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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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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Is it a Guestroom….. or a Nursery?!?!?

It’s now June 25, 2015 and we are expecting our first baby in October!!! She’s a little girl and she’s absolutely crazy. She’s twisting and turning doing somersaults in the womb. We can feel her doing that every waking hour (meaning only when she’s not sleeping). During her anatomy ultrasound we even watched her do that for 15 whole minutes! I feel like naming her Zoey because it sounds like a crazy girl name for a little crazy girl. I feel that she’ll bolt out of the womb dashing down the corridors with pointy teeth and orange zig-zag hair. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see. Other than that, we have a name for her but we’ll share that at a later time!

Below you see this guest room (first room on the left down the main hall) as we first saw it last year in June of 2014. You see the tan paint, new carpet, old glass square light fixture, and long co-ax cable.

June 2, 2014

June 2, 2014

We moved our stuff in and didn’t want to cover the air-vent so we put the bed a little to the left. We later remediated this problem with a magnetic air-deflector this sits on the vent and shoots the air out from under the furniture. The “unbreakable” ones were less than $3 at Lowes.

Guestroom phase 1

Guestroom phase 1

The room rested in this phase (phase 2) until about April of 2015.

Guestroom phase 2

Guestroom phase 2

In April of 2015 we painted it “Swiss Coffee” a color from Behr available at the Home Depot. We didn’t know the gender at this point so we just went with a simple color and nice new light fixture.

New Paint and Light Fixture

New Paint and Light Fixture

And now the Guestroom transforms into a Nursery in Mid-May 2015!

New Crib and Dresser from Grandma and Grandpa Cambron (Kacee's Parents) THANKS!

New Crib and Dresser from Grandma and Grandpa Cambron (Kacee’s Parents) THANKS!

Kacee also had this wonderful idea to put some Board and Batten (Kacee referenced several blogs including this one for inspiration). So we measured it all up and bought some pine 1×3 boards and had the store cut to our measurements. We painted them outside and coated them three times before we began hanging them. We didn’t have a miter saw for the corners so my cousin “Sir Reginald” came over and helped us do that part and use the nail gun to secure them. When all was said and done we decided just to keep the board and not add any batten (the vertical boards).

Board added to walls

Board added to walls

We then caulked the nail holes and the lines joining the board to the wall and applied several coats of touch-up paint. We kept the boards and the bottom half in the Swiss Coffee Behr color. We used a Satin Sheen for the walls and the boards. The base boards and door frames are in Bistro White from Valspar in the semi-gloss sheen. We painted the top half Twinkly Green, a color from Sherwin Williams. We had it color matched into Valspar paint because we prefer the Valspar.

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We then found this really nice recliner at KSL.com for $200. It’s in perfect condition and the new ones go for $700 or $800. It’s a little miniature and it fits just fine. The full size recliners would have presented great difficulty if we had tried to fit one in that little corner!

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New LaZboy recliner

New LaZboy recliner

So it’s a Nursery! Guests are reduced to the fold-out couch in the office. We just can’t wait for Baby Girl to get here!!! Tune back in for the new windows and doors coming in July 2015!!

New Washer and Dryer – Electrical Issues?

So as you know we bought a new house that was built in the 1970s. Right before moving in we also bought a new washer and dryer that were practically new from one of my Uncles. Have you ever tried to put in new appliances in old homes? Things are not made the same these days. We had a dryer with a this kind of plug.

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And we needed it to fit into this kind of outlet.20140604_122622

Talk about a “no-go.”

Even I (being really bad at math) know that four prongs don’t fit into three holes. So I went off to the one place that I knew to go: The Home Depot!

I asked their advice (don’t trust the advice of anyone but an actual electrician) and they recommended that I replace the outlet with a four-pronged outlet so that the four-pronged plug would fit into that.

It would be important to note that houses built in the last decade are all built to accomodate the four-pronged plug of a dryer. Before then they used the three-prongs. The main difference is that with the 3-prong, there are two hot wires on the side and a grounding wire in the middle. The grounding wire is supposed to channel any left-over electric charge and direct it from the dryer and into the ground to prevent electric shock from occurring. Now with the 4-prong setup there are two hot wires, a grounding wire and a neutral wire. This is supposed to give added safety and prevent electric shock.

THE DILEMMA 

So after purchasing the new 4-socket outlet I went home and I installed it after shutting off the breaker. The only issue was that there were four places to insert the wires from the wall, and there were only 3 wires coming out of the wall (again the two hot wires and the grounding wire.)20140604_13432620140604_143442This meant that the neutral wire in the cord would be attached to the dryer, and go into the socket (that one on the left of the cross shape) and have no wire to take that charge to the ground. So before turning the power back on, I called an electrician and offered to pay him for some advice. He told me that I needed to put the 3-socket outlet back on the wall and instead change the DRYER to a 3-pronged chord. This made a lot more sense, and I’m sure glad that I called him especially since he told me that I didn’t owe him anything for his advice. Had I not, I might not be alive to write this post today.

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Since the old 3-socket outlet was really old, I accidentally broke it while trying to re-install it. I went back to the Home Depot and bought a new one, came back and installed it. Now there was no neutral wire, all the excess charge would be routed through the grounding wire which is supposedly a lot safer than sending it into a wire with no place to go as would have been the case.

Click here to see how to replace a dryer cord. Notice that the middle wire is the grounding wire and that in a 4-prong situation, both the grounding and neutral wires are attached to the center slot in the terminal block and then they are sent back into the outlet in two different wires.

After replacing it with a new 3-prong socket and installing the dryer with a 3-pronged cord, I replaced the back cover panel and turned the power on. We have now been able to do our laundry without needing to go to my parents’ house or the Laundromat, and the best part is nobody died!