Monday, September 7, 2009
Being a musician can be expensive. I tend to break down musical purchases into "sexy" and "non-sexy" categories. Buying a new synth? Sexy. Buying MIDI cables? Non sexy. The thing is, a lot of the time, it's the non-sexy purchases that can make the biggest difference in our day to day lives in the studio. So today I'm going to concentrate on a few of these that I've found particularly important.
1. A Comfortable Chair
Few people really think about the furniture in their studio, but it's really important. After all, you're going to be spending hour after hour parked in front of your monitors, you might as well be comfortable, right? Which chair is the right one for you depends largely on personal preference, but you want to make sure that the comfort doesn't come at the expense of offering proper support. I also recommend looking for a chair with wheels on it so you can scoot around your studio to access equipment easily.
2. Nice Lighting
I feel like a hypocrite for writing this since my current studio has pretty ugly overhead fluorescent lighting, but it's only because I don't have a lot of extra outlets in my studio. Soft lighting from a lamp or two can really make your studio a lot more pleasant and relaxing to be in. The mood you set in your studio often will set the mood for your sessions, so take time to find something you really like. Ikea has a ton of good, cheap options perfect for studios.
3. Cable Organizers
If you have a lot of hardware like I do, then you undoubtedly also have miles of cables snaking all over the place. Aside from looking ugly, it can also be a real pain in the butt when you're trying to trace one cable from output to input. There are a lot of options for keeping your cables neat from simple velcro bands to fancier split 'looms'. Have a look at Cableorganizer.com to see a number of creative options to this end.
4. Cable Storage
Again, this mainly applies to those of us with lots of hardware, but any studio worth its salt should have an ample supply of spare cables of all sorts. You never know when a cable might go bad or when you might find yourself needing to plug in an extra piece of equipment and you're going to be bummed if it's 1 AM and you suddenly find yourself in need of one. Equally important as having these spares is keeping them organized in a way that makes them easy to find. My studio closet door had an old wire frame for holding shoes that turned out to be perfect for this purpose. I wind the cables up neatly and organize them by type. If I need a 1/4" to 1/8" cable or an RCA adapter or even a USB cable, I can find it quickly and easily.
5. Avery Labels
I've mentioned this one before, but it bears repeating. If you take the time to label both ends of your cables, or your various power cords and adapters, it'll make your life so much easier. You know instantly what belongs to what, and if you've ever had to move, you've probably had the experience of not being able to remember what bit of gear a particular power adapter belongs to. Avery makes adhesive labels in virtually every shape and size imaginable. I use the standard size mailing labels. They're just the right size for wrapping around a plug or adapter and they're easy to find in just about any office supply store you're likely to run into. Another nice thing about Avery labels is that they have templates for Microsoft Word so you can make your labels nice and neat and have them print out perfectly.
Can you think of any other non-sexy studio essentials that you can't live without? Share them with us!