Me in my studio: BT - "Roland made an actual unicorn here"

(Image credit: BT)

Electronic music pioneer Brian Transeau (aka BT) has written and produced for everyone from Peter Gabriel, Howard Jones and Depeche Mode, to David Bowie, The Roots, Madonna and countless others. 

His new album, Everything You’re Searching for is on the Other Side of Fear, is out now via Black Hole Recordings.

Here are BT’s favourite pieces of studio gear...


1. Roland Jupiter-8

(Image credit: BT)

"It’s really hard to pick just one because I love polyphonic analog synthesizers so much, but the king of the heap for me is the Roland Jupiter-8. The thing about them is that they all sound very different to one another.

Roland made an actual unicorn here.

"The one I keep in my studio is a 12-bit, Rev 1. It’s the most lush, elegant, creamy but biting analogue synthesizer ever made (IMHO). You can cover territory from bass to pads, to big polyphonic PWM detuned stuff. 

"Whenever I A/B this to any soft synth there is literally no comparison. It’s staggering the sound of this thing. Roland made an actual unicorn here."

2. Fairlight CMI III

(Image credit: BT)

"This was a dream instrument of mine since I was a kid. I grew up listening to the likes of Peter Gabriel, The Art of Noise (and all Trevor Horns productions), and many other prominent Fairlight users. In the ‘80s this would have cost more than a single family home, which put it far outside my lawn mowing synth budget! 

We've reverse-engineered the Fairlight sample format and are now able to port Kontakt instruments to and from it.

"Now they are hard to come by, but nowhere near as pricey as they once were. It’s very hard to find a complete system. This one has an amazing history. I’ve completely refurbished it to the metal, including paint matching, installing CF and SD card readers and new (modern) fans. 

"With my friend Garth from Chicken Systems and Andrei from Intel, we have actually reverse-engineered the Fairlight sample format and are now able to port Kontakt instruments to and from it. 

"The mainframe and keyboard were used for sound effects on the original Tron. The keys had tags on them like 'Light cycle burn' and 'Disc throw'. 

"I actually hand retro-brighted the keys (which alone took three months and made our bathtub looked like a meth lab)! At any rate, getting the keys white was a massive project. The monitor was given to be by Stewart Copeland and was used on tour with The Police."

3. Yamaha CS-80

(Image credit: BT)

This is tied for the greatest polysynth ever.

"This is tied for the greatest polysynth ever, I’d say. I’d give it the Number One spot but it’s so specific; it’s not as versatile as the Jupiter-8 (and some of my other favourites). For the videogame I am scoring right now, this one is prominently featured. 

"It’s a remarkably expressive instrument with polyphonic aftertouch and a ribbon slider. A project of mine is trying to get this working with the ROLI Seaboard (another one of my favorite instruments)."

4. Lynx Aurora (n)

(Image credit: BT)

"These are the most incredible sounding audio interfaces I’ve ever owned. I actually had interfaces from two competitors installed when we were finishing this room, and I was able to switch between them. 

"The difference in depth, stereo imaging, width and punchiness (without naming names) is crazy. I will use these audio interfaces forever. They are a massive part of the sound of my room."


5. ATC Speakers

(Image credit: BT)

These are my favourite speakers ever made.

"I’ve never in my life been more inspired by speakers. These things punch and move air so beautifully they are more like an art installation than a pair of speakers. The bad thing is, I’ve listened back to many of my old records and have found actual mistakes (in mastered and released records) that I could never hear before. 

"I used to burn CDs and listen to them in the car and reference on headphones, etc. That’s a thing of the past. These are my favorite speakers ever made."


6. Blue Bottle Microphone

(Image credit: BT)

"This mic is so versatile and elegant sounding. I was a long time Neumann U87/U67 guy (and still have them), but I find myself using this for every vocalist that comes through here. With its variable heads, I can find something that works for everyone."



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