Home studio in a wardrobe

The Apogee microphone has one leg that has been reattached with a bit of bent safety clip. There’s a hairband attaching the top of the pop filter to the mic itself. Right now it sits squat in a wardrobe, on top of a stack of suitcases. Towels hang on the wardrobe door. The mic is nestled into the soundproofing. I perch on a little stepladder, legs wide and strangely angled to allow direct diaphragm draw and a good straight back. I can breathe well in that position, make the words the way I need to, and my iPad goes to sleep before my legs go numb, so it’s a perfectly workable home studio environment so long as nobody asks to come in with a camera and record me working for a “look at the sexy artist working” type scam show. In that case my studio would look like no money has been spent, which I’m fine with because it hasn’t apart from the initial purchase in New York at the end of a lucrative job. I guess if I was to get on one of those scam shows they’d slyly buy me a sexy studio first. Then I could be that guy who clearly doesn’t know how to work the shiny kit he pretends he always uses.

This is my travel set up. It’s a bit dark. It’s in a wardrobe. I know it well.

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It fits in one of the two suitcases that form the platform and it comes with me wherever I go. I haven’t yet worked out how to suspend the mic from the ceiling so I can work standing up, but I position my body for the height the two cases give and it works. You can overlook a lot if the stuff you make is more important to you than the stuff you make it with.

The above is a very important distinction, and one where people often fall down. “I can’t do X because I haven’t got Y expensive piece of kit.” Don’t do that. It’s so tempting. It’s how they get you. It’s also how we stop ourselves. There’d be much more stuff made if the market wasn’t focused on telling us what to make it with.

At the start in particular you don’t have to shoot everything on an Arri Alexa etc. Make something on what you’ve got, especially if otherwise you won’t make anything. And I’m speaking very much to myself here as well as anybody else who is blocking themselves with I-haven’t-got-the-right-equipmentitis. There’s lots of filming I might have done that I haven’t done. Lots of making that you might do that you haven’t done. Don’t let ideas about having the right stuff get in the way. I say that to both of us.

I have sent plenty of content out with this sound set up. Various podcasts and events and games have been happy with it. It was still expensive starting from nothing, but before I invested in it I was using my phone and it was fine. The mic was the first investment at about £250. Straight in, straight out. The proofing was maybe £40. £300 is still a whack but your phone is likely to be adequate. 

I’m constantly lending out my kit when I’m not using it. But this kit is fine and it will hold for my needs until I’m making enough money to upgrade to something sexier and to the eventual dream of an actual dedicated permanent booth in my own damn home. Money begets money begets money. The endless cycle. If I pay for an imdb it might lead to more roles that will cover the cost of my imdb. Etc.

I laid down a track this morning about being a romantic tarot reading criminal in North London. It’s a charming piece that was written for theatre, and this morning I sight read it as I went, for a guide track, so that the composer can start working on it. I’ll do a cleaner and sharper one for the final piece later on.

I also revisited the gypsy folk type madness that I was asked to attempt to contribute to. I sent a track where it was just my bits in isolation. My bits are mostly noises and patches of shouting which might make some sort of sense alongside the extremely competent sound crafted by my friend and her instrumental prowess and excellent vocal cleverness. On their own without the headphone music, my bits sound like the mumblings of an insane and ancient mystic after a bit too much dried fly agaric. Or maybe like the slack jawed utterances of a music fan who has had one too many joints and is cluelessly singing along to an album he’s just downloaded.

My friend will likely find a use for it. Meanwhile I’ll keep looking for ways to monetise this portable studio until I can make it into a better portable studio. Living the dream.

It’s like one of those computer games where you work hard and spend time just to get stuff that makes you better at playing the game next time you play so you can get more stuff that makes you more efficient at getting more stuff etc. That’s the home studio kit progression game. The good thing about it is, unlike playing computer games, if you do it exclusively and get really good you don’t starve to death in your own bedroom surrounded by crisp packets. You make money. Voicing computer games. That’s where it’s at.

I have a more static studio, for PC. It’s on loan in Guildford at the moment and has been used towards voicing a computer game that’s gathering momentum on Steam ahead of a release. I prefer the Apple software so I don’t really miss it, plus my iPad has no noisy fan so it’s a much easier soundproofing process.

The PC mic is a bit sexier than the iPad mic and was intended for when I’m home, but even in lockdown it seems I’m not at home. The portable studio is fine – (AND YOU ARE FINE WITH AN ANDROID PHONE, AN IPHONE, WHATEVER!).

I frequently sink my earnings into stuff that might help raise my earnings. At least the PC kit investment has been earning a crust – it has been helping build a beautiful thing that just wouldn’t exist at all without my friend Dan. He uses better kit than me. He’s got my best mic and I literally don’t miss it all and wouldn’t be using it in this instance anyway so I’m glad he has it.

If you’re a gamer, keep an eye out for “The Captain is Dead!” Partly helped out by my best kit. Looking very sexy. Possibly involving some sounds by yours truly if the initial release goes as well as it should. Roger and out.

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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