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"Amateur" (home and mobile) recording setup? - Page 2

post #16 of 32
What's your budget? It will depend a lot on this.

Are you going to record instruments separately or record bands?

When you say "amateur", what do you mean exactly?
post #17 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by HeadFi
skudmunky
Headphoneus Supremus
magicalpig
Junior Head-Fi'er
lol, nice username dudes

Where did you both get the ideas for your usernames from?
post #18 of 32
I agree that Reaper would a great software for you. Some people use Audacity but I prefer Reaper. Its layout and features are more "pro" IMO. Those recording softwares have a steep learning curve to get to a where you'll use it instinctively so don't expect to get world class studio results on your first try.

You could get one of those packages which are good starter packs.

If you are going to record bands, you'll need a sound card with more than 2 ins and a lot of mics.

Something like the Presonus FP10 will do. It's a firewire interface so you just plug it in and it should work with little setup.

I'd invest in a "middle-class" condenser mic for vocals or solo acoustic instruments such as the AT4033. A cheaper alternative would be the AT2020. If this is too expensive, you can get great results out of an SM58 if you know what you're doing.

For recording drums, I've heard a lot of good things about the Nady DMK-7.

Don't forget that mic stands and cables add up to the price of the setup. I'd recommend NOT getting the cheapest as they will most likely end up costing you more than the class just above because of their lousy quality control and construction.

Later in the development of your studio you will want to get some good stand-alone preamps and compressors/limiters, but for now I guess you could do it all "in the box".

At the end of the day, your budget and the use you will have for your equipment will dictate what you can and can't buy. Condenser mics price range go from $59 to more than $10,000 and everything in between.

Let us know what exactly is your project and don't hesitate if you have more specific questions.
post #19 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sduibek View Post
lol, nice username dudes

Where did you both get the ideas for your usernames from?
Listen to Frank Zappa's album "Joe's Garage", song "Stick It Out".

Victor.
post #20 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by skudmunky View Post
For drums, an SM57 on the snare, a kick mic, and 2 overheads can generally get very good results.

The piano needs to mics because if you just have one in the middle, the keys on each extreme end will be quieter. (I would assume). Also, with 2 piano mics you can keep the true stereo from one end of the keyboard to the other.
Hmmmm. Well I don't even know Set yet (cry...) so i'll leave the extra mics to a point when I have more expendable funds Thank you for the info though, i'll keep that written down for later.

Re: the piano, that makes sense. I will be using keyboards for some stuff, but there are several things I want to do that will just sound way better on a normal piano. Will the mics I have suffice for this or would I need a second "instrument mic"? I might be able to borrow one from my Dad, I think he has one for his recitals (he's a piano teacher for many years and records each recital that he hosts)


Quote:
Originally Posted by magicalpig View Post
What's your budget? It will depend a lot on this.
Hmmm. Well I will get the Mackie 1202 mentioned earlier from Ebay, these are selling for <$150.00 US which seems reasonable to me. Other than that, what would I really need? Again I won't be doing set drumming just yet. Once I have the Mackie, i'll be running that into my X-Fi which AFAIK should be great for recording, and of course I have the two mics mentioned above.

Quote:
Originally Posted by magicalpig View Post
Are you going to record instruments separately or record bands?
Seperately. At this point in time, it's allll me baby. I want to do solo stuff before getting into a band. At this point i'm really just looking for an outlet for all my creative juices that have been stewing around in my head for years. I'll make an album and stuff but not until after that is probably when i'll start seriously looking into actual band stuff. I'll be going to college soon so that'll be a good time to look into the group stuff. But again, for now this is going to be my outlet and expression of whatever I feel like, so i'll be doing instruments/recording/mixing/production.

Quote:
Originally Posted by magicalpig View Post
When you say "amateur", what do you mean exactly?
That it will sound like a crappy garage band. HA! No, I more said that because 1) it will be my first actual musical production if that makes sense, 2) I don't expect to have stellar mastering quality, although that would be nice and is my ultimate goal if i'm able to, 3) I am very talented at drums and understanding of rhythm, have a basic knowledge of harmony and such, but, I have very little formal training with drums and piano, no formal training with anything else.
post #21 of 32
I don't think you will need a mixer. Read THIS to figure out if you really will.
post #22 of 32
Thread Starter 
Okay, but then how do I get the mics(') audio feed(s) into my soundcard? X-Fi ******* decided to not have MIDI, mic, or 1/4" inputs...

EDIT: I wonder if there's an extension cord system that I somehow lost or forgot about, like the E-MU and DigiPAD cards use...
post #23 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sduibek View Post
Re: the piano, that makes sense. I will be using keyboards for some stuff, but there are several things I want to do that will just sound way better on a normal piano. Will the mics I have suffice for this or would I need a second "instrument mic"? I might be able to borrow one from my Dad, I think he has one for his recitals (he's a piano teacher for many years and records each recital that he hosts).
The reason for two mics on the piano is as stated, because if you want to close mic the piano the polar pattern will not provide an equal balance across all the stings. The two mics need to be of the same make and model as all mics sound different and you don't really want two halves of the same piano to sound different.

The choice of mics depends on how good you want the piano to sound. I personally would not use a pair of dynamic mics for a piano but much prefer a pair of large diameter condenser mics. However, you are just starting out so a pair of SM58s will give you something to play with but will probably be a little muddy or dull compared to the actual sound of your piano or other piano recordings.

G
post #24 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by gregorio View Post
The reason for two mics on the piano is as stated, because if you want to close mic the piano the polar pattern will not provide an equal balance across all the stings. The two mics need to be of the same make and model as all mics sound different and you don't really want two halves of the same piano to sound different.

The choice of mics depends on how good you want the piano to sound. I personally would not use a pair of dynamic mics for a piano but much prefer a pair of large diameter condenser mics. However, you are just starting out so a pair of SM58s will give you something to play with but will probably be a little muddy or dull compared to the actual sound of your piano or other piano recordings.

G
Thanks. What's a good, budget mic that could work for this application?
post #25 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sduibek View Post
Okay, but then how do I get the mics(') audio feed(s) into my soundcard? X-Fi ******* decided to not have MIDI, mic, or 1/4" inputs...

EDIT: I wonder if there's an extension cord system that I somehow lost or forgot about, like the E-MU and DigiPAD cards use...
If you want to use the mics you have with your soundcard you will need a mixer. But why buy a $150 mixer on eBay when you can have a dedicated soundcard with 8 preamps for $220 - $250?

Edit : just looked it up on eBay. Average price sold for Mackie 1202 : $111.94 - Presonus Firepod : $229.69 Presonus Firebox : $177.54. The mixer remains the cheapest option.

But you have to think about expandability of your setup. I lost hundreds of $ trying to save a few bucks on equipment when, if I had gone for the $50 more expensive piece of equipment in the first place I wouldn't have had to buy a whole new thing. Just like cables.
post #26 of 32
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sduibek View Post
Thanks. What's a good, budget mic that could work for this application?
Check this out for some general guidance on mic choice: 10 Best Affordable Microphones for the Home Studio - Audiotuts+

I'd say look at reviews of Audio Technica mics. I'd stay away from chinese condenser mic as it is my experience all "un-modded" ones have unbalanced response and unpleasant pics, especially in the higher frequencies. Most of them also sound muddy in the lower mid-range but this can be EQ / compressed.
post #27 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicalpig View Post
If you want to use the mics you have with your soundcard you will need a mixer. But why buy a $150 mixer on eBay when you can have a dedicated soundcard with 8 preamps for $220 - $250?

Victor.
Well I already have the X-Fi, although I suppose I could sell it. At the end of the day, though, i'd probably want to keep it since I do gaming as well I don't remember the E-MU but I remember the DigiPAD 96/8 has basically zero support for gaming. IIRC the E-MU worked, but doesn't support any nice stuff like EAX so it ends up sounding a bit dull.

Anyway, so would spending the extra $50-$100 be worth it you think, getting one of those instead of the Mackie 1202? I dunno man... that mixer seems pretty awesome and from what i've read it will last me a long time and various uses/applications.

Also, i've always been a bit concerned about the expansion cord things now that I think about it. It looks like cheap ratshack cables plugged into the back of a soundcard which doesn't lean itself visually to high SQ recordings.

OTOH, the X-Fi doesn't have 1/4" inputs, so unless the Mackie can output as digital or optical i'd have to convert 1/4"->1/8" which would/could affect the SQ too.

Choices, choices...
post #28 of 32
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by magicalpig View Post
When you say "amateur", what do you mean exactly?
I updated the OP / thread title, so hopefully this is more clear now.

Also I updated and clarified the list in the OP of what i'll be recording;
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sduibek View Post
melodic vocals,
growls / guttural vocals (think death metal),
grand piano, (maybe upright also)
keyboard, (maybe)
acoustic guitar,
hand drums,
unamped electric guitar,
(maybe)
amped electric guitar,
and (later, once i've learned them better lol) set drums.

EDIT: I have two headphones already and a speaker setup (see my sig for my current headphone inventory); should I get something else as monitor headphones? I heard in antoher thread that the Sony MDR-7506 was good for budget monitoring headphones:

http://www.buydig.com/shop/product.a...ku=SNMDR7506OP
post #29 of 32
You know what, I think a mixer, your current sound card and the two mics you have are enough to get you started. This way, the only thing you have to get a is a mixer. You can start recording and learn how to use all that stuff. Then when you get enough experience you will hopefully be able to know what your equipment is lacking and as a consequence what you should upgrade to.

When you have some experience with recording and recording equipment - like I have - it's easy to go crazy on recommendations as your level of quality is set to such high standards. If your pair of mics is a SM57 and SM58, I would NEVER EVER use these as a pair to record a piano, but for a beginner who wants to learn how to record, mix, place microphones etc this is a good starting point although very limitating.

The only essential upgrade you will have to do is when you're going to start to recording drums. You'll want more mics (4 to 7 to X) and more inputs on your soundcard.
The way your soundcard and mixer will be setup is I suppose : mixer stereo out to soundcard stereo in, right? If it is the case, you will have to mix the drums on the hardware mixer and if you want to process the drums with FX you will have to do so on a stereo tracks. Having a soundcard with preamps will let you tweak each track and perform a mix of the different drums elements in the box, resulting in more versatility and hopefully better quality.

Edit : samplitude should be enough for what your looking to achieve although it may be an older "lite" version lacking some features. Check out Reaper as it is free for non-commercial use and is regularly updated and has a huge community of followers releasing plugins and other goodies.

Edit : the Sony headphones should be enough for "tracking" i.e recording. What you need are closed headphones with good isolation. I would mix on the speakers rather than the heaphones.
post #30 of 32
Thread Starter 
If i'm going to be sticking to my guns by going Mackie, what about these?
Mackie - U.420
Mackie - U.420d

Also what about studio monitor speakers? Honestly I am not sure if it's better to monitor your recording(s) on headphones, or speakers... or both? Headphones IMHO would give you a much better ability to make sure the nuances sound like you want them to, but then again, the large majority of your listeners will probably be listening to it on speakers. Wait, or not. There are so many iPods and such these days, plus I will very VERY likely have a downloadable version on my site, and tracks on MySpace etc., once I finish an album so maybe the majority of listeners won't be using speakers. Damn. This question is a tough one.

Also #2, what about an electronic drum kit for set drum recording? I assume if I get a good one it will sound pretty good. Honestly I am thinking I may actually have to go this route, because even though I have roughly -20dB hearing loss, I still have very sensitive ears (also the Tinnitus, grr) and even moreso sensitivity to high frequencies. Rocking out hardcore (which I will do on drums for sure) will probably shatter my ears, especially and obviously WRT cymbals -- possibly even whilst using earplugs. Hm. Well I suppose there's always the combo of earplugs + soundproofing earmuff-type devices to get like minus 40~50dB Or, I could wear the Shure E3c as an active monitor while i'm playing (-20dB isolation right there) and then the soundproofed plastic earmuffs on top of that. Those give another 20-30dB depending on brand and type.

Wouldn't an electronic drumkit be able to output sound via just a cable or two? Like an direct-to-recording-unit (read: soundcard) output, something like that. That is why I originally thought to mention it; I believe it would negate the requirement of 4-7 extra mics and all that jazz.


Sorry about the rambling, most of that was just me thinking out loud, Train Of Thought style. Thanks for putting up with it. lol
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