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My Take on Music Recording is a podcast that covers many different aspects of the recording process, with a focus on the intersection of art and technology. Although recording is a technical process, it also involves music and musicians, working with engineers to create a satisfying experience for the listener.

Doug Fearn has made his living from professional audio since 1966 as a recording engineer, studio owner, record producer, and pro audio equipment designer and manufacturer.

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Your comments and suggestions are always welcomed

Updated 12 January 2021

copyright 2020-2021 Douglas W. Fearn

31 - My Recording Career, Part 1: Early influences and first studio            November 18, 2020

This two-part episode tells the story of my life in recording. It starts out with the musical and electronic experiences that shaped my career and then describes the process of learning about recording and the many disciplines required. I explain how my first studio was constructed and the challenges I faced and mostly overcame. I trace the steady increase in track count -- this was in the days of tape, of course -- and the transition from analog to digital.

Throughout, I describe the experiences that changed my approach to recording.

Part 1 ends in 1973, when my studio was 8-track.

Many elements of this story could be expanded into an episode of its own. If you would like to hear more about an aspect, please let me know.

Thank you for all your great comments and feedback. This episode was the result of listener feedback. If you have comments, questions, or suggestions for future episodes, please contact me at dwfearn@dwfearn.com

This podcast was recorded with an AEA R44CXE microphone into a D.W. Fearn VT-2 mic preamp, into a VT-4 Equalizer and VT-7 Compressor. The converter is a Merging Technologies Hapi and the software is Pyramix. The original recording was made at 96kHz sample rate, 24-bit PCM.

You can subscribe to this podcast through Apple Podcasts, Stitcher, Spotify, and many other podcast providers.

#32   Disc Cutting                 December 10, 2020

I never did any disc mastering, but I did cut thousands of lacquer discs. I explained how I learned this art, and describe the process of cutting a disc. The medium imposes a lot of restrictions, not only in the disc-cutting process, but also going back to the recording and mixing.

In addition, I include some thoughts on the vinyl record medium. I definitely have a love-hate relationship with records.

As always, thanks for your comments and feedback.

#33   All Kinds of Distortion                 December 28, 2020

Distortion is present in all electronic audio equipment and on all recordings. Sometimes it is part of the sound, such as in an electric guitar.

But distortion is usually something we try to avoid.

In this episode, I go through the most common types of distortion, their impact on the listener, where the distortion comes from, and what we can do to minimize it.

This is somewhat technical, but I try to keep the explanations simple. Learning how to identify the sources of distortion, and how to mitigate them, should help you make better recordings.

I’ve recently added a new feature to the dougfearn.com web site. You can now read transcripts of many of the podcast episodes online, and download them is you like. Not all episodes have transcripts, just those that are scripted. Let me know if you find the transcripts useful.

Thank you to all of you who have subscribed to My Take On Music Recording, left reviews and ratings. The podcast is available on dozens of different podcast platforms. And thanks to those who have written to me via email. I will try to answer all of them. You can send email to dwfearn@dwfearn.com

#34   All Kinds of Noise                                      January 7, 2021

Since the earliest days of sound recording, noise has been a major limitation in audio quality. In early part of my career, tape hiss was usually the biggest challenge. But today’s digital recorders are virtually noise-free in most situations.

We still have to battle with noise, but the sources of the noise have changed. Today’s engineer has to deal with noise generated by the switched-mode power supplies that are in our LED bulbs, computer equipment, and even appliances. These sources of noise can get into electric guitars and create quite a racket. But the noise can also raise the noise floor in subtle ways, and we might not immediately recognize the source. Light dimmers, cell phones, and solar panels are other sources of noise.

In this episode, I talk about the various causes of noise, and provide some tips on how to identify the source, and advice on how to eliminate, or at least minimize, the noise on your recording.

For more in-depth, practical suggestions on how to avoid and mitigate electrical noise, my friend Jim Brown has a wonderful set of tutorials and presentations. Jim is an expert on this topic and has served on AES Committees for decades. Go to his web site, http://www.k9yc.com/publish.htm and scroll down to the section titled, “Hum, Buzz, and RF Interference -- Written for Audio Professionals.” You will find several excellent resources there.

There is a transcript for this episode. If you want a written version, you can download a PDF version from dougfearn.com

And please keep the suggestions and comments coming. Your feedback helps me determine what I should talk about.

If there is sufficient interest, I am considering having an occasional question and answer episode. If you have something you would like me to answer, record it in your studio with your best equipment. In keeping with the high audio quality goal of my podcast, you can record your questions at 24-bit, 96kHz sample rate and send the file to dwfearn@dwfearn.com

Simple questions I can answer in an episode dedicated to answering them. Some other topics may suggest an entire episode dedicated to the topic.

Please tell your friends and colleagues about this podcast. And leave your ratings and reviews with the podcast app you use. Thanks.

This episode was recorded with a Sennheiser MKH8050 microphone instead of my usual AEA R44. The MKH8050 is an amazingly clean-sounding mic, although it is probably not the best choice for vocals or voice recording. The preamp is a D.W. Fearn VT-2 and the converters are by Merging Technologies. The audio was processed through a D.W. Fearn VT-4 equalizer and a VT-7 Compressor. The original recording is 24-bit, 96kHz.


#35   Colin Hay, singer-songwriter                                      January 12, 2021

Even if you don’t recognize the name Colin Hay, I guarantee that you  have heard him. Colin is best known for his band, “Men At Work,”€ the  Australian group that had #1 hits such as, “Down Under”€ and “Who Can It  Be Now”€ in the 1980s. Men at Work sold over 30 million albums during  their existence.

Since then, the singer-songwriter has worked as a solo artist,  touring the world, sometimes truly solo and other times with a band.

He has been a “Star”€ on several tours with the Ringo and the All-Stars ensemble, starting in 2003.

Colin has also had an acting career, performing his own songs in  movies and TV shows, and even an experience in a Shakespeare touring  company.

By the way, Colin is originally from Scotland, as you will quickly notice from his accent.

This interview is not about his career, although we talk about that a bit, but instead focuses on his recording experience. Colin has had his own sophisticated home studio for decades and uses his space to record  his songs.

We also talk about the art of songwriting and, well, a life in music.

Here are links to a a few of Colin's songs:

“Down Under” € Men At Work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hfmxO-HQ5rU

“Who Can It Be Now?”  € Men At Work https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XuFC6ud1cAQ

“Maggie”  € Colin Hay  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iDuvFz0WQ-g

Colin has generously offered to answer listener questions in a future podcast episode. If you have something to ask him, send me an email, or better yet, a 24-bit, 96kHz audio version. You can send it to dwfearn@dwfearn.com

When we have enough questions to make a show, we will record it.

As always, thanks for listening, and for all your great comments and suggestions.