Update 1: Check out “Making Friends With Some Guy Named Mike” on this band page of mine for an awesome example of this studio in action.
20 years ago digital home recording wasn’t plausible. 10 years ago we started to see its potential, but most hobbyists (read: very cash-limited people) were limited to using still-primitive versions of multi-trackers such as Cakewalk, Cool Edit Pro or Cubase with either COTS Sound Blaster PCI cards or ridiculously over-priced, high-noise, high-latency specialty cards with break-out boxes such as the Lexicon Core 2. Running on Windows 95 or 98, we regularly struggled with the stability of the platform and device drivers. Today, you can have your own personal studio capable of producing DVD-quality recordings by adding a thousand dollars of equipment to your existing computer and music rig. Here’s my living room/home theater/recording studio/Mac haven, all driven by a single Mac Mini..
Here’s are the core components..
- Mac Mini (Intel).
- Big 1080p LCD television/monitor. The Mac Mini drives this beast with a DVI-to-HDMI converter cable.
- Logic Pro (Apple’s recording software). For my needs, it’s really either Logic Pro or Pro Tools. For various reasons I’ve stuck with Logic Pro run in a distributed manner with other Macs in the house using built-in Xgrid functionality over gigabit ethernet.
- Headphone amp w/studio headphones. You need at least one good headphone set to properly lay down track on top of track, but when you have people over you can usually get by with three or four. This is too much load to be powered directly by the computer, so the dedicated headphone amp is necessary. I have a Behringer HA4700. (I didn’t want to add my Event 20/20 references monitors to the already cluttered layout, so I have them in another room.)
- PreSonus FirePod. This is a truly outstanding input device for recording the entire band simultaneously. The unit is rack-mountable, connects via FireWire and optical cables, and has pristine noise-free pre-amps.
- Microphones and stands.
- Instruments. I have a full-size Yamaha keyboard (pictured), a bunch of vocal mics and guitars, and a rack of mediocre analog schwag. BYOI, whatever ‘I’ happens to be.
If you’ve already got a Mac setup and some music equipment, grabbing Logic Express, PreSonus FirePod, decent vocal mic and a bunch of cables for $1K will turn your system into an audio powerhouse which your friends will envy.