04 October 2009

Captain Dan Danblasten

This is a bit of an oddball story for Hodgson, and not one of his more famous works. It's a romance. Sort of. It involves a pirate, a buried treasure, and a long-lost love -- and some gutter French (apologies in advance for my atrocious pronunciation) and a few dirty jokes. It's a long story, and not his best, but I really love the character he created in this one.

The text I'm using comes from the long-awaited fifth volume of The Collected Fiction of William Hope Hodgson. This story has also appeared in a slightly different version elsewhere in the series.

I wanted to record a short story now, although I'm planning some longer works, because I'm trying out a new microphone. It's an Electro-Harmonix EH-R1 ribbon mic, which is really a rebranded Oktava ML-52, a Russian-made ribbon mic. I am new to ribbon mics, but I was just not satisfied with the sound I was getting out of my Neumann BCM-705. It was too "spitty," too unforgiving of little bits of sibilance and mouth and lip noise. So, I sold it on eBay, and bought this one.

So far, I'm liking the way this ribbon mic works on my voice and in my recording space, which is untreated, in the same room as my computer. It's a darker microphone, with a lot of bass response, which helps my somewhat nasal voice, and seems less sensitive to proximity and direction than the dynamic mics. The raw recording seems to need a lot less compression and EQ.

This may not be my ultimate vocal mic, but I think I'm on the right track. I am hoping to buy myself an Oktava ML-53, modified by Michael Joly of OktavaMod, maybe for Christmas. I 'd like to save up for an AEA ribbon microphone preamp, and while there isn't a whole lot of acoustic treatment I can do in this cluttered corner of my upstairs office, I could at least get some foam up on the wall behind the mic, and maybe a foam barrier to cut down some sound from my computer's fan.

There is one more new piece of technology I'm using -- after the new mic hits my Apogee Ensemble, and gets 60 dB of gain, it is getting fed into the RX Denoiser plug-in, and then to the brand-new Alloy plug-in from Izotope. I just bought it today. It is set up with the "Upfront and Crisp" vocal preset, with a few tweaks. Consider this mention to be a plug for the Izotope plug-ins in general, and Alloy in particular -- I'm just getting started with it, but I'm pleased so far.

Then on the ouput, I'm adding a little bit of room reverb from the Ozone plug-in, and that's about it.

I'd be happy go hear any feedback. Just please don't criticize my French -- I KNOW, I KNOW! It's even worse than gutter French spoken by a drunken Irish pirate.

MP3 File


Unknown said...

What an interesting short story for William Hope Hodgson, the punchline was great and well worth the story. Though I typically would have preferred one of his more outre stories I found myself enjoying it more than I thought I would have so thanks for the selection.

On the technical standpoint, initially I thought the audio was a little echo-y, but I didn't notice it after a while. Otherwise the voice was much more natural than usual. Even though I enjoyed the Glen Carrig there was a thiny quality to the audio that was almost like clipping though that may be the wrong word for it. That problem was nowhere to be seen in this production. Though I could not myself think of anywhere where sound effects may have been employed to enhance the story I did miss them all the same.

Overall though another great production and glad to see you back on the wagon.

Paul R. Potts said...

alogos, thanks for the encouragement and detailed feedback!

The Boats of the Glen Carrig was recorded with a low-end Logitech mic that I started using in desperation after I had endless troubles with a BLUE Snowball. It was really designed for Skype or gaming, and it popped and clipped terribly. I was never satisfied with it, but I didn't have any more money to put into the project then, and really wanted to complete the project, so I just had to grit my teeth and live with it. That mic is long-gone and I have a much better audio interface now. I have considered doing a "remastered" Boats of the Glenn Carrig -- that could happen at some point.

I have two weeks of vacation coming up and I'm going to try to devote a good portion of it to audio recording and production. I'm hoping to at least get started on The House on the Borderland.

Now that I have a mic that I'm happier with, the next step is to get some acoustic treatment going, to reduce reflection and resonance while recording. I'll be looking for a solution to that issue, possibly either recording in my closet or, if I can, getting some foam up. A drier vocal track will allow me to get better results when processing it. My goal in Borderland will be to use background music and perhaps sound effects.

Thanks for sticking with me!

Paul R. Potts said...

Well, it seems like the solution to the home studio issues may be an upcoming move. If all goes according to plan, my family and I will be moving out of our current apartment into a house in June. I should even have a dedicated room to use for recording, and I'll be able to apply acoustic foam without worrying about damaging someone else's walls!

Unknown said...

Great to hear it, and great to hear this is still a priority for you, while totally grateful for the readings you've done in the past, no one would have faulted a new father for neglecting this blog.

Paul R. Potts said...

Well, we did indeed buy the house; we are in the process of moving. I have a room I am going to dedicate to a recording/production studio. There is still a lot to do -- it needs some major rewiring work before I can get everything set up... but progress is happening!