TOOLS

Something I get asked the most is what I use to create my music, so here I have compiled some information about the gear I use. Before I begin, I cannot stress enough my belief that expensive gear does not necessarily = good quality music and less expensive gear does not necessarily = bad quality music. Composers looking up to their influences and replicating their studios in an attempt to become like them isn't the way forward - keep in mind that everyone uses a different variety of tools and it's up to you to discern what you need to make your own music, and what you feel most comfortable working with - there's not a magical shopping list of gear anywhere that will make you a better composer. However, I appreciate that some of us here are simply gear nerds, so here we go...


STUDIO EQUIPMENT

I recently switched my main rig to a Windows PC as I try to avoid slave machines at all costs, and Apple's line of 'professional' computers wasn't cutting it for me. I have a 6 core 3.6Ghz 64GB machine, with a 2TB Samsung 960 Pro for samples and everything else on SSDs. I use my Mac alongside my PC for everything other than music production, and my files are accessible on both machines via the studio server. This way I get the best of both worlds. I use the Focusrite Clarett 8Pre and Scarlett 2i4s as my main audio interfaces and a Novation Impulse 61 as my primary MIDI input device. For monitoring, I use a pair of Focal Trio6 BEs as my main pair with Yamaha HS7s as a reference pair, and Audio Technica ATH M50Xs headphones (I'm on my second pair). I can't recommend the Audio Technica's enough especially. I use a passive Palmer Monicon L to control all these. My number one piece of advice for anyone looking for new monitoring equipment is to compare multiple brands and models for yourself in your own room. I demoed multiple pairs of monitors in-store before I decided on the Focals, with a pair of Amphions coming in at a very very close second. I then took the Focals and Amphions home with me and in my own space, the difference was night and day.

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I'm also a big advocate for treating your room (this can be done very cost effectively if you go DIY) as it can make a massive difference - even with the cheapest of monitors.


DAW

Back when I started writing music, I was running Garageband on my Grandparents' old Powerbook G4 laptop. This was the first time I experimented with computer music and I loved it, so therefore the transition to Logic Pro 9 and later to Logic Pro X was quite natural for me. I used Logic for around 5 years, however I switched to Cubase in late 2016. The reason for the switch was Logic's poor CPU management, and the vast realm of customisation and options that I felt Logic was lacking. Once I'd changed Cubase's colour scheme from Cubase blue to Logic Pro black, I loved it instantly...I use two touchscreen control surfaces to enhance my DAW workflow. My switch to Cubase motivated my switch to Windows and I'm now running Cubase 9 on Windows 10.


SAMPLE LIBRARIES

99% of the sample libraries I use run in Native Instrument's Kontakt 5 engine - it's pretty much the heart of my composing workflow. I run a ton of libraries in Kontakt from developers such as 8DioV8PEast WestCinesamplesOutputSpitfire AudioNative InstrumentsEmbertoneHeavyocityOrchestral Tools and Soundiron. I highly recommend checking out Audio Imperia libraries - they're affordable and of extremely high quality (I wasn't paid to say this). I also have an ever expanding collection of my own custom libraries. I have hundreds of sample libraries on my machine, so I won't make a list - but feel free to get in touch if you have a question about a specific sound.


SYNTHS AND EFFECTS

Native Instruments. I use Prism, Spark, Monark, Absynth, Massive, FM8 and Battery, and I love them. I also use Spectrasonics Omnisphere and a Roland Aira System-1m semi-modular synth for particular custom sounds.

I use a lot of stuff from Native Instruments, Soundtoys and Waves, and also bits and pieces from AOM, Cableguys, Mellowmuse, Parallax Audio, Softube, Voxengo, Valhalla and Xfer. I tend to run guitars through Guitar Rig Pro 5 and find that Soundtoys's plugins can go a long way in manipulating a sound beyond recognition in some really interesting creative ways.


LIVE INSTRUMENTS

Despite my complete incompetence as a guitarist, I often track in acoustic and electric guitar when layering up the mix. For piano, I often track my Steinberg concert upright. It has a practise felt layer and sounds incredible when the mics are positioned close to the hammers. I find just the smallest amount of live recording in a track can go a long way when it comes to breathing life and emotion into the music.