Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Recording music in the digital age

Last week was my birthday. I got some money, which I used to buy this:

It's an E-MU 0404 USB 2.0 audio interface. Wassat? Well, you know I just bought a Fender Jazzmaster, and now I want to record it. What's the point of having a guitar if you don't do anything with it?

Time was, if you had a band and wanted to record a demo tape to get yourselves noticed, you had to find yourself a local recording studio and pay by the hour for an engineer to sit there and put your stuff onto analog tape. Engineers don't come cheap; nor do the vast arrays of equipment that even a basic 8 track recording studio are stocked with. I should know - my band went through all this about 20 years ago, and even back then, I remember it being about $50 an hour. You can imagine how quickly that adds up - especially when you consider that, even with all the songs written in advance, the average full length album takes about 100 hours to record and master.

That's all changed now. Nowadays, for under $200, you can do pretty much anything a pro studio could do. All you need is a box like the E-MU 0404 and a computer. Oh, and some software, but then the 0404 comes with that. And an instrument of some kind; that's important. (Technically, you don't even need any of this to do home recording, but you do if you want half-decent results.)

So far, I've recorded one track - but it's enough to get me excited. I had some problems with my laptop - a fairly new, 64-bit Acer Aspire 5003 with 1GB of RAM... that I now know is totally incapable of real-time recording. It's really Windows that's to blame, but luckily my desktop has just the right combination of well-behaving hardware that doesn't get in Windows' way. So I can record on that.

I do plan on recording full songs, with me on all the instruments as well as vocals. No, I'm not an egotist - just don't have a band right now (and not sure I want one). I also want to work at my own pace; this stuff's complicated and I'm still not a great guitarist, so I'm sure it's gonna take me a while until I'm satisfied. I'll probably put 'em up on MySpace or something when I'm done - I'm not planning on making any money on this or anything. But hey, never say never.

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About This Blog

This is increasingly not a blog about Alphabet City, New York. I used to live in the East Village and work on Avenue B, but I no longer do. Why don't I change the name if I'm writing about Japan and video games and guitars? Because New Yorkers are well-rounded people with varied interests, and mine have gone increasingly off the rails over the years. And I don't feel like changing the name. I do still write about New York City sometimes.


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