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Old 21-02-2012, 14:44   #1
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Music Studio on Board

Am about to order a new 63'. My hobby is composing lounge/downtempo electronica, and am not willing to give it up once i cast off. So i am keen to have a small pc-based project studio on board. I also currently jam a lot (jazz, blues, rock-n-roll) and am hoping there may be opportunities to play with others, so want to have a few instruments for this on board: couple of guitars, a small amp, a keyboard. My questions: a. To the best of your knowledge has anyone ever attempted this (studio on sailboat), if yes - any pointers/words of wisdom? B. Do any of you musician cruisers out there ever jam with each other or onshore, or should i just forget about it? Thanks in advance! Greg
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Old 21-02-2012, 15:31   #2
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Re: Music studio on board

The background "instrument" of waves lapping the hull should give your work a personal touch. In the 80's I was in Bahia Concepcion, and a group of cruisers put on an impromptu concert aboard a cat with speakers facing the beach. The other cruisers took their dinghies ashore and we all had a ball, dancing/grooving to the tunes all night and also relaxing in the rock built up hot springs.
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Old 21-02-2012, 17:08   #3
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Re: Music studio on board

Yes, a good friend of mine spent months on board my previous boat, at anchor in the Indian Ocean, recording music with locals in Bali, Mauritious, Seychelles, and etc, and then editing it on a laptop.

I really like what he made out there. He's very flexible and ranges from blues to electro funk and ... other things that I don't have words for. Anyways, he met a lot of local musicians and was able to play with them and make something weird that kind of matches their vibe, but with his projection of it. Everything from traditional gamelan's in Bali or deep island drums to modern island hip hop and rap.

He's now back to being a landlubber, with cute baby, but I can put you in touch if you have any questions -- PM me...


^^^ The album cover, made on a night watch somewhere between Vanuatu and Darwin... Yes, we got bored on night watches and would have photoshop contests.
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Old 21-02-2012, 19:08   #4
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Re: Music Studio on Board

I have a laptop with Logic on it on board. I keep a guitar, mando, fiddle and various percussive things for after dinner or when folks drop by. We've jammed aboard a few times with good results. Space and environmental sounds are the only hurdles. Then again, I've recorded some great stuff in peoples' houses, bass in the toilet, drummer in the master bedroom, guitar in the kitchen, vocals in the hallway; for isolation. Outside honking horns, barking dogs and all. Don't see why you couldn't figure something like that out on a 63 footer. Of course you can always go bluegrass style and stand around one mic in the salon, step up for vocals and solos. Good luck with it and above all, have fun!
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Old 21-02-2012, 20:24   #5
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Re: Music Studio on Board

Hay Bob thanks for the reminder I"d forgotten about the Hot Springs LOL I will remember now !!! Bob and Connie
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Old 21-02-2012, 21:04   #6
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Re: Music Studio on Board

Bob & Connie,

Those hot springs are a long haul from Montegut, LA. Do you folks cruise Baja a lot?
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Old 21-02-2012, 22:18   #7
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Re: Music Studio on Board

even ten years ago it would have been impossible, but the advances in computer-based recording have been incredible. back when I lived on land I had a very extensive electronic music studio in my basement, but I had to sell it all off in order to move onto the boat.

here's my studio now:

Ableton Live software on a Macbook Pro, using a Focusrite VRM Box and Audio-Technica ATH-M50 headphones.

For tracking guitar or vocals I picked up a used Native Instruments Audio Kontrol 1 interface, which gives me a nice mic pre for my mics and a line input for my acoustic-electric guitar, at 24bit/96khz, a recording clarity that studio techs in the 1980's would have happily given their first born children for.

Mic-wise I've got a Shure SM-57 and and SM-58 and an Audio-Techica AT-3030 large cardoid condenser, which covers just about everything I'd want to record.

...now if I could only find the time to record! :blush:
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Old 22-02-2012, 05:40   #8
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Re: Music Studio on Board

Guys - thank you all, this is awesome and very very encouraging! I guess I am not the only crazy one out there ))) My take from your feedback is (a) yes, jams do happen, and the opportunities are priceless, so well worth it to keep a few instruments on board; (b) there are people out there who have PC-based recording studio setups on their boats and use it, although what I heard so far from you is that people keep it more basic then I was planning for my project. My planned setup included a fixed workstation, set up with a Sonar-based DAW, similiar to what i have in my home studio: 24' screen and wireless keyboard, with laptop hidden in the cupboard, MC PRO DAW controller, Nord Stage 2 keyboard on a pull-out shelf, RME fireface A/D interface, UAD Satellite for effects (am hooked on it!), Genelecs 6010A monitors, sound absorbing panels at "mirror spots" around the monitoring position. I can see nobody drags any further outboard with them from studio to the boat, which makes sense, i guess... And a couple of additional lessons from your comments that I have not thought about: will definitely add a portable audio recorder to keep records of the jams and local sounds; should add a bongo or another drum-type instrument to make the jams more vivid. One follow up question - do you find the humidity interfering with the electrical connections or impacting the instruments? How do you deal with it? Once again - thanks for all your help guys, tremendously helpful!!!
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Old 22-02-2012, 06:23   #9
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Re: Music Studio on Board

My only regret is that I always forget to record the beach jams when they happen. I always have my laptop with Logic Pro, a good mic and compact preamp, a guitar and several small accoustic instruments handy (harmonica, melodica, tamborines, drums/percussion, and, of course, my toy piano!)
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Old 22-02-2012, 07:38   #10
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Re: Music Studio on Board

@gkrasnov sounds like a fine setup. I'd have a full on control area if i had the space for it. Humidity is always a problem for everything on board for sure. I don't know if there is anything one can do about the electronics. Love to hear from others on that one. I worry more about keeping the instruments correct. Electronics are replaceable but I'd cry like a baby if my mando pretzled so I keep a humidity control in there with it and pull it out and pick on it regularly. They get sad if you don't play 'em.
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Old 22-02-2012, 09:41   #11
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Re: Music Studio on Board

I would have a really hard time bringing that kind of gear onto a boat, especially if I intended to take that boat anywhere. salt air is a death sentence for a lot of electronics over time. I would cry if I saw Genelecs with mildew on the cones, and sound absorbing panels sound like a mould attractor...

seriously, take a hard look at the VRM Box as a monitoring solution. space on a boat is already at a premium, and dedicating a whole section of your boat to one task - even if that's your full-time day job - can be really tricky. my entire studio fits handily into a backpack, and can be use on the boat or off.

in the end it's the recordings that matter, not the gear, right?
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Old 22-02-2012, 09:44   #12
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Re: Music Studio on Board

Yes, I think jams with the locals make it a very cool hobby for while you are out traveling far...

Quote:
Originally Posted by gkrasnov View Post
One follow up question - do you find the humidity interfering with the electrical connections or impacting the instruments? How do you deal with it? Once again - thanks for all your help guys, tremendously helpful!!!
We had problems with some kind of humidity related bacteria eating the silver part inside of CD, so that you could see through them with little lines.

We lost our laptop once due to waves coming through hatches or portlights and soaking everything. This is actually quite common -- people have a portlight over their nav station, and forget to close it at sea, then a wave comes and they soak a lot of electronics at the nav station. I even had friends who lost everything when water came through a dorade that was above their nav station. This happened to me once, water through a portlight over the nav desk, and so I loctite'd it shut, permanently.

We also had laptops get mad because we were using them with wet hands (or damp hair). So we eventually settled on keeping the laptop safely tucked away in a cabinet, and using a waterproof keyboard and cheap mouse to operate it. It's hard to have the discipline to always dry off if your hands are slightly wet from pulling on a sheet outside, or you are dripping yourself. Dry towels tend to be in very short supply on our boat.

The connections were generally fine, since we only messed with them with dry hands.

Fatty Goodlander has a good system, he makes an "Arizona desert box" for his electronics. It's just cheap tupperware with dehumidifier and a humidity meter on it. I'll do that next time to anything I want to keep working for a long time.

Also, keep in mind that most boats have limited power. We did, at least, and my friend ended up buying an extra solar panel just to help power his long sessions on the laptop.
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Old 22-02-2012, 10:18   #13
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Re: Music Studio on Board

On-Hold Messages and Voiceovers

My wife is a professional voice talent. She has a studio at home. I don't know much about the various pieces of equipment but physically they could easily be set up at a good sized nav station. We've talked about how to set up a studio on a boat so when we take off for cruising she can still make daddy some money. I think it's very do-able.
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Old 22-02-2012, 10:28   #14
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Re: Music Studio on Board

Once upon a time, I worked at Summerfield Boat Works in Ft. Lauderdale as a shipwright.
We replaced a bunch of frames & decking on Neil Young's "Ragland" 65' Danish fishing schooner.
He had a complete recording studio in the fish hold!
Way too cool!!
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Old 22-02-2012, 10:35   #15
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Re: Music Studio on Board

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Originally Posted by rhr1956 View Post
On-Hold Messages and Voiceovers

My wife is a professional voice talent. She has a studio at home. I don't know much about the various pieces of equipment but physically they could easily be set up at a good sized nav station. We've talked about how to set up a studio on a boat so when we take off for cruising she can still make daddy some money. I think it's very do-able.
The most critical part about recording pro-quality vocals isn't so much the microphones and recording gear, it's more about the room (or booth) they're recorded in.

You're right, it's very do-able - but it's not like recording guitars, where the effect of recording the guitar in the bathtub is a desirable effect. You can go a long way with a portable "booth" made from multiple layers of thick, heavy blankets suspended from the ceiling around the voice talent and her microphone. Without paying attention to your "booth" it really doesn't matter how good the rest of your equipment is, it's pretty near impossible to get a professional-sounding result. A good microphone will pick up all the sounds that your brain has tuned out - the laptop fan, the water lapping at the hull, the flow of air through the vents, that airplane passing by...
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