Traveling the world, recording artists on the road with a 4 wheel home studio in the desert?
This sounds almost utopian but I never believed in limitations and realised my dream and share with you today a deep insight how this all works.
We will cover technical details, discover new techniques and how to choose the right microphones for a journey like this.
My name is Adrian “Ady” Parzentny, I’m a musician since the age of 10, Music Producer since 2017 and started the project Hit The Road Music Studio in 2018 with my girlfriend Kasia.
Like many of us, I like to make a positive contribution to our Planet and chose my passion for Music and Audio Engineering to spread the message of peace and understanding.
Each one is different but we are all equal – music is my way to bring it to the people.
And it works: We reached already over 700.000+ listener with 50+ Music Videos that we created
Curiosity brought us to Morocco and I will share today more about our story with you.
Are you ready to learn more about my recording and mixing experience with ever changing places?
A snippet of our story, can you relate to it?
I am a big fan of Punk Rock and Metal, especially The Clash changed my life.
At the age of 11 I learned to play guitar and joined 2 Bands and was hooked on making music, writing songs and playing live gigs since then – my safe space.
Kasia and I met at the Polish Music Festival “Przystanek Woodstock” in 2011, moved together to Berlin and traveled whenever it was possible for us.
After our one year trip to Georgia and Armenia, where we saw “System of A Down” live, we decided to settle down in Krakow/Poland for a while, starting a life from zero.
Quickly I found a Band and a Job in IT, taking phone calls and paying the bills.
It was a rough time where we had to save even on the heating in Winter but we always made the best out of it.
The shampoo was literally frozen at 5 am before I went 16 km on a bike to my job, only to save 20$ for the monthly train – good memories haha.
I organized gigs with my Punk-Rock Band and we played smaller Festivals and I massively improved my skills in the IT sector until I made it into IT Security in just 2 years.
Do you know this feeling to be somewhere, everyday, where you don’t belong?
I always take those signs when I’m unsatisfied and think about my needs to improve my life situation.
So it hit me like a stone: The contact with Musicians on a daily basis was missing
Curiosity followed and I started to use the given company access for educational platforms to learn more about audio engineering, how compressors & EQ’s work, until the Engineering worm caught me.
Quickly I started to buy a used Audio Interface on Ebay, Presonus AudioBox VSL 1414 and my first Microphone.
My IT Security Server went out of the kitchen to the basement (lost forever) and my full dedication was once again caught by music, what can I do?
After I figured out how to record my tracks into Reaper and ProTools, more and more doors of education opened and the fire started to burn again.
You know what I love about engineering and making music? That the learning process never ends – you will always learn and the community is just marvelous.
During the day I walked to the office and recorded local Bands in the evening, mixing them on the weekend or during / after work.
Yes – I tried to work in the local studios but it’s very hard to even get a foot into those places.
And I tell you, in my life I don’t wait for things to just happen, so I started to write to young Bands, go to the local gigs and offer Bands a free record in rented rehearsal rooms.
It worked out! What a fantastic experience and Warren Huart’s “Produce Like A Pro” YouTube Channel just provided me with all the knowledge to be prepared & confident for my first session with young metal Bands.
I feel like this: You can watch all YouTube videos on this planet, but you’ll be never prepared if you don’t do it, what do you think about it?
Anyway, then there was the dilemma: When I start a Record Studio in Poland I won’t be able to travel anymore, musicians are not willing to pay a European price and somehow it just felt wrong.
And then it happened: I just woke up at night, 1 am, and had the idea to make a Mobile Recording Studio – pachanga!
Unfortunately a burn out hit me in 2018 at work and I just wanted to quit … but they offered me one Month unpaid vacation and a raise.
Bingo! Like this I could earn, buy more equipment and make a pilot to check if this project would even work out.
The crazy 10.000 km recording trip in 2018
We packed our stuff into a small car, Opel Astra: 6 Mic Stands, 8 Microphones, 1 Audio Interface, a Camera, Kasia’s Tattoo stuff and a tent to drive from Poland to Morocco with the mission to visit new places and try to record Bands.
This was a wild journey from Poland through Berlin, straight through France where we made a stop at a friends place.
Chris is an incredible producer, studied in London and we were the #1 busking team in Berlin, able to pay our bills for a while – he taught me a lot about music production during this day.
Then we went to Bilbao/Spain for a stop in the Guggenheim Museum (We love art) took a longer road over the North of Spain to “A Coruna” and through Portugal
There we had our first 2 day stop in the magnificent city of Porto in a real bed, instead of the front seat of the car haha the only 2 nights on this 1 month trip.
We continued to the Port of Algeciras and took a ferry to Morocco, driving straight down to Essaouira.
In the first 10 days we did almost 5000 km! It was insane and beautiful haha
It was the perfect moment as the Andualusian festival was on for 10 days. I literally run with a backpack full of mics, asking people if they want a record – and it worked.
We created over 14 Music videos in 7 days with a big variety of Artists, including my first professional Band that I recorded: Andalucious from Jerusalem
10 Musicians, 45 min. setup time and only one take .. phew
I had 8 Used mic’s from Ebay, one low price audio interface and just said yes to the challenge – now the video reached out to over 250,000 Viewers with a message peace and understanding between Jewish and Muslim follower.
Did my gear stop me? Nope!
Krudos to my girlfriend as she managed 3 cameras at the same time, it was the lesson of my life and we did it.
And few days later it was even better !
We managed to make 2 music videos with a Israelian and Moroccan Orchestra together, the very last Band that closed the Festival with Anass Belchachemi Orchestra and Andalucious, guided by Director and Master Violinist Elad Levi.
Here I like to thank our dear friend Morgan Goethals, the owner of the Riad “Les Terrasses D’Essaouira”, who let us record whenever we want, whoever we want in this magnificent, reverbant place.
The acoustic is just incredible in this place.
We came back happy via Granada and Barcelona, quick through France and back to Poland to the office – my life changed and I had a vision.
Get out of that office, will ya?
It was time to save more money and realise the dream.
After sleeping all the time in the front seat of a tiny car during travel we decided to get a Van and start the project full time.
There came this day where I should get a promotion and higher position, you know, jump up the next step in my IT career.
On the Interview day, in the very last second, I consciously decided that the money I earn is enough for my needs and that I will quit very soon.
To save money we had to make cuts, smaller trips, no more parties in pubs and more focus doing what we love – creating, mixing and making music.
It was an easy decision and the best in my life as I never felt better after quitting drinking.
On the Road again – Full time – 2019
We quit the flat and moved into a camping car, heading one more time one year later back to Morocco with more stops to record wonderful artists.
The first stop was in Poland with the Folk band “Projekt Kobieta”, we had an incredible time together.
Then we stopped in Berlin and Recorded the Rock’nRoll Band “Three Marias” and I just started to feel a liberating sense in my life, getting better and better in recording and mixing.
Though I still was a bit anxious about opening a mix because I had no clue how to start it, how to make something sound fatter and how to end it, it was a long, slow learning process.
Slowly we made it back to Morocco and traveled even down to the desert where we met the Band Daraa Tribes from the city of Tagounite
During our time, more and more people showed us Daraa Tribes and we really liked the music and a hot tip told me that they are from this city.
When we arrived at the city, I stopped at the gas station and asked the kind owner Abdul if he knew them and could give us the contact information.
We invited him to our camper, I made a cup of coffee and we exchanged music from Poland and Morocco – at the end he gave me the number to Hafid.
The Band came to pick us up and we went already out to the desert to Hafid’s Palm farm and got right on it with a jam session – that’s what I’m talking about man, that’s what I love.
Their message is Peace, Love and Unity and every member is part of a different tribe in the Daraa Valley.
Check out more in this Interview on YouTube we had with them by Journalist Anika Reker
We are alive, after all the things in the past 4 years in Poland I just felt alive again, involved and engaged with life instead of just waiting for the next weekend.
On the very next day we went to the magnificent Kasbah Aitisfoul to record 2 Songs and Music Videos with the Band.
It was a fantastic time, we had a lot of fun and could professionally make 2 full tracks in just a couple of hours – 2 takes every song.
The best was the cultural exchange as we stayed with the Band for almost 2 months in the desert, had trips to the dunes, spent the new year together and became really good friends.
Shukran for this unique experience !
A typical recording day on the road
I can assure you that every single day is not “typical” as we always record in new, unique places that should not be a record studio at all.
There are no limits where we record: Hotels, on House roofs, between the dunes in the desert with a mobile recorder, at lakes, clay houses and more.
So, we meet the artist and ask for a demo or rehearsal.
Important is also the message and the lyrics – hateful lyrics are not appreciated in this project.
If everything fits we check if the location is a good place to record a video and a good song, though I always figure out the sound part when the place is magnificent like on a windy roof.
When we enter the room I take special care about the acoustic and start a small talk with the artist – no deep conversation about the meaning of life, just about the weather.
Like this I’m able to listen to the reflections around and still be kind and professional.
Never forget that the most important part is to keep up the mood and have a great time.
Many young artists recorded with us for the very first time and I give 100% to make it a pleasant experience for them.
It’s important for me that we all can learn from the process together.
At first we have a meeting and go through the process and I offer my help to explain to them the process, the signal chain, the difference of the mics and build a foundation of trust.
Then we start unloading the gear and I start placing the Instruments & amps, imagining the amount of bleed on every mic and where it will add up for a pleasant sound or maybe mud up.
For example the Bass Amp: I don’t have enough headphones so the Band is playing live in one Room.
The Bass frequencies are the longest and slowest, therefore they will be literally on every single microphone, nothing I can avoid at the moment.
Anyway, I’m able to reduce the amount of bass-bleed by finding a sweet spot where everyone can still hear the bass without cranking it up.
In Morocco there is always somebody who will bring us excellent tea and I have to say, I had the most relaxing record sessions so far in this country.
The musicians are always prepared because they play every – single – day together.
In general I do not use any click as it would totally kill the vibe of the traditional songs.
Additionally, the musicians would get more nervous and it would sound rather stiff.
We record usually 2 or 3 takes per song, so if any issues should pop out in the post-production, I can exchange parts from other takes.
It’s trickier as the songs are not played on a click but I got used to it and it works totally fine.
Usually we record the full Band playing together without vocals.
That’s the nicest part when everything is plugged in and the soundcheck is done, then it’s up to the Band to make an awesome performance.
I check always before recording with them if they request my opinion during the recording process regarding the performance.
Whatever they say, I always take notes to be one step ahead and help the Band out when needed.
For the Soundcheck I take care, that no mic is going over -14 dB into the Laptop to have a lot of headroom – there are no FX in the input section – I just go clean into the box.
This is only because my laptop would not be able to handle this extra processing power, especially when we record in hot places with +40 degrees like in the desert.
After the recordings are done, we make a break and continue with overdubs, typically Vocals, Backing Vocals, Claps and other percussion instruments.
With Bands like Tastua N-Imal we overdubbed Instruments like Qraqeb and the Bendir, fantastic and traditional Moroccan Instruments.
My Equipment – I bet you have already better one
My Home Studio upgraded and I bought a second Audio Interface, the Focusrite Scarlett 18i20, to merge them as an aggregate device on my laptop, the most expensive equipment: My mid 2015 Mac with 16 GB RAM.
This means I have now 16 Inputs in total and a mic locker with 20 used microphones for every situation needed.
The problem is: How do I know which mics to use when recording Instruments that I don’t know ?
When I made my mic locker, I was thinking about it for a long time which mic’s I need.
The recordings are usually live with a little bit of time for overdubs which means, too much bleed is not really wanted – don’t get me wrong, I love bleed !
But buying 6 of the most fancy Condenser Mics wouldn’t bring me any further in the process because they pick up literally EVERYTHING around you.
So I focused on getting the right dynamic mics due to the nature of their cardioid pickup pattern, canceling out the sound that comes from the back.
You will find 4xSM57 always with me, the typical Kick Drum mic AKG D112, Sennheiser mics for guitars and Toms and 5 dynamic mics from a cheap but good Drum Kit pack from Stage Line that cost me 30$ on Ebay.
Condenser Mics help me mostly for Vocals when overdubbing, as Room mics or in the M/S recording setup that I love to use to achieve more wideness in the tracks.
Quick Tip: How to setup M/S recording setting
You basically use two condenser or tube mics, one in Figure 8, one in Cardioid pattern, and put them together like in the picture below:
The Cardioid Mic will face the Instrument you want to record and cancel out the sound from behind.
The Figure 8 Mic will be placed on top of the cardioid mic, cancels out the middle of the Instrument, capturing only the sides – Imagine that it works like your ears !
Record the Figure 8 Signal on 2 tracks and hardpan them Left/Right, flip the phase of one of those tracks aaand … sounds odd right ?
Now blend in the middle mic and see how it glues the sound together and create a wide Stereo image.
I love to use this trick on Drums, Acoustic Guitars and as Room Mics
Keep in mind to check your Phase correlation meter !
Anyway, additionally I got an amazing offer for a Tube Mic that is really helpful as a Room Mic but unfortunately too hot on the top end for vocals.
Last but not least are 2x 2 pairs of Small Condenser and 1 Ribbon Mic, just for experimenting.
The Rode NT-5 are just great and I use them mostly for Overheads on Drums, as Stereo Room Mics or as a Stereo Pair 1 meter away from the Backing Vocal Mics to achieve more depth.
I’m mixing on headphones only and unfortunately don’t have any speakers.
My headphones are Beyerdynamic DT-990s, open back.
To get an idea how to pan elements in my mix, Abbey Roads Studio 3 from Waves comes in handy and safes the day, phew I’m just lucky.
The journey goes on and on
After we released the Daraa Tribes video for the Song “Waha” everything changed:
Bands started to call us, sending in their demos and wanted to become part of the project.
We met Bands like Izouran N-Sahara and I’m proud that we could record their full debut Album together.
Their message is about the pollution and climate change that heavily impacts the Sahara desert and makes it an impossible place to live for people & animals since the last 10 years.
We also recorded the fantastic Jazz/Rock combo at the coast of Morocco in the city of Agadir.
Zegro Band is just wonderful and we created one Song with them called “Yan Akolo Nga” what means “We are all the same”
The language is Tamazigh and not Arabic as many artists we recorded are the native North Africans, called Amazigh and Berber.
A wonderful, peaceful, loving and colorful culture – and I would never know or experience it without being there and recording the artists, the most beautiful gift.
We once took a flight to Israel with hand luggage only, packing 8 mics, XLR cables, my Presonus interface, Laptop & couple of clothes for 10 days.
It was an incredible time and we visited Palestine and met incredible people and musicians during our journey.
One highlight was the recording session with Pianist Darya Mosenzon & Lala Tamar who recently released her self titled debut album.
The journey just started and we have many more surprises for you.
Gear limitation for my advantage ?
It sounds counterintuitive but think about it for a moment:
When you have all the killer gear that is approved by Gearslutz and don’t know how to use it, it will not make your sound better.
My whole life I use limitations for my advantage, let me explain:
When I started to play guitar, my parents didn’t believe that I meant it seriously – understandable, isn’t it ?
So I got an old acoustic Guitar with 5 Strings, the high e-string just always broke due to the wrong Guitar shape.
And it didn’t stop me from creating, so I just imagined the string and put my fingers anyway there.
This move binds you emotionally to your instrument and lets you really think about how to use it, making this extra effort – Jack White confirms with his plastic guitars.
Same thing with limitations in gear, consider this:
I had to think twice which mics I use for the specific Instrument
Where I place the mics to get the best Sound out of it
In which order I plug them into my interface, because +48 Volts on a dynamic mic can bring additional noise
Right placement of the Artists due to limited cable length
How to involve the Room sound ?
How to place the mics and get a good mic bleed that will add up ?
What is the best block size my laptop can handle, to avoid pops and clicks
It’s a wonderful process where you learn a lot about troubleshooting haha
Trouble is your friend, never forget it – You will learn more about your system and it prepares you to stay cool & don’t lose your nerves when something goes wrong.
5 tips for a mobile Record Studio
#5 Mic Locker, choose wise:
While condenser mics are nice and fancy, rather take care to get more good quality dynamic mics for every application, as you will rather record live in the process.
For every application means:
At least 1 or 2 dynamic mics for low end for Cajon, Djembe, Kick Drum, Bass etc.
5 or more versatile dynamic mics for E-Guitars, Cajon front, Djembe Top, Percussive Instruments, Tom’s and so on
A good Pair of Stereo Condenser Mics as good Room Mics, Acoustic Guitars, Violins and Several String Instruments that you don’t know yet 😉
1 or 2 good quality condenser Microphones for Vocal Overdubs, Claps, Room Mic’s, M/S Mics and more
Last but not least: Dynamic mics are robust and perfect for traveling, climate changes and will get you a good sound with the right mixing tricks on anything.
#4 Bleed is your friend, consider recording live whenever it is possible and learn how bleed can glue your tracks together and bring the track more alive !
#3 Take extra time to store and clean your equipment, especially in ever changing environments.
I have my cleaning spray for electrical circuits with me all the time.
When I don’t need the mics anymore, they will be packed back in their boxes and don’t just stand around
#2 Experiment with different mic techniques:
Use this time and implement new techniques and see how they work out
Sounds a bit risky but no risk – no fun !
The key is to prepare one day in advance like: “Tomorrow I will use XY on the Guitar”
Here are some ideas: Check out XY, Stereo Pair, AB, M/S, ORTF, 2 fig. 8 Microphones …
#1 Stay kind, focused & structured
Get a feeling of the mood in the room and plan your time & techniques in advance
Be ready to record as quickly as possible or prepare the session even one day in advance if possible.
I make a plan one day in advance, see where I can place the Instruments after listening to the rehearsal from the Band and create a mind map.
Imagination is your friend, getting a feel on how the sound will go through the room is crucial and takes practice.
When the artist feels comfortable, you will get a great performance, even with a SM57 on the vocals.
Well … David Bowie used it on Thin Machine as well and it sounds amazing, got to ask Tim Palmer what he actually did with the vocals.
This is a crucial skill to stay focused on cabling and avoiding mistakes while being responsive to the artists around you and keeping the mood up.
Next Steps for our journey & conclusion
What are the next steps, where do we go now ?
At first we will go back to our families to say hi and prepare for our journey to the east of Europe via the Balkan region, Greece, Turkey, Georgia and Armenia.
In Greece I will offer 3 week long recording packages for Labels & Artists in magnificent places.
That place will be transformed into a fully professional recording studio where the artist can find new inspiration and record anytime they want – how cool is that ?
I want to record more versatile musicians that represent their region and culture, especially Bands in the style of Fanfare Ciocarlia, Bohemian Betyars or Dubioza Kolektiv and more.
Modern music and fusions are more than welcome .. well that’s the beauty that I can not plan too much in advance where we go and who we will meet.
The future is unwritten and I love this excitement that keeps my mind fresh and open.
Would I recommend you to make a journey like this?
ABSOLUTELY go for it ! This is a life changing experience that will help you to become a better recording engineer & mixer and probably you have already everything needed at home.
Consider this: How cool is it to go on vacation and come back with 10 tracks to mix?
For me there is no better souvenir at the end of the journey haha but decide for yourself.
I want to thank you for your interest in our project and everyone who is supporting us actively with sharing and sending us positive messages and honest feedback.
You are the fuel that keeps this project alive and help us to move on and continue.
Supporting us is very easy and fun:
Discover new music here in the “Hit the Road Music Studio Playlist” on YouTube, subscribe to our channel and share it with your friends on Facebook, Instagram and also real life.
Check us out on Social Media and say Hi, get free mix tips and behind the scenes footage:
Last but not least, check out the ProMix Academy courses that I created for you and become part of our journey.
I share in every video how we met the Band, which Mics I used, how to prepare the mixing session and in depth information how I mixed the track and why I chose those moves.
And here is my message for you:
Always follow your dreams – it will take a lot of effort, you will face many barriers and will learn to accept and overcome them when staying focused and loving.
Never forget that people are on your side and will help you – never be afraid to ask for help.
If you learn that every moment is inevitable you will find peace and the force to solve any problems in life and this planet, raising the collective consciousness and awareness.
A big thank you to Warren, Matt, Eric, and the whole Produce Like A Pro Team for supporting our project with open arms and full interest, you rock !
Joining the Produce Like A Pro Academy changed my life and gave me the confidence and knowledge to improve my mixing skills.
Mixing before the PLAPA was an interesting process but unstructured, it took me ages.
Thanks to the wonderful and helpful community feedback, mixing became more fun than ever and the knowledge exchange will change way more in your plugins than any plugin will ever do.
See you on the road, please feel free to contact me if you need help to set up a mobile studio, have general questions about the travel or if you need recommendations for traveling – that’s my secret hobby to be a tour guide!
With love and gratitude,
Adrian “Ady” Parzentny + Kasia