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Where to Start?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by mikemulcahy, Jan 21, 2002.

  1. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Rather than pay for studio time for a cheap demo, I would rather spend the money on our own recording equipment. I did alot of searching, just enough to become extremely confused. All I am looking for is a set up in which to have recording capability, editing/mixing, and cd reproduction. Something around 8 tracks. The KISS method need apply here as well.

  2. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    I suggest a stand-alone DAW (digital audio workstation) with hard disk storage and built-in CDRW. Preamps, recorder, mixer, editor, and sometimes even effects, all in one box... can't be much more simple. It usually gets pretty expensive if you want to have an internal CDRW, since such a thing is usually only featured on the more high end DAWs.

    I'm just tossing a few names that would fit the bill of having all in one shell. Check them out and see if there's anything you like.

    Yamaha AW4416 (expensive)
    Yamaha AW2816 (quite expensive)
    Korg D1600 (not quite as expensive)
    Korg D12 (even less expensive)
    Fostex VF160 ($?)
    Fostex VF80 (w/ optional CDRW) ($?)
    Roland VS-890 (w/ optional CDRW) (about the same price as the Korg D12)
  3. Shumph


    Aug 25, 2001
    On the move

    I kinda have the same question as mike and you seem to be quite knowledgable on the subject. The only difference from mike is I would like to have my setup more modular. I can supply the PC hardware myself cause I am in the computer biz. Its all the other stuff I need. If you could find the time more suggestions would be nice.


  4. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Shumph, "all the other stuff" as in...?

    Knowledgeable? :oops: Well... I don't know more than what I've read on the Internet... I did a whole lot of research before buying my home studio equipment.
  5. Shumph


    Aug 25, 2001
    On the move
    well basicly I am wanting to record onto my hard disk and burn to cd. I know I need a PC and CDR and some sort of sound card. Other than that I am pretty ignorant as to what I may need. I don't even know the name of most of the components I would need. I would like to record myself and sometimes my band(s).

    If you could help thats great. Also if you could point me to some of the sites you found on the Inet that are particuarly helpful that would be great too.

    Thanks Again

  6. Oysterman


    Mar 30, 2000
    Well, pretty much all you need is:

    * A PC
    * A good quality sound card
    * Microphone preamp
    * Multitrack recording software

    Plus eventual microphones, direct boxes, cables and of course, instruments.

    For optimum performance:
    * The PC OS should be run as clean as possible, by having a dual boot system or simply a dedicated DAW PC.
    * It should have 7200 RPM or faster HDD's.
    * PIV is supposed to be a no-no. I've heard nothing but bad words about Pentium IV processors when used in DAW configurations, everyone seems to prefer AMD CPU's or even Pentium III.
    * At least 128 MB RAM. Preferably as much as you can afford/the OS can handle.

    The sound card should be 24 bit. 24 bit resolution allows you to alter the wave files more, by apply more effects and whatnot, before the sound quality starts to degrade. All pro cards sold today that I know of, are 24-bit, but a mid-level card such as the Soundblaster Audigy is not and therefore isn't an ideal recording card.

    Latency is almost always an issue with DAWs and sound cards... measured in milliseconds, and something that should be as low as possible. To achieve low latency levels, you need a good sound card with good drivers. Latency is an issue when doing overdubs - even if you think you played it exactly in time, as tight as a virgin's whatever, it sounds sloppy when played back. It wasn't you, it was the sound card.
    If you record with some sort of "direct monitoring" system, latency is all of a sudden no longer an issue when recording. I don't know exactly what it is, and I don't know how it works, but I have it and it's all good. :)

    A sound card has a certain number of inputs. 2-channel cards are the most common, with 2 mono inputs. There are certain cards with more inputs, and there are cards which feature a so called breakout box, which can give you more channels. E.g. M-Audio Delta 1010, Aardvark Q10 and STAudio C-Port are all 10-channel devices - capable of recording 10 tracks at once. If you want to do a live recording of an entire band, this is what you should look at.

    I'm sure JMX can tell you more on the sound card bit.

    Microphone preamps
    Come in a multitude of shapes, sizes and prices, with different features and sonic character. It's a jungle out there, and you have a number to choose from even in the bottom price league nowadays. Mixers contain mic pres, so if you choose a 10-channel soundcard, using the pres on a mixer might be more convenient than having 10 separate small separate mic pres.

    Also a lot to choose from. If you buy the software, prices can vary greatly. If you use pirated stuff, nevermind that. Download demos and see what you like and are willing to buy (or not). I'll just give you some names to do searches on... N-Track, Cool Edit, Cakewalk Pro Audio, Cakewalk SONAR, Emagic Logic, SAW, Cubase, Nuendo... did I get them all?

    To record stuff
    To record guitar, sticking a microphone in front of the guitar cabinet is the most preferred method. How you place the microphone makes a whole world of difference though, so it will take some experimenting to get it to sound the way you want to on tape.

    To record bass, using a direct box or preamp with a DI is the most common way. A DI circuit lowers the impedance of the signal, which gives a cleaner tone and more headroom available to the mic pre you run the signal to.
    You can also mic a cabinet, or do both. It's all in which you find suits you best in terms of sound comfort.

    Recording vocals is pretty straightforward; sing into the microphone like you always do.

    Recording drums is probably one of the toughest things to do with a good result. Not only do you need a number of different microphones (4 is usually a preferred minimum - kick drum, snare and two overhead mics), but the editing and mixing processes can be tricky or just tedious for a newbie, since every part of the kit bleeds into all mics. Lots of noise gating/wave editing and probably also EQ magic needed to get it good.

    You know what? I'll stop there. I wrote so much I lost track of myself, so I don't know if this was coherent or not. Anyway, visit www.homerecording.com and read the stuff there. The site has some very useful newbie info, FAQs and tutorials. They also have a forum, with a special "newbie" section.
  7. mikemulcahy


    Jun 13, 2000
    The Abyss
    Thanks for the info, it really goes a long way for techno-nothings like myself. I have done a fair amount of looking around, i guess one question i have is, what is a virtual track? I have looked at many units todat and most talk about having 8 track recording and up to say 64 virtual tracks. If you could point me to a link and save some key strokes, that would be fine as well. I will also check the afore mentioned link.

    Thanks a million for your time.

  8. Shumph


    Aug 25, 2001
    On the move
    Thanks man.
    Good stuff, I am on my way.

  9. cassanova


    Sep 4, 2000

    8 track virtual 64 basically means that you have 8 tracks to record on, but you can go back and overdub on each track up to a total of 64 tracks giving you "virtual 64" That make any sense??

    a couple of good programs to check out for home recording imo are cakewalk and sound forge.
  10. Gabu


    Jan 2, 2001
    Lake Elsinore, CA

    How many tracks do you need to record at once? Fostex has an 8 track for $300 but you can only record two tracks at a time. Beef that up to around $500 and you can get one that will record 4 channels at a time. I spent $900 and got the Fostex VF-160 which is a 16 track with 8 channels recording at a time.






    The next thing, is don't go cheap on your MICs. A good mic goes a long way to getting good recordings.

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