Music Recording Gear
A midi controller is a device that controls midi. It may look like a keyboard, a device with pads, rotary knobs, or faders.
These devices usually do not produce their own sounds - usually they control sounds inside your computer/DAW, and will need to be connected to your computer via USB or (midi cables through a converter) in order to function.
Some digital pianos have the ability to send out MIDI information in addition to being an actual digital instrument. These can work as midi controllers, but tend to be less portable and heavier.
Midi controllers that take the shape of keyboards come in many varieties. Some have just a few keys, and some have 88. Some have non-weighted keys, some semi-weighted, and some are fully-weighted to emulate the touch of a piano. I use a weighted 88-key midi controller, but I also own a tiny one with 32 keys that I've taken on vacation with me.
Microphones come in several varieties:
Microphones have an XLR connection by default. If it doesn't specify, then it has an XLR connection. If it connects via USB, it will need to specify. Condenser microphones require 48 volts of "phantom power" to be supplied via XLR cable from an audio interface. Your audio interface will have a 48 volt button which you will need to push in order to supply the microphone with power. This is the most common type of studio microphone. Condenser mics are generally crisp, clean, and highly detailed. Cheaper ones may be noisier, less detailed, or strident. More expensive ones tend to be a lot cleaner, softer, and balanced. While not true in all cases, avoid a condenser microphone that costs less than $100, and It's best to get a recommendation before purchasing.
This type of condenser will receive power from your computer via USB connection. These microphones generally are not considered capable of pro-audio standards, but are great for non-professional projects, demos, or practice tracks.
Very delicate, generally does not use phantom power - phantom power can destroy some ribbon microphones. Sources recorded on ribbon microphones tend to be warm and fuzzy, rather than crisp and clean. Ribbon microphones tend to be used on bright sources because the darkness of the ribbon mic calms the original source down.
These microphones are best for stage use. They do not require phantom power - instead they use the energy of the sound itself to create an electrical signal to be recorded. They tend to be less sensitive and darker/smokier than a condenser microphone. This lack of sensitivity makes them more immune to feedback issues, which is what makes them popular for stage use. They can also be good for home recording in which your environment isn't perfectly quiet. The dynamic microphone will pick up what's a few feet in front of it, while the condenser might pick up your neighbor singing in the shower.
The job of an audio interface is to connect microphones to you computer and recording software, and receive signal from your computer to send to your studio monitors (speakers).
When the analog signal from your microphone reaches the audio interface, it will pass through a preamp which will amplify the weak signal into something more audible and usable. A knob on the front of the interface will allow you to choose how much you amplify that signal. If the sound is buzzing, you likely amplified the signal too much, and you'll need to lower that knob.
After being amplified, the signal passes through an ADC (analog to digital converter). This transforms the voltage in the analog signal coming from the microphone into a digital format that your computer and DAW can read and work with. A good interface uses good converters so that the information is converted as faithfully as possible. Entry level interfaces tend to be a little cheap on the ADC which means a less-than-faithful translation of data.
After that digital information is recorded, edited, and processed in the DAW, the DAW sends that signal back out to the interface. The signal then passes through a DAC (digital to analog converter) which translates the digital signal into an analog electrical signal which is then sent out to the speakers. The speakers then receive that analog signal and convert it into pressure waves which travel into the room into our ears.
We use audio interfaces because they are higher quality than the sound cards in our computers, and their ADCs and DACs are designed to give us faithful audio quality.
You need an audio interface if you are using microphones with an XLR connection, or if you want to send a better audio signal to your speakers.
Entry Level: Focusrite Scarlet 2i2
Intermediate Level: Focusrite Clarett Models
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Beginner Midi controller for use with Logic and Dorico - 32 keys. Useful for note input - not useful for actual piano playing.
Nektar, 61-Key Impact GX61 Controller Keyboard. For use with Logic Pro X, and/or Dorico.
88-key Midi controller, semi-weighted keys.
Studio monitors (speakers) that receive signal from from your audio interface via TRS or XLR cable.
Audio Interface, Microphone, Headphones. Great for practicing to make recordings. You'll probably outgrow this equipment after 12 months of use.
Beginning audio interface to connect XLR microphones and studio monitors (speakers) to the computer.
Clarett 2 High quality audio interface. Much higher quality than the Scarlett 2i2, or the Behringer interfaces. For use with XLR microphones and studio monitors (speakers.)
Use in a gear rack and plug expensive gear into it for surge protection.
Patch bay - for use with a rack-mounted interface and a gear rack.
For connecting the patch bay to the back of the interface in a gear rack.
Microphone Stand. Not very heavy, don't put expensive mics on this stand. Fine when not over-extended.
For use with any microphone to shield the microphone from plosive "B" and "P" sounds.
25 ft XLR cables to connect a microphone to an audio interface. When buying XLR cables, always over-estimate the length needed.
Great stage vocal mic. Also used in studios.
USB condenser microphone. Use without an audio interface.
Good beginning condenser mic. XLR connection - requires audio interface.
AKG P220 - intermediate level microphone. Much clearer than the beginning models.
Advanced microphone great on vocals and instruments.