Q+A  :  GENERAL MUSIC  :  GEAR - studio equipment / technology / musical instruments


I've just gone through the kit list for the Thin Line, and I noticed that you have an Akai S-612. It seems a bit out of place among the more sophisticated samplers. I was wondering if it ever gets used and if it was ever used on a DM track. Have you any of those quick-disks that you don't want anymore? Would you be willing to give them to a long-time die-hard fan? In return I would fill you with proper Irish Guinness (or whatever tipple you choose), on your next visit to Ireland. What do you say?

I haven't used it for years but I keep it for nostalgic reasons. As with a lot of out dated gear, it's not worth selling anyway unless it's very old and rare. I don't really seem to have many discs - most of them have been lost or mislaid. Thanks for the Guinness offer though.

Recently I heard that you are a very good flute player! It would be interesting to know if it is true?

I learned the flute when I was young and progressed to a reasonable standard but I haven't touched one in years.

I am about to buy a Roland JD800 Synth. Do you know it, and what do you think about it? Oh, and why is it that once you enter a music-store, people look at females as if they come from Mars when they ask questions about synth's?

I don't know this synth but I've never been mad on Roland keyboards.

Now don't you worry your pretty little head with all this technical nonsense, go and put the kettle on, love ;-)

Reading through the archives, I see a mention of DCC about which you say "nobody uses it". Who are you calling a nobody??? Hehe.

So, you're the mug! Actually, I have a portable machine as well. It was a gift from Sony (perks of being in DM) but I've never used it because it's playback only and recordable DAT came along which was much more useful.

Have you seen the new Quasimidi-Sirius. I just got one and it's awesome!!! It is a 41 key synth / dance workstation, with built-in vocoder, fx, etc. Do you often indulge in new toys or do you try to stick to only what you need?

If you go to technical - thin line you will find a list of equipment. Also, two of the editorials in report is dedicated to recent updates made to my studio. I don't know this particular keyboard. I'm mainly into samplers and hard disk recording but every now and then, I purchase something new to add to the arsenal - I'm not obsessive about it though.

I'm planning to buy Yamaha's EX5. Do you know this synth and what do you think of it?

I don't know it, I'm afraid.

I've just seen a second hand Yamaha DX 7 (later model) and was tempted to buy for my first synth. Would you recommend it?

Not unless it's very cheap. There are many better keyboards around these days. The problem with the DX 7 is that it is very complicated to adjust the factory settings. I do believe Brian Eno is a bit of an expert but I don't know of many others.

Which guitars do you have in your studio?

I have a Knight Gretsch copy - go to technical - thin line / apparatus. Everything is listed there.

What keyboard / synth would you recommend for someone just getting into playing and who admires the style of music you produce?

I'd suggest a sampler with some factory sounds thrown in to get you started. Samplers force you to use your imagination when producing sounds. You can go in any direction you want.

Do you use these so called real-time effect plug-ins in your production or do you stick to the old school with a number of different boxes? If you do use plug-ins, are they really as good as the old ones? I mean, do they have the same "feeling".

Depends which ones. Most of them seem pretty good to me although certain sounds can only really be achieved using old-fashioned equipment. I like a combination of both although let's face it, in the end, it isn't the choice of effects that makes or breaks the music.

Me and the rest of my band are now reconstructing our studio and could use some advice. Are we better off getting rid of the old stuff and throwing ourselves into the arms of the new totally software-based way of creating tunes? I am tempted to believe so since I am extremely tired of tripping on wires and things in the basement.

Keep everything.

By the way, what Akai samplers do you suggest we buy? We're intending to use them for performances, not filling them with loops, as we use the hard-disc recording for these matters. In other words, we do not need an exclusive one with lots and lots of memory, rather an old stable one that can be trusted.

I probably wouldn't recommend Akai at all. There are better, more flexible samplers around now. We used to use Emax live because they were so reliable but I doubt that still applies now - that was 4 / 5 years ago.

I am considering purchasing the Waldorf Wave and was wondering if you've ever used it on any projects and what you thought of it.

I've never used it so I can't give you any advice I'm afraid.

I have a Korg X-3 which is mutli-timbral, I want to buy a sampler and trigger the samples with my X-3. Is this possible? Of course I know you're not Mr. Know It All . . . are you? ;)

Recommend anything - Akai? Emu? Ostrich? A girl? ;)

I'd take the girl.

I am looking at an ENSONIQ sampler keyboard and an Akai S-2000 rack mounted module. Do you like Akai and why?

I use Akai samplers because I got fed up with Emulators breaking down on me but I don't think Akai's actually sound that good. I'd try something else if I were you.

Could you recommend a Roland sequencer and sampler for a semi prof. band (like Depeche Mode in the early 80`s)

I suggest this band consults a technical magazine for information about gear as I'm not really that much of a trainspotter. Anyway, I don't recommend Roland on principle.

I read under editorial about how you were pretty fond of the synclavier even though it was a heavy mother. Did you ever considered using a Fairlight in your production or was the cost not worth the purchase. Speaking of the Fairlight, Jarre uses this and a lot of other stuff, do you ever growl when you see his listing of studio equipment and do you like his music/innovations?

We only used a Fairlight once at Puk - it was there anyway. We didn't need to purchase one since we had Emulators and the Synclavier at our disposal. I couldn't give a toss about Jarre's studio equipment. "Oi, Jarre.....NO! I admire your use of fancy light shows on big walls but......"

What do you think of Alesis and Ensoniq products and what's your opinion on Pro Tools?

I don't really know much about the first two but I've just invested in ProTools for the new album. I'll let you know how I get on with it. There will be a feature coming soon on this website about all the new equipment.

What's your opinion on Analog favourites like the Juno-106 and other Roland products?

I've never actually liked Roland products that much apart from the Roland Space Echo. I've had some bad experiences with their gear over the years.

Also what's your favourite analog sounding synth?

I'm very attached to my Minimoog. I also like Oberheim and Arp.

I saw in 101 you were playing guitar. How long have you played, and do you own any? Do you use the guitar ever in song writing?

I've picked up a few chords over the years but I'm really very limited in what I can do. Bass is a little easier - less strings and you don't need to play chords ;-) I've got a Knight Gretsch copy. I rarely use the guitar when writing music.

When did you start learning how to play the drums? How/where were you taught? Are there other instruments that you know how to play? Have you ever taken violin lessons?

I only seriously learned to play the drums for the' SOFAD' tour - before that, like the guitar, my drumming capabilities were pretty minimal. I'm a bit better now but not quite Billy Cobham. I also play the most rock 'n' roll instrument ever - the flute. I've never taken violin lessons - the missus plays the violin.

Could you recommend some gear for a first time set up?

Depending on your budget and musical direction, a reasonable sampler with good memory, a decent Mac with logic audio, some kind of digital portastudio so you can record your vocals and live instruments on maybe 8 - 12 tracks whilst still running more parts live and a DAT machine to master onto. Also, a generic synth with lots of factory pre-sets. That should coverjust about anything you want to do.

I was wondering if you have ever tried using Digital Performer for the Macintosh? I have recently discovered this incredible sequencer/digital audio recorder/mixer from MOTU. I did notice you had a MIDI timepiece AV so I know you are familiar with MOTU products...

No, I haven't tried this one - perhaps I should.

I am curious to know what sampler/s you would recommend today?

Probably the latest Emu samplers or Kurzweil.

Does your new set-up mean that you may totally disregard the so called 'high end effects' that really good outboard gear can attain? Isn't there a bit of a sonic limitation with plug-ins, or will you be blasting the effected sounds through some tube compressor (non-plug in).

I will still use some choice bits of external equipment - valve compressors, e.q. etc..

Are you going to beef up your effects gear? From looking at the list, you must do most of the effects treatments at outside studios, would this be an accurate conclusion?

Up to now, most of the effects have been added at mix stage in another studio. My new set-up however, incorporates software-based, effects plug-ins designed to allow me to add most of the effects directly in the computer.

You have some great older analog gear but have you considered any of the newer 'virtual' analog gear like the Nord Lead, Studio Electronics S.E.1 and the Waldorf Microwave XT, etc.?

No I haven't really. I'm more interested in exploring sampling possibilities at the moment. Electronic sounds are still important but I find I can achieve most of what I want with the equipment I have.

How are you finding Logic 3.0? I tend to find the MIDI timing is not that great but then what software sequencers have good MIDI timing (shrug)?

Seems acceptable enough to me - but not perfect. I was always told it was a lot better than Cubase but in cycle mode, for example, it is erratic. At the moment, I am not synching anything to an external device (like a tape machine) so the timing accuracy is not proving a problem. It is irritating though when you can't rely on midi for timing.

Did you ever consider getting the Ensoniq PARIS hard disk recorder? I'm getting this in a couple of weeks time as I think it is better value than ProTools.

I don't know much about it but i did quite a lot of research with people I trust and it seemed that ProTools was probably the best way to go for me - I'm happy with it so far.

Where are your drums and acoustic pianos located in your studio (no pictures of them in the gear section)?

The drum kit is in the basement of the studio in a separate drum booth (a converted water tank) and the pianos are in my main house, one in the bedroom, the other in the drawing room.

When you shared out the gear with DM, what did they keep and what did you take (where are the Roland Jupiter 8 and the Arp 2600 )?

I can't give you a full list. I retained the drums, a couple of samplers, a guitar, various keyboards and some other bits and pieces. We never owned the Arp 2600 (it is Dan Miller's) and I don't know what happened to the Jupiter 8.

What kind of mics do you use for your drums and what are their positions (e.g. what mic for snare, what mic for bass drum, etc...)?

It depends who is recording them for me. I don't have any great preferences. I let an engineer decide.

Have you scaled the big learning curve of the new kit you have invested in or are you still referring to manuals?

I ritually burned all the manuals about 10 minutes after opening the boxes....
Yes I know my way around it reasonably well now.

Can you shed some light on what DMM (Direct Metal Mastering) is all about? It's common with a lot of earlier DM and Recoil German-pressed LP's from Intercord. My DMM copy of 'Hydrology' still sounds as fresh as ever after all these years. Is this but a thing of the past?

Not much light, I'm afraid. It's some kind of special vinyl mastering technique - probably to do with the lathe that's used. There are different kinds of equipment used around the world as well as massive variation in the quality of vinyl. Classical records, for example, are often cut onto thicker, better quality vinyl than pop records but it's more expensive to mass produce. It really depends how many corners are being cut to produce product cheaply. Intercord, to their credit, always boasted DMM on the sleeves and if you say the German pressings sound good, then they were right to be proud of this technique.

Do you prefer your Steinway or your Bosendorfer piano?

They sound completely different. The Steinway is softer and less pronounced than the Bosendorfer and gets played more often because it's in my bedroom but I don't have a preference.

Ever heard about a synth called Roland-D20 ? Comments?

Yes but I don't know it that well. I think it's a bit like a better version of the Yamaha DX7.

I'm mastering a recording for an artist I'm producing. I'm very new to this, so I don't know TOO much yet. Anyway, my question is this: I have discovered a rather annoying high pitched hum in the recording. I have recorded three times and cannot seem to get rid of it. I've checked my cables etc, everything seems fine. So, do you know of a way to get rid of this hum? I've been messing with EQ trying to get rid of it but like I said I'm new to this, so I don't really know all the little tricks. I can send a wav file or mp3 of a segment of the track, if hearing the hum will help.

I can't really help you too much on this - there could be any number of reasons for the hum. If it's actually recorded in the music, then only very good filters will help to reduce it.

I have a Korg X-3 and I love the organic sounds. Do you find that Korg keyboards tend to have better piano or organ sounds?

I have no idea because I'm not an authority on all the different synths out there - I've got far more interesting things to waste my time on.

What event/band/technology has changed your music the most?

Probably the advent of the sampler.

What do you think about E-mu systems sound module 'Morpheus'?

I'm not familiar with the later E-mu products. I gave up on Emulator after my E111 joined it's predecessors on my keyboard scrap heap.

I'm interested in your move over to Logic Audio - does it really give you any advantages over Cubase and if so, are these only at the later stages (i.e. mixing) of the track ?|

Logic is definitely superior to Cubase. It has more functions and more possibilities.

Would you like to buy my Blue, Red & Grey SH101's all with hand grips - the grey one actually has a 'Splendid Studios' sticker on it - could this be Vince Clarke's?

I don't know what these are.

What grades did you obtain in Piano?


Do you have any tips for adding 'life' to some of todays 'sterile' synths. Even the virtual analogue ones sound too 'nice' to me?

Stick 'em through a guitar amp.

Do you ever name your hard drives and if so, what do you call them? 

'What's wrong with it this time',
'Fucking work will you',
'You're history sunshine'
'Oh no, it's crashed again"

Do you regularly read technical magazines about music instruments and when do you decide, for example that you need a new keyboard, do you buy new gear only because it is new on the market?

I don't read them unless they are lying around (usually in studio toilets). I don't buy new gear very often but if I do, I ask certain people what they recommend first, and then I might read up on it.

Why do you use a Mac and what programmes (win95/98, etc.) do you work with? I don't know very much about Macintosh Computers. What is the difference to other computers?

I have always used a Mac for music and, like most people, don't want to change to another system. For music, I've used Steinberg 'Cubase' and more recently 'Logic Audio'. We use 'Go live Cyberstudio' to program the website, 'Photoshop 4.0' for images and 'Clarisworks' for general word processing.

Do you prefer weighted or unweighted keys on your keyboard?


How would you rate your keyboard playing skills?

Compared to my two brothers - crap.
Compared to Jools Holland - pretty good.

Besides drums, what other instruments are you interested in learning to play?

None particularly. I suppose it would be useful to be able to play the guitar really well.

What made you choose the 888 I/O over the 882?

That's what Digidesign recommended. I don't really know what the difference is to be honest.

Could you talk a bit about the synclavier 2?

The synclavier was a state of the art sampler/synthesizer that sounded great. It was an overpriced beast which took 4 grown men to assemble because of all it's additional boxes etc. and it was a bit of a bastard to use. It was so expensive that nobody could afford one apart from one or two top producers - Dan Miller for example and Trevor Horn who produced Frankie Goes To Hollywood (I think you'll find large parts of 'Relax' and 'Two Tribes' were programmed on the synclavier). We used it initially on 'Construction Time Again' and subsequently on the next two Mode albums.

Many modern musicians consider you a definite authority in terms of music making and creativeness. From this perspective, what's your view on the current situation with development of music technology?

I've never considered myself an authority on modern recording techniques. There is so much choice out there and everybody likes to work differently. Like most people, I tend to stick with what I know and what I like.

What's your opinion about software-based synthesizers like ReBirth RB-338 and ACID etc. Do you consider them as something of a breakthrough?

Not so much a breakthrough as a rather a nice edition to those of us who are more computer-based. It's great for someone like me who likes the sound of analogue but prefers to construct music digitally.

Do you think that 'all-in-one' music solutions (music cards equipped with multiple ins-and-outs, huge effect lines, a professional sampler, quality and reliable hard-disk recording etc.) are something to be seriously considered?

Well this is pretty much how I am working now ;-)

What's your opinion about Dolby Surround ? Would you consider using it in music-oriented pieces after the obvious success in the movie-fx industry?

As I've said before, you can make clever surround-sound records but only a tiny minority of people are ever likely to hear them in their intended way, so it's a virtually pointless exercise until this system becomes standard in most homes.

I'm trying to get into a school for sound engineering.... Do you know of any good schools in England?

Personally I would get your training from real experience in a commercial studio rather than trying to 'learn' in a classroom. Working in this area of music entails so much more than simply twiddling knobs and knowing how to mic up a band. You'll have to start at the bottom - making the tea and being abused by producers - but you'll learn so much more than you would at any school.

How do you feel about sound enhancements like Q-sound and others?

Don't know what this is.

Do you remember what your first synthesizer was?

Minimoog (I still have it).

Digital recording often leads to hours of configuring computers, soundcards and drivers..... so I wonder if at your level you experience a lot of these problems? Does your gear always work properly and do you ever have to put your head in the computer ?

It's difficult to actually put my head inside the computer ;-) but if you mean do I put my head in my hands out of frustration because of computers - yes. They are temperamental beasts and whilst I know my way around a Mac quite well, I often find myself totally confused and irritated in front of a machine that will not do what it's supposed to do, or has just crashed at the most inopportune moment. I don't normally get to the point where I need to actually take the thing to bits and I wouldn't really know what to do when I got there (apart from re-seating cards in their slots). The initial configuration of my current set-up was done with the help of Digidesign but there are always new updates so I need to know how it is all put together and learning how to operate all the software can be a nightmare. I hate manuals with their stupid terminology or bad Japanese / English translations etc...

Have you ever played a Theremin?


How do you feel in front of a mixing desk?

Humble....... I still don't really know what I'm doing although after a lot of fumbling about, I sometimes manage to achieve what I'm after.

In a picture of your studio, I saw a guitar. Is it not the same kind that Martin uses?

It's one of a pair of Knight Gretsch copies, identical to an original owned by Martin and made for the 'Devotional' tour.

What experience do you have of the Kurzweil 2000?

The only experience I've had of the Kurzweil was trying to figure out, with Hep via telephone, how to work one when I'd never seen one before - it wasn't a very successful operation.

What`s your opinion on Yamaha samplers?

I've never used them.

I recently bought a center speaker for my Dolby ProLogic equipped amplifier.

Ah, indeed. Anoraks on lads..

Usually, when listening to music, I will disable the surround features as I don't care to simply have time delayed music coming out of the rear speakers. Last night though, I forgot to disable the ProLogic Surround setting and started playing 'Liquid'. I noticed many, many elements that were enhanced and seemed to be mixed specifically with surround sound in mind. Is this just a happy coincidence or was the album mixed for surround sound? It makes everything even more creepy and disconcerting.

It wasn't mixed with surround sound in mind (not enough people would ever hear it) but there is a lot of emphasis on the stereo imaging and plenty of movement within the stereo field, which would account for what you are hearing. One of the great advantages of working with Logic Audio are the hyperdraw possibilities, one of which is the ability to literally draw in panning movements. PK and I spent hours moving sounds around and taking great care to place individual parts away from each other within the stereo. This makes for better overall clarity. The use of phase is also worth experimenting with. Phase reversal can widen the image by a massive amount but be careful, because it can also take away all the punch and body from the sound. Most ghetto blasters for example have a 'wide' option where the phase is simply reversed in order to trick you into thinking the sound is bigger and more expensive.

Just wanted to let you know that emulator trees are little model trees made out of plastic.

Thanks Johannes - no wonder my groundsmen Ron was told to go away when he headed off to the local garden centre to find some for me.......

When you load a sequence, does every piece of MIDI equipment in your studio assume the settings you had for the recording session? Do you take notes of every little detail, from position of faders to aux. knob postions? I find this tedious and boring and rarely do it! What are your thoughts?

These days, I mix everything within Protools having made a hard copy of any samples / sounds / effects I wish to keep so that the next time I load up a particular song, everything comes back automatically the way I left it. The only notes I have to make are analogue synth settings like the Midi Moog which I'm unsure about. When I'm happy with their sounds, I also make a hard copy in Protools.

In perusing the archives, I didn't see this topic listed so I thought I would ask what your opinion is on the Mp3 format? It's my view that quality is being sacrificed in an attempt to market to a mass audience. While I can understand the massive impact this will have on the record industry (and the greedy corporate labels who stand to lose a lot of money if it takes off), I don't think this is the right way to do it. (Remember DCC, DAT, and Minidisc?)

I tend to agree.If it's not up to at least CD quality (which I gather MP3 isn't) then it's not something I'm personally interested in. Seems to be massively popular though and can't be avoided as a marketing tool. I'd like to think that a downloadable format will evolve which is of fantastic quality and music releases can be made available but controlled. MP3 isn't good enough. At the moment, I would rather people waited and heard Recoil music in it's intended formats (CD and Vinyl).

While in Seattle I noticed a pawn shop and found an Emax - the guy wanted 800 bucks but graciously excepted 600 cash. I've got it mostly figured out except for what the 'supermode' on the sequencer is supposed to do (some kind of quantize feature or extended memory?) If you can remember what this option does, some direction would be greatly appreciated.

If I remember correctly, Supermode enables more complex Midi assignments. With Supermode selected, you can give each preset a different midi channel, overriding Global midi. I'm sure it has some other functions as well but I can't remember what they are. That'll be $200 please (Shunt technical support).

Why do musicians choose Mac's over PC's?

Because they work better with most sequencers.

I have my own modest home studio and my current favourite synth is a Novation Supernova - you mentioned recently that you have purchased one. Are you pleased with it and can we expect to hear it used much on the next album (perhaps playing one of your amazing, squelchy basslines)?

It has been used for a couple of bass lines. I haven't fully explored it yet (no time)but it seems quite good.

You mentioned that you have 3 pianos. I'm just curious to know the brand and models of them. Also, what is the most difficult classical piece you have ever studied?

I have 2 6ft grand pianos actually - a 20's Steinway in rosewood which is in my bedroom and a 30's Bosendorfer that is black lacquered and sits in the entrance hall to the house. Both are completely different. I think the most technically demanding piece that I attempt from time to time (which incidentally, I'm far from being proficient at) is Gershwin's 'Rhapsody In Blue'. It's fantastic but very, very difficult - the key and time signatures change every few bars and the stave is just a black mass....

These days the old Emulator II's are popping up in second hand stores for around $275-$325 (US). I've always loved the look of the EII but is it worth $300? Did they breakdown a lot while you had them and do you have any sounds for the EII that I could buy from you?

My studio is a graveyard for clapped-out Emulators. Every model I have owned (almost all of them) has kicked the bucket and my recent attempt to repair an E111 failed because, typically, Emulator do not make the relevant parts for them any more. Like a mug, I have just purchased their latest model which I expect to pop it's clogs and join the others in about one year's time. Also, whoever designs their graphics need shooting - I had to cover the logo with black tape bcause it was so disgusting. They sound good though.

I read that nowadays you prefer to work with Logic and ProTools for sequencing and HD recording. It seems that Logic is more tight, when it comes to MIDI timing and overall stability. I'm using VST myself for various projects but recently I thought about 'converting'. Did you find it hard after so many years of Cubase?

Actually, I don't think Logic is any tighter than Cubase. There is a general midi delay and it doesn't trigger evenly in loop mode (just like Cubase) however, it's a more comprehensive program and I prefer it. If you have prior experience with Cubase, then changing to Logic is relatively easy and I would recommend it. The display looks very similar and you can also customise the key commands to act in the same way as Cubase to make your life easier.

Did you buy new stuff for your studio (samplers, synths, effects) except your Yamaha 03D (numeric paradise!!!) and your ProTools station?

Yes, as well as the recent items you can read about in the December editorial, I've just purchased both a professional and a domestic CD burner, a new Novation Supanova synth, a rack-mount space echo and another drive for my Akai.

Do you plan on getting one of those silly fluorescent IMacs? I hear it's a great starter computer for first-time users...maybe for Paris to get a kickstart in technology?

I'm not really impressed by the look of the new Imac to be honest - it seems to be the equivalent of all that horrible bright plastic 'cheap 'n' cheerful' kitchen paraphernalia that clogs up the pages of Elle Decor each month.

Other than music and maintaining the website, what do you use your Macintosh for?

Running my life - i.e. letters, faxes, accounts etc., general correspondance via e-mail.

After reading all the Q+A in the gear section, I notice that you love old analogue synths and samplers but you are using hard disk recording. Don't you find that hard disk recording loses some of the 'warmth' that analogue gear provides?

You are right to say that analogue produces a unique warmth that is impossible to duplicate digitally, however, the practical advantages of working within the digital domain very much suit the more sample-based style that I'm currently interested in, especially when running everything live. The only effective way to do this is digitally. That said, I can process sounds using all kinds of analogue gear. For example, I have just invested in 20 channels of high quality Neve EQ (a broadcast desk built in the 70's) for that very purpose, as well as good quality valve mic and line amps. I also like to put my final mixes through good valve compressors as well as mastering onto half inch tape at high-ish levels for unbeatable tape compression.

If I wanted to become more serious about making music, what variety of equipment would you suggest I should start with? Can all this be Computer based? If you suggest a keyboard / synth, what make would you recommend?

Yes it can all be computer based but you will need a powerful computer and a lot of memory. There are so many options depending on your budget and requirements. Probably cheaper to just run your midi sequencer from your computer combined with a relatively inexpensive sampler and/or synth (there are many - try some out at a music shop) and, say, 12 - 16 channel recorder/mixer.

With the advent of DVD and the DVD Audio Standard just being finalised (a massive 192kHz/24 bits), do you think as a musician you will record to suit this superior audio standard?

I don't think it would affect the recording process. Perhaps the final mastering may change to suit this new format - something I would be in favour of if it improves quality.

If you were to recommend one Mac-based program for mixing / recording and one sampler / synth, what brands would you recommend?

The best music programme is the one I currently use, Logic Audio. It is similar to Cubase (which I have also used) but has many more options and seems to trigger a little tighter via midi. As regards samplers, there are many that are noteworthy. The latest Emu's are supposed to sound very good although I've only used earlier models. Also Kurzweil, I believe, make a good one. Akais are ok but don't sound as full, especially at the bottom end.

It's difficult to get a good education on synth / sampling / desktop recording. Where is a good place to start?

Not sure - I was lucky enough to work at a recording studio when I left school which was invaluable but it's not easy to get a job there. There are college courses available but they tend to focus on the technical aspects without offering a lot of realistic practical experience.

What do you do to clean up old synths (dust inside for instance)?

I don't, unless they break down altogether in which case I send them off to someone who knows what they are doing.

Do you like recordable mini-discs?

I'm sure they're fine but I don't use them. I use DAT tape or a CD burner.

If I sent you an NTSC standard VHS recording of something, would you be able to view it? In other words, do you have a multi standard system?

I only have a European format player - I've never really had much need to own a dual-standard machine. I'm looking forward to DVD so I can throw out all my video recorders. Unfortunately, in predictably irritating fashion, DVD machines are apparently also going to operate using two different standards.

What's the worst piece of gear you ever bought?

Apart from the infamous Roland hard disc recorder, maybe my old PLI drive, my current Syquest Ezyflyer drive, Cubase VST (which never worked properly) or those plastic splitter boxes for your car mobile / cigarette lighter.

Have you got Steinberg-Jones's 'Rebirth 338'? It's 2 x 303's and an 808 all in one package - Realtime and MIDI plus loads of different mod's available. So ass-kicking that you won't be able to sit down for a week...

I think I've got it but I haven't used it yet. 

When you started to play drums, was it very difficult to learn? Did you have a lot of problems to co-ordinate every arm and every leg? How long did it take you to play acceptable beats which you could use for recording?

All my arms and legs were all over the place at first but after a while I managed to tame them, forcing them to go in the right direction at roughly the right time. During the recording of 'SOFAD', my drumming wasn't strong enough to stay in time throughout a whole song. After about 3 months of solid rehearsal my beats became acceptable for the 'Devotional ' tour.

On the sleeve of the new Sarah Brightman album, I read the sentence 'S.B. uses BRAUNER microphones'. Is it important to use special microphones to record voices or do you think that this is just an advertisement?

Sounds like a sponsorship deal to me. Why else would somebody thank a microphone on their record sleeve?

Would you as a musician recommend the Roland XP-50 (or 60) workstation?

I've never used one - sorry.


Q+A  :  GENERAL MUSIC  :  GEAR - studio equipment / technology / musical instruments