Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Linux/Ardour Recording Rig

So about a half year ago, I got a wild hair and decided to build myself a computer recording rig for the purposes of creating demos for my band Sun Splitter and for whatever else I so chose. Given that it's one of my projects, I put it in it's natural place: the back burner. That is, I did until a certain North American government decided to give me six hundred dollars to save me from the terrorists. Not only do I appreciate the sentiment, I also appreciate having enough cash to spend on yet more musical equipment that I don't really need.

I bought myself a decent (or so I thought) motherboard case combo from an online retailer and four gigs of ram to which I added four two gigs I had sitting around. (This is absolutely ridiculous and unnecessary, I only bought this much ram to be a jackass. Also, I have six gigs of ram. Up yours!) I got a decent but lower-end AMD dual-core microprocessor, a used and slightly damaged flat screen monitor of eBay for fifty bucks and w/ an old mouse and keyboard I had laying around, I was in business.

The recording software I chose is called Ardour. I love it. It's open source and finicky and pisses off my whole band every time I record on it so it's just about perfect for me. I use it and subscribe to it monthly w/ a small donation. You should too. The thing about Ardour though is it's only for Linux and MacOSX. Having enough self-respect to avoid OSX, I opted for Linux. You should too.

I've tried a few Linux distros in my day and ultimately my favorite proved to be Ubuntu. Some nerds will bag on it for not being 1337 enough but, honestly, if they care so much about their Linux distro being hard to install, they are probably pretty boring to talk to anyway. Ubuntu is easy to install on most systems and they have a great forum if you get stuck. There's enough people on there that there's someone bored enough to help you w/ the dumbest n00b question. Don't be shy. The other nice thing about Ubuntu is there's a package called Ubuntu Studio that includes everything you need to get your audio workstation up and running. It's a bit bloated though as it contains all kinds of vidoe and picture editing. The best way, I decided, was simply to install vanilla Ubuntu and then install only the audio package of Ubuntu studio from there.

W/ that taken care of, I needed two more things, the most important being an audio interface for my computer. Normal computer soundcards simply don't cut it for serious recording. Thankfully, the other guitarist in Sun Splitter happened to have a Lexicon Omega USB interface laying around so that got us started. USB interfaces really aren't the best, better to have firewire or PCI (even though PCI is old there is good support in Linux), but we get by OK w/ this. The Sun Splitter tracks we have on the current page as of now were recorded using the Lexicon and a Windows laptop. He also provided the other thing we needed, "studio monitors." I put that in scare quotes because we're actually monitoring w/ an old stereo reciever and some nice stereo speakers he just had laying around.

Here it is:

You can't see the computer because it's under the desk and I'm not getting down on that floor for any reason. It's filthy.

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