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Recording in the Past

Long, long time ago I owned a Philips tape recorder. For a little money I purchased a set of elektret microphones. I adapted an old music stand, made it into a dual microphone stand and I was ready to make a first attempt in perpetuating my music.

My first recording attempt was interrupted. Just the moment that I sat down with the guitar and was about to press the Record button, the telephone rang. It was my mother with the reproaches that marked the start of the transition of latent stress in the relationship towards open tension, a state that has changed little since. After the call I was flabbergasted and could not record anything. Quite a bad start of a career as a studio musician!

Later on, of course, I tried again. It appeared a tough process. Adjusting the tape recorder, pressing the Record button, picking up the guitar, sitting down in front of the mikes and starting to play. After some hard recording work (I was sweating buckets because of the microphone performance stress) I used to put everything down, stop the recorder and listen to the results right away. Particularly with the first attempts this was a huge letdown and a straight confrontation with myself. I never found the results satisfactory, so a new attempt was the only option. Unfortunately I did not have a structured approach, so I learned little from my failures. Even worse, every new attempt was somehow encumbered with the results of the previous ones.

I replaced the tape recorder with a cassette recorder. With respect to recording quality this was a step back, because the sound was not quite stable, whatever effort I made. Cassette players suffer from wow and flutter, a phenomenon that has practically disappeared in the digital era. The advantage of the cassette recorder, however, was its portability, a useful feature if you don’t have a fixed setup for recording.

At a certain moment my partner and me in the guitar duo DOS Amigos got the ambition to record our guitar duos, for demo’s and maybe a CD. This was one of the reasons that I bought a Fostex digital recorder with hard disk and a set of AKG condenser microphones. This setup enabled us to make recordings without wow and flutter. My modified music stand came in handy again.

The recording sound was really good, but the results were less than expected. Now we had two players that saw themselves confronted with their own play and additionally the unbalance in the duo. It was a clear symptom that the days of DOS Amigos were numbered, because we failed to correct these problems. I did use the Fostex for my own purpose, but the operation of the unit was awkward and you could only store the recordings on the computer in real-time. Consequently my recording activity moved to the background.

At a certain time I found myself motivated for recording again, so I set out in search of a handy portable device that enabled quick transfer of data to the computer for processing and CD production. Thus I found my Tascam.

In the mean time I have used the Tascam for a few years. I recorded quite a few pieces, mostly for performance training for concerts and competitions, just to experience the effect of stress and try to deal with it during rehearsals. However, I never started a structured process aimed at recording itself. That’s what I am planning now!