Constructing The Perfect Mobile Recording Rig
As a budding music producer and musician, nothing beats having your own home studio. After all, writing at home is a lot more convenient when you have all your instruments, microphones and gear in one spot. But thanks to modern technology, you don’t have to leave everything back at the house before you hit the road. Mobile recording setups can be quite easy to create and use with the right equipment. They’re also capable of producing incredible results. In this article, we’re going to focus on what it takes to build your very own mobile recording rig.
What Is Needed
Mobile Rigs don’t have to be extremely complicated setups. Sure, you could spend millions on equipment, but you don’t have to go overboard on gear to achieve recording results that really deliver. The purpose of this article is to get you on the move as soon as possible, and at a price you can afford. The music industry doesn’t stop rolling, so let’s get you rolling along with it!
For your mobile rig, you’ll need the following gear:
- A Laptop
- Digital Audio Workstation (DAW)
- Microphone Stand
- Pair Of Headphones
- Accessories (including cables)
- Audio Interface
- Carrying Case
The rig you create should be built to suit your specific needs. For songwriters, you’ll need the proper gear for recording vocals and instruments, as well as equipment to edit your audio. Mac users will love the 13’’ Macbook Pro, which is fantastic for running full track sessions and plugins. But the choice is yours concerning what kind of laptop to use. Let’s move on to audio.
There are many differing opinions concerning which DAW (Digital Audio Workstation) is the best one. In the end, it really comes down to personal preference. Similar to how people feel about Macs and PC’s, it’s all about what software you feel most comfortable with.
A quite popular piece of software is known as Pro Tools. If you work with audio more than MIDI, you’re probably aware already of how great Pro Tools is, especially when it comes to editing. For MIDI and software instruments, Logic is also a great choice. Others DAW’s that are definitely worth checking out include Digital Performer and Cubase.
When it comes gear for a home studio, you would definitely need a set of references monitors. You have to hear what you’re recording after all. But since we’re talking about going mobile, you’ll need to switch up your monitors for some headphones. So make sure you pick up a quality pair.
Below are a few superb choices.
Beyerdynamic DT 770 Pro - With smooth highs and exceptional low end, these headphones are highly recommended.
Sennheiser HD280 - These headphones have obtained an amazing reputation over the past few years. A reputation that is most deserved.
Sony MDR-7509HD - There’s a reason why legendary producer Phil Ramone always had a pair of these close by. A marvelous headphone choice.
When travelling, you’ll need a strong, reliable microphone that’s affordably priced and always close by. To avoid the worry of extra power supplies and cables, a sizable diaphragm condenser microphone such as an Audio Technica 4050 or the ADK Hamburg ll-AU are both fantastic choices to consider.
If you’re a wind player, you’ll be more than content with the Hercules MS300B microphone stand. It’s not only compact, but it’s short in length and rests comfortably on any table. For vocalists who like to get inventive and require a full microphone stand, a great choice is K&M’s Tripod Microphone Stand with Boom Arm.
If you’re not sure where to turn when it comes to mobile interfaces, that’s quite understandable given the seemingly endless amount of choices available. Because there are so many options, the good news is that you’ll have an easy time finding one that offers preamps with impeccable sound and at a cost you can afford.
A few things to keep in mind when deciding on an interface:
- The amount of preamps - You should have no less than 2 quality preamps so you can have the option of stereo mic’ing if you choose to go that route.
- Preamp quality - What you need is a clean and accurate preamp, to ensure the character of the source is smoothly translated.
- A/D converter quality - In order to process your recordings on a computer, you need a converter to turn your analog sound into a digital code. For this reason, be sure that your interface is equipped with a trustworthy set of converters.
Below are a few amazing interface choices that work with most major DAWs.
Presonus Firestudio Mobile - Presonus has a stunning reputation for providing gear that’s affordable, accessible and easy to use. A lot of time and care is put into their products, and it shows. With 2 clean sounding preamps and smooth converters, this interface also contains a lite version of Presonus’s recording software known as Studio One.
Apogee Duet - Complete with a slick and cool design, this Fireware interface contains 2 preamps and is very easy to use. Apogee has a reputation for their high quality converters, and this unit is no exception. A highly recommended choice.
Focusrite Saffire Pro 24 - Focusrite is known for their great preamps in the same way Apogee is known for their converters. Complete with four amazing preamps, this Firewire interface is an impressive one.
Last but not least, it’s recommended that your rig is kept together in one clean and tidy spot. That way when you’re ready to get to work, there will be no scrambling around to find everything you need, including necessities like microphone cables and your interface.
M-Audio Portable Studio Backpack - A perfect case for your gear, this backpack is perfect for keeping your rig together in one place.
Mono EFX Series Bags - Many people hold the opinion that Mono Case designs the best bags and accessories in the world today. Sleek and super hip, the EFX line is superb for housing your gear and personal belongings. Go for the “Producer” bag and see for yourself.
Creating your rig, the only other things left to remember are any specific cables (such as Microphone Cables and Firewire) and a few hard drives to back up your work, so nothing gets accidentally erased (believe me, it can happen). Recording tracks on the road is easy and enjoyable when you have a great mobile recording rig to get the job done. So with that in mind, have fun and best of luck!