Since I have to move my studio (again… ) in a few weeks from now, I thought it would be a nice opportunity to share what is my current set-up in the studio. This is the set-up with which I have made the tracks and remixes that ended up in the Deep House, Tech House and Electronica charts. 😄 It is very much the same set-up I had in Haarlem, The Netherlands. Now I am going (temporarily) move from this location in Tyre, Lebanon (or Tyr, Sour or Sur …..since the town can be spelled or named in so much different ways… 😉 )
I will be moving and have to work from a mobile set-up for a few months. More about that set-up, once it is that far.
The overview I am going to give you now, is mainly focussed on the hardware. I will include more details on software and plug-ins I use, once I cover the mobile set-up. I have also made a short video to give a picture of the actual set-up.
The core of the set-up is an Apple iMac 27”. I run my DAW on this machine and as such it is the core of the set-up.
I have currently two KRK RP5 G2 monitor speakers in use, on top of Auralex Mopads. These are connected to a Lexicon I-O 42 soundcard. These two are items in the studio that I would like to upgrade as soon as I have the chance (read: savings and availability to buy). I would like a thunderbolt soundcard (regarding performance and to save a USB slot) and look for higher quality (and slightly bigger) monitor speakers. As a studio headphones, I have a Beyerdynamics DT-770 Pro 250 Ohm. These are very comfortable and good performing headphones for me. I often use them as an alternative for the speakers and they are also very comfortable during longer use.
I have the first edition of the Native Instruments Maschine. This controller (and software) I mainly use to create top loops and some variations in my tracks. I really like the fact that I can use different ‘swing’ settings on the different sounds. This way I can make something moving and different, each and every time. To protect the device from dust, I have a dust cover on it.
My bass synthesizer is the desktop model of Moog: the Minitaur. I have used this synth on many tracks. What I normally do is use a midi sequence to send to the synthesizer and modulate a few settings on the synth through midi. Once it is to my liking, I record the output as audio and use that in the final mixing phase. Since there is no dust cover available for the Minitaur, I have a piece of tupperware placed on top of it.
I have the Roland TR-8 as a drum machine. I have used this device on every track of my album and nearly every released track. So far, I have not upgraded/expanded with the 7×7 module, but maybe I will do that in the near future. I normally set-up the TR-8 to create the groove I want, next I will record this as 8-bar audio in the DAW and use this further to arrange the track. Sometimes I use another method where I send midi signals to the TR-8 and get the sound from the TR-8 into the DAW. I use the TR-8 as part of an aggregated sound-card (together with the actual sound-card), I have not connected the audio output into the Lexicon because of that. The TR-8 is also covered by a dust cover.
Another analog synthesizer I have in use, is the Arturia Minibrute. It is a very nice and versatile synthesizer. My track “Analog Infusion” (released on Free Sound Tools on The Picth EP) was completely made from sounds made on the Minibrute. This means that even the kickdrum, snares and hats were all made on this device. I created the individual sounds, recorded them and used this audio to create the track. Very versatile as I said, but unlike the Minitaur, modulation is not possible through midi. Changes and adjustments during a session you all have to do by hand. For the Minibrute, I also have a dust cover.
Then the main part of the set-up is my Ableton Push controller (version 1). I use it in each and every track and I certainly like the new Step Sequencing that was introduced with Live 9.1. I also use the rotary knobs to control the channel volumes. I prefer the use of faders for mixing, but so far I do not have the space to include a fader controller and the Push does the trick as well. I also have not opted for the version 2 of the Push, since I am still very happy with the ease of use and control I have with this version. Also, on this controller, I have a dust cover.
I have two microphones in my studio, I just do not have them fixed in the set-up. First microphone I have is the AKG Perception 120 condensor microphone and the second microphone is a Røde M3. I have not used the microphones that much, so I cannot point out the pro’s and con’s of these microphones.
Besides the set-up for producing track and working on remixes, I also have a set-up for recording my Compulsive Movement Mixes and other mixes. My equipment is set-up in Pro-DJ flightcases. My media-players are the Pioneer XDJ-1000 (mk1). These players are in my opinion the best choice of players for a home set-up. I do not use CD’s and do not need the (much) more expensive CDJ2000 for the set-up at home. I use USB flash drives or my Macbook with Rekordbox connected through a network cable. The XDJ-1000s are connected to the mixer with Neo Stereo D+ RCA class B cables.
As a mixer, I have the Xone DB2 from Allen & Heath. This 4-channel mixer is a very good mixer with a far better sound than the Pioneer DJM-series (if you ask me). The ability to route the inputs and effects to different channels makes it very versatile and great to work with. I normally have player one routed to channels 1 and 3, player two to channels 2 and 4. This way I have effect channel X assigned to channels 1 and 4 and effect channel Y assigned to channel 2 and 3. This means that I can use two different effects on one channel and gradually build an even more impressive effect. If that makes any sense 😉 . Check the video here, to get a better idea.
The only thing is that the mixer gave me some issues on the Y effect channel and there seem to be some shortcuts in the mixer. That is, I get an electrical shock every now and then while touching certain knobs and or screws. Big problem is that I have not found a decent repair shop that I would trust here in Lebanon. So I definitely need to have a look on how to deal with that in the future. Especially since I cannot use the mixer to the fullest extent right now.
My DJ Headphones are Pioneer HDJ-1500. As a possible addition to the set-up, I have an Allen & Heath Xone K2 controller. I have used it a few times as a controller for Traktor, mostly as a sole controller for Traktor. I still have to investigate the possibilities and set-up when I use it for the control of a remix deck. But that is for a later day.
Anyway, this is the overview of the gear I have installed in the current studio in Lebanon. As mentioned before, this is going to change to a mobile set-up. Feel free to comment or ask questions. More than happy to reply to all.
PS For most products I have included the links to the specific product pages at my preferred shop for equipment: Tonecontrol.