Music Making Hardware: Our Top 10 Essentials

We were recently asked by a computer magazine for details of our top ten essential computer hardware items for musicians. In no particular order, here are the items we came up with. All top sellers, and all guaranteed to take your computer music making to a new level!

1. USB Microphones

If you want to get decent recordings without having to upgrade your soundcard, buy pre-amps etc, then a USB microphones is a great choice. No need to install anything complicated, just plug and play. There is a USB Microphone to suit pretty much every budget and simple recording situation. Perfect for video voiceovers, vocalists, for recording acoustic instruments, for podcasting, quality vocal recordings, the list is endless. If you want to buy today and record tomorrow, the USB Mic will do the job. (nb if you want to listen to one track while recording another look for a microphone with headphone out such as the Avid Vocal Studio or the Samson Q2U Recording Pak .

2. The Korg Kaoss Pad Quad Dynamic Effects Processor

Kaoss Pad Video

Doesn’t the above video say it all. This is such an exciting bit of kit, really easy to use, full of massive features, and sounds awesome. Play all day….! Apart from the fact that it looks really amazing, you can control multiple effects in realtime using the touchpad, you can create your own combinations using up to four effects at once and you can pick one of five effects from each of four effect groups; a huge total of 1,295 combinations!

3. The USB-MIDI Interface

THE essential piece of kit you need to connect up your keyboard. The starting point of many a home studio. If you already have a keyboard with MIDI or a digital piano and you want to start producing music on your computer/ipad then one of these intefaces will get you looked up and ready to go.

4. The Pro Tools MBox Mini

Looking at starting up a small home studio? Then this pro-quality USB interface with high grade mic pre-amp is designed by the same team who gave you the Pro Tools HD Series interfaces, for pristine sound in one compact unit. What you get is the perfect little box to connect up to your computer for recording a microphone and guitar or other instrument either individually or at the same time on separate tracks. Really pristine quality, a rugged little device and comes with Pro Tools Express to get you straight into the recording world of the Pro’s without breaking the bank.

5. The YouRock Guitar – USB MIDI Guitar Controller and then some!

Totally totally unique and an absolute monster for the price! The You Rock Guitar (YRG) is a MIDI guitar for recording, composing, and creating Tablature via MIDI. It can also be used stand-alone with its internal sounds. Fast tracking, no latency, this is an affordable digital MIDI guitar that can also sounds absolutely awesome

6. Samson Carbon 49 USB MIDI Keyboard Controller

Why this keyboard? Well it is a simple and robust USB MIDI keyboard controller with full-sized keys at a very sensible price. Perfect for anyone wanting to practise their piano skills, hook up to software like Mixcraft or Cakewalk and start laying down tracks, or use with any other music software. But what makes this particular keyboard particularly special is the software it comes with. Samson’s Carbon 49 makes musical performance and production accessible to everyone. For seasoned musicians and young creators alike, the Carbon 49 offers versatile, easy-to-use features in a compact, lightweight controller that’s well-suited for the stage and studio. But is also comes with Native Instruments’ Komplete Elements software which offers a comprehensive selection of studio-quality sounds, effects and tools for modern music production, composition and sound design. With over 3GB of samples, Komplete Elements provides you with more than 1,000 premium sounds and three mighty player engines – all carefully compiled to provide a strong toolkit for both stage and studio. And all in the box for a really great price!!

7. Alesis MultiMix 4 USB Mixer

We love this little mixer from Alesis, it’s another great example of one great bit of starter kit. For someone with a slim budget this is a lovely robust and portable little mixer with USB connection so you can hook it right up to your computer and get recording IMMEDIATELY. Really will get you started on the path of your first hit track. Works with iPad too, so hook it up to Garageband and layer up those tracks.

8. The AcousticLink

We love the Alesis AcousticLink Acoustic Guitar-USB because it’s another of those unique and simple little products that just does what it is supposed to do, in this case connect up and record acousic guitar on your computer or iPad. We don’t know of any other product quite like it, certainly not for this price. It has a pickup and then a USB cable and it comes with recording software. A brilliant bit of kit.

9. The Korg Kaossilator 2

Why the Korg Kaossilator ? Well first you don’t actually need any skill to sound totally amazing, you just need a bit of imagination. This pocket-sized beast delivers the most fantastic synth and drum sounds and it has a really cool loop recording facility. The original was good, but with the mark 2 Korg took everything that was good about the Kaossilator and then added that X-Factor to the mix!

10. Reason Balance

If you don’t already know about it Reason is software quite unlike any other. It is a complete studio in one package. So you have a virtual rack and you just load it up from all the goodies available to you. But we are talking about music hardware here – so we just have to finish our Top Ten with Reason Balance . Why? Well it comes with Reason Essentials software and it is simply the most beautiful recording interface on the planet. You can connect and record guitars, mics and other instruments with pristine quality and then use the Essentials software to create a totally finished song. Fab.

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