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Zoom B2.1u as Recording Interface??!

Discussion in 'Effects [BG]' started by Discount Saint, Aug 24, 2007.


  1. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    I'm really trying to put together a very basic home recording setup - basically enough that I can throw together a few tracks (bass, vocals, guitars, MAYBE drums) and have some kind of demo material to work with or to share with the rest of a band, etc.

    Now I didn't get the Cubase software with my B2.1u as I bought it used, but I see MF is selling Cubase SE for like $50 right now.. so if I were to get that, the Zoom is designed to record in Cubase via USB - couldn't I technically plug any sound source up to the Zoom (as long as it uses a 1/4" jack)as use it as an interface? It may something of faux-pas to use the thing for vocals, etc, and it might not sound absolutely terrific, but I think it would be good enough for what I'm doing..

    Any thoughts on this? Am I totally off my rocker? If I could make this work, then I could still afford that BMS I've been gassing for :)
     
  2. Trestles

    Trestles

    May 24, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hi Saint,

    I've made a few quick recordings with the zoom b2. It's certainly not professional level equipment, but my playing isn't professional level either. So we're a good match :)

    Here's a sample:

    http://www.icarra.com/music/AngiesTheme.mp3

    That's my bass, a nylon string guitar with piezo pickup and the same guitar with some light distortion. Yes, a classical guitar with distortion. All b2, nothing else.

    Trestles
     
  3. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    And this was done using a B2 via USB to Cubase LE? Sounds pretty decent actually.. I wonder how vocals would sound..
     
  4. Swift713

    Swift713

    Dec 4, 2006
    Florence, Ma
    I'd bet the tube pre would sound decent for vocals.
     
  5. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    So I scrapped the idea of buying Cubase after downloading Audacity for free. Seems to work well.. I have no idea what I'm doing but at least I figured out how to record a few tracks simultaneously. Unfortunately there is a delay when listening to what you are playing while recording, so I might need to come up with an alternate way of creating a monitor mix that will filter in the existing tracks with a feed from an amp (or from the Zoom) of what is currently being played. I guess an external mixer would be a big help at this point eh?
     
  6. Swift713

    Swift713

    Dec 4, 2006
    Florence, Ma
    It's a slippery slope my friend. That's why I try to keep my recording equipment down to one digital 4 track. I have friends with more money invested in recording than in playing and I don't want to go there. How many small digital studios does the world need?
     
  7. There are a lot of inexpensive mixers that had audio/usb outputs so they would work with your Audacity just fine. Recording is a slippery slope but the good news is that you are making music and learning about the process as you go. I know several musicians that have spent many thousands of dollars (one guy has spent more than my house) building systems and have recorded not even one song.
    On my limited stuff I have already put out 2 cds and 15 synth pieces, 8 tracks that have been used in indie films and am in the process of recording a symphony. Just go for it.
     
  8. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    REALLY.. inexpensive mixers with USB outputs eh? Can you suggest a few models? If these would work in place of my Zoom I would definately go for one of those, as I prefer to use my Zoom at the beginning of my signal chain instead of the end as I need to do using it as my interface.
     
  9. This, for example
     
  10. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    WOW.. if I can get that at Long and McQuade I definately will.. that's an awesome price for something like that too!
     
  11. The whole idea of having an external audio interface like the Zoom is that you can completely avoid that problem - you're just not setting Audacity correctly.

    You want the Zoom to act as the sole sound device for your computer. You should hear everything through the Zoom - including the output from playback in Audacity. Turn off monitoring for the track you're recording onto - you should monitor the audio directly from the Zoom's output jack - this avoids the latency issues.

    Not only that, but you should be able to compensate for system latency in the Audacity preferences. If you don't do this then every thing you record will be out of synch. I don't know the first thing about Audacity, so I can't help you, but you should find heaps of info about "latency" in the documentation.
     
  12. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Yeah I was trying to find a way to setup one monitoring source, and I saw there was an option that I could set the zoom as the output device as well, so I guess I would just have to plug my ear-phones into the zoom to listen to what I am currently playing, without latency. I looked in the preferences for the latency settings but couldn't find any.. I'll have to look harder. In any case, using the zoom as the output device should probably clear this up if I turn real-time monitoring off too.
     
  13. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada

    Yeah - the problem I have discovered is that these USB outputs are output only - you can't really route the sound back in from Audacity to hear the track mix. I did, however, just drop a few bucks on one of these .. which according to the literature can transfer data both ways using the USB connection. Theoretically then, I should be able to hear the previous tracks from Audacity as I am laying down the current track, right?
     
  14. Trestles

    Trestles

    May 24, 2006
    Los Angeles, CA
    Hi Saint,

    Good luck with this. I have tried recording through Audacity as well... I've never been able to get the latency under control. It's probably user error and not a problem with Audacity. I've never had any problems with the packaged version of Cubase
    (LE?).

    I would personally recommend Cubase. I like their recording software a lot more than Audacity. It is very useful to add effects (compressor, reverb, etc) without altering the sound data. That makes it very easy to fine tune the settings on the fly while the song is playing. In Audacity you can use effects but they alter the sound data.

    Trestles
     
  15. As far as I can tell. audacity can't see ASIO drivers as supplied so just uses the plain USB interface and therefore you can't get the latency down...

    http://audacityteam.org/wiki/index.php?title=ASIO_Audio_Interface

    you can, if you know how and have the tools, compile back in the ASIO support that Audacity can't be distributed with.

    So basically, the ASIO SDK license is incompatible with the GPL

    If you want freeware recording software on Windows that can use ASIO and are not worried about it being proprietary, then use Kristal Audio Engine

    http://www.kreatives.org/kristal/
     
  16. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Well, the way this mixer works you can actually monitor the feed back from USB without re-recording it on your current track.. so I can just monitor everything through the mixer headphone output and I will hear what is currently being played along with the previously recorded tracks. That way the latency shouldn't be an issue. I'll try to get it set up tonight and check it out, but it looks promising!
     
  17. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    I will definately check out Kristal though as it looks pretty good.
     
  18. No they most definitely are not! If you can't monitor the audio output of the PC via your Zoom B2 then there's a software configuration error, a shortcoming in Audacity, or something amiss in the control panels.

    I don't use Audacity, but every other program I've used (Ableton Live, Audition, Win. Media Player, Quicktime, Premiere) allows input and output via the B2.
     
  19. Discount Saint

    Discount Saint Bassist for the music in my head Supporting Member

    Jan 26, 2007
    Victoria, BC, Canada
    Really? I tried to set it up that way but I couldn't hear anything through the Zoom. My new mixer has a switch that allows that function though, so I should be set that way. Thanks!
     
  20. Well, all I can think right now is that you've gotta go into the sounds and audio devices control panel and set both the "Sound playback" and "Sound recording" default devices to "USB Audio Codec" then restart your audio application.

    And it's advisable to only run one USB audio device at a time so the playback and record signals are in synch. So, I don't think you're hooked up this way, but it is possible to attempt to route the signal like this; zoom->usb input to pc->pc usb output->mixer->headphones. This scenario would still result in latency problems.
     

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