#1
Hello, I am kind of new to recording. I have been recording using my RP150 guitar pdeal which plugs straight into the computer via USB and I use audacity to record my tracks (Also I do this with the bass guitar and I use a Drum Machine on my computer for the drums).

In the next few months I will be buying a electric drum kit and I also want to start getting some better recording equipment so that I can make better quality recordings.

I do not know very much about recording. I know that you can get different types of mics for different things and you can get a "sound card" or something? Although I have no idea what they are. Also I know you can mixing desks but i have no idea what they are used for either.

So, Basicly I just want to know what people think I should get, I need to be recording my Acoustic guitar, Electric guitars, vocals, electric drum kit and my bass guitar. My budget is not great (I earn £160-£200 a month) so It may take a while, but I want to get some stuff that will be good quality.

So if anyone knows what I should get, that'd be great! also If some people could give me an insight on what to look for in mics and stuff...

-Thanks for help.
#2
Same problem for me. I get rubbish guitar tones from my setup and want to upgrade without spending a fortune. I do have an SM58 as a startign point so its not all bad. My desk is a Behringer with a USB interface into Audacity, none of which was expensive. Not sure if its my mic'ing technique thats poor but it all sounds boxey and thin. EQ doesnt help much.
#3
If you're looking to do it cheaply, check eBay for 2nd hand digital multitrackers. They'll provide you with an all-in-one solution which is more than enough for most home recording setups.

The best brands to check for are Fostex, Tascam and Zoom. Other manufacturers which you may consider are Boss (often more expensive than the others), Yamaha (in my opinion they aren't as user friendly as they could be) and Korg (I have no experience of their kit, but it is usually positively reviewed).

It is possible to recreate what a good multitracker can do using software, however you will need upgraded soundcards and a USB interface to connect to your PC with (using the mic input will provide extremely poor results). It is also likely that your PC will not have the necessary processing power to fully utilise most recording software as as it was not initially purchased with this in mind.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Sep 6, 2011,
#4
What exactly am I looking for in a digital multitracker? And once I have one, what type of mics will i be looking for, baring in mind of what I need to record for.
#5
For the multitracker, I'd recommend getting a minimum of 8 tracks, although if you find a 12/16/24 track within your budget, go for it. They all feature a mixing desk with fairly similar capabilities and all have a range of effects used during recording and mastering. If you're completely new to recording a multitracker is definately the easiest way to start, they're all designed for people like you, and they all do similar things in their own way.

Surf around eBay, find a few models you like the look (and price) of and then google for reviews of them (SoundOnSound often provide some very good reviews of recording kit). It's probably also a good idea to download a manual to see how easy it is to understand, although this may be slightly misleading without actually following it through with the kit. Fostex's MR series is purpose designed for beginners so that could be a good place to start looking.

Think about how many things you will want to record at once and make sure the kit you buy has enough capability to handle this. Some will only record a couple of tracks at once, others will record up to 8 tracks simultaneously with the potential to expand this to 16 tracks in some circumstances.

The key thing to consider is how the data is stored & transferred off the unit. Not all multitrackers have a built in CD writer, so you'll need to be able to transfer the finished product to your PC to write a CD. If you're buying used, make sure the kit you buy has a USB output for this, as not all older units had this (I think they often utilised ADAT interfaces or SmartMedia cards, neither of which are commonly used anymore) and you don't want to risk spending hours working on a song then realising you can't do anything with it!

You say you're going to get an electronic drum kit soon - as a quick question, do you mean an actual electronic drum kit or are you just planning to get a drum machine? If it's the latter, have a look at the Zoom R8 & R24 as they have a drum machine built in.

With the mic, what are you planning to use it for? Shure's SM57 is a good solid mic for vocal purposes and can be used for both gigging and recording, although it's designed more towards gigging. It will be good enough for use in a home recording setup though, and as you're on a fairly tight budget it will mean you also have a mic you can gig with. If you're only ever going to use it for recording though, you may want to look into getting a purpose made studio mic - I don't have any knowledge about specific models to make any recommendations here.

That's all the general advice I can think of off the top of my head, if you have any more specific questions I'll do my best to answer.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Sep 6, 2011,
#6
Very helpful Gary!! The multitracker makes sense now, I know what to look for and I will start looking as soon as I got some spare time.

The SM57 is something that comes up a lot when I talk about mics. I assume it should be okay for acoustic guitar as well? But for electric guitar + bass, should I look for another mic for that as well?
#7
Electric guitar & bass can be recorded by running a cable from the amp's line out to one of the multitracker's inputs, so you don't need a mic for that. Some say you get a getter quality recording if you point a mic at your amp, but for home use connecting them directly reduces the risk of picking up other noises and unless you get an expensive mic the quality wouldn't be any better anyway.

This is another area where some multitrackers have an advantage over others - some of them have built in amp modellers and guitar effects so you can actually plug a guitar directly into the multitracker and use it to create the sound you're after. I've never played with that option though - the way I see it if I have the sound I want from my amp, why would I try to recreate it with the multitracker's effects?

For acoustic, I once ended up using an SM57 for this at a gig and it sounded pretty good so there's no reason you won't get an acceptable result for recording, again you may get a better quality result with a dedicated studio mic, but it depends how much you spend & the studio mic isn't as versatile as the SM57. If it's an electrocoustic, you will be able to plug it straight into the multitracker (or go via your amp's line out).
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#8
Ah okay... So acoustic+vocals are sorted..

With my electric, would this be possible:
(-> represents cables)

Guitar -> RP150 Guitar effects Pedal -> Amp -> ( i have a line out on the amp) Multitracker
#9
Of course it would - that's what the line out on your amp is for! It's pretty much exactly how I have my guitar set up when recording, the only difference being I use the effects loop on my amp.

The same goes for bass - just take a cable from the line out on your bass amp into the multitracker.

For drums I use a drum machine, when I had an 8 track I used to just use the headphones socket of the drum machine into a single track of the multitracker. Since I upgraded to a larger multitracker, now I have 2 cables going from the left & right outputs on the drum machine into 2 tracks of the multitracker, then when mixing I pan one track extreme right & one extreme left so you get the full stereo effect. I'd imagine the electric drum kit you're getting (assuming you didn't just mean a drum machine) would have similar outputs so you'll have the choice of either method.
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#10
No offense, but unless you need a lot of portability, with a lot of tracks, on a low budget, buying a multitrack recorder is a pretty dumb idea, and a big waste of money. You'd be MUCH better off getting a computer interface.

You suffer quality for portability on multitrack recorders. Mic and input preamps are of lesser quality, converters are of lesser quality, mixing in the recorder limits you to its lower quality plugins (Compressors, EQs, Reverbs, Delays, etc.), poor quality drum samples, less options, destructive mixing, etc.

For ~$150, or less, you can get a quality USB interface with 2 XLR/TRS inputs, which allows you to use any recording program you want with it, and any plugins you want, giving you access to a vast array of free plugins, that sound great.
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Last edited by MatrixClaw at Sep 6, 2011,
#11
Quote by MatrixClaw
No offense, but unless you need a lot of portability, with a lot of tracks, on a low budget, buying a multitrack recorder is a pretty dumb idea, and a big waste of money. You'd be MUCH better off getting a computer interface.

You suffer quality for portability on multitrack recorders. Mic and input preamps are of lesser quality, converters are of lesser quality, mixing in the recorder limits you to its lower quality plugins (Compressors, EQs, Reverbs, Delays, etc.), poor quality drum samples, less options, destructive mixing, etc.

For ~$150, or less, you can get a quality USB interface with 2 XLR/TRS inputs, which allows you to use any recording program you want with it, and any plugins you want, giving you access to a vast array of free plugins, that sound great.


The quality argument is definitely not true. The quality of a PC recording is determined by the quality of the PC - if you have purchased the PC specifically with recording in mind, you will be able to match the quality of a decent multitracker, however if you are just using a PC which was purchased for general home use you would need to significantly upgrade the internal soundcards and processing power in order to get a good quality recording.

Compressors, EQs Reverbs, Delays and other effects are not necessarily lower quality on multitrackers. Just like with software packages, some are better than others. A good multitracker will beat a poor software package everytime, just like a good software package will beat a poor multitracker everytime.

It is a myth that multitrackers cannot match software recording packages. Both have advantages, the only deciding factor is personal preference.

Yes, for the money you've said you can get an interface which will allow you to use a PC for recording, but that doesn't include the cost of the necessary PC upgrades you are likely to require in order to make it worthwhile.

Multitrackers are NOT a dumb idea and are definitely NOT a waste of money. They are an alternative idea. For a lot of people they are the best way to set up a home recording system.

Other people prefer software and that's fine, but saying something is dumb and a waste of money just because it isn't your preference shows a lack of knowledge of the subject being discussed.
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#12
BTW - @Snakebite94, if you decide you prefer using software to record, most of the answers I gave about how to connect to a multitracker would be the same as connecting to an interface. Obviously most (all?) interfaces will connect to your PC via USB, and you'd need to research them to determine they would meet your requirements for number of inputs etc.

I've looked into software recordings in the past and didn't like them, I've always found that for my purposes a multitracker does a more than adequate job and I've never found any shortcomings in my kit - the biggest weakness is my guitar playing!!

In addition to the interface and any required PC upgrades, you'd also need to consider the cost of the software you'd be using. I don't know all there is to know about the software packages which are available, but from what I've seen on these forums Audacity isn't very highly regarded so if you want a quality recording you'd need to upgrade that as well.
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#13
I have absolutely no clue what your price range is, but a bit less than a year ago i got the pro tools mbox 3...which is under $1000, and its working beautifully....so yea. thats my opinion.
#14
Well what do you mean by software? Do you mean like audacity?

because If I am recording using this multitrack recorder, wont I still record into audacity? Or does the multitrack recorder come with its own computer interface or something?
#15
Quote by Snakebite94
Well what do you mean by software? Do you mean like audacity?

because If I am recording using this multitrack recorder, wont I still record into audacity? Or does the multitrack recorder come with its own computer interface or something?

Yes, by software I mean something like Audacity.

If you're using a multitracker, you do not have to use your PC at all. They are purpose built all in one units which are designed to include all the effects, mixing and mastering capability you'll need to create your finished product. As I said earlier, most have a CD writer which creates the final CD without needing to use your computer for anything.

There are also 'hybrid' products on the market which act as standalone multitrackers, but which also act as a PC interface and control whatever software you have chosen. Zoom's R series is a good example of this.

Its up to you to determine what you think is the best option:
1- a standalone unit designed to do everything you'll need it to
2- software and all the interfaces and upgrades you'll need to get them working efficiently
3- the hybrid which attempts to achieve the best of both options.

For someone starting out on a limited budget, I'd recommend the multitracker option as you can purchase one 2nd hand at a reasonable cost and know you've got everything you'll need.

Yes, software packages like audacity can simulate what multitrackers do, but you can do just as much without them. Like I said earlier, there isn't an answer to the question of which is better, it just comes down to personal preference.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Sep 6, 2011,
#16
I use a line 6 interface through reaper which works fairly well since it comes with pod farm where you can use a bunch of different amp models, cabinets, pedals, etc. I run that through another program you can download called reaper (which in my opinion beats the crap out of audacity, although I have both). It works pretty well and the interface ran me about $100 and it ame with pod farm and all the other stuff you need to run line 6 stuff. It has bass amps and all that on it too. But if you are going to go the PC route I recommend getting reaper for your DAW, great program I really cant say enough good things about it.
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#17
Quote by Snakebite94
Well what do you mean by software? Do you mean like audacity?

because If I am recording using this multitrack recorder, wont I still record into audacity? Or does the multitrack recorder come with its own computer interface or something?

No, a multi-track recorder is just a big box that you plug everything into. It is the computer, you do all the mixing inside of it, which really limits you. Of course, you can export separate tracks from the recorder to your computer, but that really defeats the purpose of even getting one.

P.S. Don't use Audacity, it's a horrible program that is extremely crippled. Reaper is free and far more professional, unless you have the money to spend or want some specific features of the more big named DAWs, there's never any reason to upgrade from it.

Quote by GaryBillington
The quality argument is definitely not true. The quality of a PC recording is determined by the quality of the PC - if you have purchased the PC specifically with recording in mind, you will be able to match the quality of a decent multitracker, however if you are just using a PC which was purchased for general home use you would need to significantly upgrade the internal soundcards and processing power in order to get a good quality recording.

With the quality of "home" computers these days, there is no reason why your computer shouldn't be able to easily handle recording just as well as a multi-track recorder, if not better.

The soundcard in your computer has nothing to do with the quality of your recording, your interface replaces it.

Quote by GaryBillington
Compressors, EQs Reverbs, Delays and other effects are not necessarily lower quality on multitrackers. Just like with software packages, some are better than others. A good multitracker will beat a poor software package everytime, just like a good software package will beat a poor multitracker everytime.

This is why I mentioned free plugins. There are some GREAT plugins that are out there for free that will get him much better results than anything I've ever seen in multi-track recorders. Downloading Reaper for free, he could easily find a ton of amp simulation software, drum sequencers and plugins, that would easily out-class the plugins built into a multi-track 2-3 times the price of the interface he'd need.

Quote by GaryBillington
Yes, for the money you've said you can get an interface which will allow you to use a PC for recording, but that doesn't include the cost of the necessary PC upgrades you are likely to require in order to make it worthwhile.

While that's doubtful... Upgrading a PC is extremely cheap now days, and finding someone who doesn't have a computer that was at least built around Vista (of which the specs would easily run recording software with many tracks - Maybe not at a professional level, but certainly more than enough for any home recordings - ~30 tracks), is quite rare.

For the price of the Zoom recorders you mentioned, he could buy something much more professional.

Quote by GaryBillington
Other people prefer software and that's fine, but saying something is dumb and a waste of money just because it isn't your preference shows a lack of knowledge of the subject being discussed.

Actually, I have owned many multi-track recorders myself, including some very high end ones (Roland BR-1600CD) that cost $1500+. Since then, I've "downgraded" to an interface/computer setup that cost much less and is FAR superior in nearly every single aspect.

I'm glad the multi-track works well for you, but it's been my experience that, unless you need a serious amount of portability, they are not worth buying for anything remotely serious. There's a reason professional studios don't use them.
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Last edited by MatrixClaw at Sep 6, 2011,
#18
A far better argument than your original "that sucks, do this" style post.

Multitrackers definitely have far more capability than you are giving them credit for, but if you find you're able to utilise software better thats your preference. The comment about professional studios not using them is irrelevant- we aren't talking about setting up a pro studio, that would be a very different discussion and would require a very different budget.

I will say this though- just because a pc is designed to run on vista, it doesn't mean it will cope with recording adequately. I know of a couple of people who use software for recording and have found their home PCs struggled after getting beyond a dozen or so tracks and have borrowed my kit to finish it off. They both work in IT (as do I) so none of us are idiots when it comes to using computers, but sometimes kit which isn't purpose built doesn't do a good enough job, and the more plugins you require, the more likely it is you will push your computer to its limits.
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#19
Ive looked into multitrack recorders and they seem really expensive... Is there any cheaper alternatives to getting good recording quality?
#21
At the end of the day, you get what you pay for. Whether you choose software or a multitracker, as a rule expensive stuff will be better than cheap stuff.

From what I've read in these forums, including this thread, the package you're currently using (Audacity) is the worst package out there, so most multitrackers would do better, as would most other software options.

I'm not going to give a direct answer to whether a multitracker would be better quality than what you've got on your profile as the speakers on my laptop are pretty shitty, but judge for yourself by listening to the more recently recorded songs on my profile - these were all done from start to finish on a Fostex VF-80.

Multitrackers are only really a cheap option if you purchase 2nd hand - these days I use a Tascam 2488 MkII which was over £1k new (although the current model's RRP is only £650) and I bought it 2nd hand for under £300. On ebay reasonably decent 8-tracks sell for between £100 & £200ish, last time I looked into whether I wanted to switch to using software that was a similar amount to what a decent quality interface would have cost.

If your priority is keeping the budget low rather than quality, then if you shop around you can possibly find an acceptable interface - so far of the 2 which have been suggested one was $100, one was $1000. Not sure what they'd cost over here though. I don't know if these are easily available 2nd hand to keep the costs down even further, you'd need to look into that yourself.

Then you'd need to get yourself some better software and make sure your PC is up to it - high processing power is needed if you start making more complex recordings, and despite what the other guy said earlier the interface only replaces the sound card whilst actually recording. Once you've finished recording and are creating the final mix using software, then you're reliant on the PC having a high enough quality soundcard to make a high quality final cut.

And that's just one of the many reasons I've always chosen a multitracker over software - my home PC is primarily there just for looking at the internet, it's fairly low spec so if I was to have a change of heart, I'd need to seriously upgrade my PC first.

Like I said earlier though, it's down to you to make some big decisions how to move forward:
1 - software vs multitracker
2 - budget vs quality
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