To celebrate the launch of the Gearogs Marketplace, and just for a little insight into what we do with all those records we’re buying, this month’s staff picks is exclusively and unashamedly about audio gear. We’re talking turntables, speakers, amps, mixers, right through to samplers, drum machines and effect pedals. Maybe it’s all the time we spend together, but it seems like our taste in gear is pretty aligned. You can find all the below gear over on Gearogs, and sell your own gear in the marketplace without paying a single cent in fees for a limited time. Get it gone and make room for new gear!
Get a look inside our living rooms, DJ booths and home recording studios at what gear we’re jamming:
I’m not sure my hearing is fine-tuned enough to hear the difference in sound between a cartridge worth €100 or one worth €500. To me it’s more about listening to the songs and the lyrics than about superb sound quality. But I did know that the simple AKAI USB turntable that I got for my birthday a few years ago was in dire need of an upgrade. So with a budget of around €250 I started my search last year. My husband recommended picking a fully automated one, so it would automatically turn off when a record is finished. Turns out that was a good call :) For me it was important to have a dust cover, which meant I could remove a few models from my shortlist. And it needed to look decent as it would be very visible in our living room. I ended up getting this Denon turntable in the silver coloured version, secondhand via green-vinyl.com. I had money left for records, and I am really happy with it!
The story of my Sound Burgers is well documented. I had fancied making a portable two turntable set-up that was all battery powered, and having 2 Sound Burgers and a JBL USB speaker, all I needed was a mixer. The outputs from the Sound Burgers are line level, and on both phono plugs and 3.5mm mini jacks. I had bought the Maker Hart Just Mixer for my battery powered analog setup, so it was simple just to get three 3.5mm cables to hook everything up. They arived the day before from ‘that auction site’. It was a lovely sumers day in Edinburgh, so that evening I decided to drive down to the sea and play some tunes as the sun set. I got to Longniddry Bents and set up on one of the big square concrete tank traps from WW2. It was amazing being able to play vinyl outside, with no power worries! I had recently got a Pepe Braddock 12″, and bumped “Mandagore” as the sun set – very chilled! The sound quality and projection was very good from the wee JBL. I didn’t go full on as there were other people enjoying their space, but this set up would be sweet for a beach party! All I really need to do is mod the Sound Burgers with a pitch control each, but that sounds intrusive. I’d kinda feel bad drilling holes in these things!
This is my ‘DJ’ setup. 2 x 1210 M5G, a Tascam XS-8 mixer, and Neumann KH-120-A speakers. I managed to get the Technics new at just the right point in time, about 2003, when decks were at their low point in popularity, and being sold new at low prices. I like the +/-16 speed control on these decks. The Tascam mixer is a version of the Ecler HAK 320. Again, I got it cheap, and it’s been a solid mixer, although I may replace the crossfader at some point.I selected the Neumann speakers after some listening tests. They seem amazing speakers to me. They reproduce a great frequency range although they are small. They are very heavy, made with metal enclosures. I’m very happy with this setup right now!
– Nik, Chief Product Officer
My amazing colleagues gave me a MediaMarkt gift card as a house-warming gift last year! It was the intention that I purchase a turntable with it, which is exactly what I did. I was in the €100 to €150 budget range, and this seemed like a good option for that price point. Like Lilian, I was also looking for a dust cover, as I’ve been toying with the idea of getting a dog for the last few years (it’s gonna happen!). Also like Lilian, I’m not necessarily going to hear the difference between €100 and €500, so I’m just more than happy to be able to put on a record and know that it’s not damaging my records like my last flea market purchase!
– David, Community Success Lead
Allen & Heath XONE:92 (Graphite) – mixer
Technics SL-1210M3D – Turntable x 2
Technics SL-1210MK2 – Turntable x2
Native Instruments Audio Traktor 6 – Audio Interface
Sennheiser HD 251 II – Headphones
KRK R6 – Speaker x2
I’ve been collecting and mixing records for over 10 years. I’ve got two booths set up at the house and a third listening station… Help. :o)
– Corey, Developer
E-mu SP-1200 – Sampler, Drum Machine, Sequencer
If you like early ’90s hip hop look no further than the SP-1200. Fantastic drum machine, crunchy sound and very intuitive user interface. You have to be creative with your short samples as the total internal memory only allows 10 seconds of sample time. Amazing swing paired with analog filters on the individual outputs equals punchy, dirty drums suited for all type of musical styles. Killer sound and tons of fun!
Roland TR-909 – Drum Machine, Sequencer
The techno and house drum machine. Has a distinct sound suitable for electronic dance music. Thick pounding kick drums and toms paired with very nice and adjustable hihats and cymbals. Adjustable swing and MIDI capabilities, individual outputs keep this machine on pair with modern studio equipment.
Sequential Circuits Pro-One – Synthesizer
One of the best vintage mono synths. Also capable of weird modulated squelchy sounds.
Ensoniq ESR-10 – Sampler, Synthesizer, Sequencer
Amazingly deep keyboard sampler/workstation from Ensoniq. Stuffed with features, this machine can get really hot while in operation. Amazing onboard effects, flexible layering and multi-sample layouts, advanced looping functions.
– Daniel, Developer
My setup consists of two beat up workhorses that just keep going, one 1210 and one 1200, both bought secondhand in the late ’90s with an illustrious history in Icelandic nightlife. The topic has been beaten to death, but there’s a reason these became the industry standard. Great pieces of kit, so tactile and fun to play with. For mixing it all together I’ve got an A&H Xone:42, sounds good and I really like the EQs and filters.
– Karl, Developer
– Claire, Managing Director of Operations
VPI Scout Jr – Turntable
KRK V8 Series 2 – Speaker
VPI HW-16 – Accessory
Radial J33 Turntable Direct Box – Amplifier, Phono, Signal Distribution
Mackie 1202-VLZ – Mixing Desk
Dynavector DV 10×5 – Cartridge
My main listening setup is a VPI Scout Jr. -> a Radial J33 -> a Mackie 1202 -> KRK V8 monitors. Our own, Diognes_The_Fox spotted the VPI record cleaner used on the Portland Craigslist and I barely beat Corey to it; turns out the guy who was selling it rehabs idler turntables and I ended up chatting with him for a while about Discogs and what we do. I also use a Michell clamp and an Onzow Zerodust for stylus cleaning. The Scout Jr. and the Dynavector cartridge seemed like an outrageous expense when I bought them, but they sound so fantastic. Not sure I should upgrade since clearly I’ve spent too much already, but I’d probably go for better monitors or a better mixer/amp (both of which currently do double duty for vinyl listening and project studio noodlings).
– Jason, Lead Developer
Pro-Ject Perspex – Turntable
I have a thing for clear acrylic furniture, so when Pro-Ject introduced this table I knew they did it for me. It turns out to perform better than any of the other tables I’ve owned or own now. I run it with a Speed Box SEII (which I’ll add to Gearogs soon along with my Nitty Gritty record cleaner!) The greatest thing about the magnetic subplatter suspension is that this guy will play without skipping when a cat hops on top of the closed dust cover. (I didn’t set that test up on purpose, but it has been tested in that way.)
Dynavector DV 10×5 – Cartridge
According to the serious turntable gearheads, the cartridge should cost about half of what the table costs to “do it justice.” This cart doesn’t come to half of the table, but I think it sounds great so I’m not gonna upgrade any time soon, even if I do win the lottery.
Klipsch Heresy I – Speaker
My Heresies are from 1971, and they’re the “Designer” model that has the soundboard flush-mounted and lacks a grille cloth. At some point I’ll refinish them. (The original owner put a coat of polyurethane on them and glued a no-longer-with-us improvised grille on, so they look kind of scrappy now.) I recapped the crossovers, and I swapped the woofers out of another pair of 70s Heresies with damaged cabinets. They’re powered by an old “DeWald” brand tube amp from 1953 which I restored as well. It’s a typical 50s EL34 based push/pull circuit with a surprisingly good-sounding phono preamp. (I’ll add that beast to Gearogs when I have time!)
– Martin, Developer
Vox V847 – Effect
MXR Dyna Comp
Xotic EP Booster
Boss BD -2W Blues Driver
J Rockett Audio Designs Archer Ikon
Analog Man King Of Tone
ZVEX Fuzz Factory
WMD Geiger Counter
TC Electronic Flashback Triple Delay
Strymon Big Sky
Voodoo Lab Pedal Power ISO-5
Vox V847: These are listed in signal chain order, so we start at the wah. I mostly use this for some tonal emphasis during solos (always been in love with that Mick Ronson parked/cocked wah tone) or for weird feedback noises when my gain is high.
MXR Dyna Comp: The only pedal on my board I keep on all the time. I’m always looking for sustain when I play, so I’ve got this set for very modest compression that will keep my notes ringing just a smidge longer than they would otherwise. Also provides a very slight volume boost.
Xotic EP Booster: For when I need to be a little louder without much tone change. This sounds beautiful. When it comes on, things are louder but also a bit more robust.
Boss BD -2W Blues Driver: I love this pedal. It sounds great at moderate gain settings, it sounds surprisingly awesome when you push the drive, and it’s got loads of volume on tap. I use it for situations that require high volume and moderate gain (i.e. lots of guitar solos).
J Rockett Audio Designs Archer Ikon: This one works well as a low gain overdrive; it gets heavy use when I need to be louder and more present with just a hint of breakup.
Analog Man King Of Tone: One of the newer additions to the board, so I’m still trying to find the settings that work best for me. One side is set for a moderate volume/moderate gain situation (when I need some decent breakup without overwhelming the rest of the band); with the other, I’m aiming for a high gain and moderate volume situation so I can get really distorted without bringing the walls down.
ZVEX Fuzz Factory: When I need to get pretty rude, this is where I go. Loud and full of venom.
WMD Geiger Counter: When I need to get REALLY rude, this is where I go. The Geiger Counter is a wild beast, and I feel bad for keeping it tamed on this pedal board instead of constantly rotating the settings to find the most offensive sounds possible. I’m pretty sure those are all in there.
Eventide H9 :Another new addition to my rig, and another pedal that probably deserves more freedom than is allowed on my board. Super deep functionality that I need to sit down and explore. At this time, I’ve got some basic modulation sounds, as well as a combo reverb/delay/chorus sound for ambience.
Catalinbread Echorec: Lots of fun sounds on this thing; I’m using it with a very short delay time and a ton of repeats, just on the verge of self-oscillation, to get some weird/spooky slapback noises.
TC Electronic Flashback Triple Delay: Currently set for more tradional medium-range delay sounds (for me that’s somewhere between 300 and 400 ms). I love the ability to activate more than one delay at a time for more atmospheric passages.
Strymon Big Sky: An incredible box of sounds. I love reverb, so this gets heavy use (mostly for a great big spacious hall sound and a tighter plate simulation). Another pedal that is deeper than I’m able to make use of at this time. Maybe when I finally get MIDI capabilities set up in my rig…
Voodoo Lab Pedal Power ISO-5: Because they’re all just fancy-lookin’ doorstops without electricity.
– Tom, Community Success Coordinator
Stanton STR8-80 – Turntable
I got this at the time because a SL-1200 was out of my price range. It’s got some wonky issues, but with my SL-1200 having some hefty line noise issues at the moment, this shall do.
Wonky $5 score from a house call for records. It works.
The fan is really loud and the switch failed. I just replaced it last week. Far more power than I needed.
Pioneer DJM 707 – DJ Mixer
I pretty much use this as an overglorified A/V switch.
Technics Auto Reverse Stereo Cassette Deck – Tape Machine
Junkshop find. It does a bunch of fancy DBX / Metal Tape stuff I don’t know how to use. The door bezel fell off the first time I used it. It’s kinda just propped up for the picture.
– Brent, Database Success Coordinator