Pressing Pause to Play

I am on the second day of the second half of my family’s vacation in Bacolod. It’s really good to be on break, but it’s even better when you’re on break somewhere else. It’s not like we’re staying in some posh hotel or resort. We’re staying in my mother-in-law’s house, practically where the missus grew up, but it’s still a refreshing change to the routines of our little apartment. We did spend a night at a resort in the city though. It was a reunion of sorts for the missus and her friends from high school, kids and spouses in tow. Needless to say that the kids had a blast playing in the pool (Why people always say the thing that they claim is needless to say, I will never understand. Just like when people say “With all due respect…”). It was also the first time in ages that I stayed up till sun up. The activity? Playing pusoy with the husbands of the missus’ friends. After about 6 hours of playing, I won 15 pesos, which is like winning 3 games. Unfortunately, I felt the adverse effects foregoing sleep when I got a splitting headache after dinner the next day, which was aggravated by the bumpy cab ride home. And that story ends with me pretty much puking my guts out when we got to the house. So not worth the 15 pesos I won. Energetic youth, why hast thou forsaken me?

The only downside of this vacation, aside from missing our scheduled flight, paying extra (like twice over) to board the afternoon flight, spending 7 hours in the airport, and the headache episode, is that it takes time away from making music. I still have to record 2 tracks to make the 10 for the album. I left for Bacolod with track #7 half-finished. However, I think I’ll be able to record vocals when we get back and finsh track #10 and at least play a couple of jam sessions with Inhaler (my former band) before leaving for that conference in Exeter.

While I’m away from recording, I guess now is the best time to celebrate small musical accomplishments. I haven’t posted any update on the album since I posted the album cover and the video for track #1. Since then, I’ve finished videos for the first 5 tracks, and I am now working on recording the 2 remaining tracks, and the videos for the 3 other tracks that have been recorded. The videos for tacks #1 to #5 are below. I’ll post the videos for tracks #6 to #10 as soon as they’re done.

Track #1

Track #2

Track #3

Track #4

Track #5


First Recording Session (2011)

At long last, I am back into recording material for Tandem. I was finally able to buy the audio interface I’ve had my eyes on since May. The Avid Recording Studio is nothing fancy, but the little box pretty much has everything for my recording needs. The unit also came with an installation disk for Pro Tools SE, including 3GB worth of loops. I don’t use Pro Tools, but it is necessary to install it to install the drivers for the audio interface. I didn’t install the loops though. Not only because I won’t be using them often, I also found out that in Windows explorer, if you view hidden files and folders, you can access the loops folder and just copy loops to your hard drive as necessary!

I’ve rerecorded the vocal tracks for the two songs I worked on last year. Oddly enough, I ended up recording during the wee hours of the morning. Nobody has complained yet, so I think it’s all good.

Here’s the setup I’ve used. As you can see, it is very low-cost and bare-bones, still needing a considerable amount of equipment. Among the more immediate purchases for my setup include a balanced cable to reduce noise, a proper microphone stand, a good enough set of speakers for monitoring my mixes, and a REAPER license while it’s still at $40.


Audio Interface: Avid Recording Studio

Preamp: Behringer Tube Ultragain MIC200

Microphone: Shure C606

Headphones: Behringer HPS3000

Speakers: Just hand-me-down generic PC speakers


DAW: Cockos REAPER 3.76

Plugins: Native REAPER plugins and a slew of freeware VSTs and VSTi

The Recording Session

Installing Pro Tools and the drivers for the Avid Recording Studio was a cinch. Installing REAPER was also no problem. Setting up my VST folder was considerably more time-consuming because I had to check the plugins I used in the songs when I worked on them last year. Then I had to make a new plugins folder and extracted the plugins one by one.

What I love about REAPER is that it detects your audio devices automatically! I had no problem getting the interface to work with REAPER, though it took me a few minutes to remember how to navigate REAPER. What took a more considerable amount of time was getting the right levels and settings on the preamp. I wanted the highest input signal possible without any clipping. After several trials, I was able to get the right settings.

Our apartment is VERY small. Even if my recording setup is inside a bedroom, the noise generated by the refrigerator and light fixtures are picked up. Short to say, the recorded tracks had a good heap of noise. They actually had more noise than the old vocal tracks where I used a generic PC microphone to record, but in a bigger apartment. However, the new recordings of the vocals had significantly better sound quality than the original ones. Since it was impossible for me to eliminate the ambient noise, I did some research on how to remove noise using plugins. It turned out that REAPER had the answer all along. I used ReaFir to remove as much of the noise as possible while retaining as much of the sound of the vocals as possible. With a little tweaking, I was able to get a good-enough compromise.

I’m in the middle of mixing and mastering the two songs. Hopefully, I’ll finish them later today and be able to start working on another song.