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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New Windows and Doors/Dining Room Transformation

During the months of June and July (2015) we decided to undertake quite a few different home upgrades: we decided to update our doors, windows, and dining room.

Our doors used to be these plain and brown ones. They were functional but were not the most attractive. We’re not planning on selling this house anytime soon, but we always ask ourselves what potential buyers would want to see upgraded in our home (if it were on the market).

Old brown doors

Old brown doors and ….. Violin???

We went to Lowes Home Improvement Store to buy our doors. We had to special order them because our measurements were off by 1/4 inch. We basically had to pay $65 per door instead of the $35 because we didn’t have standard sized doors. Either way, Lowes was much cheaper than Home Depot would have been: The Home Depot wanted upwards of $130 per door. No thanks – ciao gotta go!

Something got messed up in our order and our pick-up date got moved back several weeks. When we came to pick up the doors on the final estimated arrival date, we saw a 15% off sale on custom-ordered doors. We asked them if we could have that discount since our doors were so late. They obliged and we got a $41 in-store credit certificate.

We fit the doors into the back of our 2013 Chevy Cruze. We bungy corded the trunk shut and headed down the road. All was fine until we hit the first speed bump on our street. We damaged a panel by going too quickly: the trunk lifted and came down on a hollow panel in the door – it’s nothing a little wood glue can’t fix. 🙂

loading doors up from Lowes

loading doors up from Lowes

We painted them outside and then installed them that same day. We used VALSPAR – Bistro White from Lowes. We used a semi-gloss sheen on the doors and trim and a satin sheen on the walls.

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This panel on the top-right is the one that took some damage. It’ll fix up fine.

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A few weeks earlier we had painted the hardware and door knobs with Rust-Oleum. They look good as new. We painted them oil-rubbed bronze.

Final product

Final product

We even used that paint on our door bell:

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The paint looks nice and works really well.

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WINDOWS

The windows of this home are original from 1971. They have moss growing in them and they allow the sun to cook the inside of our home. We decided in June to call Window World and get a quote for new windows.

Jim came out to our house and showed us how cool the windows are at Window World. He even stood on the windows and jumped up and down: they did not break. He showed us the warranty they come with: Lifetime warranty for any reason, transferrable to new owners! That means that whoever owns this house after us has a lifetime warranty on those windows too!

He showed us how they insulate the home and do not let heat in etc. They also pop in and out so you can easily clean them.

We were amazed and bought brand new windows!

Mossy Windows

Mossy Windows

The crew came and took out our old windows leaving a nice little hole in our house.

Window removed from Nursery

Window removed from Nursery

Here is the before picture:

Old Windows

And this is what it looked like after – the job only took 2 1/2 hours!

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All New Windows Installed

All New Windows Installed

We really like that these new ones didn’t come with any moss.

New Window

New Window

New Window From Interior

New Window From Interior

One little thing at a time, we are making this house something exceptionally beautiful.

Dining Room

We also made some updates to our dining room this month (July 2015). This is how it appeared on June 1, 2014:

Dining Room on June 1, 2014

Dining Room on June 1, 2014

One $16 light fixture later, our dining room has become a rather cool place to hang out!

New Light Fixture

New Light Fixture

The quadro from IKEA was a welcomed touch as well. 😉

Dining Room in July 2015

Dining Room in July 2015

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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