I have received various inquiries regarding my studio life. Here is what I use and why.
I have a pair of the HD24XRs; one for tracking and one for mixing. I love these. I track at 24-bit / 96kHz. The detail, accuracy, resolution, dynamic range, headroom and overall recorded dimension is stunning. Very solid; very dependable; well-made and intelligently designed.
Alesis Masterlink ML-9600
I use the Masterlink as my mixdown and mastering machine. It's easy to see/hear why they've become something of an industry standard. I really like the versatility and flexibility of the design and interface, but the main reason I use it is the fidelity. It is a wonderful sounding mastering deck. The Masterlink's internal hard drive makes life better.
Of late, I have been doing some recordings in mid-side (M/S) configuration, but the vast majority of my recorded output has been with the mics in a setup known as coincident stereo pair. Using that mic'ing technique, I get a lot of control over the stereo field at mix time; plus the Gefells are just unsurpassed in detail, resolution, and accuracy. My usual coincident pair consists of the Gefell M-930 and the Gefell M-295; my last three or four albums were tracked using that pair on myself. However, I have also been using the M-930 paired with a Shure KSM44. The mics listed here are the ones which see the most use.
If I had a favorite microphone company, it would be Microtech Gefell of Germany. I do have a favorite mic; it is the Gefell M-930. This has been my main mic on all recordings since the sessions for "Bichromial" in 2004. Very, very accurate and imparts a larger-than-life aura. It is huge and extremely detailed; never muddy or ill-defined. And the self-noise is very low at 7 dB. The workmanship is German precision at its finest. I know that long established studio dogma dictates that small-diaphragm condensors (SDC) are the accepted gold standard for recording acoustic string instruments, but my favorites are all large-diaphragm condensors (LDC). And of all the LDC mics I've ever used over the years, the M-930 exceeds any of them. Cardioid pattern.
The Gefell M-295 is a rare and unusual mic, in that it utilizes a nickel diaphragm in the capsule. Currently, the Gefell M-29x series are the only nickel-diaphragm mics in the world. The detail, clarity, and accuracy of this mic never fails to amaze me. It adds nothing, and takes away nothing. The upper frequencies are sparkling without ever being harsh or brittle. The 295's frequency response is built upon a long slope from 0 hZ up to about 500 hZ, where it levels off to just about perfectly flat until around 3kHz, where it exhibits a slight 1 dB rise from around 4kHz of up to about 2 dB at 10kHz. This gentle low-end slope greatly reduces any of the cardioid pattern's proximity effect when used in close-mic'ing, which is precisely how I use it. Cardioid pattern.
AKG C 414
Another mic from Germany, the 414 is the Swiss Army knife of the recording studio. I have a pair of these. I remember one of the early recording sessions I did as a studio musician in the late 1970s; the recording engineer set up a 414 in front of me, and I've liked them ever since. Unlike the older four pattern versions of the 414, the XL-II has five patterns; as well as much lower self-noise than the previous versions (7 dB vs. ~15 dB). Hanging a pair can make an ideal M/S or Blumlein configuration.
The KSM-44 is truly an under-rated LDC mic. Built by Shure Brothers in Illinois, this is the flagship of their KSM series. In cardioid, it tends to sound surprisingly close to the Gefell M-930. It makes for a great second mic in a coincident stereo pair along with the Gefell M-930. The 44 also has very low self-noise at only 7 dB, and has the usual Shure tank-like build. It makes a wonderful M or S mic in a M/S setup, too. Three patterns.
More German microphone precision. The 103 is a very accurate and clean LDC instrument mic. Very crisp and defined without being harsh or brittle; also with very low self-noise.
An accurate SDC mic. When coupled with the Neumann TLM-103, it makes a very nice stereo coincident pair. This is the mic pair which was used on Sándor Szabó on both our albums Resonance and Parallel Crossings.
My favorite microphone pre-amps. I have eight channels of Millennia mic pres, and they are a critical element of all of my recordings. A very transparent mic pre. The triple gain range makes dialing in gain much more accurate, and Millennia's gear has a military-grade heavy build quality, with loads of precision and attention to detail at every turn. Millennia has been very good to me; John LaGrou has gone above and beyond for me on more than one occasion. I'm listed under their Critical Acoustic Music Recording section, too.
Absolutely the most incredible reverb I have ever heard outside of Boston Symphony Hall. Beautiful; smooth; dense; accurate, with no grain in the tails. Very flexible; very programmable. The M7 is the only reverb I own or want to own; I can't say enough about it. Every record of mine from Resonance forward was mixed using the M7. I'm proud to be an artist endorser for Bricasti.
Mackie Onyx 1640
This is the big 16-channel version of the Onyx series. I've used Mackie mixing consoles for many years with never a problem. Their Onyx series are nice and flat; I bypass the EQ and route the reverb returns to channels 15 and 16. I only use the 1640 for mixing, not for tracking. To use as a clean mixer with an uncomplicated signal path, it works very well.
The main monitor pair. Bi-amped. Pretty accurate and flat; neither harsh nor boomy. The V8s have plenty of power and headroom. I can monitor and mix on them for hours with no ear fatigue.
The secondary monitor pair. These are also bi-amped. Used to double-check mixes, and also as a good second reference. Very surprising for their size.
I use the 701s to double-check mixes, and they're great for zeroing in on mix elements with surgical accuracy; they're like an audio microscope.
My favorite tracking headphones. Clean, they can handle high output levels, while still maintaining excellent isolation.
I have a pair of these, and love them. David Browne of Ireland's Enhanced Audio has invented a true modern classic. Here is my endorsement of them on the Enhanced Audio website. Thanks, David!
I make all my own mic and patch cables for the studio. I use only Neutrik connectors and either Mogami Neglex 2534 or Gotham GAC-4 raw cable. I'm also rather fond of the Hakko 936 soldering stations.
I use Rane for my monitoring submixers and headphone amplifiers.
The Big Knob is a very handy and efficient tool for signal routing and monitor selection. It never gets turned off.
Everything is powered via a set of Furman PL-8-ii Power Conditioners. So far, they've been fully reliable and rock-solid.
I have a pair of these in the studio. For me, they're the perfect recording chair. The Emeco 1006 provides an ideal playing posture with support, and since it's a one-piece design with no moving parts or nothing to loosen over time, it never creaks or squeaks, which can ruin a take. Handmade in Pennsylvania from recycled aluminum.
No EQ | No Compression | No Limiting | Ever.