Read the other articles in this series:
Let’s get one thing out of the way right now: I am not an audio person. Or at least I don’t think of myself as being one. I took to visual work very naturally, but doing audio work has always made me feel at least a little out of my depth. Don’t get me wrong—I have a decent ear. But messing with all of this stuff was, at least at one point, pretty far outside of my comfort zone. Thankfully, that didn’t stop me from doing it anyway.
Like the previous post in this series, I wanted to actually detail what it is I use in the process of making my music. In this case, we’re talking about the finished recordings of the actual music itself, so in this installment, it’s all about the hard- and software.
If I wanted to be really specific, I’d start babbling about my computer’s guts—the type and amount of RAM I’m using, my processor, my motherboard, blah blah blah. But I don’t know that my system contains anything super special, so instead, I’ll start by talking about my software.
While attending college, I learned audio engineering using Cakewalk Sonar, so that’s what I use in my own studio (though I have Producer 8.5, not any of the more recent versions). It’s not the most user-friendly program in existence, but it has some nifty features, and it more than gets the job done.
Interfacing between my software and my microphones, I have a MOTU UltraLite mk3 interface. The UltraLite doesn’t have very many inputs, but I’m a small studio, so I’ve yet to need more than two inputs at once.
And as for microphones, I have three that I use regularly. They are RØDE‘s NT1-A microphone, which is my primary vocal mic; Shure‘s Beta 52A kick drum mic, which I primarily use for micing the bottom of my djembe; and AKG Acoustics‘ D88S dynamic microphone, which I use for various and sundry things. Lately I’ve been using it to record my bodhran.
To hear what’s playing on the computer as I’m recording, I have a pair of Samson SR850 Professional Studio Reference Headphones. They’re pretty comfy, though they’re a bit large for me. My old pair of studio headphones fits better, but since it tends to make rattling and creaking noises, I rarely use them anymore. I don’t need them messing up the work I’m doing.
I conduct all mixing through a pair of Yamaha HS80M active studio speakers. I never mix through headphones, because I don’t feel that’s a very accurate method of mixing.
And once a song is recorded and mixed to my satisfaction, I will export it from Sonar and open it in Sound Forge to master it.
And there you have it. This week I’ve discussed my songwriting process, the work I do when I’m actually recording a song, what happens once a song is recorded, and the various tools I use to do it all. I hope it’s been as interesting to read as it was fun to write about.
On Monday you’ll get an introductory look at “[untitled]“, the second album in the studio’s current dual album project. Then throughout February and March, I’ll share more details on each track, all leading up to the album’s release date in mid-April. There may or may not be other posts interspersed with the “Meet ‘[untitled]‘” series, but for the next nine weeks, you will be treated to a minimum of one update a week concerning the current project. I hope you enjoy getting to know this new album, pre-release! “[untitled]” is a very personal project for me, and I’m really excited to finally get it out there.