Friday, March 12, 2010

Tools

I like having made a recording; however, I can't say I particularly like making the recording. While I appreciate that sound engineering and mic placement and editing are fascinating disciplines that require measures of both art and science, I would always rather play my horn and leave the record-making to someone else. Alas, no one is banging on my door offering to produce these recordings for me, so I'm on my own.

With that said, I take a pretty minimalistic approach. Fortunately, single-voice recordings can allow for some minimalism. My set-up is very simple. I use an Edirol digital recorder (the R-1). In the past I've tried plugging microphones into the Edirol; however, I prefer the unit's own internal mics. I set the recorder on my stand, hit record, and then start playing my horn. That's it.

The output of the R-1 is a WAV file which I copy to my laptop and then edit in an open source program called Audacity. Audacity is both incredible and free. I use about a millionth of the application's functionality. I do some very basic editing, and apply two effects: normalization, and Audacity's built-in reverb effect, which is called Gverb. I've heard some awful artificial reverb added to recordings. I think the settings I'm using for Gverb are reasonable and tasteful. I hope any listeners agree; though I'll certainly accept any constructive feedback.

I then output the file to WAV (for eventual compilation on a CD perhaps), and MP3 (for postings on the web). Using the movie maker app which ships with Windows, I load the MP3 to a Windows video file and load up to YouTube, which I then embed into the blog (I discovered early on in this project that loading video files directly to blogspot was quite unreliable).

The act of recording a given piece seems to take up about 5-10% of the time of the actual process of recording, editing, and posting to the web.

Oh, and I should mention, because horn players always want to know the answer to this question, and really, these are the most important tools in this undertaking: My euph is a silver Meinl-Weston 451, and my mouthpiece is a gold-plated large bore Schilke 51D.

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