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best recording studio accessories

Best recording studio accessories: Get more efficient in the studio

Every engineer and producer has their preferred recording studio accessories. Anything that can increase creativity, productivity, and workflow is a welcome addition to any recording setup. Depending on how you work and the kind of music you’re working with, some are certainly more useful than others. The categories here can be useful in any studio. But the product suggestions are just that. I tried to select options that are a good mix of price and features.

Looking to enhance your workflow and have more effective sessions? Here are some of the most useful recording studio accessories.

Best MIDI Controller: Akai MPK Series

akai-mpk-midi-controller
Best MIDI Controller
Akai MPK Series
A versatile piece of gear that can fulfill a number of uses.
Pros
A little bit control surface, MPC, and MIDI controller
Available in multiple key number variations
Cons
A bit expensive

You have a lot of options when it comes to MIDI controllers. Especially if you work with a lot of virtual instruments, having one in your studio is almost mandatory. The range of what MIDI controllers can do is pretty amazing. If all you need is an external controller, it should be easy to select the model that’s right for you. And if you want enhanced functionality like being able to manipulate parameters in your DAW, create beats like a MPC, or need on-board sounds like a keyboard you have those options too.

In terms of affordability and feature set, the MPK series from Akai Professional is a total win. Beyond standard MIDI control, it can control parameters in your DAW, has MPC pads, and comes with a fat suite of software. And it’s available in 25, 49, and 61 key versions. So the only downside is that if you’re looking for a full octave range in a MIDI controller you’ll have to go with something else.

Best for guitars: Super Snark HZ

super-snark-hz
Best for guitars
Super Snark HZ
A convenient and accurate way to tune up while saving precious pedalboard real estate.
Pros
Affordable and convenient
Frees up space on your pedalboard
Cons
None

There are so many great recording studio accessories for guitar. But it can’t be overstated how useful a good clip-on tuner can be. Snarks are incredibly accurate, and they allow you to clean up your signal by not having to use a pedal tuner. They go on vibration so you can tune silently.

This model also features a frequency readout, and it’s much more useful than you’d think. Snarks are fast, accurate, work on any stringed instrument, and are really affordable. There’s no reason not to have one.

Best DI: Radial J48 (Active) or JDI (Passive)

radial-j48
best D.I.
Radial J48 (Active) or JDI (Passive)
Radial makes some of the best DI boxes in the world and you can’t go wrong with either of these options – depending on your needs.
Pros
Both options are built like a tank
Great sounding and easy to use
Cons

A DI box is one of the best investments you can make. It has so many uses, and you will probably find yourself using it in pretty much every session. The real question is whether you should go with an active or passive. The reality is you need both. So what’s the difference?

An active DI box is meant for use with passive pickups – which are the most common type. A passive DI box is meant for use with active pickups like EMGs or Fishmans. If you can only go with one type of direct box, active is probably the route to take. But it can be really useful to have access to both types.

Best reamp box: Radial PRORMP

radial-prormp
Best reamp box
Radial PRORMP
One of the best passive reamp boxes on the market that will last you the better part of a lifetime.
Pros
Transformer isolated
Radial standard commitment to quality
Cons
Passive reamp only

Let’s get something out of the way. You cannot reamp with a regular DI.There is a lot of confusion around what a reamp box actually does. It’s essentially a DI box in reverse. It converts a balanced signal to an unbalanced. The reamping technique can be used on almost anything, though it’s most common with guitars. With a reamp box you can send a DI track back out of the interface or console and into an amplifier.

This is great if the guitar amp recorded doesn’t sound all that great, isn’t dialed in right, or if you want to experiment with other sounds.

Best for drums: Drum Key and Drum Dial

drum-key-and-drum-dial
Best for drums
Drum Key and Drum Dial
Two of the most useful drum accessories.
Pros
Tried-and-true methods of tuning your drums
Affordable and long-lasting
Cons

It seems like a no-brainer, but all great recordings generally start with a good drum sound. And believe it or not, not all drummers will remember to bring the right tools to every session (if they even have them in the first place…). Having a drum key and dial on hand will ensure that you don’t waste precious session time tuning drums.

The drum dial will help you tune more quickly and the key will help you adjust the head tension to do so. They’re simple, inexpensive tools that will come in handy every time a drummer is in the room. I should also mention that while drum dials are a great meter for tuning, in my experience the best way to tune drums is a good ear – whether it’s the engineer’s or the drummer’s.

Best for your DAW: KORG nanoKontrol Control Surface

korg-nanokontrol-2
best for your Daw
KORG nanoKontrol Control Surface
Inject some tactile life into your workflow with this lightweight control surface.
Pros
Affordable and good quality
Transport controls
Cons
Only eight channels, working beyond that can be a bit cumbersome
Can be hard to integrate into your workflow
Fader travel can take some getting used to

A control surface isn’t a necessity, per se. But depending on how you like to work, integrating one into your system can be one of the best investments you make in recording studio accessories. They have a lot of benefits. This is especially true if you prefer a tactile feel.

With a DAW control surface you can manipulate level, panning, automation, effects, and many more parameters in an organic way that you just can’t get with a mouse and keyboard. It can be a bit time consuming to set up with your system, especially if you’re using a smaller one with only one or a few faders. But once you’re flowing with this KORG model, you might find that it’s hard to turn back.

Best headphones: Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro

beyerdynamic-dt770
best headphones
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro
A great headphone choice that combines quality and affordability.
Pros
Sound great
Well-made and durable
Cons
Expensive, but the quality is worth it

It goes without saying that you need a good pair of studio headphones. There are a lot of reasons for this. Working silently, tracking in the control room, reducing bleed, checking mixes, the rationale is limitless. And if your room is sonically less than stellar, or you just want to take it out of the equation quality headphones are a total lifeline.

You don’t need to drop hundreds of dollars on a good pair either. The DT 770s from Beyerdynamic are a great, cost-effective solution. They’re comfortable, sound great, and have an incredible range of 5Hz-35kHz! They’re also built to last. You have a lot of options when it comes to studio headphones, but these are a great mix of features and longevity at a friendly price.

Best monitor pads: Primacoustic RX12

primacoustic-rx12
Best monitor pads
Primacoustic RX12
One of the best products to improve the acoustics of the space you’re working in.
Pros
Focuses stereo image, low end, and transient response
Affordable
Cons
Best for a horizontal fire

These recoil stabilizing monitor isolation pads provide cushioning and frequency adaptation as the speaker moves in and out of its travel. They have a horizontal fire, so if you prefer a vertical alignment the RX12 set will still work, but might not be the perfect choice.

With the high-density foam you can focus the stereo image, low end, and transient response. They’re built on a three-tier design that includes a urethane foam base that provides the actual isolation, thin steel plate, and a top made of neoprene. They can take a solid 88 lb. load limit, and you’ll notice more punch and extended low end. There will be better frequency detail, better transients, and more depth in the sound.

Best Mic Stand: DR Pro Tripod

dr pro tripod mic stand
best mic stand
DR Pro tripod
A high-quality, durable mic stand with telescoping boom.
Pros
Rugged
Telescoping boom adds utility
Cons
A little pricey

Mic stand costs run from under $20 to over $100. But since this is one of the pieces of gear you’ll be using for pretty much every session, it makes sense to invest in one that won’t snap in half when the drummer misses a cymbal hit!

The telescoping boom on the DR Pro Tripod ranges from 19″ all the way up to 31″. The height can be adjusted from 40″ to 69″, and the legs expand to 25″. This mic stand is really durable and lightweight.

At over $80 it is a little pricey, but it’s a studio investment that should last you for quite a while.

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