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  1. #1

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    Hi All,

    I play guitar and am playing in a duet with a singer/guitar player.

    We do mostly pop and jazz songs.

    I'm thinking of buying some recording equipment and was wondering if ye could shed some light on what equipment I exactly need.

    I would like to record several guitar tracks and I am sure that the singer would like to record several vocal tracks for each song. It would also be nice to have a friend or two in, who play different solo instruments, for several songs

    For backing I have Band in a Box and am happy with that.

    Would a multi-track recording device and a microphone or two suffice?

    Any help is appreciated and if you need more info just ask.

    TIA.


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  3. #2

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    It depends on how many tracks you want to record at once. Most smaller recording interfaces have one or two mic inputs and if you just record your guitar and the singer, one of those would work fine. If you need more simultaneous mics than that, you'll have to get an interface with four or eight channels, or a mixer along with the interface. If you used a mixer with a single or dual input interface it would depend on whether you wanted to put all the parts recorded on one channel since you have to have a separate output from each mic to put each one on a separate channel. Multiple-track interfaces can have output from each input internally routed to a separate track.

  4. #3

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    Start at this website:

    therecordingrevolution.com


    On that page look on the right side. Download that free copy of "The #1 Rule of Home Recording". That guy will show you the most efficient way to get started.

  5. #4

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    Yesterday I finished a ton of research on this stuff and today I clicked on a bunch of "buy" links. I think you should figure out exactly how many people you want to record at once, as was mentioned above, and exactly what your budget is. Every extra hundred bucks you spend will get you something more of value. My conclusion is that it is not until you get to around 3 to 4 thousand dollars that you possibly begin to get into diminishing returns. So, for example, a decent microphone will cost you between 100 to 800. Seems like you might have two guitars, vocals, and a guest. That's four microphones right there! So 400 to 3200 depending. Realistically, the cheapest decent condensor microphone is about 250. So four would be 1000. You'll need headphones. Quite possibly four of them. How else is everybody going to hear Band in a Box? Add 400. You'll need stands for those microphones. Add 20x4. And cables? How good is your computer? Then you get to the interface. I was in denial for a month about how much I needed for that. In the end I shelled out 1400. I told myself that it would hold its value. You probably could save money on the recording software by using either garageband or audacity.

    Like I say, the more you spend, the more you will get. And you will appreciate the more that you get. One way to keep it under control is to limit the number of inputs. There are a couple of good interfaces that are in the 500-600 range but only good enough for two or three inputs.

    What's your budget?

    Another possibility is just look around for a cheap studio where you can go in and record for an hour or two. You'll see all the fancy toys and get great quality.
    Last edited by jster; 04-03-2014 at 04:57 PM.
    Favorite Musician: Pythagoras

  6. #5

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    Beware of thinking that a $800 mic is going to be a whole lot better than a $100 mic. When I started recording about 8 years ago I bought a $100 mic (MXL 2006), and my friend who was a rep for Blue loaned me a $1000 mic (Blue Dragonfly). My son, who had already been recording for about 10 years, borrowed those 2 mics from me because he needed extra mics to record a full band live. He actually liked the MXL better than the Dragonfly. So did another friend who had already been recording for several years.

    The Focusrite 2i2 is a great interface for 2 inputs for $149. Their 18i20 has 8 mic preamps and some other inputs for $499. And these are high quality mic preamps.

    Recording software of some kind will usually come with the interface. Otherwise Reaper is a good choice for low cost entry.

    You need either good headphones or studio monitors. I bought Alesis 520 M1Active monitors for $100 each, and Superlux headphones for $47. All decent stuff.

    Most computers are plenty good enough.

    I would avoid band in a box. There are plenty of better drum loops and software synths.

  7. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenbennett View Post
    Beware of thinking that a $800 mic is going to be a whole lot better than a $100 mic. When I started recording about 8 years ago I bought a $100 mic (MXL 2006), and my friend who was a rep for Blue loaned me a $1000 mic (Blue Dragonfly). My son, who had already been recording for about 10 years, borrowed those 2 mics from me because he needed extra mics to record a full band live. He actually liked the MXL better than the Dragonfly. So did another friend who had already been recording for several years.

    The Focusrite 2i2 is a great interface for 2 inputs for $149. Their 18i20 has 8 mic preamps and some other inputs for $499. And these are high quality mic preamps.

    Recording software of some kind will usually come with the interface. Otherwise Reaper is a good choice for low cost entry.

    You need either good headphones or studio monitors. I bought Alesis 520 M1Active monitors for $100 each, and Superlux headphones for $47. All decent stuff.

    Most computers are plenty good enough.

    I would avoid band in a box. There are plenty of better drum loops and software synths.
    I don't necessarily disagree with any of that. I have very specific needs and did a bunch of research. I'm familiar with the specs on the Focusrite and it may very well be the best in that price range.

    I'm not sure he needs studio monitors though. Don't you think he could mix a duet in his headphones?
    Favorite Musician: Pythagoras

  8. #7

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenbennett View Post
    B

    You need either good headphones or studio monitors. I bought Alesis 520 M1Active monitors for $100 each, and Superlux headphones for $47. All decent stuff.
    I wanted to believe that headphones would do the trick. This guy named yep at another forum convinced me otherwise. He's a great writer and has written a great thread here: Why do your recordings sound like ass? - Cockos Confederated Forums


    Yep wrote:
    Given that essentially every single commercial record ever made was tracked, mixed, and mastered with speakers and not headphones as the primary monitoring system, I think it's pretty safe to say that you can make records on speakers that will sound good on headphones.

    I've spoken on this topic elsewhere at more length, but in my opinion, it is very, very difficult to make records with headphones as the primary monitoring system. Nothing ever seems to sound the same on any other set of speakers or headphones as it did on the phones you tracked or mixed on. Meanwhile, the reverse actually works quite well: records made on good speakers in a good room sound good on pretty much anything. Headphones always seem to have a sort of "one-way glass" effect, for a lot of reasons that have been discussed and debated endlessly.

    Everybody WANTS to find that magical pair of headphones that can replace speakers, and god knows that people and manufacturers are trying, but for now, it's pretty safe to say that nobody who has the option chooses to monitor through headphones instead of good speakers. It's not like digital vs analog, or plugins versus hardware, or any of the other raging debates where there are lots of credible professionals on both sides: it's such a complete consensus in favor of speakers, even among people who would rather use headphones, if they could (which is pretty much everyone-- we'd all rather be using headphones if the results were the same).

    that said, if headphones are working for you, then there's no reason to let anyone tell you they're not. Somebody has to figure it out first. And headphones do certainly have a role in the studio, for checking details, careful corrections, etc.

    The trickier question is headphones VS *bad* speakers, or really bad rooms. That's harder to say.

    As I said at the very beginning of this thread, I think the single most important investment any studio can make is in room treatment and decent monitors. There is a work-around for pretty much anything else, as long as you can trust what you hear. My 2 cents, anyway.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  9. #8

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    No commercial record was ever made with a 150 dollar interface either. This is going to get silly unless we have the budget and the exact number and type of instruments to be recorded simultaneously. What if the budget is 300 max? 200 bucks for monitors and 100 for everything else? I don't thinks so. We won't even have money left for headphones in that case. At this exact moment I actually know the market quite well, ie, I have a decent idea of how to spend that 300, 400, 500, 1000, 2000, 4000 bucks. I've just finished at least 100 hours of research. In a few months, I won't remember any of it. What's the budget Liars?!
    Last edited by jster; 04-03-2014 at 09:45 PM.
    Favorite Musician: Pythagoras

  10. #9
    Thanks for your replies guys.

    I have downloaded the Home Recording PDF but have not read all of it yet.

    Basically what I thought was to buy a 4 track recorder and a microphone.

    This way I can lay down a BIAB backing track (since I have it already), plus 2 guitars and a vocal.

    The idea being that I can do my guitar parts when I have time and the singer then comes in to sing over the top when she has time. We both have busy lives with kids etc.

    My recent purchases include a guitar for around $650 and an amp for the same so I need to be a bit wary of the Mrs if I spend more money on music equipment. However I think that another $650 spend is ok, perhaps a bit more if the equipment demands it.

    I'm thinking of perhaps buying the equipment second hand to save costs. Do you have any opinions on this?

  11. #10

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    One of my favorite mics is also one of my cheapest. I've been using it for most of what I do for maybe 7 years.

    MCA-SP1

    Google some reviews on that mic.

    Here's one

    MCA SP1 Review
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  12. #11

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    Quote Originally Posted by fep View Post
    I wanted to believe that headphones would do the trick. This guy named yep at another forum convinced me otherwise. He's a great writer and has written a great thread here: Why do your recordings sound like ass? - Cockos Confederated Forums


    Yep wrote:
    Well, you need headphones whether you have speakers or not, right? You have to listen to what you've got while you're overdubbing the next part.

    As far as using headphones to mix, they're not ideal, but people have won mix contests at Indaba and Pensado's Place using only headphones. And those are professional sounding mixes.

    The speakers you use for mixing need to be designed as "studio" monitors. I use to use pretty good boom box speakers. My mixes improved a lot when I got the cheapo Alesis monitors.

    Anyway, I said headphones or monitors, but I really mean headphones and monitors. If you're just starting out, then you have to have headphones (there's no other way to do it), so that's why I said it the way I did.

    In reality you need decent studio monitors, set up properly (positioning and tuning if there are adjustments on the back), in a room that has some acoustic treatment (to minimize distortion of the speakers due to acoustical problems that exist in all rooms).

    Just trying to keep it simple, that's all.

  13. #12

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    Quote Originally Posted by jster View Post
    No commercial record was ever made with a 150 dollar interface either.
    Perhaps not, but many commercial and commercial-quality recordings are made on laptops with minimal hardware. The first Drake record was one. Todd Rundgren's Arena album is another. We don't know what interface they used, but we do know that they used only 1 input at a time. Drake is a rapper, so chances are that the only live instrument they recorded was Drakes vocal. Todd had a lot of money, but Drake and his producer were just kids starting out. Chances are they didn't spend as much as Todd.

    Some of the interfaces in the $150 price range are capable of recording at better-than-CD quality. CD sample rate is 44.1KHz. The Focusrite 2i2 can go up to 96KHz. The mic preamps are good enough, the noise level is low enough... nothing about the hardware itself prevents you from making a commercial-quality recording.

    Anyway, now we know the budget. $650 is plenty to get started.

    mic $100
    speakers $200
    headphones $50
    interface $150

    That's $500 leaving $150 for software, cables, and whatever.

    Oh yeah, I do think Liar could mix a duet in headphones.

  14. #13

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    Quote Originally Posted by Liarspoker View Post
    Thanks for your replies guys.

    I have downloaded the Home Recording PDF but have not read all of it yet.

    Basically what I thought was to buy a 4 track recorder and a microphone.

    This way I can lay down a BIAB backing track (since I have it already), plus 2 guitars and a vocal.

    The idea being that I can do my guitar parts when I have time and the singer then comes in to sing over the top when she has time. We both have busy lives with kids etc.

    My recent purchases include a guitar for around $650 and an amp for the same so I need to be a bit wary of the Mrs if I spend more money on music equipment. However I think that another $650 spend is ok, perhaps a bit more if the equipment demands it.

    I'm thinking of perhaps buying the equipment second hand to save costs. Do you have any opinions on this?
    Well, you can buy an interface for less than a standalone recorder. You already have a computer. And Reaper software is only $60.

    Packages also exist that include interface, mic, headphones, and software for no more than a standalone recorder.

    Used equipment is fine. Sometimes you can find deals on refurbished or repackaged new equipment too.

  15. #14

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    Quote Originally Posted by kenbennett View Post

    The speakers you use for mixing need to be designed as "studio" monitors. I use to use pretty good boom box speakers. My mixes improved a lot when I got the cheapo Alesis monitors.
    Ken, you should check that link I posted, that post is sort of legendary, it's gotten over 700,000 hits. I've got several books on recording/mixing over many years (what can I say, I'm a nerd), what that guy has written in that thread is my favorite material. Again it's here: Why do your recordings sound like ass? - Cockos Confederated Forums

    He mentions that monitors don't have to be expensive, they just need to be accurate. I think those are good monitors, I believe they have a very flat frequency response.

    I agree, one does need headphones. I like close eared headphones to minimize track bleed when you are monitoring while recording.
    B+
    Frank (aka fep)

  16. #15

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    I will read it, Frank. I may have seen it before, but I'll read it again.

    That's an important point about closed-back headphones.

  17. #16

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    Liars, what kind of computer do you have? Operating system? And RAM? Will you be running any virtual instruments? You say you want to have guests. Will any of them be using virtual instruments? E.g., a keyboardist using a virtual piano?
    Favorite Musician: Pythagoras

  18. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by jster View Post
    Liars, what kind of computer do you have? Operating system? And RAM? Will you be running any virtual instruments? You say you want to have guests. Will any of them be using virtual instruments? E.g., a keyboardist using a virtual piano?
    Well I made a mistake at the end of last year. My hard drive blew up and I replaced it but I should really have bought a new computer. However, importantly, the new hard drive has plenty of free space.

    My laptop is a Compaq with Windows 7 (which I don't like using in conjunction with Google Chrome).

    Thanks for the above posts. I have more research to do!!

  19. #18

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    Depends on what your goal is for recording.
    If you want to make something that sounds ok for yourself, family, friends, perhaps a demo for gigs, etc,
    then everything listed here can be used, and with some work, effort, and a fair amount of trial & error, it will work.

    Recording technique and experience will be paramount.

    If you want to make commercial recordings, it will probably take more time, and you will find yourself wanting/ looking for higher end equipment. Much of the high end recording gear makes it easier/ faster to get more professional results,
    which is why the pro studios use them. They also have much more varied tools, as opposed to trying to do everything with a few tools.

    Sound treatment is probably the most important and least interesting. If you cannot hear accurately, you do not know what you are really doing.

    I have gone down this path, and do make recordings and work with pro mastering engineers, equipment designers, etc with my recordings.

    For me, the answer was to really get pro level gear and room, and spend a lot of time learning how to use it. It's only taken a little over a decade to get to where I'm happy with the results [most days]. Even then, I cannot try to emulate what can be done at a large scale pro studio.