Home Lab Life with The Death Set

For our latest in the Home Lab Life video series we checked in with two thirds of The Death Set (Dan Walker and Johnny Siera) to see what gear they use. They recently recorded a new full length album due out on Ninja Tune this March and their mixtape for Mishka just his the street this week.

Dan and Johnny turned their Bushwick loft into a fully functional recording and living space. For their last album they recorded guitars in their bedrooms and then tracked drums (care of third Death Set member Roofeeo) in their living room. Johnny builds song ideas, and also worked on their recent mixtape, in Albeton Live. Dan does most of the production work for Death Set songs in Logic and records via his Motu Ultralite interface. He uses a Joe Meek twinQ preamp before hitting the interface and sometimes reamps guitar parts through his Vox combo amp. The synths Dan keeps around come more in handy when working on his side projects including his MC project Nine Lives the Cat and his electro house moniker Zap Pow Die.

A pretty impressive amount of output coming from a small live work space! Keep an eye out on TheDeathSet.com for more info on the new album and hit the links above for more from Dan’s side projects. To see more of Dan and Johnny’s workflow check out the video above!

ProAudioStar's Holiday Gift Guide – For Your Guitarist

Guitartists can be equally as greedy when it comes to the gear it takes to sculpt their sound.  There are also a lot of tools and tricks that can help the guitarist you know practice and record at home.  Here are some essentials and extras that will make the guitar player you know’s life a whole lot easier.

C.B.I. 18 Foot Cloth Instrument/Guitar Cable

Guitarists can never have enough quarter inch cables on hand and these cloth covered ones get the job done with a classy look.  They also get less tangled than your standard rubber coated cable!

Korg AW-2G Clip-on Guitar and Bass Tuner

This handy tuner clips to the headstock of the instrument keeping it at the ready for any guitarist to look up and retune in a pinch.

Vox APAC AC-30 amPlug Headphone Amp

Guitarists can practice anywhere in headphones with this handy headphone amp that plugs right into the output on a guitar or bass.

Boss TU-3 Chromatic Tuner

If the guitarist you know plays with a string of pedals this will be an essential add on to their setup.  Allows for silent tuning between songs to make sure they’re always in tune.

TC Electronic Classic Booster & Distortion Pedal

Distortion and gain are a must for any rock guitar rig, and guitarists often look for the perfect electronics to create a rich yet detailed sound. This distortion pedal from TC Electronics let’s guitarist create that sound and then bring it to any amp or backline they play on.

DigiTech Jam Man Solo Looper Pedal

Loop pedals are a great way for guitarist to get creative in a set or build song ideas on their own.  DigiTech’s Jam Man dual pedal was a huge success with guitarists looking to loop their guitar ideas, and their new Jam Man solo offers the sam functionality in a more compact design.

TC Electronic ND-1 Nova Delay Pedal

This jack of all delays is great for the guitarist who just isn’t happy with any other delay pedal they’ve tried.  Works with a mono or stereo signal and in several different modes making it a go to for versatility as well as sound.

Emma Pisdiyauwot Metal Distortion Effect Pedal

This crushing distortion is great for any hard rock or metal fan.  Comes recommended by ProAudioStar’s resident metal head Jeremy!

Native Instruments Guitar Rig Kontrol Edition

Music production has gone digital and the guitar rig isn’t far behind.  Native Instruments provides a complete guitar interface of both software and hardware which is great for any guitar player with a laptop or home computer.

Moog MF-105M MIDI MuRF

Classic analog sounds can find their way into your guitar players setup with any Mooger Fooger pedal.  The MIDI Murf is a sequenced bank of analog filters that sounds like nothing else.  See our video on all the Mooger Fooger pedals we carry on our youtube channel.

Check out more from The ProAudioStar 2010 Holiday Gift Guide:

For Your DJ

For Your Producer

For Your Synth Head

For Your Vocalist

For Your Bassist

For Your Drummer

ProAudioStar's 2010 Holiday Gift Guide – For Your Synth Nut

Synthesizer enthusiasts are their own special blend of instrumentalist, producer, electrician, and programmer. For all of them the mantra seems to be the same though, the more gear the better! So look below for recommended items any synthesizer fan would love to nerd out with.

Korg Monotron

This little ribbon controlled synth comes with actual analog electronics inside modeled on Korg’s classic line of synthesizers. These little noise makers are fun to play with and easily hackable making them a synth nut or circuit benders dream.

Akai Synthstation 25

On the USB/software synth side, the Akai Synthstation is a breakthrough in turning your iPhone or iPod touch into a hardware instrument. There have been a lot of interesting music programs hitting the app store and the Synthstation pushes the boundries even further letting you control either Akai’s custom software or third party synth programs that are sure to blow the mind of any synth programmer.

Alesis Micron

Alesis’s small digital synth is easy to use and has a bunch of killer sounds that come out of the box. Also easy to program and tweak with on board mod wheel, knobs, and sliders. Great for anyone on the entry level or to play with if you’re exhausted all your other digital synth sounds.

Dave Smith Mopho

This all analog table top synth is definitely on the radar of any keyboard or synth player as an add on to their rig for heavy bass lines or ripping leads. True analog sound with the advantage of digital controls and presets that make it easy to jam on.

Moog Slim Phatty

A lot of jaws dropped when Moog announced their Slim Phatty synth. As Moog’s most affordable synthesizer yet it puts the unmistakable sound of Moog in reach of synth players looking to get serious about their sound. Great for the extra special synth player you’re shopping for this year.

Check out more from The ProAudioStar 2010 Holiday Gift Guide:

For Your DJ

For Your Producer

For Your Vocalist

For Your Guitarist

For Your Bassist

For Your Drummer

ProAudioStar’s 2010 Holiday Gift Guide – For Your Producer

Part two in the HGG checks in with your friends and family who are burgoening producers.  A lot of people make the jump from DJing or playing in a band to producing their own songs at home or in the studio.  Here are some stocking stuffers producers would be happy to have.


This is a handy little drum pad for banging out beats and controlling sounds and automation with midi knobs.  Producers can hook it up to their laptop and work on beats anywhere.  They’ll also love it in the home studio as a compact controller they can keep within reach.

Akai Synthstation 25

The synthstation is a cool little controller that lets your producer play synths and drum sounds running on your iPhone or iPod touch (!).  Battery power let’s them build song ideas on the go.  Also a USB midi interface making it a nice portable companion to Logic, Reason, or Ableton on a laptop.


Ableton Live has developed a strong user base that often wants to “play” their beats live.  As interesting as it is to watch someone mouse around on a laptop, many producers prefer to get hands on with their beats both in the studio and in the live setting and the Launchpad is a forward thinking way to do just that.  Plus it’s compact and inexpensive to boot!

Focusrite Saffire Pro 14

If the producer you know is still working in headphones, or monitoring with the headphone output on their computer, it’s definitely time for them to upgrade to a dedicated interface.  The Saffire Pro 14 will ensure they’re able to hear their music with better quality, and also provide them with inputs to record instruments and microphones directly into their production software.


If you know someone who makes beats on an MPC you may know just how reluctant MPC producers can be about jumping into software.  The Maschine takes aim at producers used to 16 pads with a software integrated controller and sound card that gives them the feel their used too with a quicker and more flexible software workflow.

M-Audio BX5a

BX5a’s are a standard for anyone starting out in the production game.  A great pair of monitors to buy for anyone who is just starting to make music at home.

Genelec 6010A

If the producer you know is looking to take the step from basic production into serious mixing and reference monitoring, Genelecs may be just the speaker to take them there.  Genelecs are one the most well regarded high end studio monitoring brands and these near field monitors offer the same quality in an ideal size (and price) for the home studio.  Sold individually not as a pair!

Check out more from The ProAudioStar 2010 Holiday Gift Guide:

For Your DJ

For Your Vocalist

For Your Synth Head

For Your Guitarist

For Your Bassist

For Your Drummer

ProAudioStar's 2010 Holiday Gift Guide – For Your DJ

We get a lot of questions from customers looking to buy gear for the musician in their lives so we’re going to be recommending gift ideas for every kind of instrumentalist, DJ, or producer you’re shopping for this holiday season.  I’ll be posting a different category every day this week so be sure to check back on the daily!  We’ll start off with the population close to my heart…


Novation Dicer

By far the coolest midi controller to hit the market in the last year is Novation’s Turntable savvy pair of controllers that fit into the 45″ adaptor holder of your technics or similarly laid out turntable.  They attach just as easily to your laptop, CDJ, or controller with the provided mounting gum that reminds me of the stuff I used to hang posters on my wall in middle school.  They map automatically to Serato Scratch letting you trigger cue points, loop rolls, and effects and there are also available maps for Traktor.  This is definitely an item DJ’s are curious about if they don’t already own a pair.

Akai LPD8

If you want both drum pads and knobs in a compact layout the Akai LPD8 gives the DJ just that with responsive pads for cue points and knobs for your effects.  USB power makes it plug and play and it’s sure to play nicely with your Serato or Traktor setup.  It even doubles as a handy production tool you can use with Ableton, Reason, or Logic when making beats away from the decks.

Mono Bags

By far the sleekest and most well thought out bags to hit the scene in a while, Mono is quickly becoming well regarded as the go to case for taking your important gear on the road.  Their DJ line provides a bag solution for every gigging situation weather it be carrying a laptop and controller or vinyl along with compartments for headphones, hard drives, and interfaces.  Check out your DJ’s current bag and if it doesn’t quite fit everything or looks like it hasn’t been replaced since the 90’s, might be time to re-up with one of these.  See the photo set we did with all the bags on our Flickr and video rundown we did where I sized up each bag and what it fits.

Eric Orr Serato Pressings

Many Serato Scratch DJ’s value function over fashion, but if they had the opportunity to splurge on their setup a little it might be with a pair picture disc control records.  These limited edition Serato pressings feature artwork from classic NYC street artist Eric Orr.  Great for a DJ looking to add some flare to their setup or to put on the wall as a piece of Serato history.  Numbers are limited and these records are running out fast.  Theycome one per order NOT AS A PAIR.

Vestax Handy Trax

If vinyl is still your game, then used record shopping is essential.  Bring one of these to the record or thrift store with you to preview cuts before you buy.  No more taking chances on records you’re not quite sure about.  Save money and time with this Vestax portable player, or take it with you to the beach, picnic, or barbeque to listen to records anyway.

Numark iDJ2

If records aren’t your game, and you don’t have a dedicated laptop DJing yet then your iPod may be your best enty to the digital DJ world.  Numark’s iDJ2 gives you access to all the music on your iPod to load up your tracks on two decks to mix them live.  You can cue up, loop, scratch, and change the pitch of your songs all from on board controls on the iDJ2.  Great for anyone just starting to DJ with limited resources.

Mixtrak Pro

If you have a laptop you want to use for DJing but don’t have a dedicated controller for it yet, the Mixtrak Pro is a great place to start.  Mapable to either Virtual DJ or Traktor this controller has surprisingly responsive jog wheels and faders given it’s entry level price point.  The on board sound card makes this a complete solution for cueing tracks from you software in headphones and sending your main mix out to some speakers or a sound system.

Traktor S4

This controller has lived up to the hype and is currently one of the most sought after controllers for DJ’s both in the club and in the mobile setting.  If you’re looking to spend a little more on that special DJ this holiday season definitely check this out as an option.

Check out more from The ProAudioStar 2010 Holiday Gift Guide:

For Your Vocalist

For Your Producer

For Your Synth Head

For Your Guitarist

For Your Bassist

For Your Drummer

Numark Mixtrack Pro vs. Vestax Typhoon

We get a lot of questions at the warehouse about which controller a beginner should get when entering the controller DJ world.  The Numark Mixtrack Pro and the Vestax Typhoon are the heavy hitters in the entry level price range right now and I’ve seen a lot of debate in the forums about which one is better.  Check out the above video for my personal take on the strengths and weaknesses of each.

As I stated above I’d have to give the edge to the Mixtrack Pro when it comes to responsiveness of the jog wheels and faders, but I like the construction and layout of the Vestax Typhoon.  Software may be another thing you want to consider when checking these both out.  Once you learn to DJ you’ll be able to apply your skills to any software or scenario, but getting used to the nuances of one program often happens with the first one you really dive into.  The Mixtrack Pro comes with Virtual DJ which has a strong and well supported user base.  The Vestax Typhoon offers an entry level version of Traktor which is widely used by industry professionals.  You can map either the Mixtrack Pro or the Typhoon to upgraded versions of VDJ or Traktor but if you don’t want to purchase additional software you may want to keep in mind what comes in the box.

These controllers are both USB bus powered and have on board sound cards meaning all you need is a set of headphones to start rocking.  They’re great for anyone just starting out without a big budget.  Check out the  video above for the full rundown!

CASH Music offers Open Source Web Apps for Musicians

In the shadow of illegality and the “grey market,” music labels seem to have finally come around to acknowledge “free downloads” as a promotional tool for new music. Labels actively use the iTunes store along with sponsored download sites like RCRDLBL and Green Label Sound to aggregate free content to fans that gets them interested in new releases. But what if you don’t have a label or promo company pushing your tracks? Can giving your music away free help you gain fans and followers?

The internet is flooded with free content and there are more music blogs out there than anyone could ever read. Soundcloud and Youtube are useful as social networks specifically geared toward video and music, but they also have a large user base where your content and links could easily get lost in a sea of free stuff. How can you make sure you’re getting the most out of the promotional downloads you’re offering online?

One way may be to not make your downloads completely free. While people may not be willing to pay money for content from artists they haven’t heard of before, they may be willing to tell their friend’s about your music in exchange for the free download. CASH Music offers tools that let you do just this. Their PHP-based social media mini-apps give you a Tweet or Facebook like form where users log in through your website and share your content in exchange for a link to your media file. With some hosting space and web savvy it’s easy to set up and customize. I tried their tweet-for-track script for a mixtape I release called “Acid Yazz” with some nice results. Here’s the twitter stream of people who downloaded the mix:

I hosted my mix on Soundcloud as well because I wanted to share it with my Soundcloud followers and stream it on a fun little website I built for the mix using an also open source content management system called Stacey. Streaming the mix may have limited the number of people who actually went ahead and downloaded, but by getting a few tweets out there I think it exposed the mix to people who wouldn’t have known about it through my Soundcloud or website. It also makes me more comfortable to give away MP3’s of something I worked hard on with this digital barter system in place.

Cash Music’s similar Connect to Facebook app grants a download for a “Like” of your Facebook page. They also have a free open source JavaScript library called Flower that provides picture and video galleries you can embed into your website or WordPress blog. By taking your content off of mainstream hosting sites like Youtube or Soundcloud you can add an heir of “exclusivity” that sets it apart. You can also drive traffic to your website where people can download and help promote your product on your terms. So rather then waiting around for a label or big time blog to aggregate your content for you, you can create your own viral buzz that doesn’t depend on a gimic and gets directly to your art.

Portable USB MIDI Keyboards

Last week we did a quick unboxing of Akai’s new Synthstation 25. The keyboard works with your iPhone or iPod touch running synth software from Akai or third party developers. In addition it also functions as a USB MIDI keyboard which is also handy to throw in your bag if you bring your laptop on the road.  Thinking of it as a portable midi keyboard reminded me of Peter Kirn’s article for Create Digital Music on compact USB midi keyboards and his “dream portable keyboard.” I decided to dig out some of the small keyboards we have in the warehouse and see how they size up (literally) as portable control surfaces. I should note that I avoided the M-Audio and Novation’s 25 key offerings for this video. We’ve done in depth feature videos on both the Axiom and Nocturn series which  come in small sizes, and I thought I’d try and give some shine to small keyboards we have from other manufacturers.

Arturia’s The Player keyboard was particularly impressive as a rugged two octave board with MIDI or USB output and nice feeling key bed.   It also comes with a basic soft synth featuring sounds from Arturia’s classic synth emulators as a nice bonus.  The MIDI output is nice to have in case you’re looking to use this keyboard as a controller for outboard synths.  Pairing up one of these with a tabletop synth like the Tetra or Mopho would make for a nice little compact REAL analog setup.

Roland also makes a line of midi controllers branded “Cakewalk” that are small and feature rich. The A-300Pro is a 32 key interface with drum pads, knobs, and sliders.  It’s pretty small considering the octave range and encoders on board and also features USB and MIDI ports.  I imagine these play nicely with Sonar and other Cakewalk software but they’re mapable to any software on either Mac or PC.  Didn’t even know about these controllers before I found one in the warehouse and I’m glad I did!

Hope this provided you with some info on some of the smallest controllers we have available.  Put one of these in you bag when making beats on the plane, or when you need key sounds at the gig without lugging your full size keyboard with you.

Weimaraner vs. Brussels Griffon Puppies in the ProAudioStar Warehouse

Ron brought in his new Weimaraner puppy, named Luna, to the warehouse. She is only a few months old. It just so worked out that Post brought in his 1 year old Brussels Griffon puppy, name Alby, on the same day. The two spent hours frolicking and fighting around the warehouse, needless to say productivity slowed down in the office for a good hour. Luckily we grabbed the camera to capture their first time meeting…