It’s the time of the year again, Christmas is almost here! So here it is: Figgy Pudding. A free Christmas song. You can download it for free at SoundCloud or listen at Drooble.
ABOUT THE SONG
The song was written many years ago and recorded in 2014 using a Fostex 4Track Tape-deck. For the backing (drums, bass, keyboard) we used Chordpulse; vocals and guitars were recorded straight into the Fostex and mixing was also done on the Fostex. After that it was exported to digital format and mastered with Mixcraft. So basicly this is as analog as it can get these days.
Bob Marley is of course a well known reggea singer and songwriter. I like many of his songs a lot, especially ‘Redemption Song’. So, while testing some improvements on my studio (video) I was playing it and decided I wanted to record it for the ‘Acoustic’ series.
For this track I used the following:
Guitar – Samick Greg Bennett GD-101 SCE/N
DI – Behringer Ultra-DI DI600P
Vocal Mic – MXL770
DAW – Harrison Mixbus5
I duplicated the guitar on two tracks to widen it more and put some reverb on the vocal. On the master bus I put a limiter. That’s all 🙂
Audacity is a free DAW, a program for audio recording and mixing, and it’s popular for some very good reasons besides being free. It’s easy to use, stable and is the perfect little DAW for anyone who wants to get his feet wet in home recording. It is also perfect for recording things like voice overs or a demo for a (small) band. Record, for example, the basic tracks an mix them later on in a more professional DAW or let someone else mix them. Some even record full albums with it. So, it is popular for many reasons.
Some time ago, in 2018, I made a video about mixing and recording with Audacity and the Behringer UMC404HD. The UMC404HD allows for four inputs to be recorded at the same time (4 tracks) so you can record 4 musicians, or instruments/vocals, at the same time. The Behringer UMC404HD is amazing and it’s availble for only a fraction of the costs of several competitors. For example (at this moment) at Thomann. It is out of stock a lot, it seems to be very popular and rightfully so. I am still considering to buy a second one, as a spare, in case mine will stop working or will have mechanical problems one day.
Recording with the Behringer audio interface works perfect with Ardour or Mixbus. Especially since they don’t need any additional drivers. On Windows it also worked perfect on, for example, Mixcraft. I showed this in various videos as well as other people. Many of the viewers however seemed to be having issues with Audacity and the Behringer UMC404HD.
One of the biggest issues most have is the drivers for the UMC404HD. Behringer has been changing their websites a few times recently and people were complaining they can’t find the drivers. They’re not included on a CD with the interface. Now, there is a good reason for this: production costs. Including a driver CD costs money and Behringer tries to cut the costs so you will have a product that is as cheap as possible. Besides that: most computers and laptops these days don’t even have a CD(r) station. Even if they would include a driver CD it would, in most cases, be useless. Including a CD would only lead to more trash (environmental issue!). You can download it. No environmental damage and cheaper. I’d say that’s a win-win.
However, as noted: the drivers have been hard to find. And, for some reason some complain the new drivers don’t work well. So here’s an older version that does work. Download and use on your own risk, I am not responsible for it.
DO NOT USE ASIO4ALL
Asio4All has been a pretty popular hardware driver for Windows. Do NOT use it. Remove it completely from your system (uninstall) if you wan tot use the Behringer UMC series. They have their own drivers (official site). You won’t get Audacity or any other DAW running on Windows working with the UMC404HD when using Asio4All.
AUDACITY LACKS SUPPORT?
Some noted that the version of Audacity they have doesn’t record 4 tracks. It only shows 2 tracks. There might be two reasons for this, I’m not certain what the reason is in certain situations:
it is showing you 2 stereo tracks (meaning 4 mono tracks!).
You don’t use the correct settings for recording 4 tracks. Set the ‘preferences’ to Windows Audio Session API (WASAPI) as I do in the Video!
Some claim it isn’t available on their Audacity version. On the Audacity website, however, it is still mentioned and what’s more: it’s been a standard in Windows ever since Windows Vista. In fact it is one of the “unique selling points” in Audacity! So I do have a hard time believing it isn’t available and my best guess is you’re not using the corect settings.
I am having the Dutch version but you should be able to see where this setting can be found (under preferences). In case you cannot get it working with the current version of Audacity – and I really do advice to use that one since it has hundreds of fixed bugs! – there are still older versions available. Like over here. Please note, this versions dates back to 2015 and this link (from Google Drive, it’s my “old” Windows version, works on Windows8.1) is to be used solely at your own risk.
So this is the video I’ve been talking about, hope it helps or is at least entertaining 🙂 As I said in the video I don’t prefer Audacity for recording. These days I use Mixbus5 (and Ardour) running on Linux Mint. I’ve never looked back at Windows recording since I started using that even though I still have Mixbus on my Windows laptop (Windows 8.1). That doesn’t mean recording using Windows is less good. I simply prefer Linux (Linux Mint).
In God’s Country from the album The Joshua Tree is one of the best U2 songs, from one of their best albums ever. Since I’ve been a staunch U2 fan, ever since I heard them on the radio when I was around 12 years old, I love to play their songs. I hardly ever record them. This is an exception on this ‘rule’. It’s a perfect song for an acoustic version.
I shot the video during the recording. After I shot the video I noticed it could have been a little better but it’s the recording that matters the most of course.
RECORDING ACOUSTIC SONGS
Now many ‘singer songwriters’ whome record at home, record in one take. This is of course possible. The video suggests I did the same. And yes — I recorded vocals and guitar at the same time; the guitar trough a DI (Direct Input) and guitar and vocals on separate tracks. After that, I re-recorded the vocals on an additional track (as you can see in the video). The reason for this is simple: if you record vocals and guitars at the same time, the guitar sound will ‘bleed’ into the vocal track. It makes mixing it very difficult. So if you ever record acoustic guitar and vocals for a simple demo or album: make sure you can split them.
If you record an acoustic guitar that isn’t an electro-acoustic, don’t sing along! Your vocal will ‘bleed’ into the guitar track and if that happens, you can’t do overdubs on your vocal unless you re-record the guitar as well.
Acoustic version of Folsom Prison Blues Recorded live at the LoftStudio Home Recording Studio. Just a simple quick take, hope you like it!
I learned to love this song on a young age, since my father was a big fan of Johnny Cash (and lot’s of other country music). I’m not a big fan of modern country but like to listen and play songs by Johnny Cash and other “outlaw country” artists even though Blues and Rock are my favorite music styles.
The ZolderStudio (LoftStudio) has moved! As you might have noticed we were moving to a new location because we’ve bought a new house. Well, that is.. to us it’s new. But it was build around 1880. So it’s got a long history already. Anyway — we’ve started moving into the new house and rebuilding the studio.
The acoustic panels, btw, were very cheap to create. We paid less than 20 euro’s for them (hint: pre-made painters canvas). The acoustic foam was ordered online from Geek.
DIY Budget Home Recording Studio
In essence, my home recording setup is a computer with a (Linux) DAW (Ardour, Mixbus5).
Recording at home shouldn’t have to be very expensive. Hook up a mic, trough an audio interface or use an USB condenser mic, and you’re ready to go. But once you get started with recording, there’s no turning back. So I bought a lot of addtional stuff over the years. Lot’s was also given to me as a gift, like the SoundTech ST162 16-channel mixer.
This really still is a budget home studio. Even though some people who visit me think it has cost a fortune to collect all this gear and to create it. There’s a lot of “DIY” stuff in the studio and, as written above, lot’s of stuff comes from very cheap, online, shops and stores in the Netherlands like the Action (there are many of them now all over Europe).
The Harley Benton TE-52 NA Vintage Series Telecaster is a Fender Telecaster “look-a-like” Telecaster guitar and not only a lookalike but also a ‘sound-a-like’. It comes with all the sparse features the original Telecasters had: 3-way switch, tone and volume, 2 single coil pickups (Roswell TEA alnico-5 TE-style). A solid wood (Ash) body. C-profile neck, decent tuners, 21 frets and deluxe chrome hardware.
The guitar comes with with d’Addario .009-.042 strings according to the Thomann website. I do have some doubts about this. I’ll get back to that later on.
Anyway, how’s that for a guitar that will only set you back EUR 139.00??
What can you expect, build and sound wise?
As I wrote in the post about the MXL770 mic, I turned 50 the other day and my wife gave me a few very nice presents! Apart from the MXL770 she also gave me (amongst other non-music related gifts) this Harley Benton Telecaster. It had been on my wish-list for some time. But I already have a very decent collection of guitars so I didn’t dare to buy another one 😉 She knew, however, that I wanted a Telecaster. So, .. I got it as a birthday present! This now more-or-less completes my wish-lists as far as guitars is concerned!
I started to play in a worship band (in Church) last year and I’m using my electro-acoustic Samick guitar for that. However, on stage I noticed I was having feedback issues sometimes – so I have to turn it down too much. I want to use this telecaster instead. An electro-acoustic is, in the setting I’m playing in (Drums, electric bass, electric piano, vocal-group) just not a good choice. Hope the other band members agree.
I’m having a hard time believing these strings are really d’Addario. Or perhaps a certain type that just don’t feel comfortable to me. On my Gretsch I have a set of d’Addario Nickel Wound (.010-.046’s). They have a different ‘feel’. The ones one this guitar don’t feel slick, they really hurt your fingers when bending or sliding in to a note. So they will be replaced one day soon. I will probably opt for the d’Addario Super Light Plus (.095-.044) because Telecasters aren’t build to have super heavy strings on it but I’m not completely satisfied with these. Anyway – that’s the only “con” as far as I’m concerned. Other than that, it’s a superb guitar for the money!
The MXL770 Studio Condenser is a very budget friendly yet high quality studio condenser microphone made by Marshall. It is a perfect microphone for those recording at home – it’s suitable for recording acoustic instruments like an acoustic guitar, as well as electric instruments and vocals.
So – I turned 50 the other day and my wife gave me a few very nice presents! One of them is this MXL770 studio condenser microphone. My favorite studio condenser, a McCrypt condenser microphone, is having issues after having been in use for over 20 years. So – time to replace it. This is a great replacement. In fact, I think it’s a very good upgrade. While the McCrypt was most certainly a great mic, this one is even better.
In the video there’s a test recording using my acoustic Washburn guitar and some vocal. Both are ‘dry sound’, no processing done. In the end of the video there’s a mixdown of the track I recorded.
The microphone was ordered online at Thomann (Germany).
Is it possible to get free mastering? Even better: free professional, radio ready, mastering? Yes it is! Yesterday I recorded a hymn (“I Surrender All”) and even though the mix was fine, I wanted it to sound “radio-ready”. So, I went online to search for a quick fix. I do my own “mastering” most of the time using Audacity but it didn’t sound good enough.
Google is your firend, right? So, I ended up on BandLab’s website. They have been offering free online mastering for some time now (I never knew,.. and perhaps you didn’t either – that’s why I’m posting this!).
What to expect from a free mastering service? Well, .. to my surprise it does a great job! When you upload a track you have a few options: CD quailty, bass heavy (for radio: don’t!) and clear sound.
I uploaded a few tracks and was amazed to hear the difference!
BandLab’s new online mastering service is the first such tool with free unlimited use and is compatible with all major music formats. The new feature is also integrated across the entire existing BandLab creative workflow so that creators can share final mastered tracks across the BandLab social music platform or download their finished works as high-quality versions for distribution to other services. (MusicConnection)
Here’s a sample of the mastering at BandLab, the song “Summertime”
The mastering gives it a lot more ‘punch’ and depth. Of course the mix was very good also, thanks to Jay H.
Anyway — There’s no excuse not to use BandLab – it’s free, it delivers you a good mastered track. Head over to BandLab to get your songs mastered!
Are you looking for original Blues, Country and some raw Rock and Roll? Can’t afford much or perhaps even nothing for music? Pay whatever you can (“name your price”). Or download the album for free if you’re willing to allow us to add your email to our contact list at BandCamp. And we promise, we won’t start spamming you!
This is Solid Rock Blues Band’s 3rd album and we think it’s one of the best albums we’ve ever recorded! We want the word to get out and want it to be heard. So, we’re offering it for a “whatever you can afford” price.
It took us over a year, but here it is and it’s all yours for free. Although we’d love to cash in big on this album we believe in sharing the joy of music. And if you can, yes we’d be very grateful if you’d be willing to pay some for all our hard work and effort that went into the recording and production of this album.
Also available on ReverbNation (paid download) and free streaming at SoundCloud and Audiomack. However, on BandCamp ONLY there are 3 additional (hidden) bonus tracks available!
All songs recorded, mixed and mastered at the ZolderStudio (Loft Studio). The ZolderStudio is our home recording project studio where the albums of the Solid Rock Blues Band are recorded as well as other bands/artists.