Getting Started in Audio Production

Posted September 13, 2012 @ 10:00 am | Filed under: High Fidelity,Reflections

The other day someone used the contact page, asking for some tips for someone getting started in audio. This particular person is planning to go to an audio engineering program. I’m certainly no expert, but there are a few things that I wish I’d known starting out. Here’s an edited and expanded version of my reply:

The best knowledge comes from experience. In fact, you should think of going into an engineerging program as “paying for experience” more than book-learning. I never learned audio engineering formally, but I learned by working as an “apprentice” of sorts (with Darren) at my college radio station, where I got exposure to all sorts of gear and had to think my way through unusual situations.

If I could give anyone who is starting out in audio a few tips, the list would look something like this (My experience is mainly in recording bands, so this will be geared towards that type of work, but still applicable to most anyone):

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Miscellaneous project updates

Posted July 30, 2012 @ 10:08 am | Filed under: The Workbench

Sorry for the recent silence here folks. I have to say that I haven’t had a lot of nerdy stuff going on lately, at least nothing terribly interesting. But I figured I’d write about what actually has been going on to keep the content flowing.

Starting with the most on-topic project: Darren, Brian and I have begun a recording for Junction PA. We’ve had one session so far and started by capturing drums, bass, and keys for 7 tunes. We’d like to go back through the best takes and re-record the keys on a 7-foot Steinway and either Brian’s Wurly or my Rhodes (or both), to give the keys higher-quality sound. The drums and bass both came out really well, with a great balance between attack, clarity, and ambiance overall. I’ll try to keep blogging about our continued progress on this project, it’s been a lot of fun so far.

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Getting Into Trackers

Posted April 12, 2012 @ 9:15 am | Filed under: Geekery,Soundblogs

I’ve been wanting to get back into writing music more regularly, and to that end I’m exploring a particular type of music composition tool called a tracker. It’s about as close as you can get to writing music by editing a text file. Actually come to think of it, you can do that… maybe I’ll try that someday.

Anyway, trackers got their start on 8-bit computers, and as a result they’re a great way to really extract all the capabilities of the classic sound chips. They accomplish this by letting you create your own collection of instrument patches which can each combine all the available waveforms, envelopes, and filters. On the C64, for example, this means you can create your own bass drum sound by combining a white noise sound with a low triangle wave, or perhaps a sawtooth note with an intense volume envelope. Then, you take those instruments and arrange them in a pattern editor, which to the untrained eye looks like a nonsensical grid of letters and numbers. There are several C64 trackers out there, but there’s one I like in particular which is both powerful and relatively easy to use, called Cybertracker.

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A winding road to a tasty signal chain

Posted March 13, 2012 @ 3:01 pm | Filed under: High Fidelity

Amplifiers has been working on tracking at my place over the last few days, and last night we did some vocals. Ultimately, the signal chain was one I’ve wanted to try for a long time, but for various reasons I didn’t get around to really trying until now. The setup was:

Shure KSM-44 –>
Auditronics 110B Preamp & EQ –>
Universal Audio LA-3A (vintage) –>
Computer input (Layla 3G).

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Suitcase PC, finally done after 2 years

Posted January 11, 2012 @ 9:43 pm | Filed under: The Workbench

The lovely community of folks over at have a regular feature in which they describe their Bro Caves, which are the dark, comfy rooms they set up their gaming PCs in. More importantly than the rooms though, are the specs of their actual PCs. Which all blow mine out of the water. Thus, this post won’t make it onto their site, but I have been doing some finishing touches on the suitcase PC lately, and I think I can finally say — tentatively as usual — it’s finished. So here’s an attempt at writing something in the same spirit.

Bro Cave from an Alternate Reality

In some alternate universe, the fashion and decor tastes of bygone eras might still be with us today. And instead of laptops, we might have desktop PCs that are “luggable” like the old Commodore SX-64. And not only that, but we might all be using the Ubuntu operating system instead of Windows.

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