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Anatomy of a home recording session

The two of you playing along at home may recall that in the last couple of months I’ve dropped a reference here and there to some developments about which I hope to be able to divulge more later. Well, we’re getting really close to me being able to actually say something — hopefully this week I’ll be able to say something concrete.

In the meantime, last night I recorded something related to one of these developments. I had been asked if I would be willing to read X and have it recorded so it could be used for a particular outcome Y, and I said sure, no problem. Great, came the response — are you able to record it yourself?

So, last night GarageBand and I started to get to know each other. (I have been an Audacity guy in the past, but for some reason Audacity stopped being able to export readable .mp3 audio for me, and I just haven’t gotten around to reinstalling to see if that fixes the problem.) I initially tried to record with the onboard mic on my MacBook, but the result was less-than-satisfying. Using my Sony ECM-MS907 microphone wound up being better, but then it became clear that I’d have even better results if I were able to mount it on something so that it would be closer to my mouth. The best mount I had on hand was — and this is just too glamorous for words — an empty Diet Pepsi can.

Having the makeshift studio setup in place, it took me about an hour and a half to record what I needed to record in a more-or-less satisfactory manner. Between this and other experiences recording in real recording studios, let me tell you that there’s nothing linear about it, it’s really quiltwork all around. Read this part, stop. Read that part, stop. Reread an earlier section to try to smooth out the flow into it from a different section, stop. Cut and paste this over there, snip out this second and a half pause here. Once everything was recorded and all of the pieces put together in a cohesive manner that simulated me sitting down and reading straight through from start to finish in a more-or-less (probably less) charming, personable manner, I then applied the “Male Radio Noisy” effect to try to clean up some of the fan and other ambient noise I was dealing with in my wife’s home office. I gave it a listen, and the result seemed to me to be more or less acceptable (I am making the assumption that the recipient will do some other things to it), so I exported it to an .mp3. I gave it a spin on my iPod to get a better sense of just how much noise was removed, and it was actually pretty good. I then sent an e-mail to my contact, saying, “Ready when you are.”

Eventually I should be able to tell you more about just what this is. In the meantime, I’ll say that reading your own words into a microphone in a way that’s interesting isn’t as easy as it may seem (and time will tell just how successful I actually was, if at all), and that if I were to have to do this kind of thing at home more often, I’d want to invest in some better equipment, at least. This would only happen if third parties were to ask me to (such as this particular case) — I can’t see myself independently and voluntarily venturing into something like podcasting at this stage of the game. There are just not enough hours in my life.

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