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Recording Tips

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by popinfresh, Feb 21, 2008.

  1. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Hey guys, i've read through the FAQ and done a bit of recording in studios with either my bands or on my own in the school's studio, not to mention just adapter plugs into the computer at home, but thought i'd ask for some opinions.

    I'm starting to write some more ambient solo tracks and trying to figure the best way as to get them on a computer. Right now I just use Audacity for multiple bass tracks and that's about it.

    With the stuff i'm doing now though i'm using all sorts of sounds which i'm getting by using mics to record LOW input noises (anything from noises outside at night to really gentle taps on drums/rims or running chain across snares etc), trouble is i'm finding it hard to get all the right levels etc and it's getting a pain with only one input.

    I just have a standard PC, no special sound cards or anything (just plugging the bass/mic/keys through an adapter in the back).

    Simply put, what's my best/easiest way around this without spending too much money (say 3-500AU), if it's at all possible. Should I be using some sort of external amp/mixer to boost levels then running it to the computer in the same way (or perhaps through USB)?

    Also, can anyone help with a easy loop station/pedal? Are the ones in things such as the Boss multi effects any good (i'm thinking about getting one to help experiment with sounds)?

    Basically if I can loop a few tracks live then layer some more on the computer, plus record ambient noises/other instruments at the same level without having to keep unplugging/plugging in things i'll be happy.

    Any help?
  2. hunta


    Dec 2, 2004
    Washington, DC
    It sounds like you want to start getting into VST instruments and maybe something like Cubase or Ableton for a sequencer. There are a lot of really awesome sounding VST's out there, you might want to look into something like Battery or Kontakt for managing your recorded samples. I would get something simple like a 1 or 2 input USB interface to get started with (a lot of these come with Cubase LE). You'll probably want a MIDI controller keyboard at some point too (I use AKAI MPK49 it's awesome).

    For interface, at the lower end of your range I'd look at the Edirol UA25 (2 input USB), or Presonus Audiobox (2 input USB a little cheaper, no reviews on it yet but I bet it's comparable to the UA25). I wouldn't invest much more than $200-$300 AUD in a USB interface. If you're going to get an interface too much fancier than that, I'd save up for one of the big 8 inputs firewire interfaces but all the decent ones (Presonus, Focusrite, MOTU, are in the ~800 AUD range, and then you have all the firewire issues to deal with (non-TI FW chipset will generally cause huge problems).

    For a looper, I have a boomerang which works pretty well. My roommate has 2 of the Boss loopers and they work alright, though they have a big spring in the pedal (which = delay starting/stopping your loop) which the boomerang doesn't. The boomerang doesn't have a tap tempo or save samples though.. All the looper pedals are kind of a trade-off in my opinion. Using them live and having it sound tight is very difficult, you get 1 shot to nail it solid and if you miss it's a bummer. I reserve mine for jamming by myself usually.
  3. You are looking for a good field recording setup, and something like a Zoom H2 or H4 would be a good place to start. A portable recorder lets you get away from lugging a computer. The H4 has external inputs and doubles as a USB interface, and the H2 works as an interface but doesn't have the same inputs, so it is basically a USB microphone when tethered. I use a MAudio Microtrack and I like it a lot, but it doesn't have built-in mics and doesn't double as an interface.

    Upgrading your audio interface is a great way to upgrade the quality of your recordings. As you are seeing, sound card inputs are not going to get you a high-fidelity recording. They have poor headroom and poor signal/noise.

    MAudio interfaces (and some Digidesign and Tascam, and maybe more) typically ship with Live Lite, which is strong in the area of launching audio clips. A program like Live7 will break your budget, but it is a good application. The Lite version should get you going, and you can use it as your primary recording application as well. There is an upgrade path from Lite to LE or Live 7 that costs less than buying new, if you decide that you like it.

    A looper that will let you trigger multiple simultaneous loops won't be cheap (Looperaltive!). You can do it in software for free/cheep, pretty much. A plugin-host with several instances of SooperLooper for example.

    Good luck with this as you are trying to upgrade recording, interface, and performance gear on a tight budget.
  4. popinfresh


    Dec 23, 2004
    Melbourne, Aus
    Thanks for the help guys, I can easily spend more if I need to, but it's not a major thing right now (two bands take more time than my solo work) so I wasn't going to spend much, might look much more into it though when I move out in a couple months, start collecting some bits and pieces now. The H2/4's sound like a good bit of kit.
  5. Ableton Live is pretty neat, and will probably come with whatever hardware you buy(as mentioned above). However, if it doesn't, and you're looking for some relatively inexpensive recording/sequencing software, I might recommend Mackie Tracktion. I've used Tracktion 2 for recording drums, bass, and midi keyboard parts, and have found it to be good quality and easy to use.
    It also supports VST's.

    I haven't done any multi-track recording with it so I can't comment on that. I would also encourage you to read some reviews before investing(although this applies to anything else as well :) ).

    I think a lot of the recording/sequencing packages either have demos available for download or lite versions bundled with hardware, so you should be able to figure out what you want before spending lots of money.

    Just wanted to put another option out there.


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