DIY Recording Sure Has Changed

DIY Recording
A look at the evolving DIY recording tech over the years.

I always knew music wasn’t one of my prominent talents; however, the technological aspect of creating and recording music did appeal to me. I think it was only one month after I got my first guitar that I decided to start hammering out my debut LP. The rig consisted of an old school tape recorder, some cheap amp with no discernable brand name, and a crappy microphone duct taped to a broken shovel handle and wedged into a cement block (seriously). As you would expect, the audio was almost indistinguishable from a white noise machine. That didn’t stop me from using that same setup to record some random assignment for 12th grade English (beats writing a paper).

Old School Tape Recorder

Later on I upgraded to a “state-of-the-art” 4 track cassette recorder that did provide for a very basic form of multi-track recording. Honestly, I had a lot of fun with it. Of all the recording I did, the only evidence that has survived is a song I wrote for my wife (then girlfriend) back in college. I wouldn’t dare share it…because it is truly terrible (its the thought that counts, right?).

4 Track Recorder

During my tenure in AHF (click here for more about that), we recorded three times. The first time was during the pre-CD, cassette age.

Fold out inserts were awesome

The second and third times were on the cusp of the digital revolution (CDs).

No love lost for CDs, skipping, scratching, Spotify for the win

Many factors go into the quality of a recording. First and foremost is performance, which I freely admit was never my strength. All things considered our various recordings over the years turned out OK, but it was relatively expensive (especially for a high school / college kid). Also, the process was difficult. Most of the time, it had to be done live, and punch ins and quick fixes were not easy.

Fast forward to COVID and I had some time to kill. I got my hands on a Behringer Q802USB Mixer and decided to record one of my old songs to see what that process would entail. Simply put, it was really cool. I opted for using the Reaper recording software which I would highly recommend. Built in MIDI effects for drums, auto tune, reverb, very easy to make sure things are in correct time, copy and paste for choruses (any time I can copy and paste, its a win). I did have slightly better equipment this time around, a small Marshall amp and a decent condenser mic.

Behringer Q802USB Mixer

The end result is posted below, certainly not going to be topping any charts, but I think it was a valiant effort to recapture the mediocrity of my teenage / young adult angst.

AHF – A Promise Never Kept (2020 version)