Show Off Your Studio: Mike Lowe’s self-built recording space
Cardiff producer Mike Lowe’s self-built studio sounds as good as it looks, and didn’t cost an excessive amount to put together.
Image: Mike Lowe, MusicTech Show Off Your Studio
Studio 10 Music
- Yamaha HS80M monitors
- Behringer C50A
- RME UCX interface
- Cakewalk by BandLab
Hey Mike! Tell us more about your studio.
My studio was initially a spare room. When I bought my current house in Cardiff, my partner and I were looking for a place that either had an outbuilding or a detached garage, so I could make noise until the early hours without disturbing anyone.
As the space is too small to fit in a live band, my main focus here is on production, mixing and mastering, although I do get out with a mobile setup to record at larger spaces. I wanted to create an aesthetically pleasing as well as decent-sounding environment where one would want to spend a lot of time working.
What are the main components in your studio?
Yamaha HS80M main monitors, Behringer C50A, RME UCX Interface, Behringer ADA8000, GAP PRE-73 MKIII, Cakewalk by Bandlab DAW, Steinberg HALion 6, HALion Sonic 3, Geist, various VST synths, Samson Graphite 49 MIDI keyboard, Yamaha full-size MIDI piano. Vox, Jet City and Hiwatt amps and a wide variety of guitars. Various mics including Aston Stealth, Sontronics STC-2, Oktava MK-012 matched pair, SM57, SM58, 3x Prodipe TT1 (MD421 soundalike on a budget), and various others I’ve collected over the years.
Which DAW do you use?
I’m a long-time user of Cakewalk Sonar, which is now Cakewalk by BandLab. I got a free version of Cakewalk 3 with a MIDI keyboard years ago and I’ve stuck with it since then. I’ve limited experience with other DAWs, but Cakewalk does everything I need it to do to be creative and there’s an excellent community online.
How often do you spend time in the studio per week?
I have a full-time job in IT as a developer so I’m running the studio during the weekends and some evenings. It varies, some weeks I’m in most evenings, but other weeks might be quiet.
What’s next on your gear shopping list?
Possibly an analogue synth like the Behringer Deepmind. While VST synths are fantastic, getting your hands on the controls and tweaking an analogue synth real-time is a joy. I’m also on the lookout for a MIDI controller with flying faders.
Is there anything about your current setup that annoys you?
Ergonomics. My current office-type desk needs rearranging as I get more gear. I’m still deciding upon the best setup. I might even go back to using one large monitor rather than two, as I like to keep looking straight ahead when working. I might also get a tablet to display plug-ins.
Tell us, what is your dream piece of gear?
I’d love to get my hands on some SSL gear. An SSL Sigma Delta would be ideal for my setup, and a touch of the legendary SSL quality in my DAW environment would be amazing.
Could you share with us your top piece of production advice?
I’m guilty of this. Just because we have unlimited tracks doesn’t mean we have to use them. Make sure every instrument you record has a clear purpose. Also, don’t be precious, be prepared to lose recorded parts for the good of the song.
Any advice for someone who’s starting out a studio?
You don’t need hugely expensive gear – and my gear list is proof of that. Great speakers can sound awful in an untreated room, so my advice would be to get your room treated. I noticed a huge difference when I added my homemade bass traps and absorption panels.
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