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Recording for Newbies

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by paniak17, Sep 15, 2004.

  1. alright, I want to start recording some songs, The problem is I need to play multiple instruments, and dub it in. Whats the cheapest way to record and "mix"(i think tahts the word for it)? Im not gonna be spending a lot, and i dont care if the quality is really poor.
  2. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    The cheapest would be a 2nd hand 4-track tape recorder (there are new ones to be had for less than $100, e.g. http://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/MFP01/), and the cheapest microphone(s) you can find (though if it's less than, say, $40 it will probably do you no good). Sound quality is usually more dependant on your skills than the gear you're using, but you can't do anything good with a microphone that's crap. Unless you record without mic's, of course. :)

    Be aware that with a 4-track cassette, you'll probably be doing a lot of "bouncing" - mixing down 4 tracks to a stereo backing track, leaving you two channels for additional overdubs, and when they run out, you'll bounce again, etc. - and each "bounce" is irreversible. With a little planning beforehand and care this shouldn't be much of a problem. And you can always make backups at critical points.

    So, gear list:
    Instrument cable
    Mic cable + XLR->1/4" adapter

    This shouldn't cost you a whole lot.

    Now, problems may arise if you want to transfer this to a digital medium, such as a CD. Then you need to mix down your tape to 2 tracks (stereo), then go from the line output on the 4-track (provided there is one, you might get away with the headphone jack otherwise) to the input on your computer's sound card. Then you record the audio (e.g. with a free audio editor such as GoldWave), and there you go.

    It won't be the holy grail of home recordings, quality-wise, but done right it will definitely be listenable. And I can't think of a cheaper way to pull this off, at least not now. Hope this helps.
  3. alright i think im gonna get that one, thanks. But i need to know something...How does it work? I have a microphone. Do i just plug in my instrument and play on it? i odnt understand the principals, are you saying that i plug in the mic and use that too play on my amp or someting? im just getting into this stuff so any advice is gonna help me, thanks.

    EDIT: and what if i spent about 150? would it be worth it to spend 150 on a better machine, or would it really not matter.

    EDIT: and say i just got finished recording the 1st instrument, and then i went to the second, can i hear the 1st instrument being played while im recording the second?
  4. You should beable to hear the 1st instrument if you pan the channel hard right or even hard left and it's mono.

    Here's a good place to start......



  5. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Well, I think that with most 4-tracks, the inputs are designed in a way so that you can plug in any bass and any dynamic (passive, not requiring power from a mixer or separate device) microphone.
    (If your bass is passive (no battery), then the recorded signal might turn out weak and sound a bit odd - if that's the case, you'll probably want to invest in another gadget, a D.I. box. But hopefully the input jack is designed to accomodate passive instruments.)

    You could plug in a guitar in there as well, but if it's electric, you will of course not be able to get any distortion - so this is why it is very practical (!) to put a microphone against the speaker cone of a guitar amp, and plug the mic into the 4-track. For recording without disturbing anyone, you could use a distortion pedal between the guitar and 4-track's input, to get distortion without an amp. But this will sound nasty without some kind of speaker emulation. Micing an amplifier is always a preferred method.
    You could also mic a bass amp if you want to.

    I believe the only difference would be that it'd give you some aux sends and returns. With those you could blend in external effects to an already recorded track, reverb on vocals for instance. But if you don't plan to use effects on the tracks while mixing, you really don't need the aux's.

    With the MF-P01, you apparently can choose which of the four channels you want to record to. Say you choose track 1, then tracks 2-4 should play back for you to hear when you do the overdub. If you don't want to hear them, just lower the volume. :)

    I am no authority on this machine nor on 4-tracks in general, but I think this is how it would work. I honestly believe it is good for what require, namely a cheap device to allow you to record simple demos.

    You can always download and read the manual (only 16 pages!) and a beginner's guide at the Tascam pages for this product:


    The guide is 2,6 MB, the manual 0,5 MB. Even if you're on dial-up I think you should check them out.

    (I just read in the manual that the "bouncing" method I described above probably isn't feasible without an additional tape deck serving as the "master recorder". So this is probably not an ideal device if you want more than four tracks in a mix. Well, it is after all called a "4-track"... :))