First of all peeps Happy New Year! Hope all your dreams come true in 2013!
My inspiration for this week’s article came after a wonderful (and slightly geeky) conversation I had with a friend of mine about the various bits of recording gear we’ve owned over the years.
So I thought it might be fun to give you a guided tour through my world of recording over the past 17 years (blimey that makes me feel old).
My first ever recording devise was a ma-hoosive ghetto-blaster… a bit like those ones the cool kids used to strutt around town with on their shoulders in the 1980s. It was rather temperamental but better than nothing.
On a random trip into town, however, I happened to notice this bad boy in the front window of a second-hand shop:
It’s a Fostex X-26 4-track tape recorder that was marked up at £128. Being 16 and having recently left school I was stupidly skint, but knew I had to have it!
At that time I was working a rather hideous 9-5 job and after weeks and weeks of saving I managed to get enough money together to head off and buy it. So off I went on my little yellow moped with readies in my pocket and a giant grin on my face. But when I arrived outside the shop the four-track was no longer in the window!
And even worse than that, there was some-one inside the shop having a look at it just as I had pulled up outside.
I rushed into the shop and hovered around, hoping that with the aid my Jedi mind tricks he mind put the X-26 down and walk away. Thankfully after about 10 minutes of him umm-ing and arr-ing he decided not to buy it (woohoo!). No sooner had he walked away from it I was there waving my money around at the bloke who owned the shop saying: ‘That four track tape recorder!! I want it!!’ Looking back, I perhaps should have played it cool and tried to get it cheaper, oh well.
But seriously, you’ve no idea how excited I was. I was now able to record on *4* separate tracks instead of just one. You probably wouldn’t believe the amount of use this little tape recorder has had. I used it pretty much every day and when I found it up in my parents’ attic a little while back, I also found a huge suit case crammed full of tapes.
Back in those days I use to live in a little mobile home and I can remember when I was recording drums I used to dangle a really shitty mic over the top of the kit, and because I was so limited for space I had to press record on the Fostex, then go out the front door, round the side of the caravan and climb through the window to get behind my drum kit.
When I’d finished recording I’d have to climb back out the window, go through the front door and press stop. Mad. It’s really funny as most of the tapes I’ve listened to so far that have drums on you can hear me clambering in and out of the window!!
So a few years later, I advanced again. From tape….to digital…
This my friends, is a Zoom MRS4. Again it has four tracks but is all digital with built in effects and lots of other lovely things.
I actually went into the shop wanting to get a Korg PRX4, which is very similar to this but a bit smaller. But at £350 it was a bit out of my league.
The Zoom was marked up at £250 and at the time Smart Media cards weren’t cheap either. I saved up for ages to get it and loved this as much as I did my little Fostex.
I also really liked that the MRS4 has a MIDI port on the back so I quite often had my drum machines hooked up to it for ideas. Great fun.
My first album called Confessions was all recorded on this little unit and funnily enough in the same tiny caravan! However, rather than just one crappy mic I now started using four microphones for the drum kit (one for the kick, one for the snare, one for the toms and one overhead) which I plugged into a little Spirit Folio mixer and then had that going into one of the four tracks.
The next advancement was a pretty exciting one.
Having gotten very use to using just 4 tracks it was a real God-send when this came along:
It’s a Roland 880EX that has not four but eight tracks to record on to…woohoo!
Also there was lots more scope over the EQ, effects and all sorts. It’s a really great bit of kit that also has 2 hard drives so there was oodles of room.
After the Roland 880EX was possibly the best upgrade of them all, and it’s what I’m currently using… the Alesis HD24.
This has 24 inputs, 24 outputs and tons of super brilliant features. You can also hook it up to a computer and download all the tracks in WAV and mix away to your heart’s content.
I’ve recorded so many tunes on here, including my latest album Bedtime Stories.
So there ya go peeps, from back in the day to now. Would be good to hear about your recording journeys!