favorite this post COSMIC PIG STUDIOS This week: Alien jams and mic selection. (Whalley, Surrey) hide this posting unhide

While you read this listen to some of my work at

Studio is located in the Whalley area of Surrey.

I have 17 years experience in audio engineering and producing and 35 years as a professional musician.

Full production capabilities with live and sampled instruments.

I also do voice over and video sound.

Juno award winning work.

30$ per hour.

Apologies for the repostmentation. If anybody has any questions or ideas for a new blog section feel free to email me. All past bloggage is posted at my site.

Ya know... I've been rambling on for a while now. I have maybe 20 of these blergy blahblahs at the site. I think I'm out of blather. I'm just rehashing whine and typing the same crap over and over with a slightly different spin.

That's all like, whatever, but it leads to the question: Is that the complete works of me? Is that it? All that is me can be expressed in 20 pages of repeated vaguely articulated complainy assed drooly flappings? I had sort of assumed as I plumbed the depths of me there would be many layers of interesting crap. Apparently not. As I peel me back there appears to be little there. I'm a shallow pond of vapid milky water where every now and then bubbles of vitriolic drivel gurgle up and slither around on the surface until they pop and spray a pungent mist of blog in your face.

Fortunately, on a clear night, there are an estimated 2500 stars visible to the naked eye. Why one would walk around with naked eyes I have no idea, but they make no reference to how many stars are visible with clothed eyes. Anyways, according to NASA, most stars have planetary systems. Some of these stars we can see are actually galaxies with billions of stars like our milky way. So if I'm looking up on a clear night I figure there's pretty much a 100% chance some alien dude is up there looking back at me at exactly that same moment. We're smoking the lottery just by the sheer numbers of planets out there, so I believe it's likely true. In fact it's probable that quite a few aliens are looking at me.

So if such is the case and I whip out an acoustic and start playing, it's quite possible that one of the many alien dudes are thinking the same thing and will bring along their acoustic and we'll jam accidentally. Except their acoustics will probably be some sort of modulation valve flapulating jobbie.

Which puts my lack of characterical depth into some kind of perspective. laminately challenged or not, I may have jammed with aliens.

So enough about me. Let's talk about recording at home then exporting to a studio for mixing....again.

There are two major factors in the capture of sound that are easily sidetracked by the strident misdirect from advertising and forums about bit rates and fancy gear. One is the room, the other is the mic. When you have those two sorted out you can get quite reasonable tracks from almost any level of gear.

The basics of getting a sound into your computer are: Source (you caterwauling or flailing at an instrument, and the room you're in), capture (mic), signal path (pre-amps), and digital conversion (basically a fancy ass sound card). Source is the sound to be recorded, which includes room, guitar amps, etc. Capture is the mic and mic placement.

Source and capture are 90% of the sound quality, and 100% of the sound quality when they're not done right. Microphone, signal path and analog to digital conversion is where the gear heads and advertisers leap about shrieking and belittling your intelligence, yet signal path and conversion is only ever 10% of the sound quality. Mic is important, but you'll never get a straight answer anywhere ever as to quality. Room is largely ignored because there's no money in it.

So you can spend a billion dollars on gear, but if you haven't got those first two crucial components of source and capture the billion dollars is moot and voided completely.

I've said all this before, but what I never got into is what mic to buy. Researching this is like asking a preacher what religion is best. Everybody has a different religion and they all leap to their koolaid stained pulpit at the slightest provocation.

Long ago, in a house not far away, I started a studio. I researched online about what my first official vocal mic should be. I sorta had one in mind because everybody at the forum I used to hang at said it was great. Most of them had this mic and would extoll it's virtues endlessly. This mic was claimed to be A/B tested by pro engineers and was indistiguishable from a much more expensive Neumann U47. I got the feeling that if I bought this mic not only would I have a great mic and be all pro looking, but I'd be one of the cool kids at the forum and chicks would dig me.

Being all wise and sensible I went to L&M and grabbed 6 mics in the same price range and set them up all in a row for some wise and sensible A/B testing. Funnily enough, I liked the previously expounded mic best out of all of them. It did after all have a gold spattered large diaphragm and a tube, and of course it was huge and cool looking. So I bought it for 1100$.

Years later I realized it's not a good mic, I'm not cool, and chicks don't dig me. The price of that mic then dropped to 700$, then was discontinued. What I learned was I was sold on it before I did my A/B test. Uneducated ears tell you what you want to hear, and it takes a while to get to know any new piece of gear.

On the bright side, I've recently come to the conclusion that self image is a state of mind, so I'm once again cool and chicks do in fact dig me.

The mic was excessively sibilant. When you say excessively sibilant into it it comes out as white noise. It does however to this day capture the sparkle of an acoustic guitar quite nicely. Buying overpriced prosumer crap is where the concept of puposely having different mics for different applications comes in handy. Upon making a horrible purchase you can say "I bought it for acoustic" all knowledgabley.

So I did more research and asked some heavy engineer dudes at a different forum who have little patience for cheap recordistry. They suggested my first proper mic should be an all purpose start to a proper mic locker. Something that will sound pretty good on anything and always be useful. So on their recommendation I got an AKG C-414B. It's a multi-pattern all purpose mic that can take any SPL short of a kick drum. I use it a lot. Still like it a lot.

So it be my recommendation. Notice it's a starter all purpose mic that costs 1500$. After years of dicking around with chinese junk I realized that gear you can actually use is expensive as all by golly heck.

There are two types or recorded sound: Bad sound and good sound. Bad sound you have to fix in the mix, and good sound you can enhance in the mix. After years of learning how to fix bad sound from cheap mics I've come to the realization that with all the fancy plugins and cool looking gui's a bad sound can sometimes be suppressed or tweaked into passable, but it will never turn into a good sound.

So get a decent mic. Or not. I didn't believe anybody that wasn't cool either.

Next thing is room. Room isn't that important for loud close mic'd sounds, but it is hugely important for voice and acoustic instruments. You can have the most expensive mic in the world but if it's in a boxy ambient room it'll sound like crap. The room sound goes into the mic along with the source. You can try to EQ it out but you invariably will take something important away from the source. You can futz around with it in the mix but it will never be a good sound.

As mentioned before, recording is a labor of details small and large. Room is a large detail.

A room shouldn't be completely dead, there should be a bit of well diffused ambiance. Here in the Room Of Pain I have one wall that's rock and diffuses nicely, Which takes the boxy out of the ambiance. I hung square blocks of corrugated cardboard on the ceiling for more diffusion. Then I took three 4X8 sheets of plywood and built panels with Safe'n'Sound insulation that absorbs it dead. Works dandy as a vocal booth and a place to crank amps in. Dandy I tell ya!

Anyways, If you want to track at home start with those two things before you do anything. Without mic and room you'll never get good sounds.

Now I'm gonna tune up the ol' flapulator and hit a jam. Might even slather some shine on the antennae so the kids think I'm cool.
  • do NOT contact me with unsolicited services or offers

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