As well as listening to quite a wide variety of music, I also make my own when creatively inspired, leaning towards the broad spectrum some term electronica but trying to be as open-minded in my creativity as I endeavour to be in my listening preferences. To these ends I have recently invested in a new hard disk recording set-up, based around a Novatech Matrix Pro Athlon system with the simple but top quality M-Audio Delta 4 multi-channel PCI sound card. Linked to this, via a Mackie CR1604-VLZ compact mixer, is quite a wide selection of gear of varying vintages, including the following highlights:
Yamaha CS6x keyboard synthesiser
This is the sonic centrepiece of the system, with a wide range of both stock and more exotic sounds, with excellent real-time control over filtering, envelopes and so on. It makes no claims of "analogue modelling", but actually does rather well in that department. It also doubles up as a fine 61-key controller keyboard to drive everything else!
Kawai K1r digital tone module
This rather old digital tone module is not the most amazing thing on earth, but it has some nice - if unexciting - tones in its repertoire, which sound especially good when combined with effects processing. Polyphony and multitimbrality are limited, but so long as you don't rely on it as the sole sound source, it's a useful addition.
My one true concession to vintage sound, this analogue keyboard sounds brilliant for dance music with a very fat bass sound, arpeggiator and a simple sequencer. It's a bit on the battered side, but there's nothing much technically wrong with it, and it's now MIDI capable, via the natty little Kenton Pro Solo MIDI-to-CV conversion unit.
Yamaha RY30 rhythm programmer
This is a fairly ordinary looking drum machine with some surprising tricks up its sleeves. Its sounds are highly editable, and it also has an assignable wheel on the front panel, which can control things like pitch, filtering and decay in real time. It also has a built-in bass synth, which sounds quite analoguish with the filtering.
Red Sound DarkStar synthesiser module
Red Sound are famed mainly for their DJ tools and effects, but in the DarkStar have produced a fully-fledged five-part multitimbral and eight-note polyphonic synthesiser module, with plenty of real-time controls on its desktop case. It sounds as good as it looks and feels, packed with excellent analogue-style patches, all fully editable.
Yamaha VL70-m and WX11 wind synthesis system
The VL70-m is the budget implementation of Yamaha's innovative physical modelling technology, providing scorching synth lead sounds and ultra-realistic acoustic simulations - ideal in partnership with the WX11 saxophone-style MIDI wind controller. It's all monophonic, but perfect for the purpose it was intended, as a live solo instrument.
Unexciting, but high quality for a medium-budget electric guitar, the Stratocaster-styled Pacifica is a useful addition to my sonic armoury, and my first serious foray into the world of non-synthetic sound. The 3030 effect pedal adds useful extra dimensions to the sounds, including reverbs, delays, distortion and other more unusual treatments.
Crafter EA-55 electro-acoustic guitar
A simple but effective acoustic guitar in its own right with the flexibility of being able to plug in to amplification or recording systems without miking up. Since the body is on the slim side, the sound is perhaps not as meaty as with some alternatives, but there is a competent graphic equaliser built in to sweeten up the sound when it is plugged in.