A wild decision and a skeleton studio...
Updated: Nov 24, 2021
I recently lost my marbles and uprooted my entire existence, during a pandemic, in order to complete my master’s degree in the United Kingdom. After departing the shores of sunny South Africa, it has been somewhat of a baptism getting used to having such a ‘bountiful water supply’ [read: rain] here in Salford. Back in Cape Town we had to ration our water consumption per household to a mere 50 litres per day. Between a severe drought, a wild decision and a global pandemic, the last two years have been a real trip. But I digress…
Going back to Uni as an international ‘mature’ student is a rather expensive and convoluted process. In addition to the costs of moving my entire family (comprising of my partner and half a zoo) across continents, I had to make space in our MoveCube for stuff other than my audio gear. The point is; I had to make a few cut-throat decisions about which audio gear I was going to bring along for the ride in order to remain productive, available for work, on top of my studies and still have a few pence left for a pint at the end of the day. I parted ways with a some cool outboard gear, my monitors, some mics and amps and narrowed my audio toolkit down to the bare bones, of what I would deem as necessary for industry survival. I like to think of the below list of gear as my 'skeleton studio':
Now I know it doesn’t have the new gen M1 chip, but its processing is still fast and reliable. Also, Pro Tools is pretty darn stable on this machine - it’s handled some pretty large sessions and the CPU meter barely hits 20%.
There is little worse than finishing a laborious edit or mix and then losing it all because your drive flunked out so, I chose to bring along a 4TB Glyph StudioRAID. It's a bit clunky but I much prefer to keep my eggs scattered across RAID baskets, it bodes for a better night’s sleep.
There is an endless pit of wallet-friendly audio interfaces out there, it’s really all about the application in which you’ll need them. As my main focus these past few years has been sound effects editing and sound design, I opted to go for Focusrite’s economic Scarlett 18i20 Gen 3 for the mere fact that it offered a high enough output count to be able to monitor in 5.1 should the need arise and also, it was light enough to stick in my hand luggage.
My DAW of choice. Plus, this year I qualify for Pro Tools Ultimate at only £29.99 per month. Oh, the penny-skimping wonders of student discounts!
5. Avid S1
There is nothing worse than clicking away in your DAW during intricate automation passes. It’s just not natural. I am a huge fan of the Avid S1. It’s a powerful, compact desk with all the features and functionality a Pro-Tools girl could want.
I enjoy dabbling in creating weird and sometimes musical noises, so it was a no-brainer to bring this along.
The 250 Ohm DT 990 Pros are my go-to headphones for on-the-go edits and mixing.
They are uber comfy, I can wear them for hours without feeling any ear-fatigue and they really do deliver a pretty transparent sound.
Having a field recorder is an imperative tool in any sound-effects editor’s arsenal. My Tascam DR100 MKII is not the fanciest of portable recorders, but it’s recording features are half-ok, it’s rugged and it gets the job done.
I prefer these over the 990’s when it comes to tracking and sometimes even when editing dialogue. Their closed-back design offers greater accuracy when critical listening and monitoring.
And there it is folks. Apart from a few non-descript cables and connectors, that list sums up my mobile ‘skeleton studio’ solution. I can edit the nuts out of just about anything and design some cool sounds too. Thanks for reading, I'm off for a pint :-D