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Microphone Month 5

Studio Essentials

If you’re like many of us, as you stop to think about your studio you’ll find that there are a number of things that stand in the way of creating and producing music more efficiently. Ask yourself, how much more smoothly my sessions go if everything in my studio were laid out “just right?” April being Essentials Month here at Sweetwater we’re trying to address these and other similar questions. Take a look around your studio objectively and in a few minutes you’ll probably identify several things you could change that would make working (and thus the results) better.

The age-old question of how to layout a studio is largely based on personal preference. Having said that, there are a number of great ideas and products that can help you keep things well organized and within reach.

• Workstation Stands: Basically your workstation, whether based on a table or sophisticated stand, is the heart of your studio. Many audio and MIDI artists spend a LOT of time at this position and it’s therefore important to make sure that this area is comfortable and convenient to your style of work. And, because we all work differently and use different pieces of gear, it’s important that your workstation be configured to meet your specific needs. Perhaps one of the important things to consider is which piece(s) of gear do you use most often? Do you currently have access to those items from, or near, the main listening position? Are there other pieces of equipment that you don’t use that often that are currently in the way? In other words, if you were to prioritize your workflow, which pieces do you need access to? Sweetwater carries an assortment of great workstation racks and one of them is probably right for you. One series in particular is the Config-U-Raxx series by Raxxess. Why? The Config-U-Raxx line consists of an array of desktop surfaces, side wings and shelves, as well as add-ons such as doors and keyboard trays. Each component basically interfaces with nearly any other component in the system, allowing for an almost endless variety of configurations. The result? Just as the name implies, YOU get to configure or design your own workstation to fit your own needs. This allows you to build your workstation based on your workflow. We’ve seen this work for many of our customers whose experience in building their own system has lead them to be more productive and more efficient.

Patch Bay: Creating a centralized command station where you can access ALL of the ins and outs of your gear is one of the smartest things you can do in laying out your studio! Not only will this save you crawling around the back of your gear to plug something into something else time-after-time, but it will enhance the overall look and feel of your studio. A studio patch bay is a relatively small investment that will yield a large return in nearly every situation! What’s a patch bay? The idea comes from the old telephone days where phone operators manually patched connections together so your mom could talk to aunt Mable. A studio patch bay does the same basic thing, only it allows your gear to speak, or connect, to other pieces of gear in your studio. Patch bays are comprised of several jacks that are wired to the equipment in a studio or live system. All of the ‘patch points’ one needs access to in the system show up at the patch bay, where they can easily be routed one place or another by plugging short lengths of wire (called patch cables) between the points on the bay. Installing and using a patch bay in your studio will have a positive effect on your workflow and can save you a great deal of time and energy!

• The Right Stand for the Right Job: Do you find your keyboards laying on top of the banquet table you converted to studio use after last summer’s family reunion? Is your guitar leaning against the wall, or worse, on a shelf? Are your studio reference monitors sitting on a shelf that you built from extra plywood you had lying around (the black paint does NOT make it studio furniture)? How about your sheet music? Have you clipped it to a mic stand with clothespins or taped it to your wall? If you answered yes to any of these questions, then you’re in good company with many musicians and engineers. However, it’s probably time to upgrade that 1970s coffee table you’ve been using to hold your guitar amp, the microphone stand that still works based on the amount of duct tape you have in the garage, and the cinderblock creation you call speaker stands! We have hundreds of stands – including mic stands, speaker stands, guitar stands, amp stands, music stands and more – that will fit any need and budget. The right stand for the right job will put your gear in the right place!

Check out the essentials link on our website this month for dozens of creative ideas pertaining to fine tuning your studio space.

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