Home Recording Studio Update (2021)

Studio Update – 21 Years Later!

After 21 years, I have a home recording studio update! In 2020 I decided to overhaul and rebuild my home recording studio completely. The overhaul includes new furniture, upgraded outboard gear, instrument upgrades, improved soundproofing, and proper room acoustic treatments for a better room frequency response. I am modernizing everything as my budget allows. The studio design will focus on editing and mixing first and recording second.

Studio Update – The Details

Acoustic treatments will achieve an optimal room frequency response. Improved soundproofing will keep our neighbors happier when the studio is in use. The visual aesthetics will change to make a more comfortable and relaxing environment. There will be no more blinding white walls that the studio had originally. The new look will have a fantastic, darker, psychedelic vibe with controllable LED lighting. I will write in detail about the studio rebuild in future posts.

Studio Update – Outboard Gear Upgrades

Home Recording Studio Update, Upgraded Outboard Gear Racks (2021)
Upgraded Custom-Built Gear Racks (Early 2021):
Power Supply: 2x Furman PL-PLUS DMC Power Supplies.
Rolling Mixer Stand (far right): Mackie 1402 VLS.
Upgraded Custom-Built Gear Racks (Late 2021):
Left Rack: Two Fully Independent Monitoring Systems (see the following picture).
Right Rack: Outboard Gear (1x TC Electronics M-ONE XL Dual Channel Effects Signal Processor, 2x Behringer Composer MDX2100, 2x Behringer Composer Pro-XL MDX 2600, 1x Art TPII XL Tube Preamp System 2 (modded), 1x Art Pro MPA Tube Preamp (modded), 1x Art Pro VLA Voctrol/Tube Leveling Amp (modded)) for Vocals, Drums, and other instruments.
Home Recording Studio Update, Monitoring Station - No Room Acoustic Treatments at this point
Editing, Mixing, and Monitoring Station:
Acoustic Room Treatment: No acoustic room treatments at this point.
DAC/ADC Converter: Lexicon Omega (USB/Instrument/XLR) 24/48 Digital to Analog and Analog to Digital Converter.
A/B Controlling Unit: RCF MC-1 Monitor Controller
Cabling: Mogami Gold Studio XLR Cables, Van Damme Blue Series Studio Speaker Wire, Seismic Audio Speakers, 24K Gold Banana Connectors.
Monitor Chain 1: 1x DOD R430 Dual-Channel Graphic Equalizer, 1x Yamaha P2201 Power Amp, 2x Yamaha NS-10M Studio Monitors, 1x Yamaha NS-W2 Powered Subwoofer (Designed Specifically for NS-10’s Crossover Range).
Monitor Chain 2: 1x Ashly GQX-3102 Dual-Channel 31-Band Graphic Equalizer, 1x Ashly XR1001 Dual-Channel Crossover, 1x Samson Servo 550 Power Amp, 2x Tannoy PBM 6.5 Studio Monitors, 2x Tannoy TS10 Powered Subwoofer.

Studio Update – Computer and Software Upgrades

Home Recording Studio Project, Computer and Software Upgrades
Computer and Software Upgrades: Samsung R780 Laptop/Workstation with Intel i3 Processor, 8GB Memory and 750GB Internal HDD, External Wall Mounted Monitor, Samplitude Pro X4 Multi-Track Recording Software Suite with a virtual arsenal of Plugins, Dell 530 Workstation (Backup Server) with dual Xeon 3.4 Ghz processors and 2TB of Storage on RAID-1 Configuration, All Devices Hardwired for 1GB Ethernet over Cat.6 Cables.

Studio Update – Instrument Upgrades

Drum Kit Improvements: Full Rack, Floating Mounts, Full Microphone Coverage, Two Snares, Sturdy Overhead Rolling Stands.
7-Piece 1989 Pearl Export Series Drum Kit Improvements: Half-Rack, Floating Mounts, Two Pearl Snares, Full Microphone Coverage (1x D-112, 10x SM57, 3x SM58, 2x C-1000 (modded)), Sturdy Overhead Rolling Stands.
Guitar Rig Upgrades (2021): Marshall JCM 900 50w High-Gain Dual Reverb Amp (early version – modded), Fryette Power Station Integrated Reactance Amplifier, 2x Sonic 4×12 Cabinets with ??? Speakers.

For my entire life, I owned and played only one guitar, a 1985, all-black, Ibanez Roadstar II, 6-string electric. A while back, I restored all the original electronics after I shifted away from my Heavy Metal phase. However, as part of my studio rebuild, I purchased a second guitar, a 2009 Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro. Check it out.

Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro 2009, 6 String Electric Guitar
2009 Gibson Les Paul Traditional Pro, 6-String Electric Guitar.

Home Recording Studio Update – Future Planned Upgrades

Here are some additional upgrades I have specified for rebuilding but still need to purchase.

  • Herman Miller Mirra 2 Chair – Tilt Limiter and Seat Angle, Butterfly Back
  • Lynx Studio Technology: Aurora 16 with LT-USB (AD/DA 24/196 16 channel Converter)
  • Gallien-Krueger: CX410 Bass Cabinets (2x)
  • Gallien-Krueger: MB Fusion (500W)
  • Gallien-Krueger: 1001RB Power Amp
  • 7-string electric guitar… still researching.
  • Good quality vocal microphone… still researching.
  • GIK Acoustics: 242 Acoustic Panels for 1st-order reflection control.
  • Bass traps won’t be selected until a room frequency analysis has been completed, and the “trouble” frequencies are identified. Traps will be custom build to target those specific “trouble” frequencies.
  • Build a small isolated vocal recording area.

Music Interests and First Home Recording Studio (1990’s)

My music interests and first home recording studio are as crucial to me as painting and art. Truthfully, the two are in constant competition within me because sometimes I love making music more than I love making art, and visa-versa. However, I make some money with my art, whereas I have yet to make a penny with my music. Therefore, making music has become a love I pursue solely for personal enjoyment.

Music Interests, Early Band Years, and Recording

It was during my mid-teen years that music became a big part of my life. When I was about 15 years old, my father purchased an Ibanez Roadstar II guitar (black) for me, and everything changed.

My earliest recordings were made on my father’s cheap multi-track recorder. They were horrible recordings because I didn’t know how to play the instrument, and during the “playback” of the tapes, I learned how bad I sounded. That was when I realized the way to grow as a musician was to hear myself playing after the fact, analyze what I was hearing, and LEARN what not to do!

John O'Keefe Jr at 19 years old
John O’Keefe Jr at 19 years old

In my later teens, when I started playing in bands with my brother Dan, I continued developing my guitar playing and recording skills. My guitar, amp, and recorder were there, and they always traveled with me. As a result, the recording became an obsession, and it was common for me to interrupt band practice to set up, reposition mics, or check cassette recorders. Eventually, around 1990, I purchased my first multi-track recorder, a Fostex X-26. Around this time, my musical tastes expanded beyond heavy metal and into everything that was instrumentally technical and complicated and sounded good to my ears.

Early 90’s Classical Composition (with tape bleed-through)
by John O’Keefe Jr Guitar
Early 90’s Classical Composition
by John O’Keefe Jr Guitar Right and Dan O’Keefe Guitar Left
Mid 90’s Rehearsal (with some digital clipping)
John O’Keefe Jr Guitar, Keith Ribera Drums, Jeff Curtis Bass
Mid 90’s Rehearsal and Improvisational Jam
John O’Keefe Jr Guitar, Keith Ribera Drums, Jeff Curtis Bass

First Home Recording Studio

As time progressed, I bought a computer, and in 1998 I became the proud owner of my first Digital Audio Workstation (D.A.W.), Samplitude Studio version 4.04a. Therefore, I made the switch from analog recording to digital recording. Over the next several years, I faithfully upgraded the Samplitude Studio software while keeping current with other digital recording technology, such as a Dman-2044 PCI, 4-channel, 16-bit DAC/ADC audio interface card.

First Home Recording Studio of John O'Keefe Jr
First Home Recording Studio of John O’Keefe Jr.
First Home Recording Studio of John O'Keefe Jr
First Home Recording Studio of John O’Keefe Jr. – Control Room
First Home Recording Studio of John O'Keefe Jr
First Home Recording Studio of John O’Keefe Jr. – Control Room (Close-up)
Early Home Studio Recording: John O’Keefe Jr Guitars and Bass

Recording Studio Projects for Local Bands

Starting in late 1998, I began recording, mixing, and mastering small projects for friends and their bands. Also, I did this studio work after my day job as an electro-mechanical designer. Sometimes I would be up until 2 or 3 in the morning, editing and mixing tracks. The work initially consisted of taking cassette recordings, converting them from analog to digital medium, loading them into Samplitude Studio, cleaning up the audio quality, and finally burning the improved audio to CD.

After those early cleanup projects, I had an opportunity to do my first multi-track recording session for a friend’s band. However, things didn’t come out as planned, but I still felt good about taking on larger multi-track recording projects. In addition to further improving my recording skills, working with different musicians was a lot of fun. Also, some songwriting collaborations resulted from these connections.

Late 90’s Collaborative Project: “Storm of My Mistakes” by Eric Gallop.
(John O’Keefe Jr Guitars and Bass, Eric Gallup Lead and Backing Vocals)
Late 90’s Collaborative Project: “Storm of My Mistakes” by Eric Gallop.
(John O’Keefe Jr Guitars and Bass, Instrument Tracks Only – No Vocals.)

As word spread about what I was doing in my studio, requests for more significant projects started. I re-mastered projects for several local bands. And, even though my gear was considered “entry-level” quality, my work was good enough to receive positive feedback on a local radio station that featured one of the groups.

First Full CD Recording Project for the Band “Room One”

First Home Recording Studio of John O'Keefe Jr, Room One, Recording Session Picture
Room One Recording Session Picture

My first big multi-track project was for a local band named “Room One,” In early 1999, I started recording their 12-song CD. Subsequently, every instrument had its track, and I put all my years of recording experience into the project. As a result, I always received positive feedback from the band. Also, the band was open-minded to making instrumental arrangement changes on a few songs at my suggestion. Additionally, they included a guitar solo I performed in one of their songs. The solo part I recorded during a sound check I conducted before the band showed up for one of their sessions.

“Over and Over” by Room One (unmastered snippet from 1999)
Lead Guitar by John O’Keefe Jr

The singer moved to another state in the middle of the recording sessions, and the CD never recorded the final vocals. However, an instrumental version of the CD was released.

Jay Moore of Room One
Jay Moore of Room One
Robert Paulman of Room One
Robert Paulman of Room One
Dan O'Keefe of Room One
Dan O’Keefe of Room One

My music interests and first home recording studio are a considerable part of my life. Because I love it, I will continuously pursue these interests to improve my playing, songwriting, and recording skills.

List of Early Recording Projects

  • Driver Mad
  • Gallup & Lourdes
  • Eric Gallup – “Storm of My Mistakes”
  • Circle of Thorns
  • Room One
  • The Furry Alligators
  • Alfred LLoyd
  • Rachel
  • Habla Ranks
  • Paul Jeter