What can you get with a single microphone, preamp, portable interface, and a laptop? A great recording, that’s what. Today’s Reader Spotlight is the very talented and funny band, I Cuigini d’Ungheria from Italy. Guitarist and engineer, Simone, created a killer sound with his simple laptop based studio. Plus they shot an incredibly funny video!

The Studio Setup

Simone’s apartment living room studio is centered around a three year old Macbook Pro running Cubase 5.5. His interfaces of choice were the MOTU Ultralite mkI and the MOTU 828 mkIII. His signal chain for just about everything (vocals, guitar, banjo, upright bass, clarinet) consisted of a Shure KSM 32 condenser mic running into a Universal Audio LA 610 preamp, hitting his MOTU interfaces.

Percussion was tracked with the same rig, and just the shaker you hear at 00:47” was tracked with my old Shure SM57 direct in the MOTU Ultralite. We love Michael Blair (Tom Waits drummer/percussionist) and we use the same approach for rhythm: I collected a lot of toys, broken things, bells, frying pans, pots… Bela also played my couch, miked with the KSM 32 and LA 610. I also programmed some percussion with EZ Drummer Twisted Kit. – Simone Salvatore

I love the creativity here. Instead of purely programming some drums and percussion Simone and his band went for organic sounds, anything they could find and bang around in front of a mic. The result (as you here in the video) is rich, warm, and engaging rhythm section. It’s also unique, giving them their own sound. Love it!

Mixing With Stock Plugins

Simone did a fabulous job recording this song. But his mix is where things really came together. This song has clarity, punch, warmth, and most importantly musicality. The best part about it all? He mixed it in his closet and used primarily the stock plugins in Cubase 5. Incredible!

I mixed entirely in Cubase 5.5 using the stock plugins and the ToneBoosters TB Ferox. I used a lot of your tips when mixing also like checking in mono, compressing the mix buss. Also I made the 500hz cut you suggested on the percussion group and BAM! It sounded immediately better! – Simone Salvatore

Dedicated To The Craft

Simone is one of those guys who just gets it. He’s taken full advantage of all the knowledge and training available these days, by putting it into practice. And guess what? His band’s music has benefited. Tips and techniques are nothing until you actually implement them in real life.

I’ve invested in a lot of your products and have to say they are the most REAL out there. I learned so much from you, and I recommend all the engineers I know to invest some money in your products, because today there are incredible possibilities, but you have to know how to use them! – Simone Salvatore

My hope, as always, is that hearing Simone and I Cugini d’Ungheria make great recordings like this one will only fuel your desire to do the same thing. I hope it motivates you to improve your craft by getting out there and actually making music. You likely already have all that you need to make killer sounding tracks, you just need to rethink what you’re doing with your gear and get to work!

For more great music from Simone and I Cugini d’Ungheria, subscribe to their YouTube channel, like them on Facebook, and check out their website as well.