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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-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.