Go where the Sounds are!
When you are a producer at heart, you want to spend every minute doing what you love - even when you are traveling or on the road.
But since you can´t push your whole studio or your home-recording setup in a backpack, you need to take some smart decisions on what to bring and what to leave back home.
We are currently traveling across Latin America to talk to producers and musicians where we find them and of course to record cool and easy to use exotic samples and loops for you.
Because we are on the road a lot, we already have a setup that works for us and that we want to show you. Of course depending on the countries we visit or the stuff we want to do, we mix it up a little, to get the perfect combination of light weight and performance.
Disclaimer: we don´t get money from any of the companies featured below!
Let´s get started!
1. Laptop: Mac Book Pro 13’
Yes, the 15’ Mac Books are usually more powerful, but the 2016 Pro with 16 GB Ram does almost everything you need to sketch ideas, record audio, arrange your tracks and capture new songs right where inspiration hits you - and that happens a lot when you travel!
Of course we have Ableton 9+10 installed with our studio setup and all necessary samples and VSTs.
Workflow Hack: while traveling we use our own Templates and Presets a lot, because when you find a cool singer in a bar or at a concert, they don´t want to wait until you are all set and ready with the perfect sounds.
So prepare in advance and save some synth presets, arrangements or whole templates, so you just have to browse through them to pick the right sound for the right situation.
And to get your Beats sounding good from the beginning, without thinking and tweaking too much, we use Our Favorite Drum Kit for most electronic genres!
2. Audio Interface: Native Instruments Komplete Audio 6
First thing you will notice? It is extremely robust and rock solid - perfect for the road! But more importantly it sounds amazing and crystal clear, due to the Cirrus Logic preamps and converters.
You have two symmetric Mic/Line In channels and two more Line Ins on the back, so you can plug in probably more instruments and mics that you need on the road. The clean sound either of the mic-preamp and the instrument line in channel are a very good starting point, to get your recordings going on.
On the back you find the usual: more balanced in and outputs, SPDIF in and out and of course MIDI. The phantom power button completes this trustworthy companion. Since you always have to worry, that your equipment gets stolen on the way, the interface is also fairly cheap with around 230$.
3. Microphone: Alctron MC001
Yes, this is literally one of the cheapest microphones available and yes for recordings on the road this thing does a great job.
It gives me peace of mind to know that I can record very good audio signal, without worrying about dragging a very expensive Neumann, AKG or Røde with me, which we use in the studio. Is the Alctron comparable to the just mentioned high end sound wonders? No, but it is still better than almost any portable recording device and helps you create a “studio feel” while recording anywhere you want.
(e.g. like here in the woods near a cenote in Tulum, Mexico)
Its characteristics can be best described with: crisp, full, good frequency range and diverse dynamics.
4. Portable Recording Device: Zoom H2n
Why bring a microphone and a portable recorder you ask? Indeed it is very intriguing to be able to setup a whole studio in the middle of nowhere (as long as your batteries will do at least), but sometimes you just don´t have the time to get your laptop for capturing a quick idea or find an interesting artist on the street. In these situation the Zoom H2n (or any other device) helped me out a lot and some of the samples featured in one of our new packs was recorded with it. Especially when the surrounding sounds are not too loud, the Zoom H2n gives you good results, even with very high incoming impendences, due to the very helpful gain regulation. All files are recorded in .wav format and ready to use!
I like going jogging with it, because somehow I am more aware for sounds when I pass by faster and just pull it out and record everything that sounds cool to me and can be used as textures or actual samples for sounddesign.
Find out more about this device here
5. Portable Silicone Roll-up Piano
All the question marks in your eyes are completely ok and I had the same reaction, when I first stumbled across this “piano”.
As mentioned above, if you want comfort on the road, you need to make compromises. Since I definitely want to be able to record chord ideas or drum patterns laid out on a whole scale with Abletons Sampler, I need something that is portable, has more than 20 keys, has bigger keys than the teeny tiny Korg controllers (which I really like, but not for the purpose on the road) and fits into my suitcase. Enter the Costzon Roll Up Piano with 88 keys.
Do not expect utter accuracy or great dynamic control, but if you have a musical background in playing the piano, you might get the feeling of being limited with less than 50 keys.
It is super light and gives me a piano for the road - just what I asked for. MIDI via USB and you can also charge it and impress people on the beach with your crazy piano skills and built in speakers.
Need your own? Here!
6. NI Massive with massive presets
When you are a producer, independent of the genre, you have used Massive at least a couple of times. It is an all-time classic and offers such a variety, that I always carry that bad boy with me, where ever I may roam. With our presets I am super fast, when it comes to having exactly the right sound at hand, without having to start from scratch. Of course we use Serum, of course we use Sylenth or the new Wavetable Synth directly in Ableton, but with Massive it is always like coming home - everything is where it needs to be and you know exactly what to do.
You should of course always chose your "go to synth", but once you have worked with Massive, chances are high, that this is it.
See more at Native Instruments
7. Headphones: Green and cheap - but I know their sound
Taking headphones out of their natural habitat in the studio can often lead to them not adapting to a lifestyle out of the house and eventually cracking under the huge pressure of the outside world. In other words: headphones break - easily, especially on the road living out of a suitcase and with people treating your stuff not always with greatest care.
This is why you should always have a pair of “I know you” headphones, that you listened to a lot of different songs with during some weeks and know their strengths and weaknesses.
This way you will never achieve the perfect mix on the road, but you have the possibility of working on new ideas, that can be polished later. Also you need headphones for singers or musicians, that sing on an existing song idea or arrangement in your DAW.
Get cheap headphones, get to know their sound and don´t be angry when they break - although the less expensive ones are often longer lasting. But yes, you will be pleased with your AKG K872 back home.
8. Cameras: Huawei P10 & GoPro 5 Session
I always want to travel light weight, especially for longer trips. Around Europe I often bring my Canon or Lumix with me, but for longer travels around the world it is just too big and / too dangerous to lose.
The Huawei P10 offers a fantastic foto and video performance with their Leica double front camera system and a lot of parameters to tweak.
I use a Black Eye tripod to stabilize for video captures and sometimes an extra wide-eye lense for a wider screen experience.
I think the GoPro is self explanatory, but comes in handy for a second view or when you find beautiful lakes or lagoons.