Mobile Home Studio: One Man’s Ableton Production Rig in an RV

Spotted recently on the “Maschine Movement” group on Facebook was this incredible production setup, something that we haven’t seen before. Imagine not paying for studio space, for rent, for the ability to move your studio away from your annoyed neighbors – and you might imagine something like James Michael’s mobile studio built into his RV.

I live and travel up n down the Cali coast in my RV studio set up writing music n living free..always a great view!

This type of lifestyle could be appealing to a lot of producers who might want to live a more mobile life while producing music. One of the big questions on the Facebook group was about James’ power and internet demands.

[i get my internet with a] 16db Yagi antenna […] I run all my power on a Honda inverter generator. Super quite. I can record up to 7 hrs on a little over a gallon of gas. Switching to solar panels soon. Then all electricity will be free unless our government figures out how to make me pay for the sun..lol

At left, the Toyota Dolphin where the studio lives. At right, a typical view from his studio.
At left, the Toyota Dolphin where the studio lives. At right, a typical view from his studio.

Older RVs of this size can easily be had for less than $10,000 – and while you might pay a bit more in terms of gas than a normal lifestyle, not paying rent is a pretty big win for anyone who wants to spend more time producing.

James in his studio producing while facing the beach.
James in his studio producing while facing the beach.

Would you consider a mobile home studio? Let us know your ideas in the comments below. 

  • Jim

    Don’t listen to those online offering strong opinions they haven’t actually done it!!! I I’ve done this. And for the record, I have the exact same model of rv. Ours is a 92 dolphin. Yes, they can cost more to repair than a similar aged car or truck, they use more gas and certain parts can wear sooner…. but that said, on our toyota, after owning it for twelve years and 60,000 miles later, (much of which were using it just like a car and truck),….. it’s not much more. And many or even most of the house repairs you can do yourself. It’s not hard.
    As for recording – I started using ours that way right after we got it for a year or so. I’ll admit that what’s presented here is way beyond anything I did. But my memory from all those years ago was that tracking inside worked rather well. It wasn’t immune to outside noise but one can always move to a quiet place of inspiration. I used an inverter for power and that ran a desktop. I also used a multi-track recording device that used to be popular years ago. For monitors, I used a tiny pair of modded 80’s minimus 7’s, ( similar to auratones I guess),. The mixes translated well.
    I stumbled across this story accidentally looking for some rv recording ideas because I want to start using our rv that way again. This time, mostly for writing and tracking. I can do the mixing elsewhere. On a side note; mixing on the go is also do-able now days with new products from waves and a couple others offering headphone mixing products. Check gearslutz – waves nx. We’ve been using the waves headphone tracker and that got us thinking about heading out on the road again to make music. Great story on Ms. Michael’s efforts. Cheers.

  • Matt Witkowski

    I’m an RV mechanic, and yes rvs get broken into more than you think.

    They steal $160 tvs out of them, just for the sake of stealing stuff. And the repair to the damage from the break in costs more than replacing what was taken.

    Also, the upkeep on an RV is expensive.

    I fix them and I cannot afford one.

    This situation must work for him because he’s willing to sacrifice certain aspects of life for the gain in another.

    If I won the lottery, then maybe I’d do this.

  • Drew Gavin Bixel

    damn I actually really want to do this with my life. some day.

  • Adrian

    awesome

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  • keratec

    takes “listen to the mix in the car” to another level

    • Dennis Parrott

      now that’s FUNNY! +1 to you, keratec…

  • Shankdub

    Too funny I have been contemplating JUS THIS VERY thing for some time now. Basically my computer/maschine/controllers/software/synths are all I need in life (quite seriously)… food is easy to come by in America (yes we are disgusting pigs of course hah). As for Burglary issues: its nice to live in a conceal carry state =D and also kensington cables and your pet dog should do the trick when you are away from the vehicle (how far you gonna go ? its your transportation too!). If they want it that bad and can endure a brutal mauling by a pit bull while cutting the 1/2″ kensington cables, well I suppose they really deserve it? Far from glamorous but lets be honest, don’t you think about ‘just making music full time every day” if you don’t already? this handles the ‘rent’ part and several other expenses that keep us chained to jobs that may or may not be desirable. Hah Techno Hobo in effect

    • Dennis Parrott

      you know, i have told my boss numerous times that if i show up in an RV with a dog in the passenger seat it will be a really short day… she didn’t get it right off…

      on the other hand, i would have to get a slightly larger RV so I can carry my PA rig, golf clubs and skis. i would go to where there are nice courses, great ski hills and nearby KOA campgrounds where I could DJ dance parties for food, drinks and tips…

      i think it would be a nice alternative to this work-a-day crap i’m stuck in…

  • MrCanette

    geargasm

  • Could’ve been done a little better…

  • John Hart

    haha I seriously thought the stove in the back were four pioneer CDJ’s stacked together on a table lol

  • John

    what do you do about getting your mail?

    • James ‘Pioneer’ Burkill

      PO BOX

  • The Last Devastator

    Living the dream

  • PhatPhree

    What kind of weird meth lab is that??

  • Jonathan Edwards

    I like it, but it seems incredibly uncomfortable. Though, I sometimes still head to my car to record vocals.

  • MarcusMCB

    I dig the idea… but the acoustics involved would leave A LOT to be desired I imagine.

  • dbomb

    Good idea. You could also be a touring dj/producer as well.

  • Carl Murray

    I am literally in the process of building something like this myself. Will be posting pics everywhere when I’m done. It’ll be awesome.

  • jason

    if the rv is a rockin’, don’t come knockin’

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  • as

    Cool but I think the RV is a little bit more exposed to burglary acts:(

    • Dan White

      Absolutely needs a few extra locks 🙂

    • Tyler

      That would be my main concern

    • This may be true but a theif usually goes to steal a sports car because it LOOKS expensive or that the owner has money. Would they try to steal a rusted bucket of a car? Would you try to break into a home that looked like a wreck?
      I say keep the RV lookin GULLY and u should be fine…..as long as you dont post any pics of your face + the RV online anywhere…………..
      on wait…………oops!

  • Shaun Walker

    What a great lifestyle! All the best to you!

  • Lango

    And if you need a bit of extra money of the side, you could also stick a meth lab in there.

  • Absolutely one of the coolest studio design concepts I’ve ever seen!