harddisco current hardware

harddisco early hardware - pre-harddisco hardware

by now, nearly all the hardware i have ever owned for creating and effecting sounds (on the previous two pages above) has been sold, to buy software and computer hardware.

up until the last year all the hardware i have bought has been for recording & monitoring audio or inputting MIDI, but recently i've been grabbing a few bits of vintage hardware that i used to own, plus some new items, realising i can't make all the sounds i want inside the box.
i still have the behringer mx802, which i bought around 1998, but adding more hardware meant i was running out of inputs, and particularly fx send channels. most modern mixers have hardly any fx sends  because they assume you're using software fx. i spent lots of time looking at various mixers trying to find out which had the most fx sends.

this one won - mx2642, the same family as my little mx802 and more or less the same age, with 4 fx send channels and an extra 2 switchable (3+4 become 5+6). I got one for 50 from a guy in nottingham, and i have all the channels i need now. it's a little noisy but I kind of like that.
  i saw reviews for the waldorf rocket and it sounded really great, i also really missed the pulse plus i used to own (see harddisco early hardware), but they cost far too much second hand to buy one. the rocket is great, very fat sounding, and the multi mode filter and drive can be used with external signals.

i bought this roland tri-capture for 2 reasons. 1, the audio output on my line 6 ux-1 was getting a bit iffy, always dropping out on 1 channel, and 2, the ux-1 had no phantom power, and i wanted to get a condenser mic (see right!) to improve vocal recordings.

i had quite a big problem with sibilance while recording 'ever more insular' (see album page) with my behringer XM8500 and needed to upgrade my audio interface so i could upgrade my mic. it is also more pro generally, balanced outputs, & full 24 bit.
the audio technica at2020 seemed to be the best budget condenser, according to all the reviews, so i bought one. as preparation, i don't have a vocal album in the works at the moment, but for the next one i will be hoping to get a noticeably better tone from this mic.

i don't have money available at any time if i need something, so when i do have some i have to plan ahead for what i will need next.
i had a line 6 ux-1 for some years, it came with pod farm and was great value. eventually one of the outputs started failing and I bought the tri capture, however i had to keep the ux1 as a dongle for pod farm to work.

i read about the ux-8, 8 inputs and outputs, and crucially, owning one of these entitiles you to download pod farm platinum for free. that's 78 guitar amps instead of 18, 28 bass amps instead of 6, and all 97 effects pedals / racks. I got the ux-8 from a guy in huddersfield for 70 via ebay.

as well as using the extra models in pod farm platinum, i use the ux-8 as a second audio interface, if i want to send an audio signal through outboard, it goes through this, into the mixer, then the outboard fx, then back into the tri capture for recording, no feedback loops.
due to my new mixer and all the extra fx sends, i bought more rack fx units.

1. i replaced my old studio quad because i knew it well and always really liked the sound, plus you can have 4 fx at once. it was around 45 on ebay.
2. i bought the modulizer because i always wanted one back in the day, only 1 fx at once but a much more unusual range of sounds - it's noisy, dirty and interesting. 20 on ebay.
3. the cx2 compressor is more subtle than my usual kind of dynamics effect, but interesting when pushed. i bought it because of a good review in sound on sound. 20 on ebay.
i used to have a casio sk1 back in the 90s, and sold it because i had a 'proper' pc-based sampler, but there is something about the way it records, it adds a crunchy yet smooth texture which i miss, so here it is again. bought on ebay for 27.  
i have missed my old fat freebass 383. i could never find a virtual monosynth that rasped in quite the same way, and i also never quite replicated the filter input, with envelope controlled by midi notes. although, this is real analog, very warm, it cost 128.88 via ebay, i only spent 129 when i bought my new one in 1999.

recently i became nostalgic for my old zoom 1010 (see early harddisco hardware for details), especially the way i used to feed it back into itself using my mixer, creating rythmn & synth loops with squeals of feedback in between the sounds.

i haven't found any way to replicate this in software, so since i still have the mixer, i got a zoom 2100 (no 1010s available when i looked). it was ok but not good enough, so eventually i sold it and got a 1010 after all.
i bought a behringer v-amp 2 from new in 2001, but this year i decided to get a v amp pro, same unit, better quality i/o, rack mountable. i use the v amp pro to fx all sorts of sounds, and i also feed it back into itself for interesting textures via my behringer mixer.

it is a bit higher-fi than the zoom player, which sometimes suits me and sometimes doesn't. the main advantage of this one is that it has MIDI in and out ports and can be controlled from the PC using an app from behringer which gives more detailed control , so it's in the rack, rarely touched.
i had a korg microkontrol, but had to concede it was too big. that's right, three octaves of mini keys is too big for my desk. i replaced it with a novation launchkey mini, which has the smaller keyboard and enough controls to be going on with.  
i got these krk rokit 5s to help solve high-mid frequency problems in my more recent songs - because of using distortion on a variety of sounds i get trouble in these areas which my  previous monitoring setup (good hifi amp & speakers) couldn't address. i got these second hand from 2 young lads in liverpool for 100;
usual used price = about 180.
a bit battered, but that doesn't matter to me.

vintage vs6 gibson sg copy - i have always loved the sg shape, this cost 109 online,
(some seliing for up to 170 then, and now for up to 270) and when i feel the need to make guitar noises, this is it. i sold all my other cheap guitars to pacify my wife -
they were on the bedroom wall you see
i replaced my old p-bass copy with a squier affinity j-bass v - 5 strings. it's really smart and great to play, and sounds great. i had songs for years which i wished i could play on a lower octave.
gear4music 'knoxbridge' tele clone. cost 95 online. i really like the look of this one, and after all two guitars hanging on the wall isn't really enough. plus, we moved, so my gear is downstairs now, not in the bedroom! i really bought it for clean sounds,
ok so far.
mini guitar pedals! how come i never heard about these until recently? analog clones of classic pedals, tiny size and tiny price! so far I have a donner yellow fall delay, jet convolution flanger and metalhead, tomsline black teeth rat clone, eno es-1 distortion, and an ammoon nano chorus. i want a wah pedal next. these were all around 20 each. the eno was 2nd hand and cost 6, the metalhead likewise at 9.
i've had this for a while - behringer  xm8500 dynamic mic (15). sounds like a shure sm58 - much better than my old mic which cost more. i have used this from the death of empathy onwards - previously i had to use loads of fx to make the bad mic sound decent. try oblivion from blatant superior as an example.  
i used to use the ik multimedia stealthplug (70) on my main pc. the guitar recording quality is ok,  but the only output is the headphone output, too noisy to use as your main monitor, loads of pc noise while using the mouse. to be honest this had has very little use, i still keep it in the drawer pending the time i might actually plug it into my laptop.


i had a  yamaha sw60xg sound card back in the late 90s. it was a basic tone generator with a good selection of sounds, but little in the way of editing, just tweaking filter and envelopes.

i've needed more midi ports since buying more external hardware. i did have 2 of those cheap pc usb midi cables, but they don't send sysex, which the yamaha mu10 needs to access the 'hidden voices.' then i bought an emu xmidi 2x2, which worked well, but didn't have enough ports.

after moaning about facebook a lot, i finally had to connect myself in order to know what was going on in my parents' lives (isn't that supposed to be the other way around?), but i did like the marketplace. i got this esi m40xl for 10 from a guy in northants, 4 in 4 out. if i need more ports, i have the emu xmidi 2x2 as a backup.
  a piece of software (xg gold) was released for sw60, which apparently accessed a 'hidden' soundset turning this humble card into the much more powerful QS300 synth, allowing full 4 part editing.

what this meant was that i could build 4 part patches from scratch, choosing any of the internal rom waves, with multistage envelopes for amplitude and filter, and an lfo. see screenshot below.

the point of this, is that an isa sound card won't fit in any pc less built since about 2002, so if i wanted to use xg gold to fuilfil my nostalgic desire, i needed a hardware equivalent. the mu10, above, is an sw60 in a box with midi and audio ports. 55 from ebay.


i have had this old 70s guitar preamp since around 1989 from the local exchange & mart. what a pair of thieving old bandits they were. originally it was a long vinyl covered case with a sloping front panel, it had the controls you see above and another preamp set to the right, just input and eq, but no effects.

about 17 years ago i asked a friend of mine who is an experienced technician to make a new case for this, and reduce the length greatly by cutting off and disconnecting the 2nd preamp.

what he left me with was the main guitar channel, above, with a brilliance switch, bass, middle & treble eq, spring reverb, and a choice of tremelo and autowah fx, with speed and intensity controls.

sadly my friend had other projects to do first before he could finish this. 3 tears passed before he completed it, and during that time i had moved from hardware based recording to software based, so i hardly used this.

a couple of years i sampled it heavily to make IRs i could use in convolution plugins, which went well, but since i got the mixer with 6 fx sends and a rack to put this in, i've been using it properly again. it is amazingly organic, the eq is fat and beefy, the spring reverb and modulation fx is great, and it's easy to overdrive for true analogue saturation.
click image for full size