Saturday, April 25, 2009

NASAV_studios Construction • ETA JUL 4

For those of you whom have been following any of my progress with regards to constructing the project studio in the motor home, you’re probably tired of hearing that it [still] is not complete.

This venture became much more complicated than I had first imagined. And not because of unknown aspects of creating such a thing, but rather the dynamics of setting up an real, professional, workable production environment where I can write, record, mix and master music specifically with CD replication in mind. In other words, to produce a record album.

Before I scramble over some of the details surrounding the remainder of the work to be done, I would love to announce that today I installed a high-quality air filtration system by Hunter. My initial idea was to combat dust and dirt from getting into the new PCs, Macs and recording gear. Now that the filtration system has been running for about 9 hours, I can assuredly say that the air quality in the motor home is now 1000% better than before. This RV always tended to be a bit stuffy because we have most windows closed. If we want fresh air, the large bedroom window provides plenty as does the main entrance screened door. However, with every window and dome closed, with no air conditioning running, the air is “nearly” as fresh as sitting outside in the forest. I noticed this improvement within 2 hours of turning the filtration systems on.

Okay, back to the studio construction process where things are becoming somewhat easier now that much of the hard work is out of the way. Here are some of the remaining aspects of this project:

• Routing cables, setting up microphones, stands and filters. Creating various pieces of wood that are used for mounting blocks, anti-skid surfaces and table stabilizers. Also, I found a much better quality spring-boom that needs ordering.

• Setting up and configuring the mixing console, routing cables.The mixing console is still on hold due to customization rising up through the table. And, until the mixer is hot, meaning connected to the computer and processing audio and MIDI data, there is no recording.

• Speaker monitors and subwoofers are still to come. I am still wanting Yamaha HS80Ms, but space may dictate HS50Ms. Why haven’t I decided yet? Well… “according to the scale drawings”,
I should purchase the 50Ms. But, I rearranged a bit and I would really prefer the 80Ms for their mid-range capability.

• After several months of deliberate contemplation, I have chosen to purchase a white, polycarbonate 13-inch MacBook. This notebook will rest on a notebook stand on the studio table where I will output its video to the 30-inch LCD which stands directly in front of the Yamaha MOTIF_XS workstation. For remote jobs, the MacBook will accompany the Yamaha_01X mixer inside its airline luggage-ware. And at this stage of the process I don’t know whether I will end up living in Logic_Studio_8 or Cubase_5.

• As excited as I am to get my new vocal processor, it’s actually good timing that the manufacturer, TC-Helicon, won’t be releasing the VoiceLive_2 until MAY 2009. This was a feather in my cap. Because when I begin recording, I have every intention to begin with MOTIF_XS, microphone and VoiceLive2. So until the VL2 unit becomes available, I am not recording anyhow.

• Last but not least, I do plan to be recording live 12-string guitar parts in my recordings so after much shopping I have chosen to try the Ibanez AEL2012. I’ve blogged a little about this guitar before, but can’t remember if I said I had purchased it.

Due to health complications I am having, everything I blog about doing constantly gets interrupted, which adds to the time of completion. I am currently almost 5 months beyond my original date of completion. NOTE: simply purchasing equipment and setting them up on stands and tables is one thing. But, doing this in less than a 8x8 feet of space, while maintaining daily, necessary walking space, along with daily necessary seating and living, regardless of whether music is getting recorded or not, is very challenging. But, when this project studio is complete, it will be most rewarding to spend time at because I bought quality gear capable of exceeding my audio quality expectations.

At this time, I am not sure how much multimedia I will be showing the public when the studio is done. Perhaps a small website, maybe just a picture slide-show or short video. I don’t know ( I D K ). A lot now is timing and bolting down, screwing in and tying up.

Meanwhile [as I have said this before] the MOTIF_XS workstation allows me to practice and sketch musical ideas and arrangements in a very musically-friendly environment. The MOTIF is simply pleasure to one’s ears. Even when playing for fun and practicing, the MOTIF has the musical prowess to draw emotional tears. For me, this tells me I am working with the right gear.

Next report I hope to be touting about the Yamaha_01X mixing console is up and running – which means RECORDING.


Sunday, April 12, 2009

NASAV_studios Under Construction

NASAV_studios is on schedule. Today I got the 30 inch LCD moved to the studio area. I have not ordered the reference monitors and subwoofer yet. So, for now I rigged up some cheesy Gateway PC amplified speakers and subwoofer with extra cheese. They are crap but crap is much better than zero! The Pentium 4 will get wired up tomorrow and I will run the Ethernet, TV_cable, and component video and audio cables from this side of the truck to the studio side. Then drill all the "marked" holes in the table and get the mixer stand installed. Can't wait to get the 01X mixer up and running because when the 01X is happening, then the studio is happening... in RECORDING MUSIC!

So, it's Saturday night, 9:30pm and I am as happy as a clam with the studio progress!

Meanwhile I will spend some time enjoying my Xbox360 and call it a good day.

P.S. Taking glucosamine is greatly helping my bones and joints and I am overall feeling improved!


Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Music News

Okay. I promised that I would bring you up to date with what's going on.

For starters, I am having great difficulty in a muscular_skeletal kind of way. Due to my getting hit by a car in 1993 left me with a luxated atlas, along with accelerated arthritis and disc problems with vertebrae C2, C3, C4, C5, C6, C8, L5. Now I am also suffering with Coccydynia, better known as tailbone pain.

The reason I brought this up is these skeletal pains blend in along with the constant barrage of headaches and other maladies of MTBI. So, the fact that I have been able to teach myself how to accomplish getting things done, in spite of morbid levels of chronic pain, is nothing less than a miracle if you're asking me. Which brings me to my next point.

I'm getting very close to ordering a Mac to use with the 01X mixer and launch NASAV_studios. I just ordered extension cables for the component video in order to move the 30 inch LCD over to the studio table. Then I can drill all the table holes, including two 1.5_holes for mixer stands that will come up through the table top. One on the left for the 01X mixer and the stand on the right will be for the vocal processor. In time the vocal processor may go to the floor [where it's home really is] and I am considering putting a TASCAM_2488_NEO HDD recorder in the right stand. So, really, once the LCD gets moved, then the Mac gets ordered. Once that is jacked, the reference monitors and sub woofer (Yamaha HS50M and HS10W) will be ordered. Then I make the stands and by the time the monitors arrive, I can unpackage them and properly mount the stands and acoustic foam, then run some audio tests to tweak the monitor settings for this space.

It's more of a time and space juggling act. This is a 27 foot class C motorhome. So I don't have a lot of space to store MORE things than I already have in storage on board. Back when I was ordering the MOTIF_XS workstation, I was juggling my Korg_i3 and Takamine_12-string in the shower space. My point is I don't have the room simply to order everything and take my time putting things together. In any case, I am about 4 months beyond my initial plans on paper, but like a tortoise, I still will make it happen.

Music! Ahh yes. The reason I am doing all of this! I am working on some new material now which I have decided to use on a separate album of music. These songs are instrumentals consisting of 2 guitars, harmonica, and various percussion instruments such as shaker, tamborine, and triangle. The style of music is folk/pop/jazz and the songs are from the 30s, 40s and 50s with a few of my own thrown in for good measure. I am also toying with various samples of crackling fire [including recording my own] to be mixed in like campfire sound. But I am quickly learning, this background sound must be a very specific kind of fire sound in order not to distract from the music and I believe it will require mixer automation as well. Meaning, throughout the mix of each song, the fire track will need adjustments during the final mixdown and those adjustment are also recorded in real time. If the fire idea doesn't work as I am wanting, I will opt not to use the idea at all. But this music is so lovely, my first thought was that the music is perfect music to sit by a campfire and listen to. Lovers music, if you will.

In lieu of chronic pains I detailed earlier, I began consuming glucosamine which has greatly helped the joints of my bones. When I wake up, I don't feel like I am 90 years old anymore. So, I can say with confidence, if you suffer joint pain, even all over your entire body like I was, get yourself some super_duper glucosamine and eat 3 of those a day and inside of a week, you WILL notice a difference.

Back to fun. I will be glad to get the basics of the project studio over with. I still have the NASAV_studios logo to draft up in Illustrator_9 and email to the shop, but that's like a few hours kind of job. But, having the dedicated work space to sit, compose and record music brings tears of joy to my eyes. Also, the Yamaha MOTIF_XS is a powerhouse workstation and was a good choice. I continue to learn new things each and every time I use it. The downer of using USB sticks to save data is they are not fast. Class_2 memory is common in USB and SD card memory. It doesn't take THAT long to save, it's just that all other operations are nearly instantaneous, so it makes you wish that saving data was as fast as the other operations of the workstation. But, if and when I want to accelerate data saving I can always connect the MOTIF to the LAN via 10/100 Ethernet and save data to one of the 650GB SATA HDDs that are on the network — convenient feature. And, mLAN firewire is always available as well via the 01X mixer.

My search for other musical instruments continues. However, I have decided which 12_string I am going to order. It's a Ibanez AEL2012ETKS. This is a gorgeous black and gold guitar with what they call a Flamed Sycamore top. The rest of the body being Maple, along with a Mahogany neck, gold hardware, abalone rosette inlay around the soundhole and Fishman Sonicore pickups, EQ and tuner. I have not had my hands physically on this guitar to know how it plays. However, being a very accomplished 12_string guitar player, I have watched over 9 videos of this guitar being played by others. The videos gave me enough information to make an informed decision to purchase this guitar. I will order it from American Musical Supply (AMS) online. They provide an additional 1 year warranty over the factory 1 year warranty (2 years total anything goes) plus AMS gives you 45 days from date of purchase to return for exchange or refund, no questions asked. So ultimately, there is no loss involved. The AEL2012 is a "jumbo" style body and I am hoping it will fit my existing hardshell case, but I will play it smart and telephone them to ask. If I need a special size case for this instrument I will need to order one. My case is for a standard dreadnaught 12_string and I get the feeling [now that I am talking about it] that the "jumbo" will require a larger case. Exciting times!

Those of you who are still with me, I am searching for a FOUR_string plectrum banjo. Most of them come with resonators, which usually is a wood cover that mounts onto the banjo brackets and covers the back of the banjo. Ever since teaching myself to play banjo, I never liked resonators for they make the sound "ring longer" or "sustain" where I prefer the short, plunkity_plunk ragtime sound. Many times years ago, I used to stuff a cotton t-shirt or 2 pairs of Fruit-Of-The-Loom underwear into the underside of the banjo in between the torsion-bar and the banjo-skin surface. This would act as a good dampener so the sound would not RING OUT. Banjo's are loud instruments already. Seldom do they require amplification unless you are performing where serious amplication is needed to even be heard. So my homemade attenuation worked well over the years. Anyhow, there is a banjo shop in San Francisco I want to visit, for an entire day. I would like to try out at least a dozen or more banjo's. I think 20 instruments is the magic number. But, honestly, it's been years since I have played a banjo for any length of time. So, the second I recognize "this is the one!" then I will know how many banjos it will take. I will purposely start with say a $500 banjo which I don't plan to spend that much to buy one. Then work backwards price-wise until I find the instrument that plays nice. I expect to find my instrument for about $350 dollars. Then I can record some TUBA tracks on the MOTIF, add small drum kit and bingo! I got my ragtime banjo band. It's really a lot of fun to play banjo. Even people who think they hate ragtime music will find themselves tapping their toe while listening to me play. It wouldn't surprise me if Latin Americans knew the words to Bill Bailey and Oh Susanna! LOL

I've rattled enough. I could continue with all of my web projects news, but I think this is enough for one sitting. I will blog about the web stuff next time. For those of you who waited for me to blog, I duly appreciate you. And for those of you who RSS my blog, I would like to personally give you a big, Thank You" because it means a lot to me. I am reading a lot of RSS using the Flock browser and love how easy it is to just click on that orange RSS icon to have things automatically update to your browser!


Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Lots Of News

Hello fellow followers!

Well for once I can post without the usual, "Nailed Again". Glucosamine works!

Today through tonite VERY busy. I will blog probably midnite:30 PDT to update you about everything that is going on.