Editing Episode 9 - More Cable

Marvel Comics' Ghost Rider

Why yes, I would like to borrow your
Zoom H4n Handy Recorder

At the end of last month’s thrilling instalment, you may recall that the heretofore reliable AST technology had undergone catastrophic working-properlyness failure. Episode 8 was eventually rescued by a man on a motorbike, but we couldn’t rely on that happening every time. So, I had to find a way to make sure that we could get safely through Episode 9. For reasons that now escape me, the first step involved inviting Action Dan and Science Brian to my house and feeding them steak and chips.

Seriously – I’ve got to work out what they’re putting in my water.

A handy maxim I’ve developed over the years when dealing with all things sound-equipmenty is “plug more cable into more things”. Up to now, the amount of cable involved in AST recordings had been disappointingly small.

Microphone → Recorder (×3)

Hardly worth getting out of bed for. Now I had the opportunity to double that:

Microphone → Unnecessarily large mixer → Recorder (×3)

This also has the bonus effect of increasing the number of twiddly knobs – and thus my status as a sound engineer – by around 20-fold. Now we’re getting somewhere. Next step: try it out. Which is where Messrs Dan and Brian and their eating habits come in.

Having plied them with dinner, we repair to my spare room the Action Science Theatre Central Recording Complex to test out my theories. It’s round about here that I lose a certain degree of control of events, and I am forced to endure mangled renditions of Goon Show sketches at high volume until I can fix the sound balance. Let’s just say I’m highly motivated to succeed.

And did I succeed? Well, have a listen to Episode 9. If you can’t hear chirruping hard drives (or Goon Show sketches, for that matter), then it seems that I did.

I was taken to task somewhat over last month’s blog, in which I likened the recording of an AST episode to the lyrics of Chris Rea’s Road to Hell. Taken in their most literal interpretation, yes, I concede that the lyrics do not reflect a typical recording session. We do not record ‘underneath the streetlights’, the room is not full of ‘bits of paper flying away’, and we don’t quite achieve a ‘perverted fear of violence’. But… I would argue that I was simply trying to convey the existential horror that I face every month when forced to endure another AST session. You’d have thought that I wouldn’t have to explain metaphor to an English Literature graduate (albeit from a provincial university), but what do I know – I’m just a scientist…

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