15ips Archive: Posts for October 2010
San Francisco was delightfully damp, windy, and cold this weekend. Being a native Oregonian (born in Eugene, moved to Portland six years later) who set down roots in Northern California less than four short years ago, I find these brief respites from the Bay Area’s typically cool, room-temperature climate quite welcome as they remind me so much of my home land of the Northwest.
In typical Portlander fashion, I took advantage of the inclement weather by holing up in Studio Apartment Studio and working nearly ten hours in my pajamas. What a delight! With all of life’s demands – bills, friends, relationships, work obligations – it’s nice to detach from reality for one day and occupy the space I’ve created in my mind. I don’t think I could do it every day, as it tends to get somewhat lonely toward the end of the jag, but as an occasional retreat it’s quite sublime.
I’ve learned a lot about work flow, especially as it pertains to music production on an eight-track recorder. Many recording artists have their pieces developed and ready to go by the time they enter the studio, but some artists – myself included – use the studio as a compositional tool. Quite often, I have no idea what I want to try, or what I want to hear, and so I’ll do little demos and try out a few ideas. I used to record these straight to the multitrack recorder but I often found myself backed into a corner when I wanted to change something or expand on the idea. Instead, what I’ve found to work particularly well is to record these ideas / experiments onto half-track/stereo 1/4″ tape and then archive them. The benefits of this are many, the most important being that 1) I’m not tempted to “overdo” something, and I can call these demos “finished” until a later time, and 2) It’s really easy to dump these tracks onto the multitrack exactly where I want to.
Now that I have these “perfect” tracks archived, I’ve gotten more used to punching in and overdubbing them on the eight-track. This has been incredibly liberating, as I feel I have infinitely more control over my work. I used to be averse to overdubbing for some reason, perhaps because it felt “unnatural” to manipulate time and sound this way, but I’ve taken advantage of it in a way that feels “good” and “right” to me, and I’m not looking back.
On another note, my first reel of 1/2″ ATR Magnetics tape arrived last week and it’s been put to heavy duty use here. My official report: At a +6 operating level on my Tascam 48-OB, dbx noise reduction is almost redundant and unnecessary for most tracks, although it still has its place on others. The sound quality is unmatched: I felt RMGI SM911 was dark and muddy for the kind of ‘instrumentation’ I’m using, and ATR tape is by far a better medium for what I’m doing. I’d still use RMGI SM911 and my old BASF PEM 468 tapes for rock bands and other, less ‘delicate’ program material, so I’m not avoiding it entirely. I was debating whether to modify my deck for +9 operation but I think it sounds just fine at +6 with ATR tape.
I’ve got some articles in development, and in the next few days I’d like to post content on the following subjects:
- Using tape echo, including basic and more advanced techniques
- How to get up and running with an analog home studio using minimal equipment
- A history of tape music, focusing on artists such as Pauline Oliveros, Alvin Lucier, Pierre Schaeffer, and others
- I’d like to write an interview with someone, and we’ll see how that goes … ?
Until then, take care and enjoy the last days of Fall…
I’m doing a massive purge here at Studio Apartment Studio and up on the chopping block are many reels of tape.
1. Twelve used reels of 1/4″ RMGI SM911 on 7″ plastic reels w/ boxes.
These are all one-pass. Ten have no splices, one has two splices, one has three splices. And, I am an expert splicer, so no sweat here about the “silence” of these splices.
2. Two new reels of 1/4″ RMGI SM911 on 7″ plastic reels w/ boxes.
These have never been recorded on, and are still in the poly vinyl bag.
3. Nine reels of 1/4″ BASF PEM 526 on 10.5″ plastic reels w/ boxes.
New old stock, never recorded on, no splices, originally bought on pancakes. This is a +6 tape like Quantegy 456 and RMGI SM911. Despite this tape being on the sticky-shed watch list these reels are guaranteed to be free of shedding. Slightly thicker tape than 456 and SM911 but it won’t put additional strain on your deck.
I’m keen to get these off my shelf and onto other peoples’ machines, so please contact me at email@example.com to make an offer or inquire about pricing.
A couple of pictures:
19 October 2010 in Demos
Direct mp3 link: Click Here
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Mission Of Burma has been one of my favorite groups for quite some time. Formed in Boston in 1979, the group was relatively short-lived but had a tremendous impact. The group reunited in 2002 and since then has released new records and has also remastered its old catalog. Whether you’re a fan of the band or not, this series of videos gives a pretty no-nonsense account of the mastering process and how mastering for vinyl is done with the tools and techniques that are specific to this artform. It’s recommended for anyone who has an interest in analog audio production, and I think you’ll find it a special joy to watch.
Running a little dry here at the moment. I’m working on material for new articles, but they’re not ready yet. I write this blog at the speed of life and, well, I’m doing laundry tonight.
Please enjoy this video in the interim. I promise bountiful blogness in the pending days.
Salvador Dali on “What’s My Line?” He’s a delightful pain in the ass as always. Some people can make a career doing the things that get others in trouble. Remember that the next time you step onto a BART car at 7:30AM.