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Phil O'Keefe

Ten things you could be doing wrong when recording at home...

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Luckily I don't do too many of these things.. :smiley-lol:

 

I'm probably most guilty of "poor file management" and not using an external backup, which I'm intending to do soon.

 

File management has been getting better lately because my file naming scheme is becoming more specific. But since I go through so many different versions of mixes and songs, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between project files of the same song. Occasionally I might create a text file that describes each version, but hard to get into the habit of doing it.

 

What would be a good method of doing backup? Right now I have an old laptop HDD (700gb @5400rpm) that I put inside of a external drive enclosure, which I am planning on using for backup. Would a smaller but faster SSD be better? Or do you think HDD is okay? The final versions of each of my projects tend to range between 1 to 2 gb of space taken up.

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good stuff...and the whole plug-in dependency thing...I am gradually weaning my partner off of all the plug-ins...he never met a plug-in he didn't like [and downloaded]. I sent him a link to the article...;)

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Luckily I don't do too many of these things.. :smiley-lol:

 

I'm probably most guilty of "poor file management" and not using an external backup, which I'm intending to do soon.

 

The first time you lose data and can't get it back, you'll become a believer in backups and saving often.

 

File management has been getting better lately because my file naming scheme is becoming more specific. But since I go through so many different versions of mixes and songs, sometimes it is difficult to distinguish between project files of the same song. Occasionally I might create a text file that describes each version, but hard to get into the habit of doing it.

 

I incorporate dates in my file names, and then use letters to specify various revisions that are done throughout any particular day:

 

 

"Song Name 12-4-18 c.PTX" is a file / version that was saved later in the day than "Song Name 12-4-18 b.PTX"

 

 

What would be a good method of doing backup? Right now I have an old laptop HDD (700gb @5400rpm) that I put inside of a external drive enclosure, which I am planning on using for backup. Would a smaller but faster SSD be better? Or do you think HDD is okay? The final versions of each of my projects tend to range between 1 to 2 gb of space taken up.

 

I am currently using external USB and Firewire hard disk drives. I save files regularly throughout the day, and then at the end of the day, I back everything up to an external drive. I also will often make a third copy to yet another external drive, which the client will often take off-site... but only if their account is paid up to date. Otherwise, it stays here. As far as SSD vs HDD, I am still using HDD's for the backups, although I do have a SSD as my boot drive, and I am going to be installing another SSD to supplement my three internal HDD's later today after UPS delivers it... along with another 16GB of RAM, which will bring my DAW up to a full 32GB.

 

 

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The first time you lose data and can't get it back, you'll become a believer in backups and saving often.

 

Yep, I just backed up my most recent projects this morning using that external HDD.

 

I incorporate dates in my file names, and then use letters to specify various revisions that are done throughout any particular day:

 

 

"Song Name 12-4-18 c.PTX" is a file / version that was saved later in the day than "Song Name 12-4-18 b.PTX"

 

Yeah, I've doing a similar filenaming scheme as well. Song-name2018-12-05A.. as the project file into a folder with the same name.

 

I am currently using external USB and Firewire hard disk drives. I save files regularly throughout the day, and then at the end of the day, I back everything up to an external drive. I also will often make a third copy to yet another external drive, which the client will often take off-site... but only if their account is paid up to date. Otherwise, it stays here. As far as SSD vs HDD, I am still using HDD's for the backups, although I do have a SSD as my boot drive, and I am going to be installing another SSD to supplement my three internal HDD's later today after UPS delivers it... along with another 16GB of RAM, which will bring my DAW up to a full 32GB.

 

I just upgraded my RAM from 8GB to 16GB last year. Recently I've been noticing on the average project I would get close to hitting the 8GB mark in memory usage from the DAW alone. This usually happens when I'm running multiple instances of virtual instruments. I've managed to ease up by bouncing those tracks into waveform, using more live instruments, and being more minimalistic with my plug-in use, opting for channel strips (like SSL-e) over using multiple plug-ins. I also found that the more I focus on recording sound sources properly, the less I need to use plug-ins to adjust the sound ITB.

 

 

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I just upgraded my RAM from 8GB to 16GB last year. Recently I've been noticing on the average project I would get close to hitting the 8GB mark in memory usage from the DAW alone. This usually happens when I'm running multiple instances of virtual instruments. I've managed to ease up by bouncing those tracks into waveform, using more live instruments, and being more minimalistic with my plug-in use, opting for channel strips (like SSL-e) over using multiple plug-ins. I also found that the more I focus on recording sound sources properly, the less I need to use plug-ins to adjust the sound ITB.

 

 

 

I use the disk cache feature in Pro Tools and typically dedicate 6-8GB of RAM to that. It pre-loads all the waveform / audio track files into RAM instead of trying to stream them off the HDD, and makes disk speed issues irrelevant. Typically, that's enough for me to load everything in. However, if you use a lot of virtual instruments, or a lot of tracks (I typically don't need or use more than 32-64) you might need even more RAM. So while my current 16GB is "usually" enough, I figured I might as well upgrade now and get it over with rather than wait until later and risk having a hard time locating the same make / model RAM as the other two 8GB sticks that I already have installed.

 

My quad core i7 MacBook Pro is already maxed out - it's supposed to only be able to handle 8GB, but it actually is capable of handling 16GB, which is what I have installed in it.

 

I personally currently consider 8GB to be the minimum that people should be using with most modern DAW programs. 4GB is not enough anymore, and 16GB is much better if you can swing it. 32GB is probably overkill for most folks unless they work with very long / large sessions with a lot of tracks, use a lot of virtual instruments, and / or use large sample libraries extensively.

 

 

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I personally currently consider 8GB to be the minimum that people should be using with most modern DAW programs. 4GB is not enough anymore,

Phooey. :) Granted it's limiting but it can be done. I'm doing it, albeit with a small # of tracks at the moment. And I would certainly not recommend it to anyone about to buy a PC, agreed 8GB at least. Anyway...

 

Shockingly I'm not doing any of those things, although using plugins properly is always a work in progress. IMO the most common mistake is using too many or using them too heavily. More isn't better.

 

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Phooey. :) Granted it's limiting but it can be done. I'm doing it, albeit with a small # of tracks at the moment. And I would certainly not recommend it to anyone about to buy a PC, agreed 8GB at least. Anyway...

 

That's a good point - If you have fast disk drives and don't need a lot of tracks or a lot of plugins or virtual instruments, then yes, you could get by with less than 8GB of RAM. Someone who is recording something like live classical recitals or basic guitar / vocal or piano / vocal songwriting demos isn't going to need the track counts and plugins that someone recording pop or rock records, or EDM / dance music is going to need.

 

Shockingly I'm not doing any of those things, although using plugins properly is always a work in progress. IMO the most common mistake is using too many or using them too heavily. More isn't better.

 

:philthumb:

 

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I break the rule about placing a mic 6-12" from the singer all the time because it's a stupid rule. I'm usually micing vocalists around 4" or so. I would say that the VAST majority of pop, r&b, and hip-hop vocals on the radio, and probably most rock vocals on the radio are recorder closer than 6".

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I break the rule about placing a mic 6-12" from the singer all the time because it's a stupid rule. I'm usually micing vocalists around 4" or so. I would say that the VAST majority of pop' date=' r&b, and hip-hop vocals on the radio, and probably most rock vocals on the radio are recorder closer than 6".[/quote']

 

I typically break that rule a lot too... I'd say I usually have the pop screen about three inches away from the mic, and the singers are usually only an inch or two away from the screen - sometimes they're right up on it.

 

If you want proximity effect boost for increased "size" and low end, you've got to get up close.

 

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I break the "rule" about recording to an external HDD too... I only record to my internal drives, although I do back up to externals.

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Ive been building my own PC's for 30 years. And external drives are not the best storage solution for DAW's. Yes they are great for backup. But even USB 3.0 can not match the "actual" throughput of SATA . You have to remember the "Southbridge" on your daw's motherboard controls all USB and SATA functions. So your not freeing up resources with an external drive.

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I typically break that rule a lot too... I'd say I usually have the pop screen about three inches away from the mic, and the singers are usually only an inch or two away from the screen - sometimes they're right up on it.

 

If you want proximity effect boost for increased "size" and low end, you've got to get up close.

It's still way overdone IMO. What I call the "mic eaters" even when it doesn't make sense :facepalm: One sound guy I knew had some success mitigating it in the studio by going "look it's a mic not a penis" lol (mostly the guys backed off a bit after that) ;)

 

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This article over on Reverb makes some very good points.

 

https://reverb.com/news/10-things-you-could-be-doing-wrong-when-recording-at-home?

 

Which, if any, of these things are you guilty of?

 

 

Great article and I'm guilty of all 10 at various times. I have to say, the one item on that list that was the most potent was having a deadline. I'm terrible at it. I also think its crazy important to treat your time in the home studio equally as you would in a studio you're paying for.

 

Those two points are definitely connected to each other. Its just too easy to work on a project forever and tweak it to no end.

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Great article and I'm guilty of all 10 at various times. I have to say, the one item on that list that was the most potent was having a deadline. I'm terrible at it. I also think its crazy important to treat your time in the home studio equally as you would in a studio you're paying for.

 

Those two points are definitely connected to each other. Its just too easy to work on a project forever and tweak it to no end.

 

I agree that you can spend too much time over-thinking and over-tweaking things when you don't have to worry about the clock ticking - it's a real concern. But OTOH, being able to get an idea put down as soon as it hits you, and having enough time to fully support exploring ideas and developing and refining them without having to worry about going over-budget are some of the big advantages of having a home studio IMO, so it's kind of a double-edged sword, although for many people the edge that does the most cutting is probably the overindulgent / over-analytical one.

 

 

 

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It's still way overdone IMO. What I call the "mic eaters" even when it doesn't make sense :facepalm: One sound guy I knew had some success mitigating it in the studio by going "look it's a mic not a penis" lol (mostly the guys backed off a bit after that) ;)

 

Pop screens are great for keeping singers at the desired distance. Tell them they can get as close to the screen as they want, but that it's important that they don't nudge or push it out of position since it won't do its job properly if they do... and if they do it wrong, it will sound like this:

 

 

[video=youtube;erYIK-mich4]

 

 

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Ive been building my own PC's for 30 years. And external drives are not the best storage solution for DAW's. Yes they are great for backup. But even USB 3.0 can not match the "actual" throughput of SATA . You have to remember the "Southbridge" on your daw's motherboard controls all USB and SATA functions. So your not freeing up resources with an external drive.

 

Good point about the southbridge.

 

With the possible exception of Thunderbolt drives (which are way too expensive to be practical for most audio recording purposes IMO), you're going to get better performance using internals than external drives. And if you're using a USB audio interface and have the external drive on the same bus or hub, they're having to split the bandwidth too... which might not be a huge issue with USB 3 / 3.1, but could be a major problem if you're using a USB 2 audio interface and hooking up a external drive on that same USB bus and trying to record / play back a lot of simultaneous tracks.

 

Save the external drives for backups - they're fine for that... but I wouldn't recommend using them as a primary recording medium.

 

 

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