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Need some advice on basic home recording

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Wolfenstein666, Jun 16, 2017.

  1. Wolfenstein666


    Dec 19, 2014
    I've posted several threads about how frustrated I am with my band and the whole band thing in general lately. After kicking around several ideas to scratch my creative itch I think I've found what I want to do, which brings me to this quadrant of TB!

    I want to get into recording my own stuff. Nothing extravagant, essentially multi-tracked bass pieces and in time possibly drums and guitars as well.

    Now when I say "in time" as far as drums and that stuff goes, I'm not running out and buying a kit. I'm not running out and buying a bunch of mics. I plan on taking this one step at a time and building up to that capability over several years.

    Having said that, I need some guidance on how to get started. I have a very capable laptop that I downloaded ProTools on to edit some of my bands tracks and it handled it easily (Core i7 and plenty of RAM), so that takes care of the main component.

    What else will I need? I'm a relative noob when it comes to this stuff. I've been in studios and seen home studios so I have a decent understanding of how it works, but anything deeper than the surface and I get lost quickly.

    I know I'll need some sort of interface, a basic mic, some sort of recording software suite and the various XLR cables.

    For example, I was looking at this.

    Allen & Heath ZEDi-10 Mixer and USB Audio Interface

    Any advice on good equipment, tips on setting up, what I should purchase first etc would be greatly appreciated!
    Old Garage-Bander likes this.
  2. If I were doing this, I would go with a larger mixer, that had more XLR mic/line inputs and fewer or none of the high Z and stereo inputs.

    1) The first mistake of a mixer purchase is not enough inputs.
    The mixer you show only has four mic/line XLR inputs.
    Needs always grow faster than the ability to purchase.
    One 8 channel board is far superior to two 4 channel boards.

    2) Hi Z is a PIA. Anything that is not already outputting a signal as XLR mic or line level, should be converted.
    Example use D.I. for guitars and bass. That will convert everything to low impedance balanced audio for the longer runs to you console using XLR cables. This will reduce or eliminate hum and noise associated with Hi Z unbalanced lines.

    3) For stereo sources do a proper conversion to XLR Lo Z if needed and run it into two of the XLR mic/line inputs and control how much seperation on you want, if any, with the fade pots. You'll probably never need more than one true stereo source at a time, so why tie up inputs that are only good for unbalanced stereo sources. If you need more stereo source inputs assign two more mic/line inputs to the task. For pro results unbalanced and Hi Z are garbage.

    Everything coming into your board as Lo Z, either mic or line, will give you more consistent inputs, making mixing easier and better results overall. You also have the flexibility of where you assign inputs which can let you assign logical groups, eg, group all drum mics, group all vocals.
  3. Wolfenstein666


    Dec 19, 2014
    Phew, thank you!

    See those are all things that I didn't know or think about, which is why I posted here! I'll have to do some reading up on the various boards and options I have available, but your suggestion laid the groundwork for what NOT to do.

    Thanks again!
  4. I'd suggest you do some reading on balanced vs unbalanced audio.
    It hardly ever works out to use the two together without knowing how to interface them properly.
    And that always comes up.

    The mixing console will be the heart of your setup.
    What you do there affects everything else.

    Good Luck with your setup.
    Wolfenstein666 likes this.
  5. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    If you do want to work up to being able to record drums and other instruments, then definitely something modular / expandable would be good. The Allen Health might not be a good way to go since I don't think you can / would want to daisy chain them. 4 inputs will be good up until the point that it's not enough and then you're going to have to replace it. If you're not looking for high-end, the Tascam 16x08 has 8 mic pres and 8 additional inputs in the back. So you start with 8 okay mic pres and 8 line inputs, 2 at instrument level (i disagree that for a home-studio setup that you should avoid products with built-in DIs. the 16x08 has 2 dedicated hi-z or line inputs on the front, just in case you don't want to spend more on direct boxes right now). And you can add higher quality mic pres and other analog front-end chain sorta stuff and run it through any of the 8 channels in the back. It's a low-cost home-studio-quality option, where eventually you have 16 inputs. If you want higher quality mic pres and converters and the ability to expand in the future, the MOTU 8pre could be a good way to go. If you want top quality, the Universal Audio Apollo stuff has "pro" quality mic pres and converters, but you will definitely pay for them, and I believe they only use a thunderbolt connector which I doubt your PC laptop can accommodate.

    you will need monitors as well. unless your setup is in a large room, a couple of 5" monitors will probably do you fine.
  6. Bevo1995


    Nov 8, 2009
    Heart o' Texas
    Check out recordingrevolution.com. Lots of no-nonsense advice for everyone from the novice to the pro on recording techniques and gear.
  7. TheEmptyCell

    TheEmptyCell Bearded Dingwall Enthusiast Supporting Member

    Jul 16, 2005
    Los Angeles, CA
    Find a USB (or if your computer supports it, a Thunderbilt) interface with 4 to 8 inputs, as well as an optical port for expanding with a second preamp.

    Focusrite Clarett (Thunderbolt), Scarlett (USB), or Safire (FireWire that can be used with a Thunderbolt adapter) have 4 and 8 channel interfaces that can be expanded with a second preamp.

    But even just an 8 channel interface could be enough for recording drums with 3 or 4 mics, bass, and a guitar mic or 3.

    I would personally not get a mixer and just get an interface, and if you want fader control, something like the Faderport 8.
  8. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    If you're looking to get into recording and have a computer, bass, and guitar instrument cable. All you really need is 2 more things:

    1) a USB AudioBox from Presonus. It comes with the DAW Studio One 3 Artist. Thus, you can create beats or drum tracks, as well as create keyboard synth or other fx. And you can open up any WAV or other audio file format tracks you have into the DAW.

    2) a decent studio monitoring headphones like the Sennheiser HD208 pro. Used to plug into your interface, so you can monitor your recording. Mix your tracks, and Master your final product.

    And that's it. Total cost = less than a entry level Squire Affinity bass.

    Make no mistake, this gear is cheap, but it can get you high end pro quality audio. You'll need to learn the tricks of recording and mixing to get the best sound. And in today's world of online info, there are tons of tutorials and tips on how to record and mix.
    Bevo1995 and Wolfenstein666 like this.
  9. Wolfenstein666


    Dec 19, 2014
    Thank you so much! This is the kind of information I was looking for.
    Badwater likes this.
  10. filmtex

    filmtex Commercial User

    May 29, 2011
    S. Texas Hill Country
    Annsman Pro Audio Dealer
    Absolutely. ^
    Wolfenstein666 and Badwater like this.
  11. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    No it most certainly will not. Cheap gear is cheap. It doesn't sound or function like expensive gear. It can be good enough, but it will never be "high end pro quality". That's like saying "the Chevy Cobalt is cheap but it can get you driving results just as good as the Corvette." If it were, there would be no reason for actual high-end gear (or Corvettes) to be made.

    I'm not saying cheap gear isn't worth buying--I think it's exactly what you need in your situation. But don't go thinking it's the same as high end gear...
  12. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017
    You misunderstood, I never implied that it's as good as high end gear. The poster wanted to know what would be needed to get started in recording. And, I explained that the basic gear can get great audio. With digital, there are a lot of tricks to get great audio via mixing, and that itself is where the high end audio sound comes from.
    filmtex and Wolfenstein666 like this.
  13. Badwater


    Jan 12, 2017

    I forgot to mention. If you want to create beats, and use the synth and other plugins that come with the Studio One 3 DAW, you'll need a MIDI Keyboard controller. They run about a hundred bucks for a simple one. Nevertheless, it's not really needed as you can create Midi drum tracks via the mouse point and click. The MIDI controller just makes it easier. The good thing about Studio One 3 is, they have a built in drum machine with many selections, as well as a bunch of MIDI synth instruments. Thus, no need to by extra plugins.
    Wolfenstein666 likes this.
  14. tangentmusic

    tangentmusic A figment of our exaggeration

    Aug 17, 2007
    This is so simple you'll be recording your own stuff the day you get one.
    Comes with onboard effects, drums and a CD burner.

    Wolfenstein666 likes this.
  15. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Also a huge disagree here. "High end audio sound" comes from a good engineer tracking in a good room, usually with gear that costs as much as a house. If you have to fix it in the mix with digital tricks, you are salvaging a poor recording, not mixing a professional sounding recording.

    I don't mean to miss the point of the OP's question, and I believe I gave similar advice to yours to that end. But I can't say that one should get cheap gear and expect professional quality results. Nor is that what the OP is asking for, if I'm not mistaken.
    FNHScar17s likes this.
  16. Wolfenstein666


    Dec 19, 2014
    I'm looking to get my foot in the door with recording. I have no intentions of going out and buying a ton of really expensive gear, but I also have a decent budget. I'm not trying to build a professional studio, just enough gear that I can sit at my house and record my own stuff.
    And I likes this.
  17. And I

    And I Supporting Member

    Feb 19, 2009
    Witchtown, MA
    Right on. My apologies to you and @Badwater. There is no need for me to argue points which aren't relevant to the thread.
  18. Wolfenstein666


    Dec 19, 2014
    Not at all a problem, and I appreciate the input!
  19. I have one of these. Have made complete cd's on it.

    It's getting dated now but it still works.

    There are more modern versions out with more digital/comp hookups on them.

    I had to buy a few mics and some studio monitors as well.

    Wolfenstein666 likes this.
  20. Mcgiver69


    Sep 28, 2005
    I'm getting into recording too and to be honest, the advice that Badwater gave is as sound as sound can be. I would only add that you do not need to buy or record acoustic drums if you do not have the money or space and still can get very good results.
    There's a plugin called MT Power Drums which is only one kit but it can be only defined as a mini EZ Drummer; if you donate $10 you can get rid of the nag window. If you play the drums yourself you could trigger the drums using something like a Yamaha DD55 or DD65 (you can get one on eBay from $80 - $120) connect it through the midi port of the AudioBox and voila instant drums.

    There are tonnes of plugins from guitar amps to compressors and other great utilities for free that you can use.

    Get a good condenser microphone (if you are intending to record vocals) I got a nice Samson C01 for $40 on eBay in almost mint condition :)

    As for Daw Reaper is the way to go, the license is only $60, if you don't want to pay anything then Tracktion 5 is fully featured, easy to use and FREE!!

    Oh and get a midi controller, there are lots of good cheap ones that do the work, a keyboard with midi connectivity will do too.
    Wolfenstein666 likes this.
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