Music Kit List

Someone asked me what kit I use for the music "stuff" that I do.  This question is, of course, like a red rag to a bull for a nerd like me, so I'm going to get it off my chest in this post and then go back to pretending to be normal.

Logic Pro X

At the heart of things is Apple's Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) software Logic Pro X [Mac App Store link], running on either a Macbook Pro or a Mac Mini.  Previously I had Logic v9, v8, v7 and Logic 7 Express (which is where I started) with Logic.  All my tracks and assets are shared between these computers via Dropbox.

So when I'm making music, this is pretty much the thing that I find myself staring at.

Logic Pro X

Alongside the Macs, I have four principal pieces of hardware that I use.

3rd Generation iPad

I use Logic Remote [links are to the App store] on the iPad to help control Logic, but the really exciting thing here is that there are so many amazing soft synths on the iOS platform.  My current favourites are Animoog from Moog, Nave from Waldorf, and the amazing organ emulator, Galileo from the less well known Yonac.

Some people are even using apps such as Auria which effectively replace the DAW, thus removing the need for a "real computer", and Auria in particular has rave reviews.  I'm much less adventurous than this, but on occasion, I have recorded snippets of things using iPad synths, and exported the resulting audio file up to Logic on the Mac.

Novation SL 25 Mk2 Midi Controller & Keyboard

Novation SL25 Mk II

The Novation SL 25 Mk2 [Amazon link] is a midi controller with an amazing 25 key keyboard and a bunch of sliders and knobs which adaptively switch to control whatever window is selected within Logic.  It's a fantastic device, that I first saw in this Youtube video where it acts as an interface between various fruit and vegetables and a computer (yes, really).

The keyboard on this thing supports "aftertouch" which is an extra level of control where the keys send midi signals when you adjust the pressure on the after first playing them.  This allows all sorts of ongoing effects to be applied to the midi notes and lets you play much more expressively.

I absolutely love it, and most of the music that I've done since I got it has been played on this keyboard.

Samson CO1U microphone

The Samson CO1U [Amazon link] is a USB condenser microphone.  This essentially incorporates a condenser microphone and a pre-amp into a single USB connected package, and it appears as a standard audio interface when you plug it into your computer.

It has to be said that I quite often use the microphones on iOS devices to record audio, and transfer the resulting files via Dropbox to my computer,  from where I can import the audio files into Logic.

However, when I want a really high quality recording, this is where I turn.

I bought my C01U a good few years back now, but it is still on sale.  I might or might not buy a different model if I was purchasing today - there is now a lot more choice - but I've been very happy with the C01U. I recorded Rethinking the Presentation on it, and have used it for quite a few other things too, and have been very happy with the results.

M-Audio Oxygen 61 Midi Controller & Keyboard

The Oxygen 61 [Amazon link] fills in for the the SL25 Mk II when I want to play with both hands, or simply need more range.  It has a full five octaves of keys on it, which feels a lot more roomy than the two octaves of the SL25.

M-Audio Oxygen 61

As the Oxygen 61 costs about a third of the price of the 61 key SL Mk II, it is only to be expected that it's not as nice to use as the Novation SL series.  Having said that, it's a good keyboard, and I'm happy with it.  However, I only use it when the key range is a real issue which is really only an occasional requirement.

An example of this is the project that I'm working on right now, playing around with the Doctor Who theme.  It's hard to play the melody line for this tune on a two octave keyboard.

etc.

I also have a guitar, and a thing to let me plug it into my Macs, a mandolin, and an actual honest-to-God piano - the very one that I learned on as a child.  I do play these things, but don't often record it so the results will probably never make it online.

I need to write another post about software plugins - I rely heavily on Zebra, Diva, and Stutter Edit.  but I'll talk about those in another post.