19 May 2009

About Recording on Thorpe with the Yamaha


Just for curiosity's sake:

Thorpe, my Asus EeePC 901 with Eeebuntu Jaunty Jackalope OS, came with a cute little stereo microphone built right in below the monitor. Xandros, the GNU/Linux distro it shipped with, had only the simplest audio recording software, and so did Eeebuntu, so I installed Audacity, which I've been using for three or four years now. I find it frequently buggy but capable. I'm especially pleased because the latest release, 1.2.6, has an .mp3 encoder that actually works. I could never export as .mp3 before and always had to export as .wav and convert to .mp3 in iTunes if I was on a Mac, or with a script I downloaded for Nautilus on Linux.

Since I record instrumentals and vocals at the same time, using the same microphone, it took the first four songs to find a good balance of vocals and instrumentals using the volume on the keyboard and the placement of the laptop. My biggest problem now is that the left channel of the stereo microphone is a lot quieter than the right channel. Since I don't think you can edit channels separately in Audacity (I don't know how, anyway), I have to just mix them down to mono. Which is okay, but stereo is very pretty to listen to. I'll have to check that out.

Another problem is that Thorpe's audio output is much weaker than a full-size laptop's. At full volume, it's quieter than 1/4 volume on an iMac--both the speakers and the headphone jack. So if it sounds kinda quiet in the recording, it's bound to be loud as hell in real life, and I can't check it without sticking it on my mp3 player. At least that's the opposite of the problem I usually have, which is super-quiet recordings that just distort when I try to get them any louder.

The Yamaha keyboard is adorable. It has phat beets.


  1. In audacity, to edit only one of the two tracks in a stereo file, click Track Title > Split Stereo Track. Then you can select, edit, and change the volume of each "ear" separately. Regarding the level of your recordings, its actually pretty decent. If you want to make sure they are as loud as possible without distorting, go to Effect > Compressor, the turn the threshold all the way to -1dB (all the way up), and make sure "Normalize to 0dB after compressing" is checked. This will put the peak amplitude of your entire song at 0dB.

  2. Thanks Forest!