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A.R.Rahman’s studio equipment

Being an audio geek, I’ve always been curious about the evolution of A.R.Rahman’s recording setup over the years. I first started researching and cataloging whatever I saw in interviews (which he often did at Panchathan, seated in front of his equipment) around 1998, which, incidentally was also around the time I joined the A.R.Rahman Yahoo! (then eGroups) fan group and the A.R.Rahman web ring - both started by Gopal Srinivasan.

While I don’t actively maintain this page anymore, I do add stuff to it from time to time.

Mix boards

Fostex 1840 1

Fostex 1840

Mackie D8b 2

Mackie D8b

Neve 88RS

Neve 88RS

Outboard gear

Manley mastering compressor 3

Manley mastering compressor

Digital Audio Workstations

Roland DM 80 1

Roland DM 80

Logic Pro 2

Logic Pro

Protools HDX 3



Korg M1 1

Korg M1

Introduced back in 1988, the M1’s popularity steadily grew to exceed an amazing 100,000 users. As the first workstation synthesizer, it was a definitive element in the sound of the late ‘80s through early ‘90s. Along with its innovative “workstation” concept, the M1’s “AI” (Advanced Integrated) synthesis system used PCM waveforms and digital effects to deliver fully complete program and combination sounds. As a pioneer of PCM tone generation, it was notable not just for the reality of its sound, but also for the distinctive resonance and tonal character that demonstrated the high level of Korg’s voicing technology. From the famous “M1 Piano” sound through electric pianos, organs, synth pads, drums, and picked basses, numerous sounds available only from the M1 were taken up by musicians and producers around the world, and are still in use today. Although today’s high bit-rate and high sample-rate sound libraries deliver greatly improved audio quality, it is difficult to find sounds with real presence, sounds that can’t be described purely in terms of specifications – sounds that are available only from the M1. The M1 software synthesizer reconstructs the M1’s sound engine into an eight-part multi-timbral tone generator featuring up to 256-note polyphony.

The M1 software synthesizer is a complete stand alone virtual instrument; and also supports RTAS, Audio Units and VST plug-in formats to fit smoothly into a modern music production environment.

Korg O1/W 1

Korg O1/W

The Korg 01/W was a workstation synthesizer, released in 1991, and was intended to replace the M1 and T series. The workstation/ROMpler was based on AI, an improved version of the AI (Advanced Integrated) Synthesis technology found in the M1. The success of the AI architecture ensured it was used in the majority of subsequent Korg synths of the 1990s.

Korg Triton 2

Korg Triton

The Korg Triton was a music workstation synthesizer, featuring digital sampling and sequencing, released in 1999. It used Korg’s HI Synthesis tone generator and was eventually available in several model variants with numerous upgrade options. The Triton became renowned as a benchmark of keyboard technology, and has been widely featured in music videos and live concerts. At the NAMM 2007, Korg announced the Korg M3 as its successor.

Roland XV88 1

Roland XV88

The XV-88 was Roland’s flagship synthesizer. It featured 128-voices of powerful XV sounds, an 88-note precision hammer-action keyboard, D-Beam controller, and expandability via 64MB* SRX- and popular SR-JV80-Series wave expansion boards.

Roland Fantom G 4

Roland Fantom

The Fantom G is a Sampling Synth Workstation with Advanced Sound Engine, ARX SuperNATURAL Expansion Bays, Large Graphic Interface, 128-track Sequencer, and Multi-FX.

Korg Kronos

Korg Kronos

The Kronos is a music workstation manufactured by Korg that combines nine different synthesizer sound engines with a sequencer, digital recorder, effects, a color touchscreen display and a keyboard.

Much like Kronos’ predecessor and Korg’s previous flagship synthesizer workstation, the OASYS, Kronos is basically a custom software synthesizer running on an Intel x86 processor and operating system based on the Linux kernel with RTAI extensions; It includes 9 different sound engines which encompass the entire range of Korg synthesis technologies.

More details on the Linux kernel in Kronos -

Other instruments

Continuum fingerboard

Continuum fingerboard




  1. AR’s Sun TV interview where he is shown working with a Nadaswaram and Tavil artiste on a piece that eventually become Sun TV’s theme for pongal day special programs that year.  2 3 4 5

  2. Bombay dreams: A.R.Rahman improvising on the keyboard 2 3

  3. AR’s answer to my question on his Reddit AMA 2

  4. AR’s Time magazine interview