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The majority of records today are being made in a personal studio–jamming in a spare bedroom, laying down beats in a “closet-turned-control-room” or any other number of tracking/mixing necessities. How did you work on pre-production for your latest album–or an artist’s?

While I’ve used professional studios (and still will), I’m finding that I need to be more spontaneous these days. Whether I go to a studio or stay at home in my “cave” in the basement, I always use the same input channels because I know it works for my special needs. As a champion whistler, I don’t often find engineers that have the slightest clue how to record my “puccalo” (as I call it), so why pay them to try to figure it out each time?

I have a rackmounted channel for my whistling, which is ready to go anywhere. It includes a Royer R-122 active ribbon microphone, an Avalon M5 preamp and an FMR Really Nice Compressor. The result is a smooth, lush sound that works for jazz, classical and folk music. If I’m doing something raunchy, then I substitute an ART tube Project Series preamp and a RODE NT1000 condenser mic to give it that edge and some nice harmonic overtones. I also use this setup for my vocals.

For my nylon-stringed Takamine guitar, DI’ing it through the ART pre does a nice job, but my secret weapon these days also includes a Fishman Aura sound-shaper pedal to take away that piezo harshness and also give me a range of guitars that I don’t own. With this arrangement, I can get anywhere from a classical to a Latin jazz to a folk sound quickly.

Depending on my mood, I’ll either record directly into Cubase 4 via my PreSonus FireBox 24/96 interface, or first just go to my Fostex MF-80 hard disk recorder, which is a lot less a hassle then dealing with a computer when you’re also the musician.

I’m more relaxed recording in my home studio since the clock isn’t running and I can do as many takes as I need to, or feel free to quit whenever, and resume after dinner or a break, or even the next day when my voice is more relaxed. I find that time of day matters and this just isn’t possible to exploit in a studio. My voice is deeper and more raspy in the morning. I recorded the vocals on the associated clip of “Lay Down Your Arms” early one morning.

I stay with 24-bit WAV files all the way as I edit individual tracks in Magix Audio Cleaning Lab, picking the best parts and takes in Cubase, and mastering in IK Multimedia T-Tacks 24. I do feel that mastering is the least-suitable task for my home studio as the room isn’t tuned sufficiently, but I’m amazed at what I can do with T-Racks if I don’t push the modeling to far.

All-in-all, home audio production is a good option for me since my world isn’t as structured as some artists’. It does take some time to get to an adequate level of mastery and can be frustrating at times, but I don’t have any illusions or desires to become an engineer for other artists.
—Francesco Bonifazi

This cut was both pre-produced and finished in a room that is 10×10, which includes the control area and the recording area. The original rhythm tracks and horns were recorded to a PC and transferred to ADATs. The bass and drums were triggered by a Korg Triton Pro 76 through a Roland BD sound module. Horns were courtesy a Roland Sound Canvas PC card. Vocals and additional effects were through a Helicon vocal processor and BBE Aural enhancer. All tracks were through a Tascam 32/8 board onto linked Alesis ADATS (Blackface). Limiters/compressors by dbx. An Alesis unit provided the delay and reverb. The project was mastered on a Sony PCM R-300 DAT. Monitors speakers were JBLs, and the vocal microphone was an AKG C460-B. The project was used as an album for a children’s ministry in Atlanta.
—Barney Conway

How I Want to Praise You.mp3