Building the Desktop Studio

By Kailash Pate November 19, 2015

Desktop Studio Is there any question that the era of the desktop studio is here? With today’s technology, you can assemble a studio that fits in a laptop bag and delivers fully pro power and sound quality.

Here’s the story: my wife and I are in a rental while our new house is being renovated, plus I’ve been traveling a fair amount. I wanted a rig that would fit in a laptop bag yet still give me power and flexibility.

There are lots of ways to accomplish this; in this article, I’ll give you a look at one rig that worked for me. The whole thing — no surprise here — centers around a computer. I chose an Apple MacBook Pro laptop.

Next up, software: DAW (I use PreSonus Studio One for writing, Avid Pro Tools for production, and Propellerhead Reason to generate ideas), virtual instruments (Toontrack EZdrummer and EZkeys,Native Instruments Komplete, the Arturia collection, u-He Bazille, and more), notation (PreSonus Notionwith its matching iPad app), many plug-ins, guitar apps (Band-in-a-Box, metronome, transcription software), and more. I rely on G-Technology drives, such as the very cool G-Drive ev ATC with Thunderbolt, which is super durable and supports removable hard drives for endless storage.

My interface is a Universal Audio Apollo Twin, which supports DSP-based plug-ins yet is compact and portable. When on the go, I also use bus-powered interfaces, such as the PreSonus AudioBox iTwo andSteinberg UR22, and for multitracking at home and on location, the Antelope Audio Zen Studio is great.

A selection of mics stays on hand, such as the Shure SM57, Mojave MA-200, AEA N8, and Royer R-122. For playing virtual instruments and entering notation on the road, I use the CME Xkey; it fits perfectly in the pocket of my laptop bag. At home,

I use full-size headphones (Sennheiser HD650), but on the road, I use earbuds (Bose QuietComfort 20 noise-canceling earphones for flying) or Westone in-ears. If I’m going to be programming rhythm parts at home, I turn to Native Instruments Machine; on the go, it’s an IK Multimedia iRig Pads controller.

The point here isn’t the gear that I use; the point is finding the items that work for what I want to accomplish. I expect that, even when I have a “permanent” studio again, I’ll still hang onto my desktop rig. It’s so convenient for both home and travel use — composing, editing, mixing, location recording, guitar practice — it covers a lot of ground for me! Give your Sales Engineer a call if you’d like to explore the possibilities for your own portable/desktop studio. Now go play!

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