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Bob Elliott
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Bob Elliott

2/25/2008 6:33:24 PM

One of the Biggest Hinderances to the Home Recordist...
...I think is they usually can't get real loud. You can hear it in their vocal tracks, holding back, fear of waking someone, bothering someone. You can hear it in the way so much is recorded in line, and real drums are a rarity because they're loud as hell. It's hard for people to get together as a band and rock it out because it's very loud.

I think a lot of musicians' spirits are held back a great deal by this. There are many things we won't even try because of self-consciousness. Like in order to really find some things you can do with your voice, you sometimes gotta make some bad sounds with it...LOUD. Many people will never try that at all because they are too near other people all the time.

In the days of old you wouldn't be multi tracking, you'd play with a band, and you learn fast how to do loud things in a band, because everything is loud. Back then the whole thing was a different endeavor, you had to cooperate with others and you had to get rehearsal space. But that's rock and roll, Man. Loud group of people playing all together.

I'm not saying no one does anything good in their little space even hindered by the noise constraints, but I do think it is hindering a lot of talents, holding them back, pacifying some of their wildness. And also driving them to less and less recordings of moving air in favor of in-line recording. In-line drum machines, in-line guitars, in-line keyboards taking the place of louder instruments like horns or xylophones, etc...

This has always been an issue to me even though my studio has been more soundproofed than an average room and my family hardly ever complains about my noise. I want to be able to bang loud in the middle of the night, crank amps up, sing at the top of my voice at times.

Even making mellower music loudness is a very useful tool. For instance, "Simple Machines" my last thing has a mellow feel, the drums are light on the ears, but you can be sure they were not light on the ears when I was recording them, they were loud. Loudness is an essential part of the musician's palette ( at least for a lot of types of music).

Anyway, I'm facing this head on now. I'm rebuilding the studio in a major way, and I can't wait to have that soundproofing.

But just about anyone could really improve their situation fairly easily by adding another layer of drywall to the whole room using that product called green glue in-between the sheets. Green Glue is a sound proofing material that allows the two sheets to vibrate a bit and thus convert much of the sound to heat.

I think the inability to really get loud is hurting a lot of the home recordists.

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2/25/2008 6:50:53 PM

As a Sax player I couldn't agree with you more. The freedom to make noise has always been an issue. I used to have to practice in a cemetery... the dead were always good listeners and never complained. Home recordings are not always lo-fi recordings, though I do appreciate those as well. It would be great to have sex in your home without waking the neighbors but sometimes everyone is gonna make some noise.

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The Man With No Band

2/25/2008 7:02:59 PM

I think you may be on to something Bob .... of course I think in my case, I can't tell if I'm loud or not .... I think it has a lot to do with those basement sessions back in the '70's ... just 5 guys raising the roof off that place 6 or 7 nights a week ... LOL

and back then the neighbors were a lot more friendly and understanding ...

It's easier to gage when you are loud or not if you've got other bandmates cranking it up around you too ... Ahhhhhh I miss those days ... Loud is not always good but I think you are right about getting some Vocal responses that sometimes make you step back and say ... "wow ... did I do that" ?

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The Man With No Band

2/25/2008 7:09:31 PM

and back then the neighbors were a lot more friendly and understanding ...
On second thought, maybe it's that we just didn't care, or were just to involved to notice ....

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edison freeman and the color of fire

2/25/2008 7:44:22 PM

I think even worse, it has caused live bands to be of poorer quality. Yeah, neighbors used to love having a band in the neighborhood...back in the late 60's when I was a teenager, my band practiced in the garage with the doors open, and the neighbors would gather on our lawn like it was a freakin' love in or something.

Somehow, things changed. Here in Texas for example, the neighbors complain about bars in their neighborhood...when the bar was there first!

By the time 1990 came along, I had to rent industrial space to keep my band rehearsed...fortunately I could afford it. And we played often enough we still showed a profit. Cost of living was much lower then.

That's why when I moved to Texas I made the deliberate choice to move onto acreage WAY out in the country. As neighbors started to show up, I purchased a 56 by 14 office trailer and converted it into a studio far from the road, with refrigeration panels from gulf war one lining the sides, also to keep unwanted road noise outside.

So my situation is not limited, but only because I was lucky enough in my day job career to be able to afford what I've done. Otherwise, I would be caught in the same compromise.

I really don't understand the changed mentality about music on the part of "neighbors". I feel that people in general are way more intolerant of someone else having fun and trying to find fulfillment than at any other time in my life.

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Hugh Hamilton

2/25/2008 8:10:18 PM

I'm very self-conscious. I make my REAL noise when the house is completely empty. I suppose that's why I don't 'really' wanna record at Abbey Road, or anywhere else. I like to do it alone.

Record, that is.


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2/25/2008 8:13:44 PM

Edison I just attempted to read your blog post 'Rant on digital recording' which those reading this thread might be interested in as well ...


I have to say, I only wish I could understand any of it ! Ouch, my little brain hurts..

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edison freeman and the color of fire

2/25/2008 9:22:13 PM

Hey, mine hurts too, hahaha!!!

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2/25/2008 9:28:39 PM

I think you have hit on something a lot of us have never thought about, the restraints put on our productions simply due to consideration to our Neighbors. Most of us live in modest homes, or apartments, and even if the reality is, our Neighbors can't hear us, the paranoia is still there. I agree with you, analog Drums, real Horns, crisp tube amps, etc. these are the makings of a non sterile Soul filled production. I've been a Bassist all my Life, and I can't tell you how many times (in my younger days), some pissy Neighbor has called the Police. Also, it's difficult to get a whole Band together when inspiration hits, and a Song idea has to be layed down in a recording while the idea is fresh. Most of us jump on the hard disc recorder, plug in direct, and whammo, a dry lifeless recording is produced.

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2/25/2008 11:32:05 PM

Hugh wrote: "I'm very self-conscious. I make my REAL noise when the house is completely empty. I suppose that's why I don't 'really' wanna record at Abbey Road, or anywhere else. I like to do it alone."

....I'm sure there are large numbers of very talented musicians who are so self conscious they can't bring themselves to even record at home (or in their bedroom). One of my closest friends plays electric, acoustic guitar and banjo, knows Western music theory, and jams at home for hours at a time but turns to jelly any time even a hand held mini recorder is present.

I don't know if it's true but apparently The Rolling Stones recorded their double album "Exile Main Street" (one of my absolute favorites) in a large house but with some of them in different rooms. Whether true or not, the album certainly has the quality of the best that 'bedroom' recording can get.

I'm lucky - I have a home recording setup permanently in my living room and free access to a small but very well equipped studio locally. My home is now double glazed and I always prefer to record when it's dark for some reason - More atmosphere with low lighting?

Neighbours? - They don't complain but then I am very good to them in other ways. Live and let live.

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the kozy king

2/26/2008 3:47:32 AM

Very true, Bob.

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2/26/2008 5:00:33 AM

You're exactly right, B. Fortunately, I really like recording and mixing through headphones. It allows me to crank it up, and still be fairly quiet to the neighbours. Of course, it also explains why most of my tunes are instrumentals. I've only recently gotten into a 'space' where I can feel a bit more confident that my voice isn't too annoying to passers by (the double walls help).

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No Rhythm

2/26/2008 6:54:23 AM

I agree with everyones comments here, My neighbours sit around socalising right outside the window of my recording/practice room. They have never ever complained but every now and then I might reach a bit too far vocally or fall off the fretboard and you suddenly hear laughing. Now they may not be laughing at me but i do start to feel self concious and tend to hold back a bit for the rest of the session.
I also like to record at night, I find I am at my most creative between 11pm and 2am, makes it hard when I have to start work at 6am. And as for playing loud at that time I couldn't do it to them.

Ah the sacrifices we make for our art, such as sleep. I miss it.
Cheers Mark

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Kevin White

2/26/2008 7:02:30 AM

I'm in Edison's camp. My day job supported the ability to move to the country and site my house where the nearest neighbor isn't going to be bothered.

Yet, this wasn't always so ... and I used to play outside all the time ... in the middle of the neighborhood.

Music is joyful noise -- far preferable to the traffic rumbling by one's house.

Though one cannot speak for all, neighbors don't mind as much as one might be scared they do.

Most of mine loved the free performances, and encouraged me to play more often. Heck, when I was growing up, the local bagpipe player used to generate an audience of kids (me included) when he practiced outside.

And if a BAGPIPE player can get away w/ it ...


I say, spread the good noise around ...



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2/26/2008 7:12:37 AM

not good music always very loud. some band not good but make loud to sounding more good do you think somtime. soft is more hard to be very good

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2/26/2008 8:15:48 AM

The beauty and the excitement is in the difference between loud and soft!

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edison freeman and the color of fire

2/26/2008 10:13:51 AM

A big yes! to that Satch. Dynamics are a wonderful thing...and seem to be increasingly the thing that differentiates independent recordings from the mainstream approach of "make it louder at any cost".

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2/26/2008 10:29:29 AM

i was saying this befor

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2/26/2008 2:40:47 PM

Like Edison and Kevin we have a country house with a basement studio---no neighbours---but I have to send my wife and young son away on holiday when we record cos it usually lasts for aweek 24/7 and we tend to turn the rest of the house upside down---last time they went to Australia---it can get expensive!!

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