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The House That Jack Plugged

Puts the home in home recording.

You've heard of "home recording", right? Course, you do home recording. So here is One Two's exclusive guide to recording in the home, room by room. All this talk about Portastudios and so many people ignore the advantages of portability. Except us.

First, some general watch-outs. Plan your session, don't just jump in. Warn neighbours and avoid those messy fire-bomb attacks. Be careful with the mains.

Ideally, keep one room spare so that you can relax when you're not actually involved in the creative bit.

Clear out any musical equipment so that the mind can switch off, unencumbered by thoughts of parametric equalisation and seven chord changes per bar.

Later in the day, maybe use the room for mixing — so have a spare hi-fi like object close by. Check its compatibility and again be sure you have the relevant interconnecting leads.

A wonderful den of reverberation, aka singing in the bath. Glass, porcelain and minimal furnishing bounce sounds around a treat. Use it, specially for drum machines through an amp, and live vocals. Lower cymbals into a bathful of water and capture the strange resulting thwoing.

Here are dead sounds, made by big furniture and plenty carpets.

Move furniture carefully if you have to, and mark where it goes so parents don't go berserk on return from Doris and Sid's in Southend.

Track down rattling cupboards, cabinets, and dampen carefully. Take the phone off the hook, dial 0, hold it, and put a pencil in the 0 hole. This'll hold the dial at 0: it won't ring, nor can an emergency tone be put through. Roll up carpets for livelier sound.

Open and shut door(s) for change of ambience.
Suspend mics from lighting fixture(s).
Turf out pets.
Don't start watching "Postman Pat".

A bigger area of reverberation.

Real drums sound even bigger, if there's room for them. Sort out the group hierachy on backing vocal takes: Nigel on the top step, Fiona just below, Yves at the bottom.

Vehicles for genuine leader-of-the-pack fx. Remember carbon monoxide kills. Reverb again.

Hit the metal door for an enormous and very cheap crash cymbal sound — emulate a Germanic drum machine very easily. Remember an electric fire for long garage sessions. Take care.

Sing into a bucket and gradually lower the mic in and out. Instant cheap phasing.

Line up some cardboard boxes and get a convincing drum sound. Many big studios spend thousands getting drums to sound like cardboard boxes. Given that neighbours have sworn their unending friendship, put a microphone or two in the hall and record the sound of instruments coming from various rooms about the house, say keyboard in the kitchen and guitar in the bathroom.

Lots of percussion available for the curious basher and scraper; revolving window fan; milk bottles; cheese grater; cutlery; storage jars. Be careful if they're not yours. Unplug the fridge because it throws a surge through the mains and makes a surprisingly loud racket as it switches itself on and off.

Empty a cupboard and put in your amp. Instant bass increase.

Hit the gravel for snare sounds.

Use God's little jokes leg thunderstorms, RAF bases, etc) to your advantage for pretentious sonic backdrops. Vocals sound good recorded in the open air — absolutely minimal reverb. Check neighbours first. Be careful (as ever) with mains extension leads.

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Electronic Percussion

One Two Testing - Copyright: IPC Magazines Ltd, Northern & Shell Ltd.


One Two Testing - Feb 1984


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