Working with Korg Gadget 2

Korg Gadget 2 in Use

Recently I decided to purchase Korg Gadget 2 to use in conjunction with Logic Pro X from my studio. I had been looking for quite a while for the right plugin that would give me a host of new cool and cutting edge sounds. After meeting with the Product Specialist from Korg Luke Edwards who demonstrated the plugin to me, I knew this was perfect for what I wanted.

In general I record real instrumentation at my studio, but I like to enhance the drum kit with samples just to give them that little extra power, normally just on the kick and snare. I have used many plugins over the years to do this, but was shocked at the results Korg Gadget offered.

You have numerous plugins within gadget, with my two favourites being Recife and Gladstone. Recife is more electronic but will sit amazingly underneath a well recorded kick drum, to make it sound absolutely huge. This is the same with the snare.
It’s very easy to scroll through the plugins until you get the sounds you like. I like to add two samples to both kick and snare, one that provides the low end and one to place in the mix very subtly that provides a little high end. Gladstone is a culmination of real sounding drum hits. The samples here are really good and sound very realistic and come in very handy when you get the musician through the doors who just can’t afford a real drummer.

I always like to use real bass, which I record with 3 mics on my Ashdown Bass Rig but it has become very common practice to track bass in modern music with synth bass. Bruno Mars is one fine example. Korg Gadget 2 provides numerous plugins with great sub bass if that is simply what you are looking for. However if you are looking for a more realistic bass sound there are two great plugins on offer. The Madrid plugin offers many different bass sounds which you can effect and add different amp sounds too. I particular like the distorted effect on this plugin. One plugin not to be missed is the Marseille plugin which houses a great fat realistic bass sound which sounds great in conjunction with a real bass or simply for programming.
In real terms you have no shortage of bass sounds with this software.

Throughout all the plugins you are provided with cutting edge synth sounds which you can affect to your own liking. It can be time consuming finding the sounds you like but once you become familiar with what all the plugins do, you generally become much faster at knowing where to look. There are also loads of piano sounds to choose from which I am fully yet to explore but that is next on my list when I’m back in the studio. This is the same for brass, which on first look is more like the 80’s synth type brass sounds.

One plugin nobody can dislike is the Miami plugin. If you need to create a wobble fast and are into your Dubstep then this plugin is perfect and I absolutely love it. At the moment a lot of people ask me for those 70/80s kind of sounds whether it be handclaps, snares, finger clicks etc and for this you have the London plugin. Its just full of old school quirky electronic sounds and basically a plugin that will quickly give the customer what they want.

I could talk all day about this great product from Korg but I think its time for you to explore it for yourself. It’s relatively inexpensive so definitely worth the investment in my point of view. 


Band Awareness Month

Band Awareness Month logo

Astar Studios is launching ‘Band Awareness Month’. The campaign across social media will offer vital hints and tips for emerging bands, in a fun and informative way that introduces and unleashes the power and potential benefits of choosing to record at Astar, with the studio’s Mercury Prize nominated producer owner Andy Ross.
To celebrate ‘Band Awareness Month’, Astar has joined forces with  leading artists and musicians, and with the legendary VOX Amplification, who have equipped the studio with their latest AC30 S1 amplifier. 
Every band that makes a studio booking during ’Band Awareness Month’ will receive a FREE VOX ampPLUG 2 AC30.

Vox AC30 jackplug splitter

VOX has a rich 60 year musical heritage that draws upon the most influential artists in the world who continue to rely on VOX amplifiers to deliver world-class tone in the finest studios and on the biggest stages around the globe.
To qualify for a free VOX amPlug 2 AC30, bands must book a minimum of 1 x 8 hour day in the studio. Bookings made during ‘Band Awareness Month’ can be for projects up until August 2020. Keep watching Astar Studios social media, or for more information call 0161 280 0908 or email


Astar celebrates 10th anniversary with No.1 album

Pixie and the Gypsies - Honey Trap cd cover

‘Honey Trap’ – the highly acclaimed debut album by gipsy jazzers Pixie and The Gypsies (Key Signature Records) has topped the iTunes Jazz Charts in the studio’s 10th anniversary year. Producer Andy Ross, who also co-wrote several tracks on the album talks about the project and 10 years of Astar Studios.

“A lot has happened since I opened Astar in March of 2008. Firstly having designed the studio in late 2007, you never really know how a studio is going to sound until you put it to the test. In the case of Astar we set a bold challenge, because we took the decision to try use digital control room technology in a way that offered the same warmth of analogue with no compromise on sound quality whatsoever.

We wanted to get back to the acoustic quality of the great studios of the 1970s and 80s. This relied heavily upon matching the control room and live room design and technology in a totally unique and new approach. The result and total endorsement of the sound at Astar came in 2010, when the acoustic jazz album ‘Golden’ by The Kit Downes Trio was among the 12 Mercury nominations that year. This well and truly put Astar on the map and myself as a producer. In the next 5 years Astar was twice honoured at the prestigious Pro Sound Awards, firstly among the top 4 finalists for ‘Studio of The Year’ in 2013, and as ‘Best Studio’ in 2014, when I was also proud to be honoured among Europe’s TOP 50 RISING STAR PRODUCERS category.   

What this meant was we had succeeded in making high end recording affordable for the independent artist and label market, and also opened up new opportunities for major labels to control the cost of recording new artists. 

Interestingly among the Mercury nominees, my production of ‘Golden’ at Astar, sat alongside Paul Weller’s album ‘Wake Up The Nation’, and three years later, when I was asked to co-produce with Steve White, a cover of Style Council classic, ‘The Paris Match’ by Kristyna Myles – in order to get approval for release, the record that we recorded at Astar needed the blessing of Paul Weller, who came back with a two word quote – “Absolutely Stunning!”

Since then the studio has grown from strength to strength and no matter what we throw at the live room, from rock to jazz and even classical, the sound at Astar never lets us down. We may not be the biggest, but we have proven we are as good as the best, at a fraction of the cost!

Not only that, but we have achieved one of our original objectives that has been to engage with the emerging market sector and help unsigned acts afford to work in a top class studio with an experienced producer, something that had previously been out of reach in the past. We do so with complete integrity that allows artists to maintain full ownership of their copyright.” 

At ASTAR STUDIOS our philosophy is to provide a friendly, relaxed atmosphere and perfect environment for artists to express themselves and craft timeless recordings that capture the creative spirit, skill and energy of their performance. Conceived by international writer/producer Andy Ross, Astar’s 360-degree services offer an affordable one-stop solution to take your music to market using leading industry associates with free pre-production and PR support on all EP and album packages.


Astar Honoured Among Europe’s Elite Studios

Prosound logo

Among its many awards and accolades Astar Studios is immensely proud to have achieved top 4 finalist position for ‘Best Studio’ and ‘Studio of the Year’ in two consecutive years at the Pro Sound Awards, held at London’s Ministry of Sound. The prestigious awards, likened to the music production equivalent of the Brits honour excellence in recording and live music production across Europe. 

Astar was selected by a panel of independent judges – experts drawn from across the pro-audio spectrum who recognised the quality of the studio and the innovative approach of its Mercury Prize nominated producer owner Andy Ross who has created a stunning sounding recording studio to serve artists at every level including the growing independent music sector. Andy has also been honoured in the top 50 ‘Rising Star’ producer award category. 

Andy  stated, “I am proud and delighted that the quality of our studio and the uniquely innovative approach we have taken has been acknowledged at the highest level. At Astar we aim to provide an enjoyable recording  experience and creative environment where artists can express themselves freely and feel inspired to produce their best performance.”


Mercurial Rise for Astar Producer

Barclayard Mercury Prize logo

Within 3 years of opening Astar Studios, its writer/producer owner scooped a Mercury Prize ‘Album of the Year’ – an achievement that advanced the status of Andy Ross towards the producer premier league, sparking the interest of artists, managers and record companies.

‘Golden’ by the Kit Downes Trio (Basho) was released to critical acclaim receiving 4 stars from the Guardian and Observer jazz critics. The album that was the surprise contender for the prestigious Mercury musical crown alongside artists such as Dizzee Rascal, Paul Weller and Corinne Bailey Rae resulted in widespread recognition for the unique approach producerAndy Ross has taken since opening Astar Studios, where the emphasis is on what matters most – superbly designed acoustics, an outstanding technical spec and engineering and production of the highest possible standard.

Andy Ross told us, “When I heard the news I felt totally elated and delighted for Kit and the band who are such talented musicians. Personally I feel so proud that the quality of my recordings and sound from Astar Studios has been judged at the highest level as worthy to sit alongside those of the other more established and big budget album nominees including the legendary Paul Weller.” Andy first met Kit Downes in 2008 when he came to Astar Studios to accompany double bassist Calum Gourlay on a recording for ‘The Yamaha New Jazz Sessions’ with fellow Royal Academy of Music student James Maddren on drums. 

From that recording The Kit Downes Trio was born, they signed to Basho Records and Kit called Andy to invite him to record the trio’s debut album ‘Golden’. Kit returned to Astar to record a solo piano composition, ‘William Cooper’ for the Yamaha New Jazz Sessions CD series.


“Paint a Brighter Day” – Take Note Recordings

Kristyna Miles - Paint a Brighter Day cd cover

MOBO nominee Kristyna Myles combines sublime vocals, superbly crafted songs and stunning musicianship to ‘Paint A Brighter Day’ with her second album.

Recorded at Astar Studios with Mercury Prize nominated producer Andy Ross, ‘Paint A Brighter Day’ features 11 songs about life-lessons with the aim of inspiring and painting listeners’ days brighter. All songs are written or co-written by Kristyna who has created a musical canvas true to her pop roots, with brush strokes that evoke jazz, soul and gospel influences.

‘Paint A Brighter Day’ is released thanks to a successful campaign on PledgeMusic that enabled Kristyna to fund the album and video with support from music fans. This was rewarded with a variety of opportunities, including visits to the recording sessions and parts in the video for first single ‘I’m Getting Rid Of This’. This unique strategy not only enabled Kristyna to fund the project without major label investment, but also interact and engage with existing and new fans at the same time.

More importantly for an independent artist, this groundbreaking approach allowed Kristyna to maintain full creative control and copyright ownership.

Kristyna Myles got her first break busking on the streets of Manchester, winning BBC Radio Five Live’s ‘Busk Idol’ competition. Since then she has toured Europe, receiving extensive coverage and supporting a host of big name artists including Chris de Burgh, Lisa Stansfield, Mick Hucknall, Will Young, Lemar and the legendary Nile Rogers & Chic.
Despite signing a five album deal with Decca Records, just one single release in three years saw exhilaration turn to exasperation, providing the motivation for Kristyna to take back control of her career in 2013.  It was a brave move that paid off with her debut independent single – a cover of the ‘Style Council’ classic, ‘The Paris Match’ described by Paul Weller as “absolutely stunning!”

In 2014 Kristyna followed up with the release of her debut album ‘Pinch Me Quick’ produced by the Grammy Award winning Ken Nelson. The year ended with a performance of her song ‘Heaven Knows’ on BBC Songs of Praise and a MOBO Award Nomination for Best Gospel Act.

Now with her own label ‘Take Note Recordings’, the future looks even brighter for this extraordinarily talented independent artist and young businesswoman. A supporter of charity Tearfund and ambassador for Centrepoint.