Mobile/Travelling Home Studio
Need a music studio setup to take on the road? Do you move with your studio regularly? Only have a small space to use for your home studio? Here, I share my tips for a studio setup perfect for small spaces or those who travel regularly.
First things first, this is 2019 so I'm going to guess that you own a computer, preferably a laptop for it's portability. The other main assumptions of this post is that you will have a DAW or some program to record music into your computer.
Now for the stuff you came here for!
Small audio interface or AD/DA converter. This is simply for audio input and output, make sure this device has a headphone jack. This interface or AD/DA should cover your basic needs considering the inputs/outputs, headphones and available computer connections. While travelling, it's not very common that you'd need something to record 16 channels, however, you should consider expandability in your interface or AD/DA choices. A device like the RME Babyface Pro has ADAT which is perfect for those times you want to record more channels.
Good Quality Headphones. This is the one item you can't cut corners with! Open-Backed and Closed-Backed are the two most common types of models. Open-Backed are best for mixing/mastering while closed back are great for recording and noisy environments. Depending on the places you go and the type of work you do and environment you'll be spending the majority of your time in, you need to make the appropriate choice, more information about the different headphone types here.
External Hard-Drive(s) and a Backup plan. While some people rely on one single device to store their hard work, it's always a good idea to carry a backup and utilise a cloud service as extra precautions ... you never know what may happen on the road. I highly recommend getting one or two external drives (keep one with your computer and the other in your luggage. Also, you will have to consider how much space you really need, double your hard drive space is my go-to rule.
(Optional) Midi Controller. This is one of those personal preference items that heavily depends on the type of work you do and your workflow. For me, while travelling I tend to do everything on my computer and save the hardware controllers for home but I do occasionally travel with my MiniNova and I'm looking into picking up a controller like the KeyStep for it's connectivity and the fact that it can fit in my bag.
(Optional) Laptop stand, Keyboard and mouse. Even though your laptop comes with a keyboard and trackpad, in my case, an external keyboard and mouse are great for better ergonomics. Now that you're using an external keyboard and mouse you might want to raise the computer screen so it's at eye level to avoid straining your neck.
SonarWorks Reference 4. This software calibrates your sound to make it as accurate as possible. Very simple to set up, if you're using headphones all the time it's pretty much set and forget but if you're using studio monitors then you probably should calibrate the software whenever you move your speakers (I could imagine this getting really frustrating over time). It is available as a plugin and standalone so you can listen to your favourite tunes with calibrated sound.
F.Lux Software. I may be coming across as a health nut between the ergonomics and, now, this software that simply changes the colour of your screen to protect your eyes. I've been using this software for a few years now and, honestly, I rarely even notice it, occasionally after I've been watching a movie then come to my computer I'll notice the screen colour is different. Other than that, I really like the software, it's very simple to set up and change your timezone if necessary.
What equipment do you travel with? Is there anything in your setup you can't live without? Let me know in the comment section below!