8 Bulletproof Ways To Avoid Studio Disasters

Brandon Drury —  November 5, 2012 — Leave a comment


Losing The Drums On A Big Project / Control-C, Control+P

It takes a staggering amount of effort to backup your audio folder in Windows. In addition to the titanic effort of copying, you have to navigate to a folder on a different hard drive before pasting.

It’s funny how this takes literally 4 seconds, but many people lose hyper important audio work from not doinag this at the end of a session. Most of us have separate audio drives for the operating system, recorded audio, and samples. That hard drive dedicated to the OS has all kinds of free time on his hands and can easily manage to store a backup of all your audio.

I find that I crash a hell of a lot more than my hard drives. I screw things up and often need to resort back to a previous version. It’s very nice having not only all the wav files, but also the old project files from the recording software.

Your Computer And Interface Totally Fry / $30 Surge Protector

I’m not entirely sure if an uninterrupted power supply is the best way to fight against the lightning of Zeus, but in my brain it makes sense. Maybe someone who knows can chime in. I do remember from school that good ol’ zener diode-equipped surge protectors made the best protection electrical mayhem. Without them you probably just have an extension cord.

Mountain Dew Doom On Your Gear Rack/ Enforce A Militant Liquid Policy

No, this isn’t a rant about the consumption of everyone’s favorite disinfectant. I think the sobriety of Dark Side of The Moon speaks for itself. I’m talking about electrical conductance. I catch people almost every day trying to put their 32oz soda on top of my rack that contains 4 patchbays, 3 Apogee converters, and the power supply to my console. I’m not a stickler about too many things. I’m absolutely CRAZED about having ZERO liquid on top of the racks.

I’ll gladly kick over 3 glasses a day (and I generally do) before I risk just one drop into a rack.

You Computer’s Funeral / Keep The Computer Case Closed

Yes, I dumped a cup of coffee in an open computer case when it was on. Yes, I somehow managed to live through that one. The fact that my motherly instincts kicked in and I yanked the power in about 0.0000000023 seconds may have been a factor. Another 2ms and she’d had surely been a goner.

I can think of zero reason why a computer case needs to be open unless you are actually working on the thing. It’s a good habit just to keep dust out of that CPU heatsink…..a major cause for heat and noise.

Your Trust LDC Worked 5 Minutes Ago / Trust Mic Stands Like You Trust Your Ex-Wife

If you are like millions, your ex-wife is a cheating whore. She can’t be trusted. Few mic stands are candidates for the medal of honor, either. Most mic stands are barely metal at all. If you haven’t had a Shure SM7b or an LDC start to topple because of a cheap stand, you probably haven’t used a Shure SM7b or LDC.

The rule of mic placement being one of the most important factors of audio engineering doesn’t apply when your mic is the morgue.

I highly recommend utilizing cheapo weight sets to add tremendous strength to your mic stands. Just unscrew the mic stand, run the mic stand shaft through about 5-10lbs of weight and screw it back on. You instantly have a $100 mic stand….mostly. I don’t recommend 15lb weights. They’ll tear the mic stand apart when you carry it.

Nicer mic stands are dramatically more trustworthy particularly if they have a counterweight. See this thread: I need a durable microphone stand (apparently).

When gravity presents a risk, never risk it by hanging the mic too far off center. There’s almost always a way to move a mic so that it isn’t hanging like some kind of mic boom in a movie. The one exception to that is drums where it takes some real luck and skill to get the mics in there. If you have a mic falling over on a guitar amp, you are being lazy. My rule is to only be lazy when other people’s stuff breaks.

You Trip And Jab A Headstock Into Your Eye Socket / Carry The Anti-Cable Torch

The struggle of studio guy vs evil cable gods has been going on for centuries and will continue for the foreseeable future. You won’t win no matter how hard you fight. No matter how much effort you place into organizing your cables and keeping them out of the way, the cable mess will return. It always does.

On the other side of the coin, if you do not at least put up a struggle for little more than pride, the cable gods will know it. Someone will trip and knock the headstock off your Les Paul. It’s inevitable.

So lay it on the line and take your butt kicking. It beats broken toys.

Oswald Gets You From A Book Depository / Boycott Politics

If you are recording other bands, you will eventually find a band that wants you to engage in some kind Valkyrie-like plot to kill the singer. I have no idea why bands would want an outside party involved in their meddling. Scratch that. I HAD no idea. If you partake and, oh, I don’t know, go ahead and record some other secret singer onto the band’s tracks, the band will blame you when the new guy doesn’t work out and the old whino gets wind of the situation.

When these CLASSIFIED vocals are being laid down, you’ll hear ‘em say, “Oh screw, Eddie! Ha! Ha!” 10 days later when the truth comes out, they’ll calm down and put the blame on you, the engineer. It happens every freakin’ time.

Note: If you do have good reason to partake, make sure to record a bit of the band bad-talking their old singer. I wouldn’t ever play it back to the old singer, but I would make sure the band knew I had it. This helps keeps everyone on their best behavior.

You HAD All Your Organs In Tact / Understand The Woman Scheduling Fiasco

It’s taken me a decade, but I finally figured out the secret to balancing chicks and studio work. Okay, there is no SECRET, necessarily. However, I had a client over last week and his girlfriend was tearing him a new one because he was four hours late. He made the mistake of trying to explain how he was looking for the perfect tone and that took a lot of tweaking.

I was trying not to listen, but it’s hard to block out, “HOW F@#KING LONG DOES IT TAKE TO RECORD A F@!KING GUITAR. OH MY GOD!!!!!!!!!!” That cell phone had to be hitting 75dB from across the room.

It occurred to me that I rarely have these problems anymore because I always assume the worst when it comes to scheduling. If I expect to be done by 7pm, I can count on midnight. If I expect midnight, I can count on 4am. When you apply this A-weighting to it, the women are much happier.

It comes down not to the fact that your ugly ass isn’t home. They don’t care about that. It’s the fact that their expectations weren’t met. When you are with the guys in the band room 17 miles away and won’t be back for six hours, she has time to sneak the pool boy over. She’s a happy camper after that. (See the mic stand section above.)

In times when I have to be a a funeral at 6pm, I tell the band right away (as in as soon as I find out…possibly days in advance) that I absolutely have to be at a funeral at 6pm. If they know ahead of time, it’s almost never an issue. If you spring it on ‘em at 5:50pm, it’s ALWAYS a problem.


Saved Comments

dudermn – 11-29-2011, 03:35 AM Edit Reply
Is that Florida ?! !!

u2redlight – 11-29-2011, 03:47 AM Edit Reply
cool & very true reading

Cailyn – 11-29-2011, 08:33 AM Edit Reply
Perhaps this should have been called the Neanderthal Guide to Avoiding Studio Disasters since no woman would need this advice. We are too obsessed with neatness to allow any beverages at all in the studio. Being good at multitasking, we would have all the cords neatly taped down and would back up every 5 minutes at a minimum. Likewise, the computer case would be spotless and we would have the cutest, most expensive surge protector money can buy–from Victoria’s Secret no less. Most of all, I have no female scheduling issues. I dumped my dumbass guitar-player boyfriend and now date the pool guy.

Mikey5 – 11-29-2011, 08:33 AM Edit Reply
Hey, the best way to make sure the backup happens is to have backup software that either replicates changes as they happen or copy changes at a scheduled time. I use a product called SynchBackSE from this site:SyncBackSE easy backup software – the ideal simple backup software

The great thing is that whether you choose to replicate the files as they change or do a scheduled backup the files aren’t bundled in a typical single backup file where you have to go through a wizard and do a restore but rather they are copied in the same file/tree structure that is on the computer so you can just go to the folder where the backup is and copy and paste the files or folders you need. I have no connection whatsoever to this company except that I use this product and it’s the best solution for the money. It only costs around $35.00. I work in IT and I approve this message!HoundDog Mike & the Crusade

2dogs – 11-29-2011, 09:23 AM Edit Reply
Holy smokes man, you had me laughing out loud. “75db from across the room”. EVen my wife found it funny.But in all seriousness you bring good points that are no brainers in your workfolw.Always backup (regularly) on separate hard drives and keep safe copies of your projects. Always protect your electronics with surge protection. (I’m an electronics technologist). A power bar won’t protect from a direct lightning strike, you need a panel surge suppressor for that. But a power bar type suppressor will protect from power outage spikes which are common. Prepare to spend more than $100. Don’t be cheap, it’ll save you thousands.Tell your clients what the rules are. In my studio, no drugs and no f’n drinks of any kind on the console. I’d rather have a client uptight than lose my gear for the hundreds who will follow. Tks for the reminder man. Keep up the great work. Its appreciated.Gil Roger2Dogs Productions

Geissler – 11-29-2011, 10:03 AM Edit Reply
Ctrl+C, ctrl+P…

Copy and print?

ajs – 11-29-2011, 10:37 AM Edit Reply
The comedy of these posts kill me every time. Great post.

zift – 11-29-2011, 11:03 AM Edit Reply
lol. so am not the only genious anchoring mic stands with cheapo dumbell weights..

artzeal – 11-29-2011, 12:12 PM Edit Reply
I always backup the session to DVD, label and archive it. Cheap insurance. Plus the ongoing Hard drive backup.

I find the ribbed lubricated surge protectors very reliable, although I’ve never actually used them in the studio.

LazyE – 11-29-2011, 03:47 PM Edit Reply
Hearing you on the `you HAD al your organs intact` lolif i ever divorce, i`m marrying my synth ;-)

fHumble fHingaz – 11-29-2011, 06:39 PM Edit Reply
I love the advice about the weights on the mic stand – GENIUS! If I’d known this 2 years ago, you might have saved me the cost of a LDC.

Robert200 – 12-02-2011, 02:17 PM Edit Reply
PRO 2000 with Clean Power™ Stage 2, Dual Mode Plus Protection, and 12 Color-Coded Outlets The inexpensive power strips for under 20 bucks are nothing more than multi outlet extensions… very little if any protection from surges or spikes… I almost sprung for this Monster Pro 2000 … available for 189 on Amazon…. The expense comes from them using better quality components to handle higher spikes and surges…. The spec you want to look at is “joules” .. the higher the better… this one is 2775 joules… The other thing the more expensive ones do isolate one outlet from another… so if one piece or your equipment is producing hum… its supposed to be isolated to that outlet and not cross over… doesn’t help if its your amp causing it as you will be hearing the hum out of your amp… There are 5 stages of isolation… This above unit provides up to Stage 2…. the more expensive units offering more protection are here: MONSTER CABLE – Monster Power A description of the Levels of power protection is here: Monster Power for Better Picture and Sound

Robert200 – 12-02-2011, 02:53 PM Edit Reply
One has to be careful and make sure they are pouring milk on their corn flakes and not Kool Aid in the morning… This power receptacle $649.00 is a Stage 2 device providing 340 joules of protection… Hi Fi Home Theater Audiophile Power Conditioner Strip Surge Suppressor | Essential Sound Products The Monster Pro200 is 2750 joules and available on Amazon for 189… I’m not sure what what the additional 400 bucks is getting you…. Some people like cooking their pasta with Kool Aid… For those people they can get this… Best Audiophile Power Cord Hi Fi Power Cable High End Audio Cord | Essential Sound Products I’ve been down this trail… For me it comes down to the diameter (gauge) of the conductor, whether its shielded or not… (important if its a long cord and needs to go over other power lines.. air conditioner etc) … and the general construction…. how pretty you want it… Find an electrical supply house… get a shielded power cord in 14 gauge and find some of that nylon sheathing or colored shrink wrap.. probably for under 30 bucks… will it look as good as the 600 dollar power cord no… the dollar differential is ridiculous … I could see up to 100 bucks if the money was burning a hole in your pocket… there is something to be said for the visual aspect… ESP MusicCord Power Cord Specifications Shielded Power Cable | Essential Sound Products

Wendy – 12-03-2011, 05:15 PM Edit Reply
Ha!! Perfect response!! And so true……

Originally Posted by Cailyn
Perhaps this should have been called the Neanderthal Guide to Avoiding Studio Disasters since no woman would need this advice. We are too obsessed with neatness to allow any beverages at all in the studio. Being good at multitasking, we would have all the cords neatly taped down and would back up every 5 minutes at a minimum. Likewise, the computer case would be spotless and we would have the cutest, most expensive surge protector money can buy–from Victoria’s Secret no less. Most of all, I have no female scheduling issues. I dumped my dumbass guitar-player boyfriend and now date the pool guy.

kylevaughan – 01-17-2012, 10:47 AM Edit Reply
yeah im pretty bad for cable mess and studio mess in general. when i start a mix my room is clean as a whistle, when im done a mix theres about 5 empty packs of smokes, and over flowing ashtray, a case worth of empty pop cans, and all sorts of other shit all over the place, and thats just on my desk! no need to mention the rats nest of cables surrounding me so bad i cant wheel my chair 6″ without running over one lol

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.

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