Six Studio Essentials

Yesterday’s option can be today’s essential . . . as we found out when reviewing these six hot products
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Yesterday’s option can be today’s essential . . . as we found out when reviewing these six hot products

These days, what’s “essential” in the studio goes beyond just having mics, preamps, and a multitrack recorder. And, that definition of “essential” varies greatly depending on what type of sessions you do. In typical EQ fashion, we didn’t seek out the ordinary essentials, but the ones that maybe you don’t yet realize you need.

Start with the Electro-Harmonix V256. We rarely review “stomp boxes,” but with the vocal processing craze still going strong (whether you’re talking hard pitch correction on hip-hop or vocoders with electronica), you need something that will provide those effects—and we couldn’t find better bang for the buck anywhere.

Another essential, at least for those who record remotely, is a laptop-friendly audio interface. Granted, there are a ton of interfaces out there, but few (if any) at the Saffire USB 6 price point offer equal audio specs, or MIDI in and out.

While some might not consider an electronic drum set an essential, you need some kind of controller for all those great software drum programs (as reviewed in the 08/10 issue)—particularly if you’re fighting noise issues in a small studio. Yamaha’s DTX900K isn’t just a superior electronic drum set, but it was designed to have one foot on stage, and one in the studio . . . read the review, and you’ll see why.

What do you do after checking out the umpteenth virtual analog instrument plug-in? If you want to go global and add new flavors to your music, MOTU’s Ethno Instrument 2 is as good as it gets. And speaking of adding new flavors to your music, what’s old is new again, and you’ll find that hardware compressors can do things (like zero latency and that elusive analog sound) that plug-ins simply can’t handle. So we checked out JDK Audio’s R22, which hits a sweet spot of price, performance, build quality, and ease of use—and liked what we saw.

Finally, in today’s virtual studio, plug-ins are essential—but we’ve gone past the first generation, and few plug-ins typify the next generation as well as the Waves Artist Collection series. Their claim to fame is they contribute particular styles to your music, not just particular functions. We loved the first ones in the series, so we couldn’t wait to get our hands on the Jack Joseph Puig Collection. And now we can’t get our hands off of it.

Ready for the roundup? Then keep reading—and remember there are plenty of additional resources online.

Electro-Harmonix V256 Vocoder
Focusrite Saffire 6 USB Audio Interface
Yamaha DTX900K Electronic Drum Set
MOTU Ethno Instrument 2
JDK Audio R22 Compressor
Waves JJP Artist Collection