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Old 02-28-2021, 09:20 PM
anton anton is offline
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Default Recording my new album - The Isolation Waltz

Hi Folks, I recently released my second solo album, "The Isolation Waltz" You can check it out via the link in my signature if you are interested, and to listen to samples.

I mentioned it in the Events forum, and KarenB asked some technical questions about making the recording. I figured I would answer them here, as to get more discussion going.

Goals
It had been 10 years since my first cd, Noone Lasses, and I wanted to record another one. I recorded the first album in Doug Young's lovely studio, which turned out great. I really wanted to record this second one at home. It would be both logistically easier, plus I guess I just like trying to do stuff on my own, for better or worse. Based on results I was getting at home and comparing them to past recordings at Doug's, and also recordings I made at a local studio, I decided recording a solo fingerstyle guitar record at home would be doable, at least from a sound quality standpoint.

Room
My studio room/office is basically a spare bedroom in our house. It measures roughly 13' x 10'7" My neighborhood is not overly noisy but we have the usual cars that can go by, people doing yard work outside, etc. I generally tried to record late at night.

I should have taken more photos while recording, to better document the process. During recording I had my computer and monitors against the shorter wall, looking out the window. I have since moved them against the longer wall for a change of pace. So my desk was where the white bookcase is now in this photo. I sat with my back to the opposite shorter wall when recording, with the mics setup in front of me. The acoustic treatment in the room is what you see in the photo, and I had a panel in each corner behind me when recording. So I think that is two panels there on the shorter wall, the foam thingees in the corners, plus two panels stood up across the corners behind me when recording.



Gear
I used the following
Guitars - Spruce/rosewood OM and open back banjo by Fabrizio Alberico. 1987 Rosewood Standard by James Goodall
Mics - Pair of Gefell M300's. AGK 414 with an M300 in mid side for "Welsh Accordian Tune", which is a duet.
Interface - RME Babyface Pro
DAW - Logic
Monitors - KRK Rokit 5's.
Mogami Cables

I set the mics up in spaced pair, one pointing at the 12th fret area and one behind the bridge. I paired the inputs on my interface so they both had the same amount of gain.

I used a similar setup on the banjo though it was sort of a narrower spaced pair. I tried mid side as well as a single mic, and spaced pair seemed to work best here, at least to my ear. I had never recorded clawhammer banjo before so I was just experimenting. Check out the pictures below.







Recording Process
I generally did a handful of takes for each tune then edited them into a single version. Once all the tracks were done I sent stereo files to Doug for mixing and mastering. I am very happy with the result, thanks Doug. Several folks have commented that the tone is a step up from my first cd. I think that might be because I am using acrylic nails and later Alaska picks here, which just give me more attack. Plus my guitar has had 10 years to be played in since the first album.

So that is basically it. Record and edit at home, send to a pro for mixing and mastering. I don't see why I wouldn't use a similar process for album #3.

That is not to say pro studios are not great, I think they are and I love recording in them. If I had to record drums, a string ensemble, or anything beyond guitar/banjo/mandolin I would probably go to one. But for this stuff I enjoy the freedom and flexibility of recording at home.

I hope that is useful or at least interesting to other folks trying to recording at home. I think it is definitely doable with some foresight about your room and setting things up.

I welcome any feedback or constructive criticism folks have regarding the album.
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Old 02-28-2021, 09:54 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Hi Anton,

Thanks for posting, and I'm sure there will be some dialog about your process.

I thought that you had posted a while back when you initially started the process of doing this recording, but I could not find it when I searched maybe a month ago. In any case, I'm happy that you popped in to let us all know how it went!

It looks like your mics are set fairly far back, but there's no in action shot so it's hard to tell. Any specifics on mic distance and if you had any problems with "room sound"?
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Old 02-28-2021, 10:57 PM
anton anton is offline
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Yea I probably should have taken some more specific measurements. I think they were about 12"=15" inches away from the guitar. I'd hypothesize that my room is dead-ish, given the carpeted floor, and modicum of acoustic treatment.
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Old 03-01-2021, 03:26 AM
UKPhil UKPhil is offline
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That's very interesting Anton and thanks for posting. I have to say the sound is top notch in my humble opinion.
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Old 03-01-2021, 04:45 AM
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Thanks Anton - very interesting.
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Old 03-01-2021, 09:59 AM
anton anton is offline
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Thanks folks. I don't recall a ton of issue with room sound. Maybe Doug can comment more on what he did in the mixing/mastering phase. I would occasionally have to stop recording due to outside noise.

Maybe I could do some sort of top view room layout drawing. Does anyone know of free software or a browser based interface that will do that?
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Old 03-01-2021, 10:06 AM
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Sounded terrific to me. Excellent work from everyone involved.
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Old 03-01-2021, 12:54 PM
KarenB KarenB is offline
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HI Anton--

Thanks for this information!
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Old 03-01-2021, 01:00 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anton View Post
Maybe Doug can comment more on what he did in the mixing/mastering phase.
I didn't do anything especially heavy-duty on this. Anton's tracks sounded really good to start with. A little EQ here and there, depending on the track, using FabFilter's dynamic EQ. Just minor tweaks to taste. Reverb from the Bricasti M7. Raised everything to CD level using DMGAudio's Limitless multi-band compressor, adding just a touch of limiting/compression along the way. Trimmed heads and faded tails as needed, and adjusted the final track levels to flow from one tune to the next. All just pretty standard stuff. Anton and I went back and forth a few times on the amount of reverb - more? less? When the raw tracks sound great to start with, you mostly just don't want to mess them up!


Quote:
I would occasionally have to stop recording due to outside noise.
The norm for home recording. I swear the local gardeners have an alert on their phones for when I press the record button to "start your leaf blowers".
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Old 03-01-2021, 04:54 PM
rockabilly69 rockabilly69 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Doug Young View Post
...The norm for home recording. I swear the local gardeners have an alert on their phones for when I press the record button to "start your leaf blowers".
hahahaha, been there
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Old 03-02-2021, 02:36 AM
RodB RodB is offline
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Interesting and some lovely arrangements and playing Anton.

I liked the sound you achieved with the MS arrangement on Welsh Accordion Tune. Can I ask why you chose MS for this - was it to give post recording flexibility as it’s a duet, or...?
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Old 03-02-2021, 09:51 PM
anton anton is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RodB View Post
Interesting and some lovely arrangements and playing Anton.

I liked the sound you achieved with the MS arrangement on Welsh Accordion Tune. Can I ask why you chose MS for this - was it to give post recording flexibility as it’s a duet, or...?
Good question. You know I am not really sure. I remember asking Doug about what I should do recording two guitars. I think he said spaced pair could be a bit problematic because if you want to pan each guitar left or right a bit you end up emphasizing one of the mics. Which might result in too much bass or treble. So i recorded them in mid side and it seemed to work.
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Old 03-03-2021, 12:02 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by anton View Post
Good question. You know I am not really sure. I remember asking Doug about what I should do recording two guitars. I think he said spaced pair could be a bit problematic because if you want to pan each guitar left or right a bit you end up emphasizing one of the mics. Which might result in too much bass or treble. So i recorded them in mid side and it seemed to work.
Yeah, I think I suggested that. I recorded the duet CD I did with Teja Gerken all using spaced pairs, and it worked, but it was challenging to mix. Each individual side of a spaced pair setup doesn't necessarily sound good by itself, so when you start wanting to pan the guitars a bit, sometimes I'd not be happy with what I had to work with. With MS, you have a choice all the way from mono - so you could pan each guitar anywhere in the stereo field, just like doing a band mix, but you still have any degree of stereo available if you want, and you can decide during mixing.

Anton's track was interesting, tho, since it starts with solo guitar for half the tune, and I didn't want to pan that to one side in mono. So the 1st guitar ends up being stereo, maybe pulled a little to one side (I forget), and the 2nd guitar more mono and more placed to the other side to give it some space and differentiate the guitars.
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Old 03-03-2021, 11:56 AM
RodB RodB is offline
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Thanks Anton and Doug for replying so fully. After several years I have yet to settle on a favorite setup. MS has been my most recent exploration...
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Old 03-04-2021, 03:30 PM
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Cocobolo Kid Cocobolo Kid is offline
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Smile The Isolation Waltz

I just purchased your Isolation Waltz album on Bandcamp. Congratulations on such a nice album.

If you make the sheet music for this album available on Bandcamp, I would purchase that also. I would like to learn some of the songs, like the title track and Klinten.
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