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 microphone 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 Rode NT-USB USB Condenser Microphone or the Samson Meteor Mic .

2. The Korg Mini-KP-2 Kaoss Pad Effects Processor

Korg’s Korg Mini KP-2 KAOSS PAD 2 has become the must-have effect units on in every musician’s rig – especially on the DJ scene. The original mini KAOSS PAD earned enormous popularity for packing full-fledged effects into its compact body, but the second edition has even more features. In addition to inheriting powerful effect programs from the larger Kaoss Pad KP3 and the Kaoss Pad Quad, it provides an MP3 player with adjustable pitch, making the mini Kaoss Pad 2 unit ideal for creating DJ-Style performances. Use it as a DJ playback device, or use it to process the entire output of your DJ rig with Korg’s famous KAOSS effects. Instrumentalists, guitarists, sound designers and even just music fans will all enjoy using this little baby. The Organic Electroluminescent (OEL) display provides superb visibility. Add to that a touch slider for ease of use, microSD card data saving, plus a built-in speaker and mic.

3. The USB-MIDI Interface

THE essential piece of kit you need to connect up your keyboard is a USB-MIDI interface so you can get connected. 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 Focusrite Scarlett Studio

Looking at starting up a small home studio? Then the Focusrite Scarlett Studio pro-quality USB interface with high grade mic pre-amps comes in a package with headphones and condenser mic included. 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 a great suite of software: Cubase LE 6, Focusrite Scarlett plug-ins, Bass Station soft-synth, Loopmasters samples. This will 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 the Samson Carbon 49 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, the Alesis Multimix 4 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 Alesis Guitar Link Plus

We love the Alesis GuitarLink Plus because it’s one of the cheapest ways to record your electric or electro-acoustic guitar on your computer or iPad. And it comes with Guitar Rig software. A brilliant bit of kit that just plugs and plays.

9. The Korg Kaossilator 2

Why the Korg Kaossilator 2? 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. Novation Launchpad S Control Pack

Novation Launchpad S Control Pack is a combination of everything you need to make and perform electronic music with Ableton Live. It includes Launchpad S, Launch Control, two custom made protective sleeves, an authorization code for Ableton Live Lite 9, and a large pack of inspiring Loop masters samples. Launchpad S has totally redefined music making for the electronic music producer and performer. The 64 three-color Launch pads are the best way to connect with your music – in the studio or on stage, an absolute must if you want to use Live

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