#1
I want to start recording music on my computer. I am looking for any kind of recording product (portable recorder, desktop mic, etc. ) I do not like how my voice sounds on my cheap $8 desktop mic ( or my guitar), so i want to upgrade... My budget for right now is $50 - 80
#2
If you could cough up another $40 tascam makes one , a usb model, its listed with sweetwater for 120 u can prob get better deals if you search or e-bay. It has xlr inputs, phantom power for mic's midi in/out. If you could spend a little more you could get an m-audio which has a dedicated asio driver, it would operate like your sound card and not hog pc resources when recording. I got an m-audio fast track pro its great and I got it on e-bay for $165 I think. Definitely e-bay it I have one friend who constantly swaps recording gear out by searching e-bay and he's had no problems with purchases or selling things he didnt want.
#3
Go to NCH.com and download the free wavepad. It's not the greatest but it will work with your internal mike and speakers on your laptop.
#5
You want Guitar Gear and Accessories mate. *Reported* [just to get the mods to move this thread over there].
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#6
You first need to get an interface box. They range in price from $40 to over $5000 for an internal-CPU PCI-E card. For beginners, intermediates, and even advanced users the basic interface boxes work perfectly fine. I'm using a $180 Line 6 Pod UX2 and it works fine.

You will want to run ASIO drivers - they should come with the interface box. I know a lot of people have luck with ASIO4ALL but I found that I run higher latency with it. You want to make sure your PC is up to par. I'm running an i7 960+, 24gb DDR3 triple-channel, and off a SSD, but have had no issues running on a P4 + 1gb DDR before. I can easily max out my ASIO time (available CPU capacity for effects and such) but if you're mainly looking to just record clean and maybe add a little chorus or delay you should be fine with practically any PC running XP, Vista, or 7.

You will need a program to record into (sometimes called DAW). Most interface boxes come with a limited version of software. There's Ableton, FL Studio, Cubase, Reaper, and many more. I started out with Audacity which is a free/shareware program. I then "graduated" to Reaper. Reaper can be downloaded for free but you should buy it after 30 days. It's a great program and VERY easy to use. I'm using Cubase now, but it's a bit more costly. Reaper is around $70 for a private license where Cubase was several hundred.

Once you're up and ready, you'll need a good microphone, a stand, and some way to isolate the sound. A lot of people just hang up a bedsheet to kill too much room noise but you can also buy foam wraps that are great for vocals too.

After all that, you're ready to record. Regardless of what DAW you use, you'll need to add an audio track. There are inputs and sends. Inputs are signals coming IN. Sends are signals going OUT. You need to make sure your interface box is communicating with the DAW and the track is properly set up to receive the audio signal. When you are ready to listen to the sound without recording, there is usually an "Arm Track" button that allows audio to stream through it and any effects you have chosen. In Reaper, those effects are displayed in a window in sequential order. You just pick and place basically JUST like foot-pedals. In Cubase they are called "inserts" and you can order them the same way. You can add an EQ insert to fine-tune the sound, or add a delay, or chorus, or any combination you like.

You then need to monitor the sound output. Decibel levels should always be monitored so you're not recording too loud or too soft- whatever you feel is right. It's all up to you. The general rule of thumb is to have the outputs as high as possible without creating unnecessary distortion or clipping (clipping is when the volume output is too high, basically). A good tool to use is a "limiter" or "maximizer." Set the overall limit to -10.0 to start and then work your way up to where you like it. Compare it volume-wise to an audio file (music or what not) to get a feel for where you are.

You can listen through normal PC speakers but the quality may not be high enough to catch little nuances. You can get a good pair of studio monitors or studio headphones that'll bring you to the next level, but only invest if you feel you need to!

Once everything is to your liking, it might be beneficial to add a "click track" which is like a metronome. A lot of DAWs do this for you. It's up to you.

When you are ready to record, click the "Arm Record" button which is usually a little red circular button with another white circle in it on the track bar. This doesn't start recording, but tells the program "Hey, when I click record, I only want you to record THIS track." Remember, you can have many many tracks if you want. Arm Record buttons help discern which ones to actually record to if you have multiples.

When actually want to start recording, there's usually a main "Record" button on the toolbar. Once you click it, you're off. You should see the audio signal being processed and the cursor will follow along with where you are. When you are finished, click "Record" again you're all set. Now you can move the audio file around, mess with it, add effects, change EQ settings... Anything you want.

One little tip. If you get to the point where you like having TONS of effects, having too much to process at once will bog your PC. You will hear a lot of "clicking" and "popping." This is because your PC can't run all the effects with the current buffer size. Increase the buffer size until this problem goes away, but beware that too high a buffer size will create latency. Latency is the delay between when you play a note and when you hear it through the PC. It's give/take. Faster PCs can run a smaller buffer size and have no latency problems. Try to stay lower than 50ms latency or it may affect your timing.

If you really do like all the effects but don't want to compromise with changing the buffer size or having latency issues, what you can do is a frequent "Mix Down." See, when you record audio you are recording "clean." Clean is unprocessed. Dry. When you listen to something you recorded, the PC is processing that signal in realtime. That adds a lot of strain. The best thing you can do to ease that strain is "mix down." That basically means you are forcing the PC to take your clean audio, process it, and create a new soundfile that has all of the effects already in it. It will toss this new file into a new track and from there you can delete or mute the original. This frees up a LOT of processor load. Get used to it. Make it your new friend. I recommend keeping the original file on hand in case you want to go back and tweak an effect.

Now let's get into some fun stuff. One track might not sound "full" enough for you. Try recording to two tracks at once. Set Track 1 to pan full left and Track 2 to pan full right. Set a 31ms delay on Track 2 and listen to what it sounds like. VERY full stereo sound.

The best advice I can give from here is MESS AROUND WITH IT. Learn by doing. Have a blast.

One word of caution- ASIO can be a headache if not set up properly. If your interface box stops working, or if you get strange distortion in your audio, or if the DAW says "Asio driver error" of sorts, save what you are doing and restart. Never unplug a box while the PC is on- you can get the BSOD (blue screen of death) because the box IS your sound card. Disconnecting it while running can corrupt data. Just a quick precaution- don't let it deter you from going this route.

I hope this helps! If anyone spots any mistakes in my quick and dirty tutorial please let me know!
Last edited by CV334 at Aug 13, 2011,
#7
Moved over to more appropriate forum.
Equipment:
- Art & Lutherie Cedar CW (SOLD! )
- Martin D-16RGT w/ LR Baggs M1 Active Soundhole Pickup
- Seagull 25th Anniversary Flame Maple w/ LR Baggs Micro EQ

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