Wednesday, May 26, 2010

New Recording System Test Track: Tears in the Rain - Satriani

I have finally gotten to the point of beginning test recordings for a new demo CD with the Rider Nylon guitars and my new recording system - my manager has been bugging me for one since she heard me play the Rider in Vegas - and at long last I'm happy with the recorded sound I'm getting. If you count my early recording efforts with my old Gibson Chet Atkins CEC, I've been trying to get "the sound" with an electric nylon string guitar for nearly twenty years!

Then, back in '99 I got the first key to "the sound" which was the Lexicon MPX-G2 Guitar Effects Processor. Problem was, I was still clinging to my steel string conditioning and so I was using a MESA/Boogie TriAxis preamp, which turned out to be totally inappropriate for nylon. After ditching the TriAxis, I went to using the slave outs on a MESA 20/20, but I didn't like the higher noise floor, and the Digidesign M-Box sounded harsh to me.

Well, the ultimate solution was to replace the M-Box with the fabulous Lexicon I-ONIX FW810s recording interface and ditch the MESA 20/20: Just the MPX-G2 direct into the FW810s - all Lexicon all the time!

So, here's the signal path: Blackbird Rider Nylon/RMC Polydrive > Lexicon MPX-G2 Guitar Effects Processor > Lexicon I-ONIX FW810s FireWire Recording Interface > MacBook Pro (7,200 RPM HDD) > GarageBand. Yes, GarageBand! Since all of the effects and EQ are in the MPX-G2 - a dedicated DSP chip and dedicated AD/DA converters will always sound superior to the algorithms in a plug-in - all I need is a bonehead-simple stereo digital recorder, not a multitrack production workstation (Though GarageBand can be that if you want it to). This will make recording my live shows by myself, as my own engineer a piece of cake.

Well, here's the first take of the first test with no edits:

Tears in the Rain - Joe Satrini

I'm blown away! The right side is too hot - the adjustments on the FW810s are more sensitive than I'd like - but the sound is what I've been striving for since 1991: Highs are bright and clear without being harsh, mids are full but not tubby, lows are rock solid and focused, reverb is huge but not in the way, and the only other effect is a little bit of dual detune chorus! Just wait until you hear the more complex programs that have phasing and flanging &c. They totally and completely rock.

I'm going to try the Speaker Simulator for the next test, but I'm betting I don't like it since I didn't like it last time I tested it... but you never know.

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