9 - How How Cakewalk Spoiled Us
(ă 1998 - revised 10/04)
Cakewalk Spoiled Us
A song my wife Cheryl wrote for an offertory special at church gave me a chance to put Cakewalk Pro Audio’s integrated MIDI and digital audio features to good use.
Cheryl wanted to give a cassette recording of this new song to a couple of singers on our Worship Team so they could work out some background vocals for it. Normally, we just put a portable cassette recorder near our acoustic piano and Cheryl plays and sings while the tape is recording. This has always been good enough for our purposes, but this time I decided to produce a tape that was a bit more polished and professional sounding.
The Cakewalk software made this very easy to accomplish. The main components I used are listed below…
NOTE: The current version of the Cakewalk software used today is called SONAR
Recording The Piano Part First (via MIDI)
The Roland digital piano is connected to the computer via a gameport-to-MIDI cable attached to its SoundBlaster soundcard. I had Cheryl play the digital piano while the the Cakewalk software recorded her performance as a MIDI soundtrack. We got the entire piano part recorded in only one take.
Recording The Vocal (via digital audio)
Next, we recorded
Cheryl’s voice (the soprano part) in sync with the MIDI track. This is
simple to do in Cakewalk. I have my hardware set up so that the MIDI
tracks are played through a Roland sound module that is connected to a
tiny desktop mixer. I plugged in a set of headphones to the mixer so
Cheryl could listen to the piano part without it interfering with the
vocal recording. I used the SoundBlaster AWE 32 soundcard for the digital
audio recording by plugging a microphone into the back of the card.
We checked the playback and recording levels, selected a blank track in Cakewalk, and began the digital audio recording. We recorded the vocal part in three takes, keeping the best one for use in the final mixdown.
The vocal was recorded dry (no effects). I did this intentionally, because I wanted to add some reverb using Cakewalk’s own built-in effects. I used a Medium Room Reverb as a track insert on Cheryl’s vocal track. We experimented for a few minutes, adjusting the reverb settings until we got the effect we wanted on her vocal. (Cakewalk has two methods of adding effects… Track Insert or Effects Loop. Using a Track Insert lets you assign any number of effects to individual tracks, while Effects Loop allows several tracks to share a common effect.)
Recording The Final Mix To Cassette Tape
This has really spoiled us (no more scratchy, boomy portable cassette recordings for us!). You might be curious how much time it took us to do all this. From start to finish, we spent less than half an hour! It’s getting just too easy to get a professional result nowadays!
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