On this page I will share about what kind of equipment I use on a regular basis, but also some equipment I research on/would like to use/had the chance to try. I will also link some useful pages to compare quality and prices. In short, anything I find useful gear-wise I will share here!
What I work with
First, I’d like to point out that I am not a gear head. Gear is a tool that enables you to do your work, but ultimately it’s not about the tool, it’s about how you use it.
I’ve had to settle for lower quality equipment for a long enough while that it made me realise that the quality of your end product is not necessarily correlated to the quality of your equipment.
That being said, it is of course pretty handy to have reliable hardware that can keep up with what you ask from it.
My current set up is pretty basic as I have been enjoying university equipment and studios for the past few years, and am just now starting to put together a decent gear collection of my own.
I own a pair of Genelec m030
They sound amazing, no complaints there. The Genelec speakers have won my heart a long time ago. The M series speakers feature a truthful frequency response while still providing nice warm bass and clearly defined mid-highs. Would definitely recommend.
At work, we also have a pair of the Genelec 8010 near field studio monitors. The bass is obviously not as powerful, and the highs a little harsher, but overall a still pretty reliable playback device, as long as you have other systems to compare with.
Their great advantage is how compact and mobile they are – I can move them around the studio in meeting rooms and playback amazing audio for demos.
We also have a pair of AudioEngine 5+ set up in our common room for entertainment and demos.
Their great advantage is that they can easily fill the large room, they are pretty powerful and come with a handy volume know and remote control which is not to be neglected in a big office, but I would not especially recommend them.
I find the mids to be a bit muddy, I always notice a lot of details are lost when we playback audio through these ones for demos.
My most recent addition : the Adam F5
My work involves working with headhones many hours a day, so it’s important to have a pair that is reliable, comfortable, and of decent audio quality.
I usually use the Beyerdynamic DT 770 PRO.
The sound quality is very high, extremely detailed mids and nicely soft highs, while still proving a nice deep bass, which doesn’t feel artificially boosted at all. Plus their nice padding makes them comfortable all day long. Would definitely recommend, as much for professionals as for casual music listening. They are so flattering to the sound though, that I have to be careful and review my mix in other playback systems, where it often reveals harshness in the high frequencies.
Sometimes I also like to work with my Sennheiser 380 PRO.
The sound is also pretty good in these ones, but maybe too good even in this case: there is so much bass that when I work with those I systematically mix/design with not enough bass to try to compensate. Also, they are a little bit tighter and will become less comfortable after a few hours of use.
One of my all time favorite though remain the Sennheiser 280 PRO.
Meant to be one grade lower than the 380, you’ll get them for cheaper, and actually provide a more truthful frequency response.
Yes, I work with a crazy cheap audio interface. Yes, it works just fine and has been doing so for more than 5 years. I have never had any issue whatsoever with the drivers, the connections, the knobs and buttons, anything at all. And it sits in dust all day and I have been using it with many different computers (all PCs), and have been transporting it in many different countries. Here it comes.
I don’t work in the kind of studio environment where I need to record many tracks, so this does the job perfectly. For a modest 100 quid or so, you’ll have there an extremely reliable piece of hardware. It was meant to be a beginner’s purchase, something cheap to get me going while saving to buy something nicer, and here it is, years later, still part of my daily routine. Thanks Steinberg.
Sure, I’m going to look into getting something with fancier preamps eventually, but considering the points mentioned above, there are many things I’m going to buy before spending tons of money on a new interface (microphones, field recording equipment, software, sound banks, more headphones…). Definitely recommend if you are low on finances.
Update: I have just acquired a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 (2nd gen) for my set up at work. The preamps are meant to be of slightly higher grade than the Steinberg CI1, and it has a good reputation in terms of general hardware quality and reliability, but I am sad to say I’ve been experiencing something I believe is a driver issue. Due to this annoying problem I unfortunately don’t recommend Focusrite and will myself go back to Steinberg products for future purchases.
Recent addition : Focusrite Saffire Pro 24
I really love this compact Sony PCM-M10 portable recorder.
Decently priced, I have used it both indoors and outdoors, with and without windscreen, with and without stand, with and without external microphone, and all of these options work well. It’s pretty intuitive to use and the quality of recordings are pretty much as good as it gets for a recorder of that size. Definitely recommend.
When recording outdoors, I generally use it with a Redhead Windscreen and and small Gorilla Tripod, and the results are pretty good (you can listen to some field recordings made with this recorder here).
I’m still very much experimenting with microphones, trying to find which ones are my favorites in which context. Having been able to borrow high quality microphones in university for the last few years has allowed me to identify a few good ones I’d absolutely be confident buying. These include:
Cardiod pattern, clean and warm sound, compact, ideal for indoors recording and dialogue recording.
Various polar patterns, great sound. A bit pricey for the pair but worth the investment if you have the money. Ideal for indoors recording.
Their great advantage is how tiny they are. They sound pretty amazing too for a miniature capsule. You can put those microphones in tiny places, records material you wouldn’t be able to record with a normal size microphone. You can use it indoors and outdoors, even arrange them as a stereo pair in a windshield. They are extremely compact so you can literately carry them anywhere you go.
I’ll be researching more on field recording microphones and kits such as
- Sennheiser MKH20 – omnidirectional
- Sennheiser MKH50 – Super-cardioid
- Decent contact microphones
- Sound Devices
and more, will share my conclusions here!