Studio

Tools

I’ve created and refined my workspace so that I can move seamlessly among my “job descriptions” and interests. Here are the geeky details:

Computing

The hub of my setup is my good old Mac Pro 5,1 (with 32GB RAM, a combination of SSD and spinning drives, and a 28” ViewSonic monitor). I love the expandability, and it runs quiet and is able to handle any task I toss at it. This model just made the cut for Mojave, so I’m able to run the latest (2018) Mac OS (well, after I upgraded the video card to an inexpensive Metal-capable AMD).

For remote work, I still need a “real” computer, with a real file system (iOS — no thanks). My 2012 13” MacBook Pro is dependable, and again, easier to upgrade than the later super-slim models. I do have an iPhone (5), but I use it mostly for texting, email, and maps — and as a camera.

Music

All audio gets routed through a new (2018) MOTU 828es interface/monitor controller. Said monitors are Dynaudio BM5a, with headphone assists from Sennheiser HD600s and Audio-Technica ATH-M50s.

I’ve always created and mixed music in Logic (well, to tape before that…), but lately I work in Studio One v4. It just feels more direct, responsive, and FUN! I realize ProTools is king when it comes to mixing, but I’m not part of that ecosystem, and honestly, Studio One lets me do everything I need.

I’m totally in-the-box, so I have a ridiculous amount of plugins — Soundtoys, Airwindows, Universal Audio, FabFilter, Waves, and Sonimus among the highlights. When I’m composing, my go-to instruments are from Output and Applied Acoustics Systems; the u-he synths; Pianoteq; and NI Battery, Presonus Impact XT or Toontrack EZ Drummer for drum sounds. Kontakt is a must for the great third-party libraries out there.

I’m a guitar player first, and love to run my favorite Telecaster (or maybe the mood calls for a different guitar) through pedals into a Fender amp (though Scuffham S-Gear and Kuassa’s Caliburn and Matchlock amp sims see action as well). I really dig pedals, and have built pedalboards since the early ’80s — here are the latest two:
small pedalboard

large pedalboard

I usually listen to music via Spotify and iTunes (not Apple Music). On the road I take my good old iPod Classic, which I upgraded with a 128GB SSD.

Design and Photography

I do all my web design in WordPress, coding in Coda 2 or Visual Studio Code and tracking down CSS properties using Firefox. I like ForkLift for file organization and FTP. Local by Flywheel handles localhost prototyping before going live to Dreamhost, my web host of choice for many years.

For print design and production work, I was a longtime Quark XPress user, but had to go with the tide and switch to Indesign (along with Photoshop, Illustrator and Acrobat, of course) to stay compatible with my clients’ files. I have to say that I loathe Adobe’s subscription scheme, and am staying put on CS6. To clean up text I used custom macros in Microsoft Word all the way back to Word 5, but the excellent TextSoap has taken over that chore. Still need Excel for working with tables and data, though.

I photograph with two older Olympus DSLRs: an E-1 and an E-500. Everything gets processed in Alien Skin Exposure — it handles all the basic Photoshop editing tasks, but takes things a step further with its gorgeous film looks.

Writing

I’ve tried many note-taking and writing apps, and have hundreds of notes stored in nvALT and the underrated MacJournal (in fact, I’m writing this in MacJ). Lately, I’m impressed by Quiver for notes and Typora for longer-form writing. But in “real life”, I usually jot things in the lowly Apple Notes app — a pinned note named by day serves as my to-do list. And I like Moleskine notebooks and Pilot G-2 Pro pens. Often simple is best.