another "field recording"; audio/Mac miscellany

Thursday, Caroline and I traveled to Richardson (heart of the Dallas “telecom corridor”) to see her father and record his bi-weekly gig. I hadn’t done much with the equipment or Cubase since the trip last year. Setting up the equipment and the actual recording seemed to go smoothly, but I should have been better prepared, for monitoring the recording and better framing the video with the camera.

Yesterday I mixed the audio, used it in place of the camera’s audio track, and broke it up into segments for YouTube: Charlie Abbitt – Live at The Wellington May 22, 2008.

I’d hardly touched Cubase LE since August, and didn’t really remember much of what I had learned back then. What I did remember was sending analog output from the iO|14 to the audio input of another computer for mixdown. Though that memory was correct, that was not the best approach.

Fortuanately, I have been using Audacity frequently for simpler recording and sound processing. I routinely export processed audio from Audacity without involving a second system. My main learning yesterday was that Cubase does have export facilities (D’oh!), whch are quite usable and useful, such that a separate computer for mixdown was unnecessary (and potentially would have compromised audio quality).

Before the realization that a second computer was wrong headed, I thought about using the recently acquired iMac G4 pedestal. I thought I spied an analog input on the back next to the (“headphone”) analog output, but I was wrong — that connector is an Apple proprietary “Apple speaker minijack  for connection to Apple Pro Speakers”. OS X System Profiler and System Preferences tell me the only built-in audio input is the mic. Determining that was not easy, with only minimal info readily available from both & Google, but one of my Mac expert friends confirmed my determination. Even he had to stare at the back of one of his pedestals to be sure.

To try to end this rambling, but finish the story, this morning I wondered more about the 1/8″ combined analog/digital audio jacks on more recent Macs. The iO|14 has S/PDIF coaxial RCA digital input/output. The Mac jacks are S/PDIF optical, but not the typical TOSLINK, since those are different size/shape from the ubiquitous 1/8″ analog jacks. I finally found the explanation that the Mac jacks are “mini-TOSLINK”, that optical adapters are inexpensive, and that bi-directional coaxial/optical converters are not expensive. 

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