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Build Your Own Studio—2024 Edition: Part 3

We asked London/Belgium-based engineer Wes Maebe to spend an imaginary $100,000 outfitting an imaginary studio. The place may not exist, but it sounds awesome!

SKNote Etna M8Build Your Own Studio: 2024 Edition
SKNote Etna M8.

What would you put in your studio if money was no object? That’s what we asked London/Belgium-based engineer Wes Maebe—and money really was no object, because it didn’t exist. For this article, Wes went on an imaginary shopping spree, blowing 100,000 imaginary dollars on an equally imaginary studio. Here’s what he came up with—the place may not actually exist, but it sounds awesome! DON’T SKIP PARTS ONE AND TWO!


PSI A-23M monitor.
PSI A-23M monitor.

This time, no big console, but we’ll still need something to tie all this together and give us some faders under the fingers. Not only does this unit deliver eight stereo channels on 100mm touch-sensitive motorized faders, it also sports total recall and dynamics on each channel. Meet SKnote’s Etna-M. As the Etna is cascadable and expandable, we’ll go ahead and add the Etna-Q in order to turn the fader/dynamics bank into a full channel strip. The Etna Q has 11 motorized pots and a harmonic control for each channel.

Of course, we need to be able to monitor all this equipment. Speakers are such a personal thing. If you want a conversation between engineers and producers to kick off, just ask them about their speakers. Studio monitoring is highly subjective and greatly influenced by the acoustics of the room you work in. You might hear a pair of speakers in a studio and think they are great, so you buy a pair for yourself, then find they simply don’t work in the place you work. Always try to test drive new monitors in your environment.

The pair that I’m selecting are amazing: The PSI A-23Ms are Swiss-made, fully analog and seem to handle less-than-optimal acoustic situations well.

As everybody is dabbling in or is simply being forced into mixing immersive, I’m going to spec a set of Ultimate Ears Pro UE Premier IEMs to get us started in the binaural mix game.


Earlier, I mentioned that this was going to be a bit more of a hybrid situation, so we do need to look at some software. As I’m sure you are aware, the number of available plug-ins is staggering. I’m selecting just a few key tools that I find myself reaching for most of the time.

Wholegrain Digital Quartet DynPEQ
Wholegrain Digital Quartet DynPEQ Plug-In.

The Wholegrain Digital Quartet DynPEQ is a surgical life-changer. It excels at sorting out problematic frequencies, but the more I use it, the more I find you can insert it to bring out character in sounds, bringing them to life.

The Sonnox Elite bundle provides an incredible amount of processing power; I think I’ll add the Sonnox Oxford Drum Gate to that.

Finally, just for those small mastering jobs and to keep label people happy, a Fabfilter Pro-L 2 as the final transparent limiter.


I wouldn’t be me if I didn’t add a few fun bits, a couple of left-field items to keep things lively in here. I’ve been doing a lot of techno, deep house and trance mixing recently, and I always feel that some of these sounds could do with a little analog feel, and a good dose of kicking it up the back side.

I’ve been reaching more and more for some of the equipment listed above, but also quirky guitar pedals. One big mother of a pedal is Analogue Tube’s Love Bomb. You can be subtle with it, and you can do some serious Tube Damage with it as well. To cap it all off neatly, two Rainger FX pedals that are “out there”—the Drone Rainger, with its dual drones and delay, and the Minibar Liquid Analyzer pedal. Yes, you can pour any liquid in it to alter your sound.

Bringing all this pedal madness together is Jonathan Little’s newly re-issued Little Labs Pepper DI/Re-amper.


It can’t all be work, work, work. It’s important to take regular breaks and give your ears a rest. Sure, we’ve just invested a lot of hard-earned money into the equipment list, but I’ve left a little aside for fun. We’re going to install a Winmau Blade 6 triple-core dartboard and a set of Bulls Mamba 97 M6 25-gram darts.

If you really can’t put your instrument down, you should always have an Ebow lying around the studio; it works on more than just guitar.

With the remaining $51.31, we’ll buy a few Old Fashioneds to celebrate your new studio.