Record’d!! (and Christmas’d!!)

Hiho and a late M(2.718)r^2(1/y)^(-1) SQRT(X^2)(F/A) to you! I was on holidays in Nipawin for a while, playing lots of hockey, working on electronics, and generally relaxing. I’ve been back at the seminary for almost two weeks now.

Below are some photos of what I’ve been up to lately. You’ll likely notice a number of photos that deal with a mini homebrew recording “studio” I built. That is, I bought a relatively decent microphone (Shure SM57) on eBay and a Creative Labs Sound Blaster Live! 24-bit External sound module. I also built a homebrew 2 channel microphone preamp so that I could bypass the generally crappy mic inputs on the different sound cards I have (including, disappointingly, the SBLive external module!).

We tested out the preamp with a couple of cheaper mics before I left Nipawin by doing some live recording of a little ditty that Danny, Rheanne, and Stephen made up. Danny & Rheanne were on the piano and Stephen was on drums. I later did a bit of processing and added strings and a very slight brass track in MIDI with my keyboard connected to desktop machine. The MP3 can be found here.

My latest project is to record a version of Carey Landry’s “You Have Been Baptized in Christ” so that the baptism prep. group at St. Theresa’s parish can sing along at the beginning of the sessions. It’s coming along, slowly.

Unfortunately, Creative Labs doesn’t seem to quite follow the standard for external USB sound modules. As a result, Linux doesn’t fully support the SBLive! 24-bit External device. Because of that and a few other minor hardware issues I was having with my Thinkpad (named “lappy” after Strong Bad’s lappy), I decided to revert to the Windows 2000 Professional that the machine is licensed for. Grrr. I really wish hardware makers would just follow specifications properly! For me, Linux is so much better feature-wise for letting me get work done: multiple desktops, Konqueror (letting me access just about any protocol and drive in a tabbed browsing window), Cinelerra (amazing, free video editing), and pretty much every other piece of software I need. Oh yeah – Linux (and any UNIX) has incredibly powerful command-line scripting built-in. Windows simply can’t compare. So, while I’ve been forced to move lappy back to Win2k, you can pry Linux from my desktop machine out of my cold, dead hands. Unless you want to buy me a snazzy new Mac. ;-)

Without further ado, here are the photos:
1. Our family at Christmas (thanks for the photos, Elaine!)
2. David & Rocky & Unnamed
3. The horror! Oh the humanity!
4. The preamp circuit board. It uses a low noise op amp from National Semiconductor as the basis for amplification and runs from a 9V battery. The big potentiometer is for the final gain of the channel that I plug the Shure mic into. It needs a lot of gain because I was too cheap to buy a proper audio transformer.
5. Nothing like high quality, soundproofed recording studios, eh? Well… this isn’t one of them. :-) The preamp is on the floor and the SBLive! 24 bit module is on the cleanish desk.
6. I have my keyboard behind the desk so it can connect to the MIDI port on my desktop machine.
7. And this is the result! I’m currently using the free Audacity multitrack sound recording/editing software.
Family at Christmas
David & Rocky & Unnamed
The horror!
Preamp circuit board
Recording stuff #1
Recording stuff #2

Until next time, keep fit & have fun!