- Synths and Samplers-
This bad boy is probably my biggest workhorse over all being that it’s capable of doing just about everything from pads to ripping leads to bass to growling robot sounds. A friend once summed up the Nord Lead just about perfectly by saying “…it doesn’t always give you the exact sound you are looking for, but it always gives you the sound you actually need.”
The other big work horse, this guy gets used often for squelchy ripping leads, as well as pads and random weird stuff. I also use the audio inputs a lot for filtering software synths or samplers through, not to mention the vocoder is fun as well.
was looking at Native Instruments FM-7 when I came across the synth it was
based on at a used shop in
Another find in the junk section of the local used everything shop, this nice little analog synth is actually a beast in hiding, not surprising really being of the Juno series. Programming is a little slow at times, but the results are well worth it. Also the slightly shorter than standard keyboard makes it a great synth for taking to live gigs as it has more than enough range for most situations, but isn’t as cumbersome as a standard full-sized keyboard.
Always being on the hunt for orchestra based sounds and samples, I couldn’t let this go when it was offered to me cheap. It’s quite useful for pads, strings and choirs as well as nice glassy clean upper register type. The internal effects are a mixed bag so it often it gets run though a few other processors and then more often than not midi-gated to hell.
While I tend to do most of my sampling on the computer, this unit was another fabulous deal from a local seller that I couldn’t pass up. Besides being upgraded as high as it could go, it also came loaded up with a mess of nice orchestral and other non-electronic samples, as well as a bunch of drum kits, which alone made it worth the price I paid. The 17 different filter types are great fun to play with, especially on break beats. Being hardware, I tend to use it differently than my software samplers, which is good to breaking up my sampling habits. It’s also quite handy (and mainly used) for triggering sounds at live gigs which I tend to do for live percussion elements using an old Roland SPD-8 as the controller.
This guy I’ve been using for ages now. One of the first Korg Electribe synths and I think it is still one of the best. Its simple and doesn’t do everything, but what it does, it does well.
- Outboard Gear -
Probably my mainstay effects processor these days. The M-One is great for subtle effects use to enhance the placement of tracks in the mix. The reverbs almost always get used on percussion parts and on any sampled instruments that are based on acoustic instruments to give them a more organic feel in space. This unit has been used in just about every track I have written since I bought it.
Technically this is a pitch correcting processor for fixing flubbed notes in a vocalist’s performance. I occasionally use it to fit the pitch in vocal samples, but being essentially based on pitch shifting technology, I tend to abuse it and use it for things it was never intended, like running percussion lines through it and manually playing with the pitch correction settings on the fly. This is another processor I could never afford new and probably wouldn’t have even considered if it hadn’t been such a good deal used. Fun stuff.
This lovely unit is the “King“ of my effects rack. Even used, I would normally never be able to afford this beauty, but lady luck was on my side and I ended up getting this monster for an incredibly low price when one of my local used gear shops mistakenly thought that one of the buttons was broken and threw it in the junk section at a 90% discount off its original retail cost. Even with a broken button that would be a good deal, but it was made even sweeter by bringing it home to find the offending button in perfect working order. While the M-One is my “subtle” effects processor of choice, the H3000 is the go to processor when complete audio destruction is called for. Fabulous reverbs, delays, pitch effects, flangers, etc. there is little to complain about except when you actually have to decide which of the million audio delights to choose from.
My main mixer in the studio; I got this guy for a ridiculously low price used because the fader on channel two is messed up (although it works fine). 24 channels and 4 subs to play with make this a handy little (?) tool in the studio.
This is primarily used as my live mixer. 14 channels, 2 subs, nothing too fancy here, but its solid, basic and gets the job done with no fuss and no noise.
Again, nothing fancy here, but they gets the job done until they can be upgraded.
I originally bought this for live sets with my laptop. The knobs are fun, but I find the keyboard too small in range to be very useful for playing. These days it’s used primarily as a second midi interface for my desktop and for banging around on soft-synths while creating sounds before moving over to a full sized keyboard for actually making parts.
This is used pretty much exclusively to control Ableton Live during my live sets. The faders are connected to the mixer faders in Ableton, while the knobs and buttons control the parameters of the internal effects I use live. Very handy and it makes it so that I hardly ever actually have to touch the laptop during live sets.
This guy is the second half of my live set control wise. Its usually wired up to Discovery (which is very stable in Ableton Live) which I need play live adding bits of whatever.
I only use this to control the MS-20 soft-synth when I’m in an experimental mood. It looks nice, but doesn’t see much action these days.
Another midi interface, simple, but it works.
This is a electronic percussion pad I hook up to the EMU ESI-4000 sampler for live percussion during live sets. Single, fun, effective.
This is an amp simulator for my guitar work. Normally I stay away from Behringer gear, but this was actually pretty nice. Occasionally it gets used as a distortion pedal for synths as well.
I’ve been an Ibanez man for since the early 90’s and I probably always will be. This is a 7 String model from the RG series. Someday I’d like to get one of the hard to find S series 7 string guitars, but for the moment this bad-boy gets the job done.
- Computers -
This is a Frankentein computer I put together myself and it used as the heart of the studio.
This is my brain for live sets.
This is the pci version and it has never given me any trouble. It is coming up soon on the list of things to get upgraded, but it has served me well and was a great deal for the money.
This is my card for the laptop during live sets. Again this will get upgraded eventually, but it is simple and gives me no problems.
- Software -
This is my primary sequencer and the heart and brain of my studio.
This is on my old laptop and doesn’t get used too much these days. I harbor dreams of system linking it to SX one day, but don’t have a proper interface for the laptop yet.
All purpose editing, recording, burning, etc and fast to boot.
I don’t use FL as much as I used too, but it still gets brought out to create loops to be imported into Cubase fairly often.
My choice for live sets, it does just about everything I want it to do in a live situation and with the UC-33e and PCR-M1 controllers it’s almost like using hardware again. I’ve also started using it some for writing while on the road. To date I’ve mainly am used it for writing downtempo stuff while hanging out at friends’ houses and such, but it quite nice (and no dongle, which I refuse to take out on the road).
Software versions of four classic synths, I use the original three of these all the time (the M1 was added later when the “Digital Edition” was released). The MS-20 is great for nasty leads and freaky sound effects, while I use Wavestation a lot for pads and atmospheric stuff. The Polysix gets used for a lot of things and has been a bass favorite recently. The M1 I used a lot on “An Angel Takes Flight” and is good for downtempo work. The Legacy Cell synth is a monster (if a bit CPU heavy at times) and the built in effects plug in sees a lot of action as well.
A great little vst synth here, I tend to use it a lot for leads and occasionally bass lines and pads. It has a bit of a darker sound quality and I use it a lot recently for dirty FM type of leads..
This is one of the two soft-samplers I use for drums and the one I seem to use more frequently these days. The filters and various audio destruction additions are nice and the CD of drum samples is a well used friend.
I tend to use this as a total audio destruction sampler mostly for flyby sound effects and weird bleeps and pops.
This is my main software sampler for just about everything but drums.
The late Symphonics (of Phi fame) turned me on to this guy while we were working on what ended up being the only track we ever did together in the studio. He couldn’t stop talking about how great it was and the more I use it, the more I understand why. All good synths should have a flavor to them that makes them stand out of the mix and this one does. I use it a lot for bass these days as well as a wide variety of leads.
One of PSP many excellent plug in effects. Good for your straight ahead sort of effects.
Basically this is the 42 on steroids. Great for sound design and lots of purely mad effects, this was another Symphonics favorite that he turned me onto.
Yet another excellent PSP effects plug in. This one is extremely powerful in the filter department as well as having great flanger and phaser effects. Its great to mashing up just about anything really and has become another standby after fighting a bit with it at first trying to figure it out.
This guy gets used a lot for sort of “compression with character” type of work. Its great on bass, but gets used in a lot of different places
This one is still new for me but I’m finding myself using it a lot in place of the Cubase EQ recently.
Basically my “portable Nord Lead” as it were. This little guy is very solid in Ableton live so I tend to use it for almost all of my live synth work. While it sounds alot like a Nord Lead, it is of course still a bit different (I find my actual Lead 1 to sound a bit brighter) and adds a nice flavor to the mix when used properly.
A recent favorite here, this guy is excellent in the pad department. Sounds great and is priced far below its value. I definitely recommend picking it up.
More pad madness from H.G. Fortune here. It works a bit differently than ProtoPlasm, but sounds just as good. Again very under-priced in my opinion and worth buying.
The third synth in the H.G. Fortune synth package, this one is a bit more lead-like focused, but still very unusual. I find it good for one off noises, bangs, boinks, stabs and sweeps.
Another great little synth here, ripping leads, fat bass, you name it, it does it. It has a nice sort of clean and clear sonic quality that helps it stand out fairly well in the mix too.
Absynth is probably my single most favorite soft-synth in the world. Most people think of it as a pads and atmosphere’s synth (which it does well), but I use it for just about everything. It is also one of my hands down favorite bass synths.
Hmmm, what do you say about a product that literally does everything? I use it regularly for drum loops and the Junatik synth gets abused often. Basically anything you could possibly imagine can be done here something. It can be a bit CPU intensive so I tend to render it to wav fairly soon for further tweaking.
My other drum sampler, it’s basic, but gets the job done although I must admit I haven’t used it in awhile.
This is a truly freaky delay effect. It’s great for making weird swells and flybys. A bit tricky to use at times, but the results are worth it.
A basic solid vst based multi-compressor here. I think it often sounds a little bit warmer than Cubase’s internal multi-compressor and so it gets used when a warmer sound it called for, often in the tracking stages.
I ended up getting this jewel for free when a friend bought a new laptop and didn’t want to get a point card at the shop. I had one already so I got the points and ended up with enough to pick up this “synth” which I’d been eyeing for awhile. It’s a vocal modeling synth and is responsible for all the female vocals on “An Angel Takes Flight”. When used to sing a lot of distinct clear words it can be a bit robotic, but soaked in reverb and delay it sounds positively wonderful.
A vst synth carried over from FL Studio, this guy doesn’t see too much action these days, but it is usually used in background repeating lines, usually soaked in delay.
Another FL Studio carry over, I tend to use this one a lot more than Sim Synth. Its good for dirty techno type sounds and I actually really like its internal reverb as well.