Digital Recording

Happy New Year! 

It’s hard to believe that 2009 is here already.  20 years ago, I was just getting back from Nebraska from a Christmas trip with my family and getting ready to continue my studies at Full Sail.  It’s funny how things seem to come full circle.

Over the past few months, my wife and I have been talking about providing our customers with recordings of their performances.  With some great help, I settled on SAW Studio.  Since my initial needs are small, I have opted for the economically prices M-Audio MobilePre USB digital pre-amp.  I am running SAW on a Dell Latitude 110 and though I was dubious at first, it gets the job done.

So the week prior to our first outting with the new gear, I spent several hours thinking about how I wanted to track the performances.  I have plenty of hard drive space so I could just hit record and go sit down and drink Mai Tais until it was time to strike.  I could also track each performance on a new track or leave everything on one track and only record the performance.  Since there really isn’t much going on during the gig for me, I elected to track each performance on separate tracks.  I labeled the performance by the singer(s) name then the song name.  By the way, you don’t get much of a label to work with so you sometimes have to be creative.

In retrospect, this technique worked out fantastic for me.  Since I had several back-to-back performances, I wasn’t able to mix the performances until I had a lull.  If I had just clicked record and walked away, I wouldn’t have been able to easily find each song and get them mixed quickly.  I was able to identify the performance, mark my beginning and end points and rip out a mix in under a minute for each.  By the end of the night, I was able to spin up several disks for customers with anyone’s performance.  Though I had a separate laptop ready for burning during the night, the crowd was light so we didn’t have a lot of takers but we did about a third of the cost of the MobilePre from the CD sales.  

So, in a short matter of weeks, I went from being a slug, worrying about weeds in the lawn to recording for a living again.  It’s not the Record Plant but it’s fun as hell and I can suppliment my gear envy with the proceeds.

So my next projects are:

  • Mix about 20 multi-track live recordings from my cousin’s band.  These were tracked on a Roland VS-1680 and converted to SAW.
  • Learn and track the bass part for Rush’s Natural Science song.  This is an on-going project my cousin started a few years ago.  We only have one in the hopper (Cities on Flame by Blue Oyster Cult)
  • Upgrade my gear.  I need to invest in some decent near-field monitors.  I also want to be able to track more than two inputs at a time
  • Work with my Cousin in getting our mobile recording business more business.  We’re investigating some potential revenue streams.
  • Build some gear.  There are some incredible pre-amp kits out there that I really want to tackle.

Though this is not by any means an earth-shattering event, it was an eye opener and it woke me back up to a time that I very much enjoyed.  Now I have the experience and the means to make it not only a fun hobby but potentially a profitable one as well.


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