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Tech: Home Recording

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Peter Butler 14 May 12 - 05:37 AM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 14 May 12 - 05:49 AM
Bonzo3legs 14 May 12 - 05:54 AM
matt milton 14 May 12 - 06:10 AM
treewind 14 May 12 - 09:40 AM
Bernard 14 May 12 - 11:49 AM
Jane of 'ull 14 May 12 - 02:18 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 14 May 12 - 04:33 PM
matt milton 15 May 12 - 05:17 AM
GUEST,highlandman at work 15 May 12 - 09:20 AM
GUEST,highlandman at work 15 May 12 - 09:26 AM
John P 15 May 12 - 09:36 AM
matt milton 15 May 12 - 10:10 AM
GUEST,highlandman at work 15 May 12 - 10:13 AM
matt milton 15 May 12 - 10:13 AM
matt milton 15 May 12 - 10:18 AM
GUEST,highlandman at work 15 May 12 - 12:39 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 15 May 12 - 01:05 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 15 May 12 - 01:11 PM
GUEST,highlandman at work 15 May 12 - 01:33 PM
GUEST,Suibhne Astray 15 May 12 - 04:51 PM
Bonzo3legs 15 May 12 - 05:14 PM
matt milton 15 May 12 - 05:21 PM
mg 15 May 12 - 05:56 PM
Bernard 15 May 12 - 07:31 PM
GUEST,highlandman at home 15 May 12 - 10:01 PM
treewind 16 May 12 - 05:56 PM
Peter Butler 16 May 12 - 06:47 PM
treewind 17 May 12 - 05:53 AM
Tootler 17 May 12 - 08:15 AM
Bonzo3legs 17 May 12 - 10:23 AM
GUEST,punkfolkrocker 17 May 12 - 11:05 AM
Stringsinger 19 Dec 12 - 11:44 AM
GUEST,lou Judson 08 Aug 16 - 10:50 PM
punkfolkrocker 09 Aug 16 - 01:38 PM
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Subject: Tech: Home Recording
From: Peter Butler
Date: 14 May 12 - 05:37 AM

Any Mudcatters interested in recording at home but concerned about the need for expensive technology may want to have a look at this video:

At Home with....Lizzie Banoffie


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 14 May 12 - 05:49 AM

Great stuff.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 14 May 12 - 05:54 AM

Nice looking microphone!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: matt milton
Date: 14 May 12 - 06:10 AM

i keep seeing things like this, and I've amassed a fair bit of cheap and actually quite expensive home recording equipment now. Yet my own home recordings always sound terrible. Never quite sure why. I preferred the good old days when everybody only had 4-tracks, so everyone sounded muddy and lo-fi.

Ultimately, I think I may just have a tin ear when it comes to the "sound" of recordings. I stick a mic in front of a guitar and I think it sounds fine. I stick the mic somewhere else in the room and I think it sounds fine. I think everything sounds fine. Until I compare it to what other recordings sound like...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: treewind
Date: 14 May 12 - 09:40 AM

I don't know how some of the YouTube commenters think they can judge the quality of a recording from YouTube sound. I doubt they are listening through good speakers either.

(haven't actually heard it yet myself, just looking while at work, where turning on the sound would be inadvisable... )


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: Bernard
Date: 14 May 12 - 11:49 AM

The biggest mistake a lot of home recorders make is to underestimate the ambient background noise in the room. You get used to it and block it out, but a microphone will not!

The hum of a CPU fan, the tick of a clock, next door's dog, passing traffic - one I heard even had a stunt pilot practicing overhead. No kidding!! And that was on a CD they were selling at a club gig!

Another mistake is to record effects (reverb, compression etc) - you can't take them out afterwards! If you think you may need effects, add them at the mix-down stage - and exercise restraint!!

Positioning a microphone takes a lot of understanding - where the sound is coming from, what frequencies are involved and how they drop off (inverse square law), and whether the room itself has any natural reverb are just a few considerations.

A large diaphragm condenser mic will give a much 'warmer' sound than, say, a tieclip mic, and you should do an A-B comparison to see which you need - the easiest way is to put them in the same position and record one on the left channel, the other on the right, then see which gives the result you want.

It takes years of practice, and there are no shortcuts. Every job has subtle differences.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: Jane of 'ull
Date: 14 May 12 - 02:18 PM

Hmm interesting, I know little about home recording but I know you can do it cheaply nowadays and a lot less cumbersome so all good.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 14 May 12 - 04:33 PM

matt sez: "I think everything sounds fine. Until I compare it to what other recordings sound like... "

And in fact, right there, you have hit on a key technique. It's called "reference."
The theory behind it is that your ears get accustomed to whatever you are listening to, and it sounds okay while you're listening to it. Even if it's not.

The reference trick is to copy a song off of a CD you want to sound like, and import it into your mix project as a stereo track. Once you have your rough mix done (with the reference track muted, obviously....) mute your stuff and un-mute the professional track for comparison. Listen critically, shifting from one to the other, and see if you can identify a specific difference. Less low-midrange clutter in the pro mix, for a common example. More air in the vocals. Mute the pro track and go back to your tracks, and see if you can adjust to get closer to the sound you like.

Back and forth, back and forth... patience, grasshoppa... eventually you learn something. And as Bernard said above, "It takes years of practice, and there are no shortcuts."

And mind you, this is only one trick. It can improve your mix skills but it can't make a fundamentally crappy recording gleam. So things like mic placement, room conditions, instrument and equipment quality, all need attention from start to finish.

The journey is rewarding though. I've only picked up this reference mix trick recently, and I've been amazed at what it's helped me with. And there are tons of websites devoted to home recording tips (some rubbish, some very good, and only you can be the judge of what helps you). No reason to struggle without help.

Cheers
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: matt milton
Date: 15 May 12 - 05:17 AM

Yes, I use reference tracks, and you're right - it was a bit of a breakthrough for me when I started using them. You have to remember though, that they have been professionally mastered, so it's always worth turning their volume down about 5dB compared to yours. Otherwise you'll just tie yourself in knots trying to get your mix as loud as theirs.

But I've come to the conclusion, after a good 3 or 4 years in dabbling with home recording, that the best working method for me is not to attempt to mix my own stuff.

Recording at home, while a bit of a trial for me (and my partner, who despairs at the amount of messy leads, boxes and instruments cluttering up the flat), works better than studio recording. I just don't like studios. I'm reasonably happy with the basic quality of my raw material.

In fact the biggest breakthrough for me (other than using a Reference Track) has been using the front of my sitting room to record in. Even though it's pretty much at street level at the front of my flat (thus with the most ambient street noise) it has a high ceiling, about 9 feet, and sounds really clear, with a small amount of pleasing and non-woolly reverb to it.

But mixing is frankly a pain in the arse. I'd rather just hand it over to someone else.

There are places that do online mixing, at pretty cheap prices, and for me it's the way forward. All those hours in which you agonize over the relative volume of your vocal compared to your guitar etc are suddenly hours that you could be spending making more actual music, getting someone else to do the technical part that they are much, much better at.

(eg this studio in France does a mix package for 350 euros:
http://www.mixing-mastering-production-online.com)


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 15 May 12 - 09:20 AM

Sure, the best rule is to concentrate on what you enjoy/excel at, and pay someone to do the rest.
Me? I'm an inveterate dabbler and can't keep my hands off the knobs.
And yes, when using a reference track it's important to be honest and realistic about the sound you expect to achieve. Cheap/free mastering plugins won't get you the glossy result that the big boys can achieve, with all their gear and experience. But picking the reference tracks wisely can still get you a good aiming point, and help calibrate your ears. Personally I prefer the more informal sound that a less-than-perfect room and a sparse mix brings to the kind of music I make, rather than trying to achieve the surgically-clean, diamond-polished, loudness-maximized result that we hear on store-boughten CDs.
It's all about serving the music (and having fun).
Cheers
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 15 May 12 - 09:26 AM

Regarding the original post, that's a delightful bit of video. Pleasant song and a pleasant young woman. Sure, ears that have spent a few years working at this recording obsession can hear that it's a home job, but it's a very well done home job. Goes to show you can make pleasing music with what you've got at hand if you take the trouble to learn how to use it well.
Too many of us fall prey to the fib that it's our gear that limits us, when the sad fact is we aren't getting the best out of what we've already got, and will only be falling even farther short of the potential if we collect even more spendy stuff.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: John P
Date: 15 May 12 - 09:36 AM

A $2500 microphone sounds about ten times better than a $250 one. A $5000 reverb unit sounds about ten times better than a $500 one. A board with really good preamps sounds a lot better than any home D/A unit. An engineer with 15 years of full-time experience will quickly and intuitively get a better mix than an amateur will, no matter how long the amateur fusses with it.

Yes, you can now make a decent-sounding recording at home. You can still make a substantially better one in a studio. I can always tell the difference.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: matt milton
Date: 15 May 12 - 10:10 AM

I agree with you about experience and expertise, but I disagree with you about the cost of equipment.

Matching a mic to a voice is more important than the price tag associated with it. The last studio I was in put a Neumann U87ai in front of me, and frankly my voice sounded worse through it than through the 2ndhand AT4047 I have at home. Its frequency response didn't suit my voice.

Similarly the SM57 can sometimes sound better on a particular voice than a big expensive tube mic. There's a lot to be said for cheap neutral, omnidirectional small-diaphragm condenser mics in some contexts too. Pierre Sprey, who has made some of the most beautiful sounding recordings in the world, swears by (cheap) Crown PZM boundary mics.

I totally disagree that a "$5000 reverb unit sounds about ten times better than a $500 one" as a rule. You have to know what you're doing with it. A lot of the 80s hardware reverb units have come back into favour among engineers. They are really not expensive. The best reverb unit, of course, is a room with a really good acoustic.

Having said all that, I'm probably going to be hiring a bunch of Schoeps mics next week to try out a few different capsules. Can't afford to buy one, just geekily keen to test em out...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 15 May 12 - 10:13 AM

John, I have to take issue with your statement ... only a little.
True that a high-quality piece of gear can produce better sound than a consumer-grade piece, but in my experience that difference is much less than the $$ ratio -- unless *all* the gear in the chain is likewise of the highest quality. That $5k reverb compared to the $500 unit might only sound $10 better going through a home system.
It's not quite true that the audio chain is only as good as it's weakest link -- you can hear the difference if one piece is improved significantly -- but it's almost true.
Keep in mind that with professional equipment a lot of that dollar difference goes into ruggedness, ease of setup, wide operating ranges... all things that are extremely valuable to the working pro but don't necessarily contribute -- directly at least -- to the sound.
I'm not saying that there isn't a difference in pro work vs home work. But I do say that with a bit of effort (okay, a lot of effort) and a reasonable talent, home producers can raise the quality of their work *far* above the typical home studio production. Without using the cost of fancy pro gear as an excuse.
No, you won't equal the pros, but honestly, unless you are trying to make contemporary Nashville pop or the like, few people will be able to hear the difference on their home stereos (much less their MP3 players). You might not sell it to commercial radio distribution but you can make music well up on the pleasing scale, well worth listening to.
Cheers
-G


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: matt milton
Date: 15 May 12 - 10:13 AM

http://eu.audio-technica.com/en/support/firstimpressions/

Check out the link above. It's a UK-based scheme that allows you to try out any Audio Technica mics for free for a fortnight.

I did so, and rented the AT4033 and AT4047. I liked both mics, but the 4047 did wondrous things to my acoustic guitar. And reasonable things to my voice. So I bought one.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: matt milton
Date: 15 May 12 - 10:18 AM

Glenn, do you have any links to some music you've recorded and mixed yourself? I'm now really curious to hear your stuff...


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 15 May 12 - 12:39 PM

I've heard great things about the 4047 but have not got near one yet myself. It's way WAY past my budget at this point anyway. I'm trying to decide if the next upgrade will be monitors or a decent mic next time some cash comes available.
Matt, I haven't got anything on line. Never could be arsed to learn how to do video so I never got into the WhoTube thing. At the risk of coming off a know-it-all BS artist who doesn't really do anything... but my real problem is generally not finishing projects, since I tend to do stuff mostly for myself. (I have a friend who owns a real studio nearby so I send anyone who asks me to his place.)
So I'll take it as a challenge to finish some mixes and get them up somewhere. I still don't think I'll mess with the Tube, especially since they've started being the rights police. Anybody have any experience with Sound Cloud?


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 15 May 12 - 01:05 PM

The domestication or democratisation of the recording process will never replace high end studios. This is FOLK ART - its people being creative in their own homes, the way Folk Musicians have always been - for their own entertainment & the entertainment of their community.

Note: Sound Cloud is good community and a top place to be, not unlimited free but when it says 2 hours, that's 2 hours of anything - MP3 or WAV or whatever.

It all helps people to be creative, which is what is important - whatever it is they're doing. We recorded our last album on a Zoom R24 with 4 Behringer B1 mics. We mixed it on the lap top using Sound Forge and a Behinger UCA202 sound card. The next album we'll do using Behinger B2s - probably. But the H24 is a dream come true.

My dream is to sound as good as Bill Leader albums.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 15 May 12 - 01:11 PM

"This is FOLK ART...."
As usual Suibhne manages to say in four words what I couldn't quite get across in four hundred. That was basically my point, along with saying that just because it is folk art doesn't mean it can't be dang good.
-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,highlandman at work
Date: 15 May 12 - 01:33 PM

Here's an interesting very brief head-to head comparison of two mics, one priced around $100 and one at $1200. Listen and ask yourself if the more expensive mic sounds twelve times as good, or even twice as good.

mic shootout

To my earlier point, I find the difference hardly noticeable in the home test. It is noticeable in the production room test, but good lord, twelve times the price? Not for me.

Admittedly this tester is a speech guy, not a musician, and you are listening to an mp3, but the comparison is still instructive.

-Glenn


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,Suibhne Astray
Date: 15 May 12 - 04:51 PM

As usual Suibhne manages to say in four words what I couldn't quite get across in four hundred.

Well it's a first; it's usually the other way around!

Lizzie Banoffie's got her shit together there though; it echoes as heartily as anything you'll hear on VOTP only LB's in control of every stage of the game.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 15 May 12 - 05:14 PM

Give me the challenge of a 4 track Teac reel to reel any day!!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: matt milton
Date: 15 May 12 - 05:21 PM

"My dream is to sound as good as Bill Leader albums."
"it echoes as heartily as anything you'll hear on VOTP only LB's in control of every stage of the game."


Do you own any omni mics? You'll hear more room, more echo.

Though of course most modern recordists try to cut down on this, unless they actually have nice-sounding rooms. The culture is to minimize the room.

My favourite sound recordist, the monomaniacal former Pentagon consultant Pierre Sprey, only uses omni, small-condenser mics. You can really hear the room on all his label's stuff.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: mg
Date: 15 May 12 - 05:56 PM

Well, if any if you (men) are Irish and can sing Johnny Seioghe and can get us an MP3 or WAV file (to engineer) we are in urgent need to replace someone who sang that...has to be in Irish and person has to be Irish because it is for our ancestors..but you sound like the team that can maybe help us pull this off like right now..CD is almost complete..about An Gorta Mor/Potato Famine. It was written by a famine non-survivor. If you are set up and know the song..please send me an MP3 to mgarvey@wsu.edu and I'll say how to get it to Chris..mg


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: Bernard
Date: 15 May 12 - 07:31 PM

Bonzo - my Teac 3440 is still up and running...!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,highlandman at home
Date: 15 May 12 - 10:01 PM

Cheap trick to get more room sound (besides not close-miking): use two cardioids, one pointing at the singer and one pointing at 90 degrees out into the room - record on a separate track and you can control the amount of room ambience after the fact. Not as good of course as the real thing, but way better than nothing. On the plus side, you can even EQ the room sound separate from the main vocals if that floats yer boat.
-G


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: treewind
Date: 16 May 12 - 05:56 PM

You really don't want more room sound though, unless you've got a very good room and for recording purposes that means a larger room than most people have anywhere at home.

That YouTube video was apparently an advertisement for Sonar and looked quite professionally edited, so I'm inclined not to believe anything about it. The impression that anyone can make decent recordings at home in an untreated room with cheap gear is exactly what they want you to think.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: Peter Butler
Date: 16 May 12 - 06:47 PM

I'd like to take issue with treewind.

The track was actually created in Lizzie's room on the day. The video was edited at Et Cetera using a consumer video editing product (Sony) running on our demo system. If it looks professionally edited, then that just shows you can make a decent video with a camera, tripod and 2 floodlights and consumer software.

We just wanted to show that you can get quite decent audio results without a significant outlay. That doesn't mean commercial cd quality - it means you can have a good time getting decent results. Nothing more, nothing less. Our aim is to encourage musicians who currently do not record at home to take the plunge, knowing that you don't have to spend an arm and a leg.

If any one viewing this would like to take part in a similar video, please get in touch.

Peter Butler
Et Cetera


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: treewind
Date: 17 May 12 - 05:53 AM

Thanks, Peter, for clarifying both the details of how it was done and your own part in this (which was not obvious from your original posting)

I don't doubt that you can get decent results with consumer software, but I take it the video and sound production was done by someone with a lot more experience than a complete beginner, and that's what counts more than the technical spec of the gear as long as it's up a a fairly basic standard.

As described in your terms, it's a good demo.

Anahata


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: Tootler
Date: 17 May 12 - 08:15 AM

Thank you for that, Peter. You have expressed very well something that has been niggling me about some of the responses on this thread, though Suibhne also did in his own inimitable style.

I make home recordings. I do not expect to achieve studio quality nor am I aiming for it as I know it is an unrealistic expectation. I simply want to get the best I can out of the [limited] equipment I have.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: Bonzo3legs
Date: 17 May 12 - 10:23 AM

Bonzo - my Teac 3440 is still up and running...!

Mine is an even older Teac 3340, which I haven't fired up for several years. Last time I did it jammed up completely. Oddly enough I recently discovered a shop 10 minutes drive away that repairs reel to reel tape recorders, specialising in Sony. I was told to think in terms of at least £500 to return it up to spec - if the heads are Ok, which I doubt after 30 years.

I used it with a dbx noise reduction unit and a Bel noise reduction which I built from the circuit diagram.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,punkfolkrocker
Date: 17 May 12 - 11:05 AM

I started off when I was about 15 with my dad's valve mono Ferrograph 5
which he got cheap 2nd hand back in the early 70's.

Building up multitrack recordings with Dad's brand new hi tech portable stereo cassette recorder;
bouncing back via his huge enclosure Goodmans Hi Fi speakers and a 3 quid table top microphone
placed in the middle between them.

Record one Drum & Bass take on the Ferro.
Then play it back through the speakers
with the mic now plugged into the cassette recorder
similtaneously recording live guitars and vocals over the drum & bass backing.

Next playback the cassette through the speakers with the mic swapped back plugged into the Ferro
for lead guitar and backing vocals...
and so on, switching the mic back and forth between the 2 recorders
until me and my mates had recorded our best attempt
at a very muffled and distorted sounding approximation of T. Rex or Eddie Cochran tracks.

The neighbours must have loved the racket we made on Saturday afternoons
with a full drum kit and 100 watt guitar amps in the front room of my family's terraced council house.


Now nearly 40 years later I've manage to persuade the mrs to let me get a discounted end of line new high spec Laptop,
and Zoom R8 Recorder on our badly abused credit card..

..and my eyes are firmly set on this next..

ROLAND QUAD-CAPTURE: USB 2.0 Audio Interface

http://www.rolandus.com/products/productdetails.php?ProductId=1166

to set me up with a seriously high quality budget priced versatile portable recording set up.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: Stringsinger
Date: 19 Dec 12 - 11:44 AM

The problem I have with many recordings is that they are overproduced. More is not better. One great "sin" (I use the term advisably and contextually) is that if the lyrics of the song are not clear, than the production doesn't work, especially if the vocal, the most import part of a song is obscured by background instruments even if you use the best musicians in the world. I have heard recordings where artists have spent an inordinate amount of money on great musicians for their backing and as a result, have taken attention away from the performer, partly because by comparison they are so good or because the focus is on them rather than the singer or the song.

The second point that needs to be stressed that hearing is in the ears of the beholder. A complicated glossy pro studio mix may sound just like that, devoid of the honesty of someone who is really into the performance in a home based studio. My ears tell me differently than those who tout certain recordings when I hear them. I hear a lack of conviction, a misunderstanding of the material, a forced unrelaxed vocal attitude or an affectation that is learned from listening to too many pop recordings and attempting to imitate them.

I like simplicity. Direct communication from the artist to audience. Don't let techno-crap get in the way of that.


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: GUEST,lou Judson
Date: 08 Aug 16 - 10:50 PM

Here is a home recording that I mastered for Liz Madden:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y50Zl9MFJ8k&ab_channel=ValleyEntertainment

Pretty nice!


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Subject: RE: Tech: Home Recording
From: punkfolkrocker
Date: 09 Aug 16 - 01:38 PM

4 years later....

Well I did get the ROLAND QUAD-CAPTURE, and a Focusrite Scarlett,
a new mixer and various decent mics..

But have barely used any of it due to family bereavement, illness, and shifting emphasis of priorities and responsibilities....

.. it's a bugger getting older.....

Still, gotta be optimistic circumstances will eventually even out and I'll get more free time for my interests and 'hobbies'...


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Mudcat time: 17 August 9:54 AM EDT

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