On today's check in (yes, I went MIA for a bit), I wanted to do something a bit different and cover my recording setup and hardware.

The Audio Input

While I went to school for studio music and VO recording, I amassed a large amount of audio interfaces, microphones, processors, pre-amps and more. For instance my old VO rig was an AT-2020 run to a custom hand wired API microphone pre-amp which output to a Presonous FireStudio Firewire interface, and I used ProTools for my DAW. However, setting this rig up was a major pain: the amount of gear took up a good amount of space, I would have to safely power down and unplug everything, and setting levels was a bit finicky with the API from day to day.

Then about a year ago I contacted Jeff Way when he was still working at Envato (if you want to learn about Laravel or PHP programming checkout Laracasts) to work on a commissioned video on Composer. For this video, Jeff recommended the Blue Yeti Pro. Coming from my recording background, I was pretty skeptical of a USB microphone and interface, but decided to give it a shot.

I'll say, I still like the tone, response, and proximity effect from my old setup. But, it's not worth the setup time. Instead with the Blue, I can leave the mic plugged into a USB port on my thunderbolt hub. It lets me record at a moment's notice!


Next to the recording gear is my monitor setup. While I use my monitors for work, I almost couldn't imagine recording screencasts without my setup.

As a primary monitor, I have a QNIX 27" monitor running over Display Port. During usual work, this varies in resolution from 1080P to 2560x1440. But, while recording, I drop it down to 720P to match the HD output of Vimeo and reduce some of the artifacts that I was getting from down-converting from 1080P.

When at my desk, I usually keep my 13" Retina MacbookPro open and running at 1680x1050 HiDPI. During work, this usually will have a copy of my Ember App running in Chrome so I can get instant feedback without having to leave my text editor, or this will have my custom packaged Pivotal Tracker Chrome App running. During recording, this screen is almost always blank.

My final monitor is an old Samsung running vertically at 900x1600 and it is being pushed by the HDMI port from my laptop. During work, I usually use this real estate for consoles, chat programs, and twitter. While recording, this screen has my script and code examples.

The Desk

A big part of my work environment has been my desk. For the last year, I've been working on a 60" UpDesk UpWrite standing desk. This gives me desk space for my monitors, laptop, and still gives me a good amount of whiteboard to jot out ideas, meeting notes, and task lists. To gain more room on my desk and improve posture, I have mounted my monitors on Neo-Flex monitor stands. My laptop is sitting on a small fan stand to keep the whiteboard from getting scratched.


Finally comes my accessories. The first thing that comes into the mix is a StarTech thunderbolt hub which gives me 3 USB 3.0 ports, a set of 1/8" audio I/O, and a thunderbolt/Mini DisplayPort chain which goes to my QNIX. The 1/8" audio is connected to a set of speakers that I got on sale at Kroger, I can't recommend them, but they get the job done for watching YouTube videos and editing videos after my old Dell Harmon Kardon speakers finally stopped working.

For the Homies

From the USB ports, I sort of have an explosion of accessories. First is a 3TB drive for backups, and then a small Logitech webcam for Google Hangouts (it looks really weird to use my laptop's camera since it is off to the side). The last port on my hub actually goes to a second 7 port USB hub.

On this hub I have my Blue microphone, an iLok, a 32GB USB thumb drive, and my receivers for my mouse and keyboard. For my mouse and keyboard, I'm using nothing too special: My keyboard of choice is the keyboard that comes with the Microsoft 800 bundle, it has enough strike distance to feel meaningful, does produce some noise, but most importantly the keys move almost perfectly for me and I can actually PULL the keys down rather than push (sounds weird until you try it). My mouse is an E-Blue Mazer, really this is just a cheap Chinese gaming mouse: as a mouse it's nothing spectacular in terms of reliability or accuracy, but it is a decently erganomic full-sized wireless mouse for the price of most micro mouses so that's a big win in my book.

That's about all of my setup. I'd love to hear about your setups for working, so give it a shout out in the comments!