Recording Rooms

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The Rooms

Most of my new house is given over to sonic spaces: (I'm obviously not married! ;-)

The rooms are fairly good sized, and most offer stunning views of peaceful nature, with the Control Room having triple aspect windows for plenty of daylight.

We are not yet set up for multi-room recording and overdubbing, but are slowly getting there, soon to have mic cables strewn all over the place and running up the stairs. Players will eventually be able to be recorded altogether simultaneously (or separately) in different rooms for sonic isolation and experimental distant mic-techniques. Mics in different rooms will be permanently wired to preamps in the Control Room, and can be moved between rooms. One day we hope to have a fully configurable headphone monitoring system routing any choice of channels to different rooms. For the time being, we recently got a simple headphone splitter box to share the headphone feed. So now we can enter The Zone in groups rather than previously just one person wearing the headphones and trying to conduct the others (not easy!). Singing and playing together in huge caverns is essential for higher-life sciences to evolve! I look forward to taking Away Teams on missions to distant planets this summer. Tunnels, stairwells and churches are also highly likely destinations.

Acoustic treatment is still suboptimal, as there are limits to what can be achieved in a rented residential property. Until proper bass traps can be constructed we use ghetto techniques like hanging duvets over things to reduce flutter echo, and having a rear wall of record shelves to act as a diffusor (Brian Eno's idea). At least the upright piano is not against a wall, which allows the sound to breathe much more. The adjacent Bowl Chamber can act as a natural reverberator for it too, without even needing to pipe the sound in there with loudspeakers; while not quite an echo chamber, the stone walls+ceiling+floor of this vibey room give it a truly remarkable resonant acoustic, the modes of which are fortuitously tuned to the note E! We'll be doing much singing and chanting in here, as my low bass voice causes intense resonance when singing at that pitch. It's rather a one-trick pony, but as long as we're in the key of E, it's sweet! Thankfully this matches my set of bowls perfectly. I'm totally excited to have my very own Cosmic Sound Chamber within my own home! So from now on I'll only be buying instruments in this key to be harmonious with this magical room, or in F# to bounce around in the Hallway.

In my previous house I was incredibly lucky to have no neighbours within earshot! That was such a blessing and a half, allowing dead-of-night recording with no external noise. My current place is also very quiet and has only a few neighbours so I can play freely in the daytime and when they're not in.

© copyright Malcolm Smith 2011-03-19 - last updated 2012-12-16