Grant Muller

New Music Setup


When we bought our house a few years back, I finally had enough space to consolidate all my music gear into one space. I had big plans for my basement studio. Mix desk over on one side. Wall-mounted monitors. Jute coffee sack sound baffles and just the right location for recording the drums. Later I found a place for my pump organ, and of course a myriad of other instruments strewn here and there. Over a year or so, I managed to make all that happen. The result has been rather…terrible.

After I spread everything out, it became clear that recording with just little-old-me was slow if not impossible. If I wanted to record drums, I had to press record, and walk over to my drums to do it. Not a big deal if I’m just going to cut it all in post, but what about punch-ins? I’m also lazy. If it takes me more than 2-3 minutes to setup and tear down to make some sound happen, I just won’t do it. I’m not into setting up, tuning and perfecting the timbre for an hour dammit, I’ve got a melody in my head now.

I thought about my past work, stuff I’d done for an EP and a full-length a few years back and realized everything I have ever recorded I’ve done in a tight space, with just a few things, without a big setup. As a lone wolf in the studio, I don’t have a team to put things together for me, press record and punch when I need, and patch up my instruments. If I was going to continue doing it myself, I was going to have to make some changes. So I did.

I started by ditching my Digi001. This was an old recording platform released by Digidesign about a decade ago. I loved this thing, but it was really starting to age, not to mention it only had 2 mic preamps. I traded it for my Presonus FP-10…which I’m so far very impressed with. 8 Mic preamps, and I can use it with any software I want (previously I was tied to Pro Tools). All in one rack unit. Done.

Next was the mixer and cabinet. With 8 Mic preamps in the FP-10, why do I need a mixer? I ditched it (eBay style), and the rack I had it mounted in (which I had built many years ago…it’s ok to destroy the things you create). This freed up a lot of space, and of course, freed up my hands.

After that it was bye-bye desktop. It required a monitor, keyboard, mouse, blah blah blah. Gone. As of now I’m doing everything with a laptop. Yeah, I know Kid606 and other people cooler than me have been doing this for years. I don’t care. I’m old school or something.

So, down to a laptop, FP-10, mics, drums, a controller keyboard, and a bunch of random instruments. Now what? Round ’em up:

I set up in the round so that everything would be right at arms length. I’m primarily a drummer, anything else I do is purely piddling around, so I made the drums the focus by setting up the mics (Recorderman Style) specifically for recording them and my Mandala. Couple overheads (Samson C02’s), Kick, 2 on the snare (Shure SM57), and some crappy tom mics. To my left I threw together a keyboard stand with the FP-10 and a place for the laptop. Right behind me is a controller keyboard, so if I want to throw together a cheesy bassline for the rad beat in 25/8 time I just wrote, I can do it immediately. I just spin around to make music. Mostly.

So the idea is that I’ll write here, and when I feel pretty comfortable everything is ready, I’ll take it to the mix desk, where those coffee sack baffles will really help out.

What’s next? I just got word that a friend is selling an old electronic kit. Since I’m basically a drum machine, I’ll pick that up and include it in my little round here…maybe right in with my current drum kit. We’ll see if this works…I played this silly little drum lick to test the mics:

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