We've gone through lots of gear over the past couple of years, and plenty of trial-and-error. So here's what we've learned, along with our recommendations on how to outfit your own studio. Be forewarned: some of these pieces are affordable, but others are not!
Let's start with drum mics. What are the best drum mics for recording a band? We use a pretty basic 8-mic setup. Nothing fancy, just tried-and-true tools for rock drums:
- Kick. AKG D-112. This is the mic everybody uses on kick. 'Nuff said.
- Snare (top and bottom). The one-and-only Shure SM-57. It just works.
- Hi-Hat. Keeping it simple again with the Shure 57. (But we want a Neumann KM-184!)
- Toms (rack and floor). The classic tom mic is the Sennheiser 421. We love it.
- Overheads. Some prefer Neumanns but we use a pair of AKG 451s that sound great!
Next up: guitars. We've found that the best guitar mic is the Royer 121 ribbon mic. And like a lot of top engineers, our man-at-the-controls, Brian Moore, uses a combination of a Shure SM-57 with the Royer 121 to blend in punch (57) and warmth (Royer).
Once you have good microphones, you need to amplify their signals to record into ProTools (or other DAW). Enter mic preamps. Great mic pres make the difference between flat-sounding, two-dimensional tracks and a recording with punch, power and warmth.
What are the best mic pres for recording a band? For us (and many top studios) it's all about API and Neve. Loads of great records from the '70s were made on Neve or API consoles, and those same circuits are in this gear:
- API 3124. We love these so much, we got three! To our ears, this is the sound of rock and roll -- punchy and tight, with fast transients. Great on drums, and we also use them on guitars and keys.
- Neve 1073. Actually we use the BAE 1073. There are lots of Neve clones on the market, and BAE is great. In contrast to API, these sound fat and warm, with rounded transients. We use 'em on vocals and bass.
Next up in the recording chain are compressors, which help tame and tighten mic signals before hitting ProTools. What are the best compressors? Here's what we use:
- Universal Audio 1176. If you could only get one compressor, get this. It's the classic rock compressor, fast and punchy. We use it on vocals, bass and snare.
- Distressor. Most studios have (more than) one of these. It's versatile and adds harmonics in a pleasing way. We use it on drums, horns, guitars and keys.
- Tube-Tech CL1B. This is a desert island vocal compressor. Also great on bass. But watch out, it's expensive!
- dbx 160A. A workhorse compressor. Simple, transparent and affordable.
Converters / Interfaces
After you've amplified and compressed your mic signals, you need A-to-D conversion to turn all that analog goodness into digital bits inside your computer. We've had two converters over the past couple of years and love them both:
- Universal Audio Apollo. We recorded our first EP, The Goose Is Loose, through this interface, and we absolutely loved using it. Sounds great, easy to use, plus it lets you incorporate UAD's amazing plugins into your tracks.
- We recently upgraded to the Apogee Symphony I/O 16-channel thunderbolt interface. Man, this thing sounds amazing! Many consider Apogee to be the...well, apogee of A-to-D conversion.
Headphones and Headphone Systems
Audio-Technica headphones are a recording studio staple, and that's what we use here at Golden Egg. We love 'em. In fact, we have a big batch of the ATH-M50 model. One for every Goose!
And don't forget personal monitor mixers. This is so each musician can dial in the right sound in their headphones while recording. Helps avoid the "more me" syndrome, when everyone wants to hear themselves louder in the mix.
Our monitor mixers are the Behringer Powerplay 16. Behringer equipment sometimes gets a bad rap, but we've had great success with this system. It's affordable, easy to set up, and it just works.
So that's the Gooseneck studio from beak to tail! We hope this is helpful to all the musicians, engineers and studio owners in the Gooseneck Gaggle.
If you want to HEAR what this recording gear sounds like, or SEE it in action, check out: Note: Many of the links on this page are affiliate links, which means that at no additional cost to you, Gooseneck will earn a small commission if you decide to make a purchase. Please understand that we recommend these products because we use them ourselves and think they're awesome, not because of the small commission we receive if you decide to buy something.