Professional Audio Equipment: Your Guide to Essential Add-ons

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Professional Audio Equipment: Your Guide to Essential Add-ons

Putting together a studio is an exciting endeavour, and there are many different options available to audio enthusiasts. Modern technology enables very good sound production from basic and inexpensive equipment, but capabilities greatly expand when adding on certain components. The right input devices are important to producing good music and sound. Users can then modify the sounds they create in a multitude of ways, changing the characteristics of sound signals and adding myriad effects.

Therefore, there is no limit to what music and sound producers can do in a studio with the right equipment. A good studio must have the right core components, and sound producers can build on these by buying essential add-ons from the U.K.’s best audio equipment shops or an online source, such as eBay. Understanding which pro audio equipment add-ons can enhance a studio helps studio owners take their sound production capabilities to higher levels.

Core Components

It is amazing how little it costs these days to set up a basic studio. A computer and basic software are really all that is necessary to produce and record music, but it is helpful to have a few other pieces of equipment for these processes. Many people do use a computer as the centrepiece of a home studio because it is convenient to use software to record and mix music. A computer is not essential, but it is helpful, especially for those new to producing their own music and sound. The components that are necessary are an input device, an input/output system, a recorder, and a monitoring system.

Input Device

There are numerous types of input devices that a studio can have for making sound. A simple, one-person set-up should at least have a MIDI controller. This device is able to digitally produce the sounds of various instruments, such as a piano, a guitar, and a saxophone, among others. Most MIDI controllers feature a keyboard for playing notes, but they may have pad controls or knobs instead. For the money, a MIDI controller gives a musician the greatest capability to produce the sounds of different instruments. This guide discusses other input devices as well, but a MIDI controller is a good core input device to build around.

Input/Output System

The input/output system receives signals from input devices and outputs them to the recorder. The simplest solution is a sound card built directly into the computer. A sound card can work perfectly well, but it is limited in the amount of inputs it has and its ability to process signals from input devices. Those looking to build up their studios later by adding various input devices should use an audio interface. A good interface has inputs for various devices, including a MIDI input, and enables the user to add more power to the signal strength before outputting the signals from the devices to the recorder.

Recorder

The recorder is the device that records the signals sent from the input/output system. Studio software on a computer is capable of recording signals and should suffice for those who have limited space to add other components. Those not working with a computer have other recording options. They include a multi-track recorder, a sequencer, and a music processing centre (MPC). These are all capable of recording and playing back sound, and they enable the user to edit recorded sounds as well. One key feature to pay attention to when buying a recorder is how many tracks it is capable of recording. Those who want to mix sounds from multiple input devices playing at the same time should use a recorder capable of recording each track separately.

Monitoring System

The monitoring system is the speakers. These enable the user to hear what the recorded and edited music sounds like. Speakers can be active, meaning that they have an amplifier built into them, or passive with no internal amplifier. A basic monitoring system should include a left and a right speaker, but users may want a surround sound system to master recordings to have different sounds coming from each speaker. It helps to have a subwoofer as well in order to hear the very low frequencies that regular speakers do not transmit.

General Add-Ons

This section describes a few general add-ons that can enhance a recording studio. These basic components include adapter cables and headphones, the former being essential for a studio and the latter being optional.

Adapter Cables

Adapter cables are necessary add-ons in a studio because they connect all of the components to one another. The adapter cables should be good quality to help make sure that signals transmit without losing strength or introducing unwanted noise. The inputs and outputs on the components determine which types of adapter cables are required. Those who are considering components with RCA outputs and inputs should purchase components with ¼-inch jacks as opposed to ⅛-inch jacks. Those running their components into sound cards on computers should consider a PCI or firewire interface. The adapter cables for these interfaces are higher quality than USB cables, although a USB interface works as well.

Headphones

Headphones can be a good addition to a studio. They are not necessary since speakers function as the monitoring system, but headphones allow the user to monitor playback in situations where noise from the studio may disturb others. They also may be useful for isolating sound during playback in the case that outside noises are entering the studio and making monitoring difficult. Headphones may plug directly into an input/output system or the recorder.

Add-Ons to Enhance a Studio

It possible to enhance a basic studio by adding a few different types of add-ons. These can allow for the introduction of a wide range of sounds or they can enable a user to modify the signals of sounds before recording them.

Introducing Sounds

Three add-ons to consider for introducing new sounds to a studio are microphones, a turntable, and a drum machine. They allow for different sounds and expand the capabilities of the studio.

Microphones

Microphones enable users to record voices, acoustic instruments, wind instruments, and percussion. They are ideal for adding singing parts and certain instruments, such as acoustic guitar, saxophones, and drums, to music. Any band that wants to record should have microphones in their studio, along with a recorder that can record each instrument as a separate track for mixing later.

Turntable

A turntable is essential for those recording and remixing hip hop or electronic music. A user can produce scratching sounds or record a track from a vinyl or CD and remix it by separating it into multiple tracks, editing each track separately, and introducing new sounds. Turntables can play either vinyls or CDs.

Drum Machine

A drum machine is a good way to produce percussion sounds digitally for those who do not have space in their studios for a drum kit. Some drum machines feature pads for striking with hands, while others resemble miniature drum kits with users striking pads with drumsticks.

Modifying Signals

Signal processors and effect machines, amplifiers, and mixers are good add-ons for processing signals that input devices produce.

Signal Processors and Effects Machines

There are a wide range of signal processors and effects machines that enable users to add effects, such as flange, reverb, delay, and chorus to a signal from an input device. Computer software can accomplish this as well, but it is often done after recording. Signal processors and effects machines add effects before recording, which some musicians find to be an easier order for the overall process of producing music.

Amplifiers

Amplifiers add power to a signal while adding only a minimum of noise. This enables a user to turn up the volume without hearing any distortion. Amplifying a signal before recording it can therefore enable more powerful playback while maintaining a clean sound.

Mixers

A mixer can be a good choice to run input devices through instead of a standard interface because it enables the user to simultaneously adjust multiple signals in various ways, such as amplifying it, tweaking frequencies, and adding effects before recording all of those signals. It also has outputs for speakers and headphones just like an interface, making it a great all-in-one solution for a studio.

How to Buy Professional Audio Equipment Add-Ons on eBay

There are numerous sources to buy professional audio equipment add-ons from, including local and online shops that specialise in audio equipment. It is also possible to buy used add-ons through classified ads, but it is wise to exercise caution if going this route. eBay has a large selection of both new and used professional audio equipment add-ons.

To find the add-ons you are looking for, go to any eBay page, enter the term for the add-on you want, such as "drum machine", into the search bar, and click the Search button. You should get a list of results for that add-on, and you can filter for the features that appeal to you to narrow the selection to make for easier browsing. eBay also enables you to buy from local sellers by specifying the distance from your postcode within which sellers should be located. Using this feature can help you reduce shipping times and save on shipping costs.

Conclusion

Those looking to produce their own music and sounds do not need to invest a great deal of money into building a sophisticated studio. They can put together a suitable studio with basic and relatively inexpensive components and get good-quality sound production. Those that want to bring their sound production to another level though need to add a few key add-ons.

This guide has detailed the options for important add-ons and provided advice as to which add-ons meet specific production needs. It has also described the core components of a basic studio to give readers a reference point from which to expand their sound-production capabilities. This guide has also provided information on how to buy professional audio equipment add-ons on eBay, which is a good resource for all of the add-ons described here. By using the information in this guide, readers can to use eBay to take their sound production capabilities to new heights.

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