How would /you/ outfit the studio?

In +1/-1, Manifold Recording, recording studio, technique by Michael Tiemann

There are hundreds of posts on the various recording studio mailing lists and bulletin boards asking people to indulge in the fantasy of deciding how to spend large $$ on gear. And the most frequent response given is “FOR WHAT PURPOSE?” followed closely by “You have to match the gear to the room. If you’re not going to spec the room, the question of gear is meaningless!” Most of these threads intentionally omit any consideration of the room because the people posting all have roughly the same situation: a basement or bedroom studio with 8′ ceilings, tons of prosumer gear they’re ready to upgrade, and enough money to buy some serious pro-quality equipment, but not enough money to build the space needed to really utilize the gear. And so these threads rarely lead to anything.

I’ve had the pleasure of talking with dozens of people with centuries of combined experience between them, and on the question of gear there seems to be only one central question: the digital guys ask “why are you thinking about installing a Duality?” and the analog guys ask “why are you thinking about installing an ICON?” The analog guys say it’s about the quality and feel of a real analog console and the digital guys say “anything can sound like anything today—it’s all about workflow”. And indeed, there does come a point when workflow matters: I love a good walk and even the occaisional boat ride, but I’m going to visit Tokyo, I’d much rather fly. Instant and perfect recall of session parameters does have its benefits. But so does the organic, authentic aesthetic of analog, which strongly encourages one to focus on the music, not the bits. What is best for tracking? What’s best for mixing? What’s best for what comes next?

So here’s a chance to answer an age-old question: what gear would you buy with a budget of $500K-$1M? This includes console (only one control room, so only one console), main monitors, surround monitors, DAW, outboard gear, microphones, backline equipment, etc. Answer in the context of this space (large tracking room, great control room), and answer in the context of why you would favor your choice over the obvious alternatives, describe what you most like to do and how you most like to work.

Have fun!