The Top 10 Apps to Help You Make Better Music

By Ryan Piercy

As part of iOS Month at Musician’s Friend, we’ve compiled a list of the top music apps to help you do more with your phone and tablet than you ever thought possible. Making music with a mobile device is no longer a novelty, as these apps can transform your iPhone or iPad into a musical instrument, a recording workstation, digital turntables, and more! All are available for download at the Apple App Store.

Hands-On Review: Line 6 Sonic Port VX Audio Interface

By Chris Loeffler
Harmony Central Associate Editor

Line 6 has been in the game of pushing the boundaries of what a guitar player can do with digital technology by marrying a reverence for classic tones and “the way things used to be” with a desire to break through the limitations imposed by “traditional” gear. Having built and maintained their reputation as the industry leader in affordable guitar, amp, and effect modelling almost two decades ago, Line 6 has been conspicuously turning their focus on integrating the guitar experience into consumer-focused devices and tapping in to the rich ecosystem of mobile devices, tablets, and laptops. The Line 6 Sonic Port VX is their latest foray into this world and features a price-point, feature set, and ease of use that’s sure to raise eyebrows.

DAW Software Controller Buying Guide

How to choose the right DAW control surface to match your software, music production methods, and budget.

Product Review: Blue Mo-Fi Headphones

Powered high-fidelity headphones with a built-in audiophile amp

Thunderbolt Interface with powerful onboard UAD-2 DSP

A Conversation with Rick Beato—Classical- and Jazz-Trained Musician Turned Rock Producer

By Barry M Rivman

The key to a long career in music is versatility, and nothing enables versatility like a music education—especially these days when a producer has to wear so many hats (unless you’re Slash, in which case just a top hat will do). With a roster of artists as diverse as his musical taste, Rick Beato is living proof that a jazz- and classically trained musician can rock with the best of them. A graduate of the prestigious New England Conservatory of Music, Rick found himself in Atlanta in the ’90s, where he formed the innovative hard-rock band, Billionaire. While recording their major-label debut, Rick became enamored with the process of recording and turned his attention to the other side of the glass.

Tech Tip: 12 Essential Strategies to Improve Your Audio Mixes

Photo: Wikimedia Commons/Victor Grigas

When it’s time to mix a recording, you need some strategies

Hands-On Review: Fender SLIDE iOS Instrument Interface

By Ara Ajizian
Harmony Central Editorial Director

I was cleaning out the dark corners at the back of my closet recently and came across an ancient relic among the cobwebs and old papers—my old four-track “portable studio.” It was massive in size and weight, with a strange rectangular insert people once called a “cassette tape.” As I studied this long-forgotten piece of recording equipment, and recalled the days of yore when I would actually use this artifact to lay down musical ideas, I took stock of just how far we’ve come in the past 20 years technologically. Thanks to the ever-decreasing size of laptop computers and the advent of mobile technology like smartphones and tablets, the “portable studio” is now truly a reality. All that’s needed is your favorite recording software and a compact interface, and you have more recording power at your fingertips than ever before. With its palm-sized profile and powerful capabilities, the Fender® SLIDE™ interface makes mobile recording as seamless as ever. As a bonus, it’s also designed to be a learning tool when used in conjunction with the included Rock Prodigy Lite app. It all adds up to an affordable, versatile and very functional tool.

Tech Tip: Drum Recording On a Budget

Photo: Wikimedia Commons

When it comes to tracking drums, nothing beats a well-equipped studio that has great acoustics and a big mic locker. But here are some tips to help get very respectable drum sounds in your project studio on a bare-bones budget.

Product Review: M-Audio Trigger Finger Pro USB Controller

Trigger Finger Pro is a hardware/software hybrid controller that readily adapts to just about any workflow, but mastering its interface requires some learning.

Tech Tip: Why Do I Need an Audio Interface?

Something we hear at Musician’s Friend all the time is, “My computer already has a sound card; can I use that to record?”

Preamp Buying Guide

How to choose the right audio preamp to match your music, instruments, and budget.

Audio Interface Buying Guide

How to choose the right interface to match your computer, recording needs, and budget

Tech Tip: Sample Rate and Bit Depth—An Introduction to Sampling

By Dennis Kambury

If you've ever pondered the specs for digital audio and weren't quite sure what numbers like 16-bit/44.1kHz really mean, this tutorial will give you the information you need to understand the basics of digital audio.

Studio Monitors Buying Guide

How to choose the right monitor speakers to match your music and budget

Hands-On Review: A Designs HM2EQ Hammer Equalizer—The Path to Higher EQ

By Barry Rivman
Musician’s Friend Senior Staff Writer

In the jargon of producers and recording engineers, equalizers fall into two general categories: "surgical" and "character." The surgical EQ is used correctively, e.g. when you wish to focus on a problem frequency without affecting the neighboring frequencies. Much like a surgeon, you want to go into a narrow band with a very precise cutting tool–an appropriate simile since we primarily "cut" or reduce problem frequencies. Examples would be taming harsh frequencies on cymbals; sibilance or plosives in vocals; fizz or wool on distorted guitars; or overly woofy bass.

Recording Gear Buying Guide

How to choose the right audio recording equipment to match your skills, music, and budget

Focusrite Saffire Pro 26

By Phil O'Keefe | June 06, 2014

Multi-channel Firewire / Thunderbolt Interface

The Focusrite name has an illustrious history, and the company has made some of the most respected large frame mixing consoles and outboard processors ever released. Their Saffire series of Firewire audio interfaces has long been a hit with users too, and today we'll be taking a look at the latest product in that series, the Saffire Pro 26, which is designed with studio recording and live performance use in mind.

History of the Channel Strip

Find out how channel strips evolved from the clunky mixing desks of the '50s and 60s and what Abbey Road and Dark Side of the Moon have in common.

Recording Guitar and Bass: Reduce the Noise

Quiet is good—and these tips will help get you there

by Craig Anderton

Noise comes in many guises: there’s hiss from preamps, clicks and pops from digital clock mismatches, hum from bad shielding, and (unfortunately) a whole lot more. As a result, there’s no one way to get rid of noise—different problems require different solutions. The secret to a quiet recording is to find, then minimize, each noise source.

When you’re chasing down noise, wear headphones to hear more detail in the sound. Then, start from your final output and work backward. Turn up individual faders, enable/bypass EQ, vary the mic preamp gain, etc. to help isolate the main contributors of noise. Following are tips on reducing noise.

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