Saturday, July 19, 2008

Fun With Audacity

What Fun

Today I tested out my new strings with a recording of, " Good Day."
What fun. I enjoyed playing and singing and I learned a lot about Audacity.
First, the studio...

What I use to record.

I am using an iMac 600MHz power PC G3, Audacity recording/editing software, my 30 year old Takamine, a Behringer XENYX 802 mixer, and a matched set of Beyerdynamic microphones. The only thing I had to buy new was the mixer. I have had a cool recording music workstation all this time and didn't even know it! I always thought I would have to get pro tools and some sort of digital mixer that uses firewire or USB to record with this computer.

I am so thankful that I am somehow given the skills, equipment and knowledge, at the time when I am ready to use them.

Tonights moon and what appears to be Saturn.
Looking back I can see how God, put me in exactly the right place and time for pretty much everything in my life. I am thankful for my blessings.

Back to the music...

Sing and play the song on two tracks.

First I sang and played the song using 2 tracks, (stereo.) I set the mics so that they would, "hear", what I hear, I had the vocal mic next to my right ear, pointing down toward the guitar to try and capture what I hear while singing and playing. I placed the guitar mic about 18" away and pointing at an angle toward the body of the guitar. The most common method of microphone placement is pointed at the sound hole. I chose to try and get more of the sound that is developed by the body and soundboard. The holes in the face of stringed instruments are there for the sound to go in so that it is developed, colored and shaped by the wood of the body. I can hear the difference.

The angle and distance of the microphones allowed the vocal to bleed into the guitar mic, and some of the guitar bled into the vocal mic. I think this spices up the molecular soup on each track.

Next add second guitar.

Having listened to the recorded tracks and being satisfied that it was a heartfelt rendition with no glaring mistakes, I chose to add a second guitar as a complimentary portion of additional music to enhance the listening experience. I used two mic's on the guitar for this.

More fun...

Using Audacity noise reduction.

One of the drawbacks to recording at home, in a small apartment, is background noise. The new self-defrosting refrigerators are an enthusiastic concert of growls and grumbles, hums and rumbles, punctuated with the sound of bubbles popping. In the past I have been known to unplug refrigerators for recording sessions, and forget to plug them back in. This creates a different set of growls and grumbles.

Then there is the A/C. It's a cataclysmic combination of car wash, freight train and someone dragging a trash can down an alley. Here in Redding it is absolutely essential that the apartment stay air conditioned. The refrigerator and the A/C cycle on and off as needed to maintain a constant temperature.

Thanks to Audacity, I can record with them turning on and off and not worry about that noise on my recordings. Included among the many effects is one called, " Noise Reduction." You give it a second or two of the offensive buzz, hiss, hum or rumble and it creates a, " Profile ", of the components of that sound and removes it from the tracks without affecting the sound of the music. It really works great!
I did some editing to remove a few distractions and converted the 3 tracks to an MP3. Then something serendipitous happened. My plan was to import the stereo mix and trim the excess space at the beginning, but I discovered that I had inadvertently added the mix as two extra tracks along with the three original tracks. This created a doubling, or tight delay effect that enhanced the over all feel of the song.
Listen for yourself. Good Day.

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