poor man’s recording studio

September 24, 2008 at 12:08 pm | Posted in gear | Leave a comment

well, I guess I’m not really poor, but when it comes to recording equipment, I have but one item: my little Zoom H2 digital recorder. that and a computer allows me to do pretty much anything I currently want to do, although I admit my wants and needs are rather minimal at this point. so, for the record, here’s how I record my stuff.

first, I record my voice and guitar (or mandolin, as the case may be) in one live take. I set up my Zoom H2 in our walk-in closet (or our little guest room, depending what is available) and just fire away. usually it’ll take a few tries to get a good take. right now, for me a “good take” is one where I don’t screw it up that badly. I will readily admit I am not an accomplished vocalist or instrumentalist. but my goal is to simply get my little songs down, so I’m not too worried about being polished. I’ve found that being closer to the mic on the Zoom makes for warmer vocals. 

once that’s done, I import the audio file into the computer and use Audacity (free audio editing software) to edit it if necessary. usually it’s just turning up the volume a little as well as fading in and out in the beginning and end. if there’s a mistake that can be fixed by some creative copy-n-paste, I’ll try that. other than that I leave it alone. I know there’s lots of nifty things the software can do, but so far I’m blissfully ignorant of such things.

if I want to add another track, like bass or mandolin, I’ll put the original edited file on my ipod and listen while I play along, recording the 2nd track to the Zoom. then I’ll but that side-by-side with the original in Audacity, nudging it back and forth until they’re aligned. this can be rather tedious, especially when compared to a “real” multi-track recorder, but this is what I got.

so far I’m happy with the results. last night I recorded a bass track for 4 of my songs, and it turned out pretty well. I’ll probably add in some mandolin soon too. there’s only 3 more songs left to record to make it to my goal of 10 (or 11) songs, and then I’ll see what can be added.

this is a pretty lo-fi operation, but I think that suits my humble songs. we’ll see where, if anywhere, this stuff leads, but so far it’s been fun.

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