Recording at home avec le Corpo
by Dudley (2001)
First thing to do is practice the age old custom of head scratching. Where does this lead go? What’s that clicking sound? Why can’t I hear anything? Why are my hands on fire?
Second thing to remember is that, other than a willingness to experiment, there are absolutely no rules to home recording. Despite however you may find yourself limited equipment wise with a little flair and imagination you can muster pretty decent results. Here’s how we do it.
The only consistent piece of equipment the corpo have used is my PC. I have a fairly old machine, a PII 300 with 160mb and a 40gb harddrive, and surprisingly it rarely gives me any grief performance wise. Software used is Sonic Foundry Vegas for multi track recording and Sound Forge for wav editing and mastering. Soundcard is a Soundblaster Live. I’d pretty much say it’s imperative your machine is at least up to that spec if you want to make a decent fist of things, especially ensure you have a large harddrive as you’ll eat up a *lot* of disk space.
How we get our music onto the computer varies greatly. Swanniesong for instance was recorded using only microphone, a stereo minidisk model. We recorded the drums to minidisk then transferred them using Sound Forge.
To bolster the drum sound I duplicated the drum track in Vegas and hard panned each track, which pretty much doubled the presence of the drums.
The guitars and bass were simply plugged straight into the soundcard. I treated them with effects in Vegas as much as possible to make them sound a little less plastic. Vocals were recorded with the same mic as used for the drums. Admittedly, the results sound a little unusual but we’re still pretty proud of it, and it certainly doesn’t sound shit.
With time we’ve refined the process a hell of a lot and it’s beginning to become feasible that we’ll soon be able to do full albums at home.
We borrowed Anthony Mackeys digital 8 track for the Morning After 7" and things improved drastically. With the 8 track we were able to record our parts live, which improved performances tenfold. The laborious part of this is having to transfer the individual tracks from the 8 track to the PC. To avoid signal degradation by simply channelling the 8 track into the computers line in, we hired a cd burner for the machine, and set about burning cd’s full of every single individual wav, which we then ripped to the PC (handy tip – to help sync up the tracks if you don’t have the means, make your drummer play 4 steady loud intro clicks. These are quite easy to sync up in an editor). We were again very pleased with the results but there was still space for improvement.
Our most recent batch of recording was done using a borrowed digital 16 track. Having set ourselves up in an attic room with brilliant live sounds we placed 3 or 4 mics on the kit, with another mic placed a little further back for a room sound (which was a vital touch – with clever use in the mix, a room mic can make the drums sound huge). In turn we recorded all instrumentation to the 16 track, and similar to Mackeys 8 track, burnt each individual track to CD and ripped them to the PC again. This took a hellish amount of time, as the 16 track could only burn in real time, and we had utilised pretty much every track.
Once all the music was transferred I then used the 16 track as a mixer to record vocals directly to the PC.
This, for me, is where the brilliance of Vegas kicks in. It’s absolutely idiot proof, the fact that I’ve been able to get to grips with it is testament in itself. You can simply keep adding tracks to your hearts content, the only limitation is your computers memory. On one new song, including lots of chorus vocals I bounced down to one track, I think we’ve used to up to 34 channels, which is pretty comprehensive for stupid guitar music.
There’s still a ways to go to getting the kind of results we got from the studio in Scotland, home recording can’t quite capture the power a
24 track desk can, but we’re definitely getting close, and all with the most meagre of set up’s. Home recording rules.