The 3 Microphones You Have to Own

Hello Everybody,

Last week I wrote about the 5 Plug-ins I can't live without. This week I thought I'd share with you the 3 microphones that you HAVE to own.

So, if you are looking at purchasing some microphones or wondering which microphones you should start your collection with,  here are my top 3 microphone recommendations.

1. ETL Edwina

etl edwina microphone

This is the newest microphone in my collection and boy, do I feel horrible that I didn't discover this mic earlier. As you can tell from the photo above, the mic looks beautiful and it sounds just as amazing as it looks. I discovered this through a gig I was on and when the artist brought out this microphone, it was love at first sight.

I was expecting this microphone to cost over $1000, but to my surprise it cost only $499 (given what you're getting and the style, I thought that was a doable price).  You can also personalize it like I did. All of these mics are hand made in Portland, Oregon. I love this on vocals as well as on my guitar cabinets. This mic is going to be a mainstay on my vocal and guitar recordings. The Edwina has it own signature sound to which I have yet to find anything sounding bad going though it. It's clear, it's bright, and it sounds amazing. 

2. EV RE320

If you need some body in your vocals, guitar, kick drum, or anything else this is the microphone. The younger brother of the fabulous EV RE20, this mic takes what we all love about the RE20 and makes it better. When using this on a vocalist with a deep sounding voice, it will help bring out the body in the voice. The same for the kick drum. I like to mic the outside of the kick with this mic and using another mic, Shure Beta 91a, for the inside of the kick drum.
But what I like to use this on the most are my guitar cabinets. In use with the ETL Edwina, you can blend the 2 microphones together to get the desired sound from your guitar. You have the nice, clean and bright Edwina then you have the darker, warmer RE320, It's the perfect combination. Also, it is more affordable than the Edwina at $299.

3. Shure SM57

shure sm57

There are no words to describe this. This mic is a workhorse and an industry standard. You can use this on anything and it will sound good. Not to mention these are built like tanks. If you're able to break one you should get an award because in all my experience I probably have seen, at most, one broken SM57. Do yourself a favor and buy this mic, it is only $99 and will last you forever AND sound good no matter what.

So there you have it: THE 3 microphones you have to own. Please feel free to throw in your suggestions in the comments below.


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5 Plugins That I Cant Live Without

Hello everybody,

I thought I would make a little list for my plug-in staples. I use them in almost all of my mixes and masters. So without further adeu, here are the five plug-ins I can't live without:

1. Waves SSL E & G Channel Strip

I love these plug-ins. I put these on almost everything and it sounds amazing. Waves did an amazing job recreating these plug-ins. What I love to use these on are vocals, but I also find myself using these often on drums. It's just a regular channel strip: It has a EQ, Compressor, and a gate. However, the way all these elements work together, the way you can change the sound so you can have the EQ or compressor first in the chain, and the sound that comes out of this is awesome. Just having it just there adds a warmth to the tracks, which I love. 

2. Slate Digital VCC Collection

I have to admit, ever since I bought my Phoenix Audio Nicerizer I haven't been using this plug-in a lot, but before it was on every one of my channels as well as my mix bus and sub-mixes. What it does is basically emulate recording consoles, but the best thing is you can have different consoles for different instruments. So I have can my drums going though a Neve console while I have the guitars and bass going through a SSL console. For that reason and for the subtle differences it makes to the sound are why I can't live without it.

3. Waves CLA-76 Compressor

I love this compressor, whether it be my Warm Audio WA-76, my Hairball Audio Rev A compressor, or this compressor which has both the Rev. A & D of this compressor. Ultimately, you can have the warm Rev A version or the darker Rev D version. I throw these on my vocal chain and my snare channels without hesitation. 

4. iZotope Ozone 7 Advance

Not only is this a stand-alone application but it is also available as a plug in.  Something new that iZotope has done for version 7 is being able to use any module as a single plug in. So for example, if Iwanted to just use the tape emulator, I can now. I loved using version 7 of Ozone, but all the improvements they have done (as well as lowering the price) has made this a no-brainier for me when I'm beginning the mastering process. But I believe  the stand out feature is the ability to, in real time, listen to how your music will sound as being an MP3 or AAC. I believe this will greatly improve my masters as I can hear how the MP3 will sound before I export the song. 

5. Waves Puigchild Compressor

Ask anybody and more than likely the Fairchild 670 compressor is in at least the top five pieces of hardware they want to own. I know because I am one of them. I barely use this on any instruments. The only place I use this on is my master bus. It really helps glue my mix together. I can just insert this onto my mix bus and even with out compression, it automatically makes my mix sound better. Then when I start to compress my song together that's when the magic happens and just glues everything together in my mix.

So there you have it. These are the top five Plug-ins I can't live without. These plug-ins are staples of my mixes and masters. Let me know of the plug-ins you can't live without In the comments below.  


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Top 5 additions to my studio in 2015

Good news everyone!

As we close out 2015 I decided to reflect on my studio's changes. This year I added a whole bunch of new gear to my studio so I decided to make a list of my top 5 favorite gear additions in 2015.

1. Adam Audio P11A Studio Monitors & Adam Audio Sub8

This undoubtedly this has been the most important addition to my studio in 2015. Before I had a pair of KRK speakers as my main monitors. After I added these boys, WOW did I find my mixes improved! I find when I mix through these guys, my mixes and masters transpose much better. 

2. Phoenix Audio Nicerizer Summing Mixer

I don't want to get into the debate of "Analog Summing vs Digital Summing". All I'm going to say is that this little guy has added a vintage vibe to my mixes. For you guys who don't know what a summing mixer is, basically I send out 16 mono or 8 stereo signals and it combines them into a single stereo signal.

3. Warm Audio WA76 Compressor

I admit, I was iffy when I first bought it.  After using it for a couple of months though, I can definitely say that this was one of my better buys this year, so much so, I bought TWO this year! But that being said this compressor gives you the sound of the sought after UREI 1176 Rev D compressor at under $1000. The 2 WA76's have become main stays on my snare and vocal tracks. 

4. Hairball Audio Rev A Compressor

This one, like the WA76, was also an iffy buy mainly because it was my first DIY project (where they send you all the parts and you build the compressor yourself). It definitely was an experience since this wasn't an easy build and it was my first time doing something like this. But when I have used it in mixes, I find that it brings a certain brightness to what ever I run through it. 

5. Joined Dueling Mixes

This is a little bit different in that this is not a piece of gear, but a website. One of my friends turned me on to this website. It gives you music to mix with videos on what they did and little tips and tricks that they used in mixing the same song. This has helped me immensely. Not only did it give me more practice, but it also gave me insight to see what other people do when they mix. Some of the stuff I learned, I plan to use in my future mixing.

So overall this was a very productive year for Empty Road Audio. I added alot of new gear and has some new clients as well as some returning clients. I hope that 2016 is better for all of us.


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Building Hairball Audio Elements Cooper Preamp

Hello Everybody,

I thought I would share a time lapse video I made while building my 2nd Hairball Audio product. This time I purchased a Elements Cooper 500 series Preamp. I got it on sale during black Friday, where I also purchased a 500 series compressor from Hairball Audio.  It took me about 4 hours to build and you can see all that condensed into about a minute and a half. I had a blast building this preamp and I cant wait to use it in my studio and using it for future projects.  Check out the video below.

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Hairball Audio 1176 Rev. A Compressor

Hello all, I wanted to show off the latest piece of gear available at Empty Road Audio. It is a DIY compressor from Hairball Audio. It is based on one of my favorite compressors of all time, the UREI 1176 REV. A. I have been having a blast building this compressor from the ground up, and can't wait to use this on upcoming projects.

Here is a photo of the not yet completed compressor.




Here is the description from Hairball Audio 

"Often referred to as a “Blue Stripe”. These units were the first commercial revision and have a silver panel with a distinctive blue stripe over the VU meter. The signal and line amp are based on the 1108 mic pre and use a FET as the first active component in each amp stage (all other revisions use a bipolar transistor). The gain reduction FET in this model has a unique circuitry around it different form all other models (notably the lack of source resistor). This results in a little more distortion that helps define the “Blue Stripe” sound. This revision also has a slightly lower threshold in comparison to later revisions (about 5db) and more gain in the amplification stages (about 5db) than the Rev D. This revision is rare, limited to less than a 1000 units, and are highly sought after by many engineers and producers."


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