities
  • 20-channel digital mixer 
  • Built-in effects and 3-band EQ
  • Wireless control from an Ipad 

If you’re looking for a rack-mountable digital mixer that does provide a built-in recorder, make sure you check out this option. 

Soundcraft Signature 22 MTK

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This could be a great choice if you’re looking for analog mixers with a built-in audio interface. However, it’s important to be aware that you won’t get the digital multitrack recorder that is part of the Model 24 design.

The Soundcraft Signature 22 MTK boasts ultra low-noise preamps that Soundcraft claims are so quiet you won’t even know they are there. One benefit that the Signature 22 MTK is that the EQs aren’t limited to one or two channels. Instead, every input you use can include an EQ. 

You can also switch different AUX buses from post to pre-fader. You can even route each input channel to the different sub-groups. This means that you are going to have great control over where you send external effects.

If you are searching for a great analog mixer and you don’t need a multi-track recorder, this could be the ideal option. 

Key Features

  • 22-input with onboard effects
  • High-quality faders
  • Met design with a high-quality build and durability 
  • Ghost mic preamps for low noise performance

Yamaha MG20XU 

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The Yamaha MG20XU Mixing Desk is a lot lighter than the Tascam Model 24. It weighs just 7kgs and that makes it a fantastic choice for portable use. It still provides a USB audio interface which means that you will be able to easily plugin and play recordings. However, it doesn’t offer the same level of versatility here as the Model 24. 

Effects are high grade and similar to the Model 24, you can connect to iPads as well as a range of other tech devices. This gives a more flexible system when mixing sound. 

With just 20 channels, it’s not quite as comprehensive as the model 24. However, it still provides enough options for theatre productions or even lives shows. A key detail of this product is that it does provide custom-designed Mic Pres which Yahama claim provide higher quality than existing preamps. 

This product is going to be perfect for mid-sized venues as well as schools or smaller studios. 

Key Features 

  • 20 channels with 16 mic and 20 line inputs
  • USB interfacing 
  • Custom designed preamps
  • Lightweight for portability

If you’re looking for a product perfect for recording on the move check out the Yamaha MG20XU Mixing Desk. 

Section 6: Conclusion

In the digital age, computers have brought a wide range of possibilities and more advanced tools for audio mixing. 

However, there is definitely a trade-off here. With a fully digital system, you don’t get the full hands-on control. Instead, you will often need to hunt through different digital menus to find the right parameters for a particular recording. 

That’s particularly problematic for live performances. You don’t get immediate access to fix issues. As such multi-channel analog mixers are always going to be a more suitable option. 

With the Tascam Model 24, you get more than a mixer. You gain a full system for 24-track recording, a complete USB interface and a mixer control that offers an analog experience. 

This also provides fantastic value for money because everything you need is in one unit. 

It’s a modern interpretation of the all-in-one portable multitrack studios, sound engineers used to swear by. 

You can check out the Tascam Model 24 for yourself by clicking on this link. 

Section 7: Things To Consider Before Buying A Multichannel Sound Mixer 

You can use a sound mixer to optimize the visual or audio environment. Sound mixers will give tools to ensure your A/V experience matches your preferences. A mixer will allow you to change the quality of audio signals or combine various signals. You can change the dynamic or the timber of the sound. With the right mixer, you can even mix analog and digital signals too. 

You can use mixers for A/V presentations, in conference rooms, broadcasting, and post-film production. 

If you are arranging a performance on stage with two separate mics, you need a mixer to combine the different signals. It will guarantee a higher quality of sound. 

Make sure you consider these details before buying a mixer. 

Digital Or Analogue

Digital mixers are useful because they can program scenes and provide full, graphic EQ on each channel,. They are ideal for beginners because they have an easier user interface. This also makes them great systems for recording

However, they are difficult to use for live sound. Since each digital board has a different layout you can’t move from one board to another without a learning curve. 

Number Of Channels 

There’s a positive correlation between the number of channels on a mixing board and the cost. You also need to keep expansions in mind here because adding another mixer for extra mics will add to the expense. 

My advice is to get at least 5 more channels than you think you’ll ever need. 

Number Of Outputs 

Your mixer could include a range of outputs like:

  • The main outputs
  • Aux sends
  • Matrix feeds

You need one aux for every monitor or effects process and matrix feeds are ideal for zoning the speakers. You should aim for up to 10 more outputs than you think you’ll need.

Bands Of EQ

If you do opt for an analog board you need to consider EQ bands and the sweepable frequency. You can cope with as little as two-band EQs. 

However, a higher number of bands that are sweepable will give you more control of your sound.

Effects Processor

Your digital board will usually have on-board effects. In contrast, analog boards typically have cheap built-in effects. If you’re on a tight budget, on-board effects are the best option compared to a separate effects processor.  

Electronic Drum Kit

Alesis Strike Pro Review

A few years ago, I desperately wanted to get on with drumming, but I knew that if I bought a regular drum set, I’d annoy my family and my neighbors. 

What I should have done was buy an electronic drum kit. Modern versions both solve the noise problem and offer a host of additional benefits too. 

The following is an Alesis Strike Pro review, one of the best electronic drum sets on the market. We're going to dive into the features it offers and see how it compares to others on the market. 

Presenting The Alesis Strike Pro

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The Alesis Stike Pro drum kit is an 11-piece electronic set that provides pretty much every feature that you could want, all at a relatively affordable price point. Just like its nearest competitor, the Roland V-Drums, it comes with multiple toms, a bass pedal, hi-hat, snare, and plenty of fully-adjustable cymbals. 

Thus, if you want to take your drumming to the next level, but don’t want to ruin your relationship with your neighbors, try the Strike Pro. It does everything in its power to take your skills to the next level while letting you save on the cost of a fully-fledged acoustic. 

Pros

  • Adjustable mesh heads
  • Practically every type of drum and cymbal you need
  • Onboard sampling capability
  • Extremely good looking

Cons

  • Hi-hat can make a noise when opening and closing
  • 4.3-inch full-color LCD screen displaying outputs can be too small for some
  • Higher price point than comparable products from other manufacturers

Features & Benefits

So what is it that makes this product so unique? What gives me the confidence to say that the Alesis Strike Pro will take your drumming to the next level? 

Ultra-Responsive Mesh Heads On Kick, Toms, And Snare

When playing an electronic drum kit, you want it to have tactile characteristics that are on a par with an acoustic. Unfortunately, this isn’t always what you get. Some electronic drum sets, especially entry-level varieties, feel dull, flat, and lifeless, wrecking the experience.

Not so with the Strike Pro. Alesis has put enormous effort into designing mesh heads that respond incredibly realistically to your inputs, helping you get a feel for a regular set, even if you’ve never played one. 

On the matter of “feel,” Alesis also makes all of the drums in its Strike Pro set using premium wood shells. So if you do usually play acoustic, you’ll feel right at home. 

USB/MIDI Connectivity

The Strike Pro comes with the Strike Performance Module, a unit featuring a 4.3-inch screen, providing you with quick readouts. The Module offers USB/MIDI connectivity, allowing you to hook up your favorite audio software. And it also lets you edit your sounds, all stored on the local SD card. 

Standard Acoustic Drum Sizes

Shifting from electronic to acoustic and then back to electronic drumming shouldn’t feel radically different. That’s the Alesis philosophy anyway. Thus all of the drums in the Strike Pro are the same size as those you’d find on a regular drum kit, even though there’s no technological reason why they couldn’t be smaller. 

I rather like this approach. When I sit at my drum kit, I want it to feel familiar. Even if I had never played acoustic in my life, I would prefer to sit in front of an electronic drum kit that prepared me for it, when the time eventually came. 

The Alesis, therefore, is a win-win. It gives you the traditional drum sizes that you crave, as well as the versatility of the best electronic drum kits. 

Realistic Cymbals

Before Alesis began experimenting with tactile feedback from electronic cymbals, the overall experience was poor. You’d smash the cymbal, but it’d make no difference if you silenced it or not. The sound would just continue playing through the speaker. 

Alesis, however, now offers world-leading cymbal haptic technology. The bounce, feel, and control you get is second-to-none. 

Sound Library

One of the great things about electronic drum sets, in general, is that they let you adjust the sound, element by element. Alesis has always been a leader in this area but takes it to a new level with the Strike Pro. 

The Strike Pro offers more than 1,600 multi-sampled sounds from over 100 brand new drum kits through the Strike Performance Module. It means you can experiment in a way that never could with a traditional kit. All sounds are professional studio-quality, making them ideal for integration with your recording software. 

Electronic drum sets, like the Alesis Strike Pro, also come with coach functions that help enhance your skills. These tools can fast-track your progress, enabling you to become more professional, more rapidly. 

Sturdy Chrome Rack

When you’re rocking out to your favorite tracks, you want a drum set that doesn’t squirm. You should be able to hit the thing as hard as you like (within reason), and the kit should stand its ground. You don't want it moving around while you’re trying to play. 

Here, the Strike Pro excels yet again. The company has invested in quality adjustable chrome stands that hold the cymbals and toms in place, giving drummers supreme confidence. (I like the fact that I can let myself get carried away on the Strike Pro, and forget that its an electronic set). It doesn’t seem to matter how hard you hit these drums; they remain steadfastly and firmly in place. 

It Looks Incredible

While looks are partially subjective, there’s no denying that this is one of the better-looking kits out there. From the small cut-outs on the cymbal to the beautiful (and unnecessary) wood drum casing, this kit has looks to die for.

It’s worth pointing out that other kits on the market also look good, like the Roland TD-30K. But remember, it’s twice the price of the Strike Pro. 

High Sound Quality

When it comes to electronic drum sets, the Alesis Strike Pro is something of a winner. The company embeds all of its drums with multiple sensors and contact points underneath the mesh head. This tech allows them to accurately mimic real drums, both in terms of sound and feel. 

Arguably, though, Alesis takes things way beyond the limitations of a traditional acoustic. With the Strike Pro, you can experiment with sounds you couldn’t normally access, but do so in a way that feels wholly natural. 

Adjust Drum Sensitivity On The Fly

Acoustic drums come with adjustment knobs that allow you to alter the sensitivity (even in the middle of a gig). Up until now, though, you couldn’t do the same on electronic drums. What would have been the point? Electronic drum sets didn’t suffer from sensitivity issues. 

That all changed with the introduction of mesh head technology. Now, all of a sudden, feedback on electronic kits matters. 

Alesis, therefore, is pioneering a feedback adjustment technology. A knob on the side of each drum lets you change the responsiveness on the fly.

Don’t like how your drums feel? Just grab your key, twist the knob, tighten up the drum, and away you go. It only takes a few seconds. 

The reason this is a nice feature is that it lets you change the sensitivity depending on your environment. If you’re playing in a loud setting and want max output, you can increase the sensitivity. If you want a quieter feel, you can reduce it. It’s just like a real set. 

Triple-Zone Ride Cymbals

Alesis, along with Roland, pioneered the development of multi-zone ride cymbals. The idea was to recreate the sound characteristics of regular acoustic cymbals when you strike them in different ways. Triple-zone cymbals produce audibly-distinct tones whether you play them at the edge or nearer the middle. 

Until now, manufacturers demarked these in zones, forcing drummers to choose precisely where they struck. 

What's smart about the Alesis' new tech is that the cymbal looks the same all over. Yet, it’ll play a different sound depending on where you strike it. The Strike Pro comes with both tripe and dual-zone rides and crashes. 

All these features are great for when you want to recreate the specific sound that you get from striking cymbals in different locations.

Social Proof

The Alesis Strike Pro is a good product, but I don’t want you to take my word for it. That’s why I’ve scoured the internet for some reviews to give you a flavor of what other drummers think. 

In general, the reviews are positive, although they do reveal how Alesis cuts some corners to reduce the price of its kits versus the competition. 

Alternatives

Of course, the Alesis Strike Pro isn’t the only electronic drum kit worth your consideration. There are many others. Here are the top three alternatives. 

Roland TD-17KVX

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The Roland TD-17KVX is a similarly-featured drum kit that comes with many of the same features as the Alesis Strike Pro. However, there are some features that it has that the Alesis doesn’t.

  • The TD-17KVX has Bluetooth connectivity, but the Strike Pro does not
  • The Strike Pro uses genuine wooden drum casings, but the TD-17KVX does not
  • The TD-17KVX comes with HP-170 headphones, but the Strike Pro does not supply headphones
  • The Strike Pro offers multi-zone cymbals, but the TD-17KVX does not

The Command Mesh Kit

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The Command Mesh Kit is an entry-level version of the Strike Pro from Alesis. It comes with the same premium chrome rack as the Strike Pro, the onboard recorder, and the USB/MIDI connectivity. However, there are substantial differences: 

  • The Strike Pro offers 1,600 sounds, while the Command comes with 671
  • The Strike Pro offers onboard sampling, while the Command Mesh does not
  • The Strike Pro mimics standard acoustic drum sizes, while the Command Mesh does not
  • The Command Mesh comes with 120 play-along tracks, while the Strike Pro does not
  • The Strike Pro comes with a 12-inch hi-hat, the Command Mesh does not

Yamaha DTX582

The DTX582 is Yamaha’s flagship drum set, featuring tripe-zone technology on both snare and cymbals. The kit includes engaging sounds and play-along. It also has a range of onboard training functions that allow you to progress your skills.

It is not, however, a copycat product of the Alesis. Here’s how it differs from the Strike Pro: 

  • The Strike Pro offers acoustic-sized drums and cymbals; the DTX582 does not
  • The Strike Pro uses wooden drum casing; the DTX582 doesn’t
  • The DTX 582 has 37 play-along tracks; the Strike Pro has none 

Conclusion: What Did We Find Out?

The Alesis Strike Pro solves several problems for people who are on the fence about buying electronic drum kits. 

For one, it feels just like an acoustic. The drums are the same size, the tactile feedback is spot-on, and it even comes with wooden drum casing, just for effect. 

I hope that the whole industry moves in this direction. It doesn’t make sense for electronic drum kit manufacturers to continue to make small, tinny drum sets that never quite live up to the magic of the real thing. Yes, it’s true, people want convenience, but they also want something that helps them rock out. 

Don't underestimate the importance of the physical size of a drum kit. The Strike Pro taught me that I really do want my electronic drum set to be the same size as an acoustic. It makes an enormous difference in the way that I play. 

The strike pro also offers drummers a more socially-acceptable way to practice their craft. The Strike Pro is as quiet and as civilized as you want it to be. And even if you get carried away (which is likely), the neighbors need never know.

The Strike Pro, however, doesn’t solve every problem. The lack of modulation for the hi-hat is a cause for concern for some users, and so too. Others have had issues with quality control, which is something that Alesis needs to address. 

Overall, though, this kit is a big step in the right direction. Could we be on the verge of genuinely no-compromise electronic drum sets? Possibly.

Click here to check out the product. 

Things to consider before buying an electronic drum kit

Electronic drum kits solve a host of problems. Not only do they help you avoid irritating the neighbors, they also protect your hearing. What’s more, they integrate seamlessly with audio recording equipment. That’s why you want one. 

Electronic drum kits are also great for people who want to experiment with multiple different sounds. As we discussed above, the Alesis Strike Pro comes with more than 1,600 multi-sampled recordings, with other manufacturers also offering hundreds of their own. 

Here are some of the advantages of buying an electronic: 

  • Reduced noise. Standard drum kits are loud. Very loud. The average drum kit generates sounds of greater than 100 decibels, a level that can damage your hearing and irritate your neighbors. While you can mitigate noise issues with earmuffs and soundproofing, these methods rarely wholly deal with the noise issue. Your neighbors are still liable to complain and your hearing to suffer. Electronic varieties, however, entirely do away with these problems. With an electronic kit, you can adjust the sound to any level you like. You can even pipe sounds through to your headphones, allowing you to drum in silence effectively. 
  • Practice anywhere. Traveling with a regular drum kit is nearly impossible, thanks to the fact that you can’t fold up base drums and put them away neatly in a bag. With electronic kits, however, it’s different. Because they are mostly just sensors, they don’t have to be large. What’s more, many manufacturers supply handy travel cases, making drums easy to transport.
  • Install in small spaces. A professional acoustic drum kit takes up a large amount of space, making it unsuitable for many small, modern homes. Manufacturers, however, design electronic sets to be both portable and occupy a small footprint – much smaller than their traditional counterparts. 
  • It helps with recording. Electronic drum sets help with recording. They make it much easier for you to hook your drum kit up to a recording device, record the sounds produced, and then edit after. The same is not true of a regular drum kit. 
  • Built-in tools. Finally, electronic drum sets come with built-in tools, like metronomes, that help you improve your skills. 

Your Electronic Drum Set Is Only As Good As The Paired Audio Source

Let’s say for the sake of argument that you’ve bought a premium electronic drum kit (and spent a lot of money for the privilege). You get home, hook it up to your speakers, only to find that the sound that it creates is disappointing. 

Remember, though, the electronic drum kit itself doesn’t make any noise (or at least that’s the intention). Instead, it takes your drumming input, turns it into a digital signal, and then sends it to a speaker to produce the sound. 

The quality of the speaker, therefore, is what matters. Connecting your high-end electronic drum kit to your laptop audio will produce disappointing results, no matter how much money you spend. Here’s a link to a video that explains this in more detail. 

Condenser Microphone

Audio Technica AT2020 Review

Most of today's microphones are tremendously complex. Many feature switches and pads for filters that you can spend hours fiddling around with, but I just find all this confusion. 

I want a simple device that does the job. 

In this Audio Technica at2020 review, we’re going to investigate one such device: the Audio Technica AT2020. It is an attempt to return to basics, eliminate unnecessary features, and give users a purer experience. 

Has it been successful? 

Presenting the Audio Technica AT2020

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The Audio Technica AT2020 is a condenser microphone, designed to help you make reliable, beautiful, professional recordings for podcasts, YouTube videos and music creation. 

The mic is the little brother of the larger, higher-quality and more feature-packed AT2035. It eschews the large diaphragms of the latter and instead invests in high-quality construction materials. 

While it’s not for people wanting to do highly specialist or sensitive recording, it can still pick up all the subtleties and nuances in human voices, making it perfect for amateurs. Podcasters, YouTubers, and even singers will love this device. 

Pros

  • High dynamic range
  • Durable construction
  • Great for projects and home studios
  • Cardioid polar pattern
  • Highly versatile 

Cons

  • Diaphragm quality not as high as other models in the range
  • No custom shock mounting
  • May struggle at extremely high sound pressures

Features & Benefits

With the growing popularity of podcasts, YouTube channels and live webinars, an increasing number of people need affordable, quality microphones. Finding a device that fits the bill, however, can be a challenge. 

The beautiful thing about the AT2020, in my view, is that it provides all of the features that any amateur could want, but without the hefty price tag. 

Comprehensive Frequency Response And High-Quality Transient Response

Microphones, like the human ear, can only pick up sounds in a particular frequency range. Many, for instance, struggle to amplify sounds with frequencies lower than 1 kHz and higher than about 15 kHz. Thus you some mics are not fit for purpose. 

AT2020’s “low mass diaphragm,” however, can pick up sounds from across the spectrum, whether high-pitched or low and whisper-quiet. What’s more, the degree of amplification you get from different frequencies doesn’t vary much across the range. The added smoothness you get helps you cut down on the need for large amounts of editing after the initial recording. 

Highly Affordable 

Finding an affordable, studio-quality mic is a challenge, even today. Audio Technica, however, has done well to use the lessons it's learned from other products in its range, including the AT2035, to slash manufacturing costs. Many of the parts on the AT2020 come from the AT2035 with only minor modifications. The difference in price emanates from the manufacturing of the diaphragm. The AT2020’s has higher tolerances and a smaller diameter, bringing prices down. 

Audio Technica, therefore, solves a fundamental problem in the world of microphones: how to combine condenser performance, robustness and versatility into something that the majority of people can afford. Put simply; it’s good enough for most users. 

Excellent Dynamic Range

The third benefit of the AT2020 is the excellent dynamic range. 

Cheap microphones have low dynamic range, meaning that they are only capable of recording sounds at “medium” volumes: not too loud and not too quiet. 

The vast majority of microphones, therefore, can accommodate the volume of a normal human voice. However, if your recording features whispers or subtle wildlife sounds, then you’ll need to look for a product that has a high dynamic range.

Here’s where the AT2020 excels. The microphone can record sounds up to 144 dB – louder than shouting at the top of your voice at point-blank range – making it great for a wide variety of applications, including recording live music. (I particularly like this feature because it means that I don’t have to buy sound mitigating technology for my instruments. I can just play them raw, and the mic will still pick up all the detail in the music).

Can Be Suspended

Remember how I said that the AT2020 was a “versatile” microphone? Well, here's the reason: you can suspend the AT2020 using Audio Technica’s AT8458 attachment. All you do is fit the attachment to your ceiling or wall, and you’re ready to go. The AT2020 microphone slots into place and with a quick twist of the tightening appliance, it’s ready to go. 

I can imagine this being an excellent addition for people who want home recording studios for singing or recording narrations. Standing helps to enhance the voice compared to regular sitting. 

Low Operating Noise

Microphones, believe it or not, can create sound by mere virtue of their existence. Air rustling around the receiver or electrical current passing through wires can stimulate the diaphragm, creating a false sound signal.  

Audio Technica, however, users a range of isolating technologies on the AT2020 that help to cut down on operating noise, providing users with a crisper, clearer sound. The company claims that the AT2020 should be able to drop endogenous noise levels to as low as 20 dB, right on the threshold of human hearing. 

The low operating noise means that you can pair the AT2020 with the most advanced sound recording equipment in the world, and it won’t be the weak link. 

Robust Construction

While robust construction is something that manufacturers focus on across the condenser mic industry, the AT2020 is no exception. The microphone is of exceptional quality, using many of the same chassis parts as its much more expensive bigger brother, the AT2035. The manufacturing complies with the strict standards that Audio Technica sets for products across the board and means that this is a microphone that will last you for many years to come. 

Cardioid Polar Pattern

Like many microphones in its class, the AT2020 uses a cardioid polar pattern to help improve recording quality. The mode reduces the sensitivity of the receiver to incoming sounds from the side and the rear and helps to focus only on those coming from the front in the direction of the user. 

I particularly like this feature in situations where you are trying to interview somebody in front of you, but there are people to both the left and the right. The microphone blots out the sounds coming from these people, while emphasising that coming from your subject. 

Screw Fixture For Accurate Mounting

One of the most important aspects of any microphone is the quality of the mounting hardware. Users need to be able to adjust their microphones to any height and angle to ensure optimal operation. 

I’m happy to say that you won’t experience any issues adjusting the AT2020. It comes with the AT8466 attachment that lets you attach the microphone to a conventional stand or a tripod. 

Social Proof

So what do regular users think about the Audio Technica AT2020 condenser microphone? After all, it’s their opinion that matters, not that of some random reviewer.  

It turns out that most people received the product favourably. Here are some reviews from around the web that I found on Google. 

Review #1:

Review #2:

Review #3:

As you can see, the reviewers found the AT2020 just as usable and as high-quality as I did. For the price, it is never going to be the best on the market, but it does surprisingly well, making it a smart choice for all but the most professional of users. 

Alternatives

The AT2020 isn't the only product out there, of course, vying for customers looking for an entry-level condenser microphone: there are many other products in the running. 

MXL 770

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MXL’s 770 microphone occupies almost the same price point as the AT2020 and, like the offering from Audio Technica, comes with a small-diaphragm microphone. The big difference between the 770 and the AT2020 is that the 770 uses a high-quality FET preamp which MXL says provides superior support in the high-frequency range. 

  • Comes with pad and roll-off switches
  • Shock mount and case included
  • Pre-attenuation switch 
  • Equivalent noise of 20 dB
  • 6-micro, gold-sputtered diaphragm

Behringer B-1 Single Diaphragm Condenser Microphone

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Behringer B-1, like the AT2020, uses a range of high-quality components to make it more durable, as you might expect from a German manufacturer. However, it differs in one important way: it’s wireless. 

The fact that it is wireless makes the B-1 great for those who want to record on the move. It’s also ideal for recording sounds on the street. 

Here’s how it compares to the AT2020: 

  • Wireless features let you record wherever you are
  • Aluminium transport case included
  • Ultra-low base noise – just 20 dB claimed

Thronmax MDRILL One

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Thronmax’s MDRILL One uses an exclusive technology called Vertigain that provides up to 10 per cent more clarity and accuracy than similar USB microphones. The company markets it as perfect for gamers, business professionals, YouTubers, podcasters and many more. 

Here’s how it differs from the AT2020: 

  • 7-colour mood lighting ring
  • Vertigain technology
  • USB plug and play
  • Synchronise your microphone LEDs with other PC peripherals, like your mouse

Conclusion: How Did The Audio Technica AT2020 Stack Up?

So what conclusions can we draw from this review? 

First, we can safely say that Audio Technica has done what it set out to do: create a reliable condenser microphone capable of studio-like quality, all at an affordable price point. It does away with unnecessary features and gives users a pure experience.

We can also say that the microphone provides a tolerably high sound quality – way above what I thought was possible at that price point. 

All in all, therefore, this is a great microphone, especially for people who would prefer to avoid paying for gimmicks. For those who need something genuinely studio-quality, however, the AT2035 is the better choice. 

Click here to check out the product for yourself.

Things to consider before buying a condenser microphone

Are you considering buying a condenser microphone? If so, there are several things that you need to consider.

Ask Yourself If You’re The Type Of Person Who Could Benefit From A Condenser Microphone

Compared to regular microphones you might use for gaming or Skype, condenser microphones are expensive, even those at the low end of the market. As we’ve seen, the reason for this has to do with their high construction quality, the delicate membrane that picks up sound, and the recording features that they offer. 

Condenser microphones are for people who want to do semi-professional recording: podcasters, YouTubers, and business professionals conducting webinars. They are not suitable for amateurs or people who want to use Skype to talk to their family overseas once per month. 

Avoid Studio Mics With A High Noise Floor

Quality studio and condenser mic manufacturers will usually state that their devices have a low noise floor. 

But what is the noise floor? And why is it so controversial? 

The noise floor is the level of noise that the microphone generates by itself. While you might imagine that microphones would be silent, electricity coursing through them can lead to the production of noise, even if nothing else in the environment is making a sound. 

Noise floors, however, are tricky to measure. Feedback can originate from many sources besides the mic, including the electrical grounding in your studio. 

What’s more, many manufacturers do not report the noise floor, preferring instead to focus on other features of the microphone, such as the signal-to-noise ratio or the frequency response. These realities complicate the matter considerably. 

Don’t Buy A Mic With A Power Pack If You Want To Be Mobile

Suppose you’re a podcaster who likes travelling around, interviewing people outdoors. The chances are that you’re not going to have access to mains power. Most of the time, you’ll rely on a USB connection to your laptop computer. 

A lot of high-end, studio-specific mics, however, come with hefty power packs – things that you have to plug into a mains socket if you want the device to work. 

For this reason, you can often get better value going for a cheaper, portable microphone. Hooking up a mic to a power supply every time that you want to use it can be a pain in the neck. 

Analog Synthesizer

Behringer Neutron Review (Should You Buy?)

Creating great music is impossible without the right music creation equipment, regardless of how good your post-production setup might seem.

If you’ve been guilty of investing money in the wrong items, a high-quality synthesizer should be top of the agenda. Otherwise, you’ll continue to all into the same pitfalls. This honest Behringer Neutron review will show you why it’s one of the best options on the market.

Presenting The Behringer Neutron Paraphonic Analogue And Semi-Modular Synthesizer

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The Behringer Neutron paraphonic analogue and semi-modular synthesizer is the second analogue synthesizer offering from the German manufacturer, succeeding the Deepmind 12 to emulate the classic CEM3340 system found in synthesizers that dominated the music scene throughout the 1970s and 1980s. By combining the best features of the traditional synthesizer with a few modern twists, the Neutron is widely considered one of the best semi-modular solutions at an affordable price point.

Behringer is one of the world’s biggest audio equipment manufacturers, producing mixers, keyboards, drum kits, bass amplifiers, speaker systems, and more. Despite being a latecomer to the analogue synthesizer arena, the reputation of the brand has enabled them to find their way to the top table in no time. While the Deepmind 12 was good, the features of the Neutron take their game to a whole new level.

The Neutron is promoted as a fun and flexible synthesizer that can be used by professionals, aspiring musicians, and casual players alike. It’s immediate popularity highlights the revival of the synth while, unlike some of the brand’s products, the Behringer model has its unique appearance and function. 

Its many knobs and dials may be daunting at first, but casual users can still create great beats and tracks. Conversely, the plethora of mix settings and features allow for a professional performance that works in the home studio or at gigs. 

Pros

  • Modernizes the classic CEM3340 systems
  • Great versatility for causal and professional music producers
  • Tone Mod enables you to add harmonically interesting sonics

Cons

  • No patch cables are included
  • Audible bleed from delays
  • No linear FM

Features & Benefits

The Behringer Neutron has quickly become one of the most popular affordable semi-modular analogue synthesizers on the market. However, after having my fingers burnt by following the herd on several occasions, I believe that checking the features of any music creation device is vital.

It’s evident that the Neutron has a lot of great features, including but not limited to the following:

Attractive Design

Appearances aren’t as important as functional elements. Nonetheless, you cannot ignore the fact that you’ll form opinions on the synthesizer before you’ve even turned it on. When dropping your favorite mixes, there’s no question that looking the part makes you feel the part too.

The Neutron’s iconic red faceplate and black detailing is instantly recognizable by those in the know. It’s a great feature that fills me with confidence when producing music in front of friends or strangers. Meanwhile, all dials are laid out in a very pleasing fashion. Despite the use of 36 knobs and various buttons, the unit is surprisingly compact without causing you to accidentally knock other switches.

Whether you wish to admit it or not, the look of your synthesizer unit will seriously influence your enjoyment – even if it doesn’t influence the output or performance.

Two Oscillators

While the Neutron is a unique product, Behringer couldn’t design a product without borrowing some ideas from others. The two oscillator chips are included with the Curtis 3340 reissues firmly in mind. This is a great feature as it truly gives you that connection with synths of the golden era.

The triangle-based ICs provide hard sync, soft sync and pwm, linear and exponential frequency control as well as saw and triangle outputs. The 10-octave range from -5 to +5, along with the 32’/16’/8′ settings and the easy blend between the two oscillators put you in great control. While you must blend between the three waveforms, the modulate features allow for the full potential of the two oscillator chips to be utilized in style. 

It takes some getting used to, especially if you wish to use the Tone Mod feature, but the rewards for doing so are spectacular. 

Paraphonic Mode

In addition to boasting two oscillators that replicate the glory of the 3340, the Neutron allows users to control the two OSCs independently. This is a model-defining feature that separates it from virtually all other analogue synthesizers available at this price point. It is the feature that opens the door to a world of new creative opportunities.

The ability to use a monodic architecture, in which one note is played at a time, to emulate the performance of a polyphonic system gives the Behringer model the feel of a far more expensive model. Once you are familiar with playing a second note or voice without triggering a new envelope, it is possible to push creativity to a whole new level. 

When supported by the quality of sound and the control provided by 36 nobs and 7 buttons, this is a truly versatile unit that can be used by everyone from novice to professional.

Auxiliaries

The audio paths are a central focus that grab the initial attention. The auxiliaries are equally crucial to making the modular work, though, and is another area where the Behringer Neutron has a lot to offer. For starters, the sheer volume of auxiliaries on offer enable you to rewire the synth when it’s in its unpatched configuration.

Auxiliary components include two attenuators 9including one that has a CV), two 2-in-1 summers, a patchable slew rate limiter and a hardwired Portamento limited, a sample-and-hold circuit, and a 1-to-2 passive multiple. This complements the ADSR, VCA, and filter envelopes as well as the digital five-waveform LFO that make up the synthesizer modulator components. The ability to configure things to your personal tastes makes this unit special.

The only thing missing is the option of normalling the input to a DC voltage.

Round Warm Sound

If you’ve ever used lower-end equipment in the past, you may have been left with a bland sound that suffers from a noticeable lack of body. This isn’t an issue with the Neutron as the sound is naturally rounded and warm. This is hugely beneficial for new users, allowing for a great sound even before mastering the intricacies of the model.

The triangle-core VCOs, filter, and overdrive all work together to prevent the bottom end thinning out. The heavy bass sounds aren’t the only ones to benefit from this rounded sound. Percussion instrument sounds are equally supported by the rounded warm sounds. Creating lifeless tracks can become a thing of the past, which is a huge help to any user. I love that even laying a simple beat for fun can boast professional production values.

It is still possible to get an acid-style scream or a flat sound if you want to, but it takes a conscious effort. Given that most people rarely need this, it is a winning attribute.

Value

There’s no escaping the need to seek value for money, which is why weighing up the aesthetic and functional features of any synthesizer, analogue or digital, against the cost of the unit is essential. While some users may prefer a basic option or an advanced unit that costs a lot more, the Neutron is the best of its kind.

It is significantly cheaper than many of the alternatives that can match its performance levels. Conversely, it’s minor price increase compared to budget options unlocks a host of extra features. Ultimately, it is a premium quality product at a middle of the line price range. When added to the reliability of the German manufacturer, most would agree that this is the best choice for anyone looking to buy a synth at this price bracket.

Any music production purchase feels better when you have grabbed a bargain. For this reason and the others mentioned above, the Neutron is an ideal choice.

Social Proof

Within minutes of using the Neutron, I knew that this was the best semi-modular analogue synthesizer available at an affordable price. Still, I wanted to discover what others have to say about the product, particularly to see if there is a difference of opinion between casual and professional users.

The overwhelming response of synth users of all experience levels and backgrounds seems very positive. From the quality of sound to the versatility and control, various functional features have been pinpointed by fans. Here are just some of the reviews:

The Alternatives

Behringer’s first semi-modular analogue synth was released just 18 months before the Neutron, and has a lot of likeable features including the use of two OSCs and the 8-channel modulation matrix.

However, contrary to what your natural instincts might say, it’s not a cheaper model. Crucially, the period between the two releases allowed the German manufacturer to fine tune several features, which is why the Neutron will be a preference for most.

The Chugan Gakken SX-150 Mk II analogue synthesizer is an option that may be embraced by casual users as it rolls several key functions into one compact device. The mini yet mighty synthesizer allows you to control everything with just seven knobs and a couple of buttons.

It’s a very affordable option that’s particularly suited to novices that are trying to decipher whether a synth is right for their setup. Still, it should be noted that anyone who later wants to unlock the full potential of a synth will subsequently need to upgrade.

Moog’s DFAM semi-modular percussion synth is relatively similar in appearance (excluding the color) while it is capable of producing professional results for serious synth users too. However, the unit is double the price and is arguably no more versatile.

The DFAM still boasts several great features including two OSCs with square and triangle waveforms and a 10 octave frequency range. So, those with a clear preference for Moog may still choose this option.

Ultimately, though, most people will find that the Behringer Neutron is the perfect addition to their setup. For value, function, and aesthetics, it is a truly brilliant semi-modular synth.

Behringer Neutron Conclusion

A synthesizer is a piece of equipment that takes your music production to a whole new level, surpassing anything that can be achieved with standard computer software or your basic musical instruments. I’ve regularly fallen victim to throwing ideas away due to not being able to turn them into the finished article. The Neutron makes this a far less likely outcome.

The Behringer Neutron opens the door to new creative possibilities, especially as the paraphonic OSCs essentially turn it into a premium piece of equipment. Whether creating loops, laying down beats, or transitioning between two sounds, this piece of equipment does it all while also satisfying your need for a stunning sound and equally beautiful aesthetic.

To check out the Behringer Neutron synthesizer in further detail, click here for full information on the ultra-compact speakers.

Things To Consider Before Buying An Analogue Synthesizer

Until you use a synthesizer, your musical creations are likely to remain limited. Meanwhile, opting for an inadequate unit can lead to lifeless beats with poor production values. A high-quality semi-modular synthesizer allows you to create the distinct sounds that you desire.

While opting for an analogue synthesizer that brings an authentic sound that taps into the atmosphere o the glory years is a fantastic option, it’s not for everyone. Depending on your style of music, and age, it may be better to use a digital synthesizer or a drum loop kit. However, if you’re set on an analogue synthesizer to take your creations to the next level, you must consider the following;

  • The price of the unit,
  • Whether it can be configured to your setup,
  • Compatibility with other music production equipment,
  • Aesthetic beauty,
  • OSC performance,
  • Ease of use,
  • Its ability to meet your evolving talent and requirements.

For the right type of creator, the Behringer Neutron paraphonic analogue and semi-modular synthesizer is perfectly positioned to satisfy immediate and long-term needs.

studio headphones

Production On A Budget: 5 Of The Best Studio Headphones For Under 100

Producing music with low-quality headphones is like trying to perform in a brass band with a plastic trumpet; it isn’t the right tool for the job.

Picking up both the rich, sonorous bass and the acute treble within your tracks can only be achieved with a sensitive piece of equipment. This is crucial when you’re mixing, mastering, and producing music, or you simply wouldn’t be able to tell what your songs sound like.

There is a vast range of different headphone options available on the modern market. Some provide a broad soundstage and an accurate reproduction of the audio they’re playing, while others are disappointingly flat.

You don’t need to spend a fortune to get your hands on a set of quality cans. I’ve tested a range of different options, and have found five of the best studio headphones for under 100.

Let’s dive in.

The Headphone Round-Up

#1 Sony MDR-7506 Studio Monitors

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The Sony MDR-7506’s predecessor was first released all the way back in 1985, and this set of headphones was called the MDR-V6. Little has changed about the design over the last 40-odd years, with many of the parts and features of these headphones being shared across the whole line.

While not strictly designed for music studios, the MDR-7506 are one of the single most popular sets of headphones around the world. Companies like the BBC use them for audio monitoring while recording video, while radio DJs will often put don these cans for their sets. Their success is largely thanks to the flat-frequency response they offer, meaning that they don’t alter the sound they playback to increase treble or bass; perfect for those who want their sound to be clean.

Key Features of the Sony MDR-7506:
  • Comfortable, lightweight design with faux-leather ear cushions, at 230 grams without the cord.
  • 10 foot coiled cable with metal 3.5mm connector (supplied with screw-on ¼” adapter).
  • Repairable with replacements parts and built using standard screws, instead of glue or security bolts.
  • 133 dB sound pressure level rated – that’s loud enough to cause permanent damage to your ears, so maybe don’t turn them all the way up.
  • A 63 Ω at 1 kHz impedance means that they can be driven by phones, computers, and other devices without the need for an amplifier.
  • Over-ear closed-back design for sound reduction and comfort.
  • Comes supplied with a soft carrying pouch which the headphones can be folded into.
  • Excellent sound quality across the whole frequency range.

(Source)

#2 Audio-Technica ATH-M40x Studio Headphones

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Audio-Technica has become somewhat of a household name over the years, even amongst those who don’t know much about professional audio. The ATH-M40x is part of their studio line-up, but you shouldn’t be tricked by their low price-tag; these headphones can perform.

Unlike the Sony’s, these headphones aren’t flat frequency. Bass heads out there will be satisfied, with their 40mm drivers being punchy enough to provide rich bass tones. Unlike other headphones in this price category, though, the ATH-M40x’s don’t suffer on the high end, and will produce clear and distortion-free treble at all volume ranges. If you’re used to listening to music on regular commercial headphones, this pair may sound a little flat, though this can easily be tweaked with an equalizer.

Key Features of the Audio-Technica ATH-M40x:
  • Lightweight and sturdy design, coming it at 240 grams without the cable, and including faux-leather ear cushions.
  • Comes with two detachable cables – a 4 to 10 foot coiled cable, and a 10 foot straight cable, both with a 3.5mm connector and a ¼” adapter included.
  • A 35 Ω at 1 kHz impedance makes it possible to drive these cans with phones and computers, though the best results will be found with an amplifier.
  • Built with an over-ear closed-back design, these headphones will be comfortable during use and won’t leak much sound.
  • Supplied with a nice carry pouch.
  • Good sound quality at all frequency ranges, though better with mids and highs than bass tones.

(Source)

#3 Sennheiser HD280 Pro Studio Headphones

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Much like Audio-Technica, Sennheiser has exploded in popularity over the last few years. Both on the street and in the studio, plenty of people will have heard about the Sennheiser HD280 Pro headphones. These cans have proven themselves in a range of different listening environments, and are one of our favorites for everyday listening and music production.

These studio monitors produce a flat-frequency response, making them perfect for work in a studio. The bass and mid response is clean, while the highs are clear and don’t have the same harshness as other studio monitors. Even without active noise cancellation, these headphones do a remarkable job of cutting out sound from the outside, and I’ve gotten in trouble on more than one occasion when people have thought I’m not listening to them while wearing these cans.

Key Features of the Sennheiser HD280 Pro:
  • Sturdy and strong design with a satisfyingly hefty weight, coming in at 285 grams without the cable.
  • Comes with a 10 foot coiled cable with a 3.5mm connector and a ¼” adaptor to use the headphones with studio equipment.
  • A 64 Ω at 1 kHz impedance makes using these headphones with any device a pleasure, even if they are low powered.
  • 113 dB sound pressure level rated – that’s right at the level which will begin to cause damage to your ears.
  • Built with an over-ear, closed-back design, while also gripping hard enough to cancel out most sound.
  • Excellent performance at all frequency levels, though flatter than a lot of headphones designed for normal listening.

(Source One / Source Two)

#4 AKG K240 Studio Monitors

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AKG have made a name for themselves over the last few years, being one of the few headphone manufacturers on the market to throw their time into making their headphones more affordable. This means that you tend to get great value for money with AKGs, and I’ve enjoyed a lot of music with their headphones in the past.

The AKG K240s stand out on list thanks to their unique design. Incorporating gold accents, circular patterns, and large, protruding headband supports, these headphones look quite odd compared to many others. Their looks aren’t just for show, though; their strange headband makes them incredibly comfortable, and perfect for long sessions in the studio. Like the MDR-7506s, these headphones have been on the market for several decades.

Key Features of the AKG K240:
  • A lightweight and extremely comfortable design, coming in at 240 grams, but often feeling lighter than Sony’s MDR-7506s.
  • Comes with a detachable cable at 10 feet, with a 3.5mm connector on one end, and a proprietary connector on the other. Like the other headphones, they come with a handy ¼” adaptor.
  • A 55 Ω at 1 kHz impedance will make it nice and easy to drive these headphones, no matter the device you’re using.
  • Only rated at 104 dB sound pressure level, these cans are quieter than a lot of their competitors, though you probably won’t notice this.
  • Built with an on-ear, semi-open backed design. Unfortunately, this limits their isolation qualities, and they’re likely to leak a lot of sound.
  • Good frequency response, though the bass lacks a lot of the punch some listeners will want. This shouldn’t be a problem in the studio, though.

(Source One / Source Two)

#5 Shure SRH440 Studio Headphones

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Shure are best known for making high-quality microphones, and have been doing so for more than a century. This insight into the world of audio recording puts them in an excellent position to produce budget studio monitors which will perform in all environments.

The Shure SRH440s present an affordable option for anyone looking to get into music production. Their sonic signature is fairly similar to Sony’s MDR-7506, and though some people argue that it’s better, I’m not sure I can hear a huge difference. They’re great across the range, though listeners who like their bass may be a little disappointed, as these are flat frequency cans, afterall.

Key Features of the Shure SRH440:
  • These headphones are the heaviest on the list, coming in at 311 grams. This is more than made up for with build-quality, though.
  • Comes with a detachable 10 foot cable with a 3.5mm connector and ¼” adaptor to be used with studio devices.
  • A 44 Ω at 1 kHz impedance makes them perfect for using with normal devices, though they will benefit greatly from the addition of an amplifier.
  • Rated at 104 dB sound pressure level, these headphones will be plenty loud enough, without damaging your ears in short sessions at high volume.
  • Built with an over-ear, closed-back design, these headphones will isolate sound, while also staying comfortable.
  • An excellent frequency response across all ranges, but may need a little help with bass if you listen to a lot of electronic or dance music.

(Source)

Which Studio Headphones Under 100 Come Out On Top?

Picking the best budget studio headphones out of this group is very hard for me. Ever since buying my first pair of Sony MDR-7506’s more than 10 years ago, I’ve been in love. And it isn’t easy to turn your back on something you’ve used for so long.

Having spent so long on the market unchanged, though, I feel like the Sony’s have become their own worst enemy in recent times. Other headphones offer the same or better features, sound quality, and build quality, while also coming in at a lower price. So, with Sony’s out of the way, let’s take a look at the other headphones.

The Audio-Technica ATH-M40x offers a beautiful sonic signature, though people who are interested in producing bass-heavy music may dislike the sometimes-flat sound which these can produce.

The Sennheiser HD280 Pros have become legends in this market, but it’s never worth picking a product like this based on popularity. In my opinion, these headphones offer the best isolation out of any of the headphones on this list, but this simply isn’t enough when you consider that they’re also one of the most expensive pairs.

The AKG K240s are also very popular. Thanks to their semi-open design, they’re able to produce a wide-soundstage, making it feel like you’re listening to speakers rather than headphones. Of course, though, this also means that they leak a lot of sound, and this can be a dealbreaker for a serious producer.

I didn’t expect myself to be so impressed with the Shure SRH440s. In fact, these headphones were first added to this list as the most affordable professional-grade studio monitors I could find. They have truly exceeded expectations, though. They beat the Sony MDR-7506 and Audio-Technica ATH-M40x, and I’d even go as far as saying that they’re better than the next pair up from Audio-Technica; the ATH-M50x. Their sound isn’t quite as rich as the AKG K240s or Sennheiser HD280 Pros, but this shouldn’t matter when you consider their low price.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in specifications and numbers when reviewing headphones. In reality, all of these cans offer pretty much the same thing; studio-quality monitoring at an affordable price. This makes it vital that the truly crucial factors are considered, and I simply enjoy listening to and producing music on the Shure SRH440s too much to place it any lower than first-place in this comparison.

The best studio headphones for under 100? Hands down the Shure SRH440s.

How To Choose Budget Studio Headphones

The market for budget studio headphones has been growing at a rapid rate over the last few years. More and more people have access to software like Fruity Loops, Logic Pro, and Ableton Studio, creating a need for low-price audio accessories at the same time.

Of course, though, this list doesn’t cover every option you’ll find on the market, and this may not be enough for everyone. You need to be able to figure out how to compare these products for yourself, and that’s what the next part of this article is all about.

There are a lot of factors to consider, but you also have to be careful not to take some of the things these companies take serious. Remember; product information is written by marketing experts, not music lovers or audiophiles.

Jargon Busting: What Does It All Mean?

One of the biggest challenges you’ll find when you’re looking for the best studio headphones under 100 will be understanding the specifications which come with them. It can be a nightmare.

You can find a handy cheat-sheet below which will teach you what each of the phrases you will see means, along with how much they will influence your experience with a pair of headphones. Some things sound like a big deal when they’re not, while incredibly crucial specifications will often be ignored because they sound boring.

Driver Size: 

The driver is the small speaker which sits inside your headphones. Most studio monitors have one for each ear, though different types of headphones often have more.

Each pair of headphones on this list has 40mm drivers, though this particular spec means a lot less to consumers than it does to the engineers making the headphones. The size of the drivers will dictate how much power the headphones need, along with the tuning work which is done in the factory to ensure that they sound good. You can usually ignore this factor when shopping for headphones.

Impedance:

Impedance measures the electrical resistance inside the headphones you’re using. Higher resistance headphones, like the ones on this list, will need less power to operate at their peak volume than those with low impedance.

Some people argue that impedance is an important factor when determining audio quality, though I’ve found that the quality of the tuning and engineering is far more crucial during my time using different headphones. It’s worth being careful, though, as headphones with very low impedance will need an amplifier to be used, and will sound very bad with devices like phones.

Frequency Range:

Frequency range is a measure of the different pitches a pair of headphones can play music at. Thankfully, you can usually ignore this specification, as most headphones will have a broader frequency range than most humans can hear, meaning that they will be able to produce sounds which your ears simply can’t register.

Sensitivity:

Sensitivity is measured in decibels, and is the maximum volume level which a pair of headphones can reach. Like frequency range, this can usually be largely ignored, as the peak volume of most studio monitors will be enough to cause pain and damage to your ears. Unlike speakers, having headphones be able to perform at extremely high volumes isn’t really a feature which many people are looking for.

If you’d like to learn more about the headphone specifications you see around the web, take a look at this video.

Scouring The Specs: What Is Important?

So, you understand the specifications which come with your studio monitors, but how exactly does this apply to the experience you’ll have with them? In a lot of cases, the information above will be fairly irrelevant to the quality and performance of a pair of headphones. Instead, the work which is done in the factory is far more important.

When a pair of headphones is being designed and tested, companies like AKG and Sennheiser will use pre-existing models to build the sonic signature they’re looking for. This is a creative process, and not everyone will agree on what makes for the very best pair of studio headphones.

Some people will want a pair which produces a flat-frequency response, while others will be more interested in the isolation a pair provides. This means that you really have to try a set of studio headphones before you can decide whether or not you like them.

The First Listen: How To Test Studio Headphones

The headphones you choose are going to have a huge influence on the music you produce in the coming years. You need to pick the right pair, and the single best way to approach this is by sitting down and using the options you have.

You need to do this with music which you’re very familiar with, as this will ensure that you have some expectations when you first start to listen. You shouldn’t limit this to a single track, though, as different sets of headphones will produce a variety of results depending on the qualities found in the music you’re listening to. Ideally, you should spend at least an hour using each of the headphones you have on the table.

Along with this, it’s also worth testing your headphones in the environment which they will be used in. If you produce music in a busy house, you’ll need something which can block out enough sound to keep you from being distracted. You won’t be able to determine whether or not a pair has the right isolation without trying them, though. It doesn’t stop here.

It’s also worth thinking about the level of comfort a set of headphones offers before you buy them. Wearing them for a minute or two isn’t enough for this; some headphones can become very uncomfortable over time.

Who Should You Trust?

There are countless reviews around the web surrounding studio headphones. Most manufacturers will also market these products to make them look like the best of the bunch, and this makes it hard to know who you can trust when you’re buying headphones.

The answer is simple; only yourself.

Picking a pair of headphones is a subjective process, and while a lot of people claim to have the right pair for you, this is something you have to decide for yourself.

For example, I really like the Shure SRH440s. I could use these headphones all day, every day, and I doubt I’d get bored of them. Could this be the result of using the Sony MDR-7506s for so long, though? The SRH440s represent a value-oriented upgrade to a pair of headphones I already really like, and this means that I’m always going to be biased. And this isn’t something you can escape, as everyone has their own preferences.

You can still listen to people’s recommendations, but it’s also worth trying the headphones for yourself. Sound is subjective, afterall; if someone could pick the perfect headphones, they’d also be able to pick the perfect genre. And we all know that this simply doesn’t exist.

Speakers

Mackie CR3 Review – Is It Worth Buying?

Even your sickest beats will struggle to create the desired impact if you don’t boast the right speakers.

Back in the day, I used to waste good money on other accessories, but the value of a high-quality speaker system cannot be emphasized enough. My Mackie CR3 review will tell you why the little speakers pack a mighty punch!

Presenting The Mackie CR3 Speakers

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The Mackie CR3 multimedia monitors are the more compact alternative to the CR4 and CR5 sound systems. The manufacturer promises to deliver studio-quality design supported by professional sound output optimized for sonic performance.

Mackie’s reputation for taking portability to the next level is evident across the CR range but the CR3s offer an ultra-compact design, packing a powerful output into 3” monitor speakers. Moreover, all purchases made after September 2019 are supported by the addition of free Avid software, unlocking even greater potential.

The CR3 monitor speakers are suitable for music producers, PC gamers, and virtually any form of home entertainment while their portability allows users to take the great sound with them – putting an end to the days of settling for the sound produced by smartphone headphones or cheaply manufactured PC speakers.

Pros

  • Excellent price for a powerful sound
  • Great versatility supported by portability
  • Front-facing headphone jack is convenient

Cons

  • No Bluetooth option (like the CR4 and CR5)
  • No attenuation controls
  • The top end can get swallowed by the bass extension

Features & Benefits

The Mackie brand is highly regarded as one of the best producers of compact speakers with professional sounds, and the CR3s are arguably the gem in their crown. The popularity can be attributed to a host of features and benefits, including but not limited to:

Compact Design

Appearances alone cannot compensate for poor sound, but the ultra-compact design is a major feature. The lightweight speakers are extremely useful for laptop users that may wish to create music in different parts of the home, at college, or with friends.

For practicality and convenience, the CR3 speakers are perfect.

Sound Power

The combination of a 3” woofer and 0.75” tweeter might seem like a recipe for low sound quality, but the Mackie CR3 system is surprisingly powerful. The powered side can be switched between left and right with ease too, which I love as a way to confirm my sound creations sound just right.

Volume control and the ability to use headphones offer great flexibility too.

Sound Accuracy

Mackie’s CR3 speakers are equipped with foam isolation pads and angled wedges for listening accuracy. While it might not be a feature needed by every user, and music producer will find the clarity to be a great addition. Directing the sound correctly makes the review and playback a lot easier.

Besides, you cannot afford to create music that sounds OK on your speakers but poor elsewhere.

Good Base

While the bass can be a little iffy at the very top end, the general quality of the base is still at a very good standard. The thumpy bass is pretty heavy, which is ideal for heavier beats and testing ideas in the music creation process. The aforementioned pads help prevent shaking on your desk.

A big subwoofer might not suffer the distortion that the 3” woofers do, but the CR3s are still good.

Excellent Compatibility

Despite lacking Bluetooth connectivity, the Mackie CR3 is a particularly versatile option that can be used with older systems that do not boast Bluetooth. Moreover, the speakers come with the cables needed for PCs and Macs, which is great when you produce music across multiple devices.

Why buy two sets of speakers when one will suffice?

Excellent Frequency Range

The responsive frequency range covers 80Hz to 20KHz, which supports the 50W power output to produce a solution that’s ideal for all multimedia playback. This is a positive feature as, if you’re like me, you will flick back and forth to YouTube tutorials or take breaks to consume other media.

If your music creation hardware is used for other tasks, the frequency range will be very handy.

Sleek Design

The black and green aesthetic detailing is ideal for music production as well as gamers. I find that the look instantly puts me in the mood to create great beats and actually makes home studio environment feel professional. This is something every creative can aspire to achieve.

Appearances aren’t everything, but they count for a lot and should not be underestimated.

Flat Sound Playback

Whether editing a track or a video, removing hums and hisses is vital for producing the best end result. The flat sounds through the mids and highs allows for easier identification of those issues. It has saved me hours while also removing self-doubts. This ensures that it is a key feature.

Anyone that’s serious about perfecting their work will appreciate the possibilities.

Low Interference

Interference can be very problematic for creatives, especially when you’re unsure as to whether it’s the speakers at fault. The balanced TRS connection keeps this problem to a minimum. I find this results in fewer distractions and more time spent on actually producing music and editing tracks.

This is a major issue with inferior products, as I know from firsthand experience.

Excellent Value

It’s hard to consider any purchase without considering the value. While you need a professional-sounding audio output, paying silly money for the benefit is not ideal. Not when you consider the costs of your other equipment, instruments, and software.

At this price point, it’s hard to find another solution that matches the performance or style.

Social Proof

Despite being personally impressed by the power of the ultra-compact speakers, I wanted to check that I’d not been conned by my love of the black and green appearance – did I mention how much I love that…

Most of the reviews I’ve read area positive, pointing out several of the key features and the exceptional performance for a product in this price range. Here are what others have to say:

The Alternatives

  1. Mackie CR4 or CR5
  2. Logitech 3.5mm PC Speakers
  3. Cyber Acoustics 2.1 Stereo Speaker System

Both the 4-inch and 5-inch models in the Mackie range offer Bluetooth connections, and a slightly louder sound. If, like me, you find that plugging in the wire is less hassle than reconnecting Bluetooth links on new devices, the CR3s are a better (and cheaper) option. Similarly, the minimal increase in power output is unlikely to justify the increase in price.

Logitech is a brand synonymous with PC speakers, and their compact PC Z130s are the best-known option. On the plus side, they are a budget-friendly option that do the job when watching Netflix or playing games on Facebook. Sadly, the sound is nowhere near the standard required for music production, either professionally or as an aspiring enthusiast.

The Cyber Acoustics system can be used for music production, gaming, and home entertainment. However, the 6.5” subwoofer makes the three-piece set far less portable. Having read a lot of reviews, it seems that they are prone to popping and cracking. Paying for a product that may need replacing after just one year is a false economy.

It is a largely a matter of personal preferences and finding a solution that suits your needs. Nonetheless, the CR3s are the best option for most users.

Mackie CR3 Conclusion

Any speakers included as standard with your laptop or desktop computer are unlikely to satisfy your music production (or home entertainment needs). I’ve been there, and can only confirm that a new sound system is essential.

The Mackie CR3 speakers are an ideal fit for several reasons. Their sleek design looks great with any modern setup without sacrificing durability. Meanwhile, their compact size is particularly great when you use a laptop or may wish to use the speakers in several locations. Crucially, their sound output is powerful, reliable, and suited to a range of activities.

To check the Mackie CR3s out in further detail, click here for full information on the ultra-compact speakers.

Things To Consider Before Buying Home Or Studio Speakers

The limitations endured by persisting with inadequate speakers are clear for all music producers, creatives, and gamers alike. Even when the other facilities are good, poor audio will significantly reduce your enjoyment levels and potentially stop you from making the adjustments needed to take your beats to a professional standard.

External speakers with studio-quality allow you to turn the performance of your home setup and laptop all the way up to 11. However, those wanting to use speakers for their home cinema may want to look at surround sounds instead.

Whether buying the Mackie CR3s or another solution, be sure to consider;

  • The maximum sound level,
  • Whether headphones can be used with them,
  • Their output sound and bass levels,
  • The size, weight, and general portability,
  • Their suitability for your specific tasks,
  • The durability and quality of all materials,
  • Brand reputation and customer care.

The Mackie CR3 speaker system ticks all the boxes, making it the ideal solution for music producers and more.

The Best Turntables Under $500

Buying the equipment that you need to get started with making or producing music is one of the toughest things to do. It can all get pretty expensive as you start to need and buy more. One of the first things that you might need to buy is a turntable. However, this is one piece of equipment that doesn't have to cost too much. There are plenty of options to help you find the best turntable under 500 dollars. A decent turntable is possible to find, and you don't have to compromise on quality. Let's take a look at some of the best options for affordable turntables.

Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable

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Audio-Technica is a leading brand for turntables, especially because many of their products are on the more affordable size. Despite the lower prices, they offer quality products that are great for starting out with. This USB option is a decent entry-level turntable that has a good range of features.

Pros

  • This turntable has a useful selection of features, including a built-in pre-amp, anti-skate adjustment and pitch control to make it a multifunctional turntable that delivers a smooth experience.
  • The USB output makes it easy for you to make your tunes digital – it's handy to have the in-built option for quick and simple output.
  • Powered with a DC servo motor to give it plenty of power, with quick start and quick brake.
  • Ideal for DJs, with some ideal features such as quartz-locking pitch control, stroboscope, target light and anti-skate adjustment – helping you perfect your performance whether you're at home or in the club.
  • Minimize vibration with the professional-grade anti-resonance, die-cast aluminum platter with felt mat.
  • Features a AT-HS6 universal ½”-mount headshell and AT-VM95E Dual Magnet phono cartridge with 0.3 x 0.7 mil elliptical stylus, giving you great quality for the price.

Cons

  • The lack of outright bass control is a little disappointing, making it difficult to have complete control over the deck.
  • The quality of the digital copies is average, so if that's one of the main features you're looking for in a turntable, you might want to consider other options.
  • There's no reverse function, although there was on the previous model – not that big of a deal on an entry-level turntable but some people might miss it.

Stanton STR8.150 MKII Professional Direct Drive DJ Turntable

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This turntable is designed to meet the needs of professional DJs, and it still comes in under $500. It looks good and has some useful features for musicians, including adjustable brake speed and removable target light. Thanks to selectable phono and line RCA outputs, you can be flexible about the audio equipment that you use.

Pros

  • This is a super durable turntable, with the world’s strongest torque motor and heavy-duty steel construction.
  • The powerful motor is super quiet but can still deliver 4.5kg torque to the straight tone arm and dampened platter.
  • The heavier than average weight reduces resonance and feedback for smoother operation and better sound.
  • You get great control with adjustable brake speed, pitch control with quartz lock and three speeds, as well as a reverse function.
  • The tonearm is ideal for DJs and the height is adjustable.
  • Pre-mounted and easy to set up so you can get started quickly.

Cons

  • It's very heavy, weighing more than 40 pounds, which means it's not exactly the most portable option to take to shows or anywhere else.
  • While the tonearm is good for DJs, it's not so good for listening to music at home.
  • The straight tonearm could damage records unless you use a conical/spherical stylus.
  • It doesn't come with a built-in pre-amp, which means you will need to buy one separately – that could put your total spend over your budget.
  • Doesn't come with a hard cover so you will need to buy one separately if you want one to protect the turntable.

Crosley C200 Direct-Drive Turntable with S-Shaped Tonearm

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Crosley turntables are a great choice if you're really on a budget. Their affordable turntables will help you save plenty of money, often available for less than $200. The C200 is a solid choice for DJs and for using at home. It features parts from trusted turntable manufacturer Audio-Technica and it's pretty easy to use too.

Pros

  • A very affordable turntable that has a similar look to Audio-Technica and other brands.
  • Features an Audio-Technica magnetic cartridge for excellent sound quality, plus pitch adjustment and two playback speeds.
  • The needle can always be updated at a later date if you want better performance.
  • Includes a built-in switchable phono pre-amp with detachable RCA output cables to make setup easier.
  • There's an option to buy Bluetooth speakers in a bundle with the turntable, and it still comes in at well under budget.
  • The damped die-cast aluminum platter with felt slip mat improves stability and reduces vibrations.
  • This turntable has a functional design with minimal fuss, which makes it a good choice for a beginner who needs to get to grips with what they're doing.

Cons

  • Only two playback speeds (33 rpm and 45 rpm), whereas some other more expensive models offer three speeds.
  • The phono pre-amp has small amounts of distortion at higher volumes.
  • The RCA cables that come with the turntable aren't very long – although it's possible to replace these if you want to.
  • Some set up is required, but it shouldn't be too difficult if you follow the instructions. Installing the tonearm's counterweight is a little tricky.

Audio-Technica AT-LP60XBT-BK

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For another option from Audio-Technica, this turntable is compact and affordable. It's easy to get started with this entry-level turntable, and it even has built-in Bluetooth to make connecting with modern tech simple. If you're looking for something that balances the traditional tactile feel of using a turntable with wireless connectivity, this is a fantastic option.

Pros

  • This is a small turntable, which is excellent if you want something compact that won't take up too much space and doesn't weigh too much either.
  • It's super easy to set up, with clear instructions to follow so it wasn't difficult to begin using it.
  • The Bluetooth wireless connectivity is a bonus for anyone who wants to make their setup a bit more modern. You can remove the need for a few cables and the Bluetooth connection is stable and strong.
  • You get high quality sound with this turntable, which is great for an entry-level turntable.
  • Full automation means that the tonearm returns to its resting point once the record has stopped playing and when you press the stop button, which can save you some time and effort.
  • Includes a diamond stylus and phono cartridge with dedicated stereo amp for clear and crisp sound.

Cons

  • The small size makes the turntable feel pretty fragile. The buttons don't feel particularly solid, but they are responsive.
  • The cartridge is also a little fragile, with the whole stylus sometimes coming off and fiddly to get it back on.
  • There aren't that many stylus options if you want to replace the stylus, which means it's not so easy to upgrade.

Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC Turntable

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Many audiophiles choose the Pro-Ject Debut Carbon DC turntable as their first turntable, and it's easy to see why. This turntable has a sleek look and it's easy to get started with, plus it's well within budget and offers excellent quality. It might not be your first choice of turntable to take to shows, but it can be a great one to have at home.

Pros

  • The turntable has a beautiful design, which might not matter to some but is definitely a plus point. It's sleeker than some of the more rugged and technical looking turntables geared toward DJs.
  • It has excellent damping to prevent vibrations, which lends it better sound quality.
  • The Ortofon 2M Red phono cartridge and lightweight and rigid carbon fiber tonearm also make it sound great and create a reliable performance.
  • It's easy to set up, with a manual offering clear instructions to show you where to put everything.
  • The carbon fiber tonearm delivers amazing performance and gets the most out of an already excellent cartridge.
  • Modular components are good quality but can also be upgraded whenever you want to make any improvements.
  • DC power supply with ultra precision frequency DC-driven AC generator gives ultimate speed stability.

Cons

  • No phono preamp so you need to buy your own, but a cable is included so that you can connect your preamp right away.
  • Balancing the tonearm and setting anti-skate during setup is a little tricky and the most difficult parts of setup.
  • Possibly not enough bass for people who prefer lots of it.

The Best Turntable Under 500

When you're on a tighter budget, you might feel like you don't have much choice if you're looking for a quality turntable. However, DJs, producers, audiophiles and anyone else can actually find plenty of options for under $500. In fact, many of the best turntables under that price can be found for half as much. The options above give you a range of choices for different budgets and for various needs. Whether you need a turntable that's mostly for your own listening pleasure, something to produce with or something to take to shows, you can discover something suitable.

However, if you want to choose the best option out of the possibilities above, you should pick the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable. This turntable has a little bit of everything, and it doesn't have too many downsides. It's a direct-drive turntable, which makes it suitable for DJing and it has a built-in preamp so you don't need to buy a separate one. Its USB connection means that you can digitize your music with ease, and even though the quality isn't perfect, it's still pretty good. Audio-Technica is a reliable brand, and you won't need to pay too much too get started with one of their turntables. While the others on this list offer good options, the Audio-Technica AT-LP120XUSB Direct-Drive Turntable is the one that will work for a range of needs. However, some of the others could be more suited to your specific requirements. Knowing what you're looking for is important before you choose which turntable you want to buy.

How to Choose the Best Turntable

Buying a turntable for the first time can be pretty daunting. Before tapes and CDs came along, most people would have known how to set up a turntable and start playing a record. However, now it can some like another language if you're not familiar with how turntables work. It looks like you can simply put some vinyl on and get going, but there's actually a lot more to setting up and maintaining a turntable. If you don't know where to start, a few tips on what you should be looking for can help you to untangle the jargon and find the right turntable.

The first thing you should do is decide what the turntable is for. As a producer, musician or DJ, you might be looking for a turntable that is specifically geared toward that purpose. On the other hand, as someone who likes music, your main concern might be sound quality and how suitable the turntable is for listening to music at home. Another thing to consider might be how much you care about looks. Do you want your turntable to look a certain way, or are you more concerned about its performance than what it looks like?

There are some key things to look for in a turntable, and it can start to sound pretty technical. However, one you know what's what, it's not too difficult.

The Key Features to Look for in a Turntable

When you're getting started on your turntable search, the first thing to think about is the system. Some turntables are “all in one” setups, which have all you need in one system. That means they have the turntable, amplifier and speakers all packaged into one product. These are generally cheap and don't have great sound quality, but some people may think they're fine for casual listening at home.

If you don't have an all-in-one system, you need to have the right components to create your own setup. The turntable is one part, and you also need an amplifier and speakers. The amplifier will plug into the turntable, but only if it has a phono preamp built in. This is one of the important things to check when making your purchase. If there is no phono preamp, you will need to buy one. This means you will have your turntable connected to the preamp, which can then plug into an amplifier and then your speakers, or can sometimes go directly into the speakers if your hi-fi system has an amplifier.

Modern Turntable Features

There are some specific features that you might look for on modern turntables. These include USB connections and Bluetooth connectivity. USB connections can allow you to digitize your music, while Bluetooth connectivity means you can pair your turntable wirelessly with speakers and headphones that also have Bluetooth. Some other types of digital output may be available too. Many people won't see these features as being essential in any way, but they can be useful. It's up to you whether you think it's worth looking for a turntable that has either one of these features.

Top Features for DJs and Producers

If you're a DJ or a producer and that's what you want a turntable for, there are some features that you might want to consider. One thing to look for is a direct-drive, which means that the platter of the turntable is spun directly by the gears from the motor. This is as opposed to a belt drive, which uses an elastic belt to connect the platter and motor. A direct-drive turntable is favored by DJs because they can use it to get records spinning automatically.

Torque is another important thing to look at when you're looking for a professional turntable. Higher torque means that the turntable will get to is proper speed faster after you have pressed start and won't slow down. A pitch control slider is another must if you want a turntable for producing and DJing. You want to be able to adjust it smoothly and for the turntable to respond to your adjustments as quickly as possible. An adjustable pitch range can be useful for some too, especially for scratch artists.

A reverse function can also be a good thing to look for. It allows you to move the record in reverse, as the name implies. This is another feature that's really designed for scratchers. If you're not one, you'll probably find that you check it out once or twice and then never use it again.

Other options that you might look for on a turntable include master tempo, adjustable torque, BPM counter and an interchangeable tonearm. However, keep in mind that many turntables on the lower end of the price range may not have a large range of features such as these.

2018 Guide to the Top Piano Headphones

As your passion for music constantly grows, it’s time to explore everything new to this topic. If you just purchased a digital piano, you are surely eager to discover its every feature. When it comes to headphones jack, you should know that there have been a lot of improvements here, too. So be curious and try to find the right pair of headphones to match the jack and, of course, your preferences.

Piano practice time will take place quietly if you purchase the right piano headphones. However, finding the best products can be a hard task to accomplish. To find out which are the best digital piano headphones you have to do your research very well, think of a budget and of the features they should have. In what follows, we will offer a few tips and tricks on how to choose the best pair.

Digital Piano Headphones Buying Guide

Before purchasing any pair of headphones, you should answer these questions.

-Where is your digital piano located?
-Do you live alone or with other people?
-Does your apartment have thin walls?
-Do you want to monitor your piano playing progress?

These will help you understand that headphones are really a priority if you do not have a studio where you can practice without disturbing others. Since the digital piano has a headphone jack, you will be able to practice whenever you want, irrespective of what time it is.

When talking about digital piano headphones, try to consider the idea of “soundstage”. This has to do with the way you perceive the distance between the music you listen to and yourself. The design of your headphones will help figure out everything about soundstage.

Types of Headphones

You will find two different types of headphones – closed back and open back. Generally, for open back headphones, the ear cups’ back is open while closed-back headphones have the ear cups’ back closed. The open back headphones bring a great advantage. They trigger a spacious sound. Therefore, it will make it sound more natural.

However, most buyers indicate that these headphones’ greatest drawback is that they allow too much environmental noise in. However, they offer a better and bigger soundstage. When it comes to close back headphones, they have a better bass response. Their biggest advantage is that the music is contained within the earcups. Therefore, anything you will be playing through your headphones will not leak out.

Furthermore, closed back headphones are excellent when it comes to blocking out the external noise. This will help you concentrate a lot better. Nevertheless, its drawback is that the music may sound compressed.

A Useful Suggestion

One suggestion would be to purchase an affordable pair of digital piano headphones, namely the Samson SAHP10. This is for piano players who are just getting started, helping them develop their skills. This closed back headphones will not only work with your digital piano but also your mp3 player or other similar devices. It features a 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch adapter.

The headphones have an incredible frequency range and are quite inexpensive. Nevertheless, if you want to wear them for longer periods of time, they may become uncomfortable.

Examples of the Best Digital Piano Headphones

Yamaha HPH-50B

This pair can make your time of practice a delight. They were specially created for beginners. The compact model gives a modern look and the swivel mechanism allows to turn them at 90° so as to have a perfect fit. Furthermore, every sound produced by this pair is professional-grade and the bass is carefully-balanced.

LyxPro HAS-10 Over-Ear Headphones

If you want one of the most qualitative sounds, choose this model. The balance of the sound is made with 45mm neodymium magnet drivers. The speakers are covered in foam and leather for a maximum comfort. Even if you are at the start of your road in music or you are far away, these headphones will fulfill the need of a peaceful environment for training.

Audio-Technica ATH-M50x Over-ear Headphones

This set of headphones was created for piano lovers that like to train for hours. A lot of music engineers choose this model for an effective outstanding sound accuracy. In order to have a pleased family and neighbors, the earcups provide an amazing sound isolation. The comfortable fit is given by the sturdy construction.

Digital piano headphones will help you isolate yourself from the rest of the world and focus on your playing. Furthermore, they provide a better sound range and they help to practice quietly. This way, you will never hear the neighbors complaining about the noise. Before purchasing a pair, make sure to check all their features and test them. You could buy a pair of foldable ones and use them for your mp3 player as well. The most important aspect is to provide good sound quality and also to be comfortable.