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Author Topic: Building a mobile, full-time, live-in recording studio (5W? / Toy Hauler?)  (Read 10848 times)

claymation

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  • Posts: 37
Hello, So I have this master life plan to create a recording studio in an RV. I've been doing a lot of research and have gone from wanting a MH, to now a 5W, and now I have a question for all yall experts. My plan has been to buy a 5W, and convert the bedroom above the truck bed to a humble recording control room. Earlier on in my research, I entertained the idea of a toy hauler because they have that open, tall space where I could build the studio. Problem is they're just so expensive. I'm told that's mostly because they have to have such a burly axle in order to haul ATV's and such, which I don't need.

So here's my question: Is it possible to find a 5W that has a big, blank open space like that of a toy hauler, but has a normal axle, and therefore saves me money? Or, is it possible to buy a toy hauler, rip out the axle, sell it, and swap it out? Does anyone else have any ideas on this vision and how else it might work? Also, I do plan on living in it full time, possibly with two people and a cat, so I want it to be home, and I'd really, really prefer to have a slide for the extra space. I'm hoping to put together RV and truck for under $15,000 and I'm just not sure the Toy Hauler thing is within my budget.  Any ideas?!

seilerbird

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I would go for a motorhome and take the master bedroom down to the bare walls and put the studio in there. Plenty of room and you could sleep in the living room. Many have pull down bunks or couches that make into a bed. My 39 footer had an air bed mattress in the LR couch.

claymation

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  • Posts: 37
Thanks, I was on the MH kick for a while, then I really liked the idea of the 5W because I could unhook the truck and have a vehicle for getting around town. I need a new car anyway, so the truck is just replacing my old subaru that I'm selling. Plus the slides on a 5W make such a big difference in space and it seems like MH's with slides start at around $20K. Also, my understanding is that it's a lot easier to maneuver a 5W then a MH with a toad. I'm open to that idea still though.

seilerbird

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I have not driven either a 5er or a MH with toad so I can't comment. I was just telling you what I would do. And I am a musician and I have built my own studio.

unclebuck123

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  • Posts: 42
What type of recording will you be doing?  Live instruments?  Live Vocals?

What climate will you be in most of the time?

Will you be plugged into shore power or a generator when you record?

These are important questions.



claymation

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  • Posts: 37
I have not driven either a 5er or a MH with toad so I can't comment. I was just telling you what I would do. And I am a musician and I have built my own studio.

That's great. I'm open to any ideas you may have from your experience in rv'ing and building a studio! How have you found living in a MH? Do you pull a toad or do you just drive the MH around? Any ideas on the studio?

claymation

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  • Posts: 37
I'm doing most of my work in the computer, not necessarily "electronic" music; it's just that you can do so much in the box these days. Folksy, experimental, electronic, orchestral, sing-song something. I'm selling all my bulky gear and streamlining the studio to be as compact and energy efficient as possible. I'll have guitars, some various stringed instruments (temp and humidity climate control is a key issue), a keyboard, mixer, midi controller, various microphones and a laptop. I have some Auralex Sheetblok that I plan on soundproofing the walls with. As far as power, I have 5 210 amp/hour Lifeline 12 volt batteries (tons of storage and about 400 lbs weight) and I'm installing a couple solar panels. I intend to be using solar as much as possible. I live in Southern Oregon, but will probably head south for the winter where there is sun and good temperatures. I'm curious if anyone has ever tried this. I've searched and not found much. Any more ideas?!

seilerbird

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I have been living on the road full time for the last 8 years and loving every minute of it. My MH is a 27 footer and I never hook up to the grid and I don't pull a toad. I can drive this thing about anywhere. It has a rear bedroom but it would be a bit small for a recording studio. I would think that if you were going to put a recording studio in a MH it would take at least a 30 footer. My last MH had four slides and I hated them. I didn't need the room and they were just a pain. Especially when one got stuck in the out position and wouldn't go back in. $1000 later it was working fine. I rarely used the slides after that.

I wouldn't bother with the sound proofing. How loud are you going to be playing in a small room. And most of the time in a studio you use headphones. I only carry one guitar with me, and it is an electric. It has a Floyd Rose on it so it rarely goes out of tune even though the heater doesn't work and I rarely use the A/C. I would not want to travel with an acoustic guitar. I have a battery power amp

http://www.amazon.com/Line-Spider-6-Watt-Battery-Powered-Amplifier/dp/B0017024Y2/ref=sr_1_16?s=musical-instruments&ie=UTF8&qid=1280275243&sr=1-16

that has an amazing amount of special effects and works wonderful in a MH. You might be overkilling as far as batteries and power goes. Most of your electronic stuff uses very little power and you won't have more than a few of them turned on at any one time. It would be different if you were doing it for a band, but for a one man studio you don't need a lot of power. The solar idea is a great one. It will reduce your generator use a lot.

claymation

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  • Posts: 37
That sounds like a dream. So, I'm mostly doing the soundproofing to keep outside sounds out. I'll just staple that stuff up and paint it. I'll be doing a lot of recording acoustic instruments and vocals, and even the sound of a river or birds can get really annoying when you're tracking! That's cool to hear that you've been happy in a MH with no toad. I'll look into that again. It sure would save me some money. Also happy to hear your instruments are getting warped in there! The reason I'm overkill on the batteries is because I scored 5 of them for $175/each practically brand new, and they go for $600 new. I got $3000 worth of great batteries for $875 and figured I can always resell a couple of them once I really assess my electrical needs. You said you never hook up. Are you on solar? If so, what's your setup? How many watts and how much battery storage? Are you able to power up in the Northwest clouds? What advantages do you find to the MH over a 5W? I've heard that 5W's are the safest, easiest to maneuver/boondock in, most space efficient, and of course detachable.

seilerbird

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I don't have solar and I only have two small half dead batteries. I just don't use a lot of electricity. I don't use a lot of water either. I filled my 40 gallon tank one week ago and it is now down about 1/2 way.

I have never owned a 5er or a trailer. I have owned two class As, two class Cs and several class Bs. From what I have read most full timers use a MH because of the increased storage, better insulation and the pulling power of a diesel since most full timers do tow. There certainly is no statistics to prove 5ers are safer, that is BS. I can drive circles around any truck/5er setup going and I think the motorhomes have a lot more storage. 5er don't have shocks so your recording studio would be subjec to a lot of bouncing.

unclebuck123

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  • Posts: 42
I would go with a class A . 36-40' . I would keep the bedroom for sleeping. However I would make the bed go up and down so I could use the bedroom for recording live vocals and instruments.

The living room is perfect for the control room/midi studio. Keep the couch and get rid of the kitchen table and recliner.  Buy a portable table that folds up and use that to eat on.

You will never get the Motor home totally soundproof.  So the trick is when you use mics to locate in a quiet place or time of day that is quiet.  Make sure you use only a true sine wave inverter. This must be your most important investment. If you get a cheap one you will not only destroy your gear buy if you start using counters and time code generators you will be way off. Do not record off the generator power. Just stay on the batteries and use the solar and genny to charge.  The bathroom will make a great vocal chamber.

Marc L

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The bathroom will make a great vocal chamber.
But get a waterproof mic if you are going to sing in the shower.
Marc...

claymation

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  • Posts: 37
I think doing it in the toy hauler may be the way to go. That space in the back is perfect for a studio and as I've searched more diligently, I've found some that are affordable for me ($9 - 11K). I haven't researched toy haulers much though. My initial thoughts are that they may be built for summer weekends, when people are using their "toys, and not suitable for full timing. Any feedback on this? Also, it was mentioned that 5W's don't have shocks. Do toy haulers have shocks, being that they are made to haul such large weights? Would this be better for the sensitive equipment? Any particular brands/models recommended that I could find in the $10,000 range that would work for full timing?

seilerbird

  • Guest
You are right about sound proofing needed to keep the outside noises out. I forgot about that. However you will have to camp in the woods away from all civilization. As noted you won't be able to sound proof it very well. Campgrounds are way too noisy with all the barking dogs, playing children and generators. You would have to wait until 3 am to record in a campground.

Marc L

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  • Posts: 2376
Also, it was mentioned that 5W's don't have shocks. Do toy haulers have shocks, being that they are made to haul such large weights?

They probably do not have shocks, but they can be added.  On a 5W, you can also add some kind of air dampener (not sure of the exact term) on the king pin.

If you go with a toy hauler, I would go with one with the cargo area in the front, not the rear.  It is a lot smoother in front of the axles than behind.

An alternative to a toy hauler is a unit with a bunk house in one end and a bedroom at the other end.  You can convert the bunkhouse into your studio and keep the bedroom.

Marc...

Murph

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  • Posts: 25
Take a look at this http://cgi.ebay.com/ebaymotors/1997-Prevost-Le-Mirage-45-XL-99-000mi-/280537908810?cmd=ViewItem&pt=Buses&hash=item41515cc64a This bus was built for a well known music promotor as a recording studio.                                     Murph
1996 40' Prevost Marathon

PancakeBill

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  • Posts: 5038
  • Bill & Jolene/USA 97 Southwind 35P
    • WorKamping in Yellowstone
Kind of out of spec and range for OP.  and looks more for band transoport than studio.  We had a similar setup when I was at lazy Days, but the open back was instrument transport, not studio. 

One point another poster made was to have storage forward, that was a great point, the back end of a 5er is like a diving board.  Ask anyone with a rear kitchen 5er. 

Budget-wise, you will be into some vintage stuff to get a truck and 5er under $20k.  Be better off keeping Subaru and getting a motorhome.  Look for a Trek, the bed drops from ceiling giving a large space.  Small enough to get most anywhere and built really nicely.  A mid to late 90's unit should be near your range.
Bill & Jolene W & Koda

Old Faithful, Yellowstone Association Bookstore
1997 Southwind 35P
Toads: 1997 Honda Accord & 1986 Westfalia
FMCA F-401354
1995 OMI Dobro F-60
WA1RI

claymation

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  • Posts: 37
Thank you all so much for you advice. This is great. I'm pretty enthused about using that space in a TH. I've found some pretty good ones on Craigslist in the $10,000 range. A bit on remodel and a 1 ton truck for $7000 or so and I think I could do in for under $20K. Plus, I'm doing the government auction thing. I've heard of people getting insane deals at these auctions, pennies on the dollar. So, how much do you think it would cost to put shocks on a Toy Hauler?

 

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