Fundamentals of Audio Recording, Day 1

I have to say Robotspeak was quite the awesome and unexpected find when we first moved here. They’re located right there on Haight Street only a few blocks from our apartment. Their storefront is unassuming, blending in with the rest of the little shops in the area, and I almost passed it by except for the odd name and the odder sounds emanating from within.

Robotspeak storefront; i didn’t take this photo, btw, i fear looking like a tourist in my own neighborhood :/

They are actually a very cool little shop specializing in electronic music equipment: synths, interfaces, cords, modules, gadgets, mics, software, WOW! And best of all, they have classes (or more like workshops, really) which are intended to impart excellent info on an artist’s budget. So I jumped when they offered “Fundamentals of Audio Recording” and “Audio Mastering”.

Each was a two-day class, Recording Monday and Wednesday, and Mastering Tuesday and Thursday. Each class was only 5 or 6 people, so the atmosphere was a lot more close and casual, but I liked how focused everyone was. Each of us was taking notes like mad. So much fun.

Monday, Fundamentals of Audio Recording, Day 1:

Recording, Day 1 was all about mics: dynamic vs. condenser, and all the types depending on rejection/response: omnidirectional, subcardioid, cardioid, supercardioid, hypercardioids, bi-directional, and shotgun. Admittedly, I’m taking this class more for the mixing tips than for the actual recording since the majority of what I do is midi/loop-based, but I do occasionally record my voice, so it’s all good to know!

Some of the key things I learned:

– Clever micing is about being able to recreate the “space” in the mix. While I won’t be dealing with this in terms of micing instruments, it’s great to get some tips about handling the stereo imaging placement to keep the frequency ranges from piling up in the middle, thus the use of panning to create space will help clean up the ugly clusterfuck in the middle ;)

– The cardioid mic (like the USB mic I own) is actually unidirectional, so make sure to record off the responsive side, which will be the side with the logo on it. I feel a little silly for not knowing that, but there ya go, class taught me something!

– In the mix, if you want to hear more of something, remove something else. Ie. want to hear more bass? Bring down some mid/hi to make room. Subtractive method of mixing works best, it yields a cleaner and feng shui stereo image ;)

– NEVER TOUCH EQ AFTER SIX HOURS! Your ears are shot, give it a rest. Hahaha, true that. I will do my best to heed this one.

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