Recording your music at home for the first time can be confusing, especially if you’re not clued up on the gear you need. You have to decide which mic is best for you, what cables you need, how you record into your computer and what software to use – daunting, right? Thankfully, plenty of audio companies, such as Yamaha, are releasing recording bundles that offer solutions to those questions. But just how easy is it to get up and running with a recording bundle?
British songwriter Mea has been recording her music at home since 2020, earning support from BBC Music for her luscious, layered vocal lines and dreamy lo-fi production style. We set her up with a Yamaha AG03MK2 LSPK recording bundle to find out how effective a recording bundle is and if she can garner similar – or better – results than her current recording equipment within an hour.
What’s in the box?
The AG03MK2 LSPK bundle is designed for recording and livestreaming, boasting everything you need from cables up to a selection of Digital Audio Workstations (DAWs).
“As I record at home, I don’t have the biggest workspace to work with,” Mea tells us. Unboxing the AG bundle, Mea finds everything she needs immediately. “I’m pleasantly surprised to see it comes with all the cables I needed (especially as my current cable gives me a lot of feedback/a low hum).”
“Also included is the AG03 three-channel mixer, YCM01 condenser microphone, YH-MT1 headphones, XLR cables to connect the mic and mixer, a USB cable to connect the mixer to my laptop, a mic holder, setup manuals, and a black Yamaha bag,” Mea says. “The bag is a lovely extra touch,” she says. “It’s really handy that the AG03 is very sleek and compact, and I love the aesthetic of the kit – really clean and smart.”
Alongside the gear, Yamaha’s bundle also equips artists with licenses for three Steinberg recording software: Cubase AI, Cubasis LE (for iOS), and WaveLab Cast. Mea prefers using Apple’s GarageBand to record her music, which the AG03MK2 bundle is well-equipped for.
There’s also a companion app, AG Controller, which lets you check and configure the DSP audio processing inside the AG.
Getting set up
Okay – Mea’s got everything out of the box, now what? Time to get everything connected and route audio to her laptop. She places the YCM01 condenser mic onto her mic stand with a portable vocal booth and attaches a pop shield. Using the XLR cable provided, she connects the mic to the AG03 mixer’s input. Condenser microphones, like the YCM01, require an additional 48v of power – called ‘phantom power’ – which the AG03 mixer automatically provides.
In addition, Mea hooks up her keyboard to the mixer via a TRS jack cable – handily, there’s a keyboard icon just above the socket. She then connects the YH-G01 headphones (which she says are “really comfortable” with excellent, crisp and clear sound quality”) to the headphone output in the Monitor Out section.
To connect the mixer to her laptop, Mea uses the USB cable provided. No drivers are required, so she can instantly select the AG03 as her audio device in GarageBand.
“Once I was up and going the mixer was really easy to use. I got the sound coming through from the mic and my keyboard,” she says. “It took me a minute to balance the volume levels/the gain for my mic, my keyboard and metronome from my software but this was a really quick process and also very easy. The mixer is clearly laid out and its functionality was great.”
A pop shield and vocal booth aren’t included in Yamaha’s bundle, but they are extremely useful for recording vocals. The pop shield helps subdue plosives – the exaggerated pronunciation of ‘p,’ ‘b,’ ‘t,’ and so on – while the vocal booth reduces the reflections and ambience around Mea, which helps her capture a cleaner take for editing her recordings with mixing effects.
The perfect take
Speaking of which, the AG03 mixer comes with built-in reverb and compression/EQ. Mea can’t get enough of the reverb effect. “The reverb was excellent; one of my favourite things about the AG03. I love to experiment with harmonies and it gave me the exact feeling and vibe that I wanted to help elevate them. I didn’t plan on using reverb for this song but once I tried it out I couldn’t resist.”
She adds: “On my old system, I’d have to add the reverb through GarageBand, but with the AG03 I have a far more impressive and dynamic sounding reverb at just the click of a button. Again, this is great functionality.”
Now she’s connected everything and checked her levels, she lays down a vocal recording on top of a keyboard part she’s recorded in GarageBand. She makes subtle, elegant use of the AG03’s reverb and layers her vocal line with multiple harmonies.
Here’s what she recorded:
Because the AG03MK2 streaming bundle is primed for livestreaming, Mea could also use the mixer as an audio device for livestreaming software such as TKTK. Right now, she’s keen to just capture her ideas and develop new songs. Either way, she’s seriously happy with Yamaha’s recording bundle and how quickly she was able to make music.
“I love the look and size of the mixer, the easy functionality, the incredible quality of the mic and headphones and the reverb button. I LOVE it,” she tells us.
“Since the end of the summer, I was really lacking the inspiration to record and this has given me that spark back! I’m really excited to send this to my producer and see what he thinks of the sound and quality, and to see what more we can do with the song.”
Learn more about the Yamaha AG03MK2 LSPK at yamaha.com.
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