• joeharley5

Post 1: Studio gear & how I use it.

Updated: Feb 25, 2019

Firstly, I'd like to thank you for taking the time to read this blog. I want to write this to add more information than my main social media outlet, Instagram.

I'll be talking about the music I make, how I make it and a whole host of other random noise related things.

In this post I'll give a brief overview of my main gear and how it all connects together, as well as some of the uses I put it too.

I use my studio to create my own music, mix other peoples and do some simple demo recording for the various groups I'm in. I am always looking for avenues to get a place big enough to record, so watch this sapce!


As you can see from the photo to the left, my studio has some really cool analogue gear that I'm incredibly luck to have. I also use a fair ammount of software, so, I'd like to start by talking about how I utilise the equipment, and how I intagrate it in the greater system.

lets start from the digital domain, to the analogue and back again.

The roles that software play for me are editing, producing/sound design and mixing.

I have a 2015 iMac running Ableton Live 10 and a variety of free plugin synth's and effects for creating music. For mixing, I subscribe to the Slate Digital Everything Bundle and aside from that, I only use Lives bundled plugins and one or two paid plugins.

Whilst this may not seem like a great deal, each role comprises of many steps and a ton of information I won't go into on this post.

So, now we've looked at the digital side of things, lets follow the signal path and look at how I get my audio out into the analogue domain.

Well, I have to ways, or rather, two pieces of equipment.

Dead Antelope Orion

The main piece is my Focusrite 18:20 interface. It's only eight channels but I have developed a mixing strategy that uses it to its best. The converters aren't the best ever but they function well for what I need at the moment. One really good point is that it has seperate monitor outputs. Why manufacturers don't put seperate monitor outputs on their converters i'll never know!

The second, and arguably the best, is my Antelope Audio Orion 32. But, the bastard thing broke! So, as I save up for the funds to have it repaired, it sits in my rack not doing a great deal. I can't wait to get it fixed as its an amazing converter. I never really understood the fuss around conversion untill i plugged that beast in!

Coming to the analogue end of the chain, we find all the outputs and inputs from the 18i20, routed to the patchbays. My main patchbays have routing switches on the front. For example, I have the 18i20 outputs normalled, to my Rupert Neve Designs 5059 summing mixer inputs. Saves a ton on patch cables and I can always flick a switch to say, record through the 5059, or send audio out to a compressor or eq, where I don't want to use the 5059.

All the other gear, has it's inputs and outputs wired to the patch bays. To keep track of it, I have made a simple spreadsheet in Apple's Numbers, that is colour coded and set out in the same manner as the patch bay's, (I'd seriously recomend doing this if you have a couple of patchbay's. So much easier to set up and change than scribble strips).

Patch bay's and 18i20

So thats how everything is connected but how do I use my analogue gear?

To answer that question, I'd like to talk about my approach to mixing. for me, the purpose of mixing is to take what someone has created and process that song, to demonstrate the best of the recording, instrumentation, production and most importantly, the musicianship and I like to achieve this in the most intuitive way, for me.

By intuitive, I mean how I use the gear and what I apply it to. If I use my 1176, I tend to be more heavy handed with it and I'm more inclined to push it into harder compression than a software emmulation. I have no idea why, eccept I enjoy using my hands to interact with the gear. For me, the joy of mixing, is the tactile experience, and knowing my movements are having an effect. I feel more connected to the things I change and as a result, I am more attentive and listen not just to the affected track, but also whats going on around it, with greater focus. Because there is so much visual feedback when using software, my mind becomes boggled by it all. With analogue, there's very little, and I can focus much more on the sound.

And it's for this reason, that I save my analogue gear for groups and the master buss, so I can get the most out it by applying it to all the tracks in some form.

With careful planning and documentation, I work out what is going to be grouped with what so, all drums, guitars, synths, bass, vocals, together and then I route that to the 5059. On the patchbay I patch in the master buss processing which is normally my Drawmer 1978 and SPL Qure. After this I make the most of the 5059's two outputs and route the master signal back into it. The 5059 has 16 channels and the Focusrite 18i20 has 8 outputs, so I'm not sacrificing but can make use of the two silk controls on the 5059 Blue, and Red.

Silk goodness!

For the drum buss, guitar buss, and anyother buss, I use the insert points on the 5059 to send signals off. to whatever gear I want to use on it. This means I can give everything a little bit of analogue flavour.

That pretty wraps up a very short introduction about my gear an how I use it.

If you'd like a more indepth look at the gear, head over to the gear page for a full list.

I'll be talking more about gear and how I use it in future posts but untill then, thank you for reaading!

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