Microphone … MicroNoNo

August 23, 2020 — 84 Comments

After turning our balcony into a stage, George and I began thinking about turning our music room into a home recording studio, with the aspiration to record an album during the lockdown.

We wanted the repertoire to be inspired by the balcony concerts so that we can have a keepsake of the experience. We also hoped that it might be a way to generate some income.

I want to share with you our experience as it feels like a family CD that you are all part of. So this week we can take you through how we turned our music room into a pop-up recording studio.

We first began experimenting with recording at home when I was asked to collaborate with Waterperry Opera Festival. The task was to record Maria Bertram’s vocal line for ‘Landscape Gardening’, a scene from Dove’s Mansfield Park. At first, I tried recording it on my phone, and the standard of the recording was.. ok.. but the voice sounded a bit brittle, so to restore the warmth in the voice we experimented with using an external microphone connected to the phone through a Zoom H4n acting as a sounds interface. Both the microphone and Zoom were borrowed from our friends Robert Hodes and Maya Brandenberger who run the Johanna Stifftung (Foundation), and who have supported George throughout his musical career.

The results were great because the recording quality was much better and we didn’t have to worry about aligning the sound in post-production. The voice sounded warmer and richer.

Here is the piece that I recorded
And here is the finished compilation video created by Waterperry Opera Festival as part of their online Opera Gala

This is when I was struck with the idea of trying to record a CD from home.

Our next step was to record the piano and the voice at the same time using the same method but this proposed new challenges as the more sensitive microphone was picking up clicking sounds from the keys being pressed and the quality of the piano playing through the inbuilt speakers didn’t match the sound of the acoustic voice in the room.

So we investigated whether we could record the two instruments separately but simultaneously perform. This would allow the voice to be recorded through the microphone and the piano to be recorded electronically through a direct connection to our zoom interface and then in the computer. Despite this providing a better sound recording of the piano, this setup doesn’t allow for recording both voice and piano at the same time, as we needed three input channels and our zoom interface only had 2. Think of it like trying to charge three phones but your travel plug has only two USB ports.

So we decided to invest in a second-hand sound interface – an AudioBox 44VSL, which solved our input problem, Horray!! So now we had the equipment to record. But we had to think about how to combine this with being conscientious neighbours under lockdown circumstances. Haha. Tune in next week to learn about the next stage and how we conquered the challenge of soundproofing our room.

84 responses to Microphone … MicroNoNo

  1. 

    What a great thing to do!

  2. 

    I love this! Ages ago, I taught video recording which also included audio What fun I had, so I know you are having the time of your lives learning what works (and what doesn’t). Ta!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:52 pm

      Hello Annette, I would have loved to have taken your class! I would love to pick your brain for tips and tricks regarding video recording if you have the time. I think we will need to be adaptable and explore these new skills as the world of entertainment adapts to being online.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  3. 

    So much fun seeing you and George working together to figure this all out. I enjoyed the ensamble performance. Your solo recording gave us an idea how difficult is is to work alone. You were great.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:52 pm

      I am glad I could share the story with you, John, both visually and through written word. We had a lot of fun trying to problem solve together and having the challenge of not tangling ourselves in the wires in the process.

      I really enjoyed recording my vocal line for the ensemble recording, and I was grateful for my props, modern props, (sadly not a dainty tea cup and saucer due to circumstances haha) as they helped me to remain in character whilst not having the other characters in my home to react to.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  4. 

    Good luck with it! Would it disappoint you to know the video of you shows up sideways on here, or was that iontentional somehow?

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 24, 2020 at 9:01 am

      I think it is the new wordpress layout, if you click on it to watch it comes out the right way up, the video was done on an iPhone in portrait mode, I must ask the WP team if there is any work around for the future, thanks for letting me know.
      Best wishes
      Charlotte

  5. 

    This is really great!

  6. 

    Well done in thinking outside the box. I think this lock-down has made people really become innovative. Look forward to part two 🙂 xx

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:53 pm

      Hello Christine, I couldn’t agree more, I have seen many friends turn their hands to new skills or using the time to bake delicious treats and bread. I am not the best baker so I am glad that I could turn my hand to whipping up a treat for the ears – fingers crossed!

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  7. 
    Paul (the electrician who did the spotlights in your house and who loves Chopin) Rice August 23, 2020 at 8:04 pm

    Superb you guys, onwards and upwards 👍 ☺

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      Hello Paul!

      Thank you so much for visiting my blog and for your wonderful electrical work at our home. We will keep striving to find ways to use our skills and make music as we are so passionate about it. Check out this youtube link https://youtu.be/N2uMSdYHkvU of George playing some Chopin.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  8. 

    What a terrific idea! I’m so happy it is working out for you two. This period in our history will be told by survivors like you!!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      I feel honoured to think I will tell the story of this time. It has been tricky, but I have constantly been amazed at how adaptable we can be as how important it is to share our stories and the odd hug too!

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  9. 

    I enjoyed the videos, Charlotte! Recording for a CD, as you are discovering, is a process of finding and using the right tools for what one is trying to accomplish. It can be done quite satisfactorily on a shoestring budget. The process of discovery and learning something new can be very time consuming, but fun, and then you have a new skill, too.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:54 pm

      Hello Lavinia, exactly – when you need to be you can find ways to make a dream happen if you are willing to be adaptable and see where the process takes you. At first I was hoping to complete the CD in one month; recording, mastering and release. Little did I know all of the finer details needed and the time it would take to accrue this knowledge. I will certainly not take for granted the sound technicians when I am next in the Studio!

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  10. 

    This is interesting. I like to hear story or article about setting up sound in a room. I am a listener but producer of sounds. It would be interesting to learn from the producing side like you are working on.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      Oh I am glad to hear that! I am trying to think outside the box for my blog articles at the minute and I hoped that sharing our process for creating the CD would be interesting. I will talk about the room set up this week. I am keen to learn more about how you produce sounds, perhaps you can share some tips along the way if you see us using the technology in a bizarre way. Always open to learning.

      Best Wishes.
      Charlotte

  11. 

    Really fun videos. Excellent work on your music/recording studio. Are you using PreSonus Studio One 4 or 5 with your AudioBox 44VSL for recording and mixing? I recently got a pair of PreSonus Eris E3.5 BT-3.5″ Near Field Studio Monitors with Bluetooth after I got some kind of reward from Amazon making them free. They are incredible speakers. The sound reproduction is amazingly accurate.

    I normally use a PreSonus 24c (two-channel) interface for recording, but after the last Studio One 4 Pro update, my 24c quit working. There was also an OS update around the same time, so something happened with the universal plugin or another driver that I haven’t figured out. Drives me crazy. I’ve been using another generic interface to record with. Vocals are not as clean as they are when I record through the PreSonus 24c. But unclean is ok for my bloody awful voice.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:55 pm

      Hello Timothy, we have PreSonus Studio One, but George prefers to use Cubase. Simply because that is the software he used when first experimenting with recording, and now it feels more intuitive to him.

      Sorry to hear about your problems with the PreSonus, through my online research I read that their software sometimes creates problems. Have you tried to google the issue or search on youtube or message boards? We have found lots of solutions to problems we encountered on these platforms and I hope you can find a solution. As hardware goes, we really enjoy the quality of our PreSonus Audiobox.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

      • 

        After I commented, there was an update to the most recent Apple OS. After I updated the OS, ¡Milagro!, my 24c started working again. I used it to record my latest protest song, which I haven’t published.

      • 
        Charlotte Hoather September 13, 2020 at 9:54 am

        Send me a link when you publish it Timothy 🙂

      • 

        The song is a bit controversial, so I’m not going to put it on my blog. I can sent you an mp3 if you really want to listen to it.

      • 
        Charlotte Hoather September 13, 2020 at 8:52 pm

        Controversial politically? If so I don’t do politics at all, I agree with my Nana she says she’s spent 73 years not discussing politics with people and she’s happier than they are.

      • 

        Your Nana is a smart woman and so are you.

        I don’t think one can do a protest song without it being seen as political. In this song I use phrases that show up on the freeway signs about wearing masks and keeping inline with the nanny state. It’s commentary on how many of our elected officials encourage riots and violence while trampling on everyone rights.

        I generally don’t do politics, but over here politics and division are constantly shoved down everyone’s throats. The powers that be try to force everyone to choose a side a be political about it. It’s disgusting.

      • 
        Charlotte Hoather September 13, 2020 at 9:16 pm

        It’s the same in the UK, I just try listen to both sides and refuse to get drawn into it.

      • 

        That’s what it’s all about. There are so many inconsistentcies and a lot of policies don’t often make sense.

  12. 

    Love it. This is looking like a great project. Well done you two. 😃

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:56 pm

      Thank you it was great to have something to work towards during so much uncertainty. I can’t wait to share the finished product with you.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  13. 

    Wow bravo !!!! C’est très bin de pouvoir faire vos enregistrements maison !!!!
    Impatient de connaitre la suite.
    Meilleurs pensées à tous les 2 !!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:56 pm

      Merci d’avoir lu cette première étape du processus Pascal! J’ai hâte de partager davantage avec vous. Restez à l’écoute!

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  14. 

    Wonderful to see and to har.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:56 pm

      Your kindness and support really fuels me and my endeavours. Thank you.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  15. 

    What a great idea Charlotte! I already love the CDs you’ve done previously and look forward to more of the same👏👏👏🤗🥰

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:56 pm

      Hello Gill, Thank you for listening to our previous CD’s. It is always a lot of fun to create them and plan what their theme will be. I hope you can relive the balcony concerts when you listen to this new CD.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  16. 

    Finally artists who learn to understand mics and other audio equipment. Way to go, you two.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      Thanks Don, I now have even more respect for sound engineers and producers. I have been raised to be kind to all your colleagues but goodness! I’ll be taking a pack of biscuits to my next recording session as a thank you in advance. Haha

      I’ll carry this knowledge with me into future ventures and that is always exciting.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  17. 

    Charlotte and George you are most wonderful….
    Congrats on your getting together!!!!
    Love to all.
    Darlene

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      Dear Darlene, thank you on sharing in this fun experience with us. It has provided us with a fun opportunity to create and learn. That is priceless.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  18. 

    Like the compilation video and looking forward to seeing how your recording went 🙂

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:57 pm

      Sometimes it is fascinating to look back at you have done and see how the little tasks came together to create the finished product. I am glad I could share that experience with you, regarding the ensemble tracks.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  19. 

    Wonderful 🙂 Thank you for sharing!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:58 pm

      My pleasure, thank you for reading and commenting. Have a wonderful day!

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  20. 

    You two are amazing,Charlotte and George.
    What a fabulous idea,,cannot wait for the cd good luck with everything, awaiting next week blog .😘😘👏🏻👏🏻👏🏻

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:58 pm

      Thank you Nana, always trying to be thinking of new ideas and putting our skills to good use. I can’t wait to share the recordings with you.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  21. 

    Necessity is the mother of invention. Good to see the two of you making the most of the lock down. Can’t wait to hear the end result.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:58 pm

      Hello Joe, it certainly is! You learn all sorts of interesting things when you are given time and opportunity to. Fingers crossed you will enjoy hearing the result when we launch the CD.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  22. 

    Excellent start! Good luck with further progress…

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:58 pm

      Thank you Jonathan! We are mastering the tracks at the moment, splicing and balancing the reverb! All little stories to tell in the coming weeks.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  23. 

    You two are so technically adept, I had no doubt you’d figure out how to record. But I did think of the soundproofing. I have an author friend who is recording his book in a padded closet!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      Hello Noelle, I am very lucky to have George at my side and the personal curiosity to always find a solution. Together we make a passionate pair. I am really proud that we have been able to join forces and record from home. I love the idea of recording a book in a padded closet – something Narnia-esque! I wish your friend good luck and I hope it goes well.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  24. 

    I admire your commitment and perseverance – hopefully it will bring gazillions of new money your way!!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 7:59 pm

      Dear Sheila, thank you so much! When faced with contracts cancelling here and there, my only solution was to keep busy and positive. We can create marvellous things when we need/have to! I can’t wait to share the finished product with you and hopefully it will provide a stream of income our way. Fingers and toes crossed.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  25. 

    I’m hoping to record one of my books. We have a spare room, which unfortunately is full of furniture. Maybe someday. . .

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 26, 2020 at 6:34 pm

      Audio books are my favourite because I can listen to them whilst travelling or driving on long journeys. Do clear that room out call a charity shop to come and collect your old furniture and go for it!

  26. 

    Wonderful recording! Made me smile.

  27. 

    Well done, both of you! It amazes me what can be accomplished at home these days. I loved the recordings!

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 8:00 pm

      Hello Clare, technology is so amazing and we have many tools under our fingertips to make the most of. We were lucky we had a great starter kit of microphones, but I am so glad that we kept going past the first hurdle as it will be all worth it!

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  28. 

    Fascinating Charlotte. I look forward to the future posts on your project and, of course, to the final recording.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 8:00 pm

      Hello Rodger, I hope you enjoy our weekly reveals of the process which should build your appetite for when the CD is released! I can’t wait to share it with you.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 8:01 pm

      Cheers! Always learning and staying positive. Good luck with your personal endeavours.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  29. 

    Love that white dress! You should rooster your neighbors out of bed – hehe.

    Sound and lighting are so important in movies and are to the level of sciences – So congratulations on your solution.

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 8:02 pm

      Thank you so much! Hehe could you imagine, and now is your morning wake-up call courtesy of resident soprano Charlotte Hoather … such fun!

      Sound and lighting are so integral. We had an experiment with video recording too and realised how much lighting affected the success of the outcome.

      Best Wishes,
      Charlotte

  30. 

    That was a fab performance from the Waterperry Opera Festival!
    Also, your home recording studio looks like it’s coming along nicely. Norm used to do his recording in our living room. Now he has a proper studio. That took years to build up. Also, technology keeps evolving, so there’s that to keep up with.

    I read, in Toronto Life Magazine, about “Pocket Concerts” during Covid. I thought of you, and that it might be a way to make some $$$

    2 – 4 musicians are booked for a private show. The shows are 30 – 40 minutes. The musicians make $200.00 Cnd and up, depending. (After expenses)
    They set up on your porch. Up to 20 people can come and sit in the yard, and out into the street, socially distanced & masked.
    A second day or night is booked in case of rain.

    Anyway, it’s a way to perform, and make some money.
    There may even be a company near you that books small events like that, due to Covid.
    Perhaps you have a friend with a van that could be the manager, put ads in the right places.
    Just a thought! -Resa
    ❦🎼❦🎭❦🎼❦🎭❦🎼❦🎭

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather August 29, 2020 at 6:56 pm

      I’ve got a garden pop up like that to perform in a couple of weeks. It’s so awkward in the UK for outside events because of the unpredictable weather, i guess you’re similar in Canada we’re having downpours at the moment all the time, one minute sunny and bright, an hour later its pouring, I think my parents have a little gazebo so perhaps thats an idea.

      Our Yamaha fits in my little car, its tight and George has to duck down but its manageable.

      Thanks for thinking of us Resa.

      • 

        Well, if not for you , I would probably still be disdaining opera, and all classic music. It’s wonderful how much I adore it now! (just not Faust)
        Yeah, the weather! I hope winter doesn’t come too early this year. Some restaurants are only hanging in, as the city has let everyone build outdoor patios on the sidewalks.
        No one is going to eat outside when it’s -10C and snowing.
        Same for Pop-UpConcerts.

      • 
        Charlotte Hoather August 29, 2020 at 8:17 pm

        There are operas I’m not to keen on either, I’ve not watched Faust its about the devil isn’t it? I’ve been learning a couple of new arias and a couple of roles so I’m trying to keep myself busy.

        We’ve had a scheme where the government has been paying half the bill up to a maximum of £10 per head on Monday to Wednesday, the restaurants because of social distancing have been packed out all of August you couldn’t get a seat on the deal by the end of the month. I hope everyone keeps going to support them now its over.

      • 

        I think Faust is about a guy who sells his soul to the devil.
        However, It’s the low.. grumbly male voices that drive me nuts. There’s a soprano in it…. apparently, but I don’t remember it. I only remember those rumbly, grumbly male voices.
        Ahhh, the arias! They are the true sparkle in opera!

      • 
        Charlotte Hoather August 30, 2020 at 8:07 pm

        I’m going to have to watch it now to see hehe. I knew it was about the devil.
        Best wishes
        Charlotte

  31. 

    What a feast in this post AND in the comments. I loved, loved, loved that Chopin by George, and how lovely to see him perform. And I wondered if Don Ostertag would get a nod in, and he did. A performance is the sum total of so many parts, hey! And I’m coming to think that lockdown is doing you two a huge favour from the point of view of digging deep to find talents you did not need to call on before. All of it will be so useful at some future point when these days will be just oral history.
    .

    • 
      Charlotte Hoather September 13, 2020 at 9:50 am

      I’ve just had my final booked concerts for next week cancelled Gwen because of the new lockdown put in this week, I feel a bit low about it but what can you do? I’ve also had my facebook business page hacked and I can’t stop the hacker, apparently security isn’t what you think it is because I never gave out my passwords and this person got me locked out and himself installed as Admin Manager all without permissions. I need a human to speak to at Facebook because their machine responses just tell me to talk to the hacker and they locked up my personal page. You don’t know anyone at all that works at facebook do you?

      • 

        Oh my goodness Charlotte. My comment came through at one of your lowest moments ever. Good grief! I wish I had some answers, but that Facebook thing is new to me. No one has ever interfered with my page. The only thing I have experience with is shutting down a profile after someone has died. It took a while, but I did it through some help page, and had to provide some certificates. Surely it should not be so complicated in this instance.

      • 
        Charlotte Hoather September 13, 2020 at 10:04 am

        It’s nice to actually talk about it Gwen, it is really complicated, facebook is busy and my alert about the hacking is just in a queue so I can’t stop the person, all computerised responses, its been going on a week, luckily I have no shop inside the page, when googling about it people are frantic and saying it takes two months or never to resolve. People that use it as a business shop lose everything. I just need to speak to a human there.

      • 

        I have had a look at your page and I see what a problem you have. This person has been at it all September. I suppose you have gone through whatever steps this link leads you through?https://www.facebook.com/hacked

        Meanwhile, a few other ideas:
        Can you click on the top right hand side of each post at . . . and delete the posts?

        If not, can you at least click on “Spam”?

        When you go into Settings > Page Roles, and scroll down to “existing page roles” are you still the only Admin person?

        Again in Settings > General > Visitor Posts, when you click on that, is it set to “Disable posts by other people on the Page”

        Not my forte unfortunately. I hope FB get back to you asap!

      • 
        Charlotte Hoather September 15, 2020 at 6:41 pm

        Thanks for your ideas, somehow the hacker got me locked off admin and my page that runs the business page so I can’t delete anything or operate facebook at all. It’s the first time I’ve heard of anything like this I thought there was more security at Facebook, I’ve never given out my password, login details etc. I would advise everybody now to make sure their facebook page has two step authentification i.e. password and telephone number but if the hacker has managed to get both they’d still be able to lock you out.

      • 

        I realised that after I wrote that comment. Absolutely incredible! And I see the person is still at it. Why? It beggars belief.

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