Adam Rafferty – Guitar and Spirit

All about music, guitar, spirituality, personal development and being happy


Christmas in August – Recording on the Road

Ho ho ho….Merry Christmas!!! In August…

Greetings from 30,000 feet. I am on my way from Denver to San Jose right now to do my usual August Bay Area workshop. Sorry for not posting in a while…I have not forgotten about you or the blog, just been busy.

It’s been an exciting 2 weeks. With a minimum of recording equipment, I have recorded 18 Christmas hymns and carols, hopefully to be released just in time for Christmas 2009.

In case you are wondering how I recorded this, here goes. Here is a brief rundown of what I used for my bare bones travel recording setup:

Guitar – Cole Clark FL2AC
2 RODE NT5 mics.
A table top mic tripod from Guitar Center – designed for podcasts
A “stereo” extension for mic stands, so I could do an X-Y configuration
with the mics
2 XLR Cables
ZOOM H4 Digital Recorder
Mac Laptop with Garage Band

A key aspect of recording (I am a newbie – forgive me if this is obvious) is having a nice quiet spot to record. Things like refrigerators, air conditioning, traffic, and neighbors thumping all come through on recordings. Out in Colorado I was able to use a friends empty office space, with fabric covered dividers, carpets, etc.

The ZOOM H4 is cool. What’s key is that it offers “phantom power” along with it’s XLR inputs so I was not limited to the mics on the unit. Inside is a memory card just like a digital camera, as opposed to an internal hard drive. It mounts on the Mac via USB and each track is a stereo wav file.

While Garage Band is not ideal software – it really has a lot of very cool features. After a while with it I got quicker at the editing process. As well, I did my best to play takes right minimizing editing.

The AU effects are a bit more complex than their “out of the box” effects. Ultimately I will go to a real studio with great sounding gear to mix and master, but Garage band is an excellent tool to edit with. A real mastering house has compressors that cost $20K and the guys who are experienced engineers can listen and know what frequencies are missing or overloaded…so I’ll leave that to them!

The only slight drawback was not having a real mic stand…I had to put the mics on a chair close to me and do my best to get a good position. But hey, what I have fits in a suitcase!!!!

While my setup may be less than ideal compared to a fancy studio – I had a quiet environment, great mics (ok, really good mics) and most importantly – the TIME to be creative and spend a whole day on one or two songs. Some takes were done 10 times until I felt that I captured the spirit and essence of the song. So, despite any technical flaws this “open ended” studio time I think allowed for some great music to emerge.

Please post comment especially if you have good mobile recording advice!!!

Until next time….