Finally setting up a recording space

I’ve been trying to make music in my small second bedroom/office, but it’s ridiculously constraining in here, and kind of frustrating. My long-term plan is to build a separate studio building in the back yard, but that’s slow-going and there’s a lot of barriers to it, and in the meantime, ever since I upgraded my house’s furnace to a ductless minisplit system, my basement actually seems to have enough space for my recording setup, so I’ve been looking into moving it down there.

I’ve been working on rearranging the basement and finally unpacking a lot of stuff and trying to generally get organized, and I’ve also carved out a nice little space for my old studio desk and keyboard, and have a pretty good idea of where my guitars and drums are going to go as well. I’ve also bought a surprisingly cheap and nice 20U rack to put my gear on (currently up in my office room).

For now I’ve been using my Focusrite Scarlett 18i8 (half-rack-ish unit, strapped to a shelf) as my recording interface, but in my final space I’m going to want an interface with more ports, probably the 18i20 or a PreSonus Quantum 2626, so that I can mic a drumkit and have more stuff hooked up at once. I still have my old PreSonus FireStudio Project, though, and that’s a 1U rackmount unit with the distinct advantage of having most of its ports on the front; I’d upgraded to the 18i8 because PreSonus stopped supporting it in macOS Catalina, but it turns out there’s a hacked installer that’ll get it to work on Catalina and Big Sur, on Intel machines anyway. I just tried it out on my old MacBook Pro, and it works great!

Since I’m waiting for Apple’s next big hardware revision to buy a dedicated recording machine, this works out perfectly; I’ll put the MacBook in the basement and hook it up to the PreSonus for recording, and then continue to do my mixing/mastering/etc. on my much-more-powerful M1 mini, and keep the 18i8 on the Mini. Eventually I’ll have a better computer for doing all my studio stuff (I’m hoping Apple either updates the 27" iMac, or comes out with a small-form-factor Mini Pro with some m.2 expansion slots or something, but really a faster mini and an external Thunderbolt enclosure would be fine too), at which point I upgrade to an 18i20 or whatever Focusrite’s current hotness is (and get a patchbay unit to put the plugs on the front where they belong).

The acoustics in the basement are also surprisingly non-awful, although I’ll definitely want to treat it somewhat. Also, being a basement, there’s not much in the way of climate control; I’ve been running a dehumidifier which helps it to at least be drier (which has also been great for the health of my instruments, not to mention my 3D printer filament) but it can still get pretty warm in the summer, and ridiculously cold in the winter. I do have some space heaters which can at least help with the cold, though.

But hopefully this space is just temporary, and I eventually build out a dedicated recording studio with better acoustics and climate control and isn’t shared with a bunch of spiders. Not that I mind the spiders or anything, it’s just, y'know. Nice to have some privacy.


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