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Beginner Gear Recommendations

bill5

Senior Member
Please feel free to add and keep the list active...

This is my personal recommendation list based on my experiences and tastes if I was starting over again. I benefit in no way financially from the gear I recommend. YMMV

AUDIO INTERFACES:

-Audient ID14
Great mic pre's, converters, headphone amp, perfect user reviews. Average latency and drivers perhaps. $299usd street

Beyond the Audient I recommend saving up for a UAD or RME.


POWERED MONITORS:

-JBL LSR 305/308's
Tremendous value for the money. Not perfect but great user reviws. (*NOTE: 01/18 the Mk2 series was just announced, stay tuned for member feedback). Mk1 305's can be found for $99usd ea and $149usd ea for mk1 308's

-Some like the Focal Alpha range as well albeit a bit more expensive.

Monitors can be a a very personal choice. Try and hear and demo as many as possible and choose the ones that appeal to your needs, tastes, and budget that you like the best.

Used, B-Stock, Returned, monitors are generally not a good idea as you have no idea what could be wrong with them or what a warranty covers if still applicable.


HEADPHONES:

-
AKG K240
Very good value, industry standard, and fairly comfortable. $50-70usd street

-Audio Technica ATH-M50/X
Very good value and reviews, fairly comfortable. X- $149usd street

(*Always use headphones responsibly at moderate to low listening levels to protect your hearing)


DAW: (*A very personal choice, read up on as many as possible, try the free demos if available).

-Logic X $199usd Mac Only
Huge bang for the buck and many content extras (ie Alchemy, EXS-24, Drummer, etc.), Updated every 6-12 months, user communities/support.

-Reaper
Great user community. Unlimited/Unrestricted Demo. User License $60usd. https://www.reaper.fm/purchase.php

-SSD (Solid State Hard Drive's)
Most v.i. control users have had good luck with Crucial and Samsung SSD drives.

*Replace any internal slow 5200rpm or fusion drives with a SSD drive for booting your system. Extra drives for sample and project storage can be added later.


CONTROLLERS:

-Keyboard (weighted & semi weighted keys)


Nektar LX88+
88 note semi weighted keys, good reviews, some do not like the way the black keys feel compared to the white keys. $319usd street

Yamaha P-45/P-71 Digital Piano
88 note weighted Keys, very good reviews, $449/$399usd Street (These are the same exact model, the P-71 is sold exclusively by Amazon and $50 less)

-Keyboard (non weighted keys)

Member input please ?

61 notes should be minimum, 49 keys in a pinch

-Drums

Native Instrument Maschine
Mikro $349usd Street, Mk3 Full model $599usd street

-Knobs & Faders

Korg NanoKontrol 2 (plastic and short throw faders, but gets the job done)
$50 usd street


MICROPHONE:

A good microphone (s) is essential for voiceover, podcast, instrument recording & overdubbing, and sampling custom work. There are many quality choices and I am hoping members will chime in here with some of there suggestions...

My advice would be or try to borrow as many microphone choices as possible from friends and or a dealer (or one with a good return policy) so you can choose what works best for your needs, tastes, and budget.


SOFTWARE:

-Native Instruments Komplete.
So much bang for the buck and includes Kontakt and Reaktor, two of my most used tools. $500usd street (Best to wait for a N.I bi-yearly sale if possible). Comes with some very goes synth vst's: Massive, Absynth, FM8. You can update to Ultimate when possible(again, watch for sales) or cherry pick other libraries as you wish.

-East West Composer Cloud
Can be purchased for as little as $19.99usd a month when on sale, but even when not is a great deal. A fantastic selection of quality instruments.

-Spitfire Audio Labs Sample Range for Kontakt (Donationware $3usd ea)

-Vahalla Effects Plugins. Fantastic value. Start with one that fits your needs best. Both Room & Vintageverb are excellent. $50usd ea

-U-he Synth Freebies: Podolski, Tyrell N6, Zebralette, Beatzille. U-he makes great plugins, There free ones make a good starting point for your synthesis and learning needs.

-FREE: Check out the great free sample, VST, plugin threads and sites.

Free Samples
https://vi-control.net/community/threads/important-all-vi-freebie-contributions-here.27876/

Free Synth VST's & Patches
https://vi-control.net/community/threads/free-synth-plugins-patches.56778/

Free Audio Plugins
https://vi-control.net/community/threads/free-audio-mixing-effect-plugins-thread.60464/

==================================

I disagree with a thing or two but GREAT OP! My 2 cents:


GENERALLY:
Take all suggestions with a grain of salt. People will swear by this or that but for every one of those, there is someone else to say something totally different. It's all so subjective. Try as much as possible to try things out first (this is a lot easier with software than hardware).

AUDIO INTERFACES:
Disagree on the Audients (see? ;) ). Good units, yes, but well overpriced and not IMO really better than stuff comparably equipped and costing half as much, such as the FocusRites, Steinbergs, etc. IMO Behringer are the best bang for the buck. They used to be cheap stuff but have upped their game recently.


POWERED MONITORS:
JBL LSR 305/308's, totally agree there.


HEADPHONES:
For mixing, probably Sony 7506s. Most ATHs are hyped in the bass, not exactly flat (which is the whole point if you're mixing). Personally I would opt for the ATH 20s at a mere $50 over the ATH 50s.


DAW:
Mixcraft ($50-75ish). Second choice, Reaper ($60). IMO these two are not only two of the least expensive but far easier to use than any of the others, most of which I hated. (Pro Tools was worst of all and crazy overpriced)

SYNTH/WORKSTATIONS: (88 keys, up to ~ $1000)
Roland DS88 for weighted. Second choice, Korg Kross. I liked the Kross' slightly lighter touch, but the UI wasn't as friendly as Roland's. Side note, I am amazed any keyboard even $500+ has those ridiculous 80s-era blue-gray LED screens. The Roland FA series has one like they should all be, but that's like $1800.

I did not like anything Yamaha or Casio; the keys (esp Casios) make a loud THUNKing sound that I couldn't stand. Yamahas also IMO have a rather unfriendly UI.


MICROPHONES:
I very much agree with trying before you buy if possible, with mics as much as anything, as there are only about a billion choices.

For the budget conscious and those not interested in pissing money away for the sake of it (that's me) - I'll let the rich and influential speak to the pricier stuff :)
Dynamics:
Sennheiser 835, 935
Shure Beta 57, 58 (supercardioid)
isK ISDM (supercardioid)

Condensers:
se X1A, X1S
Rode NT1 (NOT the 1A)
Studio Project B1, B3 (B3 is multi-pattern)

Ribbons:
Cascade Fathead


SOFTWARE:
First and foremost TRY FREE STUFF. There is a ton out there and a lot of it very good (often stuff that comes with a DAW is good too). For example:

Effects:
TDR, TAL, Voxengo, Variety of Sound, Blue Cat, Melda: try all their stuff (Voxengo's "Old Skool" reverb is esp good IMO, and TDR's Nova EQ)

VSTi's:
Ample Guitar Lite
MT Power Drum Kit
VSCO Orchestral (for sketching out at least)
Soft synths:
- FB3300 (Moog)
- Podolski
- Synth 1
- Lord of the Springs (unique sounds)
- OB xd (for a great Oberheim sound)
- Abakos
- Chimera

OK stuff that costs:
Vahalla Vintage Verb definitely, but it's not for everything. Close though. ;)
Serum, great soft synth
Native's Massive and Absynth soft synths - presets aren't great but you can do a lot w/these two
Ample's other guitars

I can't speak to the orchestral suites !
 
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DimensionsTomorrow

Active Member
-A comfortable chair. You spend allot of time sitting in your chair working. User input wanted.

This is a very personal decision, but my vote is the Steelcase Gesture. Not cheap, but I started working from home during the pandemic, and it’s great having a very good chair considering the amount of time I’m at my desk these days for work and music.

 

from_theashes

Active Member
DAW:
Mixcraft ($50-75ish). Second choice, Reaper ($60). IMO these two are not only two of the least expensive but far easier to use than any of the others, most of which I hated. (Pro Tools was worst of all and crazy overpriced)


Well, I have to disagree here. Logic Pro X is so much more userfriendly and easy to use than Reaper. I mean sure... Reaper is crazy cheap and a great DAW, but definitely not easy and intuitive to use for a beginner.
So on a Mac, Logic is first choice.
 

pondinthestream

Active Member
If an audio only person then Reaper is fine. If a synth person then have a serious look at Bitwig which has most of the sound making gear you need, and good quality. So even if Bitwig looks expensive compared to something like Reaper it is actually not given the included functionality.

As for FX, use free stuff until you genuinely understand why you need more. Tokyo Dawn Labs cover the basics with very high quality free products. Then buy quality only when on sale.

Interface - Focusrite is easily good enough.

Headphones - Audio technica, beyerdynamic, lots of good ones but make sure they are for studio work with a flat frequency response.

Synths etc totally depends on what you are doing, but as has been said, use free and maybe later update to quality when it is on sale

Eg Iris2 is interesting, good quality and sells for $10 as often as not. Sonible fx sells for crazy prices from time to time. Izotope bundles sell for giveaway money quite often. Pluginboutique is your friend there
 
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Pier

Senior Member
Well, I have to disagree here. Logic Pro X is so much more userfriendly and easy to use than Reaper. I mean sure... Reaper is crazy cheap and a great DAW, but definitely not easy and intuitive to use for a beginner.
So on a Mac, Logic is first choice.

You need a Mac though, which many beginners will not be able to afford. Or they may already have a gaming PC.
 

bill5

Senior Member
Or they may just hate Macs. :) I'll agree to disagree that Reaper isn't easy to use. Although IMO Mixcraft still wins that battle. It's the only DAW I tried where it was intuitive and easy to do the most basic stuff without having to crack a user manual.
 

pondinthestream

Active Member
Or they may just hate Macs. :) I'll agree to disagree that Reaper isn't easy to use. Although IMO Mixcraft still wins that battle. It's the only DAW I tried where it was intuitive and easy to do the most basic stuff without having to crack a user manual.
If Reaper clicks with a new user then it is easy to use, if it doesn't then it isn't. Like every other DAW
 

from_theashes

Active Member
Or they may just hate Macs. :)

Yeah... something I never understood: the amount of hate against Apple/Macs coming from Windows/Android-users🤷‍♂️
I mean, we‘re talking about tools to make our life easier/more productive. And every individual person can decide, which tool (PC/Mac/iOS/Android etc.) fits best for his/her needs. No need to hate or bash one or the other. Constructive criticism is totally fine (and I absolutely don’t like everything about Apple products and there are tons of good arguments against using a Mac), but pure bashing is just childish.
 

Pier

Senior Member
Yeah... something I never understood: the amount of hate against Apple/Macs coming from Windows/Android-users🤷‍♂️

Or the other way around, Apple users hating on Windows or Android users.

Or sports teams.

Or political parties.

Etc.

Humans are still very much irrational and tribalistic, unfortunately.
 

PaulieDC

1967 Bizzarrini (btw, don't own it, just love it)
For a beginner beginner I recommend paper, pencil, piano. Don't run before you can walk.
If I were a new member and my beginning gear question was answered like this I would have rolled my eyes and probably been a bit put off. NOW, looking back, I wish I started at this very place, with Sam Adler's book added to the list. And the 24-hour classical station (89.5 KBAQ in Phoenix) playing constantly.
 

bill5

Senior Member
Yeah... something I never understood: the amount of hate against Apple/Macs coming from Windows/Android-users🤷‍♂️
I mean, we‘re talking about tools to make our life easier/more productive. And every individual person can decide, which tool (PC/Mac/iOS/Android etc.) fits best for his/her needs. No need to hate or bash one or the other. Constructive criticism is totally fine (and I absolutely don’t like everything about Apple products and there are tons of good arguments against using a Mac), but pure bashing is just childish.
I assume you're speaking generally for some reason and not implying I was "bashing" Macs. I was just pointing out some people don't like them and/or aren't about to get one, least of all just so they can use a particular DAW.
 

Michael Antrum

Only the good die young....
I have an ID14, and I'll never buy another Audient product again.

It's been a pain since I got it.

I'm on a Mac, so no drivers required, and still every time my computer goes to sleep I lose audio until I reboot. No issues with my Roland Quad, SPL Crimson of Apollo Twin on the same Mac.

There are plenty of interfaces about this price point - so there are plenty of similar cost alternatives.....
 

bill5

Senior Member
Plenty of interfaces even below that price point with as many or even more features which do just as good of a job. And doesn't have MIDI connectors. So overpriced IMO
 
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