Archive for the ‘recording’ Category

Recording a band using Garageband and my Mac Mini

Wednesday, October 17th, 2007

Ok – again I’m off the topic of guitar refinishing and repair, but still a topic thats of interest to most guitar freaks – recording !

I have been a long time fan of Apple – and always had a Mac of one sort or another. When the Mac Mini came out a few years ago, I was eager to get one in part because of the low price ($700 with a dvd burner), in part because it was TINY and COOL looking, and in part because I wanted to try out Garageband, Apples freebie multitrack recording software.

My current recording rig consists of :

– NADY 8-channel preamp, about $100 from musician’s friend

– borrowed MOTU 828 analog to digital converter thats quite a few years old (you can find these used for around $300)

– early Mac Mini, with 1.25 GHz G4 processor and 1 GB memory & 19-inch Xerox monitor

My band had played with a band named 92 Protons, and I really liked their sound and also their whole persona – especially Lacey, their guitarist and primary vocalist. After watching their set I suggested that they come down to my band’s practice space sometime and we do a real fast simple recording (the demos they had were pretty poor in sound quality). I wanted to do a live recording, no overdubs – everything at once – with minimal post-production.

92 protons at Abbey Lounge

A few weeks later we found a Friday evening we could do the recording and we all got together at the practice space. Because I didnt want my computer to crash during recording and because I hadnt yet received my set of mics from Musician’s Warehouse, and was relying on what I could scrounge up, I decided to limit us to 6-tracks of recording.

Mic arrangement was as follows:

bass – One mic about 4 ft in front bass stack of a 2 X 15 cabinet and a 4 X 12 cabinet driven by a 1967 Kustom blue sparkle head

bass mikage

guitar – one mic off-angle, about 12 inches away from speaker of Peavey Studio Pro 112

guitar mic

drums – three mics, one a foot in front of the kick drum, and two overheads; one a condensor mic pointed down at the snare and hi-hat; one a normal mic pointed at toms. Kit was an early 70s Slingerland kit with no bottom heads and a HUGE chrome marching snare.

drum mics

vocals – one mic in front of a small PA monitor, with vocal mics (Shure SM 58s) feeding into a small Sunn PA head. The miking the PA is an old Iggy Pop & Stooges trick – check out their album Funhouse. A good trick to get a “live” grittier vocals sound.

vocals recording

It took nearly 2 hours to set up everything and sound check – mostly because I had to sort through the cables and mics I was borrowing to make sure everything was working. I think with my new mics and cables I could cut this time almost in half next time.

We then began recording – and 92 Protons played like pros – there was only one song that was “messed up” and had to be redone – and there was one other 2nd take. Two hours later, we had succeeded in recording 8 tunes – for a total of roughly 35 minutes of material – essentially a CD. This included time taken up switching around vocals, as TJ (drums) sang one song and Matt and Lacey sang together on a few others.

I did a few different mixes – mostly compressing the vocals, some guitar and a little bit of the drums – and then adding some reverb to the drums, vocals and guitar. I stayed away from compression of the whole mix – though this is still an option. The resulting mix was posted by 92 Protons on as the album “Vast Deferens” and you can hear it for FREE by clicking here. Drop them some love mail if you like what you hear !!

The clip below shows the monitor, with 6 tracks recording at once – no separate recording booth for me – just a little pine desk.