As I wind up my studio business, my thoughts turn to specifying a new, portable system.  I’ve run portable systems before but things have come a long way since then. I love designing and specifying systems for clients and my own is no exception.  I have a few thoughts to base the new rig around:

  1. Portability – It must fit in a standard car.
  2. Digital– It’s going to have to be digital to get the most out of the system (although I still love analogue recorders of course).
  3. Dante – seems this is rapidly become standard fro Audio over Ethernet.
  4. Software – I’m a certified Avid Instructor in Pro Tools, so this is my expertise but I’m keen to have Logic, Reaper, Max and some other DAWs available to make the system as flexible as possible.
Focusrite RED 16LINE

Focusrite RED 16LINE

With this is in mind I’ve been looking at a few different interfaces, a couple that caught my eye were: Focusrite’s new RED 16LINE and the new Lynx Aurora(n), I know from experience that the converters on the Aurora(n) will be first class but this is also reflected by the £6,000+ price tag not including extra options.  The Focusrite is half the price and features all the connectivity in one box (Thunderbolt, Dante, Pro Tools card connections), this makes it a very attractive proposition which could later be upgraded to Aurora(n) if the new business does well.

Allen & Heath - SQ-6

Allen & Heath – SQ-6

There’s a couple of reason’s why Dante is a good idea these days, firstly if you’re running any type of headphone based foldback system, running audio over ethernet makes it extremely easy to set-up; secondly in increased compatibility with other systems.  For example, I am considering undertaking some more Live Sound and, will probably purchase a Allen & Heath SQ5 or SQ6 if I head down this route.  Being able to quickly link that console with the interface in my portable recording rig would open up a lot of possibilities for Live in Session and similar live events.

One thing I do know from past experience is that it’s extremely important to have a power conditioner.  In a studio you can control the state of the mains power getting to your gear but in a portable system you can be working anywhere and having a Furman or similar conditioner in the rack is, in my opinion, essential.

I also want to make sure I have some nic pre-amps in this set-up, so I’m considering an 8 Slot API Lunchbox, which I can then fill up with some tasty Pre Amps (Neve 1073LB, API512c, DAV BG501).

Neve 1073LB

Neve 1073LB

Most people don’t consider cabling when putting together a new system, in an analogue system it’s not uncommon to spend 25% of your budget on quality cabling.  So it’s good to note the standardised analogue connections using DB-25s as this means one quality cable between the lunchbox and the interface for 8 channels of analogue audio.  It’s also good to see Mogami now have a UK operation.

The new few months will be fun as I sell my studio gear and start to put together a budget for this new system.

Watch out for Part 2 soon.