Show Off Your Studio – The best studios of February 2019

This month, we visit a shining monkey in Africa, a Swedish island and an Austrian dance star…

Show off your studio, Monkeyshine Studios

MonkeyShine Studios

Interviewee Wayne Rathbone
Contact | Facebook

Wayne Rathbone is the owner and producer at MonkeyShine Studios in Johannesburg, which was built with high standards – and his wife – in mind…

Key kit:

  • PC running Cubase
  • Lots of Korg action
  • Three screens, three views
  • Barefoot monitors
  • Loads of MIDI control

Tell us more, Wayne…

It was an addition to my home, built with an acoustically treated control room and separate sound booth in 2010. It has an attached flat for overnight guests. I had the builder skew the main walls slightly and then I added the treated room inside it.

To make peace with my wife, I gave her the downstairs area as a walk-in dressing room, added onto our bedroom. A win-win, I thought! I designed the desk based on having a semi-curve around me, with the keyboard sliding out when needed. All cables are hidden in the floor or walls.

Amazing! Tell us about the gear.

I have a Windows 7 PC, 32GB running Steinberg Cubase Pro; a Mackie 8-channel MCU Control; Steinberg/Yamaha MR816 CSX 16 channel interface; Steinberg MIDEX 8 MIDI interface; PreSonus HP60 headphones with Barefoot MicroMain27 monitors. Mics are MXL 990, MXL 991, Rode NT2, and AKG 414.

For keyboards, I have a Kurzweil PC2; Korg padKONTROL, taktile, Polysix synth, 770 synth, and 05R; and a Hammond XB-2 organ. I also use Native Instruments, Waves and iZotope plug-ins and several sound libraries.

Why Cubase?

I did an assessment back in the 90s of Logic, Pro Tools and Cubase and found that Cubase was perfectly suited for me. Even though Pro Tools was the standard, I didn’t like being locked into the hardware. I preferred the flexibility of a PC with Windows (even with its faults), having the ability to upgrade hardware components. I still find Cubase has everything for pro production and mixing.

I do also have FL Studio 12 that I use with the young hip-hop artists coming into the studio for beat creation, but then transfer them to Cubase for mixing. I’ve also started using Cubase for mastering. I find the sound algorithm is perfectly suited using the same plug-ins and it really is up to your monitoring system and ears, anyway.

Favourite piece of studio gear?

My Barefoot monitors. They are the only pair in Africa, I think – great frequency response and perfect for mixing and mastering. After travelling to the factory and meeting Thomas Barefoot for a demo. I was blown away by the 27s, so went the extra mile. I also have to mention Spectrasonics VSTs – such a flexible, warm, powerful suite – and lastly, the warm sound of the Korg analogue synths.

How do you use your studio?

I compose songs, mix albums, create beats, master and produce songs for artists. These days, I’ve found myself producing a lot of hip-hop and helping up-and-coming laptop producers improve their mixes and productions. I have three screens for the project view, mixer view and one for output monitoring, levels, frequencies, VSTs, etc.

Logical! And next on your gear list?

Omnisphere 2 for its amazing new features and sounds, as well as upgrading Cubase to version 10 for that extra functionality. 

What is your dream gear?

A Neumann mic and Manley preamps would be great for additional vocal quality. 

Top production advice?

Keep it simple. The listener needs to identify with something in the production, be it a groove, the lyrics, a hook or just a unique sound. Finding it only improves your chances of success.

Show off your studio, Cihan Gungor

Cihan Güngör

Interviewee Cihan Güngör

It looks like a simple setup at first, but there’s a fantastic layout and logic to Cihan Güngör’s home studio. We love how everything seems to be within reach for complete control, and the studio sounds like it’s based in a fantastic location in Cihan’s home country of Sweden…

Key kit:

  • Lots of Arturia and Novation control
  • Ableton Live and Push
  • Roland and MFB drums
  • UA interface

Tell us about your studio, Cihan…

I live in Umeå in Sweden. My studio is based in a house built in the 19th century, located in the middle of a green surrounded by a small river.

Sounds pretty idyllic. What gear do you have there?

I have an Apple MacBook Pro 13-inch Retina display laptop computer (with an additional larger screen); a Universal Audio Apollo Twin Mk II interface (with UA plug-ins); a pair of
Munro 150 monitors; an Ableton Push 2 controller for Ableton Live; Arturia MiniBrute, Behringer Model D and Pioneer AS-1 synthesisers; MFB Tanzmaus and Roland TR-09 drum machines; Novation SL MkII, Arturia KeyStep and BeatStep MIDI controllers and finally, Korg Volca Sample and Korg Volca FM modules.

Which DAW do you use and why?

My main DAW is Ableton Live. One of the biggest reasons why I use Ableton is the great workflow within the software. It lets you quickly combine different elements and ideas, plus it’s very easy to use, especially when working with and editing samples and Live’s time-stretching algorithms are pretty amazing.

Then you also have Max 4 Live, which I use simply because it takes your music making to another level. And lastly, I also really like Ableton Live, because it can integrate well with almost all of my other studio gear.

What’s your favourite studio gear?

At the moment, I love spending time with the Behringer Model D synthesiser. The oscillators sound so clean and fat – I think it’s a very unique synth.

How is the studio used: for your own music, professionally or just for fun?

I started it as a hobby, but then when I got more into it, it became more serious!

How much time do you spend in your studio in a typical week?

It really depends on my working schedule, but when I get any free time, you will usually find me in the studio.

What’s on your gear-shopping list?

Sorry MFB, I love your stuff, but the workflow on the Tanzmaus is a pain. It just has so many hidden features.

What’s your dream gear?

I’d say the Dave Smith Instruments OB-6. It is a beautiful-sounding synth.

Do you have any production or studio gear advice?

If you’re going to buy a lot of studio gear, then the first thing you should do is just sit down and read the manual. In that way, you will get the best that you can out of everything you buy. Oh, and finally, save up for the best-sounding audio interface that you can afford.

Show off your studio, The Hunter Suite

The Hunter Suite

Interviewee Rodney Hunter
Contact | Facebook

Rodney is an artist and producer based in Vienna, and quite a successful one, it seems, as he’s filled his studio with some great gear…

Key kit:

  • Apple iMac 27-inch, plus a couple of interfaces
  • Sonodyne monitors
  • Two Novation controllers
  • A range of mics
  • Logic, Live and Pro Tools

Tell us more about your studio…

I have been in my own suite in the Cosmix Studios complex for about five years.

Give us an overview of the gear.

SSL X-Desk 16-channel analogue summing mixer; Ableton Live Suite, Apple Logic Pro X and Avid Pro Tools DAWs; ADAM S3A monitors; Lavry AD11 converter/mic pre; Apogee Ensemble interface; SSL X-Rack Stereo Bus Compressor, Empirical Labs Distressor EL8x, DBX 160 (x2), TL Audio C1 Dual Valve Compressor; SSL X-Rack E-Series EQ, SSL X-Rack (x2), Pultec EQP-1A3M mastering EQ, Neve 1081 Preamp/EQ; Neumann U 87, Avantone CV-12 Custom, Shure SM7B microphones; Novation Supernova, Novation Ultranova, Clavia Nord Rack, Korg King Korg, Korg microKorg, Roland JD-Xi synths; plus Roland AIRA (TR-8, TB-3, VT-3, and System-1), Roland VT-1 and tonnes of software!

Which DAW(s) do you use and why?

My favourite DAW is Ableton Live. I like the way that you can work with audio – to a certain point, it is almost like working with a sampler. Most of my recording I do with Logic X, but beyond that, it’s Ableton Live.

What’s your favourite piece of gear?

That must be the Solid State Logic X-Desk. I love the fact that the mixer sounds so neutral and that you really hear what you are feeding into it. The line inputs sound great and recording and listening back on it are a real delight.

How do you use the studio? Professionally, or just for fun?

I am a professional music-maker/producer and release my music and productions on various major and indie labels worldwide (Sony, Universal, Island Records, BMG, Warner Music, Ministry Of Sound Germany, Hedkandi, G-Stone Recordings and Nikki Beach Music).

My most recent label collaboration is with Sweat It Out/Club Sweat Music in Australia and I’ll have a few tracks coming out there, pretty soon. I also work as a mixing engineer and have mixed various club projects like Monkey Safari and Joyce Muniz. On the side, I also write music for TV ads like McDonald’s or IKEA.

Next on your studio-gear shopping list?

I will be upgrading my studio computer soon to a new iMac. The new iMac and iMac Pro are on point! I compared a Pro Tools mixdown session made on a Mac Pro 8-Core with the = same session loaded into a new-generation iMac: I couldn’t believe the iMac needed about 50% less processor power. That’s when I knew I had to upgrade.

What is your dream piece of gear?

The most beautiful piece of gear that I ever worked with is the Phoenix from Thermionic Culture. It’s the best-sounding compressor that I have ever used on the master out. You can push it to the extreme, but it never messes up your sound and you can distort sounds to make them fit better in the mix, or just to give them more character.

What’s your top studio advice?

Get to know what your room sounds like.

And your top production advice?

Nothing is impossible in music – and take your time searching for sounds. If you find the perfect kick, hi-hat or sub bass, it will make your day and save you a lot of hassle when it comes to mixing down the track. 

Do you use a studio that we all need to see? Send a photo or get in touch via the MusicTech Facebook page and your gear could be featured next.

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