Since becoming a father 9 years ago, the way I work on music has changed dramatically.
Pre-kids, I used to go into the studio , pretty irregularly, whenever the inspiration took me for writing. For mixing, I only ever mixed in the studio.
When my son popped along, I bought my first Macbook… assuming it’d be just for ideas…. just to get me going, and I’d mix on the Mac Pro.. the ‘proper’ Mac. I rapidly found out that laptops rule the world, and despite less power than a tower, my northern frugal ways (auxes not inserts, bouncing not using more tracks) meant I found the laptop more than powerful enough for what I need.
I soon sold my Mac Pro and went Macbook only, and I’m on my 3rd laptop in 9 years.. 2nd Macbook Pro
I cant recommend them enough… whether a Windows machine or a Mac, the headspace of ‘I have 10 minutes free.. where are my headphones?’ is liberating, and it allows me to work much more than if I were relying on going into the studio to work.
So, these days, for mixing, I do lots of mix prep on headphones….. the Apple buds are great for 25 quid, but I have some Seinnheiser ones too that Ive had for years, and theyre really room-like. After basic balances, editing, pitching, I take the mixes to the studio for speaker treatment, but often the mix is better than I’d imagine. I’d never rely solely on headphones, but with time so tight, it’s reassuring I can get mixes mostly ‘there’ just by sitting on the sofa.
For writing, the studio’s a lovely space. Until I finished the studio (whilst I didn’t have one for 6 years), I’d happily write on a laptop only.. in fact it was such a new way to write I really enjoyed the structure: no MIDI keyboard, just Logic and a pair of headphones….and the built in Mic on the Macbook.
Now I’ve got the studio, it’s been brilliant to write on the toys in there.. I’m working on some piano tracks at the moment, so it was great to use the real piano and mic it up.. such an inspirational thing to play (despite my appalling playing). Today I spent a few hours mixing and writing a few new ideas, just on hardware: Copycat and old synths. Really pleased with the results so far….. importably, I had a brilliant time doing it….. and you just don’t get that purely from a laptop.
I rarely get extended time in the studio ..its an hour here and there these days, so I seem to save up inspiration, then out blurt a few ideas at once. It’ll take a while to turn those into whole tracks, but with my trust headphones, a glass of wine and a sofa, I can nail them in comfort.