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Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Short and Long Term Goals

Short and Long term goals.

As I’m planning the construction of my new studio I have to think about my short term and long term goals so I can decide just how I’m going to build my studio. Part of the planning is to make sure I have enough space and electrical for the gear I want to have (i.e. future purchases and believe me, the list is long). However, that’s only a small part of my plan. I must stop and give serious consideration to room acoustics. Angle of my walls, deflection and absorption are all a strong part of my signal chain which brings me to a well known disease called GAS or “Gear Acquisition Syndrome”.

Many of you visualize a recording studio as a control room full of really cool recording gear with a big control surface and another room full of really cool mics, and you’d be right to a  large extent. Some of you also visualize that if only you had all that gear you would be able to create really awesome recordings and people will beat down your door to either record at your studio or want to buy your CD’s in droves. Some of you have already been driving down that road but I want you to park the car and think about something.

RESIST GAS (Gear Acquisition Syndrome). This is not where the guy or gal who dies with the most toys wins situation. The MOST important element in your signal chain is the room(s) you record and mix in. A room not only effects what goes into a mic but how a musician hears themselves and how the recording is listened to after it exits your speaker. It’s a strong part of the signal chain of recording and mixing music you have to deal with, which makes it triply important. Here is the signal chain as I see it for a vocalist:

Musician – room acoustics – microphone – mic cable – pre-amp – processors (if used) – control surface - recording devise (if computer than it will go through a AD-DA converter) – hard drive – plug-ins – AD-DA converter - amplifier – speakers – room acoustics – engineers ear. (see signal path photo below)

Three (3) times the room will influences the signal.
·       First how the musician hears themselves (especially if they are using headphones which means the signal has already looped through the system once)
·       Second what goes into the microphone,
·       Third it effects how the engineer applies EQ, effects and mixes the tracks.

I’m not saying gear is not important, but I don’t care if you have a $2000 mic and a $5000 mic pre, if the room has standing waves and chunks of your frequency are either enhanced or cut, you will not be able to record and mix the tracks properly.

Bottom Line: Every part of your signal path changes, colors and degrades the signal in some way and it all starts with your rooms’ acoustics. Which means… don’t try to fix your mix with the next cool piece of gear to hit the market.

(Trick: If you have one, use your mono button to help discover if a track is out of phase and your getting some frequencies to cancel out or increase. This needs to be fixed in recording if possible.)

Signal Path 

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Building a Home Recording Studio

Welcome to my Home Recording Studio Blog. I hope you are here to get ideas for your studio build, so I will do my best to describe what I’m doing and why. My basic goal is to build a studio in my garage for as cheep as I can, knowing I don’t have the best location for this build. Which is a rectangular garage with loads of parallel surfaces to overcome. 
Many of you will understand that building a studio is more like walking up a set of stairs and not one big leap and you’re done. With each step you will do “something” to improve your studio. 
”What this is not”… it’s not an analysis and guide on the electronics of your studio. There are plenty of websites to help you there. So I hope you enjoy and can learn from my build, weather it’s something you want to incorporate or something to avoid. So if I make mistakes, you can learn right along with me, and hopefully there will be some good emails with comments I can post. 
September 29, 2010

I have a need...
The time has come to build a home recording studio. Currently I have a small studio that I have really enjoyed using and I have recorded lots of stuff in there, but it is only one room of my house and recording a band is out of the question… at least not all at once. I’ve used my studio mostly for personal projects with some buddies of mine and a few solo projects for other friends. 
But just wanting a bigger studio is not the only reason for doing this; it’s not even the main reason but a nice “perk” to the main reason. The reason is my oldest son age 11 and his younger age 9 are sharing a room together and this “needs” to change. So my oldest gets my current studio and I get a new studio. You need to know this will be a multi-phase build because of money and a possible lay off from my employer. Unfortunately way too many of you can relate to that.
So I’m loosing my current studio to my son, but gaining a new bigger studio. However, I have only one other location to built my studio… in my garage! This will be a true “Garage Studio”. Ten years ago I built a 720 sq. ft. detached garage with a double wide garage door and shop area with ten foot ceilings. (see fig 1) Now after careful consideration I will transform this car and junk storage area into a workable studio. 
Like many of you, I have to use what I have and a perfect studio with unlimited funds, are only dreams. So over the next year or so I will be prepping my garage for a studio build and trying to overcome the obvious problems a rectangular building has to offer. So, to go from piles of junk, and a garage where the sound leaking walls; to a noise free oasis that inspires creativity is going to take some hard work and creativity. 
My Intentions
Right up front I’d like to tell you about my intentions and to for you to know that I’m NOT trying to create a perfect studio. I just don’t have the money. I mean if I were to win the Powerball or Steve Jobs gave me a grant, then this is all a moot point because I would have a real studio built for me and not in my garage. So I will tell you what I’d like to do and how I intend to do it. I’m also not going to dwell on the “equipment” part of my studio but, I will at least tell you what I have and how I intend to prepare for more equipment. 

I own a Digidesign 003 pro Tools 7.4 rig (soon to be upgraded "yea"), Mackie 824 MKII near-field speakers. I use a PreSonus DigimaxFS mic pre via Firewire and I have an assortment of cool mics. I also have a midi keyboard and various plugs for my ProTools. I also use a Furman headphone system that uses Cat 5 wiring. Not a big or expensive rig but it does the trick and, as always, it is a never ending process to acquire new equipment when the need arrives. For the future I plan on another 8 channel mic pre, outboard compressor/gate reverb/delay and who knows what else. 

Next the planning begins…