12 Home Studio Necessities #4 – Microphones

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=eVE6rhfdxMc

I recorded my first album in high school. At least I called it an “album.”

My gear list included:

  • A basic home PC
  • A “free” version of Cakewalk Guitar Tracks I got from a friend.
  • That skinny little dictation microphone that used to come with home computers. (Remember those? It was a skinny little microphone about eight inches long, mounted to a cheap little plastic stand, plugged into the sound card at the back of the computer. See pic at the end of this article.)

This was my first foray into recording. If you’re wondering, I shan’t be re-releasing that album. Whew, it was awful.

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8 Powerful Home Studio Lessons

I’ve been recording in my home studio for years.

I’ve recorded in a hallway at my parent’s house, in a dorm room at college, in a tiny (and really messy) bedroom I shared with a roommate, in church sanctuaries, in lots of apartments, in a log house, and finally in 3 different rooms in my current house.

The one common theme? NONE of those places were designed to be studios.

That’s the beauty and the frustration of working in home studios. All those imperfections make for a challenging (but immensely rewarding) environment for making music.

Over the years I’ve learned countless valuable lessons, but today I want to share with you eight of the most POWERFUL lessons I’ve learned. These are things that have made a dramatic impact on the quality of my recordings.

Here we go… (more…)

Room Treatment and a Couch Full of Gear

As you may recall, last weekend Graham and I hosted our second Simply Recording Academy recording workshop at a studio here in Nashville.

It was, as expected, a BLAST. We hung out with six awesome dudes from all over the US (from Buffalo to Houston) for two full days of recording and mixing. ‘Twas too much fun.

On Saturday afternoon, just before the workshop ended, we held the big giveaway. Graham and I were able to secure $2,700 of gear that we gave away to workshop attendees. And it was all thanks to these super cool sponsors: (more…)

Ask Joe #34 – Adding “Umph” to Guitar Tracks

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Another week. Another podcast. Got some really good questions this week. If you sent one in, thank you.

(It is quickly becoming very popular.)

Got a burning question? (Or just a regular question?) Ask away here:

www.AskJoeGilder.com

Happy listening!

Topics covered:

  • Tips for adding extra “umph” to guitar tracks
  • Amp simulation
  • Re-amping
  • Recording with a newborn baby
  • Mic Preamps
  • Drum Overheads
  • Fader levels
  • Thunderbolt
  • Limiter thresholds
  • Solid State Drives

Links from the show:

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8 Common Microphone Mistakes

This past weekend I spent a lot of time in the car, so I pulled out the iPod and listened to the entire “Joe Gilder catalog,” almost every song that I’ve written and recorded over the years.

As I listened back to some of those very first recordings, it reminded me of all the stupid mistakes I’ve made along the way, particularly with microphones.

Here’s a list of eight microphone mistakes, and yes, I’ve done all of them. 🙂

1. Not using a pop filter

This may seem silly, but it took me several years to finally buy a pop filter. Perhaps you can relate. You spend $80 on your first cheap condenser microphone. It looks amazing in your studio, so you start using it, and the thought of buying a $20 pop filter never enters your mind.

After all, all the singers in those microphone advertisements are singing directly into the mic without a pop filter…and those ads are always super-accurate, right? 😉 (more…)

Day 17 – Using Multiple Mics [31DBR]

Welcome to Day 17 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.

On Day 12 we talked about keeping it simple, and only using one microphone for each instrument. These limitations can force you to be more efficient and creative.

There are certainly situations, though, where it’s a good idea to use multiple microphones on a single source. I almost always use two microphones when I record acoustic guitar, for example.

Flashlight Mics

Some instruments are large (acoustic guitar, piano, drum kit); others are small (human voice, harmonica, kazoo). It can be helpful to imagine that your microphones are flashlights. Wherever the light shines, that’s where the microphone is picking up sound. For larger instruments, you may need more “light,” so multiple microphones might be necessary.

If you place a flashlight 2 inches from the 12th fret on an acoustic guitar, it will illuminate a tiny little area…it will hardly light up the entire guitar. When your microphone is that close, the recorded signal will sound a lot like that little section of the guitar rather than the entire instrument.

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Day 15 – Get a Handle on the Proximity Effect [31DBR]

Welcome to Day 15 of 31 Days to Better Recordings.

One of the biggest challenges we face as home recording engineers — or is it recordists? Heck, I don’t know 🙂 — is low-mids.

Initially, when you’re recording everything, you want a really rich, full sound. You want everything to sound…wait for it…warm. 🙂

Once everything is recorded, you start mixing, you want to blend everything together and have it sound amazing, but you find that no matter what you do, everything sounds muddy.

When you solo the guitar, it sounds great. When you solo the drums, they sound great. When you solo the vocal, it sounds great. But for some reason when you play everything together it’s a big mush-ball of low-mids. (more…)