Max McAllister
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Max is a Los Angeles-based writer, musician, and engineer at the Brewery Recording Studio.

The 9 Best Drum Mics for Live Sound & Recording (2024 Guide)

We talk about the best microphones for vocals and various instruments all the time, but what about the best mics for drums? As with any quality microphone, there’s always some overlap. You probably already own at least one transducer that…

The 7 Best Wah Pedals for Your Pedalboard in 2024

Rarely is an effect quite as recognizable to the masses as the venerated wah. From Frank Zappa to Jimi Hendrix to Eric Clapton, and from Tony Iommi to Tom Morello to Kirk Hammett, many of the world’s most famous guitarists…

Best Headphones for Music Production 2024

Finding the right pair of headphones for music production can be tough. There are so many choices that if you ask engineers what their favorite headphones are, you’ll probably get different answers from each one. We’ve done our diligence to…

11 Best Orchestral Strings VST in 2024

Using string samples instead of real ones offers a lot of obvious advantages for the average home producer or songwriter. Just from a logistical standpoint, booking studio time and hiring musicians is costly and time consuming. But with samples, you…

The 5 Best Online Sequencer Options in 2024

Imagine telling a producer or engineer in the ’70s, “Fifty years from now, people will be making music on the internet, sitting on on their couch.” “The what?” would be their obvious response, but time-traveling aside, technology has really revolutionized the…

Best Home Studio Monitors for 2024

If you’re shopping for a pair of studio monitors to fit your home studio, you’ve come to the right place. Flat, neutral monitoring is one of the keys to getting the best mix you can—and it all starts with the…

15 Best Closed Back Studio Headphones in 2024

Closed back studio headphones are an essential piece of equipment to have on hand. They provide the best isolation with minor sacrifice to sound quality. But because they isolate the listener from the room, they’re the ideal option to use…

8 Best Bass Guitar VSTs in 2024 [Free & Paid]

Virtual Studio Technology (VST), developed by Steinberg in 1996, is a plugin format compatible with a majority of DAWs and operating systems. VSTs include both effects and software instruments, and it’s the closest thing we have to a universal plugin…

The 8 Best Studio Desks for Home Mixing [2024 Guide]

The studio desk is the centerpiece of your creative space. It should have everything you need at arm’s length to keep the inspiration flowing! Not only that, but it should be comfortable, fit your space, and keep your workflow neat…

The Best De-Esser Plugin for Your Vocals (Free & Paid)

Mixing professional sounding vocals isn’t easy. Before even getting to that stage, it starts with an amazing performance and an excellent recording. Covering those two bases is fundamental and certainly helps make the mix stage more creative and fun rather…

The 10 Best Travel Guitar Options in 2024 [Acoustic & Electric]

The best travel guitar makes a perfect companion for busy, on-the-go guitarists searching for playability that’s built to move. There are electric options, acoustic options, and even hybrid electro-acoustic travel guitars. Whether it’s for practice and warming up, or full-blown…

The 20 Best Filter Plugin VSTs in 2024 [Free & Paid]

Filter plugins are one of the easiest effects to use that can have a huge impact on how something sounds. As a form of EQ, filters help you shape the frequency content of an instrument. In the simplest terms, they…

The 15 Best UAD Plugins for Vocals [2024 Guide]

Over 20 years ago, Universal Audio ushered in a new standard for plugins and interfaces. UAD’s plugin catalog is a huge collection of some of the best analog emulations out there. Most importantly, the software runs on dedicated DSP supplied by…

The Best Compressor Pedal for Any Budget [Our Top 12 Picks]

The compressor pedal can be an afterthought for many players. In fact, it’s probably right up there next to tuners as far as fun goes. For many guitarists, because it doesn’t have an immediately noticeable effect in the same way…

What’s the Best Microphone for Hi-Hats? [2024 Guide]

To keep time and carry the feel of a song, hi-hats are one of the most important parts of a drum kit. It isn’t enough to capture them with overheads or a nearby snare microphone. In order to get the…

The 10 Best Guitar Tuner Options in 2024

It goes without saying that one of the most important first purchases for every guitar player is a tuner — that bears no further explanation! We’ve put together a list of 10 of the most popular options to help narrow…

The 8 Best Wireless Guitar Systems in 2024

A wireless guitar system is a perfect way to clean up and professionalize your rig. If you’re tired of lugging around long cable runs, then it’s time to go wireless. Why Consider Using a Wireless Guitar System The main reason…

The 8 Best DJ Headphones in 2024 (Our Top Picks for Any Budget)

The best DJ headphones aren’t the same as the best studio headphones. We’ll discover what sets them apart and how to pick the right set for you! Why Having a Quality Pair of Headphones for DJing Is a Must Nearly…

The 10 Best Eventide Plugins for Your Studio [2024 Guide]

Eventide has been a preeminent name for decades thanks to its innovative approach to powerful digital effects hardware. Among their most significant achievements was development of the original H910 Harmonizer in 1974-75. It became the first commercially available pitch shifter…

The 9 Best Acoustic Guitar Pickups for Any Playing Style in 2024

Acoustic guitars benefit from pickups when you need to amplify the signal in live settings. Having a microphone on stage fixes the player to one spot, and the sound might suffer from bleed or being off-axis should the guitarist move…

Top 10 Transient Shaper Plugins [2024 Guide]

A transient shaper lets you control the attack and sustain of a signal. Unlike a compressor, they do not affect the level or the entire envelope of a sound. Transient shapers (also called ‘designers’) can increase or decrease the attack,…

The 9 Best Ribbon Mics for Your Home Studio in 2024

Ribbon microphones first emerged in the 1920s. In 1931, RCA began commercially manufacturing the PB-31, which had a huge impact on the recording and broadcast industries. Ribbon mics remained popular throughout the ’50s, though gradually started to see less use…

The 8 Best Fender Amps for Any Guitar-Playing Style in 2024

For over 70 years, Fender amplifiers have been the sonic bedrock upon which countless legendary performances have been built. From smoky blues clubs to sprawling rock arenas, Fender has consistently delivered a distinct and unforgettable tone that has shaped the…

The Best 11 Amp Simulator Hardware & Plugins [2024 Guide]

There are a lot of benefits to going the amp simulator route as a guitarist. Cost and versatility are both huge advantages over real amps, because modelers can give you access to hundreds of different heads, cabinets, and effects sims…

The Best Guitar Picks for Any Playing Style in 2024

Experimenting with different guitar picks is one of the best and simplest ways to completely change the sound and feel of your playing. It’s often an overlooked accessory, especially if you’re new to playing, but the difference it can make…

The 24 Best Reverb Plugins in 2024 [Free & Paid]

Reverb is one of the most commonly used effects in mixing. It’s part of a broader category of processors we sometimes call “time-based effects,” which also includes delay. Before digital, reverb was recorded using actual rooms called echo chambers. A…

The 7 Best Boost Pedal Options for Your Pedalboard

Boost pedals have been around since the 1960s. While not quite an overdrive, a quality clean boost is meant to get more decibels out of your guitar and amplifier. The most common use would be to selectively click on a…

The 8 Best Guitar Strap Locks to Protect Your Axe

Guitar drops are an unfortunate mishap, often the result of a twisted strap or an otherwise insecure connection to the existing strap buttons. One accessory prevents disaster altogether, so you can protect your investment from potential incidents. The best guitar…

Tone King Gremlin Review: Is This Stylish Combo Worth the Price?

The Tone King Gremlin is a compact yet robust tube combo amp that offers old-school tones in a convenient and manageable package. Nothing sings as sweetly as a boutique tube amplifier. How does the Tone King Gremlin hold up in…

Vox AC15C1 Review: Level Up Your Home Practice Amp

Vox is a renowned British manufacturer of musical equipment, including guitars, drums, keyboards, and most highly regarded of all, amplifiers. Founded by Thomas Walter Jennings in the late 1950s, Vox quickly became an iconic name in the world of music…

How to Use Auto-Tune for Vocal Tuning

The really interesting thing about Antares Auto-Tune is that just about everyone has an idea of what it is. For engineers, it’s a very useful tool and effect; but the fact that it’s recognized by almost everybody, beyond studio pros,…

Fender Champion 40 Review: An All-Around Powerful Practice Amp

In the realm of musical amplification, Fender has held an unwavering reputation for shaping the sounds of generations. From revered vintage models to modern innovations, Fender’s amplifiers have continuously evolved to meet the diverse demands of musicians across genres. In…

Fender Rumble 100 Review: A Versatile & Reliable Bass Amp

With a legacy spanning decades, Fender has consistently pushed the boundaries of innovation while retaining the timeless essence that musicians have come to rely on. Enter the Fender Rumble 100 Bass Amp — a formidable addition to the esteemed Rumble…

Mackie Thump 15A Review: Are These Affordable Speakers Worth It?

Mackie is a well-known brand in the professional audio and music industry, specializing in the design and manufacturing of audio equipment. The company was founded in Washington in 1988 by Greg Mackie, who aimed to create high-quality audio products that…

How To De-Ess Vocals | Settings for a Pro Mix

Sibilance is what we call the hissing noise made by ‘ess’ and ‘shh’ sounds in the voice. We don’t notice it in conversation, but it can get really harsh on a recorded vocal. A de-esser can take care of excess…

Lace Sensor Hot Gold Review: Why You Should Consider These Single-Coil Pickups

As long as the electric guitar exists, Stratocasters, S-type copies, and their associated triplet of single-coil pickups will as well. Strats created the blueprint for single-coil pickups, and various iterations have been done countless times over by the finest designers…

Pioneer DDJ 1000 SRT Review: The Ultimate Serato DJ Controller

Pioneer has a reputation for producing exceptional DJ equipment — particularly controllers and mixers — and their products are ubiquitous among amateur and professional DJs alike. Similarly, Serato is synonymous with current-gen DJs, providing substantial control over beat-matching, mixing, applying…

How to Get NEVE 1073 Sound in Your Home Studio

Rupert Neve designed the ubiquitous 1073 preamplifier in 1970. For over five decades its sound has been featured on thousands of recordings. A true studio staple, the Neve 1073 produces one of the most sought after sounds ever made. Neve…

Diatonic vs Chromatic: What Is a Diatonic Scale?

The basic definitions of diatonic vs chromatic are pretty easy to understand, but like most music theory lingo, it sounds scarier than it is! The diatonic and chromatic scales together actually form the foundation for most of western music. Let’s…

Townsend Labs Sphere L22 Review: Why We Love This Modeling Mic

The Townsend Labs Sphere L22 modeling microphone initially emerged as a game-changer that challenged traditional recording paradigms. Harnessing the power of innovative modeling algorithms and precision engineering, the Sphere L22 took mic emulation to an unprecedented level. We occasionally review…

Oceans 11 Reverb Pedal Review: The Ultimate Reverb Pedal?

Electro-Harmonix, often abbreviated as EHX, stands as an iconic name in the realm of musical innovation and effects pedals. Founded in 1968 by visionary engineer Mike Matthews, the company quickly gained recognition for pioneering groundbreaking guitar effects that would shape…

The 7 Best Soundproof Curtains for Your Home Studio

Ever wondered how soundproof curtains actually perform in a home studio? While not the typical go-to in acoustic treatment, they do serve a purpose, especially under the right circumstances. What Are Soundproof Curtains? It’s important to clarify right away that…

The Best Guitar String Cleaner (7 Picks for Your Axe)

The unsung hero of guitar maintenance is the best string cleaner. For many of us, guitar care isn’t as fun as shopping for actual guitars, amps, or pedals, but it’s a good idea to get familiar with the basics to…

SSL Big Six Review: Upgrade Your Studio with This Powerful Mixer

To audio engineers and producers, few names resonate as profoundly as Solid State Logic (SSL). For decades, this pioneering brand has been at the forefront of shaping the soundscape of contemporary music, leaving an indelible mark on the industry with…

Waves SuperRack Performer Review: Dial in Your Live Sound

In the ever-evolving landscape of audio production, Waves stands as a trailblazing force, offering a vast array of plugins that have become essential tools for engineers, producers, and musicians alike. With a legacy rooted in groundbreaking digital signal processing and…

UA Sphere DLX Review: A Professional & Versatile Modeling Mic You Need

In the realm of professional audio gear, Universal Audio stands as a revered name synonymous with uncompromising quality, cutting-edge technology, and timeless craftsmanship. Renowned for their exceptional audio interfaces, outboard equipment, and plugins, UA has also made a significant impact…

The 7 Best Tape Delay Pedals for Studio & Live Sound

A tape delay pedal emulates the sound of a widely used analog effect that is much more easily accomplished with digital technology. Tape delay has some unique and desirable characteristics to readily transform your sound. What Is Tape Delay? Tape…

MOTU Digital Performer 11 Review: Embrace Elevated DAW Capabilities

Digital Performer is a digital audio workstation developed by MOTU (Mark of the Unicorn). It is designed for a variety of music and audio production tasks, including recording, MIDI sequencing, and mixing. Digital Performer has been a popular choice among…

The Loudness Penalty by Streaming Services

Streaming services like Spotify and others normalize the volume of all the material on their platform. This is so you’re not constantly turning the level up or down from song to song. However, tracks you’ve mixed may not play back…

Moog Grandmother vs Matriarch: Which Synthesizer Is Right for Me?

Pitting two popular synthesizers head-to-head, the Moog Grandmother vs Matriarch are both impressive members of the family. They are fundamentally different machines, however, despite Moog’s naming conventions and various design similarities. We’ll have a look at each in an effort…