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The latest iteration of my ever-changing home studio rig


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I'll post a photo tomorrow, got a bit of de-cluttering needs done.

Some changes were made a while ago, tonight I reorganized the audio interface and mic/line input area. 

I've replaced the Mackie HR824 speakers with Yamaha MPS-5 speakers, they sound better in this small room and are ported on the front instead of having a passive bass radiator in the back like the Mackies. That seems to sound better too. 

 

Tonight, I put a Focusrite ISA Two on the desk, back in a ways and with the controls in an easy place to get to on the right side of the desk. 

I've got 2 mic cables plugged in to that and it's plugged into the 2 line inputs on a MOTU M6. That's my mic pre setup. It's unlikely I'll need more than 2 mics at once, most of the time just one will do. 

 

I've got the MOTU M6 on top of the ISA One on the right side, knobs facing me. Just to the left is a Tech 21 Para Driver and to the left of that is a Tech 21 Q-Strip. The knobs on both of those are pretty well out in the clear and I have a small flashlight if I need to tweak anything.

 

Channels 1 and 2 on the MOTU are a Korg Wavedrum Global. Channel 3 is a Tech 21 Q-Strip dialed in for bass, I pull some low mids and it sounds fantastic. Channel 4 is a Tech 21 Sansamp Para Driver DI, 3 band EQ with quasi parametric Mid, Level, Drive and Blend. That's for guitars, both acoustic and electric. 

 

6 total input channels, 2 for drums, 1 each for Bass and Guitar and 2 for microphones. Outputs for the Yamaha speakers and on the front of the MOTU there are 2 headphone jacks with volume controls.

 

Simple, there aren't many cords compared to previous iterations and everything is easy access. I've got a Furman P-8 Pro C power strip for everything but the Korg Wavedrum, good solid, quiet power. Everything seems to be aces. I'm looking forward to working with this simplified setup. 

Photos. I used to have both 8 and 6 space racks, full of gear. Just too many cords, too much stuff. I'm mostly ITB now and have just enough channels to do anything I need to do, there is one more channel that is not shown, the Fishman Triple Play comes in off the USB bus and plays all my soft synths. I can opend more time playing music and less time futzing about with stuffs. 

 

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It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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3 hours ago, Bill Heins said:

Looks comfortable, everything you need is within easy reach! Get yourself a keyboard...it will make the instrumentation easier in the longrun...you don't need to be the next Wakeman or Emerson, just simple notes and chords will make things easier....especially orchestral stuff and choirs :)

 

Bill

I have an XKey and an Alesis V25. I only put one of them on the desk when I'm going to use it. As I mention above, I also have a guitar fitted with a Fishman Triple Play pickup, I can play all of my instrument plugins with that. I usually need to finger pick, a pick can create a brief high note as a moveable fret but fingers don't do that so it's much less glitchy. If I want long sustain then the keyboard comes into play. 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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44 minutes ago, Bill Heins said:

Sounds like you have a plan, if it ain't broke don't fix it  :)

 

Bill

Today I implemented the beginnings of an important aspect of "my plan". Over time I've decided that I'll never be happy with the patterns supplied by drum plugins. The sounds are great and the patterns are often "almost good enough" but never quite what I want for my songs. 

Today I hopped on Sweetwater and ordered the Keith McMillen BopPad, which is a MIDI drum pad with 4 sectors and an unusually set of features.

https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/BopPadRed--keith-mcmillen-instruments-boppad-red-smart-fabric-drum-pad

I already have a Korg Wavedrum which is NOT MIDI and very expressive. With those two tools I plan on creating my own drum tracks.

 

And, listening carefully, playing carefully brings me to the obvious conclusion that MANY great recordings have subtle tempo changes from verse to chorus, acceleration and retardation that makes the song more effective. I've been recording with a single beat, it flatlines that important but often subtle expression.

My new plan involves recording my songs with fairly simple arrangements (I prefer that most of the time) and several iterations at different tempos so I can splice a final take together than does have tempo changes where appropriate and usually very subtle. 

 

One of the downsides of being an Army of One living in a 33 unit building that is too small for a band to play live. It's a price I'm willing to pay to get what I want. 

 

 

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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On 9/10/2023 at 9:08 AM, Bill Heins said:

I play drums but sold my kit(6 piece Premier Resonator) over 20 years ago and still haven't replaced it! I know what you're saying about using patterns, you have to work at them to make them usable for what you're working on....getting myself a good electronic kit one of these days!  :)

 

Bill

Today I took everything off the desk, cleaned everything up and put it all back together in a configuration that I've been pondering. 

It turns out to be fairly easy to keep audio cords away from power cords, I got that sussed out and I simplified the overall configuration. 

 

It will be easier to get work done. I've cleared out a space on the right side towards the back that I can put the Korg Wavedrum with the Keith McMillen Bop Pad sitting on top of it. There's room for either drum to sit on the desk plugged in and be played. Seeing what I can do with that setup is my next direction. I will probably start by using drum loops and playing over them, that will help me keep time. I'm not a drummer but I am a good strummer, guitar is percussion too. 

 

The BopPad can play all the sounds in my drum plugins with dynamics and pitch changes. Fun!

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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More on my latest iteration. I got a MOTU M6, they've always been a quality brand and it's a relatively small box with LOTS of options. 4 mic preamps with 1/4" line/DI inputs, 48v phantom power and monitor switches, an A/B pot for blending input and output signals (great for tracking), 2 separate headphone jacks with volume controls, 2 1/4" line in on the back for a total of 6 inputs and a very low noise floor, it's quiet. Currently I'm running inputs 1-2 for the Korg Wavedrum, input 3 has a Tech 21 Q-Strip in front, this is fantastic for bass, input 4 has a Cloudlifter in front for dynamic mics and the line inputs on the back are connected to a Focusrite ISA Two so I can run mics, lines or DI signals (guitars) from there. There is a master volume for speakers so I can track or mix with or without headphones. 

 

Add in the USB inputs for MIDI keys and BopPad and I've got things well covered. I recovered enough space on the desktop to keep the Wavedrum and BopPad handy. This will be an efficient space to work in. I'm pondering hanging a heavy quilt behind the desk, I've got a photo backdrop stand. It seemed to make things a little too "dead" last time, maybe I should try something thinner. Overall this 5 wall room isn't too reflective, especially with the closet doors open. 

 

I also turned my Mac mini around, the on/off switch and all the plugs are in the back so this is much easier to access now. 

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It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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> "I also turned my Mac mini around, the on/off switch and all the plugs are in the back so this is much easier to access now."

 

Same here, not long after I got it. I realized that my have-tos took up everything but one Firewire port, which now features an extender for wild cards like older drives I keep for safety or reference. If I was one step closer to "power user," I'd need the next model up to function without screaming at random, so I feel fortunate. The tentacular clusterflux of cords is now a thing of yester- er, 2 years ago. 🙄

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You don't realize that you're intelligent until it gets you into trouble.
      ~ James A. Baldwin :keynana:

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1 hour ago, David Emm said:

> "I also turned my Mac mini around, the on/off switch and all the plugs are in the back so this is much easier to access now."

 

Same here, not long after I got it. I realized that my have-tos took up everything but one Firewire port, which now features an extender for wild cards like older drives I keep for safety or reference. If I was one step closer to "power user," I'd need the next model up to function without screaming at random, so I feel fortunate. The tentacular clusterflux of cords is now a thing of yester- er, 2 years ago. 🙄

It's nice reducing the cords to something sensible, isn't it? 😇

Somehow, these obvious things took me a while to implement but there's no going back to the old days. I had an 8 space and a 6 space rack both filled with gear. 

Hate racks, unless you can put them in the middle of the room they are a PITA. Can't easily reach both front and back and you need to be able to do that, patch bay or not. Plus you need both 1/4" and XLR patch bays which double the number of cords, AND you need lots of shorty cords. The whole thing is stupid for my purposes. 🤔

It took a chunk of my life to get here and I am still not sure where "here" is.
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