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Inside the Sweetwater Difference

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Okay, I confess. Despite my constant close proximity to gear for the past several decades, I’ve never lost my passion (addiction?) for it. I just can’t help lusting after an innovative piece of processing gear or a gorgeous guitar that just sings when it’s played. And microphones? How many is “too many?” The fact is, I’ve been acquiring and updating my studio for as long as I’ve had one (starting with a TASCAM Porta One back in 1986). I made my first purchase here at Sweetwater from Chuck in 1994 (a Sony DAT recorder).

As it goes with technology, this is my fourth major overhaul in the last 17 years (in addition to regular “smaller” purchases of guitars and minor gear upgrades), which I think shows great restraint on my part and considerable understanding on my wife’s part!

I reached out to my coworkers for advice throughout the process and couldn’t be happier with the final result. I was going for a setup that allowed me to quickly make noise and practice, and easily get ideas recorded. To that end, I went with kind of a minimalist approach without tons of outboard gear. I’m not trying to make records; I just want to be able to record music for fun.

As far as practice tools, I am completely in love with the BOSS e-Band JS-10 and have spent many hours on it (it’s also wired to play through my studio monitors).

The centerpiece of my studio is an Avid HD Omni, and I’m using an Avid Artist Mix for my control surface. I’ve been using Pro Tools for years and remain a huge fan. PT11 (which I can now use with Native Instruments Komplete!) is just incredible.

The Axiom AIR 61 is a great controller, and the Native Instruments Maschine gives me another unique set of creative tools. (Of course, now I “need” to get Maschine Studio!).

My big indulgence is a Grace M201 with the A/D option that is routed to my Omni via S/PDIF. With my background as the Director of Sales for AKG, I just love using a variety of mics, and beyond its pristine sound, the M201 has killer features that appealed to me, such as the ribbon mic mode and M+S decoder circuitry.

I wanted a lot of flexibility for guitar sounds and don’t really have an isolated space where I can crank up an amp adequately (that doesn’t mean I don’t occasionally play loud enough that my kids tell me to turn it down), so I went with a Line 6 POD HD500 that I play through a Tech 21 Power Engine 60. Purists, please don’t flog me for not having a huge amp collection and a pedalboard with 100 pedals on it! Remember, I have a finite budget, limited space, and want easy access to a broad variety of sounds, and frankly, this stuff sounds great!

I have a few pet guitars (Les Paul Goldtop, Fender American Deluxe Strat, an old PRS bolt-on that was my first new “nice” guitar, and an Ibanez J Custom RG2011 that I love). But to take full advantage of the HD500, I also bought a Line 6 JTV-69, so I can easily experiment with alternate, drop, and capo tunings.
To be blunt, I love my job. I feel fortunate for the opportunity to work with so many passionate people who are fellow gear addicts and make a living doing something I enjoy and dealing with products I, well, crave.

Rock and Roll!

Jeff Radke
Executive Vice President of Sales
Chief Sales Officer

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