What Gear do Professional Artists and Producers Use?


Have you ever wondered what gear and equipment your favorite artists are using? In this article, we will explore the gear of some of the well-known music producers and artists from different genres. We will look into their equipment and some of their recording processes and rituals.

Let’s dive into the list of musicians from bands, producers, DJ’s. We will do a rig rundown on their gear and find out the difference between the different artists and the equipment they are using.

To find out which products your favorite artists use, we searched the internet for pictures and interviews. We also checked their social media profiles so we can share the information with you.

DJs and Producers

We will show you two different DJ Music Producers. We have chosen one producer with a ton of gear and one producer with a more straightforward studio set up so you can compare and contrast.

CALVIN HARRIS

BACKGROUND

Calvin Harris is a DJ, singer, songwriter and music producer responsible for hits like “Summers,” “Slide,” and “One Kiss.” I chose to include his gear on the list because unlike other DJs and producers, he has a lot of vintage hardware instead of the modern virtual instruments. His recording ritual is to lock himself inside the studio on airplane mode. He prefers to create music by disconnecting himself from social media and online distractions.

LOCATION

Calvin Harris’ home studio is located in Scotland.

GEAR

AUDIO INTERFACE

He uses the MOTU 896HD as his main audio interface. This audio interface is a Japanese-made professional audio interface with way more controls than the typical home studio audio interfaces. It is a scarce device that is hard to find.

MICROPHONES

He uses a Neumann U-87 Condenser Microphone. This excellent mic costs $3,000. He also rocks an AKG C1000, another product that produces high-quality sounds. For someone as talented as Calvin Harris and all the high-end instruments he uses, no wonder his music is good.

GUITARS

The Gibson Les Paul Custom is a famous guitar. Many artists and guitarists alike love this fantastic guitar. Many artists like Billy Joe Armstrong from Greenday, Dave Grohl from the Foo Fighters, Noel Gallagher from Oasis, and many more have been spotted using this guitar.

BASS

For most of his bass tracks, if he is not using a bass synth, Harris uses a reliable Fender Geddy Lee Jazz Bass. EDM artists like Calvin Harris usually use synth bass for their genre, but being a multi-talented musician, He sometimes likes the organic bass sound.

MONITORS

He uses the ATC SCM25A Pro Studio Monitors in his home studio. As you guessed, these are high-end studio monitors that cost almost $10,000. Artists seen having these monitors are Benny Benassi and Logic.

On one

Of Calvin Harris’ Instagram posts, we spotted him using a Yamaha C7 grand piano. And it is credited on the track “Slide.”

KEYBOARDS AND SYNTH

He uses a bunch of keyboards and synths on his tracks. Here is a couple that he credited on his tracks, and stuff we saw in his studio.

  • Roland Jupiter-8 Synthesizer
  • Moog Minimoog Voyager
  • Roland Juno-G Workstation Keyboard
  • Korg MicroKORG Synthesizer/Vocoder
  • Fender Rhodes
  • Wurlitzer 203w
  • KORG MS-20
  • Dave Smith Prophet 08 Module 8-Voice Analog Synth

These are just a couple of synths we can identify. We see Calvin Harris use a lot more synths than this.

DAWs

From interviews, we verified that his DAW of choice is the APPLE LOGIC PRO 9. This is a very straightforward DAW made by Apple. This DAW costs $199.

VST PLUGINS

For a producer with a lot of instruments and hardware, he still uses software and VST plugins to enhance his tracks. He is seen using Native Instruments Komplete 9, Waves L3-16 Multimaximizer and the Xfer Records LFO Tool for filtering.

DJ EQUIPMENT

As you know, Calvin Harris is a DJ Music Producer. Let’s check out the DJ gear and controllers he uses.

  • Pioneer CDJ-2000
  • Pioneer DJM-900 Nexus Mixer
  • Technics SL-1210MK2
  • Pioneer CDJ-1000MK3

STEVE AOKI

BACKGROUND

Unlike Calvin Harris, Aoki has a more straightforward studio setup. Instead of having a lot of hardware and expensive instruments. He focuses his work on a MacBook Pro. All his devices are mostly software synths, software effects, and virtual instruments.

Based on interviews and his Netflix Documentary, Steve Aoki’s artistic process is based on how he will fit his new songs in his sets. He imagines how his audience will react. He also writes his albums having one concept.

GEAR

COMPUTERS

Steve Aoki uses MAC for recording. He prefers the power of Apple computers like the iMac he has in his home music studio and his MacBook Pro that he uses for live shows.

Because he has so many shows in a year, it is hard for him to make time in recording at home. He has a MacBook Pro and records music on his tour bus. A tour bus studio is a sort of like a bedroom music studio.

He uses an Apple PowerMac G5.

MICROPHONES

In one of his tweets, he said that he bought a Neumann TLM 103 Condenser Microphone. This is a good microphone that costs about $1,000.

Besides the amps, Aoki also uses preamps to get better and more powerful audio out of his microphones. A Universal Audio 710 Twin-finity Microphone Preamp is seen in one of his racks in his studio.

He also has an Avalon VT-737sp Mic Preamp. Professional producers can’t have enough gear.

LIVE DJ EQUIPMENT

He might not have a lot of vintage instruments at home, but on the road and live shows here are some of the equipment he uses:

  • Pioneer EFX-1000 Professional DJ Effector
  • Pioneer DJM-800 Mixer
  • Pioneer DJM-900 Mixer
  • Pioneer CDJ-2000

Here is the software he uses for live shows:

  • Serato Scratch Live DJ Software
  • Mixed In Key Harmonic Mixing DJ Software

GUITARS

Steve Aoki owns a Fender American Ash Telecaster Electric Guitar. His music is more synth-heavy, but you can hear guitars on some of his tracks.

SYNTHS

Besides all his virtual instrument software, he still plays with a couple of hardware analog synthesizers. A Clavia Nord Lead 3 Synthesizer has made appearances in some of his Instagram videos. He also has the Teenage Engineering OP-1, which is a very compact synth.

SOFTWARE AND VST PLUGINS

In contrast to producers like Calvin Harris, Aoki is not a fan of too many instruments in his music studio. He focuses more on being a minimalist in terms of gear. Although he has a lot of virtual tools in his arsenal. Here is a couple of software he mentioned:

  • Native Instruments Massive Synth
  • Native Instruments Razor Software Synthesizer
  • Lennar Digital Sylenth1 Software Synthesizer
  • Rob Paden Predator
  • Singlemault Steve Aoki Edition
  • IZotope Ozone 5 Complete Mastering System
  • reFX Nexus 2
  • Spectrasonics Omnisphere 2
  • Waves CLA Vocals
  • Soundtoys EchoBoy
  • Soundtoys Crystallizer
  • Universal Audio 1176 Classic Limiter Plugin Collection
  • Universal Audio Teletronix LA-3A Classic Audio
  • Waves JJP Vocals Plugin

With a comprehensive list of virtual instrument technology plugins, he maximizes the use of his DAW.

DAW

His DAW of choice is Apple Logic X Pro. Since he likes Apple computers, choosing Logic X Pro is not surprising.

HEADPHONES

Steve Aoki has his signature headphones, the SOL STEVE AOKI TRACKS HD ON EAR HEADPHONES. He also uses the SOL REPUBLIC TRACKS AIR WIRELESS BLUETOOTH HEADPHONES. He is also seen using Pioneer and Beats headphones in the past.

Now that you have an idea of what is inside a professional producer’s music studio, we will take a look into different kinds of musicians.

BAND MUSICIANS

We will take a look into the gear and equipment of Jordan Rudess from the band Dream Theater and Misha Mansoor from Periphery. The reason we chose these musicians because they are known for having their home music studios.

They and the gear they use can inspire bedroom music recording musicians.

JORDAN RUDESS

BACKGROUND

Jordan Rudess is a known keyboardist and music composer for progressive metal and rock bands like Dream Theater and Liquid Tension Experiment. He is also known for the use of technology and exceptional instruments. He has two studios at home, studio A and studio B.

He started his own company and created unique virtual instruments.  Let’s look into some of his gear.

PIANO

Jordan Rudess gave people a tour of his music studio on his YouTube channel. His main piano is the Steinway and Sons Model D Concert Grand Piano. Most of his piano tracks were recorded using this concert grand piano.

SYNTHESIZERS

Being a very talented pianist and keyboardist, he owns a lot of keyboards and synthesizers. Here are some of the ones he showed us in his home studio tour:

  • Roland V Piano
  • KORG Tritron 88 Extreme
  • KORG PA900 61-Key Pro Arranger Keyboard
  • Novation Nova II
  • CME XKey Air
  • KORG Oasys 88-Key Workstation
  • Kurzweii K2600 Synthesizer
  • KORG Kronos X-88 Key Music Workstation
  • KORG Radias Synthesizer
  • Moog Minimoog Voyager
  • Melotron M4000D Mini
  • Dave Smith Instruments Evolver Keyboard
  • Moog Little Phatty Stage II
  • Clavia Nord Wave
  • Studiologic Sledge
  • Roland Jupiter-80
  • Haken Continuum Fingerboard
  • Roland V-Synth GT Elastic Audio Synthesizer
  • Roland Gaia SH-01 Synthesizer
  • Arturia MiniBrute Analog Synthesizer
  • Arturia MicroBrute Analog Synthesizer
  • Novation UltraNova Synthesizer
  • KORG Kaossilator Pro
  • Arturia Origin Synthesizer
  • KORG Kronos 2 Platinum Limited Edition
  • Roland Fantom G8 Workstation
  • NUmotion Revo 1
  • Hammond XK5
  • Haken ContinuuMini
  • Roland AX-Edge Keytar

VST PLUGINS

Aside from the long list of analog synthesizers, Rudess still uses VST instrument plugins. Here are some VSTs he uses:

  • ZED Synth
  • Ohm Force Symptohm
  • Spectrasonics Omnisphere Virtual Synth
  • Output SIGNAL
  • Heavyocity DM-307
  • Sample Logic Cinematic Keys
  • Waves Element 2.0 Virtual Analog Synth
  • Waves NX
  • KV331 Audio SynthMaster One for iOS
  • GeoShred 2.0

Here are some software and apps he developed for his company Wizdom Music:

  • SampleWiz- sampler for iPhone and iPad
  • MorphWiz- music creation controller for iOS
  • Geo Synthesizer- digital music interface for iOS
  • Tachyon- mixing app that transforms and morphs music for iOS
  • Leap Motion Music- a touch-based sound creator for iOS
  • HarmonyWiz- advanced harmonic generating app for iOS
  • Jordantron- an app that has all of Jordan Rudess’ live sounds all in one iOS app.
  • EarWizard- a training app where you repeat a sequence of chords to improve memory
  • GeoShred- create mind-bending guitar sounds by sliding your finger on the screen of your iOS device

EFFECTS PEDALS

To further modulate his synth sounds, Jordan Rudess also runs his synths through guitar pedals. Here is a list of the pedals he uses:

  • Moog Moogerfooger MF-107 FreqBox
  • TC Electronic Corona Chorus
  • TC Electronic Vortex Flanger
  • TC Electronic Dark Matter Distortion
  • TC Electronic Ditto X2 Looper Effects Pedal
  • TC Electronic Flashback Delay
  • Boss FS-5U Non-latching Footswitch
  • Neo Instruments Ventilator II

STUDIO EQUIPMENT

Now that we listed down most of his synth gear, here is the other studio equipment he has in his studio:

  • Mackie Onyx 1640i Firewire Mixer
  • Roli Seaboard Grand
  • Moog CP-251 MoogerFrooger Control Processor
  • Roger Linn Design Linnstrument MIDI
  • Apple iPad
  • KORG Volca Sample Digital Sample Sequencer

MISHA MANSOOR

BACKGROUND

Misha Mansoor is a guitarist, songwriter, and producer from the band Periphery. He has shown us his home music studio on YouTube. He is a very talented musician and producer. Let’s see what gear a guitarist’s music studio would have.

GUITARS

Like Rudess, Misha Mansoor has a lot of guitars because it’s his instrument of choice. Here are some of the guitars in his arsenal:

  • Jackson Misha Mansoor Juggernaut HT6/HT7 and HT8
  • Aristides 070 Guitar
  • Aristides 060 TT
  • Blackmachine B6
  • Fender American Vintage ’59 Stratocaster Electric Guitar
  • Strandberg #23
  • Skervesen Raptor 7
  • Mayones Regius 9
  • Fender Custom Shop Telecaster
  • Ernie Ball Music Man John Petrucci JP7

EFFECTS PEDAL

Being a guitarist, Mansoor owns a lot of guitar pedals, here are some of them from the live rig rundown:

  • EARTHQUAKER DEVICES
  • MXR PEDALS
  • TC ELECTRONIC PEDALS
  • CAROLINE BOUTIQUE PEDALS
  • WALRUS AUDIO
  • SEYMOUR DUNCAN PEDALS
  • MAXON PEDALS
  • BOSS PEDALS
  • HORIZON DEVICES
  • BOGNER PEDALS

You get it. This guitarist has a lot of pedals!

STUDIO EQUIPMENT

Here are some of the studio equipment Mansoor uses for recording:

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2 USB Audio Interface

This audio interface suitable for a bedroom music studio, it is affordable, and beginners can use this too.

DAW

Misha Mansoor’s DAW of choice is the Steinberg Cubase 6. He has numerous studio tips on his YouTube channel, and you can see him using the Cubase.

VST PLUGINS

Mansoor has developed his software plugin so people can purchase his sound like a virtual instrument. The Toneforge Misha Mansoor is an effect and amp plugin with all of his tones that you can use for metal and djent music production.

KEYBOARD AND SYNTHESIZERS

He may be a guitarist, but he lays down ambient synth layers in his music too. Here are the synthesizers he uses:

  • KORG Minilogue Analog Synthesizer
  • Moog Sub 37 Paraphonic Analog Synthesizer
  • Dave Smith Instruments Prophet-6
  • Moog Minitaur Analog Bass Synthesizer

AMPS

Here are Misha Mansoor’s preferred amplifiers:

  • EVH 5150III 50W
  • Zilla Cabs 2×12 Custom Cab
  • Friedman Brown Eye 100W Tube Guitar Amp Head
  • Peavy Invective.412 Cabinet
  • Peavy 6505+ Guitar Amp Head
  • Bogner Shiva

MINIMALISTS

Now that we have shown you the music gear of some of the best producers and musicians let’s look into STEVE LACEY’s gear. He is known for producing songs with very minimal equipment. He has composed music for Rapper Kendrick Lamar.

RECORDING GEAR

Steve Lacey uses his iPhone 6 to record most of his tunes. It is unbelievable, but it is possible. There is a separate article that gives you tips for recording music on your iPhone. If you want to read it, click here.

DAW

His digital audio workstation of choice is Apple’s Garageband. Some people say that Garageband is entry-level, but Steve Lacey has proven those people wrong. Using the iOS version of iOS for recording radio-ready music is unique for professional music producers.

AUDIO INTERFACE

Steve Lacey uses a $10 first-generation iRig for recording Guitar and Bass for his tracks. Being able to record fantastic guitar tracks using a cheap device takes a lot of talent.

GUITARS

He may use simple equipment for recording, but the guitars he uses are high-end. Here are some of them:

  • Rickenbacker 330
  • Fender Standard Stratocaster
  • Fender Standard Precision Bass

Steve Lacey uses the built-in iPhone microphone for recording vocals. It sounds pretty good because he still records vocals in an isolated studio room. In a YouTube video, he went in a studio full of expensive amps and consoles but still prefers to use his iPhone and iRig.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION

If you want to know any more about the gear of your favorite artists, you could check their videos and social media profiles. They always update their rig from time to time, and they will also give you extra tips.

CONCLUSION

After seeing the studio of four different kinds of artists, it shows that other types of musicians and producers like different kinds of equipment. Even if that is the case, they still have the essential equipment to produce and perform great music. I hope this post will inspire you to keep on making the music you love with the stuff you got.

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