Evolution of the Home Recording Studio

by | Audio, Digital Audio, Studio Equipment, Technology

Nothing lasts forever. My home recording studio is part of life’s evolution as a working pro voice over talent.   My need to evolve has become all too apparent since I began my search of  simply changing out my microphone interface. Just trying to alter one thing literally opens a can of home recording studio worms!

I hope  this post will not turn into one of those Mac versus PC arguments, because that is not my intent. I’ve just always had a PC computer. But  I am thinking about the Mac since acquiring my iPhone and iPad. I’m open and flexible, eager to evolve. Let’s just say, I’m open. But I have many moving parts to consider! Hardware, software,  and my recording components, ie. my gear.

Computer is soon to be obsolete!

It’s been about four and a half years since I ‘ve purchased my Dell Vostro 1520 laptop computer , which was state of the art at the time, with 4G memory and a 500 gig hard drive. It’s sleek and fast and still has 91% storage space. I bought the gold-plated service contract with it, never regretting a moment with this computer, which has never given me any significant  issue. The problem is, it’s “Not Broke”, and yet it is quickly going to become obsolete. You see, I had Dell build it at the time with Windows XP SP3 software, and it also shipped with a software  upgrade to Windows 7 . It’s lightweight and  fairly easy to travel with. But now, even though I could upgrade the software, it would be a major hassle I have no time for, and I’m super busy with many client projects plus I’m recording an audiobook. So that option of off the table.


Time Marches on despite the interface

Now back to the microphone interface. About two years ago I made some changes to my home recording studio audio chain. See this post, “Yanking my Chain”  On the recommendation of some of highly-regarded people in the industry, including studio engineers and voice talent,   I integrated a robust Avalon preamp and stopped using the MicPort Pro as my go-to interface in lieu of a Lexicon Alfa. The Alfa is a reliable interface workhorse and has no phantom power, which concerns me a bit as my condenser microphone requires it. If the Avalon preamp ever blows a tube and is down for a while during replacement, I need redundancy so the microphone is always powered. Having that insurance makes me comfy.

So I made a purchase of two Focusrite iTrack Solo interfaces because I can become even more mobile by taking my my iPad while traveling , since it’s lighter,  and I can record voice over projects directly into  my new Sennheiser MHK 416  microphone.  So I was thinking I’d pack one in my gear bag  for the road, and install one in the recording booth.  The phantom power capability would keep my comfort level high in case there was a preamp maintenance need or other issue. Bottom line: No down time inside my home recording studio!

Now here’s my dilemma. The iTrack solo works on a Mac and PC. Good. But not with Windows XP software. Plus Windows XP will no longer be supported in any way by Microsoft after the end of this year. This interface will work with Windows 7 software.

My Considerations at this point:

1)     Purchase another PC with Windows 7? My contact at Dell informed me that the Federal government recently adopted Windows 7 as its “governing” software, and will most probably be supported for another fifteen years.

Newer computers have solid state drives, and therefore less noise. This is an extremely attractive option for the home recording studio!

2)       Consider purchasing an Apple Computer. I sure like Apple products as I love my iPhone and iPad! Plus, I do like the integration of all the products relative to email, iCloud and calendar! I’ve listened to the eternal arguments pro and con about computer platforms, but for me its all about the recording!

3)      No changes for now, but research, research, research!  “It ain’t broke”…for now. Note to self: Hook up with my pals, George Whittam, Dan Lenard, and Roy Yokelson and build  a plan.

4)       Build the change into my 2014 plan.

5)       Execute the plan. Sell unused gear.


  1. Hey Bobbin. For sure, upgrade to Windows 7. You’ll not regret it and it works great. Don’t try to upgrade your existing computer – if it’s old enough to be running XP, you probably need an upgrade there as well. Just be careful not to buy one with Windows 8 preinstalled if you don’t want it. Good luck!

    • Hi David,
      Yes, good input! After discussing my situation at great length today with my studio technician we’re taking the “if it ain’t broke approach” for now. And I have already heard about Win 8, and the learning curve with its graphical user interface. No thanks for now…I’m staying where I am and just getting another microphone interface that works with Win XP. Because I take very excellent care of this computer, it could last a good while longer. Thanks for stopping by.

  2. I love my set up with the MacBook Pro, ProTools, and Final Cut. Once you go Mac you never go back!

    • Hi Jim,
      Hoping not to get into the OS great debate here, however, I know MAC users are absolutely passionate about their machines. And I love the iPad and iPhone. Just not quite ready to give up what’s working….for now.
      But I am planning for the inevitable future.

  3. Bobbin: Actually, you still have until April 2014 for Microsoft to dictate end of support for Windows XP, per URL http://www.microsoft.com/en-us/windows/enterprise/endofsupport.aspx. Nonetheless, you should be as proactive as possible to decide which OS you actually feel comfortable with. My normal job is that of network administrator, and have been playing around with Windows 8 and 8.1. Suffice it to say the UI is drastically changed compared to Windows 7, even more so with XP.

    As for Mac OS X, I switched to Mac from XP at home in early 2010 and haven’t looked back since. I do not miss the blue screens of death plaguing Microsoft-based machines.

    • Hi Julio,
      Thanks for your input and for the link about XP support ending Aptil, 2014. Your “blue screens of death” made me laugh, as I have experienced many over the years with various MSFT OS.

  4. Hi Bobbin!
    Love your blog! (and your “Voiceover Wheel of Fortune” Webinar was fantastic, too, btw. 🙂 How are you liking the itrack solo? I`ve seen them for about $100 on amazon and sweetwater (for a demo model, but hey, they include free tech support and a 2-year warranty!) Would love to take the plunge (it`d be my first interface) but I’ll take all the endorsements I can get, haha!

    Warmest Regards,

    Sean Daeley

    • Hi Sean,
      Thank you for the kind words about the blog and the Voiceover Wheel of Fortune webinar presentation on Voiceover Virtual. I had all positive feedback, which is awesome. Take Care!

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