The Acoustic Guitar Forum

Go Back   The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > RECORD

Reply
 
Thread Tools
  #1  
Old 01-04-2021, 11:18 AM
ataylor ataylor is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,155
Default Advice on augmenting/evolving my home recording setup/process

First off, I realize there are any number of home recording gear threads here and elsewhere and Iíve browsed some of them. Iím posting another in the hopes of getting some specific advice around what I might keep doing and what I might do better moving forward when it comes to my very basic home recordings.

First, the gear. For the last six years or so, Iíve been using an Apogee Mic 96k into GarageBand on a 5th-gen iPad. In cases where I want electric tones, which Iíve done sparingly (even more sparingly than my infrequent recordings in general), Iíve been using a first-gen Apogee Jam. I use a set of Audio Technica ATH-M50x for tracking and mixing. I do most of that on the iPad but will sometimes go to the Mac to play with fading in/out tracks. Thatís it ó thatís my recording setup!

Second, location/environment. I donít have a dedicated recording space. Iíve recorded in bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, hallways, rooms at work or church, et cetera ó one of the things I like about the minimal setup is how portable it is.

I recorded an album this way, and Iíve used it to record a handful of Christmas songs each year since as well (some are just quick recordings with my kids, others are less-quick-but-still-quick multi-track takes Iíve done myself). These all sound pretty good all things considered, but as I start thinking about doing another full set of recordings for an album sometime this year, Iím wondering if I should add to or outright replace my existing setup.

One idea is to simply add another Apogee Mic to the setup, maybe even just track down another lightly used or refurbished 96k version like the one I have. This would allow me to, when desired, use the two mics together in GarageBand on Mac as an ďaggregate device.Ē

Another idea is similar to the above setup but with an upgrade of all devices. Go with two new Apogee Mic units ó I think itís the Mic+ and the HypeMic that are the latest ó and a new Jam+ so that Iím future-prooofing just a little bit and getting the best available sound quality, as well as the headphone out option for monitoring.

Or I could continue to use my current setup as-is for quick recordings, but move to a more pro and permanent type of setup for recordings I want to spend more time with. This would mean investing in a couple XLR microphones and an interface and perhaps graduating to Logic Pro in terms of software.

There are a few paths to take with that last option in terms of what to go with. Part of me says I could go with a lower-cost pair of mics like Audio Technica 2020/2021 or similar, and a basic interface like Focusrite, or part of me says I might as well start investing in some higher-end microphones and going with an interface from Apogee or Universal Audio.

I guess the final option is to keep going with my current setup.

Or maybe the actual final option is to invest in studio time or with a friend or two that have better gear and better audio engineering skills.

Iím not really in a position where I can dedicate physical space exclusively to practicing and recording ó at least in terms of big sound-proofing panels and stuff like that ó so thatís a factor for the foreseeable future. Also a temporary factor is the fact that weíre all one big happy family 24/7 thanks to a global plague, so kids are either making noise when theyíre awake, or Iím needing to be cautious about making noise when theyíre not!

Thoughts? Advice? Suggestions? Curious what your collective wisdom and experience would recommend here or how you might approach this in my shoes.

Thanks!
Reply With Quote
  #2  
Old 01-04-2021, 12:39 PM
Wrighty's Avatar
Wrighty Wrighty is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Aug 2011
Location: Itchen Stoke, UK
Posts: 1,801
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ataylor View Post
First off, I realize there are any number of home recording gear threads here and elsewhere and Iíve browsed some of them. Iím posting another in the hopes of getting some specific advice around what I might keep doing and what I might do better moving forward when it comes to my very basic home recordings.



First, the gear. For the last six years or so, Iíve been using an Apogee Mic 96k into GarageBand on a 5th-gen iPad. In cases where I want electric tones, which Iíve done sparingly (even more sparingly than my infrequent recordings in general), Iíve been using a first-gen Apogee Jam. I use a set of Audio Technica ATH-M50x for tracking and mixing. I do most of that on the iPad but will sometimes go to the Mac to play with fading in/out tracks. Thatís it ó thatís my recording setup!



Second, location/environment. I donít have a dedicated recording space. Iíve recorded in bedrooms, bathrooms, closets, hallways, rooms at work or church, et cetera ó one of the things I like about the minimal setup is how portable it is.



I recorded an album this way, and Iíve used it to record a handful of Christmas songs each year since as well (some are just quick recordings with my kids, others are less-quick-but-still-quick multi-track takes Iíve done myself). These all sound pretty good all things considered, but as I start thinking about doing another full set of recordings for an album sometime this year, Iím wondering if I should add to or outright replace my existing setup.



One idea is to simply add another Apogee Mic to the setup, maybe even just track down another lightly used or refurbished 96k version like the one I have. This would allow me to, when desired, use the two mics together in GarageBand on Mac as an ďaggregate device.Ē



Another idea is similar to the above setup but with an upgrade of all devices. Go with two new Apogee Mic units ó I think itís the Mic+ and the HypeMic that are the latest ó and a new Jam+ so that Iím future-prooofing just a little bit and getting the best available sound quality, as well as the headphone out option for monitoring.



Or I could continue to use my current setup as-is for quick recordings, but move to a more pro and permanent type of setup for recordings I want to spend more time with. This would mean investing in a couple XLR microphones and an interface and perhaps graduating to Logic Pro in terms of software.



There are a few paths to take with that last option in terms of what to go with. Part of me says I could go with a lower-cost pair of mics like Audio Technica 2020/2021 or similar, and a basic interface like Focusrite, or part of me says I might as well start investing in some higher-end microphones and going with an interface from Apogee or Universal Audio.



I guess the final option is to keep going with my current setup.



Or maybe the actual final option is to invest in studio time or with a friend or two that have better gear and better audio engineering skills.



Iím not really in a position where I can dedicate physical space exclusively to practicing and recording ó at least in terms of big sound-proofing panels and stuff like that ó so thatís a factor for the foreseeable future. Also a temporary factor is the fact that weíre all one big happy family 24/7 thanks to a global plague, so kids are either making noise when theyíre awake, or Iím needing to be cautious about making noise when theyíre not!



Thoughts? Advice? Suggestions? Curious what your collective wisdom and experience would recommend here or how you might approach this in my shoes.



Thanks!


More experienced forum members will no doubt chime in, but if it were me I would get some portable acoustic panels made and take them wherever I went to record - they will offer the biggest return you will get on your sound right now (speaking from experience here)
__________________
Almansa classical (2012 - Cedar/Rosewood)
Webber OM (2009 - Sitka/Sapele)
Furch OM24 (2017 - Spruce/Rosewood)


https://www.youtube.com/channel/UC8A...2TVEhWes2Djrig
Reply With Quote
  #3  
Old 01-04-2021, 04:43 PM
keith.rogers's Avatar
keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Texas
Posts: 969
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrighty View Post
More experienced forum members will no doubt chime in, but if it were me I would get some portable acoustic panels made and take them wherever I went to record - they will offer the biggest return you will get on your sound right now (speaking from experience here)
I'm another big fan of treatment. I'd say most folks regret not doing it sooner, once they get almost anything good in place, even if it's a couple of gobos made with the right kind of material (i.e., not foam panels).

The other thing that I confess I don't do enough, but that has helped, is to really listen and study "reference" recordings.

I have yet to buy a microphone that makes me sound better - though I have one or two that do make my life easier in some cases.
__________________
"I know in the morning that it's gonna be good, when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen
Reply With Quote
  #4  
Old 01-05-2021, 12:02 PM
ataylor ataylor is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,155
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wrighty View Post
More experienced forum members will no doubt chime in, but if it were me I would get some portable acoustic panels made and take them wherever I went to record - they will offer the biggest return you will get on your sound right now (speaking from experience here)
Quote:
Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
I'm another big fan of treatment. I'd say most folks regret not doing it sooner, once they get almost anything good in place, even if it's a couple of gobos made with the right kind of material (i.e., not foam panels).
Based on this and another similar thread that has gotten more feedback, it seems I definitely need to factor acoustic panels/treatment in my hopes to augment or evolve my setup.

Since I don't really have a single room that I can dedicate to recording space, what's an easy, portable solution for recording vocals and guitar (often simultaneously) that folks would recommend?

On a related note, I'd love suggestions in terms of microphone types and placement for basic singer-songwriter type stuff as well. I prefer to sing and play at the same time for the main track and then I'll often add another track or two of harmonies and a few more tracks of acoustic and/or electric guitars. I often record those separately, but I like the organic feel of getting that initial vocal and guitar track recorded together. I currently record that with just the one microphone (Apogee Mic 96k) which I try to put about halfway(ish ó depending on how loud the guitar and/or vocals will be) between vocals and guitar about 12-18" out.
Reply With Quote
  #5  
Old 01-05-2021, 12:13 PM
sam.spoons sam.spoons is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jul 2015
Location: Manchester UK
Posts: 752
Default

+1 for acoustic treatment, even a couple of strategically placed duvets can work wonders. It's vanishingly rare for a domestic space to have a good sounding reverb/ambience, even fairly large rooms (small churches and suchlike) don't automatically sound good. Some portable treatment can make or break a recording.
__________________
Brian Eastwood Custom Acoustic (1981)
Rob Aylward 'Petit Bouche' Selmer Style (2010)
Emerald X7 OS Artisan (2014)
Mountain D45 (mid '80s)
Brian Eastwood ES175/L5
Gibson Les Paul Custom (1975)
Brian Eastwood '61 Strat
Bitsa Strat with P90s (my main electric)
The Loar F5 Mandolin,
Samick A4 Mandolin
Epiphone Mandobird
Brian Eastwood '51 P Bass
NS Design Wav EUB
Giordano EUB
Reply With Quote
  #6  
Old 01-05-2021, 01:39 PM
keith.rogers's Avatar
keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Texas
Posts: 969
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by ataylor View Post
Based on this and another similar thread that has gotten more feedback, it seems I definitely need to factor acoustic panels/treatment in my hopes to augment or evolve my setup.

Since I don't really have a single room that I can dedicate to recording space, what's an easy, portable solution for recording vocals and guitar (often simultaneously) that folks would recommend?

On a related note, I'd love suggestions in terms of microphone types and placement for basic singer-songwriter type stuff as well. I prefer to sing and play at the same time for the main track and then I'll often add another track or two of harmonies and a few more tracks of acoustic and/or electric guitars. I often record those separately, but I like the organic feel of getting that initial vocal and guitar track recorded together. I currently record that with just the one microphone (Apogee Mic 96k) which I try to put about halfway(ish — depending on how loud the guitar and/or vocals will be) between vocals and guitar about 12-18" out.
A pair of panels that are hinged together to for a V in front of you, and another behind you, can do a lot. The one in front is to absorb some of the sound going out into the room, so less of the initial energy hits a reflective surface, and the one behind you can dampen reflections coming directly at the mic. You can also reduce reflections with other materials, like moving pads, quilts, etc., and even just one big moving pad in front of you to reduce the audio energy getting past the mic and starting to bounce around can help.

I spent some of this off time last year trying single mic recording, and, frankly, it's more trouble than it's worth, IMO. (But, yes, it does work for some folks.) To me, having one mic that picks up mostly vocals and one that picks up mostly guitar, even with a tremendous amount of bleed, gives you enough control in mixing to fix a minor imbalance that might mean a complete re-take if recorded with a single mic.

If you are just capturing an idea, then I'd just use a single mic or even a digital recorder, but for a performance capture, 2 mics is it for me.
__________________
"I know in the morning that it's gonna be good, when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen
Reply With Quote
  #7  
Old 01-13-2021, 04:14 PM
SprintBob's Avatar
SprintBob SprintBob is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: Sep 2013
Location: Covington, LA
Posts: 4,363
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
A pair of panels that are hinged together to for a V in front of you, and another behind you, can do a lot. The one in front is to absorb some of the sound going out into the room, so less of the initial energy hits a reflective surface, and the one behind you can dampen reflections coming directly at the mic. You can also reduce reflections with other materials, like moving pads, quilts, etc., and even just one big moving pad in front of you to reduce the audio energy getting past the mic and starting to bounce around can help.

I spent some of this off time last year trying single mic recording, and, frankly, it's more trouble than it's worth, IMO. (But, yes, it does work for some folks.) To me, having one mic that picks up mostly vocals and one that picks up mostly guitar, even with a tremendous amount of bleed, gives you enough control in mixing to fix a minor imbalance that might mean a complete re-take if recorded with a single mic.

If you are just capturing an idea, then I'd just use a single mic or even a digital recorder, but for a performance capture, 2 mics is it for me.

Iím using one set of hinged panels in front of me (3í x 6í each panel) and I was impressed by the results. Iíd like to do the 2nd set as Keith suggests above but itís getting crowed in my 10í10í music room. I can probably live with what I have but agree with everyone above that effective acoustic treatment offers the most bang for the buck in getting consistency with your home recording efforts.
__________________
Doerr Trinity 00 (Lutz/Maple)
Edwinson Zephyr 13 Fret 00 (Adi/Coco)
Emerald X-20 (all carbon fiber)
Froggy Bottom H-12 (Adi/EIR)
Robinson 12 Fret SS Dread (Spruce/Mahogany)
Eastman 810CE (Spruce/Maple archtop)
Reply With Quote
  #8  
Old 01-17-2021, 04:07 PM
ataylor ataylor is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,155
Default

Quick bump to this thread ó Iíll see what I can do with some basic acoustic treatment, but Iím curious if anyone has some advice on where to go in terms of investing in USB microphones versus an interface and a couple XLR mics.

More specifically, Iím curious if thereís going to be any noticeable difference in quality or functionality between using a couple Apogee USB mics as opposed to going with something like a Focusrite interface and a couple not-expensive XLR mics in the Audio Technica 20-something or Shure SM57 type of range.

Follow-up question ó where is the sweet spot in terms of bang for buck when it comes to XLR microphones that would be good at recording singer-songwriter materials (ideally vocal and guitar tracked together but with separate mics for more flexibility in the mix)?
Reply With Quote
  #9  
Old 01-17-2021, 05:06 PM
keith.rogers's Avatar
keith.rogers keith.rogers is offline
Charter Member
 
Join Date: May 2019
Location: Texas
Posts: 969
Default

To use more than one USB mic at a time on a Mac you have to create an aggregate device. It can work, but of course you do have some risk (theoretical/speculative, at least) that their clocks are not precisely the same over long recording sessions. That setup would not be my first choice if I wanted to use 2 mics.

Mics are difficult because what can sound fine to one person might be irritating to another. And with recording, a lot of what makes a mic desirable is how easy it makes the job of capturing what you want to hear, given the performer, instrument/voice, performance and space. In other words, one-size-fits-all is the proverbial unobtanium.

But one truism is that a good mic will still capture a good sound and last essentially forever with care, so spending a bit more is not usually wasted money, and buying a good condition used model can be a way to get better equipment for less money.

But, to cut to the chase, for singer-songwriter in less than ideal or even pretty good conditions, you can do a lot worse than the SM58 (or SM57 with foam windscreen) for vocals, and a decent small condenser microphone on guitar. I really liked the ATM450 I picked up used for $100 (sold, but practically given to a friend), though it might be a budget stretch new - not sure what you are looking for. My last little experiment use an sE Electronics SDC and it's fine - not as nice as my AT4051a ($500 for the current model), but workable. There are others that folks here use of all kinds of price ranges, but it depends a lot on your space. (I also use an LDC on acoustic, but I have a pretty well treated space.)
__________________
"I know in the morning that it's gonna be good, when I stick out my elbows and they don't bump wood." - Bill Kirchen
Reply With Quote
  #10  
Old 01-17-2021, 10:11 PM
ataylor ataylor is offline
Registered User
 
Join Date: Jun 2007
Posts: 2,155
Default

Quote:
Originally Posted by keith.rogers View Post
To use more than one USB mic at a time on a Mac you have to create an aggregate device. It can work, but of course you do have some risk (theoretical/speculative, at least) that their clocks are not precisely the same over long recording sessions. That setup would not be my first choice if I wanted to use 2 mics.

Mics are difficult because what can sound fine to one person might be irritating to another. And with recording, a lot of what makes a mic desirable is how easy it makes the job of capturing what you want to hear, given the performer, instrument/voice, performance and space. In other words, one-size-fits-all is the proverbial unobtanium.

But one truism is that a good mic will still capture a good sound and last essentially forever with care, so spending a bit more is not usually wasted money, and buying a good condition used model can be a way to get better equipment for less money.

But, to cut to the chase, for singer-songwriter in less than ideal or even pretty good conditions, you can do a lot worse than the SM58 (or SM57 with foam windscreen) for vocals, and a decent small condenser microphone on guitar. I really liked the ATM450 I picked up used for $100 (sold, but practically given to a friend), though it might be a budget stretch new - not sure what you are looking for. My last little experiment use an sE Electronics SDC and it's fine - not as nice as my AT4051a ($500 for the current model), but workable. There are others that folks here use of all kinds of price ranges, but it depends a lot on your space. (I also use an LDC on acoustic, but I have a pretty well treated space.)
Thanks for the detailed feedback and suggestions!

I had come across the aggregate device route a while back when I got my Apogee Mic and was debating adding a second one at some point but didn’t know if that was still the only way to pair two USB mics. Based on the above, that sounds like it’s still the case, but I’ll do a little digging anyway.

I’m leaning towards the interface and XLR route more and more, especially now that I have a MacBook Pro at home, which makes the option a bit more portable than it would have been several years ago with a stationery iMac.

Now I’m going to have to look closer into interfaces — likely choosing between Focusrite, Apogee, or one of the “cheaper” UA units. I’ll look up some specs and comparisons, but I’ll welcome any suggestions here as well. I’ll be recording into GarageBand or possibly Logic Pro, if that’s helpful info.

Then there are microphones to consider. The SM57/58 is an interesting option — makes me wonder if a pair of those would be kinder to less-than-ideal room and acoustic situations, as well as a good option for admittedly less common instances where I might want to mic a guitar amp for vocals plus electric guitar stuff. In my very very early searches for condenser mics, I’d been looking a little at the Audio Technica AT2020/21 pair as a potential bang-for-buck solution, but will look further up their lineup into the 450 and 4051 mics as well!

In the case of both interface and mics — and I suppose this applies to any acoustic treatment materials/solutions as well — I’m wanting to find a good balance between getting some gear I can grow into and get good mileage out of but I’m also hesitant about anything that’s feels too far outside my current or near-term skill set — or budget... which I guess probably puts me somewhere in the beginner to lower-intermediate bracket for this kind of stuff.
Reply With Quote
Reply

  The Acoustic Guitar Forum > General Acoustic Guitar and Amplification Discussion > RECORD

Thread Tools





All times are GMT -6. The time now is 06:57 PM.


Powered by vBulletin® Version 3.8.11
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, vBulletin Solutions Inc.
Copyright ©2000 - 2021, The Acoustic Guitar Forum
vB Ad Management by =RedTyger=