Microphones, ‘Dad’ acoustic filters and Spandau Ballet

So my singing lesson this week was cancelled, but I have it rescheduled for next week. I can’t really complain, I put off the first lesson for 13 years so I suppose I can probably cope with a weeks delay.

I have ordered myself a new microphone. My current one wasn’t really very good when I bought it 4 years ago, and then I knocked it over it a few times, by which I mean a few times a week. The new one is an Audio Technica 4050 and is beyond awesome, but is also going to destroy my bank account, so I may also have to splash out on some sort of ‘Stop being a clumsy bastard’ course as well.

I am embarking on an exciting DIY project to make the acoustics in my recording space a lot better. I hadn’t realised quite how bad the echo and general noise was until I compared my recordings to the ones I made at the shops studio when I tested out the new microphone. In comparison my ones at home sound like they are recorded on a submarine. A submarine made out of mirrors…. attached to a cave.

So, my cunning plan is to use some MDF, hinges, my Dad, and a load of acoustic foam to make some sort of acoustic screen I can use when recording. I should clarify that I am not planning to use my Dad to soak up low frequencies in the corner of the room (although I think he would be reasonably effective) he is just going to help me put it all together because I am basically useless and he is awesome at stuff like that because he has Dad-skills.

jamesndadNote to self – Call patent office and ask if it would be possible to patent the idea of using somebody’s Dad as a corner based acoustic filter.

As for the album itself, I’m still writing songs. My writing can be hit and miss but if I put the time in I should end up with enough good material. I have written about 15 songs so far, I reckon 5 are good enough to make the album in some form, 3 are good but probably wont fit style-wise, 5 are ok but not as good as I would want for this album, and I’ve written two absolutely awful songs which I should probably remove from my computer in case anybody ever hears them.

But all in all, I’m feeling pretty good that I have some usable material already, although I’m waiting for the inevitable moment when I decide they are all rubbish. I am still having to fight the urge to change my vision for the album constantly. Things were so much easier when I was 15 and all I liked was Green Day, I had no other influences whatsoever. These days my musical taste is more varied which is nice but I am far too easily influenced.

For example, on Monday I listened to quite a lot of Four Tet. That evening I had an overwhelming desire to stick a funky beat and electro bass part over all of the acoustic riffs I’ve written. In a moment of weakness I tried it with one track but it just sounded like an acoustic songwriter who had been listening to too much Four Tet. This happens almost every day depending on what I’ve listened to, which is a worry because earlier today I was working in an office where they were listening to The Best of Spandau Ballet. Who knows what this evening now holds.

Finally, I have been chatting to a drummer I know who seems like he will be up for helping me out with some of his percussional (is that a word?) genius, which would make a massive difference as my drum programming skills are ok but don’t really add a lot to my songs in the way actual real drums can.

Cheers for reading and thanks to everyone who sent nice encouraging messages after my first post.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. greenie
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 09:17:23

    It wouldn’t work.

    Your Dad may be a more than adequate measure to address problem high end frequencies but you’d need something with a far greater mass to deal with any bass issues. You div.

    Also, dont ever listen to Spandau Ballet, regardless of the circumstances.


    • jaconsterdine
      Dec 17, 2010 @ 10:50:51

      Fair point Scott, foolish of me. Perhaps I need two dads standing together?

      Dave, I actually saw Caribou at Green Man 2 years ago and liked them, will look that album up. I seem to remember Scott was not keen, they were a bit self indulgent live.


  2. daverog
    Dec 17, 2010 @ 09:35:23

    In the vein of Four Tet….. check the ‘Rough Trade Album of the Year 2011’ Swim, by Caribou, (if you haven’t already) for some even funkier beats!


  3. Lynnie B
    Dec 18, 2010 @ 18:34:25

    Hahahaha best laugh I had today reading your blog !
    Goodonya ! xx


  4. Cleave
    Dec 18, 2010 @ 18:51:12

    Hi wicky, just to say that quality acoustic foam is good but separate layers of most normal wall boards ( plaster or otherwise ) can be just as effective. Just make sure they are 20 -25 cm apart and there is no contact between them anywhere. 2 is good, 3 is better, 4 is better and so on until you run out of room literally. Look forward to hearing the results of your album just don’t listen to Barry White or Tonto’s Expanding Headband. Have a good Christmas and love to Laura from us both.


  5. jaconsterdine
    Dec 20, 2010 @ 11:56:53

    Thanks for the info Cleave, might have to stick with the portable MDF screen idea for now but should I ever get more space the layers of other materials could be worth looking at. Microphone being delivered today hopefully.

    I hope you manage to get your plane tomorrow, have a great Christmas in the sun.


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