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Questions about laptop recording, drum recording and whatnot...

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by jokke_v, Aug 11, 2005.

  1. jokke_v


    Aug 15, 2003
    Bergen, Norway
    So.. I don't really post new topics whenever I want something answered, but I really need some specific answers on this one, so I'm hoping anyone is kind enough to help ( :help: )

    My band is planning to start recording our second demo sometime soon. We recorded our first demo about a year ago into an old crappy computer (which I'm still using). Specs: 533MHz, 128MB ram, stock soundcard, and so on.
    Somehow, we managed to get a pretty decent sound (two of the better/okay sounding songs from the demo: http://www11.nrk.no/urort/user/song.aspx?mmmid=80301 , http://www11.nrk.no/urort/user/song.aspx?mmmid=80299 ). But trust me, mixing on this computer was a hell to go through. ;)
    We did everything ourselves, mostly for financial reasons. I did all the mixing, with barely having done it before.

    Now, I've been working a whole lot this summer and earned some money. So, I ordered a brand new laptop for myself.
    Specs are:
    1,7GHz Pentium m Centrino processor (Dothan)
    1 gig of ram
    80GB hard disk 5200RPM (I think)

    I'm guessing that it will suffice, what do you think? (The reason why I'm getting a laptop is that we're probably going to do the recording over a long time, and I will need a setup that I can bring to the rehearsal place and back about each week over a period of time)
    I still have some money left that I'm going to buy a soundcard for. And that's where my dilemma/problem comes in..

    I (and the rest of the band) really want "real" drums on this demo. The last demo was recorded with a digital drum kit, and the fakeness of some of the sounds really bum me out. Though, the drummer says that he can manage to edit and do some tricks to make things sound better.
    But! Bottom line is that real drums is the preferred option.
    So, what I'm wondering is if it's even possible to record drums that sound good on a budget?

    Thing is, that I really need to know that before I'm buying a soundcard. I'm going to buy an extern soundcard. If we're going to record live drums, I'm guessing that I'll need about 6-8 inputs.
    Now, for recording anything else, more than 1-2 inputs won't be necessary. And I've seen that soundcards with heaps of inputs costs a helluva lot more than those that don't have heaps of inputs, which is fairly logical, really. :p
    (Also, on those soundcards with heaps of inputs, I've noticed that there are even more outputs. Now, what would I need that for? :meh: I really can't imagine that, and I'm a bit curious. )

    I have yet another question as well. I know that the hard disk on the computer I'm buying isn't really the fastest one out there. But, how will 5200RPM's do?
    I've read that two different hard disks is recommended for recording, and I'm wondering if I really need to buy another one (extern hd).

    I guess that were all the questions that I want answers to. Hope someone can help me out a bit! :hyper:

    Here's a quick summary of my questions:
    -I've bought a laptop. How will it do for recording?
    -DIY drum recording. Will a good result be manageable for a reasonable price?
    -Soundcard? Heaps of inputs, which I'm never going to use for anything else than drum recording?
    -Hard disk. Speed? Two of them?
  2. My thoughts (for what they're worth)...
    - That laptop spec sounds just fine.

    - You should be able to do your drum recording with 4+ mics. I think there are one or two links in the FAQ that might help. CS (Talkbass member) talked at some point about doing budget recordings with a limited number of mics on the drums. It might be worth firing off an email or Personal Message to him for more info. I found a link on another website that might provide some useful info: http://www.bluebearsound.com/articles/9in2days.htm
    This thread will also be useful: http://www.talkbass.com/forum/showthread.php?s=&threadid=103614

    - I *would* think seriously about getting a soundcard with heaps of inputs. It'll make life much easier for this and future projects. Something like the Prosonus Firepod which has 8 mic inputs would be very useful. Another option is to get something like the MAudio Firewire1814 which has 2 mic inputs and 6 line inputs, but allows another 10 inputs via digital link (ADAT I/O). Then you might be able to rent something like the Behringer ADA8000 which has 8 mic inputs and the ADAT link needed to hook it up to the MAudio. More inputs are more important (to me) than more outputs. If you ever planned to do surround sound mixes then you'll need at least 8 outputs. I don't though! It *is* useful though to have the option of a separate monitor mix channel. The FW1814 has two separate headphone channels as well, so you can hear the final mix on one set, and a monitor mix/click on the other. Useful if you're doing recording at home.

    Firewire is about the best option for the link to the laptop especially if you aim to do multi-track recording.

    - I have had reasonable success with the 4200rpm HDD in my Sony Vaio when recording multiple channels simultaneously. Things may become different when the hard-drive fills up though. You *could* chain a Firewire external HDD to a FW audio device. Alternatively have an external disk on USB2 to off-load tracks to once you have them recorded. That way you only keep the current working files on disk. I'm afraid I don't have much experience at external drives and recording simultaneously - don't know whether the laptop passing info to/from an external HDD would cause glitches and dropouts in the audio recording... The Sound on Sound PC recording forum FAQ has some useful articles: http://www.soundonsound.com/forum/postlist.php?Board=PCMusFAQ

    Good luck!
  3. -It will work great.
    -M-Audio makes excellent gear for an excellent price. Check out the Delta 66. With 6 inputs you can get kick, snare, two overheads, high hat, and some toms.
    -Your average external hard drive is fine for recording at 24 bit. You can get an 80gig drive for $100.
  4. That laptop will work and I assume it's running Windows XP. Turn off all unneeded services, and turn off all the XP Eye Candy. Make sure there's no screensaver or display power down on when you're recording. Put the bare minimum of software on it, and keep it off the internet!!!

    I've got an Echo Gina card that's pretty good. I've heard good things about this one if you've got Firewire.

    Good Luck.
  5. elros


    Apr 24, 2004
    Proprietor, Helland Musikk Teknologi
    I've done a bit of recording with my iBook. I bought an M-Audio interface with two inputs (bought it at Hagstrøm Musikk in Bergen, actually) and when we record drums we just mix the drum mikes down to two channels. This limits your options in post-production, since the drums are already mixed by then; but if you plan on sounding like you do live then it can work just fine.
  6. jokke_v


    Aug 15, 2003
    Bergen, Norway
    Thanks a lot for the answers folks!!

    My band and me had a little discussion at the band rehearsal today, and I think we somehow got to some sort of conclusion on what to do. At least, the drummer said that it was an obvious conclusion, but to me it was rather vague. :meh:

    Anyways, I've been looking at some sound cards and it seems that I probably can afford a sound card with lots of inputs. So, that's probably what I'm going for.
    We're going to send in some applications to a fund that gives money to musicians, and that will probably help in buying what we need. So, so far things are looking good. :smug:

    On a sidenote, I can mention that the laptop I ordered arrived at the post office today. Yet, I can't go pick it up before sometime next week, cause my brother won't be able to pay me the money that he was supposed to transfer to my bank account yesterday (though originally the 1st of August) until "sometime next week". And that was the money I was going to use for the laptop.
    Knowing that it's just laying around in a cardboard box without being able to do anything about it isn't a whole lot of fun.