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Old 10-27-2018, 05:17 PM
krugjr krugjr is offline
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Default need advice on songwriter demo setup. New Question, Help!

I've been playing acoustic guitar and singing forever (not quite but 55 yrs plus)..... I'm wanting to record fairly simple demos to share with potential publishers.....biggest hurdle, other than the quality of the songs themselves, is switching over to the digital world, as I've been analog in the past.....my research has brought me to the Zoom H5 (haven't purchased yet) and my 3 yr old laptop (Dell/Windows 7) has an Audacity download from a couple years ago which I never got around to experimenting with.....this is where I'm at, as of today...

wondering if this basic setup will work, and will this pretty low tech guy be able to figure it out.....my demos will be "rhythm" acoustic (no finger picking or lead) so I'd like to record the guitar track twice and split for a fuller sound.....then my vocal could be with one of the original tracks or as an over dub.....would like a 3 part harmony once in a while but not sure I would have enough tracks.....
pretty basic and simple so far but here is where I get lost...reading a lot of posts about recorders here for the last couple days, this is where everyone says: now just download your tracks to your DAW for your effects and your final mix, and then choose your format for burning your CDs...done..... simple for you with the experience, but difficult for me.....I know I'll figure out the process (I did run an analog 8 trk recording studio) but I better be sure I have the right stuff to get started.....any advice will be greatly appreciated.....some of you have guided me in the past with my guitar pickups and such.....I have mics and headphones and all the basics, it's just this transition to digital that has me a bit confused.....

Doug

Last edited by krugjr; 12-03-2018 at 01:56 PM.
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Old 10-27-2018, 06:07 PM
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islandguitar islandguitar is offline
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Doug, I do some things similarly with my H4n, but not overdubs, or vocals, so another individual will weigh in on this. Also , Dell, Windows 7.
My H4n, runs from two spaced pair condenser mics, and then to an acoustic pre amp before it arrives at the Zoom, so that may also be different, or perhaps you'll use the mics you mentioned.
When I've got a file I want to transfer to the computer, I'll leave the digital card in the Zoom, but attache with the supplied cord the Zoom and the computer. One line, into the Zoom and one line into the USB port. On the H4n, I'll turn to the little wheel to find USB, click, and then click again on "Storage". This transmits all the files into your computer.

Next on my computer, I'll click on the "World" symbol..... bottom lower left and bring up "computer". Click on this and you should see the "removable storage", or "SD card" with any amount of space you've used already indicated. Click on this and you'll maybe get DCIM, or other indicator........another click on this and you should see other areas.....Mine are listed under "Stereo" and then folder 1.
When this is opened you'll see all your music files presented coming form the Zoom.
Ones you like and want to work with can be dragged and dropped in "My Music" which is what I use for a home. These are copied so the original remains on the SD card. I keep different folders for different projects....for instance right now I put songs in "Music 17-18", which is what I'm currently working on and storing for future projects.
Going into Audacity and opening this up..........just go to "open" (top left hand corner) and find "my music" (or similar you've selected as a home) click on that and you'll be able to do another click on a file you want and open it into Audacity for processing.
I keep each file as both WAV and MP3. The WAV files (better quality) can be put into Soundcloud or other type of presentation or CD.........the MP3 are compressed and can be emailed. I also have all my stuff saved on a separate flash drive in case there issues and I lose what's on my computer.
HOpe this isn't too complicated! Once you start with this, it's a small bit of time moving around and you're there very quickly. With your background this should be figured out pretty quickly.
As I said, others will certainly weigh in on their approach and more with over dubbing and other specifics.
Best,
Fred (still a newbie with this stuff!)
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Old 10-27-2018, 06:35 PM
krugjr krugjr is offline
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thanks, island guitar.......yeah, that's a lot, but it's helping already, and I can always study it one sentence at a time...ha...ha...

see if I understand this...you run your guitar through a pre amp and then into the Zoom, into the XLR? so all your EQing and effects are good to go and it just becomes a "finished" track in DAW ready for Wav and/or MP3? I have a nice piece of equipment from my Bose L1 performing days, the T1 Tonematch Audi Engine.....has a 1/4 inch master out and USB.....I run my vocal mic and my guitar through it for EQ and reverb... would that work (one track at a time into H5, so I can keep tracks separate for mixing)...and then just use Audacity for final mix and processing?

by the way, I listened to your recording yesterday.....quite nice!

Last edited by krugjr; 10-27-2018 at 06:44 PM.
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Old 10-27-2018, 08:33 PM
Rudy4 Rudy4 is offline
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Originally Posted by krugjr View Post
I've been playing acoustic guitar and singing forever (not quite but 55 yrs plus)..... I'm wanting to record fairly simple demos to share with potential publishers.....biggest hurdle, other than the quality of the songs themselves, is switching over to the digital world, as I've been analog in the past.....my research has brought me to the Zoom H5 (haven't purchased yet) and my 3 yr old laptop (Dell/Windows 7) has an Audacity download from a couple years ago which I never got around to experimenting with.....this is where I'm at, as of today...

wondering if this basic setup will work, and will this pretty low tech guy be able to figure it out.....my demos will be "rhythm" acoustic (no finger picking or lead) so I'd like to record the guitar track twice and split for a fuller sound.....then my vocal could be with one of the original tracks or as an over dub.....would like a 3 part harmony once in a while but not sure I would have enough tracks.....
pretty basic and simple so far but here is where I get lost...reading a lot of posts about recorders here for the last couple days, this is where everyone says: now just download your tracks to your DAW for your effects and your final mix, and then choose your format for burning your CDs...done..... simple for you with the experience, but difficult for me.....I know I'll figure out the process (I did run an analog 8 trk recording studio) but I better be sure I have the right stuff to get started.....any advice will be greatly appreciated.....some of you have guided me in the past with my guitar pickups and such.....I have mics and headphones and all the basics, it's just this transition to digital that has me a bit confused.....

Doug
Doug, If you want simplicity I'd recommend looking at one of the Zoom R series recorders. R8 if you can get by with 2 simultaneous inputs or R16 / R24 if you need more. They aren't much harder to use than an old cassette recorder.

You say you have "mics", but that's a big topic. Since you're doing sparse recordings you might want to consider a pair of small diaphragm condensers for stereo guitar recording. The condensers will generally sound much better than dynamics you might have unless they are high end dynamics.

I always advise folks to do audio capture on a dedicated recorder then port their tracks to computer for editing.

If you search here there are quite a few extensive topics on advice for simple recording.
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Old 10-27-2018, 09:00 PM
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Thanks krugjr!

Full disclosure, many of the tunes I post on Soundcloud have not been mixed in Audacity as they were included on a home brewed CD and worked (mix/mastered) with by a pro engineer with great equipment in getting to the final product and helping it be "the best it can be" given that I'm doing home recording. A few of the recent pieces are done by me via Audacity and an additional plug-in "Adverb" which helps with reverb settings, along with minor tweaks in Audacity. Pretty simple set-up as it's just single guitar. Here's a pic of my little set-up:
[IMG][/IMG]

My guitar is not cabled to anything directly, it's just stand alone played into the mics. But my condenser mics are hooked up to a Rane DMS 22 which I use to help with the onboard pre amp noise which the Zoom 4n does have a bit of . I hear the Zoom H5 is better with this. Yes, XLR inputs from the mics into the Rane , TRS 1/4"out of the Rane and TRS into the Zoom is how it worked with my cables. The Zoom gain is turned to nearly 0, and all the gain levels are set by the Rane mic preamp and viewed on the Zoom screen. I'm usually recording my stuff at -24 to-12 as seen on the Zoom screen to provide room for processing. Any processing is all done via Audacity. This also preserves a "raw" file with no effects that I can store and save.
I also have a small "booth" I use (portable) of broad band panels (4'x2'x4" thick) and that's what you see in the back of the recording equipment.
the whole thing isn't "perfect" but suitable for what I look for without breaking the bank!! LOL! The condenser mics are Sure KSM 137's.
thanks for taking a listen....best of luck!
Fred
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Old 10-28-2018, 08:00 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krugjr View Post
I've been playing acoustic guitar and singing forever (not quite but 55 yrs plus)..... I'm wanting to record fairly simple demos to share with potential publishers.....biggest hurdle, other than the quality of the songs themselves, is switching over to the digital world, as I've been analog in the past.....my research has brought me to the Zoom H5 (haven't purchased yet) and my 3 yr old laptop (Dell/Windows 7) has an Audacity download from a couple years ago which I never got around to experimenting with.....this is where I'm at, as of today...

wondering if this basic setup will work, and will this pretty low tech guy be able to figure it out.....my demos will be "rhythm" acoustic (no finger picking or lead) so I'd like to record the guitar track twice and split for a fuller sound.....then my vocal could be with one of the original tracks or as an over dub.....would like a 3 part harmony once in a while but not sure I would have enough tracks.....
pretty basic and simple so far but here is where I get lost...reading a lot of posts about recorders here for the last couple days, this is where everyone says: now just download your tracks to your DAW for your effects and your final mix, and then choose your format for burning your CDs...done..... simple for you with the experience, but difficult for me.....I know I'll figure out the process (I did run an analog 8 trk recording studio) but I better be sure I have the right stuff to get started.....any advice will be greatly appreciated.....some of you have guided me in the past with my guitar pickups and such.....I have mics and headphones and all the basics, it's just this transition to digital that has me a bit confused.....

Doug
Some basic digital 101:

The concepts for recording are the same as your old analog studio system.
Because the front end of a digital system is still analog, Mics, pres . etc.
What is different is how the signal (and resulting media) is handled .
With digital, the front end analog signal has to be converted to a digital file (i.e. into bits or 1s and 0s) Which is called analog to digital conversion (A/D) it can then be handled ( mixed, edited, processed, etc by digital software ( called a DAW for Digital Audio Workstation)

After any editing you then have several options for how to store or move the digital file.
For demos to go to publishers you should ask them what type of file format they prefer as many now prefer a USB stick as opposed to CD

In order to be able to hear the digital file either during recording, mixing, editing , and after that, the signal has to be re-converted from digital to analog (D/A) for headphones or speakers to reproduce. Most digital interfaces ( like the Zoom ) have both A/D and D/A converters built in and you laptop also has D/A for its headphone jacks and onboard speakers

So : the signal chain looks like this

Mic > mic pre > A/D > DAW > D/A

Working with digital audio is much more a matter of getting used to the terminology, than being an actual computer wiz.
Transferring and moving digital audio files like MP3 or WAV is usually a simple drag and drop operation

In the case of the Zoom H5 it looks like you have stereo mics so I am not certain you would actually need to record the guitar twice for a simple guitar and vocal demo .
As for vocal it depends on what mics you already have ?
But if it were me ( and maybe you already know this ) I was wanting to do a simple guitar vocal for publishers, I would simply record the guitar part with the Zoom mics and pan the stereo track hard L and R in Audacity Then use one of your other mics (if they are decent ) to record the vocal and pan it center.

The other relatively inexpensive option I would seriously consider (depending on the mics you) have would be something like a Focusrite Scarlett interface which would give you more expandability options in the future
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Last edited by KevWind; 10-28-2018 at 08:23 AM.
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Old 10-28-2018, 11:37 AM
sdelsolray sdelsolray is offline
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Originally Posted by krugjr View Post
...
wondering if this basic setup will work, and will this pretty low tech guy be able to figure it out.....my demos will be "rhythm" acoustic (no finger picking or lead) so I'd like to record the guitar track twice and split for a fuller sound.....then my vocal could be with one of the original tracks or as an over dub.....would like a 3 part harmony once in a while but not sure I would have enough tracks.....
...
Doug
If you are going to record tracks at different times there is an issue that needs to be understood and addressed before you buy anything. It's called "latency". This is the amount of time it takes for certain tasks to be completed in your digital recording system. There are three types, but I will only address two of them (I'm leaving out mixing latency for now).

1) Tracking/recording latency. The time it takes for the system to record your guitar strum and write it on the disk while you are actually recording.

2) Playback/monitoring latency. The time it takes for the system to send the music from the disk where it is stored to your listening headphones or speakers.

Lower latency is good. Longer latency is not.

I'll give one example. Say you want to record your rhythm guitar twice on separate tracks at different times. When you record the second time, you must listen to the first recording through headphones to make sure you are playing along with the first recording. The playback of the first track is delayed due to playback/monitoring latency and the actual recording of the second track ends up being recorded a bit later due to tracking/recording latency. When you play back the two tracks, the second track playback will be delayed by the sum of these two latencies, which will sound like you are using a delay pedal. You must then line the track up in your recording software to elimimate the summed latency.

There are two solutions, (i) automatic delay/latency compensation (not all systems have this) and (ii) manual compensation by nudging the first track later in time (relative to the second track) so that the latency is eliminated.

If you can, purchase a system that (i) has low latency to begin with and (ii) has automatic latency/delay compensation. Of course, manual compensation is easy to do once you learn how to do it, so don't be afraid of that.
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Old 10-28-2018, 12:43 PM
krugjr krugjr is offline
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KevWind........................BIG help...................yes, 101 helps me a lot... it's the terminology that gets me to the next level of understanding...I appreciate your taking the time to write that out.....my latest book on "how to get a song published, etc" is 10 yrs old and CDs were preferred, so it's good to hear about the USB stick.....

to be clear, is the focusrite scarlett interface an upgrade to the audacity, or is it something to get instead of the H5? excuse the ignorance, please.....my best vocal mic now is sennheiser e945, and I've always had the stash of Shure SM 58s and SM 57s.....and your suggestion of how to start with the H5, I agree, would be a starting place for me.....production "just good enough" to keep the listener on board until the song itself takes over, if that makes sense.....

Doug
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Old 10-28-2018, 12:56 PM
krugjr krugjr is offline
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sdelsolray.....thanks for response.....I'm assuming the equipment your talking about would be the H5 itself (where the tracks are recorded) and not the DAW?
so far in my studying the H5 I haven't come across this "latency" talk...just back to my analog lingo of "play back previous track and add the next track" ...
so does the H5 take care of this while overdubbing or will I be doing this "lining up the tracks" that you speak of?

Doug
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Old 10-28-2018, 01:07 PM
krugjr krugjr is offline
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another thing I'm trying to grasp is the diff of recording "on" something, like the H5, then sending to DAW for final work vs recording directly into the computer.....I believe I'm still preferring to keep the recording device "mobile", like the H5, so I can be outside the studio atmosphere or inside, and record in a way that covers both options, and keeps the over all budget within reason...hope that makes sense.....
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Old 10-28-2018, 01:23 PM
sdelsolray sdelsolray is offline
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sdelsolray.....thanks for response.....I'm assuming the equipment your talking about would be the H5 itself (where the tracks are recorded) and not the DAW?
...

Doug
Not necessarily. Latency occurs in all digital recording systems, even the most expensive ones. I raised the subject just to give you information about this issue, which boils down to (i) amount of latency and (ii) how to eliminate it in your final mixed recording.

If your interface is the H5, connecting that to a computer and then using a DAW that is on the computer, all I said above remains. The H5 does have a "direct monitoring" option which compensates for tracking/recording latency when overdubbing (but only for what you hear in the headphones and not for the timing of the creation of the second track on the disk), and it does not compensate for playback/monitoring latency from playback of the original track. As to the DAW, it will have a software buffer which adds latency (other latency comes from the A/D and D/A conversion process and disk access in your H5).

Quote:
Originally Posted by krugjr View Post
...
so does the H5 take care of this while overdubbing or will I be doing this "lining up the tracks" that you speak of?

Doug
No, the H5 will not compensate. Lining up the tracks will still need to be done. Keep in mind that this only applies when you are recording more than one track at different times. If you are recording all tracks at the same time, latency becomes not relevant to the final mix, although it can remain if you are listening through headphones when recording.

Last edited by sdelsolray; 10-28-2018 at 02:08 PM.
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Old 10-28-2018, 02:01 PM
krugjr krugjr is offline
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I get it.....thanks again...
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:18 PM
DupleMeter DupleMeter is offline
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I'm wanting to record fairly simple demos to share with potential publishers
Before you go too far down this path I would research the publishers you are interested in pitching to & get their feedback on what exactly they will consider. I suspect you'll find that you need to think a little larger. I know that the publishers I work with all chant the same mantra "there is no such thing as a demo anymore". They all want "radio ready" recordings or they're not interested.
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Old 10-28-2018, 09:49 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by krugjr View Post
KevWind........................BIG help...................yes, 101 helps me a lot... it's the terminology that gets me to the next level of understanding...I appreciate your taking the time to write that out.....my latest book on "how to get a song published, etc" is 10 yrs old and CDs were preferred, so it's good to hear about the USB stick.....

to be clear, is the focusrite scarlett interface an upgrade to the audacity, or is it something to get instead of the H5? excuse the ignorance, please.....my best vocal mic now is sennheiser e945, and I've always had the stash of Shure SM 58s and SM 57s.....and your suggestion of how to start with the H5, I agree, would be a starting place for me.....production "just good enough" to keep the listener on board until the song itself takes over, if that makes sense.....

Doug
Yes the Focusrite as an alternative to to the Zoom ....The Zoom is basically and interface with onboard mics ..... The Focus rite is an interface that you would have to connect mic/s to. Also the Focusrite comes with a lite version of Ableton Live ( a DAW ) that maybe and upgrade over Audacity ( I don't use either so I am just guessing ) But I would try to contact Focusrite and see it the bundled lite version has "Automatic Delay Compensation" which most of the full featured DAWS now have and will address the latency issue as far as lining up dubbed tracks within the daw playback .
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Old 10-28-2018, 10:47 PM
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You've gotten lots of great advice, but I'm wondering if it might be helpful to again think of how you want to use this gear. You could then determine the importance of capabilities such as portability, overdubbing, zero latency monitoring, simplicity, upgradability, sound quality, features, budget, etc. Basically, determine your needs and wants before you select the gear.

For example, the Zoom handheld recorders are simple and portable but their user interface for overdubbing may be a pain and their sound quality may or may not be what you want. A Focusrite audio interface could give you recording/playback features to support overdubbing but it needs a computer connection so the system isn't as portable. Lots of trade offs.
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