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best inexpensive way to improve recording quality?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by n8g14, Apr 24, 2004.

  1. n8g14


    Apr 1, 2003
    i've been reading other threads about recording gear and now i'm a little more confused than before. here's my situation: i'm in a four person punk band that recorded a 5 track demo using a computer, mics, and ntrack software. we plugged the mics straight into the computer and recorded one track at a time. we're looking to buy some equipment now. we want to spend around $300, give or take, and get whatever will improve the quality of the recording. it would be nice to be able to do at least 3 or 4 tracks simultaniously too. what do you recommend?
  2. Droog


    Aug 14, 2003
    Based on what you did in the past (plug staight into Compy) the easiest way to improve your quality is to get a better soundcard/interface. Check out M-audio stuff for the price point you are after.


    Delta 66- $300.00 Will give you 4 ins and 4 outs, but you can't just plug a mic straight in, it has not mic pre's, just line inputs. You would need a mixer of outboard pre's

    Omni studio- $320. Gives you two mic pres, Line outs, inserts, Headphone jacks, plus more that I have forgotten. I would probobly recomend one of these.

    Edirol and EMU make stuff that reasonably priced, but I think M-audio makes better products, better tech support as well.
  3. I agree, M-Audio is good stuff.

    Also, if you don't like the quality you're getting with the mics you have, try recording the axes direct. If crappy mics are your problem you just took them out of the equation.
  4. supermonkey


    Mar 15, 2004
    Atlanta, GA
    There are ways to imnprove recordings that cost $0.
    How are you recording each instrument?
    Definitely record the bass direct, but the guitars might not work so well that way. How are you mic'ing drums?

    If you need gear though, the audio interface is certainly key. M-Audio makes good stuff.
    You could also just upgrade your mics. That has been the single best move in my gear acquisition career w/r/t recordings. A good mic can make all the difference.

    I'd say you could also do well for about $300 on a 1-2 good utilitarian mics, and/or maybe a chaep mic pre (i.e. ART Tube MP). Depending on what mic(s) you already have, recommendations would vary...
  5. Transverz

    Transverz believer of the Low End Theory

    May 3, 2004
    Los Angeles, CA
    If you are wanting to go individually tracked anyway, getting a recording interface with mono/stereo inputs is enough. As long as it gets in and out with as little latency as possible, you should be okay.

    For our first demo (which turned out pretty acceptable for the low amount of $$$ we put into it), we used a low level Edirol that had stereo inputs going into the computer through USB. This meant that it had no sound card interaction which could conceivably further complicate things or make it sound bad. We had a trusty Shure SM-57 mic for instruments and a SM-48 vocal mic. Hooked it up to a mixer we already had to provide mic preamps. That's it. Recorded it with software recording program and it made for an acceptable enough sounding demo.

    Here is my advice:

    Recording Interface AND Preamp:
    M-Audio Mobile Pre USB

    2 x 2 16-bit/48kHz analog I/O w/ preamps
    2 mic inputs
    2 high-impedance line ins for guitar, bass, etc.
    stereo line outs and headphone out
    USB bus-powered for total mobility
    $179.95 MSRP ($150 on MusiciansFriend.com and others)


    M-Audio AudioSport Duo

    2 mic and 2 balanced 1/4" TRS ins
    2 preamps
    2 gain stages
    48V phantom power
    Pad button for each mic input
    $150 on MusiciansFriend.com (limited quantity but you can probably find somewhere else just as cheap)

    Mics (PG-okay, SM-better):

    Shure SM-57 instrument mic - $90 at MF
    Shure PG-57 instrument mic - $60 at MF


    Shure SM-58 vocal mic - $100 at MF
    Shure PG-58 vocal mic - $60 at MF

    At most you'll be $40 over budget, at the least you'll be $30 or even more under budget if you switch to other brands of mics (though quality I cannot assure).

    As long as you have a computer and some sort of recording software in which you can mix the tracks, that's all you need.

    *NOTE* Creative and properly researched use of these few materials will yield results that equal spending much, much more money. Seriously!

  6. rubo


    Aug 25, 2003
    Well if you have semi decent mics alredy, I would get a small mixer, which will give you some EQ and pre-amps then a good soundcard, but most likely you'll spend $400 - $500 on that set up. for Soundcard I would go for an old Echo Gina 24, it has 2 inputs and 8 outputs. Runs about $200 on Ebay. Then for a mixer I would get Soundcraft small mixer, these will be better then Mackie crap. Now you have a very decent set up, and very flexible too.

    Here are some links:





    Now if you're really lucky maybe this one will end for less then $300, it will be better then Soundcraft.