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headphone practice to 2-track recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by scottfeldstein, Jan 5, 2012.


  1. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Forgive a noob for asking in an new thread, but I just spent 30 minutes wading through a haystack of FAQs and old discussions looking for the needle of a solution:

    Between in-person rehearsals, my band sends me audio files to practice with. Drum machine, guitar, synths, scratch vocals, etc. No bass. I write a part and show up a few days later to play it.

    So there's me, my pedal board and my iPod feeding into my small mixer which is feeding my headphones...having a silent practice with myself... when it occurs to me: I could be recording the music he sent me, plus my bass, with my laptop..and then send it back to them.

    Not a substitute for in-person rehearsal, but still could be pretty useful for the quick sharing of ideas.

    I have:

    1. A SansAmp BDDI. Meaning I can get a rockin' sound right out of the DI, including all my pedal board effects. Line or instrument level out, etc.

    2. A cheap, 5 channel Behringer mixer. I got this to combine mp3 playback with my bass signal. Works really well with my...

    3. Good headphones.

    4. A Macbook Pro with Garageband '09.

    5. iPad 2 with Garageband

    What are some easy and cheap ideas for getting my headphone mix --bass and mp3 playback--into a 2 track recording on my laptop? The bit that seems to be missing from the equation is how to get from the mixer to the laptop--while still being able to monitor through the headphones, of course. Maybe all I need is a USB adapter of some kind to go from the board to the MBP? Would I use the mains? Headphone out? (I have a 1/4" splitter)
     
  2. Toastfuzz

    Toastfuzz

    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I think you'd need something like those M-Audio interfaces. I have an older Firewire one, not sure if they use USB these days or not. But it takes a standard 1/4" out from your mixer and sends it to the PC. I also don't think you'd be able to split 2 channels into the PC unless you had 2 Firewire/USB interfaces and enough processing power in your PC to process it.

    Macbooks might have an Audio In jack on the side (I'm a Windows homebuilt PC kinda guy) if so you can get a Radioshack adaptor and plug right into the computer's soundcard. Low quality but gets the job done for your purposes.
     
  3. Toastfuzz

    Toastfuzz

    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    Scott I'm pursuing a similar project right now, only our issue is that we have no band practice space (have the space but noise is a concern.) So my drummer and I are looking for cheap electro drumkits, going to run the drums / bass / vox / guitar into a mixer, run that into a headphone amp, and have each of us wearing studio headphones to jam through. But I'm planning to also have the final mixed signal flowing to my M-Audio then to my PC so I can record practices in real time, cut them up and use the tracks however. Great for those "remember how we did it at last practice?" moments.
     
  4. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Hm. Well, I suppose recording it all in one track is an option. I can just record the mix I'm getting in my headphones. That's possible.

    OR. I could put the headphones into the laptop instead of the mixer. Put the mp3 into garageband. Only bass through the mixer and into track 2 of garage band.

    M-Audio, eh? Yeah I've heard of them.
     
  5. Toastfuzz

    Toastfuzz

    Jul 20, 2007
    Pittsburgh, PA
    I had a super cheap USB interface a few years back, and even it "got the job done". That was in college when I had no money, picked it up for around $40. I have a new M-Audio actual dedicated box interface thingy that I haven't got around to hooking up yet but I'd assume its higher quality. Now that you mention it I remember a friend had one with multiple 1/4 inputs and it would split channels on the PC. Keep in mind alot of those are made/marketed with hi-fi home studio in mind, so you may be paying for quality you don't need if you drop like $300 on a box. But I'd assume a $300 interface box is gonna be quality. The $40 sucked, but it served its purpose.
     
  6. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    If you do not want to spend any money, this is the best solution.

    You should be able to import the mp3 into garage band and then record your bass demo on a second track.
     
  7. Foamy

    Foamy

    Jun 26, 2006
    Sac Area
    There's a cable by, I think, Griffin, that allows you to plug directly into your MacBook.
    Otherwise, a used Pandora's Box may be a good option.
     
  8. Philonius

    Philonius Supporting Member

    Mar 22, 2009
    2k W of the Duwamsh
    Charlie's got it. I do this all the time with Garage Band.

    Create a project for the piece you're working on, with two Real Instrument tracks. Dump the pre-recorded audio into one track. Set the second up for your bass with the Input Source set to Mono, and Monitor On (These are in the Track Info controls off to the right.) You can even pick preset effects or set your own manually. I have a dedicated 1/4" mono to 1/8" mono instrument cord I use to plug directly into my Mac, or get an adapter.

    You can practice to your heart's content, record, re-record, etc. I do most of my practicing at home this way.

    PK
     
  9. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Ok, wait. 1/4" to 1/8"... that would go, where? The little hole on my laptop north of the headphone jack? Or maybe I should get a, what, USB adapter?
     
  10. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    What is the exact model of mixer you have? I don't see where the USB becomes useful? What do you want to do with the USB adapter?
     
  11. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
  12. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    This is what philonius (phunk?) was calling out the 1/4 to 1/8 for. The 1/4" end goes to either your BDDI out, or the mono output of the mixer. The 1/8" goes to the mic input on the MBP. Yes, it probably is the "little hole on my laptop north of the headphone jack".
     
  13. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Sweet. This seems like the cheapest way to get started, the easiest way to hook everything up. I'm gonna try it!
     
  14. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Off topic, but I think you looked happier with the tequila shot than you do now :)
     
  15. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    My second wife is what took place between then and now. :)
     
  16. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Seweracuse, NY
    This seems like the quick easy way to do it...Import as stereo L/R then record bass on a separate track.
     
  17. charlie monroe

    charlie monroe Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 14, 2011
    Buffalo, NY
    Something I forgot to mention is if you have a need, you can plug your headset into the MBP output and still practice silently. If you have good cans they will sound better than your onboard MBP speakers. I'm not sure that the mixer has any value added after you make the jump to computer based rehearsal.

    Just for S&G's, what application is the Band Leader using to provide the scratch takes? Perhaps there is more fun available trying your hand at some Engineering and Producing!
     
  18. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    I'm thinking he means an interface...

    1/4" to 1/8" to laptop in is one way to do it. USB or FireWire interface with dedicated preamps is a more sophisticated way to do it. It really depends what kind of quality you're looking for. The cable idea is a great inexpensive solution which yields decent results. An interface can get you pro quality results.

    Buying an interface is going to cost more money.
     
  19. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Interesting observation. And yes, I have decent headphones. Picked me up some Sony MDR-V6's. Sound every bit as good to me as the venerable 7506's. (I literally did a side-by-side.)

    He told me what it was, but I forgot. It wasn't one of the biggies. In fact, I think it was free. He's a software engineer, so it could be some nerdy open-source thing. He sends me Ogg files which I convert to mp3, but I suppose he could send me whatever he wanted. I'll definitely ask.

    Dude knows what he's doing, too, at least to my ear. If y'all promise not to distribute... here's the latest thing he sent. These are scratch tracks, mind. The vocals will definitely be re-recorded, as will the guitar.

    http://scottfeldstein.net/misc/2012/Bad_Things.mp3

    Since I've shared it... what do you think for a bass part? I'm kind of torn. Part of me wants to grunge it the heck up, almost Marilyn Manson style. Another part of me wants to go with the creepy slide thing he has on the guitar track. Thoughts?
     
  20. scottfeldstein

    scottfeldstein Supporting Member

    Jun 20, 2011
    West Bend, Wisconsin
    Anybody? Buhler? :)

    For reals, guys. Anything? I don't' want to leave this incomplete track live forever. I was thinking I'd take it down after I got a few opinions...
     

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