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Recording in a Remote(ish) Area



 
 
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  #1  
Old March 5th 06, 12:25 PM posted to rec.audio.pro
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Default Recording in a Remote(ish) Area

Hi, Sometime before the end of this year we will have the opportunity to
go to an island in the Pacific, with the purpose of making decent
recordings of the local music. I have many questions because it is about
25 years since I did any studio recording and about 15 years since I
stopped mixing live gigs.

Things have changed a lot and I have spent the last few months getting
more up-to-date on what is available. A combination of budget
restrictions, portability and power restrictions made me think something
like a Korg D32XD might be the best compromise.
http://www.zzounds.com/item--KORD32XD

We'll be relying on generators and solar panels.

The music might be sold through the web, but primarily on tape and Cd
distributed by individuals mostly, as it is already done like this
throughout melanesia. It will be a sort-of co-operative venture, with
artists retaining control and getting all revenue after costs.

I'll try to keep this short, just one more of the many questions is, the
cost of property is ususally very high, but here we could make it very
cheaply. The locals build their houses from local materials, and a
traditional house is often round:
http://rspas.anu.edu.au/qb/articles/...ges/4-2hut.jpg

The walls would need to be thicker, maybe straw-bale, but what do people
think of this? Would a round design be good acoustically? I think there
are advantages to it. Rectangular is equally possible.

This will do for now, if anyone's interested, including ideas on aspects
not mentioned in this post, reply here or on email. (minus the notthisbit)

Thanks
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  #2  
Old March 5th 06, 01:12 PM posted to rec.audio.pro
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Default Recording in a Remote(ish) Area


sav wrote:
> Hi, Sometime before the end of this year we will have the opportunity to
> go to an island in the Pacific, with the purpose of making decent
> recordings of the local music. I have many questions because it is about
> 25 years since I did any studio recording and about 15 years since I
> stopped mixing live gigs.


I hate to try to give advice to someone who starts out a posting like
that, but I didn't want you to feel like you were being ignored.

> A combination of budget
> restrictions, portability and power restrictions made me think something
> like a Korg D32XD might be the best compromise.


That's a pretty cool gadget, but whether it would be what you need
depends a whole lot on what you'll be recording. I don't expect that
you're going to be doing much in the way of studio recording there -
you might dedicate a hut for working, but you aren't likely to get
people who will be overdubbing parts. Until you start expanding it, the
DX32XD is only an 8-track recorder. While it might be convenient to
record a group with 8 mics and separate tracks, this is overkill for
that. The other risk is that everything is all in one box and if
anything fails, there's a pretty good chance that you'll be out of
business. I doubt that your budget will allow you to carry a spare.

If you plan to live there for a few years, set up a production
facility, and do all the work over there, that's a justification for a
full-out workstation like this (though I'd still recommend having a
spare). But if you're going to do field collecting, bring your
recordings home, and do the busy work under more controlled conditions,
I think it would be a waste and a risk.

What else have you looked at, and have you considered using a laptop
computer for your basic recorder? That's something that you can scale
to the size of the project, and laptop comptuers are cheap enough so
that you can carry a spare.

> Would a round design be good acoustically? I think there
> are advantages to it.


Both advanatages and disadvantages. It's all workable.

  #3  
Old March 5th 06, 04:21 PM posted to rec.audio.pro
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Default Recording in a Remote(ish) Area

Mike Rivers said the following on 05/03/2006 01:12 pm:
> sav wrote:
>> Hi, Sometime before the end of this year we will have the opportunity to
>> go to an island in the Pacific, with the purpose of making decent
>> recordings of the local music. I have many questions because it is about
>> 25 years since I did any studio recording and about 15 years since I
>> stopped mixing live gigs.

>
> I hate to try to give advice to someone who starts out a posting like
> that, but I didn't want you to feel like you were being ignored.


Well, thanks for replying... what did I do wrong?!

>> A combination of budget
>> restrictions, portability and power restrictions made me think something
>> like a Korg D32XD might be the best compromise.

>
> That's a pretty cool gadget, but whether it would be what you need
> depends a whole lot on what you'll be recording. I don't expect that
> you're going to be doing much in the way of studio recording there -
> you might dedicate a hut for working, but you aren't likely to get
> people who will be overdubbing parts. Until you start expanding it, the
> DX32XD is only an 8-track recorder. While it might be convenient to
> record a group with 8 mics and separate tracks, this is overkill for
> that. The other risk is that everything is all in one box and if
> anything fails, there's a pretty good chance that you'll be out of
> business. I doubt that your budget will allow you to carry a spare.


Most of the music is already westernized, (though they might think
otherwise--the missionaries' bad taste) 'island beat' is similar to
reggae. I reckon we could use 'modern' methods and do something really
interesting. There are singers who travel round the islands doing gigs;
the ones I've met are pretty well familiar with (or open to) working
with overdubs and so on.

There would be times, I hope, for recording real tribal stuff, but then
I'd go out with a minidisk or something like that. What I imagine for
the studio is to get people to come there, make a rough mix then do each
track individually. For that I think 8 track would suffice, but then
there is the possibility of putting on live gigs and recording them, or
maybe just recording 'live' in the studio. In that case, the extra
module would be good. I'd probably have to do all of that and see what
goes down best.

> If you plan to live there for a few years, set up a production
> facility, and do all the work over there, that's a justification for a
> full-out workstation like this (though I'd still recommend having a
> spare). But if you're going to do field collecting, bring your
> recordings home, and do the busy work under more controlled conditions,
> I think it would be a waste and a risk.
>
> What else have you looked at, and have you considered using a laptop
> computer for your basic recorder? That's something that you can scale
> to the size of the project, and laptop comptuers are cheap enough so
> that you can carry a spare.


I did look at that first. I like computers for making web pages, doing
email and other stuff, but I never really got to like them for audio
recording. I'd still need a half decent desk, I couldn't fiddle with a
mouse moving faders, but the automation is attractive. Maybe a separate
desk and HD recorder? I've seen some you can hook up to a computer, and
get similar features (but better) to the all-in-one, but this looks
expensive. I'd like to have a way to control from the computer but have
the automated mixdown and so on, and have some real controls. Bear in
mind this is all new to me (ssl desks were but a dream when I was last
doing this) and there are so many different things around.

I read things like
http://studio-central.com/phpbb/view... c&highlight=
"computer sequencer or hardware recorder?" and end up agreeing with both
sides. Am I right in thinking that to get similar performance to a
dedicated HD recorder I'd need a pretty expensive computer system, and
thus would be in much the same price bracket as with the separate HD and
computer used only for control?

sorry, I really should have had more concrete ideas before posting, but
that is half the problem. We could probably allocate about 5000 dollars
on gear, maybe 6 if you include mics and all the bits.

>> Would a round design be good acoustically? I think there
>> are advantages to it.

>
> Both advanatages and disadvantages. It's all workable.
>

  #4  
Old March 5th 06, 05:18 PM posted to rec.audio.pro
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Default Recording in a Remote(ish) Area


sav wrote:

> > I hate to try to give advice to someone who starts out a posting like
> > that, but I didn't want you to feel like you were being ignored.

>
> Well, thanks for replying... what did I do wrong?!


Nothing overtly wrong, but when someone starts out in the "I used to
know what I was doing" and then says he hasn't done anything in the
field for years, often the posting gets passed up. Some of us get too
quicky accused of being "condescending" when trying to give advice to
one who on one hand appears to have some knowledge and on the other
hand seems to be a complete novice wanting to start on a big project.
Forgive me if I sound condescending, whatever that really means.

> Most of the music is already westernized, (though they might think
> otherwise--the missionaries' bad taste) 'island beat' is similar to
> reggae. I reckon we could use 'modern' methods and do something really
> interesting. There are singers who travel round the islands doing gigs;
> the ones I've met are pretty well familiar with (or open to) working
> with overdubs and so on.


Well, that's a different story. I've heard recordings of music like
that from places like you're going (I can't cite specifics because I
don't own any but you've probably heard them) and most of them are made
in studios. I guess somehow or other the artists find the way to get to
a studio instead of waiting for the studio to come to they.

Are you familiar with the project that Henry Kaiser and David Lindley
did in Madagascar 20ish or so years ago? They brought down Yamaha's
digital multitrack workstation of the day (tape based, 8 tracks, cost
about 5 times what this Korg costs) and, actualy brought two of them.
Henry Kaiser has lots of money. It was quite an involved project with
David and Henry playing with the local musicians.

> I like computers for making web pages, doing
> email and other stuff, but I never really got to like them for audio
> recording. I'd still need a half decent desk,


I completely agree. But a computer makes a pretty good recorder with
some nice editing capabilities and some processing if you need it. The
combination of a computer and an analog console gives you a lot of
flexibility, and also gives you more work-around paths if something
goes wrong. While it's a little more trouble to set up than an
all-in-one workstation, troubleshooting is easier (hell -
troubleshooting is POSSIBLE). If you lose a channel in the console,
there's almost always another one you can use. If you use a Firewire
A/D/A to interface to the computer and that goes south, it's a lot
cheaper to get another one shipped in than to ship your Korg back to
the US for service. You can do a quick "all the faders up all the time"
bounce to stereo in the computer while you're coiling up the mic
cables, and hand the musicians a rough CD. And if you're working with a
partner, you might be able to split the workload with one of you doing
editing and cleanup work on one computer while the other is laying new
tracks.

> the automation is attractive. Maybe a separate
> desk and HD recorder? I've seen some you can hook up to a computer, and
> get similar features (but better) to the all-in-one, but this looks
> expensive.


Stand-alone hard disk recorders never really caught on - they were
always on the tail end of computer technology, which was always
cheaper. I have a couple of Mackie recorders here and I love them. The
HDR24/96 with its graphic interface lets you do all of the editing
tricks that you can do in ProTools (easier, I think, probably because
I'm used to it) and it's dedicated to the task so you don't have to
build it from assorted computer hardware, digital audio hardware, and
software packages. But if you want one, you need to find a used one.
They're not that hard to find, and they're cheap enough so you could
take an extra one as a backup. Fostex still makes one, as does Alesis,
and while they all sound as good or better than each of the others <g>
I don't think any of them are as slick or well thought out as the
Mackie.

You can do some volume automation on the Mackie but I rarely use it
other than to adjust the level of a punch-in to match the rest of the
track or to mute short passages where I might want to pull the fader
down but am likely to forget.

> Am I right in thinking that to get similar performance to a
> dedicated HD recorder I'd need a pretty expensive computer system, and
> thus would be in much the same price bracket as with the separate HD and
> computer used only for control?


The Mackie hard disk recorder has a 400 MHz Celeron motherboard at its
heart. That's not very fancy. The computer is the cheapest part of
putting together a computer-based recording system. You can make do
with inexpensive software and many people do, but there are good rasons
why some people spend $2K for Nuendo or Sequoia, or go with a $25K
ProTools system with its dedicated DSP hardware. And of course the
audio interface to the computer is very important, and that goes from
trivially cheap to outrageously expensive. But at least you have some
choices and you don't have to live with what a single manufacturer says
you want. It does take some research, and the cooperation of a good
dealer in order to get what you need. You may have to buy some stuff,
try it out, and exchange it for somthing more suitable. A good dealer
would let you do that.

> sorry, I really should have had more concrete ideas before posting, but
> that is half the problem. We could probably allocate about 5000 dollars
> on gear, maybe 6 if you include mics and all the bits.


Hmmmm . . . . Well, that's about one mic, or maybe two or four. You'll
need monitors, and don't forget mic stands and cables. That's stuff
that you can't get along without. Perhaps you should start making your
budget from the outside going in, and see how much you have to spend on
the actual recording and mixing gear. With a budget like that, the Korg
for $3K makes more sense, but you're limited in how you can work with
it. Have you seen one in the flesh? Maybe you should visit a dealer
who has one on display, look at all the gozintas and gozoutas and
mentally plan out out some sessions to see if they'd work. And then
look at how the controls work and see if you'd be comfortable working
with it.

  #5  
Old March 5th 06, 08:51 PM posted to rec.audio.pro
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Default Recording in a Remote(ish) Area

Scott Dorsey said the following on 05/03/2006 03:55 pm:
> sav > wrote:
>> I'll try to keep this short, just one more of the many questions is, the
>> cost of property is ususally very high, but here we could make it very
>> cheaply. The locals build their houses from local materials, and a
>> traditional house is often round:
>> http://rspas.anu.edu.au/qb/articles/...ges/4-2hut.jpg
>>

<snip>
>
> The round design tends to be bad acoustically because you now have one
> huge dominant room mode. The good thing about this construction, though,
> is that it's actually pretty transparent at low frequencies because the
> walls flex a little and act like diaphragms.
>
> If I had to build a studio this way, I would consider making the place
> more elliptical, or extended like the traditional Hawaiian buildings
> rather than more Maori style.


Reckon they'd have no problem with just about any shape. Do you mean a
sort of oval shape? What would be the best shape, or do you know a good
site I could read about this?
>> This will do for now, if anyone's interested, including ideas on aspects
>> not mentioned in this post, reply here or on email. (minus the notthisbit)

>
> What really matters, though, is that this is the sort of room that the
> music is normally played in, and therefore this is what it's _supposed_
> to sound like. So even if there are room problems, some of those problems
> might be things you want to preserve.


I'll definitely remember that, if only to use it as an excuse!
  #6  
Old March 5th 06, 09:00 PM posted to rec.audio.pro
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Default Recording in a Remote(ish) Area

sav > wrote:
>Right, yes. they'd be better off with someone still in the business.
>Still for now they'll make do with me. It'll be fun anyway. Once I get
>to grips with whatever we end up with, I could produce a good sound
>before so I can do it again. Even at this level the gear is better than
>anything we had. I suppose I should go and get a better idea of what we
>want first, but there's no-one here to discuss it with and the good web
>content is almost drowned out by the advertising s/n ratio.


I think you'll be surprised. In a lot of ways, the gear at that level
isn't as good as what you might have been used to. On the bottom end of
the market, microphones have improved a lot, and the numbers on the
recorder have improved a lot too, but the convenience and ergonomics have
gone down. And under field conditions, that's pretty important.
--scott
--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
  #7  
Old March 5th 06, 10:02 PM posted to rec.audio.pro
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Default Recording in a Remote(ish) Area


sav wrote:

> Yes, they'd all know about the place and come over. These things take
> time, but some sort of 'scene' should arise around it if we take a
> fairly hands-off approach and let people experiment a bit. We could get
> some 'cool' things like an electronic drum kit which would increase the
> kudos of the place, and make the job a lot easier too, when it was used.
> Lots of possibilities.


This is sounding less like a field recording trip and more like where
you're going when you retire and what you'd like to do when you get
settled there. Nothing wrong with that of course if you like the place
and like the music. But different from what I thought when I read your
first post.

> Maybe something like a Yamaha 01V96


You don't like mixing with a mouse? You're going to hate that console's
user interface. It's pretty hard to use. I wouldn't recommend the new
Mackie dxb yet (I'm supposed to get one to play with but it hasn't
happened yet) but the old dxb digital console is one of the easiest to
use that's come along. Too bad that was discontinued too, in favor of a
whole new design rather than just an upgrade. Those go for peanuts on
eBay these days. That would definitely be worth getting two of if
you're going that far away from the home base because they're getting
close to the end of their support life.

> OK I'll do some shopping around. this is helping though. I feel bad
> about hassling a dealer I have no intention of buying off though. Unless
> they can equal the web prices.


When it comes to new gear, most of the big dealers will match
legitimate web prices.

  #8  
Old March 6th 06, 07:07 AM posted to rec.audio.pro
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> Hmmmm . . . . Well, that's about one mic, or maybe two or four. >

Sav, I dont know about laying out a lot of cash for Neumann mics to take to
the pacific islands. I just got done listening to some Nashville early
string bands and some Library of Congress archives that were recorded back
in the 20's or 30's on some very rudimantary equipment and they sound great.
My point being the most important thing is to get the best performance on
tape (or HD) whatever you use and if you bring too much it may hamper the
effort.
-alan


  #9  
Old March 6th 06, 01:37 PM posted to rec.audio.pro
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greggery peccary <.@.> wrote:
>> Hmmmm . . . . Well, that's about one mic, or maybe two or four. >

>
>Sav, I dont know about laying out a lot of cash for Neumann mics to take to
>the pacific islands. I just got done listening to some Nashville early
>string bands and some Library of Congress archives that were recorded back
>in the 20's or 30's on some very rudimantary equipment and they sound great.
>My point being the most important thing is to get the best performance on
>tape (or HD) whatever you use and if you bring too much it may hamper the
>effort.


No, lay out a lot of cash for Sennheiser MKH series mikes instead. They
will be MUCH more reliable in high humidity. Ask the Bishop Museum for
their current recommendations.
--scott

--
"C'est un Nagra. C'est suisse, et tres, tres precis."
  #10  
Old March 6th 06, 10:17 PM posted to rec.audio.pro
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Default Recording in a Remote(ish) Area

Scott Dorsey schrieb:
> sav > wrote:
>
>>Reckon they'd have no problem with just about any shape. Do you mean a
>>sort of oval shape? What would be the best shape, or do you know a good
>>site I could read about this?

>
>
> Ethan Winer has an excellent site on studio acoustics, but I don't know
> if he has much about elliptical or round rooms. In any case, the fact
> that the walls aren't a complete seal is going to reduce the importance
> of a lot of that stuff.
>
> Where are you located? Can you actually sit in a similarly-built
> structure and get a sense of what it feels like? You can always take
> a trip to the Polynesian Cultural Center in Hawaii.... it's a tourist
> trap, sure, but it has a whole lot of different style buildings with typical
> Pacific construction methods. Clap your hands, talk, try and listen to
> the room. You'll find they are much more dead than you'd expect a room
> with standard block or frame construction of the same size.
>
>
>>>>This will do for now, if anyone's interested, including ideas on aspects
>>>>not mentioned in this post, reply here or on email. (minus the notthisbit)
>>>
>>>What really matters, though, is that this is the sort of room that the
>>>music is normally played in, and therefore this is what it's _supposed_
>>>to sound like. So even if there are room problems, some of those problems
>>>might be things you want to preserve.

>>
>>I'll definitely remember that, if only to use it as an excuse!

>
>
> Hey, it worked for Alan Lomax.
> --scott


I just want to add some bad experiences I had to make with modern
African rondavels (cement walls about 1.5m high and grass roofs)...
really awful reflections...
:-J
 




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