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Category Archives: Music Production

Sheet Music Practice Setup

This weekend, I completed a mini-project that I planned for a while now. I wanted a setup where I could practice my guitar following sheet music and tabs while also recording and playing back what I played!

Here is what I strung together to make it all happen:

Picture of actual setup and key components used
  1. For practicing and recording vocals, I used iRig Mic HD, a high quality condenser microphone that plugs directly in to an iPad.
  2. Musicnotes.com iPad app that can play downloaded sheet music. I needed some lead time, before I could follow the guitar tabs. This was to allow sufficient time to start the playback. The in-built screen recording feature of iOS 12 is what I used. First ‘play’ in music notes while recording. Then replay the recording…easy!
  3. Behringer Xenyx 802 analog mixer is a low cost device with pro mic pres. It is a compact 8 channel mixer. I plug my monitor headphones here. In the illustration above, you would notice that I use both an iPad mini and iPad Pro. The iPad Pro is where I play the sheet music. The playback audio is routed to the mixer’s channels 3 & 4 for stereo using a Hosa CMP-159 3.5 mm TRS to Dual 1/4″ TS Stereo Breakout Cable from the iPad Pro. On the iPad mini, I run AmpliTube Acoustic app. I use a 3.5mm to 2-Male RCA Adapter cable to connect the iPad mini to the mixer’s 2-Track inputs.
  4. The Donner bluetooth page turner comes in handy when practicing parts of the scoresheet and you want to move between pages or scroll up-down inside the music notes app.
  5. Any microphone stand could be used in this type of setup. I want to call out the microphones stands from Bespeco. I found the Bespeco MS11 to be a stable and well crafted mic stand, and hence it is part of my gear.
  6. I use a Sennheiser HD-201 for monitoring both what I play on the acoustic guitar and the playback coming from the iPad Pro simultaneously through the mixer.
  7. I use a Coolnut 20000mAh power bank for long practice sessions. I wire both ipads to it to keep them charging during the breaks.
  8. Finally, the magic device that gets the audio in to AmpliTube Acoustic and that is iRig Acoustic – a MEMS microphone that can be placed at the base of the guitar’s soundhole.

The AmpliTube Acoustic iOS app is the central application for recording and playing back tracks. I use one track for recording vocals, and three others for rhythm, leads and bass riffs. This setup let’s me match the professional tempo and timing of the playbook through the Musicnotes.com iPad app.

For vocals, an external music player such as the Sony NWE395/B 16GB Walkman MP3 Player or any other could be used. Connect this to the mixer’s two-track input using a 3.5mm to 2-Male RCA Adapter cable – Then sing along. What’s captured is only your voice.

The setup above is meant to help with my practice sessions, be it sight reading and playing the guitar leads of music scoresheets or singing along vocal tracks. This would help me get better at my playing and vocal style through learning from the performance of professionals.

 
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Posted by on January 27, 2019 in Music Production

 

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My Home Studio Experiment

It is all coming slowly together. I recently got together some equipment to get a setup at home to record webcasts for my blog. There are potentially hundreds of configurations out there. This first iteration involves some basic items that I’d like to share in this post. I’m looking to refine the setup further. At the end, I’m sharing a little recording with all the elements in place, as a demo.

Background

I use the ePhotoInc 5′ x 7′ PHOTO COLLAPSIBLE CHROMAKEY GREEN BLUE BACKGROUND 2 in 1 Backdrop Panel that I got from Amazon. This screen has a flexible frame that stretches the fabric out and can be collapsed and stored in the bag that comes along with it.

Video

For recording HD video, I use the Panasonic HC-V180K Full HD Camcorder which is an easy to use camera. It has a touch enabled LCD screen that can be rotated 360 degrees. This comes in handy as a monitor when recording myself, as I can see what’s in the frame.

Audio

While the Panasonic camera has an excellent built in mic, I prefer to experiment with the Blue snowball ICE condenser microphone. Using a lightning to USB 3 camera adapter, I can hook up this microphone to my iPad Pro. I use GarageBand to record the audio, as I’m recording.

Putting it all together

After sending the audio from my ipad pro to iMac, I use LogicPro X to work on the file. The equalizer and compressor are what I use to fine tune the audio and then take it into Final Cut Pro. Here’s where the real fun begins. Final Cut Pro is the best I’ve come across for video editing. I knock off the original audio and add the one from the GarageBand recording – which is much clearer after working it with LogicPro X. Using the Keyer in Final Cut Pro, I swap the background with a nice video animation. Compressor gets the final video into the right format and compression levels of the output.

What’s next?

Tweaking around with audio capture, to improve the quality of the recording even better. Additionally, finding ways to light up my background screen more uniformly. Once I get this right to my satisfaction, will start a series of video casts on my blog around my favourite topics.

Demos

Here are a few pictures of the simple setup that I have. Also as promised at the beginning of this post, sharing a demo video I made leveraging the setup. Till next time. Bye!

 
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Posted by on February 22, 2018 in Music Production

 

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