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Bad History on Salyut 7? By Korolev's Teeth, Good Heaven!

Many among you may recall a recent conga line of financially and critically successful science-fiction films taking place in space, such as The Martian, Interstellar and that other film that I didn't much care for, Gravity. Not to be outdone, CTB Film Company, Globus-film and Lemon Films Studio decided to produce (or were possibly asked to produce) a Russian language answer to these popular films that's even given the additional title on Amazon as, "The True Story of the Soviet 'Apollo 13': Salyut 7.

As is generally to be expected from historical dramas, it's predictably ahistorical drama. "True story" my legacy propulsion module!

A bit of background into the real events: Salyut 7 was the final entry (but technically not the 7th) in a series of monolithic space stations like America's Skylab. Carried into orbit atop the UR-500 AKA Proton launch vehicles, these stations were originally intended to serve as military reconnaissance platforms. In contrast with its successful predecessor, Salyut 6, Salyut 7 experienced severe issues and went power down and radio silent on February 11th, 1985. Representing a considerable investment and not even three years old after it went dark after several other serious repairs, the decision was made to send a two person crew to board Salyut 7 and bring it back online if possible. Consisting of veteran cosmonauts Vladimir Dzhanibekov and Viktor Savinykh aboard Soyuz T-13, this team would successfully dock with Salyut 7 on June 8th, 1985 and restore it to full functionality by the month's end before remaining on the station for an extended stay and safely landing on the 26th of September.

Now, there's a funny story behind this particular wall of text you may or may not about to read and, no, it's not that I wrote all of this on Notepad (which I did, but that's not so much funny as it is very sad). No, the funny story is that I had originally planned on simply panning the trailer for its rather blatant BadHistory. However, in the course of my finding a source for it being compared to Apollo 13, I discovered that the movie could be watched in its entirety by Amazon Prime subscribers. As such, I could not in good conscience get away with simply watching the trailer. So you sickos get to enjoy my prolonged suffering as I'm forced to watch this disaster of a movie play at a BadHistory Black Site Education Facility.

Without further stalling for the inevitable torturing that awaits: Enter the nightmare fueled realm that is Salyut 7.

0:00:00 It was the dawn of the Third Age of Mankind, twenty-four years after the Great Patriotic War. The Salyut Project was a dream given form. Its goal: To prevent another war by creating a place where laborers and scientists could advance socialism peacefully. It's a place of all - home away from home for scientists, engineers, soldiers and revolutionaries. Three occupants wrapped in twenty tons of aircraft grade alloys, all alone in the night. It can be a dangerous place, but it's our last best hope for peace. This is the story of the Salyut stations. The year is 1984. The name of the place is Salyut 7.

I have a confession to make: That's not the real intro. Sorry, but I couldn't resist. Here's where things actually start . . .

0:00:40 "This film is based on the events of the 1985 Salyut 7 rescue mission" sounds somewhat better than, "Based on true events."

0:01:15 Interestingly, the movie opens up with Svetlana Savitskaya's groundbreaking vacuum welding experiment as part of the Soyuz T-12 crew in 1984, her second trip to Salyut 7. Unfortunately, this is also where we get our first clear BadHistory (and some Bad CGI for good measure). Salyut 7 is depicted as having a full load of two, "clip on" photovoltaic arrays attached to the sides of all three primary arrays. In reality, Salyut 7's Solar panel loadout wouldn't be completed until cosmonauts Savinykh and Dzhanibekov installed the final par of extensions on the third unaugmented array as part of a nearly five hour EVA in August 2nd of 1985 that Savinykh was specifically trained for (Harland 133), and the correct version is depicted here as was seen by Soyuz T-13 itself.

More alarming, however, is the depiction of Soyuz T-12 as the wrong model of Soyuz. You see, the version in the film is actually closest in appearance to the Soyuz YK-TM of Apollo-Soyuz Test Project fame, rather than the actual Soyuz T. While most people couldn't tell the difference between Soyuz spacecraft variants and I wouldn't think any less of them, the makers of a feature length film should probably put in a bit more effort than this. Indeed, the instrumentation module of the Soyuz-T isn't even remotely similar to the older models, particularly since the family used a unified propulsion and propellant system in lieu of different propellants and tankage for the main propulsion and secondary thrusters (Hall & Shayler 287). Moreover, the Solar panels are also of the wrong configuration (four panel instead of three) while boasting the same antenna as the Soyuz 7K-TM. The orbit module also boasts 7K-TM vintage antennae, unusual given their rarity!

As an additional note, none of the names in this movie completely match up with the real names of the individuals they're allegedly depicting. Because I'm already familiar with them, I'll be using the real names or fall back to descriptive nick names when clearly fictional personalities pollute my monitor.

0:01:55: Cosmonaut Igor Volk radios Savitskaya and fellow cosmonaut on EVA, Vladimir Dzhanibekov (the hero of our story) to, ". . . get back inside. You're 4 hours and 10 minutes into the EVA." In reality, the EVA lasted 3 hours a 30 minutes minutes (Wade). Even including the standard 30 minutes of prebreath time required for using the Orlan-D, the given time would still be off (Hoffman 42).

Now, for those keeping track, I'm not even two minutes into the movie. If you're not keeping track, you may wish to get your eyes checked because the time stamps are literally on the left side of these paragraphs.

0:03:33 Savitskaya punctures her glove with a welding burr while picking up one of the panels with weld samples, and bad science-fiction levels of depressurization fears ensue. As most of you probably have already guessed, this whole thing did not happen in real life. In reality, the crew completed their welding without issues (aside from stellar glare in Savitskaya's helmet) and even managed to pick up sample cassettes before calling it a day. I'm beginning to think this movie may not be based on true events at all!

Interestingly enough, NASA astronaut STS-37 mission specialist Jay Apt actually did suffer a puncture of his right glove during an EVA, but this wasn't even noticed until a medical examination conducted after they had landed (Fricke 16).

0:04:14 After verifying that her suit pressure is dropping, Savitskaya is asked to provide her current suit pressure and states that it is at 0.7 atmospheres. This one actually cracked me up, as the operating pressure for most space suits is far lower than that of one atmosphere. The standard operating pressure for her mission's well used Orlan-D is less than 0.4 atmospheres (Hoffman 42). At 0.7 atmospheres, she would have probably experienced increased difficulty operating her suit. This is followed by Savitskaya freaking out (which did not happen) as she is walked arm in hand by her peer (which also did not happen). This actually manages to infuriate me, as it trivializes Savitskaya's uneventful and extraordinarily professional work while managing to portray her, one of the few woman cosmonauts to have ever flown, as being weaker than the good old ole' boys. The subtitles even include an, "atta girl!" as she's pushed into the airlock.

0:05:36 So, now that the movie's succeeded in making me angry, it has Dzhanibekov stop to turn and stare at a glowing blue light. Maybe the aliens from The Abyss are visiting? I wish they would, too, because that's a much better movie. Even the theatrical cut. I don't care. Just make it stop. By the way: The source of this glow is never addressed.

0:05:56 Title drop. The precise time stamp shares numbers with the famous 5.56mm NATO ammunition. Coincidence? Ah, yeah, probably.

After presumably landing safely, Cosmonaut Dzhanibekov receives a debrief and testifies that he indeed saw a blue light. Unfortunately, it was not The Abyss and he is told that describing this event in the official report, "would severely undermine [his] career as a cosmonaut" at 0:06:53. Would it surprise anyone here to know that this never happened?

0:07:21 A menacing typewriter finishes Dzhanibekov's report with the statement that he is, "BANNED FROM FLYING". At least, the subtitles put it in all capital letters.

Skipping some driving of Soviet automobiles, smoking of Soviet cigarettes and sleeping in Soviet beds. This is Bad History, not Red History!

0:10:25 We finally returned to Salyut 7, albeit currently unoccupied, and learn why it will need rescued later. Projectiles approaching in an apparently retrograde orbit savage the Solar panels and miraculously avoid serious damage and/or penetration of the hull. This puts Salyut 7 in an uncontrolled tumble on all axis without power. In reality, the single reason for the station's woes was far less exciting: A bad circuit stopped the still-functional Solar panels from charging the batteries and the station simply ran out of power (Harland 131). The station also only began to rotate very slowly on one axis, rather than whatever number is greater than one.

0:14:00 Various mission control walking and briefing nonsense. We're also introduced to Valery, "Shubin" (based on the actual personality that is the legendary and very recognizable Cosmonaut Valery Ryumin). This version comes off looking less like 80's vintage Valery (who looks ready to rip open airlocks with his bare hands) and more like Oliver Platt (who looks like he's ready for a heart attack).

At this point, I also began to recognize that the warm, yellow lighting in the mission control center bear an uncanny resemblance to The Fountain's symbolic yellow lit interiors during the present day scenes. While this has absolutely nothing to do with Bad History, it is an example of a better movie I could've watched instead.

0:14:15 One good thing the movie gets right, however, is that the control center's orbit tracking map displays the all-important tracking ships needed to maximize valuable radio time with the Union's space assets. The later dissolution of the USSR would see most of these vessels laid up and scrapped by the mid-90's, negatively affecting the succeeding Russian Federation's space program.

0:14:50 This time, we get #FakeNews as foreign language news outlets start broadcasting Salyut 7's failure and warning that, "there's a good chance this space station will crash in the United States", "experts are saying the station could fall on any city", "If the station falls in a populated area multiple casualties are inevitable" and, "the resulting explosion could destroy a large region". No, seriously, those are all exactly as they appeared in the film itself. Sufficed to say, the larger Skylab (which itself weighed more than three Salyut 7s at launch!) had only a hand full of discernible fragments survive to impact the ground; I can't envision a far less massive station destroying, "a large region" unless it was, like, filled with antimatter or some nonsense.

More relevant to our BadHistory, however, is the very idea that any of this was in the news in the first place. Until Pravda (of all outlets!) provided a remarkably full story on the Salyut 7 rescue mission that was picked up by foreign media (Eaton and Mydons), There was very little evidence of anything wrong other than a blurb from Tass (Harland 132).

0:16:27 Meeting with Soviet heads of government and military with Oliver Platt in attendance. One among them notes that NASA is, "scheduled to launch the Challenger on the 30th" ("22 days from now"), and the leader of the meeting notes that Salyut 7 could fit within the cargo bay of an Orbiter. "What a coincidence, right?" So, yeah, they totally want to expedite Salyut 7's recovery because we now have a sub-plot about the Americans wanting to steal a space station. While the movies point out that Salyut 7, "weighs" 20 tons (albeit only at launch) and that the Space Shuttles have a payload capacity of around 20 tons, the writers seemed to have ignored that Shuttle's had a maximum return payload capacity of 14.4; assuming a favorable and very low orbit. For better or worse, the important figures also give Soyuz T-13 ten days (starting at launch) to get the station operational before Challenger arrives to capitalize on the socialists' failure.

Assuming that this is taking place within the month of February, 1985 when Salyut 7 went silent, we could initially assume the Very Important Government Figure is talking about STS-51-B on April 29th, where Challenger was carrying Spacelab-3 (Dumoulin). However, Soyuz T-31 didn't even launch until June 6th. As could be expected from the sloppy workmanship of this film, Challenger had actually returned to Earth before on May 6th, and the next Shuttle launch would not be conducted until STS-51-G with Discovery on the 17th of June (Ibid). So while there would be a Shuttle in orbit around ten days of Soyuz T-13's launch, it would certainly have not been Challenger.

Eagle eyed viewers take note: The Orbiter depicted in the slide could not possibly be the Challenger for its use of the, "Meatball" logo alone. From 1975 to 1992, NASA used what is called the, "worm" logo before switching back to the better known Meatball. Challenger was destroyed in 1986, having never sported Meatball livery in its depressingly short lifespan (Garber).

0:20:39 Meanwhile, back in mission control, Salyut 7 is cited as, "rotating on two axis at about one degree per second". Ignoring which particular axis that speed is supposedly for, the station was in reality rotating on only one at a leisurely 0.3 degrees per second (Harland 131).

0:22:39 Because this is the kind of movie where we have two guys fishing on a boat, Cosmonaut Savinykh is getting teased by a peer, claiming, "You're not even a real cosmonaut. You've never done a spacewalk." Now, keep in mind, most cosmoastrotaikonauts have never conducted spacewalks to begin with and, as I mentioned previously, Savinykh already was planned to EVA on Salyut 7 as part of Soyuz T-13. Repair or not, he had Solar panels to install!

After some poor attempts at docking attempt montages, mission control decides to reinstate Dzhanibekov and have him dock with the uncooperative space station. So I guess grounding him was just a waste of our viewers time then? Figures.

0:33:06 Launch day! Or make that launch night. While the Soyuz T-13 of the movie is depicted as launching in the middle of the night, the real craft launched at 1239 local time (Wade). This is really odd, as it's not like there's a deficit of daytime Soyuz launch footage or something. Also, the real Soyuz T-13 launched from Gagarin's Start, or Baikonur Site 1. As the unusually grainy footage of the movie indicates, the modern pad depicted is most certainly not Gagarin's Start and probably Site 31/6.

0:34:32 The side boosters are jettisoned and the center stage shuts off and then restarts once the vehicle has cleared the boosters. This is not only a no no for the R-7 family of launch vehicles, but most rockets in general. Save for that one built by what's-his-face from PayPal, the vast majority of first stage engines ever built are physically incapable of restarting once shut off even if they still retain propellant.

0:35:10 The shroud is jettisoned and then, almost immediately, the main stage is shut off. This is another big no no for the Soyuz family. Not only does the main stage run for two more minutes after the shroud is shed, the final stage must ignite while the core stage is still on and providing thrust (Hall & Shayler xxxiii). Of course, we don't even get a depiction of the upper stage ignition as it is before not Soyuz T-13 enters its first orbit.

0:38:45 Salyut 7's, "pitch rotation rate" is given as 1.5 degrees seconds; once again quite a ways off from the far more manageable rotation of 0.3 degrees per second.

0:39:00 Not Soyuz T-13 begins its docking attempt as soon as getting within a couple hundred meters of Salyut 7. There's an alarming failed dock that has T-13's probe impact the docking apparatus where it's not supposed to. Soyuz T-13 is told to stand down and abandon their docking attempts as they pass into Earth's shadow, and Dzhanibekov accomplishes a hard dock with the wildly spinning station during communications blackout. In reality, Soyuz T-13 conducted a thorough inspection before any attempts and was able to successfully dock on the first try before entering night (Harland 131).

0:50:00 Our intrepid cosmonauts enter Salyut 7, which is covered in a curiously thick layer of ice courtesy of an exploded water tank. As you might have already thought, that last part did not happen. Though there was frost all over the interior (Ibid).

Before I continue, I'd also like to address the reality that virtually everything beyond this point is total fiction aside from the fact that space does indeed exist. The real reason for Salyut 7's power loss, a single bad relay that drained the batteries, is never mentioned the movie.

0:55:28 Anchorman Colonel Sanders reports on the status of Soyuz T-13 and the rescue mission (which, as was mentioned earlier, not exactly public knowledge). Moreover, we get more anti-Russian nonsense from the straw man Fake News Media as Colonel Sanders mentions that, "The U.S. specialists say there is little chance they will succeed" and there is a complete certainty that everyone onboard will die Skylab not real? More alarmingly, there's also a fear generated over the possibility (read: Absolute certainty) that Salyut 7 has a high yield nuclear weapon that might go off if it reenters! The movie even uses stock footage of nuclear weapons tests. I beginning to think there may have been some sort of bias against non-Russians in this movie.

0:55:55 More fears over the upcoming not-Challenger launch, with whoever is in charge pointing out it is launching, "with an empty cargo bay" instead of STS-51-G's actual payload of three telecom satellites and their PAM-D boosters (Dumoulin). This is all accompanied by a work montage over what is supposed to be several days within the still powered-down station. I'll note that power and the air heating systems were already online within two days of docking in real life.

0:58:35 The station begins heating up and ridiculous amounts of large water bubbles form in free fall. The crew herd the water into a corner and later absorb it with towels and spare clothes. Salyut 7, in fact, had the condenser do the hard work and slowly remove the water from the air over several weeks (132).

1:04:42 Now for some Bad History that doesn't revolve around space Bad History! The cosmonauts, taking a break from cosmonauting, imbibe an alcoholic beverage smuggled in by Dzhanibekov. Now I'm going to ignore the implausibility of smuggling in a fairly large container of the stuff and drinking in a workplace where this would likely be met with severe punishment and focus on a claim made by Savinykh after they gulp down an alcohol bubble: "What about the prohibition?" The problem here is that complete prohibition of alcoholic beverages in the Union, ironically enshrined into law made by the previous Russian government in 1914, had ended in 1925. While there were multiple attempts to curb alcoholism by the Soviet government, none of these amounted to complete prohibitions but instead focused on raising the price of targeted items. The most wide reaching of the post-1925 anti-alcohol campaign ("Measures to Overcome Drunkeness and Alcoholism"), didn't even exist as law until May of 1985: After the repair of Salyut 7 (Bhattacharya, Gathmann & Miller).

1:05:22 A stowaway cockroach is seen floating through Soyuz T-13's orbit module during the imbibing of the alcoholic beverage. One among them claims that it is, "the first one in space". This is a problematic claim, in that Apollo 12 may have boosted a cockroach into space (Ward 112). Regardless, plenty of other insects and assorted animals were unwillingly launched into space well before this. My favorite non-humans are still the Russian box tortoises that flew by the Moon and returned to Earth as part of the Zond program.

1:11:28 Dzhanibekov executes a solo EVA after attempts to charge the replacement batteries fails. While a Salyut 7 EVA was mentioned earlier in this block of text, that EVA both took place in August of 1985 and well after the time frame depicted in the movie. Additionally, the EVA (a nearly five hour long affair) involved both Dzhanibekov and Savinykh and was primarily for the sake of adding on new Solar panels and testing the brand new Orlan-DM spacesuits delivered by Cosmos 16691 (Harland 133).

1:11:45 Mission control reports that the cause of Salyut 7's errors is a deformed sensor that's preventing the panels from tracking the Sun, rather than the bad circuit. What makes this a particularly amusing error is that the Solar panels of Salyut 7 were in fact tracking the Sun in a futile attempt to charge the batteries, their motors draining the station's energy in the process (Ibid 131). Movie Dzhanibekov conducts an implausibly swift ascent to the damaged sensor, and the film makes it clear the damage was a result of the projectiles which impacted it earlier.

1:14:45 Radio contact with mission control cuts out and Dzhanibekov spies through a window to see Savinykh attempting to extinguish a fictional fire. Rather than dying from a lack of oxygen or from a flame that very clearly engulfs him as he retreats towards the Soyuz end of the station, Savinykh dons his Orlan spacesuit in record time (skipping the prebreathing) and opens the airlock in a dramatic fashion, venting the station's air out into space to extinguish the fire while nearly getting thrown into space by hurricane force winds2. Meanwhile, Dzhanibekov tries to make his own way to the airlock, often without attaching his tether to anything and nearly getting thrown into space himself.

As I already stated, this particular EVA never happened, and it looks more like a recreation of that particularly bad Space Station EVA scene from Gravity than a realistic EVA.

1:19:50 Challenger takes off from Florida. Having already established that the only Shuttle launch that would be plausible for this movie is the launch of Discovery on the 17th of June as part of STS-51-G, I suppose it shouldn't be surprising to learn that the movie has the time of day for this launch incorrect, too. Whereas, "Challenger" is seen launching during the midday, STS-51-G launched without delay on 0733 local time (Dumoulin). Sunrise for Cape Canaveral on that date was 0625, adjusted for Daylight Savings Time (United States Naval Observatory).

1:20:10 Savinykh survives his fire-capades with remarkably minor burns.

1:20:38 Salyut 7's crew establishes contact with Earth, giving their orbital parameters as, "Apogee 52,555 km, perigee 25,554 km." This is catastrophically incorrect any way you look at it. Removing the last three figures (assuming the comma was meant as a decimal point) puts them well within the the bulk of Earth's atmosphere, and assuming they actually meant tens of thousands puts them well beyond Salyut 7's historic low Earth orbits closer to 300 kilometers above the Earth's surface. An apogee of 52,555 kilometers would put Salyut 7 well past the distance of geostationary orbit! I really have no clue what the writers must've intended at this point, save for perhaps pointing out that they cannot into space.

1:21:50 It's established that Soyuz T-13's interior is completely gutted and that the few discernible control inputs left do not work. While much is made of the reality that the crew cannot control the ship, the Soyuz spacecraft were developed from the very beginning with a high degree of autonomous and remote control functionality. Indeed, the very first numbered flight of the Soyuz-T, Soyuz T-1 (sometimes called Soyuz T), saw a successful unmanned docking with an empty Salyut 6 in 1979 and undocking in 1980 (Hall & Shayler 284-285). Manual override was simply a nice thing to have when automated docking failed, which was a depressingly common and long unresolved reason for many a Salyut mission failure3.

1:25:28 Some engineer tells Oliver Platt that, "Technically, manual undocking is possible". Perhaps he didn't see the nicely charred Soyuz command console or forgot the ship could undock itself once buttoned up? Instead of pursuing a normal undocking sequence, they also discuss the use of mechanically activated explosive bolts to sever Soyuz T-13's connection with its probe docking system or separate the descent and instrumentation module from the orbit module. While it's not clear which method they're actually discussing, both of these are real options for emergency Soyuz detachment (Ibid 48), though the probe itself is spring loaded and shouldn't really need the use of explosives if it's already successfully attached.

1:26:00 There are concerns back on Earth about there being insufficient oxygen for both cosmonauts, so Dzhanibekov is later asked to remain behind on Salyut 7 as Savinykh will be sedated to conserve air and placed on Soyuz T-13. While much is made about how little oxygen is left onboard Salyut 7, absolutely no mention is made of the Sokol pressure suits (which can operate at low pressures like the Orlan spacesuits in emergencies) or the Soyuz' air supply.

1:36:30 After Oliver Platt throws an office chair through a window, Dzhanibekov decides to light up a cigarette because that's totally a good thing to do on board a space station that just caught on fire. Predictably, the two decide to ignore orders (again) and EVA to repair the broken sensor by knocking its protective shroud off with a hammer.

1:50:15 The two are ultimately successful and finished just in time to power the station back up and see not-Challenger sneaking up beside them. I'll note that the actual Discovery mission of STS-51-G put the Orbiter on an uncooperative inclination of of 28.45 degrees for the benefit of its satellite payload, making even the very briefest of flybys an unlikely affair assuming it and Salyut 7 were sharing the same orbital altitudes (Dumoulin). Not-Challenger is also depicted with it's payload bay closed, which is Bad thermodynamics. The Orbiters had their radiators kept on the inside of the doors, and these were always kept open after achieving orbit to radiate waste heat away into space. If these were to stay shut, the ship and crew would eventually become space-barbecue.
Regardless, the crew of not-Challenger salute the successful cosmonauts, who return the favor. The blue light returns to engulf both Dzhanibekov and Savinykh, it is not explained as I promised earlier, and the movie mercifully begins to roll the credits intermixed with celebrations at mission control and stock footage of the actual Salyut 7 rescue mission.

And, finally, we're done. It wasn't fun for me either, believe me.

Scolar's Final Thoughts: This movie is absolutely dreadful. Aside from the historical inaccuracies, its depictions of cosmonauts as being order-breaking cowboys, weak women and nervous Oliver Platt truthfully feel more offensive than respectful. The contrived action-adventure sequences also devalue their accomplishments, and they feel less like a depiction of real events and more like an attempt at a high budget blockbuster getting shoehorned into real equipment. the aesthetics of Salyut 7 and Soyuz T-13 are there, but the real life matters take a backseat. In that respects, it's a lot like Gravity, but with the pretense of being based on a real story.
However, if there is one sentence that could be used to describe this movie in complete, sublime honesty, it is thus: Salyut 7 is Michael Bay's Pearl Harbor set in space and made in Russia.

  1. While the mission designation Cosmos (or Kosmos) was typically reserved for failed missions in this context, Cosmos 1669 (an otherwise standard Progress freighter) had the unique distinction of originally being written off for an early-flight fault before its controllers overcame the issue and had it successfully docked.
  2. Seriously, unless your spacecraft is pressurized with multiple atmospheres worth of air, this should not happen.
  3. You could probably make a movie about how the various design bureaux in charge of the spacecraft and various docking systems avoided responsibility for admitting fault.

Bibliography:
Bhattacharya, Gathmann & Miller. "The Gorbachev Anti-Alcohol Campaign and Russia’s Mortality Crisis" American Economic Journal: Applied Economics 5(2) (2013): 232-260.
Dumoulin, Jim. "51-B" NASA Space Shuttle Launch Archive. June 29, 2001. Retrieved August 12, 2019. https://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/51-b/mission-51-b.html
Dumoulin, Jim. "51-G" NASA Space Shuttle Launch Archive. June 29, 2001. Retrieved August 12, 2019. https://science.ksc.nasa.gov/shuttle/missions/51-g/mission-51-g.html
Eaton, William J. "Risky Mission in Space : Pravda Says Cosmonauts Revived ‘Dead’ Salyut 7" Los Angeles Times August 6, 1985 retrieved August 12, 2019 https://www.latimes.com/archives/la-xpm-1985-08-06-mn-4741-story.html
Fricke, Robert W. "STS-37 Space Shuttle Mission Report" NASA-CR-193062 May 1991.
Garber, Steve. "NASA "Meatball" Logo". NASA History Division. October 2, 2018. Retrieved August 13, 2019 https://history.nasa.gov/meatball.htm
Hall, Rex D. & David J. Shayler. Soyuz, A Universal Spacecraft. New York: Springer, 2003.
Harland, David M. The Story of Space Station Mir. New York: Springer, 2005.
Hoffman, Stephen J. "Advanced EVA: Capabilities: A Study for NASA's revolutionary Aerospace Systems Concept Program" NASA/TP--2004-212068 (2004)
Mydans, Seth. "Soviet official provides details on daring rescue of failed space station" New York Times August 7, 1985. Retrieved August 12, 2019 https://www.nytimes.com/1985/08/07/us/soviet-official-provides-details-on-daring-rescue-of-failed-space-station.html
United States Naval Observatory. "Cape Canaveral, Florida. Rise and Set for the Sun for 1985" Retrieved August 14, 2019 https://aa.usno.navy.mil/cgi-bin/aa_rstablew.pl?ID=AA&year=1985&task=0&state=FL&place=Cape+Canaveral
Wade, Mark. "Soyuz T" Astronautix. Retrieved August 13, 2019. http://www.astronautix.com/s/soyuzt.html
Wade, Mark. "Soyuz T-12" Astronautix. Retrieved August 13, 2019. http://www.astronautix.com/s/soyuzt-12.html
Ward, Jonathan. Countdown to a Moon Launch: Preparing Apollo for its Historic Journey. New York: Springer, 2015.
submitted by Scolar_H_Visari to badhistory

Comprehensive Guide for getting into Home Recording

I'm going to borrow from a few sources and do my best to make this cohesive, but this question comes up a lot. I thought we had a comprehensive guide, but it doesn't appear so. In the absence of this, I feel that a lot of you could use a simple place to go for some basics on recording. There are a couple of great resources online already on some drumming forums, but I don't think they will be around forever.
Some background on myself - I have been drumming a long time. During that time, home recording has gone from using a cassette deck to having a full blown studio at your finger tips. The technology in the last 15 years has gotten so good it really is incredible. When I was trying to decide what I wanted to do with my life, I decided to go to school for audio engineering in a world-class studio. During this time I had access to the studio and was able to assist with engineering on several projects. This was awesome, and I came out with a working knowledge of SIGNAL CHAIN, how audio works in the digital realm, how microphones work, studio design, etc. Can I answer your questions? Yes.

First up: Signal Chain! This is the basic building block of recording. Ever seen a "I have this plugged in but am getting no sound!" thread? Yeah, signal chain.

A "Signal Chain" is the path your audio follows, from sound source, to the recording device, and back out of your monitors (speakers to you normies).
A typical complete signal chain might go something like this:
1] instrument/sound source 2] Microphone/TransducePickup 3] Cable 4] Mic Preamp/DI Box 5] Analog-to-Digital Converter 6] Digital transmission medium[digital data get recoded for usb or FW transfer] 7] Digital recording Device 8] DSP and Digital summing/playback engine 9] Digital-to-Analog Converter 10] Analog output stage[line outputs and output gain/volume control] 11] Monitors/Playback device[headphones/other transducers]
Important Terms, Definitions, and explanations (this will be where the "core" information is):
1] AD Conversion: the process by which the electrical signal is "converted" to a stream of digital code[binary, 1 and 0]. This is accomplished, basically, by taking digital pictures of the audio...and this is known as the "sampling rate/frequency" The number of "pictures" determines the frequency. So the CD standard of 44.1k is 44,100 "pictures" per second of digital code that represents the electrical "wave" of audio. It should be noted that in order to reproduce a frequency accuratly, the sampling rate must be TWICE that of the desired frequency (See: Nyquist-Shannon Theorem). So, a 44.1 digital audio device can, in fact, only record frequencies as high as 22.05khz, and in the real world, the actual upper frequency limit is lower, because the AD device employs a LOW-PASS filter to protect the circuitry from distortion and digital errors called "ALIASING." Confused yet? Don't worry, there's more... We haven't even talked about Bit depth! There are 2 settings for recording digitally: Sample Rate and Bit Depth. Sample rate, as stated above, determines the frequencies captured, however bit depth is used to get a better picture of the sample. Higher bit depth = more accurate sound wave representation. More on this here. Generally speaking, I record at 92KHz/24 bit depth. This makes huge files, but gets really accurate audio. Why does it make huge files? Well, if you are sampling 92,000 times per second, you are taking each sample and applying 24 bits to that, multiply it out and you get 92,000*24 = 2,208,000 bits per second or roughly 0.26MB per second for ONE TRACK. If that track is 5 minutes long, that is a file that is 78.96MB in size. Now lets say you used 8 inputs on an interface, that is, in total, 631.7MB of data. Wow, that escalates quick, right? There is something else to note as well here: Your CPU has to calculate this. So the amount of calculations it needs to perform for this same scenario is ~17.7 million calculations PER SECOND. This is why CPU speed and RAM is super important when recording digitally.
2] DA conversion: the process by which the digital code (the computer representation of a sound wave) is transformed back into electrcal energy in the proper shape. In a oversimplified explanation, the code is measured and the output of the convertor reflects the value of the code by changing voltage. Think of a sound wave on a grid: Frequency would represent the X axis (the horizontal axis)... but there is a vertical axis too. This is called AMPLITUDE or how much energy the wave is generating. People refer to this as how 'loud' a sound is, but that's not entirely correct. You can have a high amplitude wave that is played at a quiet volume. It's important to distinguish the two. How loud a sound is can be controlled by the volume on a speaker or transducer. But that has no impact on how much amplitude the sound wave has in the digital space or "in the wire" on its way to the transducer. So don't get hung up on how "loud" a waveform is, it is how much amplitude it has when talking about it "in the box" or before it gets to the speakeheadphone/whatever.
3] Cables: An often overlooked expense and tool, cables can in fact, make or break your recording. The multitudes of types of cable are determined by the connector, the gauge(thickness), shielding, type of conductor, etc... Just some bullet points on cables:
- Always get the highest quality cabling you can afford. Low quality cables often employ shielding that doesnt efectively protect against AC hums(60 cycle hum), RF interference (causing your cable to act as a gigantic AM/CB radio antenna), or grounding noise introduced by other components in your system. - The way cables are coiled and treated can determine their lifespan and effectiveness. A kinked cable can mean a broken shield, again, causing noise problems. - The standard in the USA for wiring an XLR(standard microphone) cable is: PIN 1= Cold/-, PIN 2= Hot/+, PIN 3=Ground/shield. Pin 3 carries phantom power, so it is important that the shield of your cables be intact and in good condition if you want to use your mic cables without any problems. - Cables for LINE LEVEL and HI-Z(instrument level) gear are not the same! - Line Level Gear, weather professional or consumer, should generally be used with balanced cables (on a 1/4" connector, it will have 3 sections and is commonly known as TRS -or- TipRingSleeve). A balanced 1/4" is essentially the same as a microphone cable, and in fact, most Professional gear with balanced line inputs and outputs will have XLR connectors instead of 1/4" connectors. - Hi-Z cable for instruments (guitars, basses, keyboards, or anything with a pickup) is UNBALANCED, and should be so. The introduction of a balanced cable can cause electricity to be sent backwards into a guitar and shock the guitar player. You may want this to happen, but your gear doesn't. There is some danger here as well, especially on stage, where the voltage CAN BE LETHAL. When running a guitabass/keyboard "Direct" into your interface, soundcard, or recording device, you should ALWAYS use a "DIRECT BOX", which uses a transformer to isolate and balance the the signal or you can use any input on the interface designated as a "Instrument" or "Hi-Z" input. It also changes some electrical properties, resulting in a LINE LEVEL output (it amplifies it from instrument level to line level).
4] Digital Data Transmissions: This includes S/PDIF, AES/EBU, ADAT, MADI. I'm gonna give a brief overview of this stuff, since its unlikely that alot of you will ever really have to think about it: - SDPIF= Sony Phillips Digital Interface Format. using RCA or TOSLINK connectors, this is a digital protocol that carries 3 streams of information. Digital audio Left, Digital Audio Right, and CLOCK. SPDIF generally supports 48khz/20bit information, though some modern devices can support up to 24bits, and up to 88.2khz. SPDIF is the consumer format of AES/EBU - AES/EBU= Audio Engineering Society/European Breadcasters Union Digital protocol uses a special type of cable often terminated with XLR connectors to transmit 2 channels of Digital Audio. AES/EBU is found mostly on expensive professional digital gear. - ADAT= the Alesis Digital Audio Tape was introduced in 1991, and was the first casette based system capable of recording 8 channels of digital audio onto a single cartridge(a SUPER-VHS tape, same one used by high quality VCR's). Enough of the history, its not so important because we are talking about ADAT-LIGHTPIPE Protocol, which is a digital transmission protocol that uses fiberoptic cable and devices to send up to 8 channels of digital audio simultaneously and in sync. ADAT-Lightpipe supports up to 48khz sample rates. This is how people expand the number of inputs by chaining interfaces. - MADI is something you will almost never encounter. It is a protocol that allows up to 64 channels of digital audio to be transmitted over a single cable that is terminated by BNC connectors. Im just telling you it exists so in case you ever encounter a digital snake that doesnt use Gigabit Ethernet, you will know whats going on.
digital transmission specs: SPDIF -> clock->2Ch->RCA cable(consumer) ADAT-Lightpipe->clock->8Ch->Toslink(semi-pro) SPDIF-OPTICAL->clock->2Ch->Toslink(consumer) AES/EBU->clock->2Ch->XLR(Pro) TDIF->clock->8Ch->DSub(Semi-Pro) ______________ MADI->no clock->64Ch->BNC{rare except in large scale pofessional apps} SDIF-II->no clock->24Ch->DSub{rare!} AES/EBU-13->no clock->24Ch->DSub
5] MICROPHONES: There are many types of microphones, and several names for each type. The type of microphone doesn't equate to the polar pattern of the microphone. There are a few common polar patterns in microphones, but there are also several more that are less common. These are the main types- Omni-Directional, Figure 8 (bi-directional), Cardioid, Super Cardioid, Hyper Cardioid, Shotgun. Some light reading.... Now for the types of microphones: - Dynamic Microphones utilize polarized magnets to convert acoustical energy into electrical energy. there are 2 types of dynamic microphones: 1) Moving Coil microphones are the most common type of microphone made. They are also durable, and capable of handling VERY HIGH SPL (sound pressure levels). 2) Ribbon microphones are rare except in professional recording studios. Ribbon microphones are also incredibly fragile. NEVER EVER USE PHANTOM POWER WITH A RIBBON MICROPHONE, IT WILL DIE (unless it specifically requires it, but I've only ever seen this on one Ribbon microphone ever). Sometimes it might even smoke or shoot out a few sparks; applying phantom power to a Ribbon Microphone will literally cause the ribbon, which is normally made from Aluminum, to MELT. Also, windblasts and plosives can rip the ribbon, so these microphones are not suitible for things like horns, woodwinds, vocals, kick drums, or anything that "pushes air." There have been some advances in Ribbon microphones and they are getting to be more common, but they are still super fragile and you have to READ THE MANUAL CAREFULLY to avoid a $1k+ mistake. - CondenseCapacitor Microphones use an electrostatic charge to convert acoustical energy into electrical energy. The movement of the diaphragm(often metal coated mylar) toward a ceramic "backplate" causes a fluctuation in the charge, which is then amplified inside the microphone and output as an electrical signal. Condenser microphones usually use phantom power to charge the capacitors' and backplate in order to maintain the electrostatic charge. There are several types of condenser microphones: 1) Tube Condenser Microphones: historically, this type of microphone has been used in studios since the 1940s, and has been refined and redesigned hundreds, if not thousands of times. Some of the "best sounding" and most desired microphones EVER MADE are Tube Condenser microphones from the 50's and 60's. These vintage microphones, in good condition, with the original TUBES can sell for hundreds of thousands of dollars. Tube mics are known for sounding "full", "warm", and having a particular character, depending on the exact microphone. No 2 tubes mics, even of the same model, will sound the same. Similar, but not the same. Tube mics have their own power supplies, which are not interchangeable to different models. Each tube mic is a different design, and therefore, has different power requirements. 2) FET Condenser microphones: FET stands for "Field Effect Transistor" and the technology allowed condenser microphones to be miniturized. Take for example, the SHURE beta98s/d, which is a minicondenser microphone. FET technology is generally more transparant than tube technology, but can sometimes sound "harsh" or "sterile". 3) Electret Condenser Microphones are a condenser microphone that has a permanent charge, and therefore, does not require phantom power; however, the charge is not truly permanent, and these mics often use AA or 9V batteries, either inside the mic, or on a beltpack. These are less common.
Other important things to know about microphones:
- Pads, Rolloffs, etc: Some mics have switches or rotating collars that notate certain things. Most commonly, high pass filters/lowcut filters, or attenuation pads. 1) A HP/LC Filter does exactly what you might think: Removes low frequency content from the signal at a set frequency and slope. Some microphones allow you to switch the rolloff frequency. Common rolloff frequencies are 75hz, 80hz, 100hz, 120hz, 125hz, and 250hz. 2) A pad in this example is a switch that lowers the output of the microphone directly after the capsule to prevent overloading the input of a microphone preamplifier. You might be asking: How is that possible? Some microphones put out a VERY HIGH SIGNAL LEVEL, sometimes about line level(-10/+4dbu), mic level is generally accepted to start at -75dbu and continues increasing until it becomes line level in voltage. It should be noted that linel level signals are normally of a different impedance than mic level signals, which is determined by the gear. An example for this would be: I mic the top of a snare drum with a large diaphragm condenser mic (solid state mic, not tube) that is capable of handling very high SPLs (sound pressure levels). When the snare drum is played, the input of the mic preamp clips (distorts), even with the gain turned all the way down. To combat this, I would use a pad with enough attenuation to lower the signal into the proper range of input (-60db to -40 db). In general, it is accepted to use a pad with only as much attentuation as you need, plus a small margin of error for extra “headroom”. What this means is that if you use a 20db pad where you only need a 10db pad, you will then have to add an additional 10db of gain to achieve a desireable signal level. This can cause problems, as not all pads sound good, or even transparent, and can color and affect your signal in sometimes unwanted ways that are best left unamplified. - Other mic tips/info: 1) when recording vocals, you should always use a popfilter. A pop filter mounted on a gooseneck is generally more effective than a windscreen made of foam that slips over the microphone. The foam type often kill the highfrequency response, alter the polar pattern, and can introduce non-linear polarity problems(part of the frequency spectrum will be out of phase.) If you don't have a pop filter or don't want to spend on one, buy or obtain a hoop of some kind, buy some cheap panty-hose and stretch it over the hoop to build your own pop filter. 2) Terms Related to mics: - Plosives: “B”, “D”, “F”, “G”, “J”, “P”, “T” hard consonants and other vocal sounds that cause windblasts. These are responsible for a low frequency pop that can severly distort the diaphragm of the microphone, or cause a strange inconsistency of tonality by causing a short term proximity effect.
- Proximity effect: An exponential increase in low frequency response causes by having a microphone excessivly close to a sound. This can be cause by either the force of the air moving actually causes the microphone’s diaphragm to move and sometimes distort, usually on vocalists or buy the buildup of low frequency soundwaves due to off-axis cancellation ports. You cannot get proximity effect on an omnidirectional microphone. With some practice, you can use proximity effect to your advantage, or as an effect. For example, if you are recording someone whispering and it sounds thin or weak and irritating due to the intenese high mid and high frequency content, get the person very close to a cardioid microphone with two popfilters, back to back approx 1/2”-1” away from the mic and set your gain carefully, and you can achieve a very intimite recording of whispering. In a different scenario, you can place a mic inside of a kick drum between 1”-3” away from the inner shell, angled up and at the point of impact, and towards the floor tom. This usually captures a huge low end, and the sympathetic vibration of the floor tom on the kick drum hits, but retains a clarity of attack without being distorted by the SPL of the drum and without capturing unplesant low-mid resonation of the kick drum head and shell that is common directly in the middle of the shell.
6) Wave Envelope: The envelope is the graphical representation of a sound wave commonly found in a DAW. There are 4 parts to this: Attack, Decay, Sustain, Release: 1) Attack is how quickly the sound reaches its peak amplitude; 2) Decay is the time it takes to reach the sustain level; 3) Sustain how long a sound remains at a certain level (think of striking a tom, the initial smack is attack, then it decays to the resonance of the tom, how long it resonates is the sustain); 4) Release is the amount of time before the sustain stops. This is particularly important as these are also the settings on a common piece of gear called a Compressor! Understanding the envelope of a sound is key to learning how to maniuplate it.
7) Phase Cancellation: This is one of the most important concepts in home recording, especially when looking at drums. I'm putting it in this section because it matters so much. Phase Cancellation is what occurs when the same frequencies occur at different times. To put it simply, frequency amplitudes are additive - meaning if you have 2 sound waves of the same frequency, one amplitude is +4 and the other is +2, the way we percieve sound is that the frequency is +6. But a sound wave has a positive and negative amplitude as it travels (like a wave in the ocean with a peak and a swell). If the frequency then has two sources and it is 180 degrees out of phase, that means one wave is at +4 while the other is at -4. This sums to 0, or cancels out the wave. Effectively, you would hear silence. This is why micing techniques are so important, but we'll get into that later. I wanted this term at the top, and will likely mention it again.

Next we can look at the different types of options to actually record your sound!

1) Handheld/All in one/Field Recorders: I don't know if portable cassette tape recorders are still around, but that's an example of one. These are (or used to) be very popular with journalists because they were pretty decent at capturing speech. They do not fare too well with music though. Not too long ago, we saw the emergence of the digital field recorder. These are really nifty little devices. They come in many shapes, sizes and colors, and can be very affordable. They run on batteries, and have built-in microphones, and record digitally onto SD cards or harddiscs. The more simple ones have a pair of built-in condenser microphones, which may or may not be adjustable, and record onto an SD-card. They start around $99 (or less if you don't mind buying refurbished). You turn it on, record, connect the device itself or the SD card to your computer, transfer the file(s) and there is your recording! An entry-level example is the Tascam DR-05. It costs $99. It has two built in omni-directional mics, comes with a 2GB microSD card and runs on two AA batteries. It can record in different formats, the highest being 24-bit 96KHz Broadcast WAV, which is higher than DVD quality! You can also choose to record as an MP3 (32-320kbps) if you need to save space on the SD card or if you're simply going to record a speech/conference or upload it on the web later on. It's got a headphone jack and even small built-in speakers. It can be mounted onto a tripod. And it's about the size of a cell phone. The next step up (although there are of course many options that are price and feature-wise inbetween this one and the last) is a beefier device like the Zoom H4n. It's got all the same features as the Tascam DR-05 and more! It has two adjustable built-in cardioid condenser mics in an XY configuration (you can adjust the angle from a 90-120 degree spread). On the bottom of the device, there are two XLR inputs with preamps. With those, you can expand your recording possibilities with two external microphones. The preamps can send phantom power, so you can even use very nice studio mics. All 4 channels will be recorded independantly, so you can pop them onto your computer later and mix them with software. This device can also act as a USB interface, so instead of just using it as a field recorder, you can connect it directly to your computer or to a DSLR camera for HD filming. My new recommendation for this category is actually the Yamaha EAD10. It really is the best all-in-one solution for anyone that wants to record their kit audio with a great sound. It sports a kick drum trigger (mounts to the rim of the kick) with an x-y pattern set of microphones to pick up the rest of the kit sound. It also has on-board effects, lots of software integration options and smart features through its app. It really is a great solution for anyone who wants to record without reading this guide.
The TL;DR of this guide is - if it seems like too much, buy the Yamaha EAD10 as a simple but effective recording solution for your kit.

2) USB Microphones: There are actually mics that you an plug in directly to your computer via USB. The mics themselves are their own audio interfaces. These mics come in many shapes and sizes, and offer affordable solutions for basic home recording. You can record using a DAW or even something simple like the stock windows sound recorder program that's in the acessories folder of my Windows operating system. The Blue Snowflake is very affordable at $59. It can stand alone or you can attach it to your laptop or your flat screen monitor. It can record up to 44.1kHz, 16-bit WAV audio, which is CD quality. It's a condenser mic with a directional cardioid pickup pattern and has a full frequency response - from 35Hz-20kHz. It probably won't blow you away, but it's a big departure from your average built-in laptop, webcam, headset or desktop microphone. The Audio Technica AT2020 USB is a USB version of their popular AT2020 condenser microphone. At $100 it costs a little more than the regular version. The AT2020 is one of the finest mics in its price range. It's got a very clear sound and it can handle loud volumes. Other companies like Shure and Samson also offer USB versions of some of their studio mics. The AT2020 USB also records up to CD-quality audio and comes with a little desktop tripod. The MXL USB.009 mic is an all-out USB microphone. It features a 1 inch large-diaphragm condenser capsule and can record up to 24-bit 96kHz WAV audio. You can plug your headphones right into the mic (remember, it is its own audio interface) so you can monitor your recordings with no latency, as opposed to doing so with your computer. Switches on the mic control the gain and can blend the mic channel with playback audio. Cost: $399. If you already have a mic, or you don't want to be stuck with just a USB mic, you can purcase a USB converter for your existing microphone. Here is a great review of four of them.
3) Audio Recording Interfaces: You've done some reading up on this stuff... now you are lost. Welcome to the wide, wide world of Audio Interfaces. These come in all different shapes and sizes, features, sampling rates, bit depths, inputs, outputs, you name it. Welcome to the ocean, let's try to help you find land.
- An audio interface, as far as your computer is concerned, is an external sound card. It has audio inputs, such as a microphone preamp and outputs which connect to other audio devices or to headphones or speakers. The modern day recording "rig" is based around a computer, and to get the sound onto your computer, an interface is necessary. All computers have a sound card of some sort, but these have very low quality A/D Converters (analog to digital) and were not designed with any kind of sophisticated audio recording in mind, so for us they are useless and a dedicated audio interface must come into play.
- There are hundreds of interfaces out there. Most commonly they connect to a computer via USB or Firewire. There are also PCI and PCI Express-based interfaces for desktop computers. The most simple interfaces can record one channel via USB, while others can record up to 30 via firewire! All of the connection types into the computer have their advantages and drawbacks. The chances are, you are looking at USB, Firewire, or Thunderbolt. As far as speeds, most interfaces are in the same realm as far as speed is concerned but thunderbolt is a faster data transfer rate. There are some differences in terms of CPU load. Conflict handling (when packages collide) is handled differently. USB sends conflict resolution to the CPU, Firewire handles it internally, Thunderbolt, from what I could find, sends it to the CPU as well. For most applications, none of them are going to be superior from a home-recording standpoint. When you get up to 16/24 channels in/out simultaneously, it's going to matter a lot more.
- There are a number of things to consider when choosing an audio interface. First off your budget, number of channels you'd like to be able to record simultaneously, your monitoring system, your computer and operating system and your applications. Regarding budget, you have to get real. $500 is not going to get you a rig with the ability to multi-track a drum set covered in mics. Not even close! You might get an interface with 8 channels for that much, but you have to factor in the cost of everything, including mics, cables, stands, monitors/headphones, software, etc... Considerations: Stereo Recording or Multi-Track Recording? Stereo Recording is recording two tracks: A left and right channel, which reflects most audio playback systems. This doesn't necessarily mean you are simply recording with two mics, it means that what your rig is recording onto your computer is a single stereo track. You could be recording a 5-piece band with 16 mics/channels, but if you're recording in stereo, all you're getting is a summation of those 16 tracks. This means that in your recording software, you won't be able to manipulate any of those channels independantly after you recorded them. If the rack tom mic wasn't turned up loud enough, or you want to mute the guitars, you can't do that, because all you have is a stereo track of everything. It's up to you to get your levels and balance and tone right before you hit record. If you are only using two mics or lines, then you will have individual control over each mic/line after recording. Commonly, you can find 2 input interfaces and use a sub-mixer taking the left/right outputs and pluging those into each channel of the interface. Some mixers will output a stereo pair into a computer as an interface, such as the Allen&Heath ZED16. If you want full control over every single input, you need to multi-track. Each mic or line that you are recording with will get it's own track in your DAW software, which you can edit and process after the fact. This gives you a lot of control over a recording, and opens up many mixing options, and also many more issues. Interfaces that facilitate multitracking include Presonus FireStudio, Focusrite Scarlett interfaces, etc. There are some mixers that are also interfaces, such as the Presonus StudioLive 16, but these are very expensive. There are core-card interfaces as well, these will plug in directly to your motherboard via PCI or PCI-Express slots. Protools HD is a core-card interface and requires more hardware than just the card to work. I would recommend steering clear of these until you have a firm grasp of signal chain and digital audio, as there are more affordable solutions that will yield similar results in a home-environment.

DAW - Digital Audio Workstation

I've talked a lot about theory, hardware, signal chain, etc... but we need a way to interpret this data. First off what does a DAW do? Some refer to them as DAE's (Digital Audio Editors). You could call it a virtual mixing board , however that isn't entirely correct. DAWs allow you to record, control, mix and manipulate independant audio signals. You can change their volume, add effects, splice and dice tracks, combine recorded audio with MIDI-generated audio, record MIDI tracks and much much more. In the old days, when studios were based around large consoles, the actual audio needed to be recorded onto some kind of medium - analog tape. The audio signals passed through the boards, and were printed onto the tape, and the tape decks were used to play back the audio, and any cutting, overdubbing etc. had to be done physically on the tape. With a DAW, your audio is converted into 1's and 0's through the converters on your interface when you record, and so computers and their harddiscs have largely taken the place of reel-to-reel machines and analog tape.
Here is a list of commonly used DAWs in alphabetical order: ACID Pro Apple Logic Cakewalk SONAR Digital Performer FL (Fruity Loops) Studio (only versions 8 and higher can actually record Audio I believe) GarageBand PreSonus Studio One Pro Tools REAPER Propellerhead Reason (version 6 has combined Reason and Record into one software, so it now is a full audio DAW. Earlier versions of Reason are MIDI based and don't record audio) Propellerhead Record (see above) Steinberg Cubase Steinberg Nuendo
There are of course many more, but these are the main contenders. [Note that not all DAWs actually have audio recording capabilities (All the ones I listed do, because this thread is about audio recording), because many of them are designed for applications like MIDI composing, looping, etc. Some are relatively new, others have been around for a while, and have undergone many updates and transformations. Most have different versions, that cater to different types of recording communities, such as home recording/consumer or professional.
That's a whole lot of choices. You have to do a lot of research to understand what each one offers, what limitations they may have etc... Logic, Garageband and Digital Performer for instance are Mac-only. ACID Pro, FL Studio and SONAR will only run on Windows machines. Garageband is free and is even pre-installed on every Mac computer. Most other DAWs cost something.
Reaper is a standout. A non-commercial license only costs $60. Other DAWs often come bundled with interfaces, such as ProTools MP with M-Audio interfaces, Steinberg Cubase LE with Lexicon Interfaces, Studio One with Presonus Interfaces etc. Reaper is a full function, professional, affordable DAW with a tremendous community behind it. It's my recommendation for everyone, and comes with a free trial. It is universally compatible and not hardware-bound.
You of course don't have to purchase a bundle. Your research might yield that a particular interface will suit your needs well, but the software that the same company offers or even bundles isn't that hot. As a consumer you have a plethora of software and hardware manufacturers competing for your business and there is no shortage of choice. One thing to think about though is compatability and customer support. With some exceptions, technically you can run most DAWs with most interfaces. But again, don't just assume this, do your research! Also, some DAWs will run smoother on certain interfaces, and might experience problems on others. It's not a bad thing to assume that if you purchase the software and hardware from the same company, they're at least somewhat optimized for eachother. In fact, ProTools, until recently would only run on Digidesign (now AVID) and M-Audio interfaces. While many folks didn't like being limited to their hardware choices to run ProTools, a lot of users didn't mind, because I think that at least in part it made ProTools run smoother for everyone, and if you did have a problem, you only had to call up one company. There are many documented cases where consumers with software and hardware from different companies get the runaround:
Software Company X: "It's a hardware issue, call Hardware Company Z". Hardware Company Z: "It's a software issue, call Software Company X".
Another thing to research is the different versions of softwares. Many of them have different versions at different pricepoints, such as entry-level or student versions all the way up to versions catering to the pros. Cheaper versions come with limitations, whether it be a maximum number of audio tracks you can run simultaneously, plug-ins available or supported Plug-In formats and lack of other features that the upper versions have. Some Pro versions might require you to run certain kinds of hardware. I don't have time nor the will to do research on individual DAW's, so if any of you want to make a comparison of different versions of a specific DAW, be my guest! In the end, like I keep stressing - we each have to do our own research.
A big thing about the DAW that it is important to note is this: Your signal chain is your DAW. It is the digital representation of that chain and it is important to understand it in order to properly use that DAW. It is how you route the signal from one spot to another, how you move it through a sidechain compressor or bus the drums into the main fader. It is a digital representation of a large-format recording console, and if you don't understand how the signal gets from the sound source to your monitor (speaker), you're going to have a bad time.

Playback - Monitors are not just for looking at!

I've mentioned monitors several times and wanted to touch on these quickly: Monitors are whatever you are using to listen to the sound. These can be headphones, powered speakers, unpowered speakers, etc. The key thing here is that they are accurate. You want a good depth of field, you want as wide a frequency response as you can get, and you want NEARFIELD monitors. Unless you are working with a space that can put the monitor 8' away from you, 6" is really the biggest speaker size you need. At that point, nearfield monitors will reproduce the audio frequency range faithfully for you. There are many options here, closed back headphones, open back headphones, studio monitors powered, and unpowered (require a separate poweramp to drive the monitor). For headphones, I recommend AKG K271, K872, Sennheiser HD280 Pro, etc. There are many options, but if mixing on headphones I recommend spending some good money on a set. For Powered Monitors, there's really only one choice I recommend: Kali Audio LP-6 monitors. They are, dollar for dollar, the best monitors you can buy for a home studio, period. These things contend with Genelecs and cost a quarter of the price. Yes, they still cost a bit, but if you're going to invest, invest wisely. I don't recommend unpowered monitors, as if you skimp on the poweramp they lose all the advantages you gain with monitors. Just get the powered monitors if you are opting for not headphones.

Drum Mic'ing Guide, I'm not going to re-create the wheel.


That's all for now, this has taken some time to put together (a couple hourse now). I can answer other questions as they pop up. I used a few sources for the information, most notably some well-put together sections on the Pearl Drummers Forum in the recording section. I know a couple of the users are no longer active there, but if you see this and think "Hey, he ripped me off!", you're right, and thanks for allowing me to rip you off!

A couple other tips that I've come across for home recording:
You need to manage your gain/levels when recording. Digital is NOT analog! What does this mean? You should be PEAKING (the loudest the signal gets) around -12dB to -15dB on your meters. Any hotter than that and you are overdriving your digital signal processors.
What sound level should my master bus be at for Youtube?
Bass Traps 101
Sound Proofing 101
submitted by M3lllvar to drums

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