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In The Studio: Seven Tools Under $100 That Will Help Your Productivity

Inexpensive things to decrease our waiting time or that gives us more options...

By Bobby Owsinski November 12, 2014

A Snark SN-5 guitar tuner.
This article is provided by Bobby Owsinski.

We all like to be more productive with our time, and since we’re all creatures of the computer, anything that helps either decrease our waiting time or that gives us more options is welcome.

Here are seven things that I’ve found to be very helpful in increasing productivity, and they’re all less $100. Not all are computer related but they’re extremely useful all the same.

1. More Computer RAM. One of the quickest ways to increase your productivity is to add RAM to your computer if possible. It’s not that it makes it faster as much as it keeps it from slowing down during processing, or being able to keep multiple windows or apps open at the same time. I get mine from Other World Computing. It’s cheap and Apple certified.

2. Editor Keys Keyboards or KB Keyboard Covers. If you want things to go faster, it’s great if you know all the key commands of the DAW that you’re working on. But who can remember them all? That’s why a dedicated keyboard or a keyboard cover is so valuable. It pays for itself the first session you do with it.

3. Apple Magic Mouse. It’s a trackpad and wireless mouse all in one. Scroll up and down and side to side with ease. Plus, it can really help with that tennis elbow that you’ve developed from too much traditional mousing. I know that some of you really like a trackball, but it gives me severe tennis elbow, so the magic mouse is a arm-saver.

4. Smartphone Music Apps. I’ll admit it—I’m an Apple fanboy, which means I’m way partial to the iPhone, but what’s really essential is the number and variety of music apps that are available that can be so helpful. Guitar tuners (an essential for everyone who works in a studio), SPL meters, BPM indicators, delay calculators (try my free Delay Genie), personal monitor mixers—you name it, it’s available.

5. Clip-On Guitar Tuner. Guitar tuners have been around for a good long while now, but nothing is as convenient as the clip-on variety. It works on any stringed instrument, doesn’t require an input cable, and is as accurate as can be. I prefer the Snark SN-5, which is a great deal for only $10.

6. Etymotic ER20 Ear Plugs. If you want to protect your hearing, the Etymotic ER20’s are the best thing ever made. They’re cheap ($12) and not only cut down the level, but keep the frequency response pretty much the same while doing it. I always where them to live shows, but I even wear them in the studio when I know there’ll be loud playback, or live tracking. I been known to forget I have them in, which you could never say with foam or wax.

7. Oblique Strategies. I’m going to single one smartphone app out here and that’s Brian Eno’s Oblique Strategies. It was created as a card set by Eno and Peter Schmidt in 1975 as a way of keeping you moving forward when you get into a creative rut. The app allows you to randomly pull a card, which will provide an unexpected direction to take, but the traditional card set is also available as well. Prepare to take some major left turns!

Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. For more information be sure to check out his website.

About Bobby

Bobby Owsinski
Bobby Owsinski

Music Industry Veteran and Technical Consultant
Bobby Owsinski is an author, producer, music industry veteran and technical consultant who has written numerous books covering all aspects of audio recording. To read more from Bobby, and to acquire copies of his outstanding books such as The Recording Engineer’s Handbook, be sure to check out his website at


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