Customer Spotlight: Phatcamp
Phatcamp began in 1999, when I started producing my own unique blend of techno, breaks and ambient / chillout grooves.
I spent the first couple of years making very basic material on the Playstation "Music" software, which was a fantastic and fun introduction to electronic music production and sequencing in its most elementary form, before eventually moving on to Fruity Loops 3, 4, 5 and now finally FL Studio 8.
I decided to "up my game" a bit further at the beginning of 2007, when I decided it was time to get serious and treat myself to some proper studio hardware that would enable me to push my productions to the next level. I started reading the likes of Future Music, Computer Music etc to get an idea of what I might need to buy, and I then discovered Dolphin Music online. I've never looked back and over the last 2 years I've used Dolphin exclusively for all my studio needs.
My first purchase was the Evolution e-Keys MIDI keyboard. For me this is just perfect - its cheap and cheerful and does the job perfectly well. I use it heavily for working out basslines and melodies, as well as playing live improvisations and solos. It has deeply enriched my studio time and my music, without a doubt. A really great purchase.
Next up, I bought the Samson C01-U USB digital condenser microphone. This is a very sturdy and reasonably priced mic, with exceptional sound quality and clarity. The USB connection is a nice touch too, it helps to keep things simple. I've used the mic for vocal and acoustic instrument recordings, as well as more abstract experiments with ambient sound, and it always delivers great results. Highly recommended. I later went on to buy the spider mount and desktop stand, which are absolutely solid and look fantastic.
Then came the awesome AKAI MPD-24 MIDI pad controller. This is undoubtedly the centre piece of my studio set up. Its a really fantastic piece of kit, which has breathed new life into my music. I'd be lost without it now - its sliders, knobs and pads have allowed me to really "humanize" the production of electronic music. The AKAI has added a whole new dimension to automation and dynamics, and is fun and intuitive to use. No more painful drawing of automation curves and tweaking knobs with a mouse. I also used it once for a live gig, and it was definitely up to the job. For me, its a must-have product, and real value for money.
Meanwhile, my laptop's long-suffering soundcard was being pushed to its limits, so I decided to invest in a decent audio interface. After much research, I eventually plumped for the E-MU 0404 USB audio interface. This is a lovely little unit, small, light and powerful, and the price is reasonable too. Once up and running, the difference in sound quality was immediately noticeable - no more snap, crackle and pop, latency or 'drop-outs'. I've also used the E-MU's inputs to record lead and bass guitar straight to DAW. This is so simple and intuitive, with impressive, professional results. If you're serious about music production, then you really do need a professional soundcard / audio interface, and I for one recommend the E-MU 0404.
Phatcamp's Project Studio
Since I began producing on a PC or laptop, I'd always managed to get by using only PC speakers, but I knew this was not an ideal situation, and that eventually I would have to invest in some decent monitor speakers. Whilst browsing through the "Music Planet" free magazine from Dolphin, I read their review of the Samson Studio Dock 3i active USB studio monitors. Good monitors tend to be a bit pricey, but these were compact, affordable and, on paper at least, sounded great. When they arrived, I was not disappointed - they fit neatly in the studio and the sound quality is lush - good clean bass, punchy mids and crystal clear highs. I used to have so many problems with levels and bass in particular - it would sound fine through my PC speakers but would then sound hellish through hi-fi or car stereo speakers, often with the basslines and kickdrums overwhelming the mix. Now that I have the Studio Docks, I get a true and accurate reflection of the sound at source, which saves me having to repeatedly go back and tweak the levels. These are an absolute bargain, ideal for the more 'serious' bedroom producer.
So thats the main studio setup covered (excluding my laptop of course), but I have also purchased a few extra bits and pieces for my musical arsenal over the last couple of years. I decided to expand my electric guitar FX arsenal with a few more pedals - the Behringer Ultra Tremolo, Digital Delay 400, Ultra Octaver UO 300 and Digital Reverb DR600. These are very cheap and cheerful but actually very good.
Finally, purely for fun, I treated myself to the classic Lee Oskar Diatonic Harmonica (in C) and the recently re-released Dubreq Stylophone, both of which are great fun. The harmonica has already featured in a couple of my compositions and I'm sure its only a matter of time before the Stylophone gets a bashing too......
Please feel free to check out my latest tunes at www.myspace.com/phatcampmusic
The entire Phatcamp back catalogue is always available for free download at www.reverbnation.com/phatcamp
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