The Guide: Recording studio

Rounding up some of the best gear to get any recording studio sounding spot-on
Neumann KH310A
Neumann KH310A
Apollo Twin
Apollo Twin
Sennheiser MK 8
Sennheiser MK 8
iZotope Ozone 6
iZotope Ozone 6
Shure KSM42
Shure KSM42
Presonus StudioLive system
Presonus StudioLive system
PMC twotwo subs
PMC twotwo subs
Soundcraft Vi3000
Soundcraft Vi3000


Whether you’re looking to set up a home room or kitting out a professional facility, here is our selection of some of the best gear out there to help to get any recording studio sounding spot-on.

Neumann KH310A Active studio monitor
The KH310 three-way active tri-amplified monitor features a mathematically-modelled dispersion waveguide (MMD), flexible acoustical controls, various input options and an extensive range of mounting hardware.

This allows the loudspeaker to be used in diverse acoustic conditions, with any source equipment and in a wide variety of physical locations. The KH310 also relies on the latest in acoustic and electronic simulation and measurement technologies to ensure the most accurate sound reproduction possible.

The KH310 is designed for use as a near-field monitor, as a front loudspeaker in mid-sized multi-channel systems, or as a rear loudspeaker in a larger multi-channel system. The monitor can be used in project, music, broadcast centres, OB vans, as well as in post production studios for tracking, mixing, and mastering.

Its powerful alloy fabric dome provides low-distortion high-frequency reproduction, while the MMD waveguide gives wide horizontal and narrow vertical dispersion, resulting in smoother off-axis response that can easier cope with diverse acoustical environments. Additionally, the new in-house simulated drivers in the KH310 use the latest modelling techniques designed to minimise non-linear (intermodulation) distortion.

• Free field frequency response: 34 Hz - 21 kHz, ± 3 dB
• Maximum SPL: 110dB/116dB (full space/half space)
• Driver sizes: 8”, 3” & 1”
• Bass/midrange/treble Class AB amplifiers, cont. (peak) output power: 150 W (210 W) / 70

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Universal Audio Apollo Twin interface
The Apollo Twin from Universal Audio claims to provide users with “access to a classic analogue recording studio, right on your desktop.” It does this by enabling them to record and mix through the full range of UAD powered plug-ins — including vintage EQs, compressors, reverbs, tape machines and more — at near-zero latency, regardless of audio software buffer size.

With its class-leading resolution and Realtime UAD Processing, the Apollo Twin desktop interface is suitable for
any studio whether home or professional.

The speed of the 2x6 Mac Thunderbolt interface allows users to record with near-zero latency through the full range of UAD Powered Plug-Ins — merging classic analogue tones with cutting-edge features.. Thanks to the 24-bit/192 kHz audio conversion and Realtime UAD Processing offered by the Apollo Twin, users are able to track through vintage compressors, EQs, tape machines, and guitar amp plug-ins with near-zero latency.

• New Unison technology for models of classic mic preamps
• Thunderbolt connection for blazing-fast PCIe speed on modern Macs
• 2 premium mic/line preamps; 2 line outs
• Front-panel Hi-Z instrument input and headphone output
• Compatible with all major Mac DAWs, including Pro Tools, Logic, GarageBand, Cubase, Live, and more

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Sennheiser MK 8 vocal recording microphone
This dual-diaphragm condenser microphone delivers warm and precise sound reproduction, with five independent polar patterns that adapt to any recording situation — omnidirectional, wide cardioid, cardioid, super-cardioid, and figure-of-eight.

No matter which mixing desk or recording device is used, the MK 8 matches the input sensitivity with a three-step attenuator, while two adjustable filters compensate for the proximity effect as well as low frequency rumble or structure-born noise. The MK 8 has dual one-inch diaphragms precisely spattered with 24-carat gold, with a shock-mounted capsule that is accommodated within a sturdy metal housing, making it a true workhorse in any demanding studio.

To prevent overload of the preamp input, the MK 8 provides two options: a –10 dB switch, which lowers the capsule output signal by 10 dB, and a –20 dB switch, which brings down the capsule sensitivity by 10 dB but additionally attenuates the mic output signal by 10 dB. The MK 8’s low-cut resolutely cuts off frequencies lower than 60 Hz, while the roll-off attenuates frequencies lower than 100 Hz in a much smoother way.

• Frequency response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz
• Pick up patterns: Cardioid
• Max SPL: 142 dB
• Dynamic range: 132 dB

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iZotope Ozone 6: Creative mastering platform
The newest version of the acclaimed mastering software from iZotope has all the tools to produce a full and polished sound, elevating a good-sounding mix to a professional-sounding master. With a new interface and a modern workflow, Ozone 6 features the largest user-interface overhaul in iZotope history — the creative elements of mastering are now front and centre, so users can define their own sound with ease.

Ozone 6 highlights include new analogue hardware-modeled EQ filter shapes, as well as ‘surgical mode’, which allows users to utilise the precision of digital shapes for extreme cuts with minimum slope.

The new version also offers variable EQ phase control, customisable signal chain, module gain meters, transient emphasis, new presets, variable knee compression and much more. The Advanced version of Ozone 6 includes a powerful new Dynamic EQ, as well as eight component plug-ins and a suite of configurable meters.

Both Ozone 6 and Ozone 6 Advanced are available as a plug-in and as a standalone application, simply log into your iZotope account to upgrade from a previous version.

• Operating system requirements: Windows 7 and 8, Mac: OS X 10.8–10.10 (Intel only)
• Plug-in formats: Pro Tools 10 & 11 (RTAS, AudioSuite, 64-bit AAX), VST 2, VST 3, and Audio Unit
• Plug-in host compatibility: Pro Tools 10 & 11, Logic, Ableton Live, Cubase, Nuendo, WaveLab, Digital Performer 8, StudioOne, GarageBand, Audition, SONAR, REAPER, Sound Forge, FL Studio and many more
• Graphics card that supports Open GL 2.0

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Shure KSM42 microphone
This premium side-address, cardioid condenser microphone features a large dual-diaphragm capsule, optimised for vocal recording and performance applications.

With a tailored frequency response and extensive internal and external pop filtering, the single-pattern, dual-diaphragm design of the KSM42, featuring Prethos Advanced Preamplifier Technology, exhibits smooth proximity control and ultra-wide dynamic range, enabling users to capture sophisticated, powerful and intimate vocal performances.

Shajahan KK, Shure brand manager at NMK Electronics Ent., the official distributor of Shure in the UAE, explains: “The microphone is consistent on tonal quality whether the sound source is close to the microphone or two feet away. KSM42 has been made of the premium electronic components and gold-plated internal and external connectors.”

• Dual-diaphragm, front-active, externally biased condenser
• Frequency Response: 60 to 20,000Hz
• Cardioid polar pattern
• Impedance: 147 Ω
• 11 to 52 Vdc phantom, 6 mA

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Presonus StudioLive AI Mix Systems
Launched at the end of 2014, the two new StudioLive AI Mix systems from PreSonus deliver large-format channel counts, recording, powerful DSP and more. Available in 48 and 64-channel frame sizes, the systems consist of two cascaded StudioLive AI consoles, a joining bracket that locks the two mixers together, a PreSonus PRM1 Precision Reference Microphone, and a custom dust cover.

Both the new StudioLive AI Mix Systems — the 64AI and the 48AI — perform as a cohesive mixer and offer a familiar, surface-driven workflow with one-to-one control over every parameter. Every channel is routed through the bus outputs of the master mixer and every global setting is controlled from the master to provide seamless integration between the two cascaded consoles.

Each StudioLive AI Mix System provides a robust audio interface, making it easy to record and playback audio as well as users to employ their favourite plug-ins as inserts on any channel. By connecting each mixer to a wireless router with a standard Ethernet cable, the StudioLive AI Mix System can be controlled from an iPad or iPhone, or wirelessly using the included USB WiFi LAN adapters.

Both the StudioLive 64AI and 48AI Mix Systems include the StudioLive Software Library, including PreSonus’ Capture live recording software, Studio One Artist DAW, VSL-AI with Smaart Measurement Technology for Mac and Windows, SL Remote-AI for iPad, and QMix-AI for iPhone/iPod touch, plus a free account with PreSonus’ Nimbit online direct-to-fan marketing and distribution service.

StudioLive 64AI Mix System
• Cascades two StudioLive 32.4.2AI mixers to create a 64-channel system
• 80 x 66 continuously bidirectional FireWire 800 recording interface
• 26 mix buses, including 8 effects buses (for 4 reverb and 4 delay processors)
• 558 discrete EQ and dynamics processors

StudioLive 48AI Mix System
• Two cascaded StudioLive 24.4.2AI mixers, providing a 48-channel console
• Onboard 64 x 50 FireWire 800 recording interface
• 22 total mix buses, including 8 effects buses
• DSP processing on every channel and bus for a total of 438 EQ and dynamics processors

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PMC twotwo sub2
UK-based reference monitor manufacturer PMC recently launched the newest addition to its twotwo range of active nearfields at NAMM 2015 — the twotwo sub2 subwoofer. Designed to complement the twotwo range, the new sub2 provides greater headroom and dynamics than its smaller sibling, the twotwo sub1. The sub2 is a low-distortion, active subwoofer featuring PMC’s ATL bass-loading technology, Class-D amplification and DSP-based filtering and bass management, which extends bass output significantly without harmonic distortion.

The built-in amplifier delivers an impressive 400W of power to the LF driver, which has an active frequency response from 20Hz up to 200Hz, and as with all PMC ATL designs, the tonal balance of the output remains consistent at all listening levels, whisper quiet to super loud.

Used with the twotwos, the sub2 is also ideal where midfield performance levels are required, but where there may not be the space for large-scale reference monitors, such as in broadcast or post-production environments.

• AES3 input with built-in sample rate converter to accept digital signals between 32 and 192kHz
• Pair of balanced, continuously active stereo analogue XLR inputs
• Rear panel connection or desktop RC1 remote
• Single parametric equaliser to assist with in-room alignment
• Analogue and digital outputs can be high-pass filtered to feed satellite speakers in a 2.1 configuration

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Soundcraft Vi3000
The Vi3000 by Soundcraft has several features that help it stand out among its category, most noticeably its new appearance, with a more efficiently-designed control surface that contains 36 faders and 24 mono/stereo busses with the power to work with 96 inputs at once. Combining a sweeping black screen panel with four Vistonics II touchscreen interfaces and improved 3D graphics, the console is the only one within its class that allows two engineers to use it at the same time.

The Vi3000 offers extensive rear panel connectivity — full analogue and digital inputs and outputs sit alongside MIDI, USB, Ethernet, Dante/MADI record feed outputs and a redundant power supply.

There are two expansion bays that can be fitted with MADI Stagebox cards to connect multiple Soundcraft Stagebox input expander modules, while the Vi3000 is optimised to work with the company’s Realtime Rack for access to 74 industry standard UAD plug-ins. It’s also the first Soundcraft console to incorporate a Dante interface as standard.

Along with its expanded functionality, the Vi3000 retains all the features that have made the Soundcraft Vi Series such popular consoles, such as FaderGlow illuminated faders that display different colours according to function, the ability to store and recall snapshots and cues, compatibility with Soundcraft’s ViSi app that allows remote control from an iPad, built-in Lexicon reverb/delays, dbx compression, effects and more.

To find out more about the Vi3000 in Dubai, visit the GSL Professional showroom for a demonstration, where one of the expert team will be happy to take you through its moves.

• Analogue/Digital: Digital
• Stereo Channels: variable
• Digital I/O: Yes
• FX Processors: 4
• Fixed Send (Group) Buses: 24
• EQ Bands: 4
• Variable Send (Aux) Buses: 24
• Direct Outputs: Yes
• Matrix Buses: 16
• Main Bus Out: LRC

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