Blowing The Dust Off of Grey Cat...
Busy weekend. My mother had her 17 year old hip replacement upgraded with the latest/greatest technology and made it out of surgery with flying colors. Her recovery was aided by having two or three seasons of "Curb Your Enthusiasm" on DVD at hand along with a laptop my father checked out of Georgia State University's IT center to ostensibly do more work at home, heh, heh. This is actually a notable action for my dad do to the ever so light weight degree of lying it took to obtain said laptop.
Played back to back rounds of golf with my neighbor Yoda Jacket, my brother in law, and friends at Northwood Country Club. Yoda and I are both being wooed into joining the club which happens to be right around the corner (note to anyone who clicks the link: we regualrly see those deer featured in the club's website while out on the golf course). The club has offered both our families a cheap trial 2 1/2 month membership and our womenfolk have been exploiting our temporary membership status to swim at the clubs' pool, while Yoda and I attempt to play as much golf as possible before waving off the permanent membership offer late next month. Shot 100 Saturday from the white tees, 95 Sunday from the blues.
The surprising highlight of the weekend for me was a chance recording session with my old pal Steve McCormick. Steve recorded a couple of tunes at Grey Cat over the last couple of years, but his progeny (he now has THREE kids) has tightened the grip on his free time. Steve is quite the song writer and one whose tunes I really enjoy. I’m a big fan of Irish folk music, and unconsciously his stuff seems to have that flavor. Sunday, we laid down some basic tracks to a tune titled “Miss Libby’s Treats”, which he insists is NOT about sex or drugs, but simply about candy. I’m very excited about the prospects for this tune, much the same way I was with the other completed song we recorded last year called “Someday” (you can hear it here).
It’s been a while since I’ve done any recording, having really only ducked down for some playback every once in a while over the course of the last few months. I’ve had an Alesis HD-24 24 bit hard disk recorder for about a year now without putting many hours on it, so the learning curve is still present in abundance. The HD-24 sounds absolutely amazing especially compared to the old 24 track 16 bit ADAT system that predates it in my contr0l room. Coupled with the Focusrite ISA 220 mic preamp, I’ve never enjoyed such a crystal clear recorded signal.
The real challenge with the HD-24 is the transport. Alesis last year cancelled the product which was to be the controller for the HD-24, the “ADAT Director”. This would’ve been similar to the BRC (aptly abbreviated Big Remote Control) for the old ADAT systems. This means that all the function inputing has to be done on the unit itself. Ergonomically speaking, this doesn’t present too much of a problem in my control room since the equipment rack that houses the HD-24 is within arms reach of the console chair. The big problem is that the buttons are VERY small and our session Sunday fell victim to this. Twice I accidentally pressed the track safety enable button of a previously recorded track and started recording, thus erasing a portion of an ajacent previously recorded track. This was a something that used to happen back in the analog days which I thought was a problem of days gone by. It never happened with the BRC and the ADAT’s. The second problem occurred when Steve tuned his acoustic using my chromatic tuner that he was unfamiliar with. The result was recording the guitar tracks tuned a semitone higher than standard tuning. Overall, it worked out since the subsequent “repair” tracks were much better than what we’d already recorded. One of the great things about working with Steve is that his patiance is contagious and despite these bumps, our sessions are enjoyable for both of us.
The one pleasant surprise came when swapping mics out from acoustic to vocals. I had used my Neumann TLM103 for the acoustic guitar and plugged up one of my Studio Projects C-1 mics for vocals. Coupled with the Focusrite, the C-1 sounded so much better than the TLM103, I ended up using the C-1 to re-record the acoustic guitar. I am blown away by how good it sounds. Since both Steve’s and my time is so limited, I’m sure after two or three more sessions it’ll sound horrible in comparison, but right now I’m still amazed at what we got. The compressor on the preamp compliments the C-1 very well. I’d love to host my Smoke & Mirrors friends for a session and have Chris and Ted play with this preamp. I’m sure I’d learn a lot.
I’ll post the results of “Miss Libby’s Treats” once it’s ready for primetime.