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A Trip Through My Studio Life
Old 18th September 2012
  #1
Here for the gear
 
Sami Matar's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
A Trip Through My Studio Life

Hello all, my first post here. I thought this would be a good introduction to who I am and what I do.

Over the years, I've built and destroyed many studios. Some were built on dreams and ambitions, and some with functionality as the main goal. In the end, for me, it's all about what maximizes creativity and productivity. I'd like to share with everyone my experiences:


2012 - My current setup is my favorite. It has all the elements I need to be creative and productive. Firstly, its in my home, the last time I had my studio at home was in 2005, I was 21. I know, many positives and negatives, but I think I managed to to strike a balance that works for me. Its comfortable yet serious, bright in the day, and private at night. I have all my servers and recording equipment tucked in my garage. Currently I have 3 servers running my VEPro maddness. I feel that having most of the colors in my template ready to go without having to search and load is essential to maximizing on creativity. Anyhow, I feel like I'm in another world when I sit on my desk, which for all musical purpose is great.



My early 2012 setup included an Avid C24 at center of everything. I've since gotten rid of it, it was a difficult decision, but it was one that quickly proved to be a smart one. I wasn't doing much recording, or mixing for that matter so this thing has been a big mouse since I moved out of my last place. When my setup no longer needed the C24, over time I found myself getting rid of my pro tools stuff; my HDX card, my Omni and my 192 IO. Now I'm happily composing and producing on Cubase 6.5 with a Sapphire Pro 40. Occasionally going back to PT10HD to master and minor mixing.



As for my gear, I've got what I like to think is an interesting setup. I have a standard M-Audio 61-Key Axiom as my main midi controller, completely mapped out for my Cubase template. Again, this is a "downgrade" from my last setup which was a custom keybed that fit directly into my Argosy desk under my C24 (photo above). I have two M-Audio Octanes (one per L/R channels) that I run almost all of my mix downs through. It tends to add a subtle roundness to my material. I also use a modified ART Pro VLA II with a couple Telefunken Tubes, which a lot may argue that the mods do nothing significant. They may be right, but I love smashing all types of stuff through it, so its staying.




As for the rest of my stuff, I have a couple Avid DSM3's for monitors, and a variety of mini midi controllers that are designated to do there own thing in Cubase. My Eleven Rack is collecting dust, its good, I like it, but since I use Cubase for writing and producing it becomes a pain to have to fire up pro tools on my laptop just so I can use my Eleven Rack properly. Avid, sometimes I love you, and sometimes I just want to ignore your texts like an annoyed husband. My 2012 setup has been the "cheapest" of my professional setups, yet feels like my most productive. Regardless of what I'm producing music for - films, games, hiphop - It all just seems to work better.


2009 - 2011 - '10 and '11 saw the heaviest traffic of gear I've had in my career. In late 09; Myself, my brother and my two friends began construction on a new 2000-sqft facility in Irvine, California. I designed it for recording small ensembles of musicians, with the live room fitting 6-8 musicians and a vocal room that fit 2-3 people. The control, vocal and live rooms totaled about 900 sqft. The remaining space was untouched for the life of the studio, due to a lack of funding to turn the 1000 sqft into a small scoring stage.



Gear wise, the place was pumped with your usual "state-of-the-art-professional-studio-industry-standard-alien-invasion-grade" stuff: ProTools HDGagillion, Avalon EQ's, UA strips, Neve amps, Manley limiters, Neumann mics amd so on. What a waste, I don't understand the infatuation with spending $13K on an EQ and a $6K microphone because some dude(s) recorded a hit(s) with it 40 years ago.



Maybe I'm bitter, or maybe I remain a composer at heart: In the end, the content is what matters most. Played in my Mini Cooper, A bass line recorded on an M-Audio Sputnik is the same as a bass line recorded on a U87.



Lastly, I had a small station in the corner running Cubase with Euphonix controllers and a small midi keyboard. This machine, inspired what eventually became my main setup today: A lean, composer-efficient space.

I spent a couple of years in this place. Some amazing people and work came out of it, but like most modern studios the operation costs quickly became unjustifiable. We built this place in about about 3 months, and destroyed it in 1 week. That's just the way it is, actually chapter 55 from the Quran comes to mind.


2008 and Before - The very first studio I ever owned, of coarse, was an 800 sqft disaster. First, I picked the closest unit to the train tracks. Secondly, it was between two other units that ran "normal" businesses. I'll keep this one short and sweet: I was here for 5 months, worked a total of 3 projects, then we were forced to move. The train tracks were just as noisy to us as we were to our neighbors. The construction and moving costs were probably more than the equipment. But we kept pushing...



Before this though, since I began writing music and producing (if you wanna call it that) I was working out of my home. This photo was my apartment, where I had my studio right in my bedroom. Clumsy and unorganized, it was by far the most productive time of my life. I wrote and produced for 6 hours on a minimum, it was my life.



I used Cubase with an M-Audio Delta 1010 and some DBX and Behringer outboard gear. My pride and joy at that time was my Line6 Pod Pro, I remember running friggin tambourines through that thing. I also had my triton, which quickly became obsolete as we transitioned from soundfonts to VST instruments.

Aaaah, the good old days. From the age of 14 all the way up to 20 or so, I was rockin in my garage. It was a hot, airless, dark and lonely dungeon, but it was home. This where I mastered Cubase. Where I learned to simulate string legatos with VSL Performance tool. Where I learned to put my mixer window on another screen. Where I first mapped my midi drum pads to keyswitch between instruments. Where I learned to midi up massive staccatos like Hans Zimmer and lush string arrangements like John Williams. Where I side-chained kicks and snares, and quantized/humanized them like Dr Dre. Where I learned to orchestrate bouncy tutti rhythms like Jerry Goldsmith and be passionate with a battle scene like James Horner. Where I learned to balance between melody and harmony for rock and pop music. You get the point, this was my lab, my war zone, my therapy. OK enough with the cheese; this is where I started and from the first moment I fired up a DAW I've been striving to learn and improve.

Questions about me, my music or my setup(s)? HIT ME!
Old 18th September 2012
  #2
Lives for gear
 
3 Reviews written
🎧 10 years
Sometimes we lose a battle as part of winning the war. Good luck!
Old 18th September 2012
  #3
Lives for gear
 
ksandvik's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Yes, a big mixer in the center looks good on picture but is less and less practical for a modern one-person composer/producer. I took out an unused Evolution UC-33 as my 'virtual mixer' which works fine, just map it whenever needed to DAW sliders/pots and that's it.
Old 20th September 2012
  #4
Here for the gear
 
Sami Matar's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
I agree. Although if my c24 worked beyond protools I probably could have lived with it.
Old 20th September 2012
  #5
Lives for gear
 
HermanV's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
I am also a minimalist when it comes to gear and prefer to have it set up in my living room so I just roll out of bed and there is my station.
Where is your acoustic treatment btw?
Old 5th October 2012
  #6
Here for the gear
 
Sami Matar's Avatar
 
🎧 5 years
HermanV I'm just using my old auralex stuff right now, what do you have in mind?
Old 7th October 2012 | Show parent
  #7
Lives for gear
 
HermanV's Avatar
 
🎧 10 years
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sami Matar ➑️
HermanV I'm just using my old auralex stuff right now, what do you have in mind?
I see. Well if your set up is working for you then you are good to go. Are you doing any tracking and are your mixes translating?
πŸ“ Reply

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