The DDCS Studio Thru The Years: A Review Of My Gear And Set-Ups Since 2004
When I began Drake Donovan Productions in 2004, I was working out of the corner of my living room in a rented townhouse with just a Dell PC and a dream. Since then Drake Donovan Creative Services has grown beyond that simple workstation into a fully operational recording studio for voice-over. Here are some looks at my set up and equipment over the years culminating in the latest iteration of the DDCS studio.
When I started out, I didn't have a mic, or a decent camera for that matter. So there aren't any images of the original workspace in the townhouse, or in our first apartment. I was still doing the bulk of my v/o work after hours in the radio station studio and just around the time that we bought our first house is when I acquired the necessary tools to do the job from home on my own time. Below are images of my first recording setup: A Rode NT-1000, a Yamaha O1-V and an M-Audio Audiophile interface. The latter two were picked up second-hand from my voice guy at WZPT, John Beach. He really helped me out big time in getting started.
In 2006 my wife & I bought our first house and on the second floor was a tiny 100+ sq ft bedroom that I utilized as my first studio with a recording booth. At that time, I had upgraded the old Dell PC to a newer, faster model and added a Focusrite Trakmaster and an M-Audio Fast Track. I also added a Sennheiser 416 to the rig. One thing I discovered was the spray adhesive used to apply my Auralex to the walls of the closet made a mess when it came time to move. Lesson learned for the move to Kentucky in 2013.
After my wife took a job in Louisville, KY, it came time for me to leave the friendly confines of my professional home at the then-CBS Radio cluster in Pittsburgh and strike out on my own as a freelance voice-actor and producer. The first home for DDCS as a full-time imaging production house was in Jefferson County, Kentucky. In this home I took a rather large bedroom with a huge walk-in closet. I used some free standing Auralex panels to create a virtual 4th wall, dividing the space into two separate areas, one for v/o and one for storage. Instead of spray adhesive, I used 3M Command Velcro strips to stick the sound treatment to the walls and ceiling. Here are some before and after shots of how I transformed the space to my needs. Since we didn't have a finished basement, this room also served as my mancave/lounge. During this time, I upgraded my computer to an Alienware gaming PC to accommodate the video work I was doing that the time. Another addition to my v/o rig was the Grace Design M101. I love this unit because of it's small size and portability for travel, which I began doing a lot of as I lived so far away from home and family in The Burgh!
Being 600 miles away from everything we every knew, my wife & I decided to move closer to home. We ended up relocating to Warren, OH. In this new iteration of the DDCS HQ, I had a smaller space for the studio set up, but an awesome Whisper-room sized closet to make over in to my booth. Toward the end of our stay in Ohio, my Alienware computer suffered a failure that resulted in a warranty replacement. However, Dell had discontinued the model of machine I had. So I was left with an oversized triangular monstrosity. As it would turn out, that "replacement" machine was riddled with issues. So I took all the good parts from it and, after a few trips to MicroCenter, I created my own workstation.
This past year, my wife had an opportunity that she couldn't pass up. That brought us to the Little League Capital of the World, Williamsport, PA. This house had a den on the first floor that the previous owners used as a play room. I claimed that as my new studio. The first task was to remove the shelves from the closet. They were nailed, painted and caulked in place. It took a couple of days and a lot of blood, sweat, and tears to extract the shelves and line the walls with Auralex. When i closed the doors, I noticed that the sound was a little too 'tight' for my liking. So I took the doors off of their tracks and opened them a bit. Then I took my free standing panels acquired in Kentucky and created that virtual 4th wall. The result was much more to my satisfaction. Here are the before and after shots