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Recording Breakthrough- Mystery Glitch Solved, and the Joys of Real-Time Kernels!

Posted by fiddlepogo on Monday, May 7, 2012

Maybe it's the idea that once we move,  I will soon have my own room to record in, free from a fiddle-hating cat going meow, meow, meow all over the place! (She can hang out in the living room!)  Whatever the reason, I'm thinking about recording.  I have two Heil mics that record well, but I like to leave them loaded in a cart to take to gigs.  I have four condenser mics, a pair of Studio Projects B1 large diaphragm condensers, and a pair of Naiant XQ small diaphragm condensers.

I want to find a setup where I can just leave some of the condenser mics set up and ready to record... it's just easier that way, making it more likely that towards the end of a practice session I could just hit "record".

Playing at being a recording engineer gets me OUT of the mood of playing music!  So I have to take care of that sort of stuff beforehand, so I can just DO it with a mouse click when I'm in a playing mood.

Unfortunately recent attempts at using the condensers all produced excess NOISE... and a sporadic bacon-frying noise that comes and goes.

I made recording of guitar and voice last night, using a SP B1 in front positioned to get both voice and guitar, and a Naiant XQ in back more for ambience.   It sounded good except for the noise, and when I split the tracks in Audacity and listened to the tracks separately, the noise was only on one track... the track with the 3-foot mic cord.  Then I switched the mic cords, and recorded... split the tracks and listened... now the  large diaphragm condenser track was noise free... so it's not the mic... so I replaced the 3 foot cord, and recorded again, and VOILA... no noise!!!  It seems to have something to do with that mic cord and phantom power, because otherwise, it works fine.

Problem is, I wanted the short cord at home, since the 10 foot cords are always getting tangled or in the way or something. But it's not that big a deal.

Oh yeah... real time kernels!!!

The "kernel" is the very core of a computer operating system.

When I've recorded before in Audacity, whether in Windows or Linux, I've had to use the "align tracks" function if I multi-track to bring the tracks into synch with each other.  It's not too hard to do, but it's one more annoying step.  I had heard that there are "real time kernels" available for the Linux operating system that eliminate the time lag between track which is called "latency".  I downloaded a real time kernel, installed it, and didn't notice any difference... forgot about it... then I noticed that the GRUB menu that gives me a choice between booting to Linux Mint or MS Windows now had additional entries for Linux Mint that were marked "R/T" for real-time kernel.  So the real time kernel is an alternative that you have to deliberately boot into each time.  I guess I can handle that.

So last night when I recorded, I booted into the realtime kernel, and except for not working with the nVidia driver, it worked fine... and when I multitracked a lead guitar part over the song... lo and behold, NO LATENCY!!!  For those that haven't experienced this latency is a very small time lag that sounds like two people are playing together in a really sloppy way!!! (Sort of like a jam session where the rhythm starts to drift...)

Anyway, two recording problems solved in one night- I was pretty happy!

On a good day I think I do a pretty decent job at multi-tracking, and now with it being easier, I hope to do it more often, so I can get even better at it.  I don't intend to get too terribly complex... simpler is better, especially if it's tighter.

Probably I'll do:

fiddle + banjo

fiddle + fiddle

fiddle + guitar

fiddle + banjo + guitar

voice & guitar + fiddle and/or guitar breaks

voice & guitar + electric guitar breaks

Oh yeah... I would like to do some multi-tracked harmonies...

hmmmm... maybe it COULD get complicated!





2 comments on “Recording Breakthrough- Mystery Glitch Solved, and the Joys of Real-Time Kernels!”

bj Says:
Monday, May 7, 2012 @2:20:04 PM

I'm glad you now have something else to obsess about other than fiddle strings, fiddle varnish, fiddle soundposts, fiddle string silk, fiddle bridge placement, fiddle nuts (and I don't mean the one on the fiddle!) etc. ;)

fiddlepogo Says:
Monday, May 7, 2012 @9:33:07 PM

I mostly only obsess on something if there is hope of improvement with it.
Fiddle tweaks have been a VERY low cost way of getting better performance out of my instruments, especially for gigging. BUT if the tone is good and the responsiveness is good, then I start turning my attention elsewhere.
Computers were an obsession in the early 90's... I'm mostly over it, except for the fact that I see Windows as being essentially BROKEN. I got tired of waiting for it to do stuff or for Windows fix-it programs to do stuff. So I tackled the Linux learning curve, and Linux doesn't make me wait nearly as much. Because of my previous computer obsession, it's been easier to deal with the rough spots in Linux. But I'm starting to feel that the need to be obsessed about Linux is fading. I've found the best version for me (Mint), and can do almost all I need to do in it. I have a double boot setup, so once or twice a month I boot into Windows to do some invoices, and it reminds me of how good I have it in Linux!
Recording isn't really an obsession- it's a necessary evil. I sure don't enjoy it. But I do want to share different aspects of my music with people. For instance, some activities aides have started helping residents find my music on-line so they can listen during the week. I want them to have the best possible stuff (within my financial reach) to listen to, so it's time to pay some more attention to recording.
In many ways I'm not nearly as obsessed with the fiddle as I was in the early 70's. In some ways I'm coasting on the momentum of the obsessive practicing I did back then.

I was also obsessive about electric guitars as a teenager and from about 2000 to 2005. That too has waned. I've got the tone I want, I can play in a way that I enjoy and others enjoy... now I can enjoy the fruits of my work on it.

I made a committment to myself when I got back into fiddling in 2005 that I was NOT going to let it get rusty again- it's too much work to get it back... and that committment extends to electric guitar- put too much work in it to let it get rusty.
This has meant learning to fiddle and to practice guitar when I don't really feel like it... when I don't feel the burning obsession. That's kind of a new thing for me.... maintaining a useful interest that I'm no longer obsessed with.

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