Studio Diary #2: What Should The Studio Be Like?

I’m currently getting my home studio more organised, and along the way I’m sharing my thought process, decisions, discoveries and regrets.

It’s far too tempting – and far too easy! – to go browsing Thomann and Andertons, and put together a wish-list of gear to turn into a fab home studio.

I’m going to sound like a heretic here. I don’t think that the gear alone makes the studio. Not a home studio at any rate. I think what matters most for a home studio is what it’s like to use.

Make It Easy For Yourself

With a home studio, you are producer, engineer, mixer, technician all rolled into one. Oh, and you’re the artist too! And, sometimes, you’re not the only artist using the studio at any one time.

A home studio has to work for you. It has to support your workflow. It has to support your needs. And, yes, somewhere in there, there has to be a place for your gear too.

For me, there’s two things that matter most.

First off, I need to be able to get a recording session up and running as quickly as possible. Whether it’s a real amp or the Kemper, I want to be able to pick one and start recording without any sort of lengthy setup time.

One of the reasons I haven’t recorded anything in the last 18+ months is because all the gear I’ve collected for recording has been stacked in the corner, none of it cabled up at all.

I’ve been favouring my Marshall Origin and Blackstar Studio 10 6L6 amps because of it’s no effort at all to simply plug in, switch on, and go. That’s great for playing, but rubbish for recording.

The second thing that matters to me is the teardown time afterwards. I don’t want to be spending time having to disconnect everything and pack it away afterwards. My gear lives in the corner of a pretty small room, and I need the room for other things most of the time.

Not only does that mean that I need some sort of semi-permanent setup for my existing gear, it also limits what new gear I can bring in. I’d love to have an electronic drum kit for writing and playing the drum tracks, for example … but I know that I wouldn’t use it because of how long it would take to dismantle afterwards.

There’s no right or wrong about what matters. It’s all subjective, and it’s all personal to you. You don’t want the joy sucked out of it simply because your setup doesn’t suit you.

So What Gear Am I Getting? 🙂

The gear that’s been gathering (quite a lot of) dust over the last year? It’s all rack-mount gear. So that’s easy: it’s time to buy a rack to put it all in.

The rack’s going to be flush up against a wall – actually, it’s going to be stuck right in the corner of the room. The rack’ll hopefully have wheels, but I’m still not going to be able to get around the back of it to move cables around.

To make life easier, I’m going to need to get a TRS patchbay to wire everything into. Some of the gear (the Kemper, Two Notes Captors, and our acoustic rehearsal amp and mics) uses XLR; an XLR patchbay will be needed for those.

I’ve been using an Apollo Twin desktop audio interface for the last three years. Hopefully I can simply run a couple of XLR cables from it over to the patchbay, and plug them into different ports depending on what I want to record.

For drums, I’m going to go with one of those percussion pads. It’ll need a stand to sit on, and I’d like to have a kick pedal for it. Over time, I’d like to add a snare and hat too, but I’m not sure if I have the space for those.

Fingers crossed, that should do the job. [It won’t – Ed]

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