Tidepool Audio is a Portland, Oregon pro audio store focused on recording equipment, a reseller to musicians, engineers & producers who love good sound. We're not beholden to bean counters so we don't have to pressure people into buying gear just to make a quick sale. This may explain why we're still doing business sixteen years later. People seem to keep recommending Tidepool, and for that we're grateful.
This humble blog is a bare attempt to put into words our love of all things audio as used for music recording and playback. As 2019 winds down, most of our clients are still mixing and releasing their sounds, songs and albums in the two-channel (stereo) format. Twenty plus years ago some of us imagined that a greater percentage of music would be released in multi-channel surround sound formats. We're still (mostly) waiting.
Some may wonder what minimum gear will be required to seize the imperative, to own the means of production, to proudly (defiantly?) be D.I.Y. Assuming one will produce some sounds of an acoustic nature, here's what will be needed:
microphone, stand & cable
computer interface & cable
headphones and/or monitor speakers & two cables
If one is mainly concerned with making beats within his/her computer, they could conceivably skip the microphone. They will generally use 'soft' computer-generated instruments which may be free or cost very little.
Some of our clients have been making music for many years and may already own housefuls (or at least roomfuls) of audio equipment.
They may already own microphones in various/multiple categories (condenser, dynamic, ribbon). These microphones may be passive or active (self-contained preamplifier circuits, etc). If extremely fortunate, their mic locker may include a beast such as the Josephson C725 tube microphone.
They will own microphone preamplifiers that utilize solid-state or tube circuitry. These can complement particular microphones (mics) to bring out their best sonic attributes.
They will often have dedicated hardware compressor limiters designed to limit the dynamic range between the softest & the loudest sounds. This makes it easier for listeners to hear the soft musical passages while driving in a car or riding the subway. Some comp/limiters are designed to be as clear & unobtrusive as possible while some are treasured for their particular euphonic characteristics.
They may own dedicated hardware tone-shaping equalizers (EQ) to sculpt individual instruments and/or an entire stereo mix. These EQs may show a graphical representation of the frequencies being cut/boosted (graphic eq) or they may be of the more adjustable parametric variety.
They often have multiple monitor speakers to check their mix (ie, listen). They will have a monitor controller (a speaker/headphone switching network/volume knob) to listen to the speakers. The most common speakers in a musician's project studio are smallish and intended to be placed close-up to the listener, in the so-called 'near field' to maximize the direct sounds and to minimize the reverberant sounds a room's particular dimensions/construction will produce.
Upon reading the above, some may become dizzy with analysis paralysis and this is where we can help. Calling is the generally the best way to get an idea of what you want to accomplish. Goals and a budget can be set. At this point some people (rightly) may be better off swearing off any/all equipment purchases and instead deciding to book time at their local recording studio - your town probably has more than you're aware. While we'd love to sell everybody great recording gear to facilitate their musical vision, sometimes we just may recommend keeping what you've already got and/or booking time at a well-equipped studio.