adventures in dysthymia

Saturday, June 13, 2009

A few moments available to goof off, so another old post moved over from the Peanut Road Blog, originally posted in Dec 07:

I've Got It Home, Now What?

Once I bring home a recording from a choir concert, recital, something of that sort (when I wrote this, I was just back from recording the Christmas concert in Tuskegee), is when the real work begins. The recording work itself, at its simplest, is pretty darn simple. Point some microphones (most usually only two) at the source of the sound and push record. Oh, sure, you have to make sure the levels are good (less important in the digital age -- you can set them way lower than we used to with tape) and the sound is decently balanced. A lot of times, the physical limitations of the gig -- there may not be many choices about how and where to set up -- prevent the need for making many decisions.

Anyway, back in the studio (so-called), I divide the process of taking what I have from raw recording to CD-ready in four steps. First, I listen through the whole thing for problems, start and stop points, and so on, taking plenty of notes. With a long concert, that can be pretty time-consuming!

The second step is to transfer from the mobile recording unit to the computer, breaking it up into separate tracks as I go. With the stereo recordings I do with the Master Link or the VF80, I run it in through a USB interface, remaining digital all the way. No sound degradation...I hope. Actually, an artifact or two will pop up somewhere regardless of conservative settings. A loud pop, usually! Sometimes, I can edit these out but it's better just to go back and transfer the problem track a second time. Naturally, I listen through each of these tracks carefully after the transfer to make sure it all went well.

Third, a round of editing. Bringing the volume up, trimming the length or removing sections not needed, applying fades in-and-out, panning, maybe (if necessary) some limiting or EQ. Almost never compression for this sort of music. When I've got it where I want it -- which is NOT to its final loudness -- I convert from my editing program (I mostly use PG Music's Power Tracks for this task) to a wave file.

The final step is essentially what is usually called 'mastering.' Though I can do this in Adobe Audition, I tend to keep it very simple with Nero. In many ways, the editing and mastering blur into each other when working with this kind of material. The main thing here is setting the final volume for each track. This might or might not involve more limiting (assuming there was any earlier). I check them over for any problems that might have been missed earlier, make sure I'm happy with the EQ (I rarely do much there), and burn them to a CD for the client.

And if all goes well, that's it! That is, if the check is really in the mail...

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