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Recording your own stuff.....

Discussion in 'Recording' started by teddancin, May 15, 2002.

  1. teddancin

    teddancin Member

    There's got to be a better way to record your OWN (music you and you alone write and play) stuff. I just got my digital audio set up going (sounds great), and I was mic'ing my classical guitar with just an sm57 (till I do my mic shoot out and get a good large diaphragm condenser), and I noticed that I was picking up all this crazy noise from my computer (even though it's not that loud). So I moved away from the computer and readjusted everything until recording conditions were optimal.

    This made everything very inconvenient though. I had to be like 20 feet from my computer in another room through a hallway (just in my apartment). So I'd have to press record on my computer, then walk into the other room. Then I'd have to try different mic positions, and remember what sequence they went in, then I walked back to my computer and listened, then I went back to where I was mic'ing my guitar and set up the mic in the best position for the room/guitar/song.

    Then I was ready to record. I press record and walk into the other room. I start to play and then when I'm done I come back and listen. Then I realize that if I screw up something in my playing, or hit the mic by accident or something, either I have to edit it out, or I have to play it over again and so forth (not that it's out of the ordinary, but with the walking back and forth and the time consumption and all, it's hard for me to have my head in the MUSIC that I'm PLAYING as a MUSICIAN while I'm doing all this RECORDING stuff at the same time). I know that I should probably have some one else there to help me, but that's inconvenient most times, and I like to work alone more. Are there any tips you guys can offer that would make the ONE person recording process a little less tedious? As always, thanks a lot.
  2. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Hey TD, you didn't mention which audio interface you're using, but the best way I've found is to put the computer in the other room, not you. I have a Layla with a 15 foot cord, and the only parts of the computer in the room with me is the monitor, mouse, keyboard, and breakout box. Anything that makes noise goes elsewhere. If you can get isolation in less than 15 cable feet, you can use extensions for everything. Otherwise, Belkin makes a unit that will remote Key/Monitor/Mouse up to (I think) 500 feet using Cat5 cable. It's called the Cat5 Extender. Catchy name, huh? :=) If you do that, then the only thing to watch for is single coil pickups close to the CRT. Some people use flat panels because of this, others move the monitor slightly away and rotate the guitar til the noise goes away, still others use humbuckers. My new system will have the CD-RW and DVD-RW in the room on a firewire hub, and everything else outside. Having the optical drives inside will save the steps it would take to go to the 'puter and insert CD-r's, etc. - Plus, with firewire you can just unplug them if they try to make any noise while you're recording.

    Another tip if you're writing as you record: I use Samplitude, but this will work with any software that shows you an audio waveform display. It works better on a larger monitor. If you're doing a song with a constant tempo, record your click track first, either from a keyboard workstation, drum machine, metronome, etc - record at least a minute more than you think your song will last, you will truncate it later. Then, after you've laid down the first track, whether it's melody, chord progression, whatever - 3M makes these rolls of white sticky tape for re-labeling video cassettes - about the stickiness of a post-it note. Should be able to get it at any A/V section, it's usually somewhere near the blank video tapes. Cut a length of that long enough to reach all the way across your monitor, then turn under about 1/2 inch of the end so you can remove it easily. Place the strip on the face of the monitor just above the click track display. Re-size the waveform display to fill as much of the width of the monitor as possible. Truncate the click track to just longer than the song. Make a large tic mark at the beginning and end of the click track for reference. Now, play back the first track, and with a fine felt tip pen, make vertical tic marks on the tape in line with the playback cursor, everywhere there's a chord change. Next, play back again and write in the chords at each tic mark. This may take 2-3 passes, depending on tempo and complexity of the song. Now, when you lay down successive tracks you will have a "cheat sheet" on screen so you'll know when and what chord comes next. When you work on a different song, just stick the tape on the wall until next time, then size the monitor display to the tic marks again. This works well for me on most songs, as does using a drum machine pattern similar in feel to the planned result instead of just a click. Once the main tracks are done, the drums can be replayed with more "stuff" and a more live feel.

    I work alone a lot too, partly because I'm cheaper than another engineer, and I hardly ever argue with myself having realized a long time ago that I rarely win... Steve
  3. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Good stuff - this is a problem we all deal with in one way or another - who wants to hear all that noise even if you're just mixing? Computers are not the only cilprit - back in the day when I was using ADATs they were pretty noisy too.

    One solution is to create a "machine room". If you are lucky to have a spare closet in the room, you can always use that. You can even replace the door with a glass one so you can still see all the pretty lights and meters.

    I had no such luck (having a closet). So the next best alternative for me was to create an enclosure that muffles much of the sound. There is a company that makes a line called ISORAXX that is a ready made solution. They are dead quiet, with a small fan for cooling. But they aren't cheap.

    What I did was get some of those old carpet covered rack cases we all know and love. I use two six space ones - one in the normal (horizontal) position for Hard drives, CD-burner, and a Tape back-up drive. The 2nd one I set up vertically on top of the first, and my G4 tower fits nicely inside it in it's normal upright position.

    I lined the insides of each with acoustic foam, and just set the equipment (all desktop style, nothing rack mountable) inside. When I need some peace and quiet, I slap the front covers on both racks. The rear of the racks faces away from me (into a wall covered with sound-absorbing material. I usually leave the rear open for ventilation purposes, but if you needed even more quiet, you could also drill some holes in the back covers for cables, and put those on as well.

    Finally, when the noise floor has to be really low, like on a classical nylon string solo recording, I set up some gobos between the noisemakers and the mic(s). If the racks are set to one side, you can put the gobos up and still have complete access to your computer keyboard and monitor.

    It works for me! :w:
  4. Mike Simmons

    Mike Simmons Active Member

    Check out Gefen products:
    A buddy of mine uses it to control his PT rig from his booth. This is a sore spot for me 'cause I really hate being engineer and performer at the same time. Too many hats just sort of kills the vibe for me.
  5. wrave

    wrave Guest

    Geat ideas! Thanks teddancin for asking the question and thanks to all who responded. I've got a couple of ideas to try out now.
  6. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Hey, CG - Belkin makes some similar stuff for extending KVM - Your bud is doing what I've been planning when I get far enough on the new studio - all my rooms will have Cat5 patchbays, so I can take a portable package to any room which consists of a flat screen, keyboard, and mouse, with the extender box receiver part of the portable package - that way, any iso booth or main room or control room will have full control of the DAW except for the actual hardware control surface. That way I can stay in that iso-booth til I get just the right take on that acoustic guitar track or vocal or whatever. It also will let me put the 'puter wherever I need to for noise control.

    Now, since I don't need a lawnmower and I'm neither lying or dead, I'm getting really confused... Steve
  7. teddancin

    teddancin Member

    Phew, it's good to be back. Sorry for my hiatus, I just want to say that I LOOOOOVE IBM hard drives.... can't get enough of em (can't get enought WORKING ones anyway). Oh well, I switched over to seagate and maxtor and they work great so far, so we'll see.

    Thank you guys for all your suggestions, I really really appreciate it. I really do think that I'm going to run that cat 5 wireless box and just throw my computer in the closet so that way I can be right in front of my monitor and keyboard/mouse when I record. The only thing wrong with that is that I'd have to walk over to the closet everytime I wanted to listen/burn a CD, so I was wondering if they had those wireless transmitters for USB2.0 or Firewire so that way I could have my CD/R-DVD-ROM drives next to my monitor and NOT in the closet with my computer?

    Thanks again for the help, I'm pretty excited today because I found out that my custom guitar is nearly complete, so I'll be recording ALA Steve Vai style soon... HEHE, now if I only knew some one in the states who made badass classical guitars so I won't have to fly to spain... HMMM, you can't win em all I guess.
  8. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Hey TD - The only wireless stuff I've seen is the wireless networking junk, so far nothing above 11 Mbps. Nowhere near fast enough for either USB2 or Firewire. however, firewire externals are available, even combo DVD-r/CD-RW drives, check que out. That's the way I plan to go, computer elsewhere, cat5 and firewire into the studio, burner on the desk... Steve
  9. teddancin

    teddancin Member

    Yeah, but the Firewire and USB cables are limited to 15 feet tops without a repeater. Are you planning on having some type of repeater (ie HUB) every 12 feet or so, or are you only going to put your computer 12 feet away, cause that would suck for me, because you can hear my noisey computer from like 20 feet away. Oh well, let me know if you figure something out, thanks for the help.
  10. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    My situation is a little different, as the computer(s) will be on the other side of an STC-60 wall. There will be a quad-baffled and foam-stuffed 4 x 90 degree turns feed-thru, 4" in diameter, for all cables to/from the 'puters, within 15 cable feet of the closest side of my custom mix desk, where I'll have a firewire hub. That way the desk can be centered for balance, but the firewire cable only needs to reach to the closest edge. Then I'll have another 15' if necessary to the burner(s)- some of my audio interface cables are only 15' also, so there will be a rack that close to the "hole in the wall" -

    In your case, it sounds like Littledog's suggestion (above) may be worth checking out. As far as that whiney bitch goes,(the computer; any resemblance, blah, blah, unintended, yeah, right...) you definitely need to put a sock in it if you're recording higher than 8-bit 11 kHz mono... Steve

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