#1
Hopefully I don't ask too many n00bish questions here

It would appear that the band I was practicing with is now splitting up (We all know how that goes, right?). I have decided that perhaps I should upgrade some of my recording gear and record some music myself. I know some basics about recording, but I definitely have a lot to learn, so hopefully you guys can help me out. Here's my current setup that I have (I purchased what I have several years ago, but never really learned how to use it very well).

Shure PG57
Behringer Eurorack 80-something (like the 2nd smallest mixer they have, 2 mic inputs)

I recently began to play around with it again, and seem to be starting to get the hang of mic placement and such. I run that into the Line in port on my computer, and use Audacity to record. However, I feel my sound could greatly improve if I upgraded..well, just about everything, haha.

Basically, I want to record guitar parts, and bass parts, but I'm in no position to go all out and turn my room into a studio (nor can I play drums very well), so I would use drum samples for drums.

I was thinking a good place to start would be to upgrade to a SM57 mic, and maybe a new sound card (I'm using on-board HD audio). What is some good, but reasonably inexpensive gear and recording software I could look into? Also where could I find some good quality drum samples for free? or what would be good, cheap software for drums? Any other tips are welcome too

Thanks a lot!
- Gibson Flying V 120 #1 (White)
- Gibson Flying V 120 #2 (Cherry)
- Gibson SG Standard ('61 style)
- Jackson DK2M

- ENGL Fireball 60
- Avatar 4x12

- Many pedals, plus other stuff
Last edited by FlightofIcarus at Jan 9, 2009,
#2
Hey man,

Welcome aboard. For recording personally I use Cakewalk's Sonar which is a great sequencer and audio program. To record I have an old analogue sound mixer with one channel, which goes into the back of my soundcard (Just a Creative labs Audigy card = cheap). The guitar and bass etc. I put through Guitar Rig which is a VST plugin I can load up in Sonar. For drums and anything else I use samples and notations. For vocals I have an SM58 and another mic which was given to me, I forget the brand. About the same quality.

Here's what you'll need:

Software

You need a decent sequencer/audio editor. I would recommend getting your hands on, if you're on a budget, Cakewalk Home Studio. Pretty cheap, and the "Home" version of Sonar. All of them main features you'll be using are the same in Sonar as they are in this, so it's a good buy.

Alternatives include Cubase, Reason, Protools, etc. I would not recommend pro tools at this stage, there is hardware you need to buy and all that sort of thing. Cubase is good, a lot of people use this as well. Check out the demos/website.

Hang on to Audacity because it can come in handy for little things as well.

Hardware

Here's what you need:

-A decent processor
-Enough RAM (1-2GB to get you started)
-A mixer/audio interface

Anything with ONE channel will do the job. One is all you'll need. Record the vocals, guitar, bass, keys, whatever, one at a time through this baby. An audio interface will have a built in audio card, which means you don't have to upgrade right away. However, it's always good to get a decent onboard soundcard.

Check out M-Audio cards, and interfaces. All very good and reasonably priced considering.

Samples

Drums:

EZDrummer
Groove Agent
East West (number of kits in packs like Stormdrums)
+ more

You will be able to get kits for free, a lot of them will require you to already have a sampler like Kontakt or Giga though. A sampler allows you to run "samples" which are basically pre precorded sounds that you can use in your projects.

The benifit or using something like EzDrummer or Groove Agent is they are stand alone VST plugins. Which means you just plug them straight into your sequencer (sonar, cubase, etc.) and you're ready to go.

I recommend paying for a good drum set because drums really do make your tracks.

You'll probably want piano and synths etc. down the line too. There are loads of great piano sample libraries out, Akoustik Piano from Native Instruments being a great one. But loads of others. For now, you could easily get by with free ones. There are lots and lots of synth VSTS that can produce great sounds available online, for free.

If you're really serious, check out getting a sampler like Kontakt as some instrument libraries require you to have a sampler. Some free stuff online you'll find will be the same deal. But this is not necessary straight away. Just keep in it mind.

Plugins, reverb, etc.

To start with, you'll need:

-Basic reverb, delay, etc.
-Compression
-EQ
-Limiters, etc.

All of this stuff will come with your sequencer, in most cases. Later on you can fork out for better reverbs but for now they will do the trick. There are some great free VSTs out there as well, called "Classic compressor, Classic Reverb, Classic EQ" etc. Google for them because they are handy.

For guitars, you can go through Guitar Rig, this also does Bass. It's very customizable and you can build rigs completely from scratch. Distortions, effects (anything from reverb to whammy, to tremelo, to whatever). There are others available and if you do a search around here you will find them.

Mastering

Check out oZone, a great little plugin which you put on your master channel to give a quick and dirty master. It has everything from stereo spread, overall reverb and EQ settings, boosts, etc. It's great if you don't want to sit down and spend ages mastering in another program. Makes your tracks sound hot, and really worth it if you plan on releasing demos etc. Look for a free plugin called "Classic Limiter", from the same free pack I told you about earlier, it's good to put on the master as well to boost the volume to full.

A few final notes..

That's a pretty rough guide but hopefully it'll give you a few places to start. For specifics, feel free to ask.

One thing to realize is that people think you have to have amazing gear to make decent demos. You don't. More than 50% of it is knowing how to use your program, knowing what sounds good. Learn the tricks. Learn to multi track. Learn panning, learn to EQ properly. Experiment. The more hours you put in the better. Hundreds of hours i'm talking here.

Any decent mic will get you started. Make a homemade pop screen using a coat hanger and a womans stocking. Don't leave your vocals raw and dry sounding. Give them character. Look into plugins like "Vintage Warmer" and free alternatives. Be creative. Record stuff through tape players. Add distortions. Use reverb, even if it's only subtle. Multi track!

Recording is an art, there are lots of things you can do to hide your tiny budget.

Links

Here are some links to things discussed here:

www.steinberg.net/ - Home of cubase
www.cakewalk.com/ - Cakewalk
www.propellerheads.se/ - Reason
www.digidesign.com/ - For pro tools
www.kvraudio.com - Free synths etc.
http://www.kjaerhusaudio.com/classic-series.php - The "Classic" plugins
www.native-instruments.com/ - Native Instruments (Guitar rig + lots and lots of other stuff, home of kontakt, etc.)
www.toontrack.com/ezdrummer.asp - EZdrummer for drums
www.bornemark.se/ga/ - Groove Agent
www.soundsonline.com/ - Home of East West products
Last edited by ChrisBG at Jan 9, 2009,
#3
ChruisBG's guide is great, it sounds like he's using a very similar setup to me, and I get pretty good results at home.


But also bear in mind:

1) There's many different drum samplers out there, I personally think you'll have a better time with XLN Addictive Drums - it sounds much better than Ezdrummer, is really easy to use, and does all the drum mixing inside the program. There's also a freeware one called Mydrumset, give that a try too.

2) You don't need a supercomputer for home recording - I do all my stuff with a 1.8Ghz processor and 512MB RAM. The more the better, but for basic home demos a low-end dual core and 1GB RAM will work fine.

3) Although Audacity is okay, I suggest you switch to the free 'Reaper' - it's got most of the features of professional-level software, and will help you learn the way most modern recording suites work, so if you buy one (I also highly recommend Sonar) you'll be able to start laying down tracks straight away!

4) For a first decent mic, try the Samson C01U. It plugs stright into your usb port, meanin there's no need for a phantom power interface. The sound quality is 10x better than the SM57 for vocals, acoustic, percussion etc. Price is about $70 I believe.


So, what are you waiting for? Me and ChrisBG have given you links to all the free software you need to get started. Even while you're waiting to get your new hardware you can plug your mic in and start experimenting!
#4
Wow, thanks!

So the mixer I have is ok then?

And my comp specs should be pretty sufficient then. I have a 1.8 ghz core 2 duo and 2 GB of RAM
#5
Quote by FlightofIcarus
Hopefully I don't ask too many n00bish questions here

It would appear that the band I was practicing with is now splitting up (We all know how that goes, right?). I have decided that perhaps I should upgrade some of my recording gear and record some music myself. I know some basics about recording, but I definitely have a lot to learn, so hopefully you guys can help me out. Here's my current setup that I have (I purchased what I have several years ago, but never really learned how to use it very well).

Shure PG57
Behringer Eurorack 80-something (like the 2nd smallest mixer they have, 2 mic inputs)

I recently began to play around with it again, and seem to be starting to get the hang of mic placement and such. I run that into the Line in port on my computer, and use Audacity to record. However, I feel my sound could greatly improve if I upgraded..well, just about everything, haha.

Basically, I want to record guitar parts, and bass parts, but I'm in no position to go all out and turn my room into a studio (nor can I play drums very well), so I would use drum samples for drums.

I was thinking a good place to start would be to upgrade to a SM57 mic, and maybe a new sound card (I'm using on-board HD audio). What is some good, but reasonably inexpensive gear and recording software I could look into? Also where could I find some good quality drum samples for free? or what would be good, cheap software for drums? Any other tips are welcome too

Thanks a lot!


If you want better sound, ditch the cheap mixer and mic. The mixer is pointless in digital studios these days.

Get an audio interface and you may want to upgrade to the SM57 mic.

EMU 0202 USB
EMU 0404 USB
PreSonus Inspire 1394
#6
So, if I were to upgrade a certain piece of gear first, would you recommend a new mic or a new audio interface first?
#7
NObody has mentioned monitors yet. You can record all the pristine high-end audio in the world, but without monitors, you won't be able to make a proper mix that will translate well to others' systems.

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.
#9
Hehe.... yeah, I do. I never realized how important they were until I got a pair.

I was always like, "my speakers are okay... I just have to learn their character so I can compensate." And then reality crept in...

CT
Could I get some more talent in the monitors, please?

I know it sounds crazy, but try to learn to inhale your voice. www.thebelcantotechnique.com

Chris is the king of relating music things to other objects in real life.