Linux home recording studio

A little stretch of desk, a couple of monitors, and a copy of the free and open source DAW Ardour running on Linux, (CC-BY) wstryder / Lauri Rantala. (Note: this is presumably Lauri’s studio, and is certainly not mine, seeing as I can’t play the guitar, and thus recording the results of me playing a guitar would be somewhat less than fruitful!)

I’m done with posting for this week as it’s time to overhaul my (very, very humble) apartment studio space and gear closet. But that seems the perfect time to ask you how you set up your musical workspace. (I think people imagine that I have rooms full of gear, but I really do a lot of work in-box on computer, which I’m gradually augmenting with some “boutique” – but reasonably affordable – DIY synth boxes. As an urbanist and someone on a limited budget with limited space, that works well.)

I’m a great fan of Lifehacker’s ongoing series on their readers’ workspaces, which show off marvels of productivity, efficiency, and attractive interior design:
Lifehacker Workspace Show and Tell [Flickr]
For some of the best examples:

It’s funny; the notion of “bedroom producers” is often disparaged, but I think the ability to have personal workspaces are a great thing for music. Now, a musical workspace can range from an impromptu setup on a hotel room desk to a corner of an apartment to a space you’ve built in a barn to a traditional studio. Each of those locations has its own advantages (and in a way, make you appreciate what’s special about the conventional studio even more).

So, whether you’ve worked out a mobile rig with a Nintendo DS and a tape recorder or you’ve got a dream studio you get to work in — or you want to show off how you’ve managed to organize your closet full o’ gear and cables — we’d love to hear from you. Send us a link to a public gallery in comments, or upload to CDM’s Flickr pool:

Also, do us a favor. Either send a note explicitly allowing us to reproduce your image, or even better, license your photo on Flickr as Creative Commons ShareAlike. (Because CDM runs ads against content, we apparently do not qualify as a non-commercial use. ShareAlike, though, means that anyone using your content also needs to share their content, which helps protect against exploitation.) You can add the license directly on Flickr, and then it’s more likely that we can use your images. I’ve actually thought of doing regular round-ups of images on Flickr, but getting individual licenses would be too time-consuming; if people do start doing this, I will easily feature the images you’re sending in!

I’m really eager to see your musical environments. Part of the joy of music is that ability to take your mind and spirit to another place, and that means setting aside physical space. (I recall a Buddhist friend of mine and the importance that had for where he would chant. It wasn’t anything extravagant, just a decision to set aside a location for the activity.)

To kick things off, Thomas Dolby has the location most of us would dream of: he’s got a wind- and solar-powered restored lifeboat on the north coast of England.

Dolby talks about his studio and the ideas behind it, followed by a new song he wrote in the boat, at TED:

Keyboard Magazine took a tour of the boat and covers all the gear contained onboard):
On Board Thomas Dolby’s Solar Studio Boat

More photos at Tiny House Design

But I’d love to see your less-exotic music making locations, too.

  • Here are some recent pics of my space:

    I've actually posted a few of these in the CDM pool. Licensing is currently "Attribution, Noncommercial, Share Alike", but Create Digital Music absolutely has my permission to reproduce these images.

  • A bedroom studio is nothing to belittle, even for top-notch producers. Stuart Price, who produced top-notch artists like Seal, Madonna, and Kylie Minogue, talks about his messy (but nice) home studio in this Sound on Sound article.

    I wouldn't mind a little Neve sitting in my bedroom, come to think of it.

  • Its funny, cause I've been seeing a bunch of a studio pics of artists that I admire. They are all full of racks and racks of synths, analog tape machines, and whatnot. I get by quite nicely with a computer, keyboard, and a mic. It's a little ironic that I'm such a live music fan (as demonstrated by studio pic) yet I produce and compose very precise electronic music 🙂

    my 'studio'

  • copyright police

    You can release something as CC non-commercial, and still give explicit permission to CDM to publish it on their site.

    "Firstly, because our licenses are non-exclusive which means you are not tied down to only make a piece of your content available under a Creative Commons license; you can also enter into other revenue-generating licenses in relation to your work."

    "So if you choose to license your work under a Creative Commons license that includes the “noncommercial use” option, you impose the ”noncommercial” condition on the users (licensees). However, you, the creator of the work and/or licensor, may at any time decide to use it commercially. People who want to copy or adapt your work, "primarily for monetary compensation or financial gain" must get your separate permission first."

  • Andreas Wetterberg

    Christopher Jon has a distinct approach to music production, and the mix of the raw rock elements and all that lovely lovely esoteric electronic equipment is sooo drool-worthy.

    …and, as it would seem, the kid knows how to snap a picture! DAYUMN!

  • This is my studio. This is a pretty old photo. It looks pretty much the same today, except for JBLs being on small stands for head-level monitoring, and that I don't use shitty Pro Tools no more. Also I changed the Firewire 410 for a Profire 610, and the phone, horse, desklamp, and candybowl are RIP. Sometimes there's also a laptop and a Launchpad on the desk.

  • Booth view. Today there's an LCD monitor hanging to the right of the window.

  • I went ahead and added a work-in-progress photo to the CDM group under an appropriate license. It's not much, but it's where I'm sitting for now, and it shows I'm making some progress. 🙂

  • Here's a fairly recent shot of my home studio – fortunately, this space was already existent when we moved into this house, and didn't require any modification.

  • Thomas

    Some (probably not up to date) info of my home studio with pictures:

  • Here are some shots of my music/design studio. When I'm "working" I just set aside the Novation controller and the jog/shuttle. Pretty much everything runs through the MacPro running LogicPro 8. It's pretty cozy, only about 7 feet wide by about 10 long when empty but it's very efficient. The only downside is that the M3 is not in front of the monitor, but I can control Logic using my iPod Touch and the AC-7 app when I'm am sitting there.

  • My friends Justin and Surachai have done a great job interviewing dozens of artists regarding their studios studios with plenty of photos in their site's workspace and environment series:

  • I'm between studio spaces at present and it is beginning to get me down. Been trying out a few things though with equipment I can quickly move out of reach of small children.

    Here are some pics of a recent set-up, a guitar effects chain triggered by a drum loop:

    It's a variation on a set-up where I used a drumkit to trigger a theremin. You can see video of that at

  • here's a few pics from my setup evolving (i.e. getting less and less) over the years.

  • @wetterberg same thing could be said of you Sir! c'mon show us your studio

  • @Richard Lainhart – what a wonderful view you have there. Enjoy!

    Here is my humble slice of studio (I don't claim to be a photographer):

  • Hey Peter, I forgot to ask in my last comment – what is that curious looking little round-ish burgundy colored device in the photo of your studio?

  • Here's my workspace atm:

  • @tranzfuze … that looks like a line 6 pod to me.

    my home studio is pretty humble, but being as I cleaned it up yesterday, I might as well share.

    also no studio is complete without a keyboard cat

  • Here are are couple of pics of my modest home studio. Inspiring seeing other people's spaces – I'm pretty cosy in mine now that I'm happy with my set up – just waiting for my girlfriend to finish a painting to go up above the desk 🙂

  • Here is what I'm (not) working with at the moment. Nothing is wired in yet, as I'm trying to be fastidious about it, which means laying things out and measuring before buying/soldering cables. I'm not 100% sold on this layout, but it seems to suit my needs for now.

  • vinayk

    Great pictures guys.
    Mine has a few more wires everywhere.

    Now just need some more free time to mess around!

  • @transfuze: Heh; that's not my studio in the photo! Sorry I implied that.

    But I can spot the gear — that's a Line 6 Pod 2.0.

    The thing on the right with the strings and such is known as "one of the many instruments Peter can't play because it doesn't have keys." 😉

  • Ben Kessler

    More or less current. I've gone through lots of iterations, but this is the one I've been most happy with by far. There's room for improvements (always, right?), but I really love working in this space.

  • Here's my rig:
    And in context:

  • For composed, edited, and more structured music, I'm working in Reason/Record (having shifted from Reason/Tracktion), with stacks of keyboards and racks of gear getting dusty because I finally decided I was fed up with the distraction of resolving scratchy cables, fussy vintage gear, and wrangling mountains of equipment I couldn't take out live. There's not much of a picture to that studio, which is just computer, monitors, audio interface, and a MicroKontrol.

    For really making music, and for making it live, which is primarily how I work these days, I use my redbox:

    It's named for the Nord that's at the heart of it. It's also in a sort of ongoing beta state as I'm in the process of tweaking, adjusting, rebuilding to get it exactly right. I use a netbook (not in the picture) to edit my Nord patches, and, master down on the fly to the Zoom H2.

    The redbox fits on the luggage rack of my Vespa, and is ready to go in about five minutes after I crack it open, which pretty much makes the world my studio. There's a bluebox in the works (homage as due to Serge), which is a little larger, but with built in amplification and slightly different gear, but it's still embryonic.

  • P.S. I got more sophisticated and put up an annotated version on Flickr:

    Joe Wall

  • JackAstro


    Your mobile kit looks awesome. I have contemplated something similar.

    Any thoughts of making it battery powered?

  • I recently did a little "tour" of my studio:

    Not much to look at I guess, but having less than 20 m2 of Tokyo apartment space to play with puts certain constraints on what you can do! 🙂

  • @RhythmInMind: What are those studio monitors you're using? The way the foam is arranged around those… mid-tweeters? Some kind of full-range, maybe… looks like a classic BBC trick. Thanks.

  • @Darren Landrum:
    They are M&K's great design. I have them balanced out very nicely part of 2.1 setup. I do allot of my premastering work at home & then bring it into work to check the final.

  • @RhythmInMind: Thanks! Now that I've seen a good close-up at the MKS site, I can see it's actually three horn-loaded tweeters. That still seems odd to me, but I can see how that might help dispersion of the high-frequencies. Most tweeters tend to beam the high-freqs a lot, when the mids and lows get dispersed a lot more evenly.

    It's given me the idea though of combining two low-mids with three full-rangers, though. I'll have to toy with that one a bit. In the meantime, I'm okay with these Wharfies. 🙂

  • @Peter K

    hate to be a pedant but… Dolby's gaff is on the East coast of England.

  • My photos are the derkaalfuri ones, which can be reproduced as desired, though they are cellphone camera shots and pretty rough. No photos of the DS there though it's usually around being used as well. Blue NDS with acekard2i and m3 simply flashrom cards loaded up with homebrew music apps, the simply a backup for when a buddy brings over their DS. I have to get a DSi XL eventually as I bought the new Korg DS-10 Plus app and want to get the enhanced support.

    I generally run the NDS into one of the PCs and live mix tracker or VST bits with whatever I've put together on the DS, with or without some manner of live MIDI/virtual MIDI triggered sounds tagging along. When my brother is in town we usually do that, by myself it gets difficult to do so. I mostly work in the trackers, horribly, or fumble about on the instruments around never quite learning enough before I stop and move on to another pet project.

    As per the photos, the mandolin is something I hope to get hooked up to the PC soon via some usb pedal and push strange sounds through the software, as it has an aftermod pickup (added sometime in the 1950s). The mandolin strings are raised off the fretboard, and it now has a temporary tailpiece that raises them more, making it hell to fret. But I am growing super muscles working on the g scale.

  • Charlie Lesoine

    Put up some pics of my 10'x12' shed setup:

  • I am enjoying looking at all of the studio spaces here on CDM… thanks everyone for sharing. CDM has my permission to do whatever with my studio pictures, found <a>here

  • Some shots of my Apt. studio and gear I've collected over the years.

  • Man, I wish I had a Space Echo.

  • Peter

    Here's my space. Off in a closet are many other toys, synths, mics, guitars, woodwinds. I take them out when needed. I don't like clutter, and do most of my work in the box these days.

  • ocp

    Here's a picture of my workspace. I've recently added an electric guitar to the setup and swapped the hifi speakers for a pair of Fostex PM1 (both not pictured).

  • Amazed by the photos people have added to the CGM Flickr group. WOW. Amazing stuff, people. More groovy than anything I will ever own.

    For those who saw the mando/dobro photos, I put some sample sounds of it on YouTube. I briefly hooked it up to the PC unamplified except for limited volume increase by the recording level slider for the line input on the sound card. It is even better on an actual amp. Hope to make myself some samples from it to use in misc tracker music projects.

  • Pingback: Linux home recording studio | IT Computer Software & Linux()