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Artist Advice Column: Tech For Musicians Pt. 1

Tech is a vital part of an musician's career and we are here to provide some recommendations and advice on useful tech for you.

Making music is a creative process that comes from the soul (unless you are an AI). However to do it, you will need some sort of technology to make you sound better, more refined and facilitate your career. Even if you are a folk singer who plays an acoustic guitar, there is still plenty of tech out there that can help you be a better musician. It isn’t cheap to purchase all of these items, but the investment is worth it in the long run.

1. Soundbrenner Pulse:

When you are starting out, a metronome is very important. Even if you are experienced musician and are looking to pick up a new instrument, you might need one. And going beyond that, if you are looking to make some extra money on the side by teaching lessons, you will certainly need one for students. The Soundbrenner Pulse is a metronome, but something quite different. Instead of the traditional instrument that sits in front of you and clicks incessantly to the tempo you choose, it is a wearable device that vibrates to your tempo. It can be attached to your wrist, ankle and soon your chest. Even the most experienced of musicians can need a metronome and this one brings in into your body so you can feel the rhythm. 

2. Roli Seaboard:

There are many different types of these blocks, but the Roli seaboard is an innovative portable keyboard that can create all sorts of sounds from synths to piano and more. The larger and more expensive ones have more capabilities and range, but even the smallest one is quite useful. It is portable and is easy to take on the road for making music when you travel. Pharrell didn’t become involved with the company for no reason. Read up on our past reviews of their products here.

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3. A good sound card:

Having a good external USB soundcard is vital to recording your music. If you soundcard is bad, your music won’t sound all that great. It is an important component to your recording process as the conduit for your music into the final product you hear at the end. You can spend hundreds, if not more, on an expensive soundcard, but that generally isn’t necessary. The Behringer U-Phoria UMC202HD has the quality you expect from Behringer and is about $70. It offers 24-bit 192kHz audio quality with two inputs. If you are buying for Mac, check out Apogee soundcards, which consistently make some of the best at good price points.

When buying, make sure the sound card is compatible with your computer system. Some only work on PCs and others on Macs. Also you can look for internal sound-cards if you want to upgrade your internal computer hardware or build your own PC. With Macs, that would be much more difficult. 

4. Recording equipment for the road:

If you aren’t in a studio, either your own or a professional one, recording on the road can be vital to your career. Recording full songs while you are in hotel rooms or in a van likely won’t create the final mixed and mastered product if you are using a variety of live instruments. You can’t set up your band to play in a van. However, you can use microphones to record your voice on the road if you find a shower or other enclosed space with reasonable acoustics. Mics from Blue or the Audio-Technica AT2020USB are great USB-connected mics that can work on the road or in a studio.

But if you want to record other audio, getting a hand-held audio recorder is a good idea. Your phone can record audio pretty well, but these recorders can give you a little better quality when you hear a cool sound you may want to sample or have an idea you can hum or sing. Tascam makes a great line of recorders that vary in price for their features. The Zoom H1 is one of the standards for these recorders with great quality and more. Take advantage of your time on the road and be productive in between shows with some good equipment. 

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