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Old 02-17-2017, 04:39 AM
frets4fun frets4fun is offline
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Question Home Recording Advice Needed

I would appreciate some advice regarding home recording. Here's my situation......

I play guitar, mountain dulcimer and native american flute. I do not sing, so vocals will NOT be a part of this.

I'd like to know if there are good options out there for recording 2 or 3 of the instruments together.

I'm doing this strictly for my own use, and I I'd prefer something fairly straight-forward (short learning curve). I like to stay under $200.

Are there any good options, for this home recording newbie?

Thanks!
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Old 02-17-2017, 04:50 AM
HHP HHP is offline
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Unless you are the most facile one-man-band ever, you will need a multitrack recorder. Budget might indicate a smaller desktop model versus a handheld so you might look at Tascam and Zoom brands. Keep in mind that the recorder is only part of the cost. Many have built in mic but they have fairly low utility and you'll need at least one good external recording mic.

Something like this might also work.

https://www.elderly.com/electronics/...l-recorder.htm
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Old 02-17-2017, 07:01 AM
AX17609 AX17609 is offline
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I recommend that you ask this question of the folks over in the "Record" section of this forum. There are quite a few genuine experts over there. My experience is that this topic is a lot more complicated that you want it to be. Solutions that look simple turn out to be quite complicated, and solutions that look inexpensive turn out to be the opposite. If you've got a Mac, there's always GarageBand, but even that comes with significant complexities. Hand-held recorders suffer from the need to have more hands than you have as well as the need to monitor yourself during recording. Multi-track outboard recorders are very nice, but you've still got to import the tracks to a DAW if you want to do any significant editing. And we haven't even talked about mics, footswitches, headphones, etc.

Last edited by AX17609; 02-17-2017 at 07:15 AM.
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Old 02-17-2017, 07:18 AM
PorkPieGuy PorkPieGuy is offline
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I'd look into getting a USB microphone and downloading a recording program called Reaper. All you would be paying for would be the cost of the microphone.
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Old 02-17-2017, 07:54 AM
MikeBmusic MikeBmusic is offline
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There are a few options. I would not recommend the USB mic, as they offer limited monitoring capability and if you decide you want to record with 2 mics at one time, you'll be putting the USB mic in a box, because it won't allow you to do that.

1) Portable stand-alone recorder - the Zoom 4HN is at the top of your budget will do exactly what you want (assuming you are not 1-man-banding it!) and should not be too challenging technically, it has built-in mics, but also allows plugging in external mics or instruments.

2) Microphone(s) and audio interface and recording software - this is going to probably exceed your budget, but will allow expansion/upgrading of equipment as you get more experiences or want more options.
Reaper is free to download, $60 to register. Adobe Audacity is free and may suit your need but its editing features are somewhat limited in comparison with other full-featured DAWs
Audio interface - probably the least -expensive you would want to look at would be the Behringer U-phoria 204 - at $80, its a decent starting point. More money will get you better quality and preamps.
Microphone - many many choices, but a single LDC (large diaphragm condenser) mic would do to start things, the Audio Technica AT2020 for $100 is highly recommended.

Either choice 1 or 2 is going to have a learning curve, and 2) will require more, so a lot depends on how technical you are and how much learning you want to put into recording.
You are also going to need a way to monitor your recordings - multitracking means using headphones (closed back are best), and monitor speakers to hear your music when playing back. Using the Zoom recorder, you will still be transferring your tracks to a computer to burn a CD or to post online and eventually you might want to use it just for recording tracks, then doing your mixing on the computer.
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Old 02-17-2017, 08:48 AM
stevecuss stevecuss is offline
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OP,

what computer do you have? If you have a mac, Garage Band will do the mixing that you're looking for.

The lowest cost decent option, IMO is a Zoom portable recorder. Record one instrument, load it to Garage Band, record the next one, load it etc.

If you have a PC, I believe there are free mixing apps, but I'm not up on them.

But basically, a free Digital Audio Workstation (DAW) on your computer and a decent portable digital recorder will do the trick in your budget. The learning curve on a DAW can be steep, but well worth it

Quote:
Originally Posted by frets4fun View Post
I would appreciate some advice regarding home recording. Here's my situation......

I play guitar, mountain dulcimer and native american flute. I do not sing, so vocals will NOT be a part of this.

I'd like to know if there are good options out there for recording 2 or 3 of the instruments together.

I'm doing this strictly for my own use, and I I'd prefer something fairly straight-forward (short learning curve). I like to stay under $200.

Are there any good options, for this home recording newbie?

Thanks!
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Old 02-17-2017, 10:17 AM
roadie56 roadie56 is offline
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Check this too...

http://www.reaper.fm/
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  #8  
Old 02-17-2017, 10:23 AM
ericmeyer4 ericmeyer4 is offline
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The Focustrite Scarlett interfaces have gotten great feedback. I have the 2i2 and have been happy with it. They have pretty decent preamps in them as well. The latest ones come with software bundles including stripped down versions of Ableton and Protools DAWs. I will say I am looking into Reaper as I found the included software has a steep learning curve and limited capabilities. If I'm going to take time to learn how to use the software I would rather spend it learning Reaper as it is a more robust DAW. However, if you do not want keep within a budget, the included software are fine programs. Personally, I found Ableton more intuitive of the two to use.

The single channel version of the Focusrite is $100 and the dual channel is $150. You can also get packs that include headphones and a microphone. The bundle with a single channel interface is $200 and the dual channel is $250. I did not go for the bundle because I already had headphones and mics I was using so I cannot comment on the quality of those.

If you will be recording one instrument with one microphone at a time then the single channel interface will be fine. However, if you want to record two instruments at once or record one instrument with multiple mics at a time you will want something with multiple channels.

I opted for the dual channel interface because when I record it is just me. The second channel is nice if I ever want to throw a second mic on a source. Usually, it goes unused, but it is nice to know it is there.

The one (potential) negative about the Focusrite is that if you are using a dynamic mic, like a Shure SM57/58, you will need to turn the level way up. This can introduce some extra noise into the recording. The fix seems to be run those types of mics with an external preamp or a booster (like the cloudlifter/fethead). However, the interface works fine with condensers as it can supply 48v power. I'm not sure if needing more power for dynamics is exclusive to the Focusrite or an issue that is shared among most interfaces.

Last edited by ericmeyer4; 02-17-2017 at 11:15 AM.
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Old 02-17-2017, 10:25 AM
AX17609 AX17609 is offline
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With all due respect to the people who have suggested it, Reaper does not qualify as a short learning curve product. I agree that it's worth the effort, but it's not easy by any definition.
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Old 02-17-2017, 10:33 AM
sdelsolray sdelsolray is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frets4fun View Post
I would appreciate some advice regarding home recording. Here's my situation......

I play guitar, mountain dulcimer and native american flute. I do not sing, so vocals will NOT be a part of this.

I'd like to know if there are good options out there for recording 2 or 3 of the instruments together.

I'm doing this strictly for my own use, and I I'd prefer something fairly straight-forward (short learning curve). I like to stay under $200.

Are there any good options, for this home recording newbie?

Thanks!
In order to record two or three separate sources (i.e., at different times), and mix them together, you will need, at a minimum, the following:

microphone, mic stand and cable
closed back headphones (so you can record the 2nd track while listening to the first track, and to listen to you mix)
computer software capable of allowing multi-tracking and mixing
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Old 02-17-2017, 10:43 AM
runamuck runamuck is offline
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get this:

https://www.zoom.co.jp/products/hand...handy-recorder

and this:

http://www.audacityteam.org/

That's about as simple as it gets.
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Old 02-17-2017, 11:54 AM
frets4fun frets4fun is offline
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Great info, everyone. Thanks so much. I'm going to look into the suggestions!
__________________
Taylors:
'16 914 (sitka/eir)
'14 K24ce (custom koa)
'16 562ce (mahogany, 12-fret/12-string)
'13 512ce (cedar/mahogany)
'02 414 (sitka/ovangkol)
'15 GS mini (koa)

Started my guitar journey on 9/11/73.
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Old 02-17-2017, 02:45 PM
FrankHudson FrankHudson is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by frets4fun View Post
I would appreciate some advice regarding home recording. Here's my situation......

I play guitar, mountain dulcimer and native american flute. I do not sing, so vocals will NOT be a part of this.

I'd like to know if there are good options out there for recording 2 or 3 of the instruments together.

I'm doing this strictly for my own use, and I I'd prefer something fairly straight-forward (short learning curve). I like to stay under $200.

Are there any good options, for this home recording newbie?

Thanks!
$200 is a significant limitation. One valid answer would be to not do that for this amount. But taking that amount seriously, here's what I would do:

I assume you already own a computer. If it's a Mac, Garageband will do the job software-wise. Reaper will work on either MacOS or Windows. Audacity is free, works on either OS, is somewhat simpler, but also less fully featured. For budgetary reasons I'm skipping Reaper for our tally.

Mic: You need one. Given your budget, it's going to be just one. If you record multiple instruments, you're going to "Sun Studios" or "Robert Johnson in a hotel room" it. Set up around the mic and "mix" by distance to the mic, so louder instruments to the back. Take a solo? Step up closer. Overdub? Sure. But each pass you are committed to any multiple instrument "mixes" you've created on recording. Or record everything one instrument at a time. Or mix and match. Depending on the interface or not question you're going to take one of two paths. Path one is a USB condenser Mic. There are a number for choices under $100. I don't have experience with any of them. You plug it in to a USB port and you get sound into your recording program. Other path? USB audio interface, microphone and cable. Focusrite Scarlett Solo is good. Mic? I've had reasonable results from a MXL V63M which is usually under $100. There are other choices, some at lower prices, I just haven't used them. Condenser mics will work well with a room of not very loud instruments because they are very sensitive. They'll also pickup a lot of room sound, including your HVAC or computer fan, a truck outside, loud crickets. But them's the breaks and I'm taking your $200 seriously. You'll need a mic stand. Cheap as you can to keep to your budget. You'll need a mic cable, and again, cheap and cheerful to keep to your budget--and just get it long enough to get away from your computer is computer noise or to the place you guess will be best to set up your mic.

Monitoring? I'm taking that $200 seriously. Use anything you have. No they won't be accurate. Yes, you could have some leakage while overdubbing from the things in your ear to the mic.

Sound treatment for your room? Nope, not in the budget, but you can hang a quilt on clothesline here and there.

So what the tally? Software $0. Focusrite Solo $100, Mic $100. Hope for a coupon, deal, discount, or lots of coins under the couch cushions to free up $25 to $30 for a mic stand and cable. Or go USB Mic for around $100 and have enough for a set of headphones like Sennheiser HD 280 or AKG K240 or Sony MDR 7506, any of which is less than $100.

Limitations? Sure, particularly if you want to sound just like modern recordings done the modern way. Can you make good recordings this way, ones that you or others can enjoy listening to? Yes. Might you want to spend more later if you get into it? Yes, but at worst you'll be "out" the cost of the interface or the USB mic.
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Old 02-17-2017, 02:52 PM
ericmeyer4 ericmeyer4 is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by FrankHudson View Post
$200 is a significant limitation. One valid answer would be to not do that for this amount. But taking that amount seriously, here's what I would do:

I assume you already own a computer. If it's a Mac, Garageband will do the job software-wise. Reaper will work on either MacOS or Windows. Audacity is free, works on either OS, is somewhat simpler, but also less fully featured. For budgetary reasons I'm skipping Reaper for our tally.

Mic: You need one. Given your budget, it's going to be just one. If you record multiple instruments, you're going to "Sun Studios" or "Robert Johnson in a hotel room" it. Set up around the mic and "mix" by distance to the mic, so louder instruments to the back. Take a solo? Step up closer. Overdub? Sure. But each pass you are committed to any multiple instrument "mixes" you've created on recording. Or record everything one instrument at a time. Or mix and match. Depending on the interface or not question you're going to take one of two paths. Path one is a USB condenser Mic. There are a number for choices under $100. I don't have experience with any of them. You plug it in to a USB port and you get sound into your recording program. Other path? USB audio interface, microphone and cable. Focusrite Scarlett Solo is good. Mic? I've had reasonable results from a MXL V63M which is usually under $100. There are other choices, some at lower prices, I just haven't used them. Condenser mics will work well with a room of not very loud instruments because they are very sensitive. They'll also pickup a lot of room sound, including your HVAC or computer fan, a truck outside, loud crickets. But them's the breaks and I'm taking your $200 seriously. You'll need a mic stand. Cheap as you can to keep to your budget. You'll need a mic cable, and again, cheap and cheerful to keep to your budget--and just get it long enough to get away from your computer is computer noise or to the place you guess will be best to set up your mic.

Monitoring? I'm taking that $200 seriously. Use anything you have. No they won't be accurate. Yes, you could have some leakage while overdubbing from the things in your ear to the mic.

Sound treatment for your room? Nope, not in the budget, but you can hang a quilt on clothesline here and there.

So what the tally? Software $0. Focusrite Solo $100, Mic $100. Hope for a coupon, deal, discount, or lots of coins under the couch cushions to free up $25 to $30 for a mic stand and cable. Or go USB Mic for around $100 and have enough for a set of headphones like Sennheiser HD 280 or AKG K240 or Sony MDR 7506, any of which is less than $100.

Limitations? Sure, particularly if you want to sound just like modern recordings done the modern way. Can you make good recordings this way, ones that you or others can enjoy listening to? Yes. Might you want to spend more later if you get into it? Yes, but at worst you'll be "out" the cost of the interface or the USB mic.
Focusrite solo bundle. Interface, microphone, headphones, stand, cables, and software for $199. He just needs to provide the computer.

https://www.amazon.com/Focusrite-Sca...tt+solo+bundle

Frank did bring up a good point, will you be recording with multiple people at once or one at a time?

Last edited by ericmeyer4; 02-17-2017 at 03:24 PM.
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Old 02-18-2017, 12:14 AM
Bowie Bowie is offline
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AX17609 View Post
With all due respect to the people who have suggested it, Reaper does not qualify as a short learning curve product. I agree that it's worth the effort, but it's not easy by any definition.
I agree. I found Reaper to be non-intuitive (like PT and Logic). I wasted a lot of time fighting it, then finally went with StudioOne, where I rarely ever have to look up instructions to find out how to perform a function. I use PT when I'm working at other studios but I really do hate it.

Also, I personally recommend hanging fabric for room treatment. It kills the high frequencies and lets the bass create a wash of mud. Standing reflections are not ideal either so find the best sounding (usually the largest) room in your house so you don't get the boxy sound from the immediate reflections of a small, square room. Bringing more furniture into a room can help. Just because you have no budget doesn't mean you can't be pro-active about improving the sound of your room. After all, it becomes part of your recorded sound.
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