I am a mutiple part article

  1. Building your setup
  2. More on plugins, and core techniques coming later

It has been a long time since I wrote a blog post, as I have been super busy learning a lot of new technologies and engineering skills in the different world of Audio. Interestingly enough, in concept, processing audio is extremely similar to processing variables in an object oriented program. With that in mind, as I promised the meetup group I hosted, I want to dedicate this blog post to various things I learned in Audio engineering.

I have been playing music for as long as I have been programming, and in the last few years, I have experimented with more and more audio processing tricks, and I am not even talking about the lovely Javascript Audio API (A topic for a future blogpost perhaps). In this post series I want to share some of the more important things I learned in this journey, from building a basic studio setup, to upgrading its parts, as well as some core techniques for recording and processing the audio. The main and first thing I learned, is …this hobby can get expensive… but it is real fun.

Part I: Building your studio

A studio is not just a great room for working on the sound, but also the gear therein. Below I will list some of the core gear, and various pieces in the market at various price points, which I think can make up a great serious sounding studio.


This ‘Digital Audio Workstation’ or in more mainstream words, “the studio software”, will be where you work recording, mixing and mastering your song. All DAWs do a great job. Choose one with great plugin support, or more importantly, one which supports the software you want to use.

  • Pro Tools: The industry standard. Expensive, but a tool which has great support, and lots of add ons available.
  • Logic Pro X: My personal favorite. I love the workflow, and it supports all the plugins I like to use. Not only is it in my opinion the best DAW, but also a great one to use from the start, as it includes amazing tools to make pro level stuff, without the need to buy extra plugins.



In a digital setup this is in a way the heart of the setup. I recommend as powerful a machine as you can afford. The reason for this is to be able to have a comfortable workflow without CPU overloads. If you have a large project, the overloads will drive you insane. That being said, there are tricks to tame this CPU usage.

  • I recommend one of the older Mac Pros with 8 or 12 cores… Most modern will make use of the extra cores. More cores gives you more room to process your audio. In Logic Pro X for example different tracks are distributed amongst different cores of the processor.


Computers do not understand real (analog) audio waves, just as our ears do not understand the sound in digital format. The converters in the interfaces convert between these two signals. Audio interfaces have these converters (ADC & DAC) built in, though you can even buy them separately if desired. These conversions make it possible to record analog sound waves into the computer, and also make its playback back in analog through the speakers, possible.


These highly depend on the budget, and the differences are small, but in my opinion can be worth it. That being said, however, I think great sound can be accomplished through technique even on the budget interfaces. Whatever the choice, the main thing in my opinion is to choose a unit that supports 24bit audio.

  • Focusrite Scarlett: The Scarlett series are great entry units. These also include a preamp, which makes them very versatile.
  • RME Babyface: Excellent value for lots of channels. Perhaps one of the best values there is.
  • SPL Crimsom: SPL makes incredible stuff, and this is in my opinion the best interface under 1k. Excellent preamps built in, and great monitoring features and stuff.
  • Apogee Symphony: My favorite converters/Interface, however do keep in mind as an interface it includes no preamps, and so it needs a separate preamp in order to drive microphones properly.
  • Burl B2: Excellent ADC which adds a very nice character.


Preamps are not necessary in my opinion, but they can enhance a great mic to sound its best. This is only required when using interfaces which have no preamp built in. These are not at all needed for example if recording electronic music where no mic’ing is needed.


Though I said not necessary, with a good mic, I highly recommend a decent mic preamp, if not a few.

  • Golden Age Project Pre 73: Excellent for the price. It is based on the Neve 1073; one of the most sought after mic preamps in the history of mic preamps, but unlike the preamp is based on, its actually pretty affordable. I’d recommend this one to anyone starting, and even any pros looking for a 1073 alternative. Its a bit dark sounding, but it has a great sound full of character.
  • Warm Audio WA12: One I haven’t tried, but I hear great things about. It is also based on one of API’s great mic preamps, which is also one of the most sought after.
  • A Designs Pacifica: Also sort of Neve 1073 sounding but with its own refined twist. I love this pre, but at this price, I have to recommend the Golden Age Project Pre 73.


Microphones are not necessary for computer based music, but otherwise, recommending microphones is really hard since different microphones work in different contexts.

  • Shure SM58/SM57: Great all around Mics, and one of the best values in the market.  For vocals alone, however I would recommend the Sennheiser e935 instead.
  • Shure SM81: Using two of these makes awesome stereo recordings.
  • Rode K2: My favorite mic of them all. A great value after a tube change. I thought the telefunken brand tubes suit it really well.
  • Rode Classic II: Possibly, my  new favorite mic.
  • Royer 121: Not the most versatile mic in my opinion, but one of the best to have for recording guitars.
  • Neuman U87: Industry standard mic. I don’t like this mic very much, but thought to list it as it is the industry standard mic, and it is a sound everybody hears most often in the radio.


WHAT GOOD IS ALL OF THE GEAR ABOVE if you cannot hear things properly. Good monitors are in my opinion the most important tool.

  • Focal Alpha 50: Never tried these, but I hear great things. I am a bit biased about Focal. Their stuff always sounds the best for the price.
  • Yamaha HS8: I could see myself making great mixes on these
  • Focal CMS65: Mixing on these is a pleasure… It is what I use currently. I do like the higher end Focals, but these are an excellent sweet spot in value.
  • Avantone Mixcubes: These make a great set of secondary monitors. These can help you fix your mix for different playback settings.


EXTREMELY IMPORTANT. again…WHAT GOOD IS ALL THE GEAR ABOVE if you cannot hear things properly. Proper acoustic treatment is a must.

  • GIK Acoustics: These are made up of very good quality materials, so they can truly help manipulate and tame and overall balance the acoustics in just about any room. Probably the best value for any ready made room treatment kits.
  • Aurallex: Thse are also very good and less intrusive, though, these are quite a bit less effective than the GIK room kits, as foam is not exactly a replacement for fiber glass in terms of controlling low frequencies.
  • DIY: My top recommendation is to buy some Owens Corning 703 and build some of these panels yourself. You will save a ton of money. And these will still be using proper acoustic treatment fiberglass. Just be cautious, in building these, as fibreglass is toxic.
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