Calvin Harris is one of the most successful DJs ever. In 2019 he was listed as number 3 on the top-earning DJ list, bringing in a whopping $38.5million. A multi-talented musician, he uses a particular setup that, while it has evolved over the years, remains largely the same. Let’s look at what software does Calvin Harris use as well go over his equipment.
What DAW Software Does Calvin Harris Use Most?
The main DAW software that Calvin Harris uses to record and create music is Logic Pro.
This is music software that is officially only available on Mac computers through the Apple App Store. However, there are workarounds that allow it to be installed on Windows PCs as well.
Logic Pro is a complete DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) meaning that it can record and manipulate audio. It can also be used to program MIDI and drums that help Calvin Harris create his signature EDM sound. The Logic Pro software that Calvin Haris uses can also be extended with plugins to add more functionality. These can include effects, dynamic processors and EQs.
What Laptop Does Calvin Harris Use For Plugins?
In both his studio and on the road Calvin Harris uses Apple Mac computers.
The laptop that Calvin Harris uses is a top of the range 15” Macbook. This is used for live & DJ shows as well as for producing music on the road.
What Software Does Calvin Harris Use For Plugins?
Calvin Harris is known to use several different plugins and VSTs (Virtual Studio Technology) to create his finished tracks. These vary in their use and functionality, some of the confirmed plugins Calvin Harris uses are:
Native Instruments Komplete
Calvin Harris has previously shared a pic of him using the Komplete software bundle. Created by Native Instruments, the bundle includes many individual plugins that you may be familiar with. Totaling over 60 individual plugins in total, Komplete includes plugins like:
- Massive – One of the most famous bass synth plugins, Massive can be heard on thousands of popular EDM tracks.
- Reaktor – Once fairly unique amongst plugins Reaktor lets you build your own virtual synths from scratch. This allows Calvin Harris and similar producers to create sounds that are absolutely unique to them. Mostly because the chances of someone else building the exact same synth, with the same setup is very slim.
- FM8 – FM8 is one of the leading Frequency Modulator plugins on the market and allows producers to shape sound in thousands of different ways. Despite being based on analog hardware the digital version continues to be innovative and highly relevant in modern EDM
- Absynth – This is a plugin that focuses largely on pads and atmospheric type sounds. Again it allows sound to be created in lots of different ways as well as being a powerful effects plugin in its own right.
Harris has mentioned using Izotopes Ozone mastering plugin several times, it can also often be seen in the studio videos. Ozone is used to master tracks and gives Calvin Harris fine control over tweaking the lows, mids, and highs of his tracks.
The Ozone software has a maximizer that allows artists like Calvin Harris to make tracks as loud as possible. Due to Ozone’s clever limiter, this is done while still preserving the dynamics and intricacies of the track.
What Software Does Calvin Harris Use For Effects?
Universal Audio UAD Satellite Thunderbolt
A UAD is a bit of hardware that adds extra processing power to Calvin Harris Mac computer. This extra power allows him to lots of extra plugins and virtual instruments. In the case of the UAD-2, this includes a vast array of classic effects units, amps, and EQ processors.
Having one of these in his rack allows Calvin Harris to have access to 100+ classic processors without having to cart the individual bits of hardware around.
Lexicon PCM Native Reverb Bundle
Lexicon is a specialist in the audio effects space, which is reflected in the price of this plugin bundle. As the name suggests Calvin Harris uses this software to add various delays, echos and reverbs to elements within his tracks.
This will all be done in Harris’ main DAW, Logic Pro, where Lexicon will be running as a plugin.
Xfer Records LFOTool
Xfer records describe this plugin as a powerful LFO shaping tool. This will allow Calvin Harris to literally design sounds, or adjust and manipulate any audio that he routes through it.
With the interface designed to be graphical means artists like Harris are able to literally draw the wave patterns they want to hear. This can then also be exported as a MIDI part opening-up allsorts of sonic possibilities to mix and match different instruments together.
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What Does Calvin Harris Use For Vocals?
Focusrite Voicemaster Pro
Calvin Harris has talked about using a Voicemaster Pro to record his vocals while making his debut album. However, this was before he signed his record contract and made his millions. Whether he still uses one of these in his custom-built studio is unknown, but unlikely.
What Microphones Does Calvin Harris Use?
Neumann U-47 Condenser Microphone
In a Q&A Calvin Harris stated that the U-47s were his favorite microphones to record with.
This is understandable given that the U-47 is a classic in the recording world. A large-diaphragm condenser mic the U-47 has been used from classic greats like the Beatles and Frank Sinatra to modern greats like Adele and Calvin Harris.
Neumann U-87 Condenser Microphone
Known to be a fan of Neumann microphones Calvin Harris uses them extensively for recording and not just for vocals. The U-87 is, in particular, designed to be a versatile mic.
While it can be used to record singing, it’s reliable bass and mid response makes it ideal for recording things like guitar and bass, which Calvin Harris is also known to play.
What Hardware Does Calvin Harris Use?
Calvin Harris’s Studio Hardware
API 1608 Console
The API 1608 is central to Calvin Harris’s home studio setup and features in both his UK and LA studios.
This is a further indication of Harris’ love of using vintage sound to create modern, cutting edge music. The 1608 is an updated version of the classic 1604 whose history goes back over 30 years. Usable as both a stand-alone recording desk or as in partnership with a DAW (Logic in Calvin Harris’ case), the 1608 is obviously well suited to Harris’s method of producing music.
As you’d expect from a pro artist of Calvin Harris caliber the 1608 doesn’t come cheap. The fully-featured model with automation will set you back in excess of $150,000 (USD).
Line 6 Echo Pro Digital Modeling Processor
A classic rack-mounted processor the Echo 6 is known to be used by plenty of successful producers, not just Calvin Harris.
Although it is actually no longer in production, it continues to be part of many setups due to its ability to convincingly replicate the sound of classic delay units. There have been updated models and other manufacturers since, however, because of how advanced and feature-packed the Echo Pro was when it first came out, it has really stood the test of time.
Neve 8801 Channel Strip
Another Calvin Harris nod to a classic piece of equipment. The 8801 takes a complete channel from the highly regarded Neve 88R console and puts it in a rack mount. Considered one of the best sounding analog consoles ever built it’s not surprising Harris has one with which to process his audio.
Highly customizable the 8801 allows Harris to equalize, compress, filter or gate his audio as he sees fit. Fully modernized the 8801 can be linked to his console or laptop to fit his workflow.
Empirical Labs EL8 Distressor
The EL8 is one of the best selling compressors of all time, so you’ll have heard it in many productions beyond those coming from Calvin Harris’ studio.
Taking inspiration from some legendary bits of kit, the EL8 replaces a layer of warmth that is often missing from digitally produced tracks. It does this via several unique modes and curves that allow it to emulate vintage compressors and limiters.
Roland TR-808 Drum Machine
The 808 is a legendary drum machine, which is surprising given that it was a commercial flop when it was first released in 1980. So much so that it was actually taken out of production after only 3 years and 12,000 units.
Despite this, it became a favorite bit of kit within the hip hop world. Since then it has featured on, and namechecked in, more hit tracks than any other drum machine. Although it has never been put back into production the 808 has been emulated and remains a solid and useful collectible. Hence it is a part of Calvin Harris’s setup.
What Headphones Does Calvin Harris Use?
Sennheiser HD25 Headphones
Like most professional, touring DJs, Calvin Harris is known to use the Sennheiser HD25 headphones due to their sound clarity while mixing. This along with their durability makes them one of the top choices for artists that tour heavily.
(You can read more about why these are the top DJ headphones here).
SOL Republic Master Tracks XC
Calvin Harris not only uses SOL Republic headphones because of their excellent sound replication but also because he has his very own model with them.
The “Calvin Harris Tuned” Master Tracks are specifically engineered to deliver the full weight of a track’s bass without distorting or overpowering the rest of the elements. It makes sense that Harris would use these, given that they are designed specifically to bring the best out of the music that he produces.
This makes them ideal for both gigging DJs or the serious electronic music listener.
Pioneer HDJ-2000 Headphones
Calvin Harris has been seen several times using HDJ-2000s. These are a classic set of headphones that most DJs will use at some point. They feature a clean sound stage that makes them ideal for mixing. Built to be both sturdy and comfortable they can be worn for long periods without causing head tension or ear fatigue.
Monitors / Speakers
PMC’s high-end active monitors are designed specifically for professional producing and mastering. Designed with clarity across all frequencies, including bass-heavy, makes them highly capable of working within the EDM arena.
Which shouldn’t come as a surprise, with a price tag of over $30k you’d expect them to be.
ATC SCM25A Pro
The SCM25As are built by specialist speaker manufacturers ATC. With a hefty price tag for the size, they set out to provide the absolute best sound replication that money can buy.
And they do just that. With excellent and true frequency response throughout the entire range, it is obvious why dance music producers like Calvin Harris, Deadmau5 and Flume all have them in their arsenal.
Does Calvin Harris play any instruments?
Yes, Calvin Harris is a multi-instrumentalist known to play Piano, Guitar, and Bass. In fact, unlike some EDM producers, a lot of Calvin Harris’ tracks start life away from the computer. In various features and behind the scenes videos he can often be seen playing with various instruments.
In his collection he is known to have:
Although he has credited Fender Stratocaster on at least one track, Calvin Harris seems to favor Gibson guitars in the main. He is known to have Les Paul customs and SG customs.
Harris is sometimes seen playing bass in his own music videos. The track Slide contains a credit for an Ibanez SR1200. These were originally made from 1994-98 but were later reissued in 2011. It is unknown whether Harris has the vintage or a reissue.
There is a Yamaha C7 credit on the slide track, he can also be seen playing piano in this behind the scene walkthrough.
What DJ Equipment Does Calvin Harris Use?
For his DJ sets, Calvin Harris uses a Pioneer DJM900NX2. This is currently the industry standard 4 channel DJ mixer.
Like virtually all professional touring DJs at the moment Calvin Harris uses the CDJ-2000NXS2s when performing.
Pioneer has held the industry-standard spot within the DJ world for a number of years now. This is due to their compatibility and reliability. Despite there being several other manufacturers competing with Pioneer it doesn’t look like they are going to be replaced anytime soon.
What Live Equipment Does Calvin Harris Use?
SSL L100 Console
For monitoring and adjusting the front of house sound during Calvin Harris’ live sets, his team uses and L100 console by SSL.
The setup and layout of the L100 allow Nathen Lettus (Harris’ FOH engineer) to route and monitor Harris’ DJ setup, as well as several mics in case of guest appearances. On top of that, they run multiple backups in case one audio channel/source fails. This lets them quickly switch over to keep the show running if they need to.
What Laptop Does Calvin Harris Use?
Due to his love of producing using Logic Pro, Calvin Harris will only ever use Macbook Pros. He has them both in his studio and on the road where he is also able to produce on the move.