A Few Improvements
So I had been at this a while, but the concept of recording audio had eluded me. On a later project, I borrowed a Minidisc 4-track (remember those?) and an Electro-Voice ND 767 to record another demo. I recorded the stereo out from my synth and recorded the vocal tracks. It actually turned out okay but had no effects, no compression, no nothing. Looking back, it probably wasn’t that good. I threw away the evidence.
A Dim Light at the End of a Long Tunnel
My experience with the Minidisc was actually preferable to my first foray into computer recording. I had just discovered how to record audio to my computer and I discovered that Cakewalk Pro also had bundled audio effects. The problem was that I was recording to a stock “interface” (a/k/a Sound Blaster card). Digital clipping is not pretty and I was the king of not pretty.
I decided that if I was going to get serious about home computer-based recording, I needed a better interface. After a lot of research I went to Best Buy and bought a premium SoundBlaster Audigy2 card with a breakout box. It had some hardware input volume control along with several cool i/o options included a MIDI interface.
At this time I also bought my first studio microphone, an MXL 990. It required phantom power so I bought a Behringer Shark. I was not pleased with the strident brittle tone of the recordings so I opted for a tube preamp, one I still use with mods: the ART TubeMP Studio. I liked the fancy meter. I have since replaced the factory tube with a NOS (new old stock) tube but I can’t say I can tell a difference.
During this time I also upgraded my DAW software to Cakewalk Home Studio 2002XL. Cakewalk has a great upgrade program that makes upgrading a no-brainer. It is a little more expensive to get started but the upgrades are super affordable. It was this upgrade that I got my first taste of software synthesizers. I found that I could get far better sounds from the included Roland Virtual Sound Canvas than I could from the Alesis Synth.
I had a great time with this interface/DAW combo and produced many demos and did a fair amount of audio “odd jobs”, including some major label marketing work. It was mostly editing and output work, though. I didn’t really run across any issues with this card until I got my first professional demo singing job.
I’m not talking about the popular breakfast cereal. I am talking about major hardware issues. I had not noticed these issues before, but there was a low-frequency popping sound on my vocal tracks. The bad thing was that they weren’t noticed until after I had turned in a project for a fellow writer/producer. Thankfully he was understanding and patient as I hurriedly upgraded my DAW and hardware. The DAW I upgraded to the re-branded Cakewalk SONAR HomeStudio 4XL and the M-Audio Delta 44 audio interface. Problems solved.
There you have it! My long, slow crawl into audio recording greatness. Ha! Thanks for reading. In my next post, I will walk you through my current setup and give a little insight into why I use what I use.