With many of us engineers mixing in the box for an international client base to whom we communicate via email or Skype, we suddenly realize that our jobs may be performed from anywhere in the world given a rock solid connection to the internet, a computer, DAW, and a small handful of gear. Clearly this toolbox will vary from professional to professional and being separated from some precious gear for an extended amount of time could be catastrophic. But the point is mobile recording, mixing, and various aspects of post-production can really be done anywhere.
Mixing with cans is becoming increasingly popular as it reflects the way audiences consume media and they feature a wide frequency response untethered by bogus room acoustics. Though many pairs of headphones have their own biases, new calibration technologies such as Sonar Works allow you to tweek your listening system as to provide you with the flattest response possible, making mobile work more available than ever. Here are some of our favourite products for a mobile audio professionals toolkit:
Experienced audiophiles have long praised the Avantone mixcubes, the contemporary reproduction of the classic Auratone which sadly discontinued production after the passing of the companies owner. Avantone came in to fill the hole in the market to produce a highly comparable solution which has become a cult classic in it’s own right, becoming a studio essential in top recording studios around the world. At a reasonable price, small size, and ability to help build a mix as to translate across any selection of listening systems afterward, the Avantone is a perfect fit for home studios or in a travel bag. These are often purchased individually as many engineers use them for mono playback.
Genelec offer a small, mobile model of their 8000 series which comes with a convenient travel case fit perfect for nomadic producers and engineers who blend a good mix of work and travel. They have a surprising degree of bass response for such a small pair of monitors and go perfect with a good pair of closed back headphones. The Genelec 8010 can be used comfortably in a hotel room, broadcast/tour van or home studio, with dedicated mounting accessories for optimal playback. Each pair is equipped with balanced XLR inputs, a 3/4′ tweeter, a 3′ subwoofer and two Class D amplifiers. Follow the link for a detailed review along with a comprehensive list of small woofer studio monitors.
Rode NT-USB Condenser Mic:
It’s rare that any audio professional would encourage the use of a USB microphone for recording high fidelity audio for a professional recording, but when going mobile, RODE makes the decision rather easy with the NT-USB which sounds astonishingly good and is built as durable as their other iconic microphones. What is significant about it is it allows you to bypass the need for an audio interface and keep your travel load much lighter. You can conduct a search for the best USB microphone and what’s sure to come up are products from either RODE, Blue, or Audio-Technica. They are premium brands that have expanded their product line to accommodate simple everyday uses such as podcasting, gaming, and live streaming, while having gone the extra distance mile to apply similar components and features as top studio microphones. The results may surprise you.
External Hard Drive:
This one’s a no brainer. Backing up ones work is essential, especially when on the road and things can get stolen. We would also recommend creating an account with a service called Gobbler which allows you to work “in the cloud” where everything in your session is stored, and is also where much of the weight of many plugins is stored as is the case with Slate Digital Audio plugins. We suggest external hard drives from brands such as Seagate or G-Drive where single units can store up to 5TB of data and run you around $120.00.