2019 Studio Refresh

Starting 2019 with a studio refresh

The end of the year and beginning of 2019 felt like a good point to do a studio refresh.

I wasn’t feeling particularly creative after a bunch of long work weeks and Christmas preparations. The time was perfect to focus on some other studio activities. I find this is a good way to stay in the studio zone when you don’t particularly feel like writing/mixing/etc.

Here’s a run down of most of the work I did:

(Music while writing: Cocteau Twins – Head Over Heels)

  1. I picked up an Elektron Digitakt to replace my old Electribe SX1. I love the SX machine, but it takes up a ton of table space and the Digi has a lot more modern features. I also use a very old piece of software to manage SX1 samples and who knows how many more Mac updates it will work on.
  2. My new working configuration is:
    1. Laptop / Arturia Keystep / Squarp Pyramid are all sync’d for ease of writing to either Ableton or Pyramid using the Keystep (midi/usb midi).
    2. Pyramid midi A goes to: 0-Coast, Digitakt, Volca FM, Waldorf Streichfett or D-05. Pyramid B goes to RYTM.
    3. I updated all the midi channels since the Digitakt is midi 1-8, this was easy but a good refresher on how to set midi on each machine (I sometimes forget!).
    4. Outs either go to the laptop or mixer, and can also easily record direct to Digitakt which is quite simple (amazing).
    5. This setup allows me to write freely and capture easily to all 3 end points. For example, I might want to layer some parts together into one sample and I can either do that in Ableton or the Digitakt.
  3. I went through my RYTM and cleaned out a ton of samples I didn’t need anymore. It felt great to clean the machine down to some essentials and add a few more essentials in to work with. Transfer is great for managing Elektron samples but I wish you could edit from the machine on the interface. You have to do all the work from the RYTM, this is easy, but not as easy as a computer. 🙂
    1. I also started using a file-format naming convention for samples that is working nicely, I might write more about this process but basically I’m using: bpm_song_sample-name_synth-name_xtra-info.wav. So like 125_LAFog_FM_01.wav
  4. Spent a fair amount of time messing with the Waldorf 2-Pole filter I picked up back in the autumn. I knew some basics but hadn’t fully explored what it could do. I then took some of the cool settings and tried to replicate them on the Digitakt to learn it’s own filter/lfo settings.
    1. The other benefit to this was honing in on signal input/output to the filter from the mixer bus for live performance
    2. I wrote down my favorite settings and will probably tape these to the filter for easy access later.
  5. I love this Carole King song Goin Back, specifically The Byrds version of it. I learned how to play it on the piano and was totally digging King’s songwriting on a deeper level. (Also used this time to figure out some good synth pairings with the D-05 and Streichfett)
  6. I ultimately got a few demos going after all of this, not sure if anything will come from those, but I could tell I was more focused from the time spent above.