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Seeking specific advice for a specific situation...

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by misterk73, Feb 3, 2003.

  1. misterk73


    Apr 11, 2002
    Flagstaff, AZ
    The guys I play with -- there are four of us covering bass, drums, keys, guitar, and vocals -- have been talking a lot about making a demo AND investing in a multitrack recording setup as a songwriting tool. I recently suggested that we invest in some multitrack recording equipment and try to create a demo on our own.

    So, how would you best spend $500 in the interest of accomplishing these things (the third is a LOW-priority concern, but would be nice):

    1) SHORT-TERM: Having a reasonably portable songwriting tool that can be easily shared/passed around

    2) MID-TERM: Creating a servicable demo for getting gigs and generating interest in the band

    3) LONG-TERM: Producing salable (cheap) product in the event that anyone ends up giving a crap and is willing to shell out a wee bit o' green to support local DIY music

    Here's the potentially relevant gear that we already have:

    +1 Yamaha P.A. system
    + A few combo amps -- my bass amp has a built-in D.I.
    +Two Shure SM-58s
    +One SM-57
    +A Powerbook G4 that I don't necessarily want to use for this project -- maybe for bouncing tracks if we run out of space on the primary recorder, simple mixing and mastering, and/or CD burning

    Any thoughts or advice would be much appreciated -- the more details you can offer up, the better. I'm hoping we can have a complete, flexible solution for $500. Thanks, all!
  2. misterk73


    Apr 11, 2002
    Flagstaff, AZ

    ...in the night.

    Thanks, bimplizkit, for the suggestion. I looked into the recorder you suggested and my only concern is that the live recording of things like drums seems a bit questionable, even if it's a great tool for guitar players. Definitely something to consider, though.

    Anyone else?
  3. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    I had a lower budget and similar input requirements. I went for the Tascam 424 mkIII. Although it's a tape four track it will record 6 inputs to 4 tracks. I've done home recording and two band demos ( a metal 5 piece and a punk 3 piece). I have to make a lot of compromises along the way-ie recording the drums to one or two tracks etc.

    I took a gander at a local site so the prices are in £ but I think these are in your price range.

    Fostex VF160

    Tascam 788

    ones 16 track and guess what the 788 is?

    WARNING-I have not used or demo'd these recorders, buyer beware and all that.
  4. He recorded guitar tracks, bass tracks, drum machine , and vocals.

    If you have a clean-sounding mixing board in your PA

    ...you may be able to mix drums as you burn the track. Just a thought.
  5. moley


    Sep 5, 2002
    Hampshire, UK
    78 track?
  6. LushFreak,
    You would seriously do yourselves a favor by getting very tight then spending the $500 for a 4 song demo done in a pro studio. A lot of bands shoot themselves in the foot by trying to record themselves and put out a Cd for cheap. Sure a lot of people are 'doing it,' but great bands with great songs are thrown in the trash every day because their recording sounds horrible. And don't settle for the cheapest studio in the book, get an engineer that can make you sound your best.

    If your main goal is to document songwriting ideas, then you should buy some home recording gear, but if you want to generate interest in your group, ditch the equipment and spend the money in a studio. So many bands are putting out pure CRAP these days and nobody wants to listen to it because it sounds so bad. Producers can hear through poor production and bad mixes, but record execs and club owners just throw it in the trash after about 10 seconds of listening because the bad mixes and bad recording to them equates to no talent. But don't take my word for it, ask around to some people who legitimately know the business.
  7. TheGeneral has some very good points... and an option that should seriously be considered.

    I think it's worth mentioning that a ministudio will only sound good if:
    - The source material is good to begin with
    - The person using it knows what he is doing

    These things are a given in a studio with a professional recording engineer.... usually.

    I've heard good and bad 'real studio' demos, I've heard good and bad 'home mini studio' demos.
  8. CS


    Dec 11, 1999
    where's the suppressed giggle icon? 788 tracks would have got a guffaw...
  9. misterk73


    Apr 11, 2002
    Flagstaff, AZ
    Funny you say this...

    The boys and I had a talk about this very thing earlier tonight -- I haven't liked what I've found in my research so far, and talked them out of trying to do a self-recorded demo. I think I'll still try to pick up a cheap, used Tascam 414 or something to use as a songwriting tool. Demo-wise, however, I'm going to continue to push everyone towards doing a studio recording when the time comes.

    (I am a little worried about the idea of a "cheap" studio demo -- the last time I was in a band that tried that we got shafted pretty badly.)

    Thanks, all!
  10. LushFreak,
    $500 should get you a solid day (usually 12 hour block) at a great studio. Knowing what you want before you hit the record button is very important. Having an engineer that knows his equipment is very important also to keep from wasting time. Providing the players all know their parts cold and can all play keeper parts while playing together in the studio, it is very reasonable to get one song recorded per hour. In an hour I would estimate about 3 takes of the entire song and maybe an occasional punch-in for a mistake made or to re-cut a solo. If the players or vocalists need time on their own to get their part just right, you won't get many tunes done. If you can get 4 songs in 4 hours, that leaves 8 hours to mix. Since you already have spent the time while recording to get sounds, putting together mixes won't be like starting from scratch. Spending 3 hours to get the first song right would be typical, then the others will go more quickly. This scenario only works as long as there are no surprises in the studio, such as the guitarist suddenly becoming aware that he cannot play his part cleanly, or finding out the drummer can't groove to a click track. Go into the studio expecting to get 4 songs, but ready to scrap one if time runs out.
    Or, for groups without the proper cash flow, another option is to find a producer who believes in the group and will record and produce the band on a spec agreement.