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../guestbook logo Last updated by Chrome Oxide on 04/21/2008

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Sometimes people ask me, How Did I Get Started Recording Bands? Well, here is the condensed version.

Ask me about the long version. :-)

Once upon a time, there was a kid who liked sitting in his room and reading books. And it was good.

One day, he heard music on the radio, and he liked what he heard. So he started listening to the radio while reading. Sometimes, even listening to the radio without reading.

One day, he figured out that he could buy the music that was being played on the radio. So, he started buying the music he was hearing on the radio. Then he needed to buy gear to play the music he was buying. But that is a whole different story.

One day, he figured out that he could see the musicians perform the music that he had been listening to on the radio. So, he started to go out and see performers he had heard on the radio. Sometimes even performers that he hadn't heard on the radio, but had only heard about.

One day, he was at a science fiction convention and saw some performers playing interesting music, that he had never heard any where else before (Filk). So, he started attending many of the performances, and even going to conventions where all they did was sing. Not only did people sing, but people in the audience were recording the music. If other people could record, then why couldn't he? Sony TC-D5M - Intro and Manuals. Sony TC-D5M - Tips For Use.

One day, he purchased a Sony TC-D5M (portable, professional, stereo cassette recorder). He also acquired a pair of Audio-Technica AT801 (omni-directional, electret condenser microphones). Soon, he too, was out recording this music.

One day, he had the opportunity to professionally record this music. So he start jumped at the opportunity. He participated in both studio sessions, as well as concert sessions. But he was not the only one doing this. Some of the other people who were recording the music, were also setting up businesses to sell what they were recording. Since he wasn't ready to start his own sales business, he soon found that he was being replaced by the people who were recording and selling this music.

One day, he started to think about recording the music he used to listen to on the radio. So, he grabbed his gear and started going to concert performances (in small clubs and bars). Every time he recorded, he asked if it was OK to record. Nobody seemed to mind that he was recording. Some bands were even impressed that anyone wanted to record their bands. After a while, people started to think about the recordings. They started to request copies of the recordings. They started to listen to the recordings. They started using some of the recordings as demos, as fan releases, and as part of commercial releases.

Which brings us to today.

I still use the Audio-Technica AT801 (omni-directional, electret condenser) microphones. They are more battered then when I originally started, but they are still functional. However, I have long since worn out the Sony TC-D5M (portable, professional, stereo) cassette recorder. In May 2005 I replaced the Sony with the Fostex FR-2 (2 channel digital Field Recorder).

I had to learn a new way of recording. With analog recorders (the meters read from -20 to +5), as long as meters don't bounce too much above 0, and never peg (at +5), your recording should be fine. With digital recording (the meters read from -60 to 0) must NEVER reach the 0. 0 means you are overloading, and the recording will not be good.

The Fostex FR-2 comes with absolutely nothing. I had to buy all the rest of the gear to make it functional for my purposes. When I bought my Fostex FR-2 back in May 2004, 5gb PCMCIA hard drives cost about $200.00 each. 4gb CompactFlash cards cost about $1,400.00 each. After buying the Fostex FR-2, the carrying case, the external battery pack, the battery pack adapter, the wall power adapter, microphone cables (the Sony used 1/4" jacks, the Fostex uses XLR jacks), ... I was not ready to buy any CompactFlash cards. I shortly found out that I might have not considered the recording environment carefully enough.

Fostex International FR-2 Field Memory Recorder
Fostex International firmware upgrades

When I record bands, I normally set up my gear, on or near the stage. As I tried recording, the Fostex FR-2 keep crashing. I spoke with the guys I bought the Fostex from, and later with an engineer at Fostex. An upgrade from firmware v1.03 to v1.05 (there is no v1.04) did seem to help a lot. However, it didn't completely fix the problem. It turns out that the sound waves that the large PAs and amps put out, is enough vibration to upset the ability of the PCMCIA hard drives to function. So I started trying to shelter the Fostex FR-2 from the sound, wrapping it in a jacket inside a backpack, setting up outside the direct line of sight of the PAs and amps, ... While that again, helped a little, it did not completely solve my problem. While I was struggling with using the PCMCIA hard drives to record, the prices of the CompactFlash cards came down a LOT. Now that the cost is about $300.00 each, I picked up a pair in January 2005. I am continuing to record, and am very hopeful that this latest upgrade will allow me to set up and record loud bands while sitting on stage.

FOSTEX FR-2 UPDATE May 2004 I purchased my first Fostex FR-2. April 2008 I may have purchased my last Fostex FR-2. After 4 years of heavy usage, I had to take my unit into the shop for repairs. While I was trying to figure out if I should repair or replace the unit, I found out the the Fostex FR-2 has been discontinued. The online seller I chose to buy my backup unit from, told me that I got the LAST new unit Fostex had in stock. Which means that I bought one of the first units available, and now have just purchased one of the last new units available.

If you are interested in the sound quality of my recordings, check out some of the recordings that bands are putting on their CDs.

I am located in the Los Angeles area. However, if you don't mind paying for my travel expenses, I don't mind recording at your location of choice. So, if you are interested in having your band recorded, contact me at:

snail mail:
    Chrome Oxide
    P.O.Box 8106
    Mission Hills, CA 91346-8106

voice: (818) 368-8025

e-mail: Chrome Oxide

p.s. A friend was recently writing a story and asked for some details of what is involved recording. Here is what I wrote for her.

before leaving home - magnetic media
- if using blank tape (cassette or DAT), make sure you have enough so that if the show runs long, you don't run out of tape
- if using hard drive, minidisk, CD-R or CompctFlash, make sure you have enough time left on media to record show.

before leaving home - power source (recorder and microphones)
- if using rechargeable batteries, make sure they are fully charged, and make sure you have spares, in case they are old enough that they no longer hold a charge for any length of time.
- not useing rechargable batteries, make sure you bought more than enough to last for the show, in case it runs long.
(some older microphones, require batteries rather than phantom power)

at the location - microphone placement
- if using microphone stands, make sure they are positioned where you want them, and where you can stand guard over them (in case people or the band bumps into them).
(some venues don't allow audience taping, so you can't use mic stands, but must use stealth setup which means lapel microphones).
- if using lapel microphones, make sure they are solidly clipped to either shirt collar, or glasses or hat (whatever your preference) and make sure to position yourself to get good sound, without picking up too much of the audience
(if using stealth mode, make sure the light(s) from the recorder are blocked from general line of sight)

at the location - check sound levels (if necessary/if possible)
- after the show starts, make sure to check the meters (if available-not all recorders have meters) for the appropriate sound level.

at the location - make sure everything looks like it is working
- many recorders have a red light to indicate the recorder is working. Some also have lights for the meters, or to indicate they are turned on (ie. a reminder to turn off and save battery if not recording).
- keep an eye on the recorder while recording. I have seen tapes jam or unit lock up while show was being recorded (not me). I have had hard drive recorder crash during recording (which is why I switched to CompactFlash from hard drive).

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Last updated by Chrome Oxide on 04/21/2008

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