Studio

*2021 – working on giving this page a full update

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 full house of 5 SSD drives, and a 43” Samsung 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 Mac OS 10.14.6 (well, after I upgraded the video card to an inexpensive Metal-capable Radeon).

Music

All audio gets routed through a 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 v5. 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 — Universal Audio, FabFilter, Soundtoys, Airwindows, 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 my recent boards:

[updated photos coming soon]

I usually listen to music via Spotify, Bandcamp and Swinsian (my iTunes replacement). On the road I still take my old iPod Classic, which I upgraded with a 128GB SSD.

Design and Photography

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 daily use, 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.