Recording, Mixing, and Mastering

In an attempt to start a new series for myself to maintain, I wanted to write a little bit about Recording, Mixing, and Mastering. Before I get into the specifics of each process, I wanted to give some background about my experience with recording and editing audio.

Back in 1998 while still in high school, my friend The O and I started tooling around with the Windows Recorder application.  We wanted a way to record skits that we were writing and other randomness.  While this was sufficient for short recordings there were not many options.  It was time to move on, The O finds Gold Wave, a very functional piece of software with a variety of effects for us to try.  Thus begins the musical group and movement Wireman.

goldwave

While Gold Wave was great, it would only allow us to edit one track at a time.  If we want to record two things separately, for instance, guitar first, then drums afterward, we had to do some hacking to play one track, record another track, and merge them both together seamlessly.  We needed a better solution.  A e-friend of ours recommends Cool Edit Pro and uploads a working version for us.  Now we are Multi Tracking!

Multi tracking allowed us record each track individually and mix them all together with ease.  From then on I recorded everything using that same version of Cool Edit Pro, my new problem was only being able to record with one microphone, a standard computer microphone.  This problem lead to some interesting solutions.

For instance…lets say I wanted to record my band.  We would record drums and bass at the same time, I would place the mic in front of the kick drum, and have the bass near by.  This gave the recording a strong kick, picking up the rest of the drums level with the loudness of the bass.  Then I would go back and record guitar and vocal tracks separately.  This was working but I was not able to get in and make any edits to the bass or the individual drums.

A couple of years ago I decided to get serious and started doing some research on cheap, digital, multitracking equipment.  I wanted something that was as simple as plugging one wire into my computer, allowing me to record up to 8 channels at once.  At the time, and for my budget, my only option was the Presonus Firepod.  Regardless of being my only option, it was everything I wanted.  1 firewire connection to my PC with software to boot.

presonus_firepod_fp10

I purchased one and started using it immediately. It came with Cubase and I figured I would learn how it all works together with the software it came with, then decide later if I want to try something else. I only had 3 mics and the best of them was a mostly destroyed SM58.  From that point on I started recording all of my bands practices, as well spending some time individually tracking the drums(kick, snare, overhead).  This gave me a chance to start feeling out the individual tracks and testing out the FX plug ins that came with it.

Shortly after I decided that 3 mics was not enough. I purchased a 7 piece Digital Reference drum mic set for $150, which has been phenomenal especially for the price. Game on…

Since then I have made the jump to Cakewalk Sonar as my recording software of choice. I have also picked up several more quality microphones and an additional Firepod giving me the ability to track 16 channels at once, and the Waves FX bundle which is pretty much the standard digital FX package for professional mixing.

sonar8

As of this posting, I have had my current set up for over 3 years and have recorded a number of artists a number of ways.  Vocalists who brought a music track, full bands,  full albums, singles, quite a bit of live recording, the list goes on.

There you have it, a very brief introduction to my experience as a recording engineer. I could and probably will go in depth in future posts about some of the things mentioned.  Keep an eye out for my next post in the series.

For sound samples and more information on my studio, check out the Ozone Lair and the Ozone Lair Myspace.

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