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Stun Studio - circa 2010

Left Side
Right Side

The correct environment is condusive to making good music. Bad environments, not so much. I've moved around a bit since I started playing keyboards, but I've always staked out a little corner of my living quarters dedicated to writing songs at all hours of the day or night, whenever an idea strikes. I can't tell you how many songs I've lost when stuff wasn't wired up, or how many times I've awaken from a dream with a new song in my head.

Music is a hobby for me, and as a result I made a conscious decision to do other things in order to make a living. You'll note in these photos that I've been blessed to acquire a good deal of truly neat stuff, but I have worked my ass off with 70 hour workweeks and 2-4 hours a day worth of commuting time in order to afford some of these instruments. And others were amazing finds in pawn shops, on ebay, or in craigslist. I've sold off a good 30 or 40 pieces of gear, and have kept the items I liked the most or which had something particular/peculiar about them, so that they have their own personality.

The lo-res environment is in a bit of chaos since moving back to northern Indiana from north of Chicago in 2008. The photos above show the receding entropy as I've started to put things back together since moving again, this time to southern Indiana in late 2010. The walls are not treated but there's carpet on the floor which provides a little absorption. I know it's BAD to have a glass window behind the computers but I'll probably put up some curtains to dampen the reflections. Maintaining my studio is a process, not an event.

Right Side - composing, modern sounds:
* Novation X-Station 61, serves as virtual analog + USB MIDI controller. Lightweight and my go-to synth for using on both my Mac and PC when playing virtual synths. Not quite as cool as the KS-4 it replaced (no hypersound) but the onboard 8 voice VA is flexible.
* Roland V-Synth - extremely fun to mess around with; I should probably hook up a mic to use it for sampling. I'm also working on putting together a collection of 256 vintage synth samples to see how well they work being pitched up and down the synth -- it won't load multisamples, just 1 sample per program.
* Roland Fantom X8 - I could do almost everything I need to do on this instrument, but I prefer to record & mix & edit on the computer. I have loaded up the 128MB William Coakley Hamburg Steinway samples which are very very good. I have zillions of sounds for the Fantom and it's an inspirational machine.
* Access Virus Classic - it's got crazy wicked sounds and I dig the fact that it's RED.
* Roland JP-8080 - great vocoder, lots of knobs and switches and sliders. I like the control layout; which it held more programs in memory though.
* Yamaha EX5R - great for pads, makes some wondrous sounds but has a flaky DSP bug that forces power resets from time to time
* Korg Triton Rack - having 2 arpeggiators is fun, has some quite rhythmic sounds. Has a few Korg ROM expansions but they need to have their programs loaded via floppy drive, which is LAME. Has the SCSI port on the back and sometime I'll get around to reconnecting the zip drive I have for it.
* Roland JV-2080 with 8 SRJV80 expansion boards. That's tons of sounds that are available on the fly.
* All synths are MIDIed to an Emagic Unitor-8 that connects to my Mac Mini via USB.
* All audio is routed to the Behringer RX1602 in the top space of the rack. One of my nearfield monitors is dead, so I'm looking to get new ones. The audio will likely be routed to a Yamaha or Mackie mixer.

Left Side - composing / orchestration:
* Yamaha Motif 6 - Picked up used from a Pawn Shop. I dig the sounds but it's a bit difficult to program. This is my newest keyboard so I don't know it as well as the others. I was actually looking to get the rackmount version but I got a good deal on it, which doesn't usually happen. I guess it is pretty old.
* Korg Karma - truly inspiring, and I'd like to get more sounds for it. Although I've never used it on a recording, I can see maybe trading up to an M3 in the future because of the improvements they've made to Karma.
* Kurzweil K2500XS - rescued from Guitar Center for $500, then rebuilt for $1800 (2gb hard drive, 128mb RAM, PRAM, all expansion boards including sampling and digital) Contains great AD/DA converters and a zillion patches, including a host of 50-64mb pianos (Bosendorfer, Steinway, etc.) as well as extremely good strings. Plus it has the best feel of a weighted synth, very expressive.
* Waldorf Wave XT - rare imported wavetable synth with loose-fitting power adapter. I haven't used this very much but it's perhaps the rarest of my vintage synths.
* Korg MS2000R - makes angrier and fresher sounds than I expected judging by how little I paid for it. Only 4 voices means lots of chances for voice-stealing.
* Emu Proteus 2000 + 4 ROM cards - lots of good sounds for hiphop and dance, although it's a little dated.
* Korg TR-Rack - I got it cheaply because the display is missing a few lines. Sounds good but I'll likely add a Korg MOSS board to this if I can ever find one under $500.
* My Yamaha TG-33 is on a rack shelf which will be plugged into the MIDI interface port 8 (on the front). The 2-OP FM is lame compared to bigger FM synths, but it has the most wicked joystick which isn't spring-loaded, so it doesn't automatically return to the center detent.
* Emagic AMT-8 MIDI's these synths to the Mac Mini via USB
* Audio for all units is connected to a Behringer RX1602.

This rack also has some devices that are not in use.
* Emu 1820M breakout box for my 1212M audio card in my PC DAW.
* Behringer 8 in/ 8 out digital ADAT interface for adding more mic ins to the Emu audio interface that's racked above it.
* MOTU MIDI Express 128 that I should probably sell because I don't like it as much as the Emagic MIDI interfaces.
* M-Audio MIDISport 8x8s, the ugly colored one. I used to have 2 silver ones but sold them for a major loss. Then I thought I'd run MIDI through my pc but I realized I much prefer using MIDI devices on my Mac.

Where's the guitars? I haven't brought them down from my old home yet. Right now I've got a half-rack and a couple of guitars in the living room to bug the neighbors. Hopefully in a couple more trips I'll finish bringing my guitars and amps.


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