Welcome to the second DIY Muso Spotlight. In this instalment we will be looking at the musical goings on of Michael O’Mara who I’ve know for a while now via the various online social groups we both belong to.
Michael is a very talented, knowledgable and lovable home studio enthusiast and a bit of an icon to me because of his ongoing work with the DIY muso community. He manages the Home Recording Studio Folks Facebook group and also produces a regular Home Recording Studio Folks podcast which features the work of members of the community interspersed with Michael’s own charismatic commentary.
So let’s find out what he’s up to…
Spotlight On: Michael O’Mara
Age: Pretty old 🙂
Location: Phoenix Arizona USA
DAW: Presonus Studio 1 Pro.
Audio Interface: Focusrite Scarlett 6i6.
Monitors: PreSonus E5 powered monitors .
Headphones: Nothing special some sony headsets.
Controllers (midi/surfaces): Williams Overture Electric Piano.
Instruments: Acoustic and electric guitars, Acoustic Bass guitar, Williams Overture Electric Piano and assorted toys.
Synthesizers/drum-machines: I use drum loops from the Loop Loft, and I access the synthesizers within Studio 1 with my electric/midi piano.
Microphones: AKG C214, a pair of Nady SCM 1000’s condenser mics and more
Who/What are your biggest musical influences? Too many, Beatles, Paul Simon, Dylan, Tom Waits, classical music and Jazz. So many others.
Which instruments do you play (if any)? Guitars mostly and sing but dabble in Bass, and keys.
When did you first get into recording/producing? Recording has always had a bit of magic for me. From a very young age when a neighbor had a little battery operated portable reel to reel. The first time I heard my voice played back I was hooked.
I started recording in the mid and late 70’s. Being a musician first, I needed to at least come up with a recorded demo of my music for audition purposes. I had a friend who built a nice studio and he had a Tascam Eight track 1/2 inch recorder. So he helped me do a demo and let me help out and learn from him.
How did you get into recording/producing? Really by necessity and by the seat of my pants, I love creating music and couldn’t afford to pay for studio time in a professional studio, so I started with a small four track cassette recorder and I’m using a DAW now. I’ve had everything in between. There’s so much more I’d like to have. After all it’s an addiction, as you know.
If I were to offer advise to new recordists and musicians it would be to work as hard as you can to stretch the boundaries of your recording by getting the best sound you can. Upgrade when you can. There will always be gear that’s better than what you currently have, so do the best you can with the gear you have. Don’t lose the passion.
What was your very first set-up? The Four track cassette recorder on a table. My mixer was my PA head.
Could you talk us through your usual recording/producing process? I’m a one man operation in my project studio I call The Bunker. When I decide what to record I first determine the tempo, and try to find a drum loop that works, than I lay down an acoustic guitar track and build from there one track at a time.
How do you manage your mastering? Studio One Pro has a Mastering Program built into the software. So I do it all. Not necessarily because I want to, it’s only because as a DIY recordist, it’s the only option I can afford. I call myself a recordist and not an engineer because I’ve had zero training.
Which piece of hardware could you absolutely not do without? My Focusrite 6i6 interface.
Which piece of hardware do you love the most? I’d have to say the Focusrite. There are better interfaces available, so what ever it takes to get me to the software is the most vital piece of hardware I have at this time.
Which plugins could you absolutely not do without? Studio One has very good plugins, again there are better plugins for a price. I stay with the standard plugins and try to stay away from third party plugins.
Which plugins do you love the most? Room reverbs, compression, and limiting I also like their amp simulator called Ampire, although I still haven’t found the perfect sound for me.
What would you say was the most significant upgrade/addition to your setup? I have no recent upgrades. I’m sort of a bare bones studio dude. I’ve been using a DAW for about 3 years. Before that it was a Korg Hard Disk Recorder.
What would you say are the most significant recording/producing lessons you’ve learnt up to now? I learn something new with every recording I do. I’m always finding helpful tutorials on youtube.
What’s next for your set-up in terms of new hardware/software and/or upgrades? I would like a midi drum pads of sorts. My drum tracks are the weak link in my music.
What’s next for you as a DIY musician? What’s next for me as a DIY musician is to keep creating new music, and continue to learn all I can, and reach out to other like minded musician from around the world. My window of music industry success has closed, but my passion for creating goes on. If I were to offer advise to new recordists and musicians it would be to work as hard as you can to stretch the boundaries of your recording by getting the best sound you can. Upgrade when you can. There will always be gear that’s better than what you currently have, so do the best you can with the gear you have. Don’t lose the passion.
Don’t forget the check out the Home Recording Studio Folks podcast
And also listen to some of Michael’s music here:
Thanks for reading this DIY Muso Spotlight, I hope you enjoyed it and found it valuable. Feel free to add your questions or comments below. If you would like to have the spotlight turned on you then don’t hesitate to ask!
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