How The FAB50% Multitrack Recordings Were Make
Mar 2015 May 2020
The FAB50% audio recordings were performed using relatively modest recording gear. A TASCAM DP-008 8 track Digital Pocketstudio was used which,
although modest, is adequate to create reasonably complex and good quality recordings with good microphones and instruments. The DP-008 has most of the basic features required for the
serious musician (high-quality reverb, EQ for each track, track editing, multi-undo operations etc) without too much complexity. Learning to use this Pocketstudio is fairly easy, compared to the learning
curve required to effectively use complex computer multi-tracking software with a high-quality sound card.
For more audio control, a Yamaha 8 channel MG82cx mixer was used for some configurations.
Recording (2015 - 2017)
For recording cover material, one of the tracks initially contained the original audio recording. For start synchronization, where required, an audio count-in track was prepended to
the original audio. In some cases, the original audio recording was not used and a tick track was used for the initial instrument recordings to maintain good tempo.
In most cases, a single instrument at a time was recorded on a separate track while listening with good headphones to the cumulative track-mix so far.
Typically a rhythm guitar track, followed by a bass guitar track were recorded first (while listening to the original song track for synchronization).
In most cases, the rhythm and bass guitars were connected directly to the DP-008
(which has a 1 Mohm high-impedance line input for guitars with non-active pickups). Then the lead guitar track(s) were recorded. Depending on the guitar sound required,
various effect pedals were used either directly into the Pocketstudio, or in some cases, mic'd guitar amps were used for
a suitable sound (Fender London Reverb, Fender Deluxe Reverb) .
Next, the lead vocal
track was recorded with a Sennheiser 945 mic, followed by vocal harmony tracks with a Shure SM-58 mic. Finally percussive (tambourine and drums etc.) tracks were recorded, listening to the
cumulative mix (including the original music if still required for audible synchronization). For simplicity, the drum kit was recorded using a single strategically placed microphone (Shure SM-58)
to give a reasonally good balance between the various drums and cymbals. The original tracks were removed to allow full use of all 8 tracks. Although the DP-008 has a
"bounce" function allowing several tracks to be mixed down to a single track, this function was not required.
Each track was recorded 2 or 3 times and a "punch-in/out" pedal was used to locally edit/re-record short parts.
Mastering an audio mix is an art that requires careful listening, trial and error, understanding of music and instrument dynamics and an appreciation of the target audience and listening devices.
Mastering a mix on the DP-008 creates a 16 bit/44.1 kHz CD-quality uncompressed wav file. Before creating this master, the various track levels, reverb, EQ, L/R pan etc. were adjusted
while listening critically to the mixed sound. Some individual instrument and vocal tracks were exported to a Windows computer and levels were adjusted where necessary with some
local vocal pitch correction applied using Wavelab Pro software. Reimported tracks into the Tascam mixer were tested until a satisfactory overall musical mix was obtained and the final "create Master" was performed.
During this mastering process, the levels can also be adjusted dynamically in time, as the master track is being generated, to smoothly compensate for local (in time) inadvertent audio level variations in the tracks.
The stereo master .wav file track was then exported (via USB) to the computer for final digital audio editing (usually minimal).
Martin GPCPA3 acoustic, Fender '62 Reissue Jaguar (leads and rhythm), Washburn Force-4 and Fender Squier Jaguar basses:
Guitar effect pedals:
Recording & Remastering (2018 - 2020)
In 2018, a new project FabFem was initiated with women invited to sing vocals against previously recorded
FAB50% backtracks. A new Tascam DP-24SD digital portastudio was acquired to facilitate greater flexiblity (compared to the initial 8 track DP-008 recording device
used for FAB50%). In addition, many of the FAB50% tracks were remastered with additional standard midi-sample tracks using a high-end sound card played and recorded using
the sound-card standard lineout connection, to provide reasonable orchestral sounds (strings, brass etc.).
Home Recording Studio:
Sound Card Standard Midi Samples Program:
Keyboard For Playing Midi Tracks: