††††† The VM-3100 Pro is connected to my computer via Rolandís RBUS connector and RPC-1 PCI card ( really just M-Audioís 1010 interface card). Itís not available except on Ebay but a good substitute would be using M-Audioís 1010LT ($199). It doesn'tí have the effects and EQ that the VM3100 does but it will get the job done. Iíve also got my Yamaha AW2816 ($1899) connected to the digital inputs on the Roland so that I can either transfer tracks to the computer or sync everything via SMPTE up to record up to 16 channels at a time. It has compression and EQ on each channel and itís automated but I donít use that feature much unless Iím recording and producing remotely. Iím currently using Sonar 4 Studio Edition ($399) but I upgraded from Sonar 3 Producer Edition, so Iíve got the Lexicon Reverb and all the other niceties that came with that. It does everything I need it to do, so I donít know that Iím going to upgrade until I build another computer. I also use PG Musicís Band In A Box 11 ($199)(which I will probably upgrade soon ) and another program called Diamond Cut 32 ($99) which was designed for transferring LPís and cassettes to CD but is really feature rich. It has some mastering functions that include noise reduction, multi-band compression, tube simulation and so on that provide that little bit of extra sheen on my finished projects.

††††† The space Iím recording in is basically a heated and cooled 2 car garage that has been carpeted. The shape is not exactly rectangular since there is a storage room built against one wall and I installed a home-built vocal booth that I use to record acoustic instruments and vocals. Itís just big enough to accommodate a complete drum kit and could even be used to record two people at the same time utilizing gobos. For vocals, I use my Shure KSM27($299) but there are a lot of other mics in that price range and above that would be acceptable as well.

††††† The remainder of the studio is populated with a Roland TD-6 drum kit ($1299)that I use to play in drum parts, a Roland A30 midi controller keyboard, a Boss DR Synth sound moduleóused primarily as a practice tool since Sonar includes an excellent soft synth, a Line 6 Bass Pod (now the Bass Pod XT -$299), Boss GT-3 (now the GT-8 -$445)guitar preamp/effects pedal, several electric, acoustic and bass guitars, percussion instruments, direct boxes, guitar amps, microphones, mic stands, cables, etc. Some of these items (keyboard and sound module) are not available anymore so I would recommend something like M-Audioís Keystation Pro 88 ($599) with hammer action keys and 59 assignable midi controllers.

††††† The keyboard is set up directly behind my mixing/engineering position so all I have to turn around to play it. I usually just use it for playing in midi notes and then I use the onboard synths for the actual sounds Iíll use on the song. I pretty much do the same thing for the drums and I use Fxpansionís DR-008 for the drum samples unless the TD-6 has the sound Iím looking for.

††††† Iíve got several folding closet doors that Iíve covered with carpet that are lined up in front of the garage door to cut down on reflectivity and because the room is kind of an odd shape, I donít really have a lot of problems with standing waves. The mixing position is in a corner of the room but the desk is angled slightly so that the monitors are not pointed directly at a wall. This ameliorates the common problem of sound bouncing back and forth between the walls. The other thing that is helpful is that the height of the room is about 6 inches more than a standard room. That also results in fewer problems with bass frequencies.

††††† Iíve never put a dollar amount on how much Iíve got invested in the studio but adding up everything here excluding the computer and instruments comes up to $8120.00 or so. Add in all the instruments, etc and it tops $15,000 easily. It also doesnít include any swear equity but hey, itís a labor of love.

 

 

Next MonthóA full blown Studio

 

Putting together a Studio

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††††† In the second installment of this series on how to set up a studio, Iím going to address creating an environment in a dedicated space for a producer/arranger who may or may not enlist others in the production of a project. Most important in a situation like this is having things setup so that one can change quickly from one instrument to another without having to reconfigure the setup. So, the first thing that needs to be addressed is a system that will allow the user to hook all their equipment up and perhaps only unplug one or two cords to change instruments. Ideally, youíd like not to have to unplug anything. To a certain extent, Iím going to use my studio as example here since I think Iíve done a pretty good job of setting it up to accommodate just the scenario Iíve outlined above.

††††† Letís address the patchbay situation first. In lieu of an actual patchbay, I use my Mackie 1604 VLZ Pro ($999) as a front end for a couple of reasons. 1) it has direct outs on the first 8 channels, 2) the pre-amps are extremely transparent, 3) I can use the inserts on each channel for effects and 4) I can hook up all my gear. I connect the direct outs with an 8 channel recording snake ($35) to the inputs of my Roland VM-3100 Pro, which has fully sweepable EQ on each channel and I can use the outstanding mic-simulation and amp simulations included on 2 channels at the same time while compressing 2 channels as well.