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 Post subject: Home recordings, long but hopfully good
PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2006 10:43 pm 
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Joined: Fri Oct 13, 2006 7:30 pm
Posts: 11
Location: Norway
Ok, so you want to record some songs for future listening pleasures. There are multiple ways to do this. Some choose to record using their home pc; others chose separate units like analogue or digital multi track recorders. Some even chose a combination between the two of them. If you are recording single track or stereo track only, you can also use a minidisc or even a good old tape recorder.

There are a couple of questions you should ask yourself before you start buying or downloading gear. I have made a list here.

1) What am I going to record?
2) How many channels or tracks do I need?
3) Do I want to be able to record more than one track at the time?
4) Do I want to be able to tweak the track?
5) Do I want to be able to combine midi, analogue and electric signals?
6) Do I want to be able to add effects?
7) How much time do I have to work on my recordings?
8) How much money do I want to spend on this project?

Recording with analogue multi tracks!
There are a lot of cheap but good analogue multi tracks on the market. One of the cheapest and easiest ways to go is the Tascam MF-P01. This compact studio uses inexpensive standard cassette tapes. You can record one track at a time and you get a warm nice analogue feel to it. It features 1 mic/ line input, a stero line output and a headphone output. To transfer your recordings to a PC, you need a stereo line to mini jack sending the analogue signal into your computer. Most home computers have a mini jack stereo input and there are a lot of free sound capture programs available.

Image

$99
What you need in addition to this is
A decent microphone
A decent headset
Yourself and whatever you want to record.

The next step up in analogue recording is portastudios like the Tascam 414mkII. The principles are the same as the MF-P01 but you have more options. Go here for a full view of the specs. http://www.tascam.com/Products/414mkII/Porta_414mkII_manual.pdf One of the good features on this little machine is that you can plug in a CD player or you computer to record with pre made jam tracks.

Image

$249
What you need in addition to this is
A decent microphone
A decent headset
Yourself and whatever you want to record.

Recording with digital multi tracks!
Digital multi track recorders are becoming more and more affordable. You have three main types. The first kind uses memory cards as recording media. This is the same kind of cards you have in your digital cameras. The second kind has an internal hard drive. The third kind has a combination of memory card or hard drive, and a CD or DVD burner like the one you have on your computer.

The cheapest way to go is the Zoom MRS4B Digital Recorder.

Image

You can record 2 tracks at the same time and listen to 4 tracks when played back. With the virtual track technology you can stack up to 32 tracks on the same 4 channels. One of the advantages here is that since you are using a memory card, you can plug that card into any home computer with a card reader and with the free software you can convert the files between AIFF and WAV format. WAV format is what is used on most computers and can be converted into MP3’s easily in programs like itunes. You can read more about the Zoom MRS4B here http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/mrs4/index.php

$149
What you need in addition to this is
A decent microphone
A decent headset
A Card Reader
Yourself and whatever you want to record

Next step up is the The Tascam DP-01 digital multi track recorder.

Image

This is actually semi pro gear at an incredible price. The DP-01 has a built in internal hard drive of 40GB recording in uncompressed CD quality. You have 8 tracks available and can record 2 tracks at the same time. It has features like built in USB connection to your PC, S/PDIF digital optical output and line out. This means that you can use it together with your computer for backup or integrating it with home recording software for PC, or you can use it as a stand alone unit. If you want to read more about this go to
http://www.tascam.com/Products/dp01.html

$299
What you need in addition to this is
A decent microphone
A decent headset
Yourself and whatever you want to record

The combination of hard drive and CD burner is found in amongst others the Zoom MRS802B Eight Track Hard Disk Recorder

Image

This machine has it all, built in effects and even a drum machine to jam along to. You can burn a CD directly from the machine and it’s really easy to use. If you feel the need to have it communicating with your computer, an optional USB board is available. To read more about the Zoom MRS802B go tohttp://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/mrs802/

$599
What you need in addition to this is
A decent microphone
A decent headset
Yourself and whatever you want to record

Recording with computer and software!¨
Recording with a PC you need a sound card. Sound cards mainly come as PCI, USB or Firewire versions. You also need recording software. The PCI card you install in your computer the same way you would install any expansion card. The USB and Firewire units are usually external units you hook up to your computer the same way you hook up anything else using those connections.

Let¨s start with the M Audio Audiophile 2496 PCI Digital Audio Card.
Image

There are cheaper cards available on the market, but M Audio has several advantages. It’s compatible with both PC and Apple computers. It also comes complete with software, a 36 bit digital on screen mixer and the audiotools2 package. However with this kind of card I would strongly suggest you get either a small mixer or a microphone preamp.

$99
What you need in addition to this is
A decent microphone
A decent headset
A microphone preamp or small mixer.
Yourself and whatever you want to record

M Audio Audiophile USB

Image

This is a unit using the USB connections. This box is based on the same circuits as the M Audio Audiophile 2496 PCI card above. In addition you have onboard preamps for instruments and microphones. This too is compatible with both PC and Apple computers. Since it has built in preamps and runs on a separate AC power a lot of people will say it delivers a better sound than an internal card.

$199
What you need in addition to this is
A decent microphone
A decent headset
Yourself and whatever you want to record

The next jump up in price could be anything from a $100 to $100 000 so I won’t bore you all with that. If you want to know more about the M Audio products go to http://www.m-audio.com/

Ok so what is left?
Oh yeah a decent microphone and a decent headset.
As for microphones there are a variety to choose from, but since we want to keep this as inexpensive as possible I would either go with the
Shure PG48 Vocal mic $39 works fine with acoustic instruments as well

Image

or the Shure SM57, the industry standard for recording instruments $99

Image

When it comes to headphones I would go for something sweet and nice like the fairly priced Audio Technica ATH-M20 closed-back studio headphones $39.95
Image

Make sure you have a solid stand you can pick up a new one at $25, and good cables. There is nothing more irritating than a recording going wrong because you have bad cables causing sound glitches. When you record, try to do it in quiet surroundings. The less background noise you have, the better. When it comes to microphone placement you will have to experiment. The closer microphone placement will give you a bit more instrument noise, while further away will give you more room ambience.

Hope this was helpful :D

Ludwig

All prices are based on http://www.music123.com

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 1:37 pm 
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Ludwig, I've got a question. What would I get from the digital recorders you mentioned that I couldn't get from a multi-track piece of software on my computer? Aside from the decent mic and headset?


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 3:31 pm 
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ConnieS wrote:
Ludwig, I've got a question. What would I get from the digital recorders you mentioned that I couldn't get from a multi-track piece of software on my computer? Aside from the decent mic and headset?


I hope you don't mind me interrupting. ;)

For one thing, you get to bypass your computer's sound card in the recording process. Your sound card is usually the weakest link in any computer-based recording scheme.

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 Post subject: Well....
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 3:50 pm 
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Posts: 11
Location: Norway
...both kinds of setups have their advantages. It all depends on your needs when it comes to recording.
A desktop or laptop computer has more processor power and will allow you to work with more tracks at the same time. In my PC based studio, I can record up to 64 analogue channels at ones, but seriously most people including me, do not need that.

A digital recording unit is small and lightweight and can be set up and taken down in a matter of minutes. You can get a bag for it; bring it to church or band practice and record performances or rehearsals. You can move it around the house to the quietest room or the room with the best acoustic qualities. You can bring your recorder over to a friend so they can lay additional tracks and so on. If you want those kinds of things I would definitely go for a portable digital multi track.
:D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 8:16 pm 
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Location: Central Texas
Ok ..Kitty ... I agree that I don't seem to have a strong S/N ratio ... I can tell that when I put it on Audacity to work it over. I only have the mic about 2 feet from me and would have thought it would pick up fine but not the case. Exactly where does most of the sound come out of a whistle?

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Wed Oct 18, 2006 8:36 pm 
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I was always taught to put the microphone right up to the windway. The church microphones with clips on a stand--set them up a little too high and then turn it down so it's coming right down on that windway. It should hide your nose. Two feet away is too far. To pick you up, you're having to turn it up so high it's picking up everything. Once you get right on it, you can turn down the input and it won't pick up much room and it'll pick up a lot of whistle.

Jump in, anybody with a better idea.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 2:45 am 
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I had been just laying the microphone on the laptop when I recorded. Then Brass ...er... Ren posted something about where his mike was when recording -- higher, nearer the window, plus the panning left and right (which I don't understand yet). So, my mike has a clip and I started just attaching it to my shoulder when recording the flute. Made a big difference in focusing more on the flute and less on room noise, IMO.

That analog recorder looks like something I might need to invest in. Since we've started this, I've been asked about recording my mother singing for a family CD, plus a couple of cousins are also interested in recording their singing. Silly people think I know what I'm doing ... little do they know! :roll: I need major advice. Would one of those machines fit the bill?


Last edited by Judy K on Fri Oct 20, 2006 3:15 am, edited 1 time in total.

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Thu Oct 19, 2006 9:16 pm 
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Keeping the laptop and mike away from each other is really important. I was taught that you pick up rf (radio frequency bleed-through noises that come from all electrical things) if it's too close to the sound card and the various electrical components (fan, etc). I'd like to be able to clip it right to the whistle. Instead, I stay a few feet away from the laptop, stack up enough books on the table to place the mike at soundhole level, and play away. I still get soundcard noises in my final mix, but that's because I'm using an old laptop with an outdated (nonupgradable) soundcard. ](*,)


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 6:49 am 
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some whistles actually record better at different places. Try first though up close to the windway window. If that doesn;t work try down at the end. I also know that often people will mic both ends of the whistle.

I use my headset off my plantronics pro gaming headset to record the whistle. So far it has recorded everything quite nicely.

The only real advantage to one of the multitrack units mentioned is portability. I have done it both ways. I had at one time a fostex 8 track digital recorder I would port around. I have also ported around my laptop setup. For portability I prefered the fostex unit but that is personal preference.

Sometimes I will double the whistle channel then pan one all the way left and one all the way right. Most times I tend to leave it more natural in the middle. Just depends on what I think sounds best for that particular song.


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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Fri Oct 20, 2006 8:51 pm 
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First, a solution:

I use a rubber band to attach the mic (I have a small Radio Shack mic) to the whistle somewhere between the windway and the top hole. How close or far from the windway and whether the mic is on top of the whistle or below it depends on the whistle. On the lower whistles, I attach the mic closer to the windway than to the top hole. On the Clarkes, I have to attach the mic to the bottom of the whistle, or else my recording sounds like a thunderstorm. :shock:

Now, a question:

What is the best mic placement to record a fiddle? :?:

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 7:27 pm 
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Ren-Tin-10 wrote:
What is the best mic placement to record a fiddle? :?:


C'mon, you guys are letting me down! I was expecting at least one smart-aleck answer by now. :P

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 8:46 pm 
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Ren-Tin-10 wrote:
Ren-Tin-10 wrote:
What is the best mic placement to record a fiddle? :?:


C'mon, you guys are letting me down! I was expecting at least one smart-aleck answer by now. :P


If it had been a banjo I would say 84 feet away with the gain turned down...

depends on of your going, piezo, dynamic, condencer or hybrid.
:D

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sat Oct 21, 2006 9:38 pm 
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Ren-Tin-10 wrote:
I use a rubber band to attach the mic (I have a small Radio Shack mic) to the whistle somewhere between the windway and the top hole.


Now that seems like a clever idea. Cost-effective, too!

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 Post subject:
PostPosted: Sun Oct 22, 2006 7:10 pm 
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KittyR wrote:
Ren-Tin-10 wrote:
I use a rubber band to attach the mic (I have a small Radio Shack mic) to the whistle somewhere between the windway and the top hole.


Now that seems like a clever idea. Cost-effective, too!




Yeah!!!!! I'll be trying that here shortly.


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