Sunday, May 10, 2009

My Luxurious Studio

...and Other Humorous Topics

One parallel project to the great script-for-demo wrangling of May 2009 is the revamping of my recording capabilities. I'd been using the Snowball USB mic on my desktop for practice and playback through a set of pretty basic computer speakers. Everything had been set up in my office and for purposes of class prep and basic playback, it was working acceptably.

Then for a recent class, we were sent scripts to record at home and submit for critique at the class session. Well, with a little more critical listening, it was pretty obvious that the office was not quiet enough. So, I ventured down a hallway which seemed to lend itself well to the task, spacewise. However, with its relatively thin door and wooden floor, it was like recording in a bass drum with cymbals covering the drum heads - tinny and resonant. Declaring it a "live" space would be generous.

As the class deadline had snuck up a bit quickly, I got busy with some deadening blankets taped up and mats on the floor, managing to kill the worst of the echoey bits. However, to reduce the resonance, I'd ended up turning everything 90 degrees from plan, and had to flip the Snowball over to position "3" to reduce background noise. This still seems a little weird to me, as the "3" setting is supposed to be the omnidirectional setting. But, between the new setup, the issues of damping the space and the impending deadline for the class, I didn't have time to run it down before I had to show up at work for the day.

When the files were played in class over the studio monitors, there was a noticeable dip in quality when mine played. But, it supplied an excellent reference for correction. I also got copies of the other files which I could then use for playback comparison over my basic speakers.

Then we went shopping. For some reason, my wife didn't really care for the look of drafting tape and heavy blankets, so we spent some time in the studio setup over at Bananas At Large in San Rafael. Had a good talk with a pretty knowledgeable guy and discussed the use of foam, proximity of the mic, other USB microphone alternatives and a pair of nice sounding USB speakers for playback.

Then we visited Home Depot and played around with various methods of setting up a retracting sound curtains, installing foam surfaces and means of deadening the space. Which means I've got a pile of building materials to install and see what happens. Hopefully, when everything is set up and locked down, we'll have an effective, but unobtrusive recording space.

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