Show Off Your Studio: Volen Sentir make music on the outskirts of Moscow

The house duo share the gear behind their expanded live act and tell us why being away from the city is vital to their creativity

Moscow-based pair Volen Sentir recently achieved Best Seller status on Beatport in the Progressive House genre for the second year in a row. They are renowned for their unique, organic house sounds with releases on labels such All Day I Dream and Lost and Found. In their short journey, the duo’s pressed EPs and singles to wax, made their way into official compilations from Tomorrowland, Cafe Del Mar and Buddha-Bar and have played all over the world.

In their new Live @ Magic Forest stream, Volen Sentir head to the woodlands to blend house music with mystical cinematics and tease their expanded full-band live act. We head to their modest Moscow studios to hear more about their love for the Access Virus and how working near a forest drives inspiration.

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Volen Sentir

Tell us a bit about the studio, Volen Sentir.

Anjei: As there are two of us, Dave and I, we each have a home studio in Moscow. Sometimes we work separately, sometimes together. It usually depends on the weather. When we aren’t visiting each other’s studio and working on stuff, we send projects to each other online and share all the files.

We also use a recording studio in the centre of Moscow, where we record vocals, instruments and other sessions. A lot of that we record at home – we use the Audiotechnica Pro 63 Microphone, which is great for vocals. When we need to record live instruments with musicians, we head to the studio. We finish all of our tracks at the home studios, though.

Volen Sentir

Which DAW do you use?

We use Ableton Live 10. After ten years of producing, in 2010 we moved from Steinberg Cubase Pro 5 to Ableton Live 8. Before Cubase, we were using Steinberg Nuendo, Propellerhead Reason and even XM Tracker. We find Ableton Live so fast and easy to use. It makes our process fluid and its audio editing capabilities are amazing. It’s also an invaluable tool for our live performances.

Volen Sentir MacBook

What atmosphere do you try and create in the studio?

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We’re based just outside the city, which is a great thing because of the forests, fields and lakes that surround us. It gives us a lot of inspiration. But the most important atmosphere is created in your own mind, no matter where you are.

What is your favourite piece of gear?

The Access Virus Ti Desktop is the hardware synth we use – it’s already about nine years old. We love it for its vast sonic capabilities and high ease-of-use factor.

Volen Sentir

You’re currently expanding your live show What is this looking like?

Volen Sentir live will consist of five people on stage: Dave and I controlling the effects, sequences and keyboards; Lev on percussion; Arsenii on piano and Daniil on flutes and vocals.

Volen Sentir

I use the Akai APC 40 with my Macbook Pro to launch all the tracks from Ableton Live and play some parts on the Virus TI. I use the M-Audio Axiom keyboard to play some synths from Ableton, too. Dave is also using Ableton Live with his ROG to play with effects and loops. We’re mixing all of the instrumentation using an Allen and Heath Xone. We are planning on getting some classic drum machines and a few analogue synths to play even more rich sounds onstage.

What’s been the biggest investment in your studio? Was it worth it?

The biggest investment in our studio isn’t any equipment or technology. It’s the 20 years of experience we have in music production.

Volen Sentir

How did you go about getting the acoustics right in the studio?

We get the best acoustics from our headphones. The Audeze LCD-2C headphones are out of this world, letting you hear the entire mix with amazing clarity. Also, the Beyerdynamic DT 990 gives us a lot of vital information about low, subby frequencies.

What is next on your shopping list studio-wise?

We’d love to get some Universal Audio UAD stuff; its equipment and plug-ins are brilliant, you know. We have been working with UAD interfaces and plug-ins in several studios over the years. The Roland SH-101 and Dave Smith Prophet 12 are some of the highlights we’ve got our eye on.

Do you have any frustrations with your current set-up?

We’re forever wanting more, it’s human nature. There are a lot of things we want and need, of course, but we are grateful and happy for our modest setup.

Volen Sentir

What is your top piece of production advice?

You need to connect with your sound. Analyse your favourite records, listen to them again and again. Focus on elements and separate them in your mind to gain a deeper understanding of their properties.

What is the one piece of advice you would give someone starting out building a studio?

Take some of your favourite pieces of gear and research them to the point where you know everything about them. And, always do your best.

Volen Sentir Forest

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