Home > Personal > My First 10 Years Recording Part 1

My First 10 Years Recording Part 1

When I started writing this post, I didn’t think I’d have so much to say. It ended up being almost 2,000 words long. So I’ve decided to split the post up into two different posts.

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001 September is a special month for me. It’s when I first started out recording. As a matter of fact, it was in September of 1999. As I round out my first decade of production/engineering/recording/mixing, I’ve found myself thinking about where I started out. I’ve learned so much. Many of the things I’ve had to learn the hard way. But in the end, it’s all been good. I’ve worked with some talented people, recorded, produced and mixed some great songs, and taken my own music further than it has ever been.

Before I started, I would save up all my money and go into someone else’s studio. The mixes would hardly ever turn out the way I wanted them. Even when I was dishing out hundreds of dollars at a time to someone who otherwise does great work. I later realized that it was because I couldn’t technically tell him what I wanted.

But I usually always ended up not liking the mixes much. This was the days ADAT machines were so popular. He had two of them and I had so much stuff I’d want to use all 16 tracks. Of course, he’d charge me extra for using the second one. And extra for mixing 8 additional tracks. He had an analog mixer, and he’d be working hard on mixes.

I’d spent so much, that I could’ve bought some really good mic’s, a nice pair of powered monitors, recording and mixing gear, and still come out ahead. That what started me thinking.

“Why haven’t I thought about recording myself. I could learn something musically that was new, and save a lot of money in the process.”

That was about the time DigiDesign came out with the first of their Lite Editions. It was called the Digi 001 with Protools LE (lite edition) with 24 tracks, and I was quickly warming up to the idea. It came with a sound card (Audio Media III) and an external IO. It came with 8 inputs 2 XLR’s and 6 TRS’s. There was also ADAT LightPipe that added another 8 tracks, a Midi IO and a S/PIDF IO.

I basically fell in love with that thing. Within a few months, I had enough money to buy the 001, a Mac G4 to run it on, and 1 large diaphragm condenser mic (Audio Technica 4040 if I can remember correct). In the time it took to save up for a few sessions, I had my whole system. And I started to add on to that whenever I could.

I’ve learned a few things in my first 10 years. Some good, some bad.

Here’s some of the things I’ve learned along the way:

Not Every Mix You Get Excited About Will Last The Test Of Time

I’ve had to learn this lesson more than once. I thought I did a swell job mixing only to find out a few weeks or years down the road they were very amateurish. One thing I did in the beginning was to not pan efficiently. And as a result, my mixes were mainly mono. I also had phase problems. Mainly as a result of my experimenting with things I ran into a bunch of problems that I wasn’t aware of earlier. It’s still hard to listen to my first mixes.

I can’t tell you how many times I wrote a song and was so excited about it that I spent all night recording and mixing it. I’d listen to the track the whole morning. Go to bed around noon, listening to it till I went to sleep. Only to wake up and feel bad I ever recorded it. Most of the songs I’ve done that way, I’ve regretted even writing them much less spending time on them.

People May Incourage You And Tell You It’s A Great Mix When They Only Want To Make You Feel Good

It feels really good when people encourage you. It’s also good to get encouragement from your recordings themselves. It’s one thing that’s kept me going this long. Just a little encouragement from the right person at the right time can mean you toughing it out or quitting the whole thing for good.

If I kept at it, I knew I’d get good eventually, so encouragement has done me a world of good. I’m sure if you can think back, it’s probably done you some good as well. It’s hard to get anywhere without encouragement from something or someone.

But I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a negative to that same positive. And it’s about the intent of the encouragement. People will give you a false sense of encouragement. What I mean is people like you. Some people even love you. They only want you to feel like a million bucks.

If they’re lying about a mix or something else telling you it’s good when deep down you know something is wrong with it, they may be just trying to make you feel good. Now, even that is actually a positive. You have someone who cares so much about you that they want you to feel like a million dollars. You can’t buy that anywhere. And if you could, you couldn’t afford it.

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