My Recording Set-Up

I have often been asked where I record and with what equipment. So I have decided to write a blog with some pics so that I can direct people to it when asked in the future.

I record at home. I recorded some of my first album with another producer/engineer and although I enjoyed the experience I found that I didn’t like the restriction that it put on time. I wanted to be able record when I felt like it and not match up two busy calendars to find some space.

To do this I had to have to move on from Garageband, an SM58 mic and crappy speakers.

So I invested some money in upgrading to Logic, buying 2 nice mics, a set of good speakers and a couple of preamps. I also moved on from my old Powerbook to an iMac desktop. Larger screens make for easier days!

The Interface

The interface that I bought was called Mackie Onyx Satellite, but I had problems with the main unit (which turned out to be a common problem with all the units) so now just use the pull-out section and it all works just fine. I am looking at getting a Mackie Onyx 820i which will also double up as a mixing board for live gigs.

Here’s a pic of my current Mackie with my 2 pre amps.

The Preamps

I have 2 mics so have 2 Joe Meek ThreeQ preamps which you can see in the pic above. It just gives me that bit more control over the sound that I am creating.

The Microphones

I have a Studio Projects B1 mic that at prefer to use for all my vocals, which is on the left below, and an Apex 460, on the right, which I use for recording guitar/uke either alone or with the SP mic if I want stereo guitar parts.

The Speakers

I have a lovely pair of Yorkville studio monitors. I don’t remember how much they were but I do remember that they were very good value for money!

The Software

I use Logic on an iMac desktop to record everything. I know that there is a divide between Protools users and Logic users. It was the program that worked with the Mackie interface so I chose it for that reason, but have really enjoyed learning to use it and think I will be sticking with it for a long time.

The Instruments

I have several guitars but the one I use for most stuff is my Taylor 314. It was a present from all my friends on my 40th and I love it!! I also use a Yamaha classical guitar and my newest baby, a Lanikai ukelele with DI.

So there you have it. That is my set up and I record almost everything at home. I get the occasional track produced by the lovely Scott Feldman when I think I don’t have enough equipment or midi skills for a larger production.

I am often asked what level of production publishers want to hear and I have come to the conclusion that it depends what genre of music you are producing. My initial limitations with the software, along with critiques telling me I had a compelling voice, led my to write and record lo-fi-ish style folk/pop with an emphasis on the vocals. Most of the time when I submit I am told that my stuff is broadcast quality, but the occasional listing which is looking for more top 40 type of stuff will return my music as not broadcast quality. So it really depends on who is listening.

Everyday I learn something new. It can be a new plug-in on the software or a mistake a I make in a setting which turns out to be a great new vocal or guitar sound that I like. I really like mistakes as they lead me to places I didn’t expect. Sometimes I can’t believe that I get to record this all at home and then it gets picked up for TV, Film etc.

After all the hard work I have put into this I found myself smiling when submitting my music to the Vancouver Island Music Awards and not omitting the ‘Producer’ category in my submission. It was a good feeling.

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4 comments

  1. This is exactly how I fell down the rabbit hole of studio gear! I got tired of slaving myself to others expectations of “getting it right”. I like to do a lot of takes and a lit of different takes. That costs $$ in a traditional studio and also bores the engineer/producer.

    I also found that I like helping songwriters so now that my studio is a functional one I can invite others in to record as well www. bluecavestudios.com

    Your setup is great – very efficient and personal! The sound that you produce has a hig quality to it so you must know what you’re doing!

    Cheers

    Darryl

  2. Helen,

    It’s so wonderful to be reading about a successful licensed musician that treats the production side of making music the same way I do. It’s interesting to hear about the levels at which different publishers will accept songs – I just expected that they’d all need it to sound top notch.

    I’m so glad to read about your successes, and thanks so much for the insight (I read your article on Passive Promotion, nice work!).

    Mark

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