While trying to record some musical ideas, I stumbled onto a whole bucket of inspiration. I realized that between an old netbook (Windows XP. jealous?), an old mixer and the wonders of Audacity open source software, (download for free here), I had the makings of a home studio. I just needed to be able to connect the mixer to the netbook as an audio source. Turns out, this is not expensive, USB interfaces can be had for less than 30 bucks, fitting in nicely with a going-for-broke lifestyle.
It seemed too good to be true. I can record my own content with equipment I already own and a few extra for the interface and some more cables? I'm on the edge of my seat. So I tried it, and tried it, and tried it, and tried it (I had to learn the software and master some settings) and with the help of my DI/preamp and Emily's awesome mic, I'm recording some pretty decent tracks. I'll have them up shortly.
Recording the guitar through the DI/preamp slightly reduces the natural acoustic sound but this can be tweaked to acceptable with a decent pedal. I use L.R. Baggs' Venue D.I., which might be overkill but it does really a great job. The advantage of this method vs. the superior sounding condenser mic method is the silence. Remember, we're doing this on a dime and we have dogs so our silence options at home are, well, non-existent. I can record guitar and weedwhack at the same time, although I choose not to, because only the guitar's pickup is being recorded. Same said for using a dynamic mic for vocals, if the dogs can shut their kibble-holes* for 5 or 10 minutes, I can actually record a whole song's worth of vocals without worry of floor creaks or other background noise that a condenser will inevitably pick up.
Is it perfect? No, but with some repetition, tweaking of the dials, and the help of audacity forums it's becoming possible to make some pretty good recordings.
In the next post I will rant a bit about cables, headphones that give me a headache, and discuss methods, with which I am experimenting, that are allowing me to add bass and percussion using my acoustic guitar. Still a work in progress but also, surprisingly simple, simple and cheap. Love it.