Home Recording Studio

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Until the year 2012 I was a 100% analog musician. I had used Finale since 2001, but that was the extent of my relationship with music technology. I was so obsessed with musical “purism” that I foolishly decided as a young person that I wouldn’t so much as write music with percussion in it. Well, times have changed.

In 2012 I began a Master’s degree (2012-2014) in music composition at the University of Utah. During my first semester, I was introduced to Logic Pro which I had to buy and use to create “electro-acoustic” music for a course.

Logic Pro is the professional version of Garage Band. It is an Apple-owned software used to create, record, mix, master, and produce music. These are called DAWs or Digital-Audio Workstations.There are many types of software like Logic: Pro-Tools (industry standard), Steinberg Cubase, Presonus Studio One, Reaper, Audacity, and Reason. Here’s a picture of my Mac running Logic Pro 9.

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Look at them, shop around. I prefer Logic Pro because that’s what I was introduced to. It’s expensive because it can only run on Apple Computers, which are expensive. I know producers who use Cubase, Presonus, and Pro-Tools. I’d recommend something that can run on either Windows or Mac.

Another consideration to make about computers, is that you want at least 16 GB of RAM and a high end processing speed (I use a 2.9 GHz Intel Core i7 processor) in order to run everything smoothly. Make sure the hard drive is solid state as well.

Getting good speed and RAM is cheaper when you buy a PC – it is quite expensive on an Apple computer.

I’ll get into DAWs in another post where I can go into more detail about how effective they are and what you can create with them.

My Epiphany

So I used Logic to record random projects, experiment, and have a good time. In 2014, I bought a midi keyboard to help me make projects go faster in Finale.88 key.jpgIn 2015 I took some extra music lessons from a film composer and I learned from him about virtual instrument libraries. I had known about Garritan Personal Orchestra and others, but I never actually knew how to use them or what their true value was.

I learned from this composer that I should experiment with Eastwest Sound Libraries. My epiphany was that if I could record and produce music in my own house, then I should do it! If God blessed me with the ears and fingers to write music, then why shouldn’t I be sharing that with the world?

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Now these sound libraries produce excellent sounding instruments. I control the instruments from my midi keyboard (which produce thrillingly authentic sounds) and then my DAW, Logic Pro, keeps track of what I input into the program. So after laying down multiple instrument tracks, I can have my computer playing symphonic music back to me that sounds true to life. This is not like finale’s playback button that can make pretty sounds – this can make your heart throb.

So I bought a $650.00 package that came with all the instruments of the Symphonic Orchestra. Those instruments sit on an external hard drive and are at my beck and call. When I need them, they play for me.symphonic orchestra.png

In addition to that, I pay a $29.99 per month subscription to 9,000 other virtual instruments, many of which I use in my studio every day.

I spent the months of October experimenting with these sounds. I made several short demos to show off how great this instruments sound. One day I spend eight hours making this 8 second clip of the Star Wars Main Theme:

I also made some original demos using these virtual instruments:

So once I got familiar with these virtual instruments, I knew that I needed to be able to record as well.

So I took several online courses at Udemy.com one of which was “How To Record Voice Like a Pro.” I waited until these $200 courses were on sale for $15 each. I took online courses in mixing, editing, recording, etc. This was a turning point in my life.

I knew that to start recording I needed:

  1. A Microphone
  2. An Audio Interface
  3. A room that was acoustically treated well enough in which to record audio

Luckily for you and me, there is an awesome package sold by Presonus that contains everything you need to start with.

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This package comes with a DAW by Presonus, a large diaphragm condenser microphone (cardioid pattern), mixing headphones, audio interface, boom stand, and cables.

Everything you need to start recording is in this package. This is one here is only $219.00.

I bought this package and have subsequently purchased another microphone which I LOVE!

 

When we purchased the equipment, we hung hung blankets and mattress pad foam on the walls. The basic idea is that we want to reduce the reflection of sound waves in the room so that reverberation does not come back into the microphone and detract from the clarity of the signal.

We also purchased this reflection filter that seeks to dissipate the singer’s sound waves immediately after being picked up by the microphone.SE reflection filter.jpg

We’ve recorded speech for theatre auditions, pop songs, opera arias, instrumentalists, and more. We create our own minus tracks with my virtual instrument library and we produce our own music from the comfort and convenience of our own home.

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Oh, and once the school year ends we’ll be un-employed besides teaching music lessons so come on over if you want to record, have flute, clarinet, sax, voice, piano, theory or another kind of music lesson. We currently teach voice, piano, flute, and music theory lessons. 🙂

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Front and Back Porch Lights

Hey guys!

One year ago in the summer of 2014, we replaced our front porch light fixture. Now that we’re using our back yard more and more, we replaced two more on the back porch. Hope you like it!

Front Porch – July 2014

The original one kind of gave off the Cantina vibe.

Original Light Fixture

Original Light Fixture

Front Door

Front Door

We went to Lowes and bought one that was nice and pretty:

New Light Fixture

New Light Fixture

Shane never thinks to change clothes to work on projects. He just starts painting or whatever and waits for reminders to change into “project clothes.”

Shane Never Changes Clothes

Shane Never Changes Clothes

In the end, this one suited us better. 🙂

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Back Porch – July 2015

Now in July of 2015, we decided that our back porch needed some updating as well. Here’s what it looked like before:

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We decided to get rid of the nautical theme and go with something a little different.

Since we plan on spending more time in the back yard this year, we really needed to get these fixtures in working order.

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When we removed the light fixture, we found 46 years of larva and bug nests in the form of crusty dust. It was interesting to remove all of those nice fossils…

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We mounted the new fixtures.

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And here they are!

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And they give light to all that are in the house – or outside of it. 😉

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Cheap Bathroom Remodel

The main hall bathroom was a little bit dated when we first moved in. It wasn’t all that pretty either. The first easy fix was to replace this light bulb with some round ones.
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20140602_185624TADAAAAAAA!

The next thing was to get rid of the wood light switch panel.
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This left some residual damage behind… Oh well….20140722_082057

We also replaced an ugly bug-filled light fixture with this $7 replacement fixture from the Home Depot. 20141023_115721 20141023_115729

Now prepare for the big jump. We bought a new vanity at Home Depot for $150, some new paint for close to $60 (Seascape and Bistro White from Valspar – always use semi-gloss or higher gloss for a bathroom), a new light fixture for like $60, a faucet for around $80, and a wood toilet seat for like $15. Don’t get the plastic ones!!!! They look terrible and make your house look cheap! You can still be cheap and not make it look cheap…. That’s what we do! We then spent about $20 in plumbing parts.

But Seriously, the toilet seat cover is one of the best things you can get for a cheap bathroom upgrade.IMG_6328

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New Light Fixtures All Around!

As you can see below, we had a very funny-looking light fixture in our laundry room. We decided that we would replace these funny-looking ones with some really cheap modest ones at Home Depot, for the time being.

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As you can see above, we purchased a new light fixture for $8.00 at the Home Depot, and we installed it nice and pretty.

If you’re going to replace some light fixtures, you’ll need:

  • a ladder or stepping stool
  • electrical tape
  • a new light fixture
  • Follow the instructions!

Below is our hallway bathroom before we replaced the light fixture.

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And here it is with a new one.

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Below is the master bath light fixture before:

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And after:

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Below is the vanity in our hallway bathroom before:

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Plus new lightbulbs:

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Ta-da!

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Now after changing all those light fixtures, this wooden plate was next on our list for removal.

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New Problem

We replaced that (after giving the plate a custom cut because the outlet was too close to the switches in the wall), added some white caulk, and there it is!


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Last item of business: the Kitchen.

Do you see that inverted candlestick I’m holding? Well that used to be an odd spherical fixture suspended by that metal. It was broken, and it just looked like an old candlestick, so we got rid of that!
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And here is the kitchen!


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Dumpster Find + A Little Stain

We’re all about free stuff around here.  Meaning that sometimes, that’s all that we can afford!  I’m sure you understand.  🙂  This is the tale of a dumpster find that just needed a little love.

Here’s what our living room looked like shortly after moving in. We had chucked all the boxes into the garage and the house was still cluttered but livable. You can see the Mickelsen sign suspended precariously between two slabs of stone. We’ll actually hang that up in a nice place later, as you’ll see at the end of this post.

So just a month before we moved into our house, we found a wooden shelf discarded by a dumpster. We had been out on a walk when Kacee noticed it just sitting there. The dumpsters around our old apartment were actually gold mines for stuff like that, and if you were lucky you could even find a dishwasher!  But anyway, we were sure we could find a use for it in our new house, so we took it and put it in the trunk of our car. Then just a few weeks after moving in in June 2014, Kacee bought some stain from Lowe’s (Minwax Dark Walnut to be exact) and stained it a nice dark brown, and we mounted it on our wall.

And here’s Shane putting up the shelf like the champ he is.  🙂

A stud finder, level, pencil, and supportive photographer-wife were helpful in this task.

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And below you see the finished project… for now.  😉  We’re so glad to have something on that big blank wall!

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You may notice four small holes where the pegs on the shelf once were.  Before staining we popped those out and didn’t look back.  We’re hoping to replace them with some cool knobs or hooks at some point.  Probably knobs though.  Maybe in fun color?

Also, we’re pretty proud of this cute frame arrangement.  It feels really organic and true to us, but it did use up almost all of the big-ish frames we own, so we’ll need to replenish our stock as we work on other rooms!  On the shelf we also have some books, a box Kacee’s dad got her from Turkey, a little fake plant, a cute Willow Tree figurine, and a small painted mason jar.  We owe you a close-up.  Stay tuned!

And below you can see where we hung the Mickelsen sign (which was a very thoughtful handmade wedding gift) over one of our wedding pictures.  We need some kind of furniture there on that wall eventually, maybe a console table or a nice bench.  New curtains (and blinds for privacy so we can keep the curtains open at night, unlike in this photo) are also on our radar.  But one thing at a time, you know?

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