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May 2008

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In a recent Reader Survey, we confirmed that as in past years, a strong majority of our readers are songwriters who want to make the best recordings of their ideas. In addition to our monthly features that are songwriter-friendly, every May we do our best to bring an extra-large serving of new ideas and tried-and-true techniques to the table, and this issue is no different... it’s just bigger and fuller than ever!

In this issue we give you a bird’s-eye view of a typical songwriter’s recording rig and explain what tools are needed to get ideas into a usable form quickly and conveniently. We take you to the South By Southwest music festival in Austin, walk you through project budgeting, and introduce cool new ways to build up song ideas -- even starting with a naked vocal performance! Our new series, Walking Tour, starts with Mackie Tracktion and takes you through the basics of finding your way around this unusual DAW. And we provide online resources, tales from the trenches, and much more, all aimed at helping your songwriting turn into beautiful music.

All this plus our monthly columns, Song Production in Pro Tools with Mark Hornsby, Readers’ Tapes with Marty Peters, and much more. Grab your tools and start writing—the May Recording will show you how!


Roland SonicCell   |   Reviewed by Devon Brent

Audio interface, synthesizer, sample player, and more—a complete songwriter’s recording solution.

Mojave Audio MA-100 Microphone   |   Reviewed by Paul Vnuk Jr.

A small-diaphragm tube mic suggests unusual applications.

M-Audio MicroTrack II   |   Reviewed by Mike Metlay with Justin Peacock

A portable digital recorder that offers a simple-to-use, powerful feature set.

Plug-In Outlet   |   Reviewed by Paul Vnuk Jr. and Devon Brent

TC-Helicon Harmony4; FabFilter Timeless.

Recording’s Showcase of Sounds   |   Reviewed by Paul Vnuk Jr. and Michael Nickolas

Platinum Samples Joe Barresi Evil Drums; Big Fish Audio Mahadhi.

Once Over—Reviews In Brief   |   Reviewed by Mike Metlay, Nick Casares, and Justin Peacock

Alesis IO|26 audio interface; Grace Design m201 mic preamp; AKG K 701 headphones; Samson GTrack USB mic/interface; X-Tempo Pok foot controller.

Quietdrive—How Perseverance Pays Off   |   Reviewed by Lorenz Rychner

Up-and-coming band Quietdrive chose to do things the hard way and reap the benefits when they got noticed by the majors; lead singer Kevin Truckenmiller and producer Matt Kirkwold explain.


Miracle Dolls—Two Turbocharged Twins   |   Interviewed by Lorenz Rychner

What happens when a Grammy-winning engineer volunteers to play drums on a punk album? We ask Danny and Dezi Doll, and engineer/drummer Michael C. Ross.


A Bird’s-Eye View Of A Songwriter’s Studio   |   Written by Justin Peacock

Take a peek through the skylight and see the tools you’ll need to get your own powerful composing and recording studio started—with lots of suggestions for cool gear to help you along.

Making The Transition From Songwriter To Recording Songwriter   |   Written by Dave Hedin

It doesn’t have to be stressful, and it sure is rewarding!

Resources You Didn’t Know You Needed   |   Written by Lorenz Rychner

From songwriting and recording to networking and copyright—a grab bag of useful information.

Mackie Tracktion—A Walking Tour   |   Written by Brent Randall

This powerful DAW comes free with many Mackie products, but its unusual interface can prove daunting. An expert takes away the mystery on this guided tour.

Recording’s Drum Column   |   Written by Brent Randall

Now that we know our way around Tracktion, let’s use it to beef up a wimpy drum part.

South By South West—Party Or Career Move?   |   Written by Marc Urselli

If you can get past the revelers, Austin’s annual musicfest has lots of career opportunities.

Recording’s Guitar Column   |   Written by Andre Fratto

The hassle-free path to choosing a good guitar tone.

Recording’s Vocal Column   |   Written by D. Bruce Moore

Try this: Sing first—freely, then build the accompaniment later.

Project Budgeting   |   Written by Eric Ferguson

Thinking about the budget is a drag... but nowhere near as much of a drag as what happens when you don’t think about the budget...

Song Production in Pro Tools Part 5: Recording Tools for Editing   |   Written by Mark Hornsby

We start the cleanup process for our demo song (downloadable from our website) by explaining some of the tools we’ll be using.

DAW Details   |   Written by Devon Brent

The critical process of choosing a motherboard.

Kef America

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