The Setup


What do people use to get stuff done?

Michael Raphael

Michael Raphael

Sound effects recordist (Rabbit Ears Audio)

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Michael Raphael. I'm a sound effects recordist and broadcast engineer. I founded Rabbit Ears Audio to create boutique SFX libraries. I also maintain a field recording blog.

What hardware do you use?

When I'm out in the field recording sounds my workhorse setup is a pair of Schoeps Mid Side microphones (CMC5 bodies, MK4 and MK8 capsules), and a Cooper CS-104 mixer with the direct out option. The Cooper serves as a front end for a Sound Devices 744T portable hard disk recorder. The Cooper adds a significant amount of weight to my bag, but it also adds a ton of character and warmth to my recordings. Sadly, Andy Cooper's wonderful line of mixers are no longer in production. My Remote Audio High Noise Headset protects my hearing and allows me to monitor recordings at a safe level.

The following equipment occasionally gets outside as well: A Sound Devices MP-2 preamp, Schoeps MK41, DPA 4060s, Neumann KMR 81, Sanken CUB 01, Sennheiser MKH 30, Sennheiser MKH 40, and Sennheiser MKH60 microphones, and Aquarian h2a Hydrophones.

All of my mics are protected from the elements by a variety of Rycote windshields.

When I'm back at my desk, I work on a mid-2009 15" MacBook Pro, which is still running strong. When I get tempted by a new machine I remind myself that I've made some solid upgrades over the last few years. I replaced the boot drive with an OWC 240 GB SSD and I swapped out the optical drive with OWC's data doubler. When I'm traveling my recordings are backed up to the secondary drive where the optical drive used to be. It adds a bit of weight to the laptop, but it is a joy not to have to carry several portable drives in my bag.

The MacBook Pro is often closed and connected to a 27" Samsung monitor. My day to day work lives on several bare 3.5" drives that get docked in my Newertech Voyager Q. When I bought two Voyagers I eliminated a ton of external enclosures and all of the power supplies that went along with them. When my drives are not in the Voyager they are kept warm and safe in Hudzees on a bookshelf. My long term backups are kept on an OWC 8TB RAID 5 array. My Scansnap s1300 document scanner helps keep the paper away.

I take a ton of notes, and when I am not using a computer I like to use my Lamy 2000 fountain pen and Rhodia pads. I prefer the graph ruled ones. I tried the moleskines, but I like being able to tear away pages easily when I need to.

And what software?

99% of my audio post work happens inside of Pro Tools 10.3.2 and Soundminer v4 Pro.

I use Alfred for launching and performing actions on files without having to use the mouse. I'm an obsessive note taker, and these days 99% of my writing is plain text. My writing is handled with nvALT in conjunction with Folding Text or Byword. If I'm taking notes Folding Text is my editor for files in nvALT, and if I'm writing for the web it's Byword. Folding Text is a recent addition. I love how easy it is to build outlines and hide large swaths of text when you need to focus on a specific area of a document or outline. Marked handles my markdown previews and TextExpander keeps my writing efficient.

I can't get into Evernote for note taking, but it is a good container for receipts and scanned documents. Its shared notebooks are also perfect for collaborating with others.

Omnifocus keeps my projects and tasks on track. I've lived in this app for over 4 years and I can't imagine working without it. I manage my day to day affairs with many of the stock Mac apps: Mail, Contacts, Calendar, Messages, and Numbers. Billings handles all of my invoicing.

My backups are managed by Superduper, Chronosync, Backblaze, and Hazel automates a number of backup and maintenance tasks.

What would be your dream setup?

I would love to have some custom furniture built around my workspace, but other than that I have pretty decent workflow. I've built a system that revolves around apps that will keep me efficient and my devotion to plain text will keep my files accessible for years to come.

However, I do dream of field equipment being designed with a little more care. The last 10 years is marked with tons of innovation when it comes to recording audio in the field. We can now record over 8 channels of high resolution audio in tiny boxes that can run on batteries all day. Every year smaller and more impressive devices keep hitting the market, which is nothing short of wonderful, but one thing is always missing: character. Most of the high end field recorders are solid, but they lack character. I own a Cooper because of how damn good it sounds and how much I can push it in the field. It excels at recording very quiet sounds as well as loud sounds with harsh transients. It has the ability to make things that pass through it just sound better.

The majority of the mic preamps in our modern portable recorders are built to have low self noise and, sadly, low personality as well. I'd love to see the same passion for design and function be put towards the microphone preamps in some of these high end recorders. Now that we've fit them in small boxes, let's makes them more awesome. I'm okay with a slightly bigger box if large transformers need to fit in there.

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