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High Fidelity

Posts about music and sound production.

Getting Started in Audio Production

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.

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Atari 2600 Guitar Stompbox

So here’s one of those projects that sort of randomly materializes while rummaging through old stuff in the attic. I was looking for an enclosure to build a sort of “multi FX analog stompbox” for my guitar rig, when I found an old broken Atari 2600 in all its faux-wood-trimmed glory. Immediately the wheels started turning and I began taking it apart to see how much room was in there. Turns out there’s quite a bit of space, so I took to fitting a Line6 power supply PCB I’d recently scored on eBay into the bottom, and fitting the guts of a TU-2 tuner pedal, A/B switch, tremolo, and tube screamer clone into the top. Never has the Milwaukee rotary tool seen so much action.

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Actually Obsolete Audio: Fun with an Otari 8-Track Reel-to-Reel

A lovely piece of aging technology, the Otari MX-5050 MKIII-8 is a 1/2-inch 8-track analog tape machine. It’s not as huge and glorious as some other models that are out there, but it’s also not nearly as expensive to operate. Which means, at current tape prices, about $2.40 per minute — whereas a 2″ 24-track machine (at 15ips) would cost about $7.50 per minute. Fortunately I happen to have a few reels of 1/2-inch tape to play with.

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