Sunday, December 04, 2011

Basement Tapes (But No Tapes)

I've been "gearing up" (quite literally) to get back into music recording. I started with powerful new "gaming" laptop and Cakewalk Sonar X1 (recently upgraded to the full Producer Edition with a $99 holiday special). I added a new monitor, a new MIDI keyboard (Oxygen 49), a USB digital audio interface, a new electric guitar (a cheap Epiphone that still plays pretty well), and a mandolin that hasn't arrived yet. With all the soft synths and guitar processing bundled with Sonar, cheap input devices like the Oxygen 49 and the Epiphone "Les Paul Junior" can sound like just about anything (just add inspiration and talent - that's the tough part). I've set all of this up in my own little corner of the basement, as shown above (see if you can spot the paint cans under the desk). I had some of the equipment (microphones, preamps, tambourine, various acoustic guitars, a zillion cables) from my previous recording setup. That was based on a circa-2002 XP desktop and Sonar 3. Major upgrade time.

This is an embarrassment of riches, music production wise. But it won't do me much good if I can't use the software properly, and Sonar X1 Producer has a LOT of bells and whistles to figure out. Fortunately there are some great tutorials on the web. One of the best sources of Sonar guidance is MCI Studio in the UK. MCI is pretty much dedicated to Sonar and offers an impressive range of tutorial videos and other resources. Finally I am learning how to use buses and vocal pitch correction correctly (among other cool stuff, like tips for recording background vocals). MCI stands for "musically creative inspiration." Indeed.

With all of these tools and knowledge, I'm hoping to record more at home on my next recording project, though I'm sure I will still need the impressive talents of my producer Roger Lavallee and the fabulous and nearby Tremolo Lounge for many tracks. I also need some new songs. I'm working on that in my not-so-copious spare time.

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