My Travel Studio

This summer my family and I went on a two-week vacation to California. I wanted to have a compact version of my studio with me while I was there, so I put together the smallest version of an  "in-the-box" solution I could think of. In this post I'll share my current travel studio.

I purposely left my travel guitar and audio interface at home so I could pack extra light. While I drew up many possibilities, I landed on the solution below and it worked out great.

  1. MacBook Pro 13-Inch Laptop

I have a 13-inch 2020 MacBook Pro with 32GB of Ram and 1 TB of storage. Most of my production music compositions have less than 50 tracks total so it works fine. The only time I run into performance issues is if I have a ton of orchestral samples loaded. When that happens I freeze and unfreeze tracks and/or activate/de-activate plugins as needed.

  1. Roost Laptop Stand

After years of back problems I learned that maintaining good ergonomics is super- important, especially while traveling. This laptop stand allows me to sit up straight while working at any tabletop. It's light weight and fits easily in my backpack. My neck is also much happier.

  1. Apple Magic Trackpad

I know what you're thinking - "You already have a laptop. Why on earth do you also need a trackpad when you're traveling?"  Two reasons - for improved workflow and writing dynamics.  

When my laptop is on the stand it's a bit awkward to use the laptop trackpad. Since I always use a trackpad at home it made sense to bring it along.  And instead of bringing a separate fader controller to write dynamics, I use AudioSwift when I travel and it works great.

  1. Loupedeck Live

The Loupedeck Live has done more for my studio productivity than anything else on this list. I received it as a Christmas gift last year, and it has totally revitalized my workflow. I was using a Streamdeck, but the big advantage of the Loupedeck is the knobs. They're very similar to the endless encoders on an NKS keyboard, so I can get almost the same level of performance without the bulk of carrying around a big MIDI controller.

  1. 2 TB External SSD

I keep all my sample libraries on a separate external drive for increased performance, security and speed. This is the same SSD I use in the studio, so all I had to do was unplug it from the main studio and throw it in my bag. I also use a protective cover to keep it from getting banged up.

  1. Korg NanoKey 2 Midi Controller

I debated back and forth several times on this one. My favorite portable midi controller is the CME X-Key Air 25. It has full-size keys and is wireless. But it's a bit bigger than I'd like. My backpack was already overstuffed with family necessities, so I decided to take the much smaller Nanokey2. Even though it's wired it leaves a tiny footprint, and it's actually really fun to use. I found myself creating a lot more interesting rhythmic parts with it, almost as if it was a drum pad controller.

  1. Panasonic Wired Earbuds

Purists out there will probably hate that I don't travel with good quality headphones, but I just don't have room for them. Instead I use good quality wired earbuds. My final mix is going to be tested on these as well as the laptop speakers anyway, so I feel no shame mixing on them when I'm on the road.  Plus I rarely need to upload a final mix when traveling.

  1. Tomtoc Laptop Sleeve

My Tomtoc laptop sleeve holds my SSD and cables and slips effortlessly into my backpack. It's also handy for getting through TSA security without losing my mind.

  1. Tom Binh Backpack

Everything fits nicely into my old Tom Binh Synapse 19 backpack.

This setup was fantastic while I was away. I've also used it a few times at local coffee shops when I need a break from my home studio. It helps me stay creative and productive on the go.