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The computer studio kicked off in May of 2005 when I had a PC built to handle things. This was an AMD 64 3000 (1.8Ghz) processor running on Windows XP Home with 1Gb memory, a couple of hard drives and the all important M-Audio 24-96 sound-card.

This set-up was modified with a couple more hard drives and another 1Gb memory. The original 19” CRT monitor were replaced by a pair of 19” LCD’s.  

The twin monitor set-up is ideal for this sort of work as you can have the track view on one screen and the mixer and VST windows on the other.

This all ran sweetly enough until 2014 when it was so worked out it was causing problems.

That was when I had a whole new system built. Still on a AMD chip but now a blazing Win7 quad-core system in a quiet case but retaining the M-Audio 24-96 sound-card.

 

When I started off this DAW (digital audio workstation) it was with a demo of Cubase but quickly got fed up with the learning curve (me not being too technical). I tried various free versions of sequencer programs and eventually found the fabulous REAPER.  One of the wonderful things about this program is that the fully functioning trial version is free to download and evaluate for as long as you like and that the buying price is so modest. It is totally the best value, and easiest to learn, of all the recording softwares. Still using it exclusively to this day.

 

The signal chain that I use is quite straightforward. Microphones, guitars, basses and audio from Yamaha NP-30 keyboard go directly through a Behringer Eurorack UB1002 mixer, then into the audio inputs of the soundcard.  MIDI data from the Yamaha goes direct to the MIDI-in of the soundcard.  All is monitored from the soundcard outputs to a small pair of Enact G-401A active speakers and also to BeyerDynamic DT220 and Sennheiser HD380 headphones.  I actually do all of my mixing on the ‘phones.

 

Main microphone is a large diaphragm condenser mic in the shape of the SeX1 from SE electronics, which draws it’s 48v phantom power from the mixer. For some applications I revert to my old dynamic Behringer XM1800S super cardioid or Behringer XM2000 cardioid.  

 

My usual technique, which I tend to apply to all acoustic instruments in much the same way, is ‘close mic-ing’ as I don’t have any room treatment and, in fact as my little studio is only 8ft by 7ft, is actually the only option.

Electric guitars and basses go directly through the mixer to the soundcard to record the ‘clean’ signal.  After that processing is done with various amp-sims, usually freeware.

Most software I use has been freeware but recently have been tempted, by some extra special offers, to the Izotope Nectar, Neutron and Ozone suites with excellent results.

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Acoustic bass
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Acoustic bass