Software & Computers | Instruments | Outboard Gear | Pedals

This list isn’t complete, but I’ll be adding to it over the next month.

Software

DAW software

Avid Pro Tools

In 17 years, I believe I’ve used pretty much every type of contemporary DAW software there is at some point or another.  The workflow in PT is amazing, especially if you utilize a lot of outboard gear like I do in recording electronic music.  I currently use Pro Tools (vanilla) and plan to upgrade to Pro Tools Ultimate with an HDX2 system within the year.  The delay compensation is steady and easy to manage with 3rd party ASIO interfaces as well as and most especially with Avid’s own Digilink format.  I came really close to switching to other DAWs in the past, but PT is the only one where every aspect of operation just clicked and felt natural.  Contrary to popular belief, the MIDI software stack within Pro Tools is very mature and easy to work with.


Ableton Live Suite

Ableton: https://www.ableton.com/

Ableton Live Suite: https://www.ableton.com/en/live/

Sweetwater Music: Ableton Live

There really isn’t a better sketchpad for a recording artist than Ableton Live Suite.  Commonly when starting any song, I’ll fire up Live before anything else and only use samples I record, my sample collection, and Live’s built in instruments to get a rough draft of what I’m looking to accomplish. Later I can then Rewire it into Pro Tools and record stems directly from Rewire audio outs.  People are really surprised what you can accomplish with just Live and its built in effects and instruments.


Editor / Librarian Software

Sound Quest Inc. MidiQuest

SoundQuest Inc.: MidiQuest 12

If you’ve ever used MIDI-capable outboard synthesizers, samplers, or effects units you’ll quickly run into the problem of how to manage the devices and how to automate them using your DAW.  Also, a lot of older gear will frequently use long since discontinued storage media.  MidiQuest Pro solves both of these problems by offering software that lets you control parameters of your outboard MIDI gear within a song project and lets you store patches to your local PC storage.  After you set them up, you can export the editor/librarian configurations as plugins in the Pro version.  Thankfully, the recent release makes this compatible with Avid’s AAX plugin format.  Definitely read through the manual, but it’s totally worth it!

Computers

PC

Alienware Aurora R8

CPU: Intel Core i9-9900K 3.60GHz

RAM: 64GB @3200MHz

OS: Windows 10 Pro

GPU: Radeon RX Vega 64

Storage: 1x 1TB SSD (OS), 1x 2TB HDD (Backups), 2x 2TB SSD (Projects, Samples), 1x 4TB HDD (Drive image backups)

Except for a brief 6 year or so period, I’ve recorded exclusively with Microsoft Windows.  As far as the Mac vs PC debate goes Windows is more performant, handles OS upgrades better without breaking every piece of software in sight, and runs circles around Apple for a fraction of the price.  CoreAudio and CoreMIDI are really great, but ASIO and Midi-OX+loopMIDI are just as good.  As far as vendors vs BYO goes, either is acceptable to me.  I went with Alienware because I had previously used their hardware for gaming and the quality is top notch.  For making music, you basically just need to be able to use a low latency interface with quality AD/DA, use Radeon instead of NVIDIA, and run all storage off SSD.  This machine is dope AF.

Microsoft Surface Book

CPU: Intel Core i5-6300U 2.4GHz

RAM: 8GB

OS: Windows 10 Pro

GPU: Intel HD 520

Storage: 256 TB SSD (OS)

This machine is used primarily in conjunction with the rest of my sampling workstation.  My workflow is that I go through vinyl, tape, cd albums record parts of the songs (like drum hits or phrases) I want to use in songs.  Then I record them through a DJ mixer to slightly EQ it which is then fed into a 32 channel mixer and if I want more coloration I patch one of my ART Pro MPA II’s with various aftermarket preamps to get it sounding warm and creamy.  After I get the recording digitized into the Surface Book, I normalize it and then save it over the network to a shared drive.  From there I can simply play it back out of one of my Presonus Quantum outputs directly into my Akai MPC Live or load it into Ableton for use with my Push 2 controller.  For this, the Surface Book is amazingly awesome.


Apple

Apple Macbook Pro 15" (2016)

CPU: Intel Core i7

RAM: 16GB

OS: macOS Mojave

GPU: Radeon

Storage: 1x 1TB SSD

Yeah yeah, I own a Mac, too.  I recorded on this one for a few years exclusively and it was an ok experience…. 4 months out of the year, following the yearly OS update that breaks everything and the months afterward while vendors catch up and get it working smoothly again.  I keep it around because it’s still the best experience DJ-ing live from, but that’s mostly because I don’t plan on ever upgrading beyond macOS Mojave and if it breaks I can go pick another one up the same day.  If you’re buying your first computer for recording electronic music, don’t buy a Mac.

NOTE:  This MBP is for sale.  I’m asking for $1000.  If you’re interested give me a shout on social media via private message.