#1
Hello,

I have been getting sick of attempting the whole band situation and how it never, ever seems to work out with all the members (not being able to practice consistentely, no one is available to play shows, etc.)

So anyway, that leads me to this. I figured, well, I have like 5 or 6 songs written so why not just record an EP of my own. Sounds good. Next step, how the hell do I do it?

I just need to know the cheapest, easiest way to record some tunes, and any equipment/programs that I need to do this. Also how do I go about recording bass and drum parts becase I don't have a bass or drumset.

This would be an instrumental, hard rock/jam/funk sort of hybrid kind of thing.

Thanks for any help
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Last edited by shredibanez24 at Sep 26, 2011,
#2
For free, you can get Audacity, which I think is brilliant for a free program. If you can get your hands on a half decent microphone and possibly a small portable mixer, then you can be set. Of course, if you can get a guitar interface, such as a Line 6 POD studio, then you can record guitar a lot easier than having to mic up an amp. This hardware usually comes with POD farm, which is helpful for recording different tones. As for other instruments, I've used an electric keyboard and used the drum sounds on there before, and it has a good enough sound.
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#4
Drums could be easily done with VSTs, bass VSTs aren't as realistic though so you'd probably be better buying a cheap used bass to record with.
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#5
Ah hell.

Well, to start, you're going to need three basic things: an audio interface, a DAW (Digital Audio Workspace), and a microphone. There are tons of different types of each, but you said you wanted to do it cheap, so that's what I'll focus on.

First off, the audio interface. This is what you plug your mic or instrument into to record onto your computer. Most of them plug in to your USB or firewire port. Essentially, they get more expensive with the more inputs you want, if you want phantom power to power a condenser microphone (which I highly suggest you get, even if you don't buy a condenser microphone, and some even have effects included. There are a ton of good ones for ~$100-120. People rave about the M-Audio Fastrack MK II or whatever it's called, and Focusrite and Presonus are also big sellers. I had a Lexicon Alpha as my first interface, and it was great for the price ($60), but it didn't have phantom power. You just have to decide what you need and how much you're willing to pay. Then take a look at the ones in that price range from the various manufacturers.

Secondly, your DAW. Reaper is far and away the best free one that you'll find. Get it. There are tons of others (Pro Tools, Cubase, Ableton, etc.) that are all widely used and are mostly based on preference. They're also quite expensive, though a lot of interfaces will give you a "lite" version of one of the big-name ones, and for you, one of those might do just fine.

Third, your microphone. Since you want to do vocals, guitarwork, etc, I think you'd be best getting a cheap condenser mic like the AT 2020. For the price (~$90 new, much less used), you can't really beat it. You might also want to look into free amp simulators, as they can provide very good sound and you don't have to mess with micing your amp. You can read up on them here:

https://www.ultimate-guitar.com/forum/showthread.php?t=1131250

Honestly, you'll probably be able to get a better sound out of them than your actual amp unless you have a high end amp.

Lastly, you have a couple different options for bass and drums. Personally, you're almost always going to have better results by going and buying a cheap as shit bass than using vsti's for it, unless you pay for Trilian or such. Some DAWs have decent basses that you can track with MIDI. So I'd say either buy a cheap bass or look for decent bass vsti's. Also, lowering you guitar an octave CAN work, it just usually sounds pretty bad.

For drums, the cheapest way to do it would be to sample it. There is an extensive thread on sampling in this forum, which you can probably find through the stickied resources thread (which you should probably venture into anyways!). This will also usually sound the most natural once you get the hang of it. There are a number of programs you can use for drums as well (EZDrummer, Superior Drummer, etc), but again, they get expensive and in my opinion, are pretty overrated.


One last bit of advice: Don't expect your stuff to sound good right away. Not even after a few weeks. It takes a lot of practice to get used to the programs and equipment to readily get a sound that you're happy with. Most of the stuff you learn will be from your own mistakes and experiences. Just don't give up on it.

I hope this helped, good luck.

Edit: To guy above, Audacity sucks save for editing clips. Reaper is far superior. Trust me, use Reaper. Actually just saw that it's an instrumental too. In that case, you might not even need a mic if you used amp sims! Just a thought
Last edited by CrossBack7 at Sep 26, 2011,
#6
Depends, do you want it to sound good?

I forgot where the post is or I would quote it. But some one likened recording an studio gear to and instrument. You have to spend quite a bit of money and spend years practising other wise it is going to sound crap, no ifs, no buts.

If you go into a studio that does this stuff for a living, you'll pay a fraction of the price (a basic studio set up can run you around £2000) and have a far higher quality out put. If you think you'll be recording ALOT to make it worth while.

Edit:


Quote by axemanchris
If you want to learn how to record, then buy recording gear. If you just want to get a recording, then go to a studio.

But consider your studio gear as learning a new instrument. How long did it take you to learn guitar to produce results that were ready to share with the world? I would say, for the average person, no less than five years.

Same with recording.... it will take a LOT of time to learn and practice and read and practice and practice and practice and learn and practice some more until you get good at it. Also consider that, for a modest setup, you're looking at about $2000.

Two grand is not *that* much money when you consider the price of other instruments that we learn - guitar and amp, a piano, a saxophone, etc.

So, do you want to spend two grand and five years learning to record so that you can do your own recording?

Or do you want to cough up a couple hundred bucks or so and go to a demo studio and get it done in two days?

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Last edited by ChemicalFire at Sep 26, 2011,
#7
Quote by ChemicalFire
Depends, do you want it to sound good?

I forgot where the post is or I would quote it. But some one likened recording and studio gear to and instrument. You have to spend quite a bit of money and spend years practising other wise it is going to sound crap, no ifs, no buts.

If you go into a studio that does this stuff for a living, you'll pay a fraction of the price (a basic studio set up can run you around £2000) and have a far higher quality out put. If you think you'll be recording ALOT to make it worth while.

Edit:



Bull. I can't even state how much I disagree with this. You learn so much about the instruments and music in general that recording is worthwhile, even as a hobby. And bullshit on the $4000 needed for a decent setup. I spent <$1000 on my equipment, and I guarantee you wouldn't have any problems with the sounds I get. Software is what gets expensive, but even then, if you're not looking to record drums yourself, you don't have to worry about spending a ton on mics, etc, anyways. If you go to a studio, they'd be doing the same thing you can do for yourself in this case. If your band was willing to split the cost, then it'd be worth it. But for this, no.
#8
Quote by CrossBack7
Bull. I can't even state how much I disagree with this. You learn so much about the instruments and music in general that recording is worthwhile, even as a hobby. And bullshit on the $4000 needed for a decent setup. I spent <$1000 on my equipment, and I guarantee you wouldn't have any problems with the sounds I get. Software is what gets expensive, but even then, if you're not looking to record drums yourself, you don't have to worry about spending a ton on mics, etc, anyways. If you go to a studio, they'd be doing the same thing you can do for yourself in this case. If your band was willing to split the cost, then it'd be worth it. But for this, no.


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#9
The thing with home recording is you can't just jump in with all the gear and expect to make a usable recording. It'll be months, if not years, before you've got the skill to mix a half-decent track.

So I always say: If you're interested in recording generally, a home recording studio will be a fun and rewarding investment of your money and time. If you just want a cheap way to record a demo, you're barking up the wrong tree - got to a studio.
#10
Quote by kyle62
The thing with home recording is you can't just jump in with all the gear and expect to make a usable recording. It'll be months, if not years, before you've got the skill to mix a half-decent track.


Basically what I said, maybe I was a bit more of an ass about it.

But really I think I can mix semi-decently after teaching myself for about a year, but it's by no means professional standard.
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Last edited by ChemicalFire at Sep 26, 2011,
#11
Quote by ChemicalFire
Basically what I said, maybe I was a bit more of an ass about it.

But really I think I can mix semi-decently, but it's by no means professional standard.

Being an ass on the internet is perfectly acceptable, didn't you get the memo?

Same here. My demos can hold their own against any of the small studios round here but it's taken me a long time and a lot of practice to get there, and I've got a long way to go!

I can't imagine anyone putting in this much time and effort unless they actually enjoy recording as a hobby/career.
#12
Thanks for all the answers guys, I'll check out the suggestions and see what works best for me. I was just thinking it'd be a cool project to do this winter since it seems the band is never going to run smoothly haha..
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#13
Quote by shredibanez24
Thanks for all the answers guys, I'll check out the suggestions and see what works best for me. I was just thinking it'd be a cool project to do this winter since it seems the band is never going to run smoothly haha..

Sounds like you'd probably enjoy it then.

Your first step is to get an interface. Either to plug in a mic (to record your amp), or to DI your guitar into the PC to use amp software. You can do a mix of the two.
#14
Or the Pre-Amp out method that I myself use, gets the best of both worlds.
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#18
These guys are only telling you have the story. As well as choosing software/interfaces etc, you also need to decide if using your PC is the right way forward for you. It's fine if you're spending loads and buying a PC especially for it, but most people recording at home just want something they can get good results with as a hobby.

Lots of people prefer to use a multitracker as their DAW - its obviously far easier to get started as you have everything you need in a single purpose built unit which is designed to give high quality results, instead of trying to bodge together a decent system with your home PC and hoping you get everything right.

I use a Tascam 2488 MkII, purchased used for £300, the latest version of this is the NEO and costs £650 brand new. It suits all my needs perfectly, it does everything the software simulations can and is fully portable so you can take it wherever you want to record, so when you find a band again you could use it for rehearsals & gigs. Also check out Fostex & Zoom's products.

Multitrackers also have the advantage that they take the least reliable part of software recording (the PC itself) out of the loop - I had my last multitracker 10 years and it was still in immaculate working order when I upgraded, I think in that time I'd had to replace my laptop at least 3 times. It's also worth noting that the majority of threads in this forum are related to people having problems with their software/interfaces, whereas I have discovered numerous people on this site who use multitrackers but who never come to the recordings forum because they don't need help, they have everything they need in a simple to use package.

Both ways have advantages, both have disadvantages, you need to decide which is the best way forward for you.

At the end of the day though, if you're wanting to record your EP for any sort of commercial use, the only advice that is relevant is to use a professional studio to do it for you. Like others have said, recording is an art like any other and it takes time to get it right.
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Last edited by GaryBillington at Sep 27, 2011,
#19
Any PC less than five years old will handle almost anything you throw at it unless you plan on using loads of virtual instruments. Personally, I don't think multitrackers are worth the money unless you travel a lot, but that's just me.

And of course, there's a learning curve, but it's not like it's rocket science.
Last edited by CrossBack7 at Sep 27, 2011,
#20
I sometimes wonder where people are at with these things or even if they know themselves. The objective of recording is either to A) Get down a quick pass at something so you remember it - maybe you are structuring a song or writing it in layers - but basically just for your own benefit/your bands OR B) To competently present a piece of music for the means of showing other people so that they can enjoy listening to it.

The latter takes time and ChemicalFire is exactly right in dragging that quote out. OP is this recording for just your benefit or the benefit of other people also? Because god knows the world doesn't need anymore low-fi demos out there, there are too many as is. Now I'm not saying your music is terrible, what I am saying however is that no matter how good you are musically, if you are just starting out recording you are going to lack the ability to present that in a competent fashion - so at the end of the day the only person who will be giving you pats on the back is your mother.

Recording is an artform just like guitar, and just like guitar the most important investment you can make in that artform is TIME. People will always throw round X bit of gear or Y bit of gear but thats what life boils down to, those precious seconds of hard graft to achieve what you want to. Unless you are prepared to invest in that currency then your EP will sound terrible if you chose to do it yourself and I guarantee no one will listen to it outside a few mates who will give you props only for trying.

Making good mixes is an art - art requires a good eye for detail and persistence to achieve what you want to achieve, choose someones whose recordings sound good to you to work with if you are serious about presenting your music to the world. Otherwise if you just want to record a few riffs to remember just buy an interface and a microphone and knock yourself out.
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