Friends and students often ask for recommendations on products that I use. Before buying any gear, I read tons of reviews, test them out, and consult my techy friends and colleagues who are “in the know.” Below are some items that I use regularly to get my work done.
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As an undergrad, I read an article by John Parks that stressed the importance of tapping into the plethora of music readily available to us, all in the pursuit of becoming a more well-rounded musician. Headphones are key. I have been a long-time user of the Bose over-ear headphones, but I was looking for something day-to-day that I could wear on the move. After reading tons of reviews, visiting the store, and talking with industry professionals, the MIE2i’s have definitely earned their praise. Comfortable, quality sound, and the headset mic is better than any bluetooth alternative I’ve used for phone calls on the go. For the cleanest sound, I prefer ones sans noise-cancelling.
When I first ventured into the world of professional recording, I quickly learned about the importance of the audio interface, and how the mic preamps and converters are a crucial factor in affecting the color and tone of the live sound captured. Although more expensive than interfaces in the $100-$200 range, I opted to save up and invest in a piece of gear that I could use further down the road. With the Apogee products, you get what you pay for.
There are many great studio monitoring headphones out there, but these are widely used in professional studios and prosumer home studios. Wide frequency response and clean delivery of sound with very little additive coloring to the audio make it a great choice for monitoring as well as recreational listening.
You have to protect your hearing from exposure to high decibels, especially over extended periods of time. The high frequencies are what we use to discern speech, and once they’re gone, they’re gone. I’ve worn all kinds of plugs, from foam plugs to custom fitted ear molds. Affordable and rooted in research, I keep a few pairs in different bags, always ready to go. Great for loud indoor rehearsals, a MUST for drumline.
This is where percussionists get to play Harry Potter, with the exception that we choose the stick. There are so many great stick designs out there, each fitting a personal preference. After almost 20 years of playing in and teaching drumlines, Bret’s stick is still the one I come back to. Especially with the recent white hickory release by IP, I love using these guys to make music. Full disclosure, I’m an IP sponsored artist – they’re top quality.
I am a metronome connoisseur/nut and have tried various kinds, from the classic wind-up pendulum metronome that sat on my childhood piano, to the multi-function programmable digital metronomes. I use this one the most because of its portability and ease of use. Keeping affordability in mind, this is a good option for under $50, which allows me to keep one in my stick bag, and one on the move as I need it. You’ll see me in the lots during the summer with one around my neck.
I’ve always been interested in playing various stringed instruments, but after my first trip to Hawaii, I fell in love with the ukulele. I learned about the different makers, read about the different kinds of woods they use, and watched videos detailing these creations of musical art. 3 ukes later, the SN6 keeps my 4-string friends on point.
I’ve heard the snark guitar tuner is also a good option, but the Korg tuner is one that I tried while researching tuners. I’ve been very satisfied with it, and it happily lives on the head stock of my guitar.
My first encounter with a bluetooth speaker was at an outdoor get-together. I was pleasantly surprised with its portability and sound quality for such a small item. I now use it all the time for lessons for students to play along with music, and at home in the kitchen and bathroom for shower tunes. Several good options out there, I chose the Jambox Mini for its sleek design and compact size.
With external hard drives, Pro Tools dongles, and midi keyboards, you start to run out of usb ports pretty quickly. It’s also an easy way to keep everything plugged in as I move my laptop in and out of the office. I just connect the hub to laptop and everything’s up and running.
I am a track pad ninja, but when working on large scores in Sibelius or editing clips in Pro Tools and Logic sessions at my home desk, my laptop is a little further away next to my secondary display. To keep everything within a comfortable reach, I use the magic mouse which also allows for all the swiping options I’m accustomed to with the trackpad.
I enjoy a clear work space, and the perfect workflow and aesthetic compliment to the magic mouse is this wireless keyboard. I also prefer having a numpad on the keyboard over a phone app which I use on the go. Overall solid reviews, the longevity of the solar charged battery, TBD. So far, a great tool.
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