If you’re like me, your family never knows what to get you for Christmas. Oftentimes they just hand you a wad of cash and mumble something about music and Santa and merry something…
If that’s you today, I’ve put together a fairly random but interesting list of ideas of inexpensive goodies to buy for your studio.
These are all things I own or am thinking about buying very soon.
Here we go…
SS-1 from Simply Sound
Full disclaimer: Jordan over at Simply Sound just sent me one of these to try out for free. I haven’t used it yet, but I’m excited to run my Shure SM7B through it. I had a Cloudlifter, but it stopped working. This one comes in at $50 cheaper and seems like a solid option.
What is it? The SS-1 is simply a little black box that goes between your low-output microphones (dynamics and ribbons, for example) and your preamp. Sometimes we don’t have enough gain in our preamp for these lower-output mics. The SS-1 literally adds an extra 25 dB of gain before the signal even hits the preamp. And it runs off of phantom power. Pretty slick.
If you have an SM7B or other dynamic mic that you’d like to use on something other than screaming vocals and really loud guitar amps, this is a cool option.
MainStage for Mac
This seemed like such a no-brainer for me once I thought about it. I own an old Yamaha Motif keyboard, and it has some decent sounds on it, but they don’t blow me away. For some reason I don’t want to dive into the world of tons of virtual instruments. I prefer to find a sound on a real instrument and record it straight into my DAW on an audio track. I’m not against MIDI. I’d just rather record audio.
BUT…I realize that unless I want to drop three grand on a Nord Stage keyboard or the like, I won’t have access to really good piano sounds.
THEN it hit me. MainStage.
MainStage is a simple piece of software for Macs that incorporates all the cool virtual instruments that come with Logic. I used Logic years ago, and I loved their virtual instruments.
SO…I came up with a way to spend $30 and get access to a nice library of solid keyboard sounds.
Here’s my MainStage rig:
- Macbook Air (already had this)
- Presonus AudioBox44 VSL (already had this for mobile recording)
- Yamaha Motif as a MIDI controller (already had this)
- MIDI cable from Yamaha to the AudioBox (already had this)
- MainStage (bought this or $30 in the app store)
- 2 TRS cables from the outputs of the AudioBox to a pair of line inputs on my StudioLive console (the main audio interface for my studio)
I know it seems fairly convoluted, but I have a completely separate “rig” for all my keyboard sounds. I literally call up the sound I want on the laptop, record it to an audio track in my DAW on the other side of the room. And I’m done. No MIDI to mess with. I commit to the sound up front and call it a day.
I understand that MainStage is the cheapest part of this rig, but I was so stoked when I realized I could upgrade all my studio keyboard sounds (especially my piano, Rhodes, Wurlitzer, and organ sounds) for a measly thirty bucks. Pretty sweet.
If you haven’t checked out MainStage in a while, it’s worth a look. Check it out over in the App Store.
Desk-Mounted Microphone Stand
This won’t apply to as many people, but I’m about to pull the trigger on one of the spring-loaded microphone stands, like they use at radio stations.
I do a lot of “voiceover work” between my weekly podcasts and videos. That means for 7 years I’ve been putzing around with a regular boom mic stand, next to my desk, stretching the mic out over to my mouth. It’s fine, but when I want to move the mic out of the way, it’s always annoying.
So I’m gonna get one of these $40 On-Stage desk-mounted mic stands. Hopefully it will work in a way that lets me shove the mic out of the way when I don’t need it, without having to move the microphone stand out of the way completely.
I can’t tell you how many times my mic has almost hit the ground because my boom stand got off-balanced.
Now for my guitarist friends…
If you’ve seen a couple of my recent cover videos, like “What a Wonderful World,” you’ll see I’m playing with a cut capo.
If you’ve never used a cut capo, and you play acoustic guitar, you need to treat yourself to one. It lets you take a guitar in standard tuning and “borrow” tones from open tunings. It lets me play something that sounds like DADGAD, but it’s really just standard tuning with a cut capo on the 2nd fret.
They don’t make the capo I used in that video anymore, but you can get a cut capo super-cheap. Check ‘em out here.
And Last But Not Least…
In addition to the nifty ideas above, one of the best ways you can invest in your studio for 2017 is to invest in yourself…your skills.
And the best way to do that is one or more of my training courses. They’re all 50% off until the end of this week. Why not buy a cut capo and a few tutorials? You’ll be on your way to a fun, musical, and productive 2017.
Check out the sale here:
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