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New to recording. Trying to layer multiple tracks, all played by me. Doing it right?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Noshtero, Apr 7, 2009.


  1. Noshtero

    Noshtero Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    I'm very new to recording. Basically, what I've been doing so far is running my entire signal chain into a Zoom B2.1U, and then running the USB from that into my laptop.

    I use the Zoom because I have no other means of doing drum tracks. So I record a few minutes of a drum track going. Then I play that back from my laptop, and record a bass line. Then I play back both of those, and record something else. On and on for 4-5 tracks.

    Is that the best way to do it? I thought about getting a loop station of some sort, but then everything would end up being a single track on the laptop and I couldn't adjust anything.
     
  2. msiner

    msiner

    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Sounds like your going down the right path. The only thing you might have to watch out for is latency. That is, when you play the previous part back to record a new part, there is signal latency that can cause the final product to sound just a little off beat. Any decent recording software should allow you to do simple time shifts to compensate if you do hear an irregularity. By the way, what software are you using to record? Audacity is a great free application and the Sony ACID Music Studio is pretty good for recording and comes with samples you can use so you don't actually have to record a drum loop.
     
  3. Noshtero

    Noshtero Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    I would love to be rid of the zoom drum loops. It's tough when I get like 40 beat choices, no fills, no frills.

    I currently use some ancient software my buddy gave me called like Magix 10 or something like that. It's "incompatible" with Vista, so it throws errors constantly. It's also VERY difficult to do those simple time shifts you were talking about.

    I was going to look into either Audacity or Reaper.
     
  4. msiner

    msiner

    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Give Audacity a try. It is a pretty no frills multi-track recording and editing application. If you want something more full featured, you might look at something like Reaper. I had never even heard of Reaper before you mentioned it, but I have ACID Music Studio and like it a lot. It also has a free trial, so you can try it and Reaper side by side to see what you like. ACID comes with tons of samples that can be great if you are recording and composing by yourself. Also, it doesn't have any commercial use restrictions like the cheaper version of Reaper.

    Link to ACID that then links to the free trial:
    http://www.sonycreativesoftware.com/musicstudio

    It looks like there is even a pretty full featured (10-track) version of ACID for free:
    http://www.acidplanet.com/downloads/xpress/
     
  5. Nick Kay

    Nick Kay

    Jul 26, 2007
    Toronto, Ontario
    Audacity is a lovely piece of software, but it's lacking in features and modernization compared to the more robust Acid and Reaper. Acid's quite a bit easier to use for the novice engineer, if you ask me, because it has some logical limits on routing and a much more extensive help file. Reaper is more flexible when it comes down to it, though. If you're just throwing ideas down, not trying to produce big, atmospheric demos, then Audacity will do you fine. If you're feeling more ambitious, though, Reaper or Acid will serve you better.

    As for the drum issue, you can pick up any free sampler (such as Short Circuit) and a set of free drum samples and program your own drum lines with MIDI. There's also dedicated drum samplers like Toontrack's EZDrummer and Superior Drummer, XLN Audio's Addictive Drums, and FXPansion's BFD. I use Superior Drummer 2.0 personally, but they all have their strengths and weaknesses. There are also some free alternatives like SuperDrumFX, but I haven't experimented with them at all.

    If you're going the MIDI-based drums route, though, you're going to want to stay away from Audacity. It can load and display MIDI files, but it can't edit them or use them in any way, as far as I know. I'm 99% sure Acid has full MIDI support, including a very nice matrix/piano roll, last I checked, and I know that Reaper has awesome MIDI editing capabilities.
     
  6. Noshtero

    Noshtero Supporting Member

    Dec 2, 2007
    Chicago, IL
    At some point I think I'd like to toy around with an m-audio trigger finger. So on that note, perhaps I should just go with Reaper right off the bat and learn to use it. Then I can mess around with a free drum sampler for now, and step up to the trigger finger later.

    Also, at some point we may very well want to record multiple instruments at once. So again, being used to a more robust program may make sense.

    I may mess with Audacity first though. Like a few have said, I'm VERY novice to this.
     
  7. msiner

    msiner

    Sep 2, 2008
    Tucson, AZ
    Even if Audacity is not where you end up, you should learn to use it. It's a great tool if you understand what it can and can't do.
     

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