I’ve been away. I mean this in several senses of the word “away.” I’ve been traveling a lot in April. I’ve been away from making music for longer than that, even, as the day job has kind of taken precedence. And I’ve been away in that I stepped back from my gear as I think about how to reroute my studio. What I mean by this is alluded to in the previous post, but it’s more than that. When I get time to make music, I’ve more than likely been choosing to turn on the amp and play guitar. And also more than likely, I’ve not been bothering to record any of it. Partly because I’m a nice guy and I still pretty much suck at playing guitar, but also because going through and editing recordings and clips is super-boring. When I have the time to sit with the laptop and edit recordings, I’ve been instead choosing to read back issues of Tape-Op or, lately, about boats and ships (re: day job). So it’s just been the perfect storm of letting DRD sit stagnant.
An illustration of all of this creative schizophrenia could be these two videos. Used to be, my life playlist consisted only of music sort of like the first video, by Squarepusher.
But lately I’ve had music more like the second video on much more often. In fact, I’ve pretty much been listening to Califone exclusively for weeks.
So the studio repainting takes place this weekend and the rehookup next week. I hope this process facilitates the return to actually making sounds, recording them, and making them available here. Stay tuned.
I’m in the midst of planning a major overhaul to my little home studio. Currently the modular synth is central, plugged in to my MOTU interface. Then there’s the Vox guitar amp with it’s pile of stompboxes on the floor in front of it. Sometimes I mic this, directly into the MOTU Ultralite. Sometimes I run the guitar direct into the MOTU with a few pedals as inserts. As you might imagine, and as I mention in my last post, this is a huge pain in the ass and means that when I get some time in the studio I spend half of that time pulling cables and repatching, and I end up finding the paths of least resistance and only playing with what I know.
So I just got a Mackie 1220i and a patchbay, as well as a couple of mic stands and a pile of cables. I plan to patch the usual suspects to the patchbay and into the mixer. The mixer will send its main outs to the MOTU and then to the computer. However, there are enough points on the bay to go ahead and patch the MOTU’s inputs to it as well, so now and then I may just bypass the mixer. The idea here is to hook up my modular synth, the Alesis Micron, and the Stanton turntable to three of the stereo inputs to the mixer via the bay. I’ll have the remaining stereo input patched to the MOTU Ultralite’s output. The patchbay will allow me to patch in an iPod, or my little OP-1, or whatever else I need patched at any given time when I’m not using the Micron, turntable, or computer output. The four mono/preamp inputs will also be open via the patchbay for either modular synth inputs, guitar direct inputs, or mics. I plan to run the aux send/returns and inserts to the bay as well.
So with all that in mind, anyone have any advice? I’m not certain currently whether the bay I have is normalled, half-normalled, or what? Any advice on this part of it?
I also would mention that if you know what’s what with balanced and unbalanced, and grounded issues, feel free to comment to your heart’s content.
The music room in my house is currently in flux. I’ve realized that I have an ongoing frustration with the fact that when I want to do something more than merely play the guitar through the amp or poke around on the modular synth, it usually takes as long to set up the audio path as I actually have time in the studio. So I’m unplugging cables, replugging cables, setting up series of stompboxes, unraveling wires, and so on. And I’m sure that it’s related that when I get all this ready to go and sit down with the headphones on it takes another ten minutes to figure out why I’m not hearing anything (it’s usually because the audio in the MOTU Ultralite is being routed to the main outs rather than the headphone outs, or else the channel I’m using is muted).
So in hopes of fixing this and making it all a bit more fun and efficient, I’ve spent some time this last few weeks learning about things like mixers and patchbays. I recently ordered, and received this afternoon, a Mackie 1220i mixer, and an acquaintance gave me a 48-point patchbay as well as a wad of patch cables. I’ve diagrammed it all out and when I imagine being able to plug in anything to anything and inserting effects into any path, the possibilities really start getting interesting. Due to real life issues and deadlines, I’ll not get to test this theory and put it all together for about a month. But I’ll document this work and write a post or two about the process and results.
On a related note, while looking for mixers and patchbays I came across a used Zoom H4n digital recorder. This is a giant leap of an upgrade from the M-Audio Microtrack I currently use for recording duties. This beast deserves its own post, which I’ll get to at some point. The night before it arrived, however, I decided to bid good riddance to the Microtrack (it’s for sale if anyone is interested) and record some playing around with the guitar and some pedals through my Vox Night Train amp. The path here is G&L ASAT Classic -> MXR Tremolo -> Teese RMC3fl Wah pedal -> Strymon Timeline -> Strymon Blue Sky -> amp. The Multitrack sits in front of the cabinet (a 1×12 Egnater) and as you can tell picks up every bit of hum my system creates.
I’m just noodling here and mainly playing with the reverse mode and looping on the Timeline.