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….


Author: Adam Rafferty

Adam Rafferty. Fingerstyle Guitarist. Recording and Concert Artist. Meditator. Philosopher. Lover of Groove.

2 thoughts on “Christmas in August – Recording on the Road

  1. Dear Adam,

    thanks a lot for sharings this inormation!

    You say that you will go to a real studio with great sounding gear to mix and master. Does it mean you just give your recording to the guys in the studio to get the best out of them (checking the frequencies and so on) or you want to make the recording in the studio?

    I would also like to record my guitar with some portable recorder like ZOOM H4 just to benefit from the freedom you have and just want to know if the quality of such recording is suficient enough or do I have to realy go to studio for good recording.

    Thanks for taking your time!

  2. Nice little setup. Did you end up recording an album with this gear? If so, pretty neat. The technology is small enough and cheap enough that I think its very doable to make a solo guitar record at home, if you pay attention to your sound and room acoustics a bit.

    I have been looking at getting some Rode NT 5’s myself. I have a presonus mobile, just a small unit with two preamps that connects to my mac via firewire. I use Logic, and have been borrowing mics from friends trying to figure out to what to buy. The NT 5 seems a popular choice.


    Anton Emery

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