Software Notes

Below we have configuration notes and external links to help set up your microphone and links the three main software packages we will be using for this training -- Zoom, Soundtrap, Acapella, and (for some) Audacity. This page is a companion for the setup page providing configuration and other tips for each application.

Microphone Setup

Many of us will be making use of high-quality cardoid microphones in this training, which have a recording sensitivity pattern that is very directional (Cardoid Pattern).  In any recording environment, you want to take advantage of this pattern to capture your instrument and reject unwanted sounds.  In a home recording environment especially, it will be necessary to experiment with what works for you.  Don't hesitate to try different configurations and do some test recordings using the entire dynamic range of your instrument until the results sound good to you. (Soundtrap is good for doing test recordings, for instance.)

Cardoid Pattern (Note: with the audio-technica AT2020USB+ microphone, point the microphone upwards and point the blue light towards the "front" -- Example Photos)

Introduction to Microphone Polar Patterns

When using the audio-technica AT2020USB+ microphone, note that it has a headphone output port on the microphone which is incredibly useful.  You can select that output as a computer audio output for listening to audio tracks while mixing in what's being recorded on the microphone.  Please read the instructions included with the mic for more information.

Operating System Microphone Adjustments:

Microphone Adjustments for Windows 10

Microphone Adjustments for MacOS

Note:  For OS adjustments, you generally want to turn off automatic settings when recording with your instrument.

Zoom

For any musician who wants to use the Zoom client on a computer, there are written instructions here about avoiding audio distortion when playing an instrument over Zoom by using the "Original Sound" option as well as adjusting other audio settings for quality recording.  If you don't turn off the "Suppress Background Noise" options as described in the instructions, then you may find that when you start playing your instrument is filtered out and doesn't transmit to the other Zoom call participants.

Soundtrap

Soundtrap has excellent built-in tutorials in their own help system.  The following three videos are a good introductory set:


     Crash Course
     Audio
     Collaboration

At the two-minute mark in the "Audio" tutorial above, they talk about turning off Reverb to do a "Dry" recording.

The "mastering" phase -- Once all the parts are collected, the overall composition is going to need some work:

  1) go through all the tracks and turn off any Reverb that is set on them

  2) go through all the tracks and micro-adjust the timing as needed to line them up

  3) go through all the tracks and adjust the volume/gain relative to the others

Steps #2 and #3 are likely to require multiple passes through the content to get them right...

Audacity

The free software Audacity may be downloaded and used to record or even edit audio for use within Audacity (as it is a capable multi-track system itself), or you can export tracks from Audacity for import into Soundtrap.  There is documentation on the Audacity website and links within the application, but below you will find some information on how to use Audacity to complete a recording and import it into Soundtrap.

- If there is a reference track (there should be one for *every* piece, or at least a click track), download this track from Soundtrap using the "Track options" (the "..." menu) on the reference track (upper left corner of the track ID). Select "Export this track."

- Pick a known file location to export the track to. It will save it there as a .WAV file format. 

- Start Audacity, then File -> Import -> Audio ....  and import the .WAV file you just exported from Soundtrap into Audacity. It will ask you to make a copy first, and that's fine.

- Record your own track in Audacity, against the reference track. Now you have two tracks.  

- When you're satisfied with your work, save the file in Audacity. 

- Mute the reference track, then File -> Export your work into another .WAV file with a new name e.g. "MIR SSB Clarinet 2". It will ask you to fill out metadata first; this is optional. 

- You have now a complete track of your isolated part in a new .WAV file. 

- Go back to Soundtrap, left side "Add new track" and then lower left corner "Import file" and import the new .WAV file.

- You have now imported an offline recording of your part that is synchronized with the reference track.

Acapella

Quality videos on how to use Acapella:

How to Use the Acapella App

Acapella App Walk Through

How to Do a Collab with the Acapella App

Late in our process, we're going to want to master the art of having more than 9 collaborators -- here's how to do that.

This article "WIRED: How to Make Your Virtual Jam Session Sound—and Look—Good" may prove helpful in providing some helpful production hints.  Hopefully Acapella will help with automating the process.

Some notes regarding lighting when using Acapella:

  -- Make sure your face is well lit.
  -- A window on a sunny day can provide great lighting if you’re facing it
  -- If window light is not available, try placing 2 or 3 lamps in front of you to soften harsh shadows.
  -- Please avoid having any bright light sources behind you. 

USNSCC BAND OF THE WEST

commissioned 2013