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Simple Live Recording Tools

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by socialleper, Feb 3, 2014.

  1. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I'm looking at devices that I can use to record the audio of full volume practices or shows, and/or video of live club shows. Can I please get some advice from people that have successfully done this with fairly inexpensive gear?

    Are the portable digital audio recorders like the Zoom H4N or Tascam DR-05/DR-07 worth the money? Can the record loud environments without clipping or distorting?

    Are there any cameras out there with built in mics that can handle the high volume of a live show without clipping or distorting. I would love to get some video of one of our shows, but the audio always sounds terrible on most cameras because the mic is getting overloaded.
  2. Spent

    Spent Supporting Member

    May 15, 2011
    Upstate NY
    Really like my tascam dr-07mkii. I have a dp-008 and they both make decent enough live recordings. I bought a separate video camera. I import the files into audacity and compress them to give them a better sound. Given a moderate amount it's not that difficult to sync the audio to the video and it gets easier the more you do it. I made decent DVD recently this way.
  3. paparoof

    paparoof Supporting Member

    Apr 27, 2011
    fEARful koolaid drinker
    As long as you can manually set the recording levels and disable any kind of built-in compression done on board, then you should be satisfied with most of those little recorders. They're not album quality by any means, but they're surprisingly good if you set the levels correctly and find the best spot in the room for the thing. That last part is usually the most important AND hardest part. Really spend some time on it and if you record every single show you play, you'll get better at it.

    I use some crappy little $80 Olympus thing my bandleader picked up at Office Depot for cryin out loud and once I did all of the above, I started getting halfway decent recordings out it.

    Then do your editing, EQ'ing, compressing etc in your DAW. Use Reaper. It's cheap as hell and it's fantastic.
  4. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I've never looked closely enough at any of the cameras I have to see if there is a audio adjustment menu. I just ran them au naturale; I might need to looking into that.
    I have a copy of Cubase 4 LE that came with my Firebox for editing and mixing.
  5. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    Hmmm...I wouldn't have thought of using two separate devices and mixing them together later. Interesting idea.

    How do you use the 8-track for live show recordings? Do you use the two built in mics and then hook up two more mics?
  6. I have also been very happy with a Tascam DR-07 and Audacity. Cheap, simple, and easy.
  7. Steve


    Aug 10, 2001
    the zoom h2 does that stuff for me as well or better than I need it done.

    I've had 2 cheap fugifilm digtal cameras that have surprisingly tough mics in them.
  8. I have the Tascam DR-40 that I record all rehearsals with. I have had no problems with overloading.

    The good thing about it is that it will record a simultaneous second stereo track with less input gain (you specify how many db down on the original it is) so if you get overloading in the main track you can use the quieter track. Don't know if the cheaper Tascam can do this.

    I found the auto level record modes useless, better to have an under-recorded signal than one that distorts every time a spike hits it. They take a finite time to respond and in this time you get distortion.

    I then chop it up with Audacity, normalise the volume, compress it slightly to get rid of the drum peaks and mp3 it with Sound converter (All Linux) and email them round to the other guys.

    Makes a world of difference when you hear your mistakes back. Focuses the mind so to speak.
  9. +1 The backup tracks are a life saver.
  10. testing1two

    testing1two Gold Supporting Member

    Feb 25, 2009
    Southern California
  11. hazmatt


    Jun 3, 2012
    san diego
    another recommendation for the dr-40. the ability to record two built in condenser mics for ambient room sound plus two xlr/1/4" inputs for something like the feed off the board is great for capturing shows. the cheaper tascam models don't support 4 track recording to my knowledge. i've used one of these pretty regularly for the past 2 years. did have to send it back once to get a connection resoldered on the board, but otherwise has held up to lots of use indoors and out, practices, self recording overdubs, live shows, ambient nature/field recording. if using outdoors i recommend getting a windscreen.
  12. JdoubleH

    JdoubleH Cold, Daring. No flies on me. Supporting Member

    Jul 10, 2008
    Columbus, GA
    And another for the dr-40. I picked mine up for about 140 from Amazon a while back. Very versatile. My biggest issue with it is remembering to hit record... I wish it were wireless remote capable.

    I agree placement at gigs can be difficult, but depending on who's running sound, I can often just connect it directly to the board. USB power is nice, allows me to use a cell charger or USB backup battery to power it in a pinch.

    You can also use many of these as a high gain stereo mic + preamp on top of a DSLR which has stereo audio in such as the Canon Rebel T2, and record the audio directly to the video file and have zero sync issue, and simpler editing.

    To my knowledge, there are few consumer level pocket digital cameras with either stereo mics or a stereo input. For that, you'd probably be looking at something like the zoom q3hd. But the dslr's larger sensor is going to work WAY better in low light and allow much better framing / zoom control where the sound is best.
  13. socialleper

    socialleper Bringer of doom and top shelf beer Supporting Member

    May 31, 2009
    Canyon Country, CA
    I don't know if I would be able to take full advantage of the additional inputs. The DR-07mkii is a little cheaper, but having those extra ports for another $50 might be nice.
  14. JdoubleH

    JdoubleH Cold, Daring. No flies on me. Supporting Member

    Jul 10, 2008
    Columbus, GA
    The 07mkII is also a little more compact, and I think it uses micro-sd cards if that makes any difference. SD and micro-SD are usually priced about the same, but I suppose the DR-40, which uses standard SD would have the advantage that it could use either with the oft-included adapter. I don't think the 07 has the dual record mode (I could be wrong) which is great for ensuring a distortion free recording (second stereo track is 6db lower by default in that mode). But the 07mkII might be simpler to operate overall.

    I just looked at my order history on Amazon - I actually paid 126.46 for the DR-40, which was quite a bit cheaper than the 07mkII at the time (and now). I watched it for a while, because prices on Amazon fluctuate. B&H prices do too, often in competition with Amazon. It looks like the lowest price in the last year was about $114 on the dr-40.

    Here's a link to the camelcamelcamel price history page for the DR-40.

    There's several Amazon price trackers in addition to CCC- I use Ookong, and Keepa. Keepa has a cool Chrome and Firefox add-on which embeds price history right on Amazon product pages. All three can be set to notify you when a price drops, but be aware they may not catch short term drops. I think all three can be linked to a wish list containing things you are interested in if the price were to drop. You can usually set a target percentage or price threshold for notification. Keep in mind the ASN (amazon stock number?) changes sometimes on the same product which can obscure price history. For instance, I don't see much history on the 07mkII (I believe I've seen it as low as $79 in the last year, currently 149).

    One of the other best ways to catch an Amazon price drop on things you are interested in (and which have a history of wide fluctuation)is to put it in your shopping cart and use the "save for later" option. Then check your cart a few times a day. If the price changes on stuff in your cart and saved for later, there is a yellow box at the top which indicates price change on items in your cart. I've scored some awesome deals using these methods.
  15. hazmatt


    Jun 3, 2012
    san diego
    and then no one can argue they weren't out of key when you call them on it, unless they are legitimately tone deaf :D
  16. I don't need to call them out, they know. They always email me what tracks they want sending straight away so they can work on their vocals.

    I've never been an a band with such a work ethic, it is like a breath of fresh air compared to some of the slack assed so and so's I have played with in the past. We all sing, guitarist is 56, drummer 66 (ex pro for several years), I am in the middle at 62.
  17. kevteop


    Feb 12, 2008
    York, UK
    I use a Zoom H2 to record band rehearsals, it works very well, it will cope just fine with a full band in a small room so long as you're not crazy loud. I suppose one way to look at it is if you're all wearing earplugs it would be unreasonable to expect any small recorder to be able to record you without distortion.
  18. mdjuszyn


    Nov 17, 2011
    I have a Roland R-05 and am very happy with it. $200. The on board mics are very good. Most of the time I send a direct signal to it from the board. Either way it meets my needs. I record in 24/48 and then download the file into Sonar X1.