Electro-Voice RE-20 Cardioid Microphone Review

electro-voice re-20 cardioid microphone

The Electro-Voice RE-20 Cardioid Microphone is suited for recording a variety of instruments including various electric instruments, such as bass, guitar, and so forth. It can even be used for voice recordings without having to purchase extra gear for each purpose.

Usually when a microphone is used with an instrument, but the musician wants to use it to record their vocals, they’ll have to add a pop filter. This isn’t the case with the RE-20. In fact, this is the microphone that’s been used by Radiohead’s Thom Yorke on stage.

Feature Pick

Electro Voice Re-20 Cardioid Microphone

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What’s Included in the Box?

  • Electro-Voice RE-20
  • Black plastic stand clip
  • Internal pop filter
  • Internal shockmount

Technical Specs

  • Frequency response is 45Hz to 18kHz
  • Steel case material
  • Three-pin XLR connector type
  • Diameter is 54 mm
  • Bass roll-off switch
  • Large diaphragm

Electro-Voice as a Company

There are few companies that manufacture all of their components in-house, but Electro-Voice is one of those companies. They believe this ensures a strict quality control that applies to every part that makes it through the process to the consumer.

The company has been around for over 90 years, so they must be doing something right when it comes to creating audio gear.

Over their 90 years, they’ve hit incredible milestones like being awarded a special citation from the U.S. War Department for the T-45 lip microphone in WWII. They created a tower of loudspeakers in Yankee Stadium in 1976, too.

First Impressions

This RE-20 dynamic microphone looks like a simple microphone with a vintage style and sleek color story of fawn beige. The magic is inside this mic, though. It comes with hidden surprises that make this microphone a great solution for your electric bass needs.

From the cardioid pattern to the internal shockmount to the large diaphragm, the RE-20 will record the low bass sounds coming from your electric bass guitar as well as from other instruments with a “low” sound.

It can also be used for vocals because it has internal filters and shockmount to lower unwanted sound intrusion.

Polar Pattern

The cardioid pattern means that the microphone is more sensitive from the front, minimally from the sides and less sensitive behind the microphone. This should be kept in mind when doing your recording.

When placing the microphone in front of the amp for electric bass guitar, you’re capturing the sound directly from that side. You can use this knowledge to record off-axis sounds, too.

For example, if you wanted to capture off-axis sounds, you’d place the microphone to the side of the amp’s cone. This will deliver a different sound than if you were to place the microphone on-axis to the speaker.

Internal Filter and Shockmount

Instead of purchasing a separate pop filter for the microphone, there’s one included inside the microphone itself. Each acoustic opening front the top down the sides of the mic are covered with a wind and blast filter to reduce unwanted vibrations.

Speaking of vibrations, you don’t want the band’s feet across the stage or movements to have an impact on the sound of the bass being recorded. For this reason, there’s an internal shockmount that reduces the noise picked up by the mic.

Materials for the Electro-Voice RE-20 Cardioid Microphone

The microphone’s body is made of steel as well as steel mesh covering the acoustic openings. This will keep it safe from many situations where the microphone might break otherwise.

While we would never recommend tossing it around and jamming it inside the case with other equipment, it can handle natural instances of use.

Sound engineers often have one of these microphones in their arsenal because they can stand up to much abuse and still function properly. They’re also great for a variety of recording applications.

Frequently Asked Questions

Does this need phantom power to operate?
This microphone is a dynamic, which doesn’t need phantom power. It uses passive power to operate.

Can I use this microphone with my computer?
You’ll need an adapter to interface with your computer since it’s not equipped to handle the USB.

Is there a case included with this microphone?
The microphone comes with a fabric-covered case that’s made of quality materials to keep the mic safe from damage.

What kind of warranty does this come with from the manufacturer?
It comes with a 3-year warranty from Electro-Voice. You can contact their customer service center if you have any problems.

Conclusion

The Electro-Voice RE-20 Cardioid Microphone is a dynamic microphone that can be used by professionals and amateurs alike. In fact, it’s a microphone used most often by professionals in studio environments to capture quality sound from electronic bass guitars, kick drums, and other “low” instruments. The cardioid pattern and large diaphragm allow you to capture off-axis sound to bring in a variety of sounds given off by the amped instrument. There’s a built-in pop filter that reduces unwanted sounds, too. This mic has everything you could possible need for your recordings.

Should I Make An Album or EP? The Pros and Cons of Each

When it comes to releasing music, musicians (especially new ones) occasionally face the difficult choice of whether to put out an EP or a full length album.

In case you’re not familiar with these terms, an EP (Extended Play album) is usually a compilation of around 4 to 6 songs released mostly for promotional purposes, especially in the case of a new artist.  An example of an EP would be Come On Pilgrim by the Pixies.

come on pilgrim ep pixies

In contrast, an LP (Long Player) or full length album normally constitutes 10 plus songs.  I’m sure you’ve seen a lot of them.  Walk into a music store and most stuff on the rack is an LP.  Here’s a famous LP – Marvin Gaye’s What’s Going On.

should i make an ep or lp?

LP vs EP

Most bands and musicians tend to release LP’s, to satisfy the demand of music-hungry fans or to show people they are capable of being a true artist.  Or, they produce singles, which feature one song (A-Side) and maybe a B-Side.  Or – they do an EP, which you can think of as a mini album.

The digital age has changed the game quite a bit, as some people have said the LP is dead, and with it all manufactured physical media, such as vinyl, and EPs.  However, vinyl is making a comeback, and the compact disc is not dead yet, as in LPs and EPs.

pavement watery domestic

So this begs the question for recording artists – why make an EP or album in the first place? Let’s look at the pros of both.

The EP (Extended Play) – Pros and Cons

  • Can be the perfect solution for an artist who wants to release more than just one single but is not in a position to create a full album (budget friendly).
  • Is a great way to release songs that were created but did not fit the theme or style of an album.
  • Is a great tool for a new artist to gain recognition and build a fan base.

Here’s an EP you may or may not know, called the Tigerbomb EP by the band Guided By Voices.

Art Vs. Commerce

Now the thing about this EP is that it plays like a mini album, and even the lead off song, “My Valuable Hunting Knife”, isn’t even the same version you find on the LP it’s pulled from, that being Alien Lanes.  From there, you get another song, Game of Pricks, which isn’t the same as the album version either, followed by four more songs that aren’t on the album.  

So, what we have here is a work of art that stands on it’s own.  For fans of the band, this has the effect of making the album richer, because it’s like taking a detour from the album they already know to explore some different avenues (or lanes, as it were).  You might say it’s for hardcore fans only, but it has another purpose, which is to offer more content to anyone who might take an interest in the band.

 

record-vinyl-microgrooves01-1500-8b2e708f451a13551c070c62005a3b65LP’s 

So what are the reasons for making an LP, which, I must say again, is the standard out there, vs. an EP, which has the benefit of being cost effective and doesn’t require as much of a listener’s attention.

  • The revenue could be huge if the album sales take off – LP’s are priced higher than EP’s.
  • An artist is perceived as “established” if they have an album in their portfolio.
  • An LP allows musicians to fully explore a sound or concept, and this is why LP’s sometimes end up being “concept albums”.

Let’s take a look at an LP called Inspiration Information by a musician named Shuggie Otis, and maybe you can see why he needed to record this many songs and present them in this way, rather than truncate the listening experience.

Now let’s look at each option in detail.

The LP or Full Length Long Playing Record – Pros and Cons 

The full length long player record is the sought-after prize amongst new artists because, well, who doesn’t love albums?  Most music fans are of the “give me more” variety, when it comes to their favourite artists, although some industry folks have been saying the album is “dead”, as I said.  

Part of the reason for this, but not the entire reason, is that an album is expensive to buy for a fan. It costs more than a single or EP on iTunes, but you can easily argue that this is for good reason, as it offers much more than one song, or even a handful of tunes.  It offers an entire listening experience.  

Still, LP’s are costly to make for the artist, and costly to buy for the fan.

the stuff that dreams are made of

Hypothetical #1 – You Have Your Own Studio

If you’re a producer, the cost of making an album will be significantly reduced as you already have a studio.  Even if you’re a musician who’s acting like a producer, you’re significantly reducing costs.  With a home studio, the only money you’ll spend will be in hiring a mixing/mastering engineer and that’s only if you’re not good enough to carry out these tasks yourself.  

home recording studio

Many amateur recording artists take it upon themselves to tackle mixing and mastering anyway. My overall point is, the main cost of an album is studio time, and if you have everything you need at your fingertips, then maybe an LP isn’t too wild of a proposition.  An EP would be even easier, if you are all set to record.  

The Time Factor and ROI

Obviously, money isn’t the only factor to consider when it comes to making an album. Time is another important resource exploited when crafting your LP. Most albums take, on average, a year to create.

It would be such a waste if you spent the better part of a year recording your album only for it to flop in the end.  Whether it flops or not is a whole other conversation, and I hate to bring up the possibility that it might.  But say you make an album over the course of a year, have your album manufactured, and then…silence.  The customers are not lining up to buy your $20 album that you’ve priced as such to make some of your money back.  Reality slaps you in the face ,and you will have wasted a lot of time and money, and you’ll have a bunch of cds or vinyl sitting there that will take you a while to sell to people.

cds printed and manufactured

Ok, You’re A Big Deal…Now What?

If, on the other hand, your album is successful, you will earn a lot of cash and score hundreds of new fans – but that comes at a price. The general public doesn’t really understand the amount of time, money and preparation that goes into an LP. And people forget easily. One month your album is the sh**, and the next they move on to something fresh. When the dust finally settles, your newly found fans will be pressuring you for new material and when you don’t provide it soon, you will slowly fade away.  So you have to keep on top of things.

But this rule only applies to new musicians. For instance, Calvin Harris just recently released a new album, Funk Wav Bounces Vol. 1, and even though fans have already heard it and moved on to other things, they know that they can expect good stuff from Mr. Harris and won’t forget about him so quickly.

EPs – Pros and Cons

At the moment EPs are once again gaining in popularity for various reasons. For new musicians, this is due, in part, to financial reasons. No one is going to listen to, let alone buy, 12 songs from an artist they know nothing about.  3-4 tracks would be enough to let the listener decide whether they are digging your vibe.

EDM producers prefer EPs mostly because it takes less time to create and this allows them to release new music more frequently. An EP is also a great way for an artist to experiment with a new style. They can create an EP that revolves around that style without getting a lot of blowback from the fans.

dyro artist

I remember Dyro once saying that he’d like to experiment more but the fans were not very welcoming to this and so he saw the EP as the perfect solution. He could create the music he wanted and then throw one track in there that fits the style the fans are used to. True to his word, his Set Me Free EP featured a variety of styles.

My Opinion

An EP it is!

Yup! I bet you thought I’d give you some “on the fence” advice and tell you to follow your heart, right? Nope! I am, in clear terms, telling you that if you’re an EDM artist and you wanna do more than just a single, an EP is the best option. Even if you’re not an EDM person, an EP is still I think the best way to go. An album will drain you (and your resources) completely if you’re not careful.

However, if you’re an established musician and you really feel like a full length album is your cup of tea, then go for it. Just plan, plan and plan! Is it worth it? Are you going to recoup the money you spend creating it? If the answer to these questions is no, then you need to reconsider. An Extended Play Album may just be what you need. 🙂

young coconut musician

How to Record an Acoustic Guitar with a Condenser Mic

how to record acoustic guitar with a condensor mic

The way you record your acoustic guitar with a condenser microphone will depend on a few factors, which I’ll talk about first, and then I’ll get more into the mic’ing techniques themselves.

Let’s begin!


First – Does Your Acoustic Guitar Actually Sound Any Good To Begin With?

Be honest, do you think your guitar actually sounds any good as it is?  If you think it does, great, but if you’re not sure, you need to assess this pronto prior to recording.  

If you know someone who has experience with recording who can honestly say that your guitar sounds good without you having to do anything, that’s helpful.  

You’d be amazed how many people think they have a decent sounding guitar but it actually isn’t until they record it that they realize that it sounds terrible, because something is wrong with it.

destroyed acoustic guitar

Having a naturally great-sounding guitar is the first step to having a great sounding recording.


Consider What Kind of Music Are You Recording

Another factor is the kind of music and why you’re capturing that sound for a recording.

If you are hoping to capture a single track of acoustic guitar that will be added to a recording including other instruments, such as electric instruments, you might want a close microphone that picks up the sound without ambience from the room.

Here’s an example of a song I like that incorporates acoustic guitar. You can hear that it fits nicely into the overall sound of the song, which has a string section, and basically a full on rock band rocking out towards the latter half.  

This was all probably done with a condenser mic, I’m guessing, due to the amount of detail and clarity you get out of the guitar.  

Sometimes, you want that close mic’ed sound.  Other times, you might want the ambience and reverb from the room to inform the music.  

The above recording I’d say is somewhere in between.  Capturing all the elements you want might even require – yes, that’s right – TWO mics.  Maybe one condenser, one not.  That’s all well and good, and you can do that too.

Quite often, an acoustic guitar is used as a song’s main rhythm instrument, but not always.

Consider the end product. Are you going to add flute, organ… maybe some stand up bass? Is this song going to have a sitar in it?  What if the sitar and the acoustic guitar are right in the exact same frequency range.  

WHAT THEN??  You can’t always neglect thinking about these things, and expect the producer to fix everything later.  That’s just not sensible.

Keep in mind that condenser mics are going to bring out more details in the sound, so that could mean that the frequency ranges in various instruments might clash more, the more detailed the sound is.

I always ask myself, what would Jimmy Page do?

jimmy page recording acoustic guitar at stargroves


Sound Dispersion

Now you might be wondering why I haven’t specifically talked about placing the mics yet?

Well, there are a number of other considerations I think you need to be aware of first, with another such consideration being sound dispersion through the instrument.

how sound travels through a guitar

In other words, you should understand how the sound gets dispersed.  

The type of acoustic guitar, and the way you play the guitar, will influence the sound as much as how you place the microphone.

What if you’re the producer and this is the guy you’re recording!

The style of the player and the way the sound travels are two things an experienced producer will anticipate, but if you are new to all of this, you might need to think about these things before getting started.  

I mean, if you’re a punk and you don’t care how your recording is going to sound when you’re done, feel free to skim ahead. These days, even punk rockers don’t want to have bad-sounding acoustic-based recordings!  

Right, Tim Armstrong?


Lots to Consider

It helps to put your instrument’s unique characteristics into perspective when thinking about the recording.  

The wood, of course, resonates when you play, your strings are going to vibrate and produce sound, and even the air inside the instrument works in complex ways that can influence the sound out of the sound hole.  

Meanwhile, I must emphasize again that condenser mics are more sensitive to everything.

Ask yourself questions like this:  What kind of wood is it?  How big is the guitar?  The soundboard and bridge of the guitar can influence the vibrations, too.  

Even the freakin’ pick guard is going to affect the overall sound.  Holy dino-balls.  Ultimately, these things will affect microphone placement and it is worth considering before you start.

Take a look at this weird looking acoustic guitar.

weird shaped guitars

The variance in shape and acoustics of different acoustic instruments means you should take a good look at your own guitar and really listen to where the sound is coming from, in relation to how you play.  

Are you a finger picker or do you use a pick?  Is the pick metal or is it plastic?  Is the pick hard or soft?  When you strum, is your hand close to the sound hole or somewhere else?  Overwhelmed yet?  Don’t be.  Just take it slow and be thoughtful.

The sound hole is usually where most people will mic an acoustic guitar, but you might want to capture more than just the sound coming out of that hole – eg. fingers picking, certain sweet spots found elsewhere on the guitar, etc.  

Did I mention condenser mics are sensitive yet?


What Mic(s) to Use?

After making sure you have a tuned instrument as well as a solid understanding of the way your acoustic guitar produces sound, you’re ready to think about your condenser microphone placement situation.

how to record acoustic guitar with a condenser mic

If you choose to go with a close condenser microphone type of set-up, it’s best to find a microphone that can really handle the transients that tend to be fast and the frequencies that tend to be high.  

Awesome brands I recommend include Rode, Neumann, and Audio-Technica.

rode miking acoustic guitarOne of the things to look out for with condenser mics is that they capture such a wide range of frequencies, that it is easy to have too much of one thing.  

Moving the mic an inch one way can mean too much bass, and an inch that way can mean too much treble.

That said, there are many great brands of condenser mic out there which can really do what you want and get you the sound you’re after.

condenser mic acoustic guitar


Watch out for Feedback!

Because condenser mics are so sensitive, you need to be aware of all your levels, if you are the one recording yourself, and you don’t want your input on your mic to be too high.

Feedback and distortion are not your friends in acoustic recordings, and when you record an acoustic with a condenser mic, it is easy to run into both these things very easily.  

With electric guitar, feedback can sound fucking great.  I’m not talking about that kind of feedback.  I’m talking about the kind that will make you go deaf if you’re wearing headphone and potentially ruin your recording.  

See these peaks below?  Not good, not good at all!

bad audio waveform

If you aren’t vigilant (or your producer isn’t), you’ll end up with some gnarly sounds that might require you do a track all over again, or, at least, calls for some editing.

Sometimes, if the inputs are too high, or the guitar is too close to the mic (or both), just touching your guitar can create some crazy-ass feedback, so watch your levels closely.

Check out the mic placement on the image below.  Depending on how the levels are set on the pre-amp, this mic might be too close.  

Alternately, it could sound just fine.  Once you’re in the situation below, you’ll find out soon enough what “too close” means.

best-microphone-for-acoustic-guitars


Microphone Vs. Direct In

Because recording with a mic can be super finicky at times, some producers opt to go with a direct-in approach, since some acoustic guitars have jacks to support feeding into an audio interface directly.  

This is really only an option with certain guitars that are designed to do this.  Normal acoustic guitars can’t do this.  Going direct in, we feel, isn’t necessary if you learn how to mic your instrument properly.

That said, here is a video that demonstrates the difference between using a mic to record your acoustic guitar, versus going direct in.  We’ll preface this video by saying that you will lose valuable audio and warmth if you go direct in.


Back to Close Mic’ing

Right, so you can go direct in if your guitar allows for it, but it’s probably better if you don’t, because you get better sound with a mic anyways.

You may well have to do some experimenting with close mic’ing, which entails finding the right microphone as well as the right positioning.

Start by placing the microphone between the fretboard and the sound hole.  Move the mic about a foot away from the guitar.  This is a good place to start.  

It’ll capture the vibration of the strings being strummed and when they’re picked, and it’s not going to be too close, while being close enough to test your levels.

micing acoustic guitar

In some cases, you’ll want to put the microphone closer – as in just inches away from the sound hole for more bass.

This might call for a mic with a gooseneck, so it can be mounted and moved as needed.

gooseneck condenser mic acoustic guitar


Distance Mic’ing

The further away you get from the guitar, the more the mic is going to pick up the room sound and the guitar sound together.  

Sometimes this is preferable, depending on the sound you’re after.  In this case, you can test to see exactly how much distance you want to hear in your sound.

If you are in a room with crappy acoustics and zero ambience, distance mic’ing is going to sound bad.  If you’re in a room with a cool natural reverb, you might want a bit of that in your recording.  

Like, say, you recorded a song at St. Paul’s Cathedral.  You might want some of that spiritual reverb on your track, right?

st. paul's cathedral


Bass without Boom

As mentioned previously, if you wanted to close mike the guitar, you could place the microphone between the fretboard and the sound hole to capture the bass sounds.

In the video below, you’ll find a demo which is done with a Neumann TLM 102 and 103 to capture the bass without all the deep boominess that will totally mess with your recording.

In this video, the microphone is placed above the sound hole but close to the guitar. It should be angled towards the player’s hand near the hole. That will give you a taste of the bass power without overwhelming the recording with the boom.


Multiple Microphones

As we said near the beginning, there’s nothing wrong with strategically placing a couple different mics to get different sounds. Maybe one at a distance and one close up.  

Try a few different configurations.


Unidirectional Vs. Omnidirectional (Cardioid) Mics

Condenser mics can often be set to pick up just one direction (unidirectional) or multiple (omnidirectional, cardioid), and so this is another consideration you’ll want to think about when mic’ing your acoustic guitar.

It’s hard to say which setting is best, because it depends where your mic is placed, along with distance, etc.  My advice is to play around with the directionality of your mic to see what sounds best.

rode nt2a close up


Conclusion

I hope that this article on how to mic an acoustic guitar with a condenser microphone gives you enough things to think about when you’re about to record.  

There is definitely a lot to consider, and we wish you luck with your recording!  If you want, drop me a comment and let us know if this article helped you in some way.  

Also, feel free to link to your recording. I’d love to hear it!

Mixing for Loudness – A Few Helpful Tips

loudest instrument in a mix

To fight or not to fight? 

That’s the question when it comes to the popular “Loudness Wars” that all music producers are familiar with.

If you have no clue what I’m referring to,  it’s the constant dilemma during mixing as whether to push your song’s loudness so high that it losses some of its quality or do you keep it quiet but maintain the track’s distinctive quality?

the loudness wars

Now, whatever horse you’re betting on in this race, you have to agree that some level of loudness is required if your song is ever going to be heard on radio or in the club, especially for contemporary genres such as rock, pop and house.

If you’re a mastering engineer, perhaps you wouldn’t want to mix loud but the client expects it. So how do you achieve those high levels without compromising your great project? Ride along!


How Loud Should Music Be in the Final Mix?

First of all, why is it even important to make your song loud? For starters, while most music players automatically balance the loudness level of all tracks, some don’t.

So if your song is played on such a player, it will seem quieter relative to other commercial tracks.

Secondly, your song may become less popular as most DJs won’t play it in clubs and festivals, owing to its quiet nature. No one wants to play a record that lacks ‘dance-floor energy’.

mixing for loudness

Mixing a Song Properly

In pursuit of a loud but great-sounding mix, this goal must be achieved at the mixing stage during production.

Trying to get the mix louder at the mastering stage often leads to distortion and clipping. Speaking from personal experience, here are some things to pay attention to during the mixing stage of a song:

Leave some headroom during mixing – From what I’ve observed, mixing at high loudness levels usually leads to a mix that has very little room for improvement.

I would recommend somewhere in the neighborhood of -4db. Increasing the loudness will then be easier.

music mix with headroom

Compression – I know this sounds cliché but bear with me for a moment.  Generally when you leave a track with a lot of huge transients, (and the main body of the track is quieter), turning up the volume will almost certainly lead to clipping.

This is especially true for kicks. If you compress the kick first, then turn up the loudness, you lose some punch but your kick sounds louder without clipping.

compressing a kick drum

Pay attention to your loudest instrument – Depending on the genre of your song, some instruments will be louder than others.

In drum and bass for example, the drums take priority. The temptation, especially for new producers, is usually to turn this ‘preferred instrument’s’ loudness up.

Don’t! What you need to do is reduce the loudness of the other instruments, thereby making room for the important stuff.

Every time you push up the loudness of one track, you lose some headroom that you will need later.

Do remember that for an instrument to stand out, everything else has to make room, i.e. be quieter.

loudest instrument in a mix

EQ is your best friend – Most people think that equalization is only use to clean up tracks and stir things up a little.

Most people are wrong! The low end of a mix can rob your track of valuable headroom. This works indirectly.

Most instruments contain low frequencies that aren’t necessary but play a huge part in reducing the loudness. 

But it’s not as simple as cutting off all the low frequencies. Every sound is different and you need to pay very close attention to see what frequency range is the real culprit.

In my experience, 9 out of 10 times the low-mids are usually to blame for lost headroom. I’ll give you an example: You could have a vocal that is most audible at 3 kHz but your lead piano is also getting in the way at this frequency.

EQ-ing the piano by slightly reducing the frequencies at this area will make your vocals sound clearer and louder.

While you have not touched the vocal, this psychoacoustics trick deceives your ears into thinking that your vocal track is now louder.

eqing a vocal mix

Achieving the Final Mix

Okay, now you’ve created a sweet mix that sounds clean and has quite enough headroom. What next?

It becomes a matter of preference. You slowly increase the loudness using compression and then limiting.

NOTE: Always make sure the limiter comes after the compressor in the master chain, for obvious reasons.

For those who don’t know what a compressor does, it simply reduces the loudness of some instruments, while enhancing that of the quieter ones.

The end result is a mix with a smaller dynamic range. Again, compression is a matter of taste.

You, as the producer know how you want your song to sound in the end so play with the compressor until you’re happy with what you hear.

mixing with a limiter

Next comes the limiting. The limiter will then get your mix to the loudness you desire by allowing the peaks you want to cut through (based on your settings) and then cutting off everything else.

Final Thoughts

The ideas we just discussed are not set in stone. Every mix is different as is every producer. My goal is just to give you some ideas and hacks that might come in handy when you hit the studio next.

The loudness war doesn’t seem to be coming to an end soon and I hope you find these tips helpful on your next project.

Also, I’m not really a fan of fancy plug-ins so feel free to explore that if that’s your cup of tea, in your pursuit of a quality yet loud mix.

I’m a minimalist by nature so I don’t believe you need Ozone in your DAW, to create a great track. Nevertheless, apply those tips and see what you can do. Happy producing

DAWs For Home Studios On A Budget – Magix Music Maker Premium Review

magix-music-maker-premium

For the modern musician, the Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) is the hub of any recording setup.

Whatever genre of music you put out, you require a software program that brings together the processes of composing, recording, mixing and mastering your tracks.

There are many who shell out on studio time to have this step taken care of for them, and there are even some who rely on old-school recording techniques – whether for effect or for money-saving – that sometimes even includes analogue equipment.

The rest of us examine our options regarding a DAW to install on our computers so that we can get to grips with these step ourselves.

fl-11-workflow1

Our options are quite varied; typically, we look to Logic if we are Mac users, or we look to Fruity Loops, Pro Tools, Cubase, Reason or Ableton to learn and work in the music making process.

This is fine, as these are the most widely used industry standard programs in the majority of professional studios.

The problem is, Avid’s Pro Tools will cost in the region of $600, while FL Studio, with all the plugins, will cost upwards of $1000.

What bedroom producer, still learning the craft of music production and recording, would risk such a hefty up-front investment in something that might never really take?


Magix Music Maker Premium

To sidestep this problem, I would like to posit an alternative DAW for your consideration: Magix Music Maker Premium.

magix-music-maker-premium

This software comes out swinging in its competition with the heavy hitters, and offers enough features to produce songs that many might find difficult to differentiate from hits made on the more expensive alternatives.

With the inclusion of 12 Soundpools (comprising 8,000 sounds and loops in various musical styles) plus numerous VSTi synths, VST plugins and the capability of running any other VSIs and VSTs you want to install, there is really no limit to what you this program can do.

Feature Pick

Magix Music Maker 2016 Premium

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The User Interface

The UI of Magix Music Maker Premium is simplistic and similar in its functionality to that of Logic.

You can place, or draw, blocks of prerecorded sounds or MIDI loops into the on-screen grid, with a summary of basic channel effects and dynamics on the left, and the option of bringing up a more advanced mixing station at the bottom of the screen.

There are a number of built-in channel effects for you to use, including EQ, Compressor, Reverb, Delay, Stereo Enhancement and Filter, with the option of adding up to 2 VST effects to a block, and a further 2 to a channel.

While this limits you to a maximum of 4 plugins to use per channel on the grid, in most cases you will find that this, plus the built-in effects at your disposal, is sufficient for your mixing needs.

Here’s the official Magix video tutorial for the software.  This should give you a pretty good idea of what you’re in for with this software, if you have 15 minutes to spare.

More Features Of Magix Music Maker

The mixing board can feature up to 99 channels running simultaneously, and includes a master controller with its own dB limiter and built-in mastering suite that has some genuinely strong features.

MIDI composition screens and synth controllers open in mini windows as you activate them, so you can tweak and experiment with the individual controls for them.

The footer window on-screen has a range of tabs to move between virtual instruments, mixer, file browser and Soundpool library.

Everything is intuitive and easy to find, and the features are surprisingly rich.

magix-music-maker-vita-solo-instruments


Upgrading and Longevity

Once you have purchased your software, there is really no reason to ever buy something different. All downloadable VSTs can be run in Magix Music Maker, and there is no limit to how many you can add to the library.

Put it this way: I started out with Magix Music Maker 2013 Premium, and I still use it now as one of my main avenues for recording. With a suitable USB audio interface, you can record through microphone or any electronic instrument, and MIDI controllers are supported as well.

The software runs well, as long as your computer has the necessary processing power to keep up with everything.

Any latency problems that arise can be fixed by tweaking the settings, and the occasional glitch can be fixed by restarting the program (these are very rare).

It is advisable to regularly backup your projects as you work on them, to ensure you don’t lose anything. There is a built-in feature that usually does this anyway, but there is the occasional inexplicable failure of this feature, so it’s best to stay on top of it yourself.

Here’s a sample of what you can do with Magix musically…

Limitations

Earlier I mentioned the restriction to a maximum of 4 external plugins that can be assigned to a single channel. Another glaring limitation of Magix Music Maker is its lack of a buss channel assignment capability – buss channels are completely absent from Magix Music Maker, and this can be problematic for more advanced mixing procedures.

It is possible to improvise your way around this, for example by bouncing 2 or more channels into a single wave file, then applying further effects to that wavs file on a separate channel.

This isn’t ideal, but can be sufficient during mixing. Alternatively, you could look into purchasing the professional Magix program Samplitude, which is a more advanced and rather more costly piece of software that truly does stand alongside the heavy hitters mentioned at the start of this review.


Conclusion

Magix Music Maker Premium, for its price and relatively low profile, is a superb piece of software for beginners to middleweight producers/recording artists.

It is an excellent starting point to learn the craft of music production, and its beautifully simple UI is matched in brilliance only by its impressive upgrading capabilities.

In the long term, its limitations will probably push the most dedicated of musicians to go for its big brother Samplitude, or else one of the other mainstream programs, but with enough dedication you will be able to make professional quality tracks with the low upfront investment Magix requires.

If you are taking your first steps into the music recording world, I highly recommend Magix Music Maker Premium as the perfect DAW to get your feet wet and keep using right up to the point of becoming an advanced music producer and sound engineer.