Building the Desktop Studio

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 Maschine; 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!