The Joys of Maintenance

The day to day running of a music-recording studio, as with any small start-up, is all about keeping the thing going without constantly blowing out a very tight budget. There is a whole different way of looking at it, if you can’t just throw money at it when issues with equipment happen.

So I am glad that I know how to do basic soldering and how to build a computer from a pile of parts and a few disks. How to use the new box though, a Noise Gate with Compressor / Limiter to get the best possible sound out of a microphone, is another learning curve all together.
Just like learning how to arrange the same bit of music in many different ways, there is no end to challenging oneself with this hobby. It is not about showing off with a great solo over the top of everything else, but creating a nice blend, jamming together (even if not live in real time) is where I get my kicks.
I love the Bass because you are in the background rhythm section, locking down the feel of each passage in the music. I do quite enough of lead guitar and vocals when busking, so when in bands and recording I look forward to doing something else.

This week the soldering job was to put a new plug on some very old (but well built) headphones someone donated the other day. I use a quarter inch jack to get more surface area and a much better connection than those horrid mini plug they use on headphones now days. These phones are so old school, it’s worth the time it takes to dress the wire ends and solder on a new (proper) plug.

Com 2 went down this week. There are 4 computers in the studio (not all running at once). The Desktop is better than a laptop, phone or pad, in that one can upgrade some components. These are all old computers and worth nothing, but still useful.

One old computer (com3) has a card for capturing analogue video from camera & VCR. Com4 has a Midi connection. (Musical Instrument Digital Interface).  My ancient Rolland electric piano links up to a computer with lots of rack (on-screen) components, sound generators, mixer and effects on the screen. Com1 is mostly on the Inter-web.

Com2 has a 24-bit M-Audio sound recording card. While most cards use horrid mini connections, M-Audio use RCA plugs with more contact area. I record music through a sub-mixing desk, into Com2 as wave files on the hard disk. It has a multi-track recording studio program, simulating most of the machines in a big studio to process the sounds. An ancient IDE 20GB hard drive crashed, causing it to not start up properly.
I dreaded that I was in for half a day to format another disk and load an old operating system then the programs again, but when I opened up the side panel, I discovered there was another hard disk waiting all ready to go. This computer also has SATA so there is a 350GB laptop disk drive in the box as well. For me it’s free storage, but because the boot sector is stuffed, I must start the machine with another drive, in this case an old IDE. I loose track of these things sometimes, so to have a spare hard disk already set up was quite a lucky find for me. While not perfect it still gets that part of the studio going again quickly. Always have a plan B.

But all of these skills, are just child’s play, when compared with how hard it is to make any money out of music. I just do not think that I could work every day in an office. Folk look at me sideways when I start muttering at the computers. Trying to run everything on just 1 computer was stressful. I stopped yelling at the things now days.


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