By Craig Anderton
Granted, it was hard to narrow it down to five. But these goodies have stood out over the past year as being essentials for my own studio, and they can contribute much to any studio makeover.
Uninterruptible Power Supply
I first became aware of the power of the UPS with ADATs. My ADATs used to do weird things, but stopped doing weird things after I bought a UPS. My friends with ADATs who didn’t have a UPS experienced weird things. Anecdotal evidence? Sure. But the first time a UPS keeps your project alive when some idiot drunk driver slams into a power pole and you lose your electricity, or you live where lightning is a frequent visitor, you’ll be glad you paid attention to this article and got a UPS. Just make sure you find one with sufficient power for your super-duper multi-core wonder box (and your monitor)—a lot of UPS devices in office supply stores are for little old ladies who use Pentium 4 computers only on Sundays to cruise the internet for recipes.
Pauly Superscreen Pop Filter
Yes, it’s expensive. Yes, it’s worth it. I do a lot of narration and close-mic my vocals, and it always seemed that no matter what pop filter I used—or how many I doubled up—nothing could keep those nasty plosives out of the picture. I’m not quite sure what mojo Pauly uses to get such exceptional results, but this sucker really works. Did I mention it’s expensive? Well, I realized about two months into owning it I had saved enough time from not editing plosives that it had already paid for itself.
Planet Waves Guitar Dock
This cheap ‘n’ cheerful accessory clamps on to the edge of your table and holds your guitar neck in place while the strap pin sits on the floor. If you’ve ever leaned a guitar up against a table “just for a second” and seen it slide to the ground as you recoiled in horror, you’ll appreciate what this clever little device can do. I have it attached right next to where I sit when I’m recording, so my guitar is only a few inches away at all times. Which is as it should be.
Primacoustic Recoil Stabilizers
Most products that claim miracle powers (“Improved imaging! Better transient response! Audible improvement!”) are snake oil. Given that “recoil” even has the word “oil” in it, I feared the worst. But anyone who’s tried these will agree that that the improvement is obvious and significant. Basically, what it does is stabilize the speaker so it doesn’t move when you pass significant amounts of audio through it. Yes, it gives much better imaging, a more consistent sound field, and while it doesn’t improve the speaker’s transient response, it does improve how those transients reach your ears. The results are definitely not snake oil.
LG Blu-Ray Burner
I’m a fanatic about backing up, because my only real product is data. Losing that data would be like having a warehouse burn down if you’re a manufacturer. Sure, I save to hard drives and they’re quite reliable, but Blu-Ray discs hold a lot of data and they’re more robust than CDs or DVDs. In fact accelerated life tests indicate they’ll last longer than I will, which I suppose is comforting. Sort of. Anyway, make sure you get a device that can actually burn Blu-Ray discs, like LG’s BE14NU40; there are a lot of cheapo models that will play back BD, but only burn CD and DVD. You also want a fast drive (I went for a USB 3.0 drive) that can accommodate multi-layer discs. Even a really good drive won’t set you back much more than $100.
And there you have it. I was also going to mention the Gibson Memory Cable, but figured that would seem too self-serving. Ooops, I mentioned it anyway. Oh well.