Basics of Recording Part 2: The Hardware I Use

Basics of Recording Part 2: The Hardware I Use

A few days ago I covered the basic stuff you’re going to need to start recording, all the way from the source making the noise to the software used to mix it down. I’m often asked what specific camera or microphone (or other gear) I use to for audio recording.

In this post, I’ll highlight what I use to get the job done. You can view the “Gear I use” page (coming soon) to view all the gear I own (and ever have owned), but in this post I’ll just focus on audio stuff.

See all posts in the “Basics of Recording” series here.

So what do I use?

(by the way, links will take you to product pages on Amazon/Musician’s Friend, but I really recommend buying used gear)


  • My voice
  • Guitars – mostly a Martin D-35 and a custom built Telecaster through a Vox AC15 CC1 (VOX has replaced this model with the AC15C1).
  • Midi keyboard – M-Audio KeyRig 49.

Capture devices:

Presonus Firepod

My Presonus Firepod

Pre-amps and A/D conversion:


  • Apple MacBook Pro (2005 – this thing is getting a little long in the tooth)
  • Home-built desktop running Mac OSX
  • Apple Logic

Apple fan, anybody? 😀 I’ve done plenty of recording on a windows machine – actually more time spent in Windows than Mac historically.


  • Event TR5 Studio Monitors (discontinued)
  • AKG K 66 headphones (discontinued)
  • Shure SE110 Earphones (Shure has replaced these with the SE115’s)

I consider all my gear to be low to mid-level budget gear, but I feel like it gives me an excellent bang for the buck. I highly recommend all the stuff I use. You might be reading this and think to yourself:

Buying all this stuff would cost me a fortune!

Just remember that I’ve been building this list up for literally 10 years. I’ll cover just how much money you need to get started in a later post.

  • Jason A. Nelson


    Thanks for sharing. I do home recording too and here is my list of gear:

    – My Voice
    – Taylor 414ce Acoustic Guitar
    – Yamaha P-250 Keyboard
    – I also call in a friend of mine to help with electric guitar work and he uses a Tele with a custom arranged pedal board and Vox AC15

    – AKG Perception 120
    – Samson C01U Studio Condenser
    – Shure SM57
    – Shure Beta 58a

    – E-MU 1820 (discontinued)

    – Mackie Control Universal (discontinued)…this is a great tool for mixing.

    – I use a computer I built myself. It has an Intel I7 8-core processor, 8GB DDR3 RAM, 2.5 TB of storage (500GB SATA internal, and 2TB USB external), DVD burner, Blu-Ray burner. (I also do video work, so the storage is always a premium)
    – I run Windows 7 Home Premium 64-bit. Using 64-bit allows me to use all 8GB of memory (as opposed to 32-bit only recognizing up to 4GB). The extra memory is HUGE when it comes to inserting effects or soft synths into tracks.
    – My recording software is Sonar X1 Producer made by Cakewalk. I’ve been with Cakewalk for nearly 20 years now. I’ve tried others, including Pro Tools, but I guess I’m just most comfortable with getting around within Cakewalk.
    – Dimensions Pro (comes with Sonar X1 Producer) for creating sounds.
    – Guitar Rig Pro (comes with Sonar X1 Producer) for re-amping guitars.

    (NOTE: This is the one area that changes the most for me as my ears get older and as styles of music change)
    – M-Audio BX5a (reference)
    – Alesis M1 Active Mk2 (studio)
    – Bose headphones
    – Custom molded in-ear monitors from Future Sonics

    Like you, I have built my studio over time. There is no way that I could go out today and buy all of this stuff brand new. That is the key thing that I try to get across to people getting into this (beyond Garage Band) is that your studio will grow to your style and tastes as a musician…don’t expect to get it just right out of the gate.