Assembling my home recording kit

After much research over the past few months I have settled for the components listed below.

Microphones I – A pair of RØDE NT2-A, with SM2 shockmount.

  • The NT2-A has a reasonably flat frequency response down to about 20Hz, low self-noise, and quite decent off-axis response. The switchable polar patterns will allow me to try various stereo mic techniques.
  • I will be starting with Mid-Side stereo first, then XY, then AB spaced pair, in that order.
  • Mic stands will be from Sennheiser.

Microphones II
Shure SM81

  • Had an opportunity one up at a very good price. Will use it for close miking in conjunction with the NT2-A’s.
  • Will also use it as an alternative to the NT2-A as the ‘Mid’ mic. Preliminary tests show that the dual NT2-A combination for Mid and Side sounds subjectively better.

Mic MountSabra-Som ST2 Two Mic Bar

  • This is the only neat one-vendor solution I know of that allows the easy mounting, on one mic stand, of two microphones in a vertical head-to-head orientation for Mid-Side or Blumlein recording.

Audio InterfaceTC Electronic Konnekt 24D.

  • It has great mic preamps, and overall clean and detailed sound in a relatively inexpensive package. Another really neat feature is the ability to daisy-chain the first unit together with up to 3 additional Konnekt 8’s or Konnekt 24D’s to increase the number of inputs and outputs. The Konnekt 8 is identical to the Konnekt 24D, but without the built-in effects.
  • I figure that if TC Electronic gear is good enough for the legendary mastering engineer Bob Katz, then it is most definitely good enough for amateur use.
  • Update 2008-06-01: TCE is having problems with their drivers on the OS X platform. You might want to consider one of the other alternatives if you have only a Mac to work on.
  • Update 2008-06-05: The latest version of Leopard (10.5.3) and the Konnekt 24D version 2.0.1 drivers appear to be stable for some people using the latest Macs. The Konnekt 24D is rock solid for me on a Windows XP Home (SP3) machine, with both Cubase LE1 and Cubase SL3.

DAW Software – Steinberg Cubase SL3.

  • I already have this. Bought at the tail-end of my MIDI phase three years ago. It’s presently running on a decently spec’d Windows PC that I got for free with a 19″ screen when I renewed my cable TV/broadband contract also around that time. I’ve just installed it on my Macbook Pro and upgraded to version 3.1. Not sure if its worth upgrading to version 4 just to get the phase inversion button on the mixer channel strips (for Mid-Side decoding). The phase inversion can still be done by selecting the track and doing a ‘Phase Invert’ from the Audio menu.
  • [Update 2008-07-31: Upgraded to Cubase 4]

Field MonitorsAKG K 271 Studio.

  • Attractively priced to clear because it has been superceded by the K 271 MK II.

Mixdown/Editing MonitorsBlue Sky EXO.

  • I already have this. Costs about the same as the Bose Companion 5, but has better audio quality I think. Having balanced inputs on the controller unit is very useful, at least in my context. It was clearly designed for use as ‘serious’ desktop monitors.

Microphone CableMogami Neglex Quad #2534.

  • Two 6-metre lengths, terminated with male/female Neutrik XLR connectors.
  • Mogami is legendary in the pro-audio world for offering fantastic cables at reasonable prices. The Neglex Quad is very quiet, and has very good RF rejection. Excellent for home studios where control over RF emissions is often difficult or impossible.

Patch Cablevan den Hul Patch Bay B5.

  • To connect the main outs of the Konnekt 24D to the EXO speakers, or to my home hifi’s power amps (which have balanced XLR inputs because the manufacturer also makes pro-audio gear).

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