Since I started playing in bands years ago, there has always been the need to make “work tapes” during rehearsals. Normally, you just use some crappy little cassette player and lived with the horror…
But, I think I’ve found a better way. George (the singer in orange is in) has a nice CD burner with XLR (mic cable) jacks on the back and it gave me the idea of running a couple of mics into it for rehearsals.
Then, I got fancy. I took my pair of Audio Technica AT33r condenser mics, ran them through my ART Pro MPA preamp and then into the CD burner. That not only gave the mics a source of phantom power but it cleaned them up a bit and gave an extra gain stage to provide more headroom for the mics.
(If this is technical and you just don’t give a crap, you can return to the home page now.)
The only tough part is hauling everything. The preamp is in a rack, the mics in a mic box, the CD burner is stand-alone, plus a mic stand. As soon as I get a chance, I’m getting rack ears for the burner and putting it in the rack with the preamp. Then, just a couple of short cables to go between the machines, two long cables in the back, a little padded bag for the mics and everything will be in one box.
Just have to carry the stand. grin
The best part I haven’t even mentioned – the sound. I was really surprised at how great the setup sounded. It took a few rehearsals to get it tweaked, but it is clear as day and sounds great overall.
No question it needs a little boosting of the volume and adjusting of the EQ, but I just import the files into a nifty little piece of shareware called Sound Studio and use some preset settings for EQ and Compressor to boost the gain.
Once I’m done, I can upload them to the net for band members to download or drop them into iTunes and burn CD’s.
What I like best is that we are keeping an audio record of our progress. It really helps to listen back to things that are a month or two old and hear the progress. It also helps to keep ideas intact that may have otherwise been lost.
I did some math and, for around $500, anyone could set up a similar system. Just get a couple of used inexpensive condensers ($150), some type of small line preamp ($100), a CD burner ($150), a couple cables ($50), a mic stand with a dual mic adapter ($25) and a used rack ($25) and you are good to go.
By the way, we’ve also taken it out to gigs and it sounds as good there as it does in the rehearsal room. What’s more, it is often much better than a board mix because you are capturing what people actually hear instead of a mix off of the console that has to compensate for stage volume meaning the vocals are often MUCH hotter than any other instrument, particularly drums.