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"Scratch" recordings of jams/practice sessions

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Cristo, Jan 6, 2012.

  1. I'm looking to record some practice sessions between me and my drummer.

    I am not looking to mic the drums into a mixer, mic/DI from bass amp into PC, all that business - just a simple device to turn on in the room so we can listen to something of reasonable quality afterwards and get some feedback.

    We aren't recording "the album" - just trying to capture what is happening during jams.

    Anyone have experience with any of the small condenser mic digital recording devices? Other ideas?

    30 years ago I would have put a cassette in my jam box and pressed record and play at the same time.:)
  2. funkinbottom

    funkinbottom Supporting Member

    Apr 23, 2006
    Northern CA.
  3. That's what I ws looking at. Can you control the record levels so you can get a good recording in a room with loud drums and bass? This thing looked like a good solution but I was concerned about having to put it on the other side of the house...
  4. BurningSkies

    BurningSkies CRAZY BALDHEAD Supporting Member

    Feb 20, 2005
    Syracuse NY
    Endorsing artist: Dingwall Guitars
    Sometimes I'll run a couple condenser mics back to back in the middle of our room (cheap but decent AT2020s), or supplement that with a few other 57's/58's in the room...

    ...but now for scratch quality quick and easy recording we all prefer the voice memo program on iPhone. 4 of us in the band have them, and its surprisingly not bad sound quality for a phone mic. The cool part is that without much setup, if we're working on a new piece or some musical surprise has come up, we just activate it and lay the phone on top of the Keyboardist's boards...(center of the room). Once done recording, he emails it to everyone in the band from his phone, then everyone has a copy before they've even left practice.
  5. waleross


    Nov 27, 2009
    South Florida
    I use and love the Zoom H4n. I have used it to record 4 tracks or solo. When you think about it $300 is really a low price. I have had it for over 2 years , no problems and I still use it. Get what you want, I don't work for Zoom but it is worth it. :)
  6. Dave W

    Dave W Supporting Member

    Mar 1, 2007
    White Plains
    Yep, that's exactly what they are made for.

    My drummer has a Zoom H2 and I've got the H4n. Both do a great job at exactly what you describe. All I do with the H4n is stick it on a mic stand, put it in an area where I think it will sound decent, get a quick level, and go. Easy peasy. We get a surprisingly good quality out of them.

    The H2n is the upgraded H2, and I believe it has similar quality to the H4n. The H4n has noticeably better sound quality than the H2 (not that the H2 is bad at all).

    There are plenty of cheaper models with less bells & whistles that work great too, I just don't know them by name as I didn't research them.
  7. Ed Fuqua

    Ed Fuqua

    Dec 13, 1999
    Augusta GA
    Chuck Sher publishes my book, WALKING BASSICS:The Fundamentals of Jazz Bass Playing.
    The H1 is great, you turn it on, you press record. No scrolling through menus, no pressing two buttons, no pressing buttons multiple times to do different things. All of the stuff here (except the tracks labeled MR and WHAT IS THIS) were recorded with the H1. It's all acoustic instruments (except the tracks with guitar, he used an amp) but you can adjust the mic level...
  8. Corey Y

    Corey Y Guest

    Jun 3, 2010
    I'll give the Zoom H series a +1. They all do a reasonable job of capturing a clear room sound for recording practices/jam sessions. Just move it around and adjust amp levels as necessary and you're good. In my experience if a group already has a pretty good sense of keeping levels well balanced in a room a single well placed mic into almost any type of recording device will do a decent job.
  9. ddnidd1

    ddnidd1 Supporting Member

    Check out the new Tascam DR-40. It has the same basic feature set as the H4N and is $199. The built in condenser mics are quite good.
  10. mdjuszyn


    Nov 17, 2011
    I use a Roland R-05 handheld digital. Our band loves it. Simple. We record in .wav format and then convert to mp3. We have found that drums and cymbals sound real crappy and tinny recording in mp3.
  11. Me and my band use a Line 6 UX8 interface. We mic the Kick, Snare, High Tom, Floor Tom and 2 overheads. I use the DI out on my amp and I throw a 57 on our guitarists amp. We can't record vocals this way but if we ever want to I'd just remove the 2 tom mics. This all goes into the computer via USB and every mic gets it's own separate channel for mixing later.

    It works quite well for us and only takes about 10-15 minutes to set up for each practice.
    Kubicki440 likes this.
  12. All of these are $100 or less:

    TASCAM DR-05 Solid State Recorder
    Tascam DR-03 Solid State Recorder
    Zoom H1 Recorder
    Line 6 BackTrack Portable Digital Recorder
    Alesis TwoTrack Handheld Audio Recorder
    Alesis Palm Track Handheld SD Recorder
    Kubicki440 likes this.
  13. Etienned


    Jul 16, 2010
    I use the mic on my iTouch.
    It's actually better than I expected at first and it's been super useful to identify what we need to work on and also to practice my parts between two rehearsal.
  14. Les Izmor

    Les Izmor

    Mar 10, 2008
    Western Mass
    I use an original Zoom H2, which I like a lot. I've recorded years of rehearsals and gigs with it. I recommend it, but with three caveats (all of which I easily work around).

    First, the model I have has a mic sensitivity switch which has 2 or 3 settings (I can't remember because it is always on the lowest setting). This is your only usable recording level adjustment. The digital recording level works after the input stage, so if loud drums are too hot for the mic, they will already be clipping regardless of where the digital recording level is set. So, I ignore the digital recording level adjustment, and instead set the mic sensitivity to its lowest setting. If that is not enough gain reduction, your only other option is to physically move the H2 farther away from the loudest instrument. Out of the hundreds of recordings I've made, I only had one where I couldn't get far enough away from a slamming drummer. His snare clipped 2 or 3 times throughout the 3 hour recording.

    The second issue I had was that I found the mp3 recording format to be unusable. The lower quality mp3 recording mode offers a longer recording length, but unfortunately I got digital chirps throughout my recordings when I selected the mp3 mode. I don't like low resolution sound anyway, so I simply select a higher resolution wav format and still get 6 hours of recording time on my bigger than stock memory card.

    The third minor issue I encountered was that the total recording time could be longer than the unit could process in one uninterrupted recording. Even if your memory card is big enough to offer 6 hours of recording, the machine will stop and restart after about 2 continuous hours. If you start and stop manually throughout the recording process this is a non issue.

    The newer H2n has an analog mic gain knob so I think they've improved the main issue I have with this machine. Who knows, maybe they've solved the mp3 chirping and recording interruption issues as well?

    The bottom line is I use my H2 constantly, the sound is amazing considering the source, and it works great once you learn how to use it.

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