We love a snoop around a superstar’s studio, and Calvin Harris’s recent visit from the estate agent - his Hollywood Hills home is up for sale - means that we can indulge in a little celebrity spotting.
No, we’re not talking about the dapper chap himself, or even the famous company he keeps, but rather the all-star line-up inside his bulging home studio.
We’ve all played the ‘if I won the lottery’ game, but what does the man who really DOES have the lot put inside his studio?
Let’s take a look…
Starting top left…
Let’s get the usual suspects out of the way. Because you’ve got to have a Roland TR-909 drum machine…
And you’ve got to have a Roland TR-808 drum machine…
Interesting… These common-all-nightclub DJ essentials are usually spotted in pairs, but this de facto CD spinner is going solo. And no matching DJM mixer? Perhaps a Krug mishap has popped them in for repair.
Despite being partially covered with that smiley flag, we’d know the distinctive looks (and sounds) of Roland’s classic modgrip monosynth anywhere. Disappointingly, it’s here in standard grey tones. No limited-edition red or blue paint job? Tsk.
Our first big hitter. The presence of this monster ’90s synth shows Harris knows his stuff. Kinda ‘meh’ at the time, it’s an all-digital faux-analogue synth that went on to power countless ‘90s rave classics (when their makers would have much rather been using rare, expensive ‘proper’ analogue gear). It’s now a modern classic and a signature of the keyboard connoisseur.
Only one of two Korgs in Harris’s collection but, come on, you’ve got to have an MS-20. Judging from the other keyboards nearby for scale, this a 2013 ‘Mini’ remake rather than the original. But hey, we’ll let that one Slide.
Top of the middle rack…
Sequential Circuits Prophet-5
Yup. We’d have a Sequential Circuits synth up front in a heartbeat too. And this one is an original (lacking the Rev button and Vintage knob of the recent remake). [Doffs cap.] But no Pro-One? [Docks half a synth point.]
Nice one. Not often you see Roland’s half-hearted back-fill between the Jupiter-4 and mighty Jupiter-8. Perhaps he couldn’t bag a decent 8? Oh… Hang on…
Bingo. Roland’s flagship ‘80s synth is clearly front and centre in the setup here, just a short scoot on the studio chair from the desk. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Solina String Ensemble
Yes! Perfect for those fake disco strings. Why pull up a million identical and perfectly acceptable samples and patches when you can spring for the real thing?
Top of the next rack…
Respect is due. This is a complete ARP set (with suitcase keyboard) that must have set the multi-millionaire DJ back… a microscopic proportion of his total wealth.
As you’ll soon see, it turns out that Harris is a bit of a Moog fan, and the excellent, timeless (beloved of Daft Punk) Voyager is no surprise in his studio.
Modal Electronics Modal 002
Baseball caps off. Here’s something genuinely surprising and worth highlighting. The Modal 002, 12-voice hybrid synth is an unsung niche choice that clearly brings something that Harris’s shedload of classics just don’t deliver.
Top of the right-most rack…
Those multi-coloured panels are a giveaway. But why not spring for the bigger Matriarch? He’s not short of space… Or cash.
Moog Sub 37
Vintage Model D? Micromoog? Multimoog? Prodigy? Rogue? Source? Little Phatty? Sub 37? Nah, don’t mess about. We’ll take their very latest off-the-shelf take on the mono synth legend thanks.
The perfect partner to Harris’s Roland Juno-60 elsewhere. This thin slab of pure analogue is great for strings and leads.
So you make a REALLY expensive Moog too? Great. I’ll take One. If you’re going to go big on Bob then why not get the flagship top-of-the-range?
PPG Wave 2
The way cool, klangerous digital classic and the second of only two digi synths in Harris’s studio. (Wot no Yamaha DX7?) Despite being 98% obscured, its distinctive blue panel and black knobage give it away.
On the floor…
Ah, we see you there. Yes, it’s a classic, though given its subsequent improvements perhaps the Mk 1 wasn’t the one to go for? Hence it being dumped on the floor?…
CS-50? CS-60? Don’t be daft. This is the full classic ’80 with its pin matrix modular patchbay door popped open revealing Harris to be a bit of a tweaker. Notable here as the only Yamaha synth in his collection.
Despite the tiny glimmer in this pic, we can confirm that this a 60 (rather than the earlier 6) thanks to the squished up left-most control panel (note the ‘d’ of Roland finishing in the blue Arpeggio section). This was to make room for the 60’s new ‘Memory’ section far right (out of shot).
Time to rack ‘em up…
Let’s head over to the far left bottom corner and get stuck into those 19-inchers. Starting on the left. Top down…
Furman PL-Plus Power Conditioner
Because classic-packed 19-inch studio racks are like hair - so much smoother with a little conditioner. This unobtrusive box keeps all the ones below fed and happy.
Universal Audio LA-2A
Of course there’s an LA-2A here, and its position at the top of the rack lets us know just how important it is, with its simple (world famous) gain and reduction dials within easy reach.
OK. So not the authentic Pultec but this faithful remake is among the best. The low frequency boost and cut features make it an essential for adding magic to kicks.
Empirical Labs EL8XS Distressor
We’re sure that Harris enjoys flicking the ‘British’ switch on this much-loved see-them-everywhere ultra-versatile compressor to engage its famously aggressive 1:1 mode.
An empty gap
Your eyes do not deceive you. Mr Harris has ONE entire 2U free in his rack. Out of ideas? Out of cash? Nah, we reckon his Chandler RS124 (a notable absentee here) must be in for repair…
Manley Variable Mu Limiter Compressor
Respect due for hunting out and securing this thoughtful, elegant beauty when he’s already got so many compressing classics at hand (see below…)
OK. Right rack. Top down…
Furman PL-Plus Power Conditioner
A second slice of power-smoothing slickness (as seen earlier).
Chandler Limited TG2 Dual Mono Mic Preamp
What a beauty and a surprising, classy find. This recreation of the mic preamp from Abbey Road’s mixing and mastering consoles is a subtle but powerful addition, beloved of pros with genuinely golden ears.
Given the presence of a Neve desk (see below) we’re not sure why Harris needs an 8801 Channel Strip. The 88’ is basically a complete channel from the legendary Neve 88R console with a Neve mic preamplifier, equalisation and dynamics processor on board.
Avalon VT-737 SP Black Edition
Oooh… Nice… The VT-737 is pretty much THE essential, everyday mic-pre, EQ and compressor to go for and Harris has it in 10th anniversary Black Edition form.
Nope. NOT a genuine Neve 1073 but the BAE wire-for-wire remake. Perhaps Harris didn’t like Neve’s modern take on its classic mic-pre/EQ, preferring BAE’s authentic recreation of Neve’s more vintage models?
Universal Audio 1176-LN
More compression gold. The 1176 is an essential team-mate to the LA-2A mentioned earlier. Got both? You're all good.
Um. Did someone go to the compressor shop and say “I’ll take the lot”? Nah, you go for it mate. Gotta have the all-tube optical CL1B on your vocals. (But where’s the Alesis 3630 that he used to love back in his disco-creating days?)
Time for the main event…
Neve BCM16/2 MkII mixing console
Because when you’ve got this many synths and that much outboard the BCM10/2 just isn’t enough. This is a very cool choice and shows Harris’s love of authentically analogue (and British) gear, with the 1073N mic preamp and EQ model in every channel doubtless doing his collection proud.
ATC SCM25A Pro (near-field monitors)
Picking a monitor is such a personal business and we’re certain Harris was courted by all the big names. Which makes his pick of the (British) ATCs interesting. Their short coil seven-inch carbon-paper woofer, three-inch soft dome mid-range and a one-inch silk tweeter in a ported enclosure clearly deliver what Harris loves.
PMC IB2S-A (large monitors)
Much more mainstream. The large PMCs deliver their powerhouse, famously flat and trusty output in a manageable - but still sizey - form. Perfect for final precise mastering. Slick and sensible. We’re impressed.
Lacie Rugged Hard Drive
This orange-bumpered studio staple is a popular, trusty way for pros to port their projects from studio to studio, so it’s no surprise that there’s one sitting on his console. Available in 1Tb and 5Tb forms. We’re banking on this one being the 5Tb. Obvs.
Herman Miller Aeron chair
This acoustically transparent swiveler is beloved by studio pros.
Slate Digital VLM mic
If our eyes don’t deceive us it looks like Harris is rocking a Slate VLM for vocal duties. This versatile mic-modelling setup aims to emulate countless mic classics, so why have more when this one does the lot?
Neumann TLM107 mic
This modern Neumann is a great all-rounder so no surprise to see one here.
Right side of the desk…
Sweet. The DP/4 is a super-rare four-channel reverb/effects box from the highly regarded (but ultimately unsuccessful) French makers of the legendary Mirage and EPS samplers that has acquired quite the collectable reputation among those in the know. Respect due.
Apple Macbook Pro
Eventide Space Reverb
Nestled in the desk-side debris, this little black box is laden with mind-blowing effect presets that sound like nothing else.
Universal Audio Apollo
Given the love shown to Universal Audio elsewhere it’s hardly surprising that Harris relies on a UA Apollo to get all his audio in and out of his computer. Speaking of which…
Apple Mac Pro
In distinctive state-of-play ‘cheese grater’ front panel form. Impossible to tell specs from this range but all the signs are that it’ll be high end…
Korg Volca Sample
Tucked in Harris’s little ‘play zone’, this fun but functional little sampling box is here to lend a little mischief to his upcoming productions.
Audio Technica AT-LP1200
No Technics 1210? Nope. Harris goes for the similarly specced and much-loved AT alternative turntable instead. But just one?…
And a little further right… Guitars!…
Gibson Les Paul
Need a guitar? You’ve got to have a Les Paul.
Ibanez SR Premium Bass
Warwick? Nope, it’s an Ibanez SR. Interesting choice and one we like to think is based on its preeminent tone and playability rather than fashion or trend.
Need a guitar? You’ve got to have a Strat.
MusicMan Stingray Bass
Too tight for a fourth guitar stand? Surely that’s the only reason this classic (beloved of Chic’s Bernard Edwards) is left cruelly prone on the deck?