HOME RECORDING GEAR
I enjoy reading about how others have recorded projects at home. My own decision to record at home evolved from issues of time constraints, comfort, and expense. I have a very busy day job. Showing up at a studio at a specified time and being well prepared, new strings in tune, relaxed, and “in the zone” was difficult. If you are a player that can do the above, I recommend you stick with studio recording and save yourself a bundle of time, and possibly money. Gear can be expensive. But considering work, families, and other obligations, home recording makes sense. It is there waiting for you 24/7. Plus, recording at home helped me overcome the syndrome of RBP (record-button phobia)! So I did my homework, bought some stuff, drove a couple of friends crazy with questions, and managed to record my CD at home. It was mixed and mastered in Tulsa by Steve Thornbrugh. He has a wonderful home studio (Home of Tone) and tons of experience. For me, recording the tracks was the big hurdle and the most time consuming. I discovered that mixing and mastering is an entirely different art form requiring a completely different skill set. I was very fortunate to work with Steve.
–I record on an iMac with Logic Pro. If you take the time to learn, Logic has plenty of mixing, effects, and mastering options. I attended several teaching sessions at the Apple Store. They helped me get things rolling and never seemed to tire of my stupid questions. The iMac is quiet enough to keep in the recording room.
–Audio/digital interface: Apogee Ensemble, which has built in preamps, and able to record several channels at once. I will always love analog, but digital opens a big world of do-it-yourself recording. In my opinion the solid-state preamps on the Apogee are as good or better than some nice tube preamps I test drove. Not having to purchase additional preamps allowed me to use few gadgets as possible in the signal chain.
–Inputs: Two small condenser mics in a x/y pattern, placed 8 – 10 inches from where the guitar neck joins the body. This position made it easy to move back and forth between the computer and the recording chair. A 3:1 mic position would possibly yield a better stereo field but requires more attention to positioning. I also ran a direct line from the guitar pickup, a Trance Audio Acoustic Lens. (a very sensitive pickup, glued to the underside of the bridge on the treble side, and picks up everything, including strings, taps, rubs, thunks, all of which i try to use musically). In summary, three total inputs.
–Room: I use a spare carpeted bedroom. Any room will work as long as you can make it as quiet as possible. For weeks I obsessed about soundproofing techniques, microphone angles, electrical buzzing noises, reflection issues, all in an effort to create the most quiet environment possible. I soon realized that my ears are not trained to hear such subtle differences. I settled for a few packing blankets from Home Depot to cover some mirror closet doors and a few inexpensive acoustic foam tiles scattered around the room. Once I handed my tracks over to Steve, he was able to take a digital sample of my “room noise” and run it though a filter to make my tracks less noisy. Thus, another advantage of the digital domain. Also, another advantage to having another set of ears listen to your music. At some point I intend to learn to do all this myself. But until then…