Show Off Your Studio: Tim Goalen’s eclectic studio of synths and folk instruments
Tim Goalen has composed scores for BAFTA-winning TV shows and lets us step inside his home studio, packed with unusual pieces of musical gear.
- Sequential Prophet-6
- Korg Polysix
- Moog Sub Phatty
- 2 Mac Pros linked by ethernet, one running Pro Tools and the other running Vienna Ensemble Pro for sample playback
- Avantone CV28 small diaphragm tube mic
- Genelec 8020C monitors
Instruments: viola, violin, Fender Jaguar, acoustic guitars, ronroco, charango, bouzouki, banjo, ukulele, dulcitone, dulcimer, autoharp, Irish harp, balafon, harmonium and various percussion instruments.
Tell us about the studio, Tim!
It’s the latest in a line of home studios, used for composing TV scores. I also used to be based at the great RAK Studios, where I was an in-house engineer and producer for 10 years.
Which DAW do you use and why?
Pro Tools. It’s the industry standard in commercial recording studios and post-production houses for good reason, I think. Great for recording and editing audio, mixing and working with video.
What is your favourite piece of gear and why?
One of my favourite and most exciting, dense & crunchy drum room sounds comes from an RCA 44 ribbon mic into a Chandler TG1 set to ‘limit’.
How much time do you spend in your studio per week?
Standard full-time hours these days. Would we all be John Williams if we worked 25 hours a day? I’m not sure.
How do you use your studio?
Composing scores for TV programmes. Including the BAFTA-nominated ‘Driven: The Billy Monger Story’, BBC1 natural history series ‘Animals with Cameras’ and the Emmy and BAFTA-winning documentary ‘Terry Pratchett: Choosing to Die’.
You have quite the collection of instruments…
In the world of TV and film music, with quick turnarounds and tight deadlines, it’s tempting to reach for sampled instruments and softsynths for speed. It might feel like you’re saving time to use them, but you end up having to spend ages layering up additional instrumentation to create enough interest. There’s so much personality and character in real instruments and synths that you don’t have to spend time covering them in other ‘stuff’. In the same way that recording without a click will usually have that natural tempo ramp into the chorus, and when you take that away you’re going to need to add another instrument to get the same lift.
It’s a lot of fun to just move around the room with a mic recording all the different instruments. It gets you playing rather than thinking which is always a good thing.
What is next on your shopping list studio-wise and why?
I’d like to see if a stand-alone drum machine like the Elektron Analog Rytm or Dave Smith Instruments Tempest would lead to new ways of working.
Do you have any frustrations with your current set-up and why?
I’d love to have the space and soundproofing to house a baby grand or upright piano.
What is your dream piece of gear and why?
An AI assistant within Pro Tools that would take care of session prep tasks and automatic bounces.
What is your top piece of production advice?
If you’re working in a professional capacity, you’re doing it to make a living. But try to keep hold of a real connection to music, that isn’t reliant on career goals or external validation.
What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?
Have windows! Natural daylight. Is that the best piece of gear for a studio? Maybe.
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