It’s A B(L)og - Inaugural Post –– Studio Tour!!!
What up! I’ve been held to a promise to do a studio tour. While I’m such a private person and I don’t really enjoy anyone up in my personal mix; I did want to show my workspace along with how it’s setup up to suit my creative needs. I just couldn’t find a way to do it that would do the space any justice. A traditional video tour wasn’t doing it for me. A verbal description wouldn’t cut it nor would pictures. But…………. A combination of all the above! Well now we’re talking! Enter The Daydream Sound B(L)og! A space where we can take our time and explore various topics at leisure. Spending time here won’t knock a hole in your data plan on your mobile device. You can scroll till your hearts content and enjoy the creative content on display here. You can come back at anytime and pick up where you left off. Graceful perusement at its best!
B(L)og = Blissful logbook
Q: But Yohance!!! How often will you update this B(L)og Huh? How often?
A: Well I’m glad you asked! I’m shooting for once a month. If the inspiration hits me possibly more. We’ll see! Q: So how will I know when you post? I like being here but I got stuff to do.
A: Since my monthly newsletter keeps the same schedule let’s align it with that. When your email notification lights up with a monthly message from me; You’ll know it’s B(L)og time!
A2: And you can also RSS! The icon is somewhere here on the B(L)og page.
Q: Newsletter?? I had no idea! How do I get added TDS Huh? How?
A: You didn’t know?!! You’ve been missing out on a lot! Here you go!
Well I was supposed to be doing a #studiotour wasn’t I? Yep I was. So without anything further I wanna thank you for spending a moment with me and with that…….. Let’s get at it!
THE ROOM DESIGN
So This room was designed by my Dad and I. I drew up the floor plan, acoustical structures and power requirements and my Father dearest built it all!!!! He’s great! We took a whole lotta trips to Home Depot and had a lot of Father son arguments… I mean discussions about the materials and design elements that would become the final design.
The rooms are completely lined with two layers of drywall. I should mention that there’s two rooms. They are kinda decoupled. The floors are parquet tiles that are independent between them. We’ll get into the second room later on but for now just know that the two rooms are partitions by a sliding door. A patio door no less. They’re surprisingly pretty great at attenuating sound from one room to another. Once I slide the door shut it’s really difficult to hear anything in the other room.
I guess we gotta talk a bit more about insulation huh? There’s Rockwool/Fiberglass insulation everywhere. In the walls, in the ceiling, between the studs. Ev-er-y-where! On top of that. Guess what we used to make the acoustic absorption panels? Oh yeah fiberglass! The absorption panels are made of a wooden grid attached to the walls of each room. The cavities of each grid were fitted with fiberglass and then covered with fabric from the textile store.
I wanted the main room to be relatively live and a bit rambunctious when needed. That’s not to say that I had did any technical measurements to know what the end result would be. I just used my own judgement of what a room this size would sound like if it was partially covered with insulation. The result was pretty good. I could (and do) work in this room all day and my ears never feel exhausted the way they did when I worked out of my living area. Which brings me to this centre-bar topic.
“Get yourself a dedicated work area. It doesn’t matter where. Just create one. Your music will benefit so much from it!” For more on why; check out: Episode 64 - Where Have I Been Lately? – The Samplers Podcast
Heating & Cooling
I needed this room to be as quiet as possible so there’s absolutely no HVAC in here at all. You’d think that’s crazy right? You’d be right! And there’s an easy fix to it all. I work with the studio door open which is enough to heat or cool this entire space easily. When I need critical levels of silence I just close the door and work away. I prefer this instead of the constant bustle of air moving through vents that I’d be hearing if we ran any ducts in here. Commercial venues get to use massive ducts that carry air quietly but that wouldn’t fly here.
Now power is one of those important things that if overlooked will cheese you off to no end. So to save myself the headache, two sources of power where put in here. General shared power for various miscellaneous stuff, and a dedicated circuit of power for the studio equipment. This arrangement minimizes a lot of problems with ground hum and all types of interferences that can be heard when your studio power is shared with something random, like your kitchen blender!
There’s two rooms in here. One is the main room where I spend the majority of my time. The second room was initially a vocal booth but now acts as a machine room and remote instrument space. Why? Well I can’t stand having any computer near me. Not only because they’re crazy noisy, but the further I can keep a radiation emitting electronic device away from me the better. You gotta do better when you know better. But anyway.
Keeping things that inherently make noise in that room keeps my room silent when I want it. As far as the remote instrument part goes. Anything that makes noise like guitar amplifies lives in there. It’s also a space for gear that doesn’t need to be right next to me. More on that later.
I never intended on having two pairs of monitors but it’s ended up that way. The smaller set are a pair of 2 way ADAM A3X’s with 3” drivers and ribbon tweeters. These are pretty much what I use 99% of the time. I think they’re hugely underrated on account of their size. They’ve also been overshadowed by the success of the A7Xs. They just get the mid-range detail right. The high end is fairly smooth and nowhere near hyped at all and they have surprisingly good representation at 60Hz. I did the majority of “History Never Gets Old” switching between these and headphones in my living room about 15ft way from me.
I generally like quiet. I’ve spent so many years with ridiculously loud audio. I remember the many times I found myself leaning up against a stack of W-Bins at an outdoor party on a Caribana weekend with a drink in hand and a girls’ head nestled into my shoulder while watching our clothes move from the air that the bass bins were dissipating. I’m older now and less amused by that sort of thing. The detail of silence is the absolute business these days!
Whenever I do need to get down to the lower spectrum of the audio range I use the second pair of monitors which are OG Yorkville YSM-1’s. These are classic Canadian monitors that everyone in the country has used at one point. They’re like our version of Yamaha NS-10s. I’ve had them forever. They were my first pair of monitors and represent a more Hi-fi translation of the audio I’m working on.
Nowadays I depend on them to let me know what’s going on with the bass frequencies. In this room I can hear pretty low. I’m so accustomed to the way they sound in here that I rarely second guess them. They’re passive speakers so I got them hooked up to an ART SLA-1 amplifier in the machine room.
PEDESTRIAN FURNITURE – MAIN ROOM
This place is almost 100% furnished with IKEA stuff. It’s crazy how useful that place becomes when you need oddball items for a unique room. The desk is a two-tier work desk that’s got enough depth for a computer keyboard as well as any table top samplers. I can’t remember its name. It’s definitely out of production. The second tier holds the ADAM monitors as well as the computer monitor. The height can be adjusted, so I’ve go it set so that the monitors are level with my ears.
Directly behind me is a world famous IKEA four space Kallax bookshelf. I use it to hold random stuff that I need nearby but it’s main function is to hold my modular system.
Lighting is provided by a dimmable track chandelier. I very rarely work in a dimly lit room unless I’m really vibing out.
Well in reality that’s it for typical furniture.
MAIN ROOM STUDIO FURNITURE
Stands & Racks
I gotta say this is way more interesting. So the Yorkville YSM-1s sit on a pair of 36” Yorkville SKS-36B steel platform stands. They flank the desk and naturally give me a wider stereo field than the A3X’s. Moving forward on either side of my sitting position are two Yorkville slanted RK-1 20 space rackmount stands. These things are crazy useful. The sight angle on them are perfect for extended working. My neck never feels fatigued. They house the main equipment I use and are just an arms length away. It’s the most accessible and convenient setup I’ve ever had. As a result, I can literally work for hours. Unfortunately, they’ve been discontinued.
The Fable of the Chair
Which brings me to the actual seating arrangement. I’ve cut corners in this area and have only come to the conclusion that if you don’t get yourself a chair that supports you body properly; your going to be in a world of discomfort if not actual pain. Not just back pain. Oh no! Leg pain, neck pain, shoulder pain. It’s just not a good look.
To go back to the beginning; I was watching YouTube one day and came across a video of Magda’s studio. She was sitting on this weird looking artsy fartsy chair that looked like a spider web. I didn’t think much of it until I noticed in the comments section that I wasn’t the only one struck by its appearance. I found out that it was a Herman Miller Mirra. An ergonomic chair designed for at least 8 hours of comfortable sitting time.
I did some more research and found out that it had a reputation for alleviating back pain and general sitting fatigue but it carried a pretty heavy price tag. At the time I was sitting on a generic IKEA office chair that was the farthest thing from ideal. I mean it started out okay but as the months went on it was literally hurting me. Nevertheless, I decided that I’d rather deal with the discomfort than drop a set of cash on a chair! I mean how good could it be?
Well here’s what happened. Once I moved into this space I was inspired to work long hours on account of the streamlined nature of the studio; What was stopping me was the ridiculous IKEA chair! I had to get up and walk every few minutes to subdue the discomfort I was experiencing from sitting down. It became second nature.
I didn’t even penny how painful it was until one day I finished working and couldn’t help but notice that I was actually walking like a decrepit elderly person. I was like “THAT’S IT!” I had enough! I went on the Herman Miller website and ordered a Mirra 2 with all the trimmings and waited for it to show up at my doorstep.
When it arrived I sat down and was like
“This ain’t so hot! Did I just waste my money?”
Either way I was stuck with it. After about a month my back wasn’t hurting anymore. I was sitting down for hours without realizing it. I nearly fell asleep in the chair at times from working so long. I thought to myself “Well it must’ve been a pretty good purchase then!” Just recently, I sat on my old chair just for kicks and within seconds it became overwhelmingly uncomfortable!
I’ve written all of this to say that its definitely worth it to get a great studio chair. Don’t play around with your health. Never!
Maybe I'm just old. Let me know what you think about chairs in the comment section below.
THE MACHINE/REMOTE INSTRUMENT ROOM
Beyond the sliding door it’s like a showroom. I call it “stand world” All of the keyboards live there. The main set sit on a QUIKLOK 3-tier stand. Beside that is a single Ultimate stand followed by Yorkville RK-2 10-space tilt top rack on wheels. All of these collectively house my remote gear.
Lighting in that room is just a standard Home Depot ceiling light on a dimmer. Nothing special. This light is usually off. I’m never physically in there.
SAMPLERS & OTHER INSTRUMENTS
Alright here we are. Right where we wanna be. I suppose what would be best thing to do is to go through everything section by section Eh? We’ve gone through the speakers already so I’ll go onto the good stuff. The samplers. Starting with what’s on my desk:
What’s on the Desk?
I got into this sampler from the day it hit the market and when I finally picked one up I never really used it (imagine that). I’ve put it on the desk to give it more of a probationary position. I use it now for what it’s good at. Real-time Time-stretching and Pitch shifting. Handles it like a champ. The FX are pretty good too!
So with the VP-9000 it's really a tough sell after that. It’s pretty bare bones. Nothing crazy going on with it especially for its age. It’s one of Roland’s experimental technology splurges that they do in order to develop and solidify one of their creative concepts (in this case Variphrase technology). The VP-9000 in this light was nothing but a by-product. I just like it! Always have. So here it is.
8” Neewer NW801H 4:3 LCD Monitor 1024x768 Resolution
On top of it sits a Neewer LCD monitor. It’s got an old school 4:3 aspect ratio. Perfect for two things. Old school video games and samplers with a video output. It’s hooked up to another Roland sampler. The S-760 but we’ll get to that in a bit.
I think everyone should have one of these. It’s like an all purpose studio multi-tool. The fact that there’s rack ears available for it really make it accessible in here. It handles all the monitoring and while I’ve thought of upgrading to a summing style mixer, I would still have the 1202 in use somewhere else (most likely the machine room).
Its got some surprisingly decent microphone preamps in it. You can use them directly to track to DAW without going through the EQ or the output fader. If you got one of these kicking around I highly recommend giving that a try!
I can’t write about this sampler without stating that it’s my favourite AKAI sampler ever! Yeah I know it’s basic. I know you can’t save any samples unless you have the accompanying MD280 storage module. I get it. However,……This sampler is crazy!!!!
It’s got pretty good sound quality and an all analog filter. Kind of reminds me of a cross between the Ensoniq EPS16+ & Akai S950 filters. But what really puts the S612 in the stratosphere for me are the sliders.
Yeah man it’s got these two real-time sliders that adjust the start and end of your samples. When you’re in loop mode and move the sliders around you can come up with all types of insane sounds. I don’t have anything like it. Great idea inspiring sampler!
There’s not too much to say about the S950 that hasn’t already been said. It’s a classic. Even if you’re not visually familiar with it, you’ve probably heard it before. I picked it up out of curiosity. At the time I was really dismissive towards AKAI samplers in general.
When I heard the playback from the S950 I was a bit shocked at what I heard. You see normally when you hear an S950 it’s typically drenched in its analog filter. I was more than familiar with that. But on it’s own it’s one heavy sounding sampler (especially when you pitch your samples down). Its got some weight on it.
Aside from that it’s also neutral and almost flat in a way as well. That’s the thing I appreciate most about it I think. And if you want to get a little fuzzy you can lightly overdrive the sample input and man does it ever sound nice!
You know what! There’s so much more left to cover! I think we’re going to have to continue this in a “Part 2” Yep! That’s what we’re gonna do!
Leave your comments below I'd be great to hear from you! I will catch you on the next installment. In the meantime; Please do take care of yourself!
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