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December 2014

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December means the holidays, and the holidays mean gifts, and gifts for the recording musician mean it's time for RECORDING's annual Holiday Buyer's Guide! Now in its seventh year, our Buyer's Guide has proven to be a valuable resource for recording musicians from the home studio beginner to the professional expanding his facility's gear closet.

Our Buyer's Guide is not put together from glorified press releases. Instead, we bring you actual short reviews that tell you what each product brings to the studio and how well it works. If you see a recording product in our Buyer's Guide, you'll know that you'll be getting something with our seal of approval that does what it says it will do!

This year's Buyer's Guide will have over two dozen products, including handy studio tools, computer enhancements, plug-ins, virtual instruments, in-ear monitors, microphones, controllers, monitoring products, interfaces, iOS gear, and more, from names like API, Radial Engineering, PreSonus, Korg, Focusrite, Shure, RØDE, Sonnet, UVI, FinalMix, Korg, Vizix, Strymon, UVI, and others.

And that's not all! We bring you in-depth reviews as well, of Focal's sexy new Alpha nearfield monitors, Samson's latest condenser mics, a new USB mixer from Yamaha's flexible and recording-friendly MG series, and virtual instruments from Output, Rob Papen, and more.

Even a Buyer's Guide issue can't be all about gifts, though, so you'll also find great recording advice on a variety of interesting topics. Paul Stamler continues his attack on the dreaded Phase Monster that can ruin your recordings. New author Frank Marra points out how to prepare and understand your guitar, bass, and amp so you'll get the best sound possible before you set up a single mic. Greg Ogan returns to our pages with a walkthrough on creating templates for your sessions in Pro Tools, Ethan Winer brings us an insightful discussion on the finer details of understanding audio, and Sean Shannon lays out a practical way for a small studio to turn a startup band into a going concern with a product to sell at shows... all in a single session.

All this comes with our regular columns, Readers' Tapes with Marty Peters, and more. If you're in the gift-giving (or getting!) mood, or if you're hoping for great recording advice wrapped up with a bow, the December RECORDING will have something to make you smile!

Pick it up now on the newsstand... and so you get your next issue early (and save on cost), why not hit the big red SUBSCRIBE NOW button on this page and have RECORDING delivered to your door each month?


RECORDING's 2014 Holiday Buyer's Guide   |   Reviewed by Mike Metlay, Paul Vnuk Jr., and Darwin Grosse

Real reviews of twenty fun and useful audio products from Akai, Aphex, API, ESI, Final Mix, Gig Gear, JBL, Novation, Ploytec, Radial, RØDE, Shure, Sonnet, Strymon, and UVI!

All through the year, we get items that would make......Expand

Focal Alpha 50 and Alpha 80 Monitors   |   Reviewed by Paul Vnuk Jr.

The French firm renowned for its high-end reference speakers releases a line of affordable, great-sounding monitors for any small studio.

Over the past decade, the French speaker manufacturer Focal has become one of the most......Expand

Samson MTR201 and MTR231 Condenser Microphones   |   Reviewed by Paul Vnuk Jr.

Samson's latest studio mics, one cardioid and one multipattern, offer great build quality and all the tools you need for a variety of recording tasks.

Samson Technologies is a company with a very broad range of products, fro......Expand

Yamaha MG12XU Mixing Console   |   Reviewed by Mike Metlay

The newest MG mixers offer improved preamps, one-knob compression, built-in effects, 24/192 USB I/O for your DAW, and more.

At last January's Winter NAMM Show, Yamaha rolled out a new generation of its MG Series of tabletop ......Expand

Reviewed & Revisited: GForce impOSCar2   |   Reviewed by Mike Metlay

Already a fantastic emulation of a rare and beloved analog synth in its first incarnation, the latest version boasts a whole slate of improved features.

Way back in our January 2005 issue, I fell in love with the original ve......Expand

RECORDING's Showcase of Sounds: AmpleSound Acoustic Guitars and Good Loops Guitar Kitchen Vol. 1   |   Reviewed by Gary Eskow

Need great guitar sounds? Here's a virtual instrument that creates convincing guitar parts in your DAW, and a quick and easy library of song structures for fast composing.

A number of companies have released acoustic guitar ......Expand

RECORDING's Showcase of Sounds: Rob Papen BLUE-II   |   Reviewed by Devon Brent

A massive upgrade to one of the DAW world's most beloved virtual instruments takes it to the next level in many ways.

Rob Papen's virtual instruments have graced RECORDING several times over the years, and with such a long h......Expand

For Your Bookshelf   |   Reviewed by Mike Metlay

We wrap up our Holiday Buyer's Guide issue with quick reviews of three books you'll find worth your while, from a biography of Peter Gabriel and a self-help course on breaking songwriter's block to the latest wit and wisdom from Mixerman.


Zero To Hero   |   Written by Sean Shannon

Here's a great way to make money with your studio: offer a package that takes an aspiring band from zero (no music in hand to distribute to their fans) to hero (a finished EP for sale at gigs, giveaways, promotions, etc.) in a single afternoon!Expand

Audio Minutiae   |   Written by Ethan Winer

There are a lot of people out there trying to sell you products that won't help your audio, playing on your fears of what might be wrong with your sound system. It's time to smash these myths and get down to what you can really do to improve your ......Expand

Great Guitar Gear + Great Setup = Great Sound   |   Written by Frank Marra

Throwing money at the problem of less-than-great guitar tracks will only get you so far. You can't just buy cool new toys... you have to learn to get the most out of them.

I have been recording bands for more than a decade, ......Expand

The Phase Monster -- Part 2   |   Written by Paul J. Stamler

What if you're not recording a bunch of musicians at once, and only using one mic at a time... can the Phase Monster still rear its ugly head? You bet it can -- and here's how to chase it away.

We've been discussing how phas......Expand

Nine Unusual Guitar Tips   |   Written by Ben Long

Want to shake up your playing and discover new inspiration with your guitar recordings? Here are nine easy tricks to do just that.

Many guitarists fall into ruts, playing stale riffs for years on end. This can be detrimental......Expand

Session Templates In Pro Tools   |   Written by Greg Ogan

These tips for setting up a "blank slate" ahead of time will work with Pro Tools as they are, and can be easily adapted to any other DAW, speeding your workflow and letting you get right to the music.

Back in October 2008 I ......Expand

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