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Dustin LindenSmith

father | musician | writer

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Universal Soul at The Attic + mini AST update

I went to The Attic to see Universal Soul tonight, a local hip-hop crew that was, to the best of my knowledge, releasing a CD tonight. The PR for the gig was a gong show: The Coast reported a 10 PM start, but The Attic doesn't even open till 11 PM and the opening act didn't start until 1 AM! So needless to say, this has been a very, very late night. And I didn't even have a chance to pick up a copy of their CD. At 2:15 I finally threw in the towel and had to come home, exhausted. Wasn't a party animal tonight, that's for sure.

The DJ and MC who warmed up for USoul were tight -- Playboy on the decks and J-Bru or something on the mic. His rapping was pretty tight, but the overall production quality (particularly the vocal mix) was pretty low. They could have used somebody with better ears on the sound board, that's for damn sure.

I had a brief chat with one of the warm-up DJs before Playboy came on, and when I described the new rig I've been building for recording multi-track and producing on my laptop, his eyes widened. I took that as a good sign that I'm building a good set-up for production right now.

I'm hungry, very hungry to lay down my first tracks with drums and bass. And also to get listening to, and mixing down, our quartet's recording sessions from two weeks ago.
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vyus October 15th, 2006
do you do any straignt line-in recording or do you mike everything?

iamom October 15th, 2006
Well, for the band last week, we were in a full-fledged recording studio. We took one direct line in from the bass and also placed a bass amp in the isolation booth which we miked; the synths went direct to the board, the drums were covered by about eight mics and placed behind baffles, and I played in front of a single, really high-end vocal condenser mic also behind the baffles. We each had a separate monitor mix in our headphones, which was necessary because the only instruments you could hear acoustically in the studio were the sax and drums.

For my home set-up, I have a simple vocal mic for my voice and my sax, and I run a turntable, my synth, and occasionally an electric bass right into the board. The "board" I'm using is an eight-channel audio interface with 4 powered mic pre-amps and 4 lines in, all getting processed on board and then running to the laptop with FireWire.

Was that response too detailed, or is that the kind of info you were interested in hearing?

vyus October 15th, 2006
that's what i was curious about. as a really amateur recorder, i'm curious what you're doing to get good sounds rather than that tinny, tiny sound that happens if you record straight in rather than mike. but good microphones seem expensive and i just don't have the patience to muck with them when i just want to get an idea down.

i'm using a Pod XTLive to go straight in for most instruments, and supposedly it's not bad for what it is, but I've never put together a multi-channel project with it so it's hard to determine how good it actually is.

have you had any success mixing midi w/ live? i've never tried it but i'm at the point i want to play w/ a piano arrangement and i'm my cheap recording software doesn't handle it well. i should've bought an apple :)

iamom October 15th, 2006
I haven't actually tried doing MIDI live with playing yet, although I plan to with this new rack I have. It has a MIDI line in and the ProTools recording software I'm using has a gazillion patches for synth and bass and drum sounds that I plan to get funky with really soon.

As for Apple out of the box, I know that GarageBand is supposed to handle MIDI, but I haven't really tried it yet. I'd need to have some sort of an audio MIDI interface first, which is what I have with this rack, yet it comes with its own software, so I may not ever try using GarageBand, I dunno.

Mics are, I think, a must if you want to graduate to a reasonable level of quality. But I don't think you have to get anything super high-end if it's just for your own amusement. The Shure SM-58 is a classic vocal mic and it has a fine sound quality to it. If you did some research, you'd probably find even more examples. I'd like to get a clip-on for my horn to make things easier, too. But I can't get everything at once...

iamom October 15th, 2006
I forgot to answer about the drums for my home set-up. Our drummer has about a dozen mics on his drums which he runs into a 16-channel mixer, and I'll be taking a stereo signal from his mixer and putting them into 2 channels on my 8 channel board that connects to my laptop.

We haven't actually tried that set-up yet though, because I just got this board last month.

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