School Essentials – Audio

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School Essentials – Audio

school audio gear
Words by Mixdown Staff

Rock the school year in style

Whether you’re a bright-eyed beginner or a seasoned audio professional, one never stops learning in the music world. It’s one of the endless joys of making music: even if you’ve mastered one instrument or field of study, there’s always another one ready for you to begin, and with so many courses, resources, and channels out there to learn from, it can often be a bit tricky knowing where to start.

As students all around the country settle back into the curriculum for another year of study, we’re helping to spotlight some of the best academic tools and experiences on offer in our latest print magazine school essentials special.

Here, we highlight all gear related to audio!

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2

Distributed by: Focusrite Australia

Features: An ubiquitous presence in the small interface market, the Scarlett 2i2 is best suited to home studio artists looking for an easy way to get their songs recorded and to begin playing around with digital workstations. Featuring Focusrite’s awesome 3rd Gen mic preamps with Instrument and Air options for different sonic sources (and with the aforementioned Air setting emulating Focusrite’s iconic ISA preamps), the 2i2 is a rite-de-passage for anyone looking to get into the world of digital recording and song composition. 

With a monitor control, headphone input, phantom power, and all the rest, it’s got everything you would expect/require from a small scale interface but with some awesome tricks up its sleeve, like bonus plugins, iPad compatibility, and not to mention Focusrite’s proprietary ‘Gain Halos’ providing an awesome visual reference for gain setting.

Overall: A simple, intuitive interface with plenty of handy features and clever workflows to streamline the recording process and get you usable results in the shortest time possible, the 2i2 is the perfect gateway into a life of recording. 

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Zaor Yesk 2 Studio Desk

Distributed by: Koala Audio

Features: With three tiers and a total of eight 1U rack spaces, the new Yesk 2 is an awesome investment for any recording environment where space is at a premium. The tubeless, all wooden construction minimises any potential resonances or monitoring nasties while the open-sided keyboard tray is ideal for tucking away when it’s time to track guitars or other instruments requiring some freedom of movement.

Measuring at a demure 1.5m across, it’s just the right size to be tucked into the corner of a bedroom or study and the surprising amount of rackspace is ideal for keeping equipment and leads neatly tucked away which will no doubt add some feng shui points.

Overall: Every student needs a desk and perhaps there is no bigger name in studio furniture than Zaor. Their new Yesk 2 is the ideal compact solution, perfect for the budding bedroom recording enthusiast or for anyone requiring a small footprint, optimised studio desk.

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Zaor Onda Angled Studio Desk

Distributed by: Koala Audio

Features: For the school or tertiary education provider or even for students lucky enough to have a dedicated studio space, the Onda Angled by Zaor is without doubt one of the best studio specific desks getting around at the moment. With an ergonomic, wraparound design and plenty of deskspace for daw controllers, MIDI keyboards and the like, it’s ideal for anybody seeking a bit of extra elbow room with which to work from. With 12 angled 1U rack spaces, it’s perfect for anyone wanting easy access to their outboard. Beautifully crafted from solid oak or ash, the Onda is perfect for those planning on spending a lot of time at their desk, which is something both pros and students alike can no doubt relate to.

Overall: A premium, catch all solution to the studio furniture debacle, the Onda Angled is everything you need in a studio desk and more. 

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M-Audio AIR Interfaces

Distributed by: Electric Factory

Features: M-Audio‘s AIR interfaces are quality through and through. Typifying this is the AIR 192 | 4 Vocal Studio Pro which combines the critically acclaimed AIR 192 | 4 interface, HDH40 headphones, a Nova Black condenser microphone, XLR cable, and the premium AIR Series Software Suite, this drops everything you need in one place to get the job done swiftly and efficiently. The AIR Series is able to record at 192kHz/24-bit and features their Crystal Preamps which in combination provide a transparent, low noise recording process.

Overall: M-Audio is one of the most revered names in music computer interface and studio integration solutions, so the flexibility of the AIR Series is bound to include something for everyone. All M-Audio AIR interfaces come with Pro Tools | First M-Audio Edition and Ableton Live Lite to ensure you’re ready to get cracking in exercises as soon as possible. The interfaces themselves are easy to operate and boast USB-C connections offering a low-latency experience and feature physical metering on the interface so you know you’re getting the right sound. 

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Zoom PodTrak P8

Distributed by: Dynamic Music

Features: The PodTrak P8 is a portable eight-input recorder and mixer designed to make mobile recording a breeze, specifically with podcasting in mind. There’s headphone jacks with dedicated level controls for every mic input, and eight faders for mixing your podcast in real time. The P8 additionally has ON AIR buttons which when deactivated mean that the audio is not recorded or outputted to your stream but still comes through in the headphone mixes. Unique to this device is USB and TRRS connections, allowing you to connect an external call via your phone or computer for remote participation in your podcast. It also features onboard editing capabilities via the touchscreen. 

Overall: All the features we’ve become accustomed to are here with this portable device, showcasing low noise, high gain inputs and multitrack recording as well as a host of other key features that are sure to pique the interest of anybody dipping in a toe into the rapidly growing medium of podcasting and content creation. The P8 shines with its level of flexibility and onboard editing capabilities.

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Zoom R20 Multi Track Recorder

Distributed by: Dynamic Music

Features: The Zoom R20 is a complete, portable 16-track production station boasting eight mic preamps, four of which can deliver phantom power and one can act as a high-Z instrument to truly cover whatever you’ll be running through it. All eight of its physical inputs can be tracked at once which makes it possible to track drums. The R20 also comes loaded with an internal sound module, containing 18 different instrument sounds and a drum kit, while connecting a MIDI keyboard or controller to the R20’s USB-C port will let you play all of those sounds directly. Recordings can be stored on SDHC or SDXC cards which hold up to 1TB in capacity

Overall: The R20 is the ultimate portable multi track recorder which will enable studio heads green or experienced to hone their craft with its ability to track a basic drum setup. With the optional Zoom BTA-1 Bluetooth adaptor fitted, it’s also possible to control the R20 wirelessly from your iOS device, while the R20 can also import and play back standard MIDI files from the SD card slot.

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Check out print edition #319 for our full school essentials guide!