Travellin’ Man – Recording on the Road

As parents, my wife and I don’t often have "spur of the moment" travel moments. A blended family like ours has to do a lot of logistics planning to get the kids all in one place in order to go to another place. But two weeks ago, Katherine and I had a chance to go out of town to see my brother’s family and my parents in Illinois, plus get her up to see Chicago in the summertime. We went from "let’s go to Atlanta" to "Let’s go HOME" in about 10 minutes. We packed up the car that night and were ready to hit the road in the morning.

This meant I had to be ready to record auditions over the course of the trip. Originally, we were going to go for a long weekend, but ended up staying the entire week. Rather than unwire my PreSonus Firebox and mic, I planned to stop and pick up a USB interface and use my AT-3035 mic (now relegated to backup duty after getting the VO-1A. So while cruising the perimeter of Indianapolis, we stopped and got a Blue Microphones Icicle USB Interface, a small mic stand and cable. So armed, we headed to meet my brother Brandon (lead singer of Champaign’s mighty Beat Kitchen), his wife Megan and my nephew Everett.

We overnighted at a little hotel down the road from their place, and as Katherine indulged in a swim, I set up my mobile kit for recording a few auditions.

A new bit I have been working into my home studio is the Sony Reader Touch Edition (seen laying atop my laptop in the picture). Printing so much paper for auditions seemed wasteful of paper and ink, and a drag on the environement I could control. Because I was not ready to shell out for an iPad, I looked for an ebook reader that was capable of allowing markups of notes and documents on the screen. The only reader capable of this is the Touch Edition. I had just started using it in my studio when we decided to go on our little jaunt, so it was the perfect opportunity to give it a real run. I copy the text of the script into a RTF (Rich Text Format) file and transfer it to the Reader, and it was definitely an advantage when I was on the road without access to a printer.

To isolate while I was voicing, we covered the small table in the room with both the blanket and comforter from the bed and ran the mic under it.

A word of warning: ALWAYS bring good headphones with you in this set up. I failed to do so, and that will come up later.

I was able to get good, quick auditions done before Katherine was done with her swim. Perfect!

The following Monday, we were at my parent’s home in Kankakee, IL. We were preparing to head out the door to spend the evening in Chicago when I got a call on my cell. It was the producer for one of the spots I auditioned for in the hotel room two days earlier. He wanted to record the spot I auditioned for that day. I told him we would be able to do that once we got to our hotel. After a bit of a drive, lunch (Katherine’s first experience with Chicago style stuffed pizza…winner!), and a frantic setup once the hotel let us get into our room, I had a similar treatment plan in the new hotel. This time (after a false start), I put the foldable towel rack in the center of the bed, flipped the comforter and blanket over the rack, and ran the mic under. After recording, the lack of quality headphones came to a head. Katherine was kind enough to walk down to Radio Shack two blocks from the hotel and pick up some headphones I could use while I did the preliminary edits. Once we got that all done, the files were off, and by morning, the completed spot was ready to go.


 Here’s the video for those who can’t see the embed: UPH Commercial.

And with that, the road recording adventure was at an end (well, less a couple more auditions, one of which resulted in me as a play by play announcer for a Louisiana Lotto radio spot). It was an effective load out that earned me money on the road. A few things to remember:

  1. A good USB interface for using your road mic is a very good thing. Blue Microphones, Shure, and CEntrance make good ones.
  2. Don’t forget your headphones!
  3. Explore paperless solutions to your studio like the Touch Reader, the iPad or the like for easy portability.
  4. Know what your settings are for processing your files on your laptop as well as you know them on your studio rig.
  5. Use the tools at hand to treat your area. You can spend money on finished solutions like the PortaBooth, but blankets and comforters can work in the clutch.
  6. Have an understanding, supportive partner for your travels. It makes the whole trip more enjoyable.



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