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Home Studio Essentials

Book Description

Okay, you're either thinking about, or have decided to set up, a home studio. For many of us who love music, the ultimate form of expression can be writing and recording a song. Being able to accomplish this in your own environment can be a dream come true. Your home studio is literally the vehicle for your sonic visions. You can take an idea, shape it, refine it, and make it real. These days, there are almost no limitations to what you can do-except your own creative ambition. Home Studio Essentials is designed to help you grasp the essential elements that comprise a home studio and consider the different building blocks required to achieve your goals. A broad view of the available equipment is taken in each category, with specific recommendations according to budget and user. Everything is covered, from all the computer hardware and software, to microphones, monitors, preamps, mixers, processors, and much more. Home Studio Essentials also includes interviews with studio owners from many diverse backgrounds who share how they overcame specific obstacles and challenges. These interviews cover bedroom- and garage-based home studios, as well as more generously provisioned setups-such as an exclusive houseboat studio owned by David Gilmour of Pink Floyd.

Table of Contents

  1. Copyright
    1. Dedication
  2. Foreword by John Storyk
  3. Acknowledgments
  4. About the Author
  5. Introduction
  6. 1. Computers
    1. Nuts and Bolts
      1. CPU (Central Processing Unit)
      2. RAM (Random Access Memory)
      3. Hard Drive Memory (HD Memory)
    2. Do I Have to Get a Computer?
    3. Where Do I Start?
    4. Navigating the Computer Maze
      1. FireWire
      2. USB
      3. PCI Slots
    5. Don’t Fail Me Now
    6. Towers versus Notebook Computers
    7. Don’t Undervalue Your Monitor
    8. Something for Everyone
    9. Profile: Shaul Dover
  7. 2. Microphones
    1. The Right Mic
    2. How Microphones Work
      1. Respecting the Role of the Microphone in the Signal Path
      2. Dynamics, Condensers, and Ribbons
    3. Microphone Choices for the Home Studio
      1. Reading Frequency Response Charts
      2. Polar Patterns
        1. Common Pattern Applications
      3. Tube Microphones
      4. Quality, Consistency, and Sound Character
      5. Expanding Your Mic Collection
    4. Recording Instruments
      1. A Special Note on Recording Drums
        1. Close Miking
        2. Capturing Cymbals
        3. Ambient Miking a Drum Kit
      2. Listen, Listen, Listen
      3. Miking a Piano
      4. Recording Vocals
      5. Recording Horns and Woodwinds
      6. Recording Electric Guitar
      7. Recording Acoustic Instruments
    5. Basic Stereo Miking Techniques
      1. AB Stereo Miking (or Spaced Pair)
      2. XY Stereo Miking
    6. Budget Considerations
      1. Voiceovers and Spoken Word
        1. Inexpensive
        2. Moderately Expensive
        3. Expensive
      2. Mics for Other Applications
        1. Inexpensive
        2. Moderately Expensive
        3. Expensive
    7. Inside the Home Studio of Joe Griffin
  8. 3. Monitors
    1. Why You Need Good Monitors
    2. Choosing a System
    3. Other Considerations
    4. Speaker Positioning
    5. A Note on Headphones
    6. A Final Note on Budgeting
    7. Interview with Ian Catt
  9. 4. Preamplifiers and Channel Strips: What Goes in Must Come Out
    1. What Is a Preamp Supposed to Do, Anyway?
    2. Know Thy Application
    3. The Importance of Impedance Matching
    4. Factor in the Phantom
    5. Consider the Chemistry
    6. Seek Quality First
    7. Trust Your Sonic Senses
    8. Why You Need External Pres
    9. Get the Features You Need
    10. The Great Debate: Tubes versus Solid State
    11. Practical Differences
    12. Quality, Reliability, and Maintenance
    13. Budget Considerations
    14. Profile: David Malekpour
  10. 5. Mixers and Controllers
    1. Define What You Want to Do
    2. The Mixer’s Role in the Recording Process
    3. Pre- or Post-DAW?
    4. How Does a Signal Flow through a Mixer?
    5. Core Elements of a Mixer
      1. Channels
      2. Inserts
      3. Sends
      4. Busses
      5. Pan
      6. Mute/Solo
      7. Faders
    6. It’s Entirely Your Decision
    7. Summing Up
    8. Command and Control
    9. What Does a Controller Do?
    10. A Range of Options
    11. More for Less
    12. Profile: Frank Di Minno and Studio Z
  11. 6. Effects and Processors: Altering Your Sonic Landscape
    1. What Do Signal Processors Actually Do, Anyway?
    2. How Do Signal Processors Fit into What You’re Trying to Achieve?
    3. Learn How the Tools You Have Can Creatively Impact Your Results
    4. What Are the Basic Family Groups of Signal Processors?
    5. Vintage Gear: What Has Changed and What Has Stayed the Same?
    6. Spotting the Trends in the Professional and Home Studio Markets
    7. Channel Strips: The Best of All Possible Worlds
    8. Digital Connections: Hooking Up in the 21st Century
      1. USB and FireWire
      2. AES/EBU
      3. S/PDIF
      4. ADAT
      5. TDIF
      6. MADI
      7. A Few Notes on MIDI
      8. mLAN
    9. Synching Up and Netting It Out
    10. Home Studio Profile: Henry Leyva
      1. What about HVAC?
  12. 7. Power Management and Backup: Use It or Lose It
    1. What Is Power Management?
    2. Why Is Power Management Important in the Home Studio?
    3. Where Does Power Management Fit into an Overall Home Studio Scheme?
    4. What Are Some of the Threats?
      1. Surges
      2. Spikes
      3. Sags
    5. What Are Some of the Issues, and What Tools Do You Have at Your Disposal to Properly Manage Power?
      1. Power Regulation
      2. Voltage-Regulation Devices
      3. UPSs (Uninterruptible Power Supplies)
      4. Surge Suppression
    6. Keeping It Clean: Filtration and the Home Studio
      1. EMI (Electromagnetic Interference) and RFI (Radio Frequency Interference)
      2. Filtration Solutions
    7. How Do You Choose Which Gear Is Right for Your Setup?
      1. What Are You Protecting?
      2. How Much Equipment Do You Have?
      3. How Reliable Is the Power in Your Region?
      4. Identifying Manufacturing Quality
      5. Other Purchasing Considerations around Power Management
      6. Budget Considerations
        1. Inexpensive
        2. Moderately Expensive
        3. Expensive
    8. The Last Word on Backing Up
    9. Home Studio Profile: Christos Desalernos
  13. 8. Acoustics
    1. A Good-Sounding Room
    2. Some Very Basic Acoustic Principles
    3. Monitoring in the Control Room Environment
    4. How Sound Behaves in the Home Studio Environment
    5. Comb Filtering
    6. Understanding Your Application and Establishing Your Program
    7. Location, Location, Location
    8. Architecture and Design
    9. Construction Considerations
    10. Internal Room Treatment Considerations
    11. Testing and Evaluating
    12. Budget Considerations
    13. Robert Clivillés: Recording in Paradise
  14. A. Astoria: The “Ultimate” Home Studio