Uses This

1281 interviews since 2009

A picture of Rusty Hodge

Rusty Hodge

Founder and general manager (SomaFM)

in audio, developer, mac

Who are you, and what do you do?

I'm Rusty Hodge, the founder and general manger of, a listener-support, commercial-free Internet radio service based in San Francisco. What I do is everything from choosing much of the music we play to audio production to web and app development to shooting photos and videos of bands to IT operations for our streaming servers and music playback systems.

What hardware do you use?

My main computer is a 27" iMac, "Late 2009" model, 2.8 GHz Intel Core i7, 8gb RAM, with a 2TB internal HD and a Promise DS4600 configured in RAID10 with 4TB of usable space. I have a bunch of other drives I use for backups, including a second DS4600 configured as RAID5 for 6TB of usable space that's used for backups. And there is a Synology NAS with 6TB of space where I keep big media files that aren't actively being used.

Since I'm doing lots of audio stuff, I have a couple different audio interfaces, including a HRT Music Streamer II and a Digidesign Mbox. I use a Mackie Big Knob to select between sources and control the levels on my KRK Rokit-5 monitors and KRK Rokit 8S sub. I really like the KRKs, they're super revealing and can play quite loud with the sub, and it's not that expensive as a setup. There are better sounding speakers, but this is a lot of bang for the buck.

On the go I use a 13" MacBook Pro with a 256gb SSD and 8gb of RAM. This is a pretty amazing laptop - when I go into the studio I plug it into a big monitor and external keyboard and forget that I'm using a laptop.

Our music playout systems all run on Windows XP and most of them have Orban 1100/1101e DSP/Audio Processing boards. Our stream servers are all Linux (mostly Ubuntu these days). The playout systems and stream servers live at a datacenter near the Financial District so I don't touch them physically that much.

For photography, I have a Nikon D300 which I mostly use with a Nikkor 18-200mm zoom. I also have a Nikkor 12-24mm zoom, a Nikkor 10.5mm fisheye, a Nikkor 80-400mm, and a Sigma 30mm f1.4 for low light. I have a Canon S100 which I use when I need a smaller camera that does well in low light. I have an Olympus E-P1 "Pen" micro 4:3 camera that I use for its "art modes" and to get "Instagram"-like effects but with a lot more resolution. I think of the Olympus as my "Art" camera.

For video, I have a Sony HRD-XR500 and a wide angle lens adapter. I also use the S100 for video as it shoots great video. I have a Manfrotto 055XPROB tripod with the 701HDV Fluid Video Mini head.

For portable audio recording, I use a Sony PCM-D50 for location sound and recording environmental audio; For doing interviews and board recordings, I have an older Marantz PMD620 digital recorder which weighs half as much as the Sony but doesn't have nearly as good as built-in microphones. What the Marantz does have is a great display and big buttons. I usually use it with a Sony ECM-77B lavaliere mic or a Electro-Voice 635a handheld interview mic.

For carrying around my gear, I have a couple things: a Tamrac System 6 camera case; a small Timbuktu Classic Messenger bag and a Dakine Terminal 32L backpack in "Digital Camouflage".

I carry an iPhone 4S and use it more as a mobile computer / communications device but don't talk on it too much. It's amazing that it can replace my laptop, cameras and digital recorders in a lot of cases. The quality isn't quite as good but it is quite decent. I use a Shure SE115m+ headset with it.

My headphones are a pair of Grado 225's which are great for critical listening and letting the outside sounds in, and an older Shure e3c in-ear sound-isolating headphones which I love.

I have a HP Color LaserJet 2025 and a Canon 8800F flatbed scanner but I don't consider them part of my "core kit".

Finally, I carry an 160gb iPod Classic and a Bose Sounddock Portable when I travel.

And what software?

OmniOutliner is my main organizing/planning tool along with Microsoft Excel. I don't really use Word or Powerpoint, just Excel. I spend a ton of time doing web development using BBedit and the OS X Terminal program. I use the SpamSieve add on, it works very well. Other utility apps I rely on: Interarchy for file transfers, Twitter's OS X app and sometimes Twhirl (another Twitter client), SuperDuper for backups, VLC for my "plays anything" media player.

Peak Pro 5.2, Pro Tools, iZotope Ozone and Speakerphone audio processing plug ins. For Mac-based DJing I use Megaseg and Traktor depending on what kind of music it is.

On the photography side, I use iPhoto, Aperture and Photoshop.

Our playout computers all use OtsAV radio automation software for scheduling and sequencing the songs we playback. I (and our DJs) connect to them via Remote Desktop Connection over a VPN so we can run the stations from anywhere. We use Orban AAC encoders and Shoutcast MP3 encoders. We have a lot of custom shell scripts we use for managing music and controlling things.

What would be your dream setup?

My desktop machine would be a Mac Pro with 12 cores, 2.93ghz, with 32gb of RAM, with a 512gb or bigger SSD and 4 4TB internal drives in RAID5 for 12TB usable space, dual optical drives (I rip a lot of CDs still), dual 27-inch Apple displays, and a ATI Radeon HD 5870 graphics controller. I'd have a RME Fireface audio interface, Genelec 6030a monitors and their matching sub.

I'd have a 13" MacBook Pro, whatever the fastest model with the most ram and largest SSD. Basically, a newer model of what I have now.

Camera wise, I'd probably have a Canon 5D Mk III with a Canon 16-35mm f/2.8L wide angle, 70-200mm f/2.8L IS II, EF 24-70mm f/2.8L, Canon 24mm f/1.4L prime and a 85mm f/1.2L prime. And if I'm not trying to be reasonable in my dream, I would love to have two prime telephotos: a Canon 400mm f/2.8L IS II and a EF 800mm f/5.6L IS.

I'd probably have a Sony HXR-MC50U as a stand-alone video camera to supplement the Canon 5D.

That would all be pretty nice.