#1
The NEW Introduction to Recording Thread

New version of the original thread updated on the 12/10/14 with contributions from spambot_2, MatrixClaw and ChemicalFire, all other writing credits as stated.


Disclaimer: Information in this thread is strictly subjective, everything in this thread is tainted by bias and personal experience, just bare that in mind.

Contents:
  • Introduction
  • Interfaces - A Buyers Guide
  • FAQ
  • USB Microphones (and why you still need an Interface)
  • Reaper as a Beginner's DAW
  • Multitrack Recorders


Introduction


How do I record my guitar?
We get this question all the time and, while there are plenty of ways to do it, the most effective way is through an audio interface.

What’s an audio interface?
An audio interface is any device that allows your guitar, bass, effects unit, microphone, etc to interact digitally with a computer or other recording device. It's a device that converts the sound you hear coming out of your instrument to a digital form and vice versa. This allows you to capture the sound sent into your computer, record it and listen back to it.

So why would you need an interface again?
Like everything on your computer, the audio you listen to through it is composed of 1s and 0s and interpreted by a software program which deciphers this code transforming into a continuous flow of current that gets sent to the speakers, which in turn transform it into what we perceive as sound - a variation in air pressure. Confused yet?

In simple terms - your audio interface turns the (analog) sound you hear with your ears into (digital) code that your computer interprets, and vice versa. If you’re reading this on a computer, you already have at least one audio interface in your home - your computer's sound card, whether it’s built into your computer’s motherboard or it’s a separate card in itself.

So I don’t need to buy anything else, right?
Well, yes and no… While your computer’s sound card is perfectly capable of recording and playing back audio, it’s not exactly ideal for recording instruments or mixing arrangements, because it’s not meant to take the level of signal your recording devices output (more on this later).

What else do I need to record my guitar, then?
You need something that can properly receive the signal coming out of your guitar. Many pieces of hardware will do this and, as with many things, you tend to get what you pay for…

As a beginner, a simple audio interface that comes equipped with a single instrument (¼&rdquo input and a headphone output should be enough to get you started. However, if you intend to upgrade at any point, microphone preamps, DIs, converter boxes, etc start coming into play, and the prices aren’t often for the faint of heart.

What features do I need?
Recording can get expensive, so be sure to pay attention to any upgrades you may need to do to your system in the future to record the instruments you like to record. What may seem expensive at first may end up saving you money upgrading in the long run.

Here’s a few simple questions to ask yourself when deciding what to buy:


How do I want to record my guitar?
To directly input (DI) guitar into your interface, utilizing software simulators as your amp, you need a high impedance input, often labeled as a "hi-z" or "instrument" input.

What’s an instrument input?
Remember when we said that your computer’s sound card isn’t ideal for recording guitar? This is why. Your guitar outputs a signal of very low strength and very high impedance, which your sound card is not equipped to handle. An audio interface with one of these inputs is.

That’s not to say that you can’t get your guitar to record okay by turning the input volume down on your computer’s sound card, but you won’t have a very wide range of volume control. It’s also likely that you’ll experience a muddy tone and some guitars (especially those with very high output pickups) may cause severe clipping (static/distortion), even with the volume all the way down.

If you already have a great amp, you might want to consider recording it instead, which means whatever interface you choose will need to have an XLR (microphone) input. Most modern interfaces come with combo inputs which have an XLR jack with an internal ¼” input. Pay attention to this - many beginners don’t realize their new interface has both!

Do I want to record any other instruments?
Say you want to record your keyboard or synth - ideally, you’ll want at least one (though, ideally two for its stereo outputs) line input. Drum machines may also require line inputs!

Want to record voice, or anything that will require a microphone? You’ll need an XLR input. However it doesn’t stop there, it depends on what mic you're using!:

Dynamic mics - Without going into too much detail (that’s information for another sticky!), a dynamic mic is passive and requires no external power source. A simple XLR input will do.

Condenser mics - These mics require an external power source called Phantom Power. If you intend to use a condenser microphone, you want to make sure the mic preamps on your interface supports it, otherwise you’ll have to spend more money!

Ribbon mics - In general, these mics, like dynamics, are also passive and require no power source, however - there are some active ribbon mics, though it’s not the norm. Many ribbon mics can actually be damaged if Phantom Power is engaged, so be careful with these and check the manual!

Disclaimer: Drums are a tricky thing. Not only do they require a great room to sound good, but they often require a lot of microphones, and a lot of inputs. This is where recording gets expensive! At this point, you may want to ask yourself if it’s a better use of your time and money to pay a professional to record you. If you still want to learn on your own, make sure and buy an interface with a high number of inputs, you’re going to need them!

Do I want to record more than one instrument at the same time?
Pay attention to how many inputs your interface has and how many you’ll need. If you want to record a live set, you might need one input for each guitarist, one for the bass player, another for the singer and several for the drummer. Large 4+ input interfaces are ideal for this situation. If you’d like to be able to expand later, you’ll want to look for something that has ADAT inputs and outputs, which will allow you to connect more devices digitally - effectively increasing the number of inputs you can record at once.

Alright, you haven’t scared me off yet, what are my options?

Funny you should ask...

Recording Interfaces - A Buyers Guide


1/4" jack to 3.5mm jack converter

This, you likely don't want this. You may think you want this, other people may tell you that you want this, but they are probably wrong.

Using this to connect your guitar to your computer's mic input you're gonna get a pretty bad sound, and that's because your computer's mic input, as all mic inputs, is designed to accept a low level and low impedance signal, and if you send a low level but high impedance signal through it you overload it.

You shouldn't break anything doing that (but it has been reported to happen), but you'll get a distorted sound, possibly with pops and clicks.

More likely to break something is leaving your heavy guitar jack plugged into your relatively heavy adapter into your fairly low quality computer's mic input (don't mean to diss you - mic input jacks on stock computer's soundcards are never high quality). It would result in a potentially damaging amount of force being exerted on your microphone port.

What they're for:

Recording stuff when you're really in a hurry and you don't have any other means of Recording
Throwing at people you don't like

What they're not for:
Everything else

Small Interfaces

Behringer Guitar Link

This is the most basic and cheap USB audio interface that works with guitars that I know of.

If you get an unbranded one (look up "guitar link" on amazon/ebay/google shopping) it's even cheaper, though it's the exact same device. It doesn't sound good, but it's very cheap and since you're recording direct guitars you're gonna use amp sims and heavily modify the dry/clean/unprocessed sound of your guitar, so even though the sound quality of the thing itself is low, you can indeed get acceptable results. It also have a headphones output so you can hear what's coming out of (or going into) the computer when recording.

What they're for:
Starting out with your hobby of recording guitars/bass
Recording semi-decent sounding songs/EP's
Doodling around with funny fx in your daw

What they're not for:
Recording mic's
Recording high quality audio
Recording more than one track at a time

Rocksmith cable/Generic guitar usb cable

The copies are far more than the original ones, on amazon and ebay at least. They sound about as good as the above guitar links, though they have less options and are usually more expensive.

Whatever guitar link will be better under every aspect, so if you're thinking of getting such cable, get an unbranded guitar link instead.
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



Quote by DisarmGoliath
You can be the deputy llamma of the recordings forum!
Last edited by ChemicalFire at Oct 13, 2014,
#2
Line 6 Pod studio GX

These ones too sound about as good as the guitar links, and they don't have more nor less features.

They do come with line 6's own amp simulator though, POD farm. The quality of the software is fine for jamming or demo work but it is not particularly suitable for professional recordings, though producers like Joey Sturgis may disagree.

It's just about as good and bad as the guitar link for everything, as far as sound quality goes.

Focusrite Scarlett 2i2, Scarlett 2i4 and Presonus Audiobox 22VSL

The Scarlett series is a bit of hot topic on this forum. Many members love them, but some do not.

Both the 2i2 and Presonus Audiobox 22VSL suffer from low headroom which make input overloads common. This results in a harsh and nasty sounding distortion,

The Scarlett 2i4 on the other hand has engageable pad's, which are circuits that basically reduce the strength of the incoming input signals, effectively giving you a way to avoid overloading the inputs. It is a favourite of many (but not all) of the forum members, it also has midi i/o for midi control input.

What they're for:
Recording mic's (including ones requiring phantom power)
Recording guitars and/or bass guitars (better with the 2i4)
Recording synths/keyboards
Recording more than one track at a time
Recording decent sounding songs/EP's

What they're not for:
Recording more than two tracks at a time (all the pieces of a drum kit or a full band for example)

Mackie Onyx Blackjack, Roland Duo Capture EX and Steinberg UR22.

Those who do not like the Saffire 2i4 or similar prefer these interfaces.

They more or less have the same audio i/o options, they more or less all have the same sound quality, and they more or less cost the same, so if I was you I'd get the cheapest one of the three I could find, though the last two have Midi I/O, which the Blackjack doesn't.

What they're for:
Recording mic's
Recording guitars and/or bass guitars
Recording synths/keyboards
Recording more than one track at a time
Recording good sounding songs/EP's

What they're not for:

Recording more than two tracks at a time

Apogee Duet (or the superior Duet 2)

You want a veeery good sounding result and you have a mac?

Good, get this. Though be warned, it shares a price factor with the macs themselves and has limited inputs.

What they're for:
Same as above, though better sounding
Conveniently controlling monitor levels

What they're not for:
Recording more than two tracks at a time
Recording on a budget

SPL Crimson and Audient id22

You want a veeery good sounding result and you don't have a mac?

Good, get one of there. Though as with the Apogee the price tag isn't for the faint of heart.

You might wanna choose one or the other depending on the i/o options you need.
The crimson for example doesn't have a high impedance input (for direct recordings of most instruments, such as guitars and bass guitars, so you would need a DI box for that) nor inserts, nor ADAT lightpipe i/o, but it has more analog in's, XLR out's, digital i/o over s-pdif, and midi i/o.

What they're for:
Same as above, though a bit worse sounding
Conveniently controlling levels of more than a set of monitors

What they're not for:
Recording more than two tracks at a time

UA Apollo Twin

The strong feature of this interface is the UAD processing. With it you can use plugins by UA, which are all high quality, with ease and very little latency.

If you get a digital preamp model for example you can control it together with the interface's pre using the big knob on the top of the interface. The thing also sounds very good, plugins or not, but it loses its biggest feature if you don't use UA plugins.

What they're for:
Same as above
Conveniently controlling monitor levels

What they're not for:
Recording more than two tracks at a time

Big Interfaces

Mackie Onyx Blackbird, Focusrite Scarlett 18i20 and Saffire pro 40, Presonus FP10, Roland Quad/Octa Capture, Steinberg ur44/ur824

Everything here is just about the same as their respective little sisters, with more i/o options and possibly better Spec's.

For example (other than more analog i/o's) the onyx blackbird has ADAT lightpipe i/o and more sampling rate options, the 18i20 and saffire pro 40 have better converters and supposedly better sounding pre's, the FP10 has supposedly better pre's, and the quad/octa capture and ur44/824 are more or less the same.

What they're for:
Same as above
Recording more than two tracks at a time; bands, drums, etc

What they're not for:
Being a noob

Bigger Interfaces

Apogee Symphony i/o, qA Apollo Duo/Quad

Why the hell are you even here if you're interested in that stuff? If you're that serious you should know this stuff already

A Guide to Interface Specifications


EIN, or equivalent input noise: The noise that a device will add to a signal passing through it.

It's measured in (x)dB, usually with a 150ohm source impedance at the maximum input and/or output gain of the device, it's usually around -130dBu and lower is better.

Frequency Response: How the different frequencies of the input signal will be affected, in terms of volume.

Measured in +- (x)dB between (y)Hz and (z)Hz, less dB is better.

THD, or total harmonic distortion: The distortion applied to a signal, it's measured in <(w)% at (x)dB, possibly between (y)Hz and (z)Hz, it usually goes from 0.0001 all the way up to 5, it's also used in worthwhile power amps ratings (for example <0.0001% THD 100w RMS, 20Hz-40kHz, 2 channels), though don't mind guitar amps, their power ratings are plain made up.
Anyway, lower is better.

Crosstalk:How much two or more channels "share data", so for example how much of the output signal is picked up from the input or how much of the left output channel is picked up by the right output channel and vice versa.
It's measured in (x)dB, possibly between (y)Hz and (z)Hz, between two or more channels, it's usually around -90dB and lower is better.

The common mode rejection ratio is very basically the rejection to crosstalk in a differential amplifier, measured in <(x)dB, possibly between (y)Hz and (z)Hz, it's usually around 50dB and higher is better.

Maximum levels: The maximum input and output levels.

Measured in (x)dB, may be around whatever value, and higher is better.

ADA dynamic range, or AD/DA dynamic range, or AD dynamic range and DA dynamic range: The maximum level the digital to analog and analog to digital converters can handle before clipping, it's measured in (x)dB, it may be around whatever value and higher is better.

The rest you can pretty much figure out yourself.

A couple other considerations - if you see [spec name] @ (x)Hz instead of [spec name] between (x)Hz and (y)Hz it's because specs at single frequencies (usually 1kHz) look better than specs at frequency ranges.

Also the "A-weighted" you see near the ADA converters' specs mean "in a real world setting", so refer to them instead of the not weighted specs' when considering.

Last consideration, most important of all, specs are often "cooked", and they don't tell you how stuff sounds, so something that looks very good on paper might sound bad and vice versa.

Don't buy stuff because it has good specs, buy stuff because it sounds good. Though this can be hard when you can't play with the interface in question, that's why recommendation threads like this exist.
Last edited by ChemicalFire at Oct 29, 2014,
#3
FAQ


OMG THESE ARE SMALL INTERFACES? Why is it $200 I can't afford that right now!?
Because you get what you pay for, just with a guitar, you wouldn't pay 50 bucks for a guitar and expect it to be good, nor an amp for that matter. So why would a recording interface be any different? If you can't be bothered to save up for a decent interface then I doubt you'll have the dedication to learn how to mix with it properly, no offence imaginary person.

Is there no alternative recording method?

Yes. You could use a multitrack recorder that we will talk about later. USB mics are not a good alternative however, which will also be discussed later.

Do I need a DI box to record direct guitar/bass?
You may, but you likely don't.

The purpose of DI boxes is double - they bring high impedance signals down to line level, and balance the resulting line signal so it can be send through a long cable without picking up much noise.

When recording, you may need to use one to send a line signal to an audio interface that doesn't have a high impedance input. Most fairly cheap interfaces have high impedance inputs though, so you should be fine.

What is line level?
A signal with peak to peak voltage about as high as 2v sent from an output of 600ohm to an input of 10kOhm.

Refer to the wikipedia article about "line level" for more info.

What is a balanced line?
Two signals of equal and opposite amplitude with the same impedance to ground, that get "summed" with a differential amplifier (so one actually gets subtracted from the other) to eliminate the noise picked up by the cable run.

Again, refer to the wikipedia article about "balanced line" for more info.

What is instrument level?
There really is no real definition for this, but it's the kinda signal that gets out of magnetic pickups.

Very low voltage and very high impedance.

What is impedance?
A bad word.

Refer to the wikipedia article about "impedance" for more info.

Can't I just record using the USB output of my *insert cheap modelling amp here*
Technically yes, but it won't sound great. Those USB outputs are notoriously bad.

Is it better to record with Amp Sims or my amp and a microphone?
Really it's up to you, real amps tend to be better... unless you're trying to mic up a spider with a cheap brand mic, then it's much better to use amps sims, they'll sound better. If you have a Half Stack and a Sm57 however, go ahead an record with a mic, though you might want to consider some room treatment before you do.

What amp sim should I use?
I don't know, but here is a good resource

How do I record?
We have neither the time nor the patience to teach you that, I learnt a lot from youtube but there are also loads of great books around. Take some initiative guys!

USB Microphones, a waste of money for long term use
(Or why you still need to buy an Interface)

Courtesy of LockWolf


For the past few years, USB condenser microphones have been popping onto the market left and right. A good chunk of budget microphones by major manufactures have been made into USB microphones to get the home studio started for less money. While all these are great for those who want a cheap way to start without having to drop a lot of money, those looking to have a long term studio are going to end up wasting money on these USB mics. Why? Well, let me show you:

1. Just because its the same as a Non-USB mic, it doesn't mean its the same mic: You'd think that a company making a USB version of an XLR mic would use the same components & such but this doesn't seem to be the case. I took a look at Audio-Technica's website to look at the AT2020, a common budget mic that has a USB and XLR version. Right away, I noticed they're completely different mics based on the Frequency Response. Here's the response for the AT2020 XLR and USB (XLR on top):

(Click to see image)



Now what does this all mean? If you look, anything above 9k starts dropping off very steeply on the USB while the standard XLR starts dropping off around 14k. Most couch audio engineers will say that anything above 9k doesn't matter but if you're recording strings, cymbals & vocals, you're going to miss out on some core frequencies that will add a ton to your sound. Also, thinking you could just EQ some high end back in isn't going to work.

2. The A/D Conversion is terrible: A core part of the recording path is the Analog to Digital conversion. This is how the audio goes from the microphone to whatever DAW you're using. Between the microphone & your computer, its converted from an Analog natural sound to Digital 1's & 0's. Every audio interface & USB microphone has one built in since there is no way to get it into your PC otherwise.

Since most of these USB mics are made with budget in mind, the A/D is usually made very cheaply to keep the cost around the same price of the XLR counterpart. This will lead to a loss of quality in the signal and is probably responsible for a lot of the EQ frequency response differences seen above.

3. You can't upgrade your USB mic or your studio as easily: So you bought a USB mic & you've been recording for a while. You feel the need to upgrade, so now you can just rush out and buy a new mic, right? Wrong! If you've gone the USB route, if you ever plan on upgrading your studio, you're not going to be able to use it anymore. You're going to most likely switch to an audio interface which only has XLR or line ins. Most DAWs will not recognize your audio interface & USB mic at the same time since they are both considered audio interfaces.

With an audio interface, if you want to change mics, you can just plug it straight in. You can use any XLR mic with any audio interface as long as it has an XLR in. Got a Focusrite Scarlett 2i4 and want to plug in a SM57? No problem. Wanna plug a $4000 Neumann U87 into your 2i4? Plug away. Want to plug an eV RE-320 in? Yeah, you get the point. You aren't limited to one mic and can expand as your needs grow with an audio interface

But do I really need to buy an interface an mic to record? I don't have money to: No you don't. If all you can afford is a USB mic, you'll be able to get by. Its just that if you're looking for something for the long term, you're either going to end up selling it very quickly to upgrade or it'll sit in the corner gathering dust when you decide its time to move up.

REAPER - Why it's the go to beginner DAW


Courtesy of LockWolf


Hello forum users. Today, I would like make an attempt at slowing down the number of "Hai Guize! What Softwares should I use to records?" by bringing up why Reaper is pretty much suggested 99.9% of the time. Considering every time someone asks, everyone blindly says Reaper without really giving a reason, heres why:

1. Price: This is probably the biggest reason why Reaper is recommended. Outside of software included with interfaces, lets break down the pricing on the common DAWs:

Pro Tools 10: $600
Cubase 6: $500
Ableton Live: $500
Presonus Studio One 2.0: $400
Reaper: $60!!!!!

Of course, thats if you make less than $20,000 a year which most of us wont. Even then, the full price license is still $225 which is almost half as much as Studio One. On top of that, you get a 30 day free trial without having to use an iLok or anything like that.

2. Flexibility: One thing thats impressed me about Reaper looking in the from the outside is how flexible the DAW is. You can completely change the look and feel of the DAW to tailor it to your needs. There are hundreds of Themes available, some that even look like Pro Tools, Cubase & whatnot.

To extend that, it also has support for VST plugins. There are THOUSANDS of FREE VSTs, most of which model plugins that will cost anywhere between $20-$500 on their own (I'm looking at you Waves). This is a plus to anyone, especially those starting out.

3. Tutorials & Community: I know, every DAW has tutorials and such but I've found Reaper not only has a ton, but they're pretty good. You can find a tutorial for pretty much everything you'd need to get going with Reaper. Also, since most people on here use Reaper, help is just one post away (Just as long as you google it first).
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



Quote by DisarmGoliath
You can be the deputy llamma of the recordings forum!
Last edited by ChemicalFire at Oct 12, 2014,
#4
Now for some questions:

Q: I recently bought X interface and it includes X software. Should I use Reaper or X software?
A:If you got a program with your interface, give it a shot and see if you like it. Though, except for the more expensive interfaces, the software that comes with your interface is usually crippled and will not include everything the full version does or limit the amount of tracks you can record. If you like it, you can get a discounted full version of the DAW. I think the only one I wouldn't recommend is Pro Tools Essentials since its 8 tracks which is pretty useless for a full band setup.

Q: Why don't you suggest Pro Tools? Its the Industry Standard!
A: Yes, but your bedroom isn't the Industry. Most of you will never need to use more than Reaper for your home recordings. Besides, with Pro Tools, its a HUGE moneypit! You're not only looking at $600 just for the software, Pro Tools doesn't have native VST support so all those free VST plugins are out of the question unless you buy the VSTtoRTAS program for an extra $100.

Q: What about Audacity? Its not listed
A: Good question. Audacity doesn't come anywhere near the power of Reaper. Audacity is very limited and is really only good for voice recording.

Multi-track Recorders - An out the box alternative


Courtesy of GaryBillington


When setting up your home recording system, an option which should be considered is the purchasing of a purpose built multitrack recorder to use as your DAW. They provide almost all the same capability as software based DAWs, but are designed for people who just want to record themselves as a part of their music playing hobby. If you have no intention of become a professional sound engineer and just want a quick and easy way to create high quality recordings, this is arguably the easiest way to get started as all the effects and EQ options that most people will need are included, often as a pre-defined selection to allow even the least experienced user a good way of creating a professional sounding product.

Obviously there are pros and cons to consider when determining if a multitrack recorder is the right choice for your DAW.

Pro: Everything you'll need in a single unit. Obviously this doesn't include cables & microphones etc. but all digital multitrack recorders are more than capable of creating a high quality finished product with no need to use any additional equipment or software. They have a wide range of EQ and effects (usually including a range of guitar amp models) meaning no additional plugins are required to make almost any instrument sound as good as possible.

Pro: A high proportion of multitrack recorders are designed for guitarists and include fully functional drum machines, usually with a bass sequencer included to allow one person to easily recreate the sound of a full band.

Con: As everything is in a single unit, any additional instrumentation you require that could be created virtually on a software based system is not easily accessed - you could still create it on your PC and transfer it to your multitracker, but if you will be doing that on a regular basis a standalone unit is obviously not the best option.

Pro: Can be purchased used to reduce the initial expenditure. This is a great thing about multitrackers - by buying second hand equipment, you can use your money to obtain significantly higher quality equipment within your desired budget than if you were buying new.
Con: Some older equipment may not use media compatible with current technology. This mainly relates to DAWs that are several years old, before technology like USB & SD cards were available. If you are purchasing an older unit, make sure it includes a CD writer or other usable method of transfering your finished product onto other media. Most equipment made in the past 5 years has utilised USB or SD technology, but obviously check this before purchasing.

Pro: Portability. As it's an all-in-one unit, a multitrack recorder can easily be transported to gigs, band practices, friend's house etc to record everything you do - you can record a whole gig in order to create a live demo album, you can record band practices to listen to yourselves and know what you're doing right/wrong, you can record jam sessions and keep a record of interesting riffs that could become a new composition.
Con: Just like with interfaces, recording a full band in a live environment requires more inputs, which means you're going to need higher spec and therefore more expensive equipment.

Something to avoid
When people talk about how good recording on tape is, they DO NOT mean a cassette based 4 track such as the Tascam Portastudio that was available in the 80's. Although for some these may have a certain antique charm, they serve no practical purpose in today's society. Recording to cassette is NOT the same as recording to tape. When people talk about the glory days of recording to tape, they are talking about professional equipment using 2" tape, not equipment like this.

Basic Equipment

Tascam DP-004
Spec: http://tascam.com/product/dp-004/
Image: http://www.ccmusicshop.com/productphotos/dp004.jpg
RRP: £139
Simultaneous recording tracks: 2
Playback tracks: 4

Although this can be a useful tool for use as a musical notebook and claims to record at CD quality, it's lack of EQ and effects mean it is no more than that - a musical notebook. It can record 2 tracks at once using either the built in microphones or the mic/line inputs so it can be a useful tool, but it isn't recommended for use as a home studio.

Zoom H4n
Spec: http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h4n/
Image: http://www.mveducation.com/assets/products/61412_l .jpgcam
RRP: £269
Simultaneous recording tracks: 1
Playback tracks: 4

Much like the DP-004, this is nothing more than a musical notebook, but with the added advantages of being smaller as well as including some effects and amp models. It can also be used as a interface, so if you come up with something useful you could use it in conjunction with a PC based system to create a more complete product.

Entry Level

Tascam DP-008

Spec: http://tascam.com/product/dp-008/
Image: http://media.soundonsound.com/sos/jan11/images/tas cam_dp008_01.jpg
RRP: £312
Simultaneous recording tracks: 2
Playback tracks: 8

This is little more than the DP-004 with extra tracks and some EQ/effects capability. It can be used to create good quality recordings so long as you are only using very basic instrumentation.

Boss BR-80
Spec: http://www.bossus.com/gear/productdetails.php?Prod uctId=1167
Image: http://www.mannysonlinemusicstore.com.au/wp-conten t/uploads/2011/11/Boss-BR80-Micro-BR.jpg
RRP: £199
Simultaneous recording tracks: 2
Playback tracks: 8

For such a cheap piece of kit, this has excellent specs - it's almost a shame to list it as entry level equipment, but as it's cheaper than the Tascam DP-008 it fits into this budget range perfectly. It includes virtual tracks, a good range of EQ & effects as well as a built in rhythm section making it the ideal solution for a guitarist wanting to take a first step into the world of recording.

Fostex MR8 MkII
Spec: http://www.fostexinternational.com/docs/products/M R-8_Mk2.shtml
Image: http://cachepe.zzounds.com/media/quality,85/mr8mk2 -63af8fa004dd74276932f382eb1e9537.jpg
RRP: £249
Simultaneous recording tracks: 2
Playback tracks: 8

I used a Fostex 8 track for about 10 years and it served me well. It was able to create high quality recordings and was solidly built & reliable. Although the menu system isn't particularly well organised, once you've found your way around it all effects, EQ, and amp models etc are presented in editable presets that are designed to be easy to use. It's biggest weaknesses are it's lack of an intergrated drum machine and the need to keep tracks 7 & 8 free for track bouncing prior to creating a final version of your recording effectively making this a 6 track rather than an 8 track.
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



Quote by DisarmGoliath
You can be the deputy llamma of the recordings forum!
Last edited by ChemicalFire at Oct 12, 2014,
#5
Entry level +

Fostex MR16HD
Spec: http://www.fostexinternational.com/docs/archive_pr oducts/MR-16HDCD.shtml
Image: http://ecx.images-amazon.com/images/I/51AVqwcasGL. jpg
RRP: £419
Simultaneous recording tracks: 4
Playback tracks: 16

This is essentially exactly the same as the MR8, but bigger. Barring the lack of a drum machine, this would be a good purchase for someone wanting the simplest possible method of recording with a higher level of tracks. Although it's recently been discontinued, this would be a great used purchase, alternatively it's replacement (when released) will fill this gap nicely.

Intermediate / Advanced

With multitrack recorders, size matters - bigger is almost always better. 8 tracks is the absolute minimum required for most home recording projects. (eg 2 for drums, 1 for bass, 2 for rhythm guitar, 1 lead guitar & 1 vocals - it soon adds up). If you can afford more tracks, you should buy the bigger kit. Obviously these recorders all feature virtual tracks which can be used to increase this capability, but the more tracks you have the better your final product will be. At this level as a general rule I would consider anything with 8 tracks to be intermediate, anything with 16 or more tracks to be advanced.

Tascam 2488

Spec: http://tascam.com/product/2488neo/
Image: http://www.wiser-rocker.com/blog/wp-content/upload s/2010/05/Tascam-2488neo.bmp
RRP: £579
Simultaneous recording tracks: 8
Playback tracks: 24

If this included a drum machine, it would be the ultimate standalone home recording device. As it is, this is probably the closest you can buy to a professional studio in an all-in-one package, with more effects, EQ, amp & cab models etc than most home recording hobbyists would ever dream of using. When you compare the price to other equipment listed here (especially the Boss units), it's amazing how much Tascam have managed to include.

Boss BR800
Spec: http://www.bossus.com/gear/productdetails.php?Prod uctId=1068
Image: http://achamilton.co.uk/Boss/BR-800-front.JPG
RRP: £429
Simultaneous recording tracks: 4
Playback tracks: 8

Boss BR1200CD
Spec: http://www.bosscorp.co.jp/products/en/BR-1200CD/
Image: http://www.bosscorp.co.jp/products/com/BR-1200CD/i mages/top_M.jpg
RRP: £799
Simultaneous recording tracks: 2
Playback tracks: 12

Boss BR1600CD

Spec: http://www.bossus.com/gear/productdetails.php?Prod uctId=574
Image: http://www.dancetech.com/aa_dt_new/hardware/images /boss_br_1600cd_main.jpg
RRP: £1099
Simultaneous recording tracks: 8
Playback tracks: 16

Boss's multitrack DAWs are high spec, all include a drum machine & bass sequencer and receive excellent reviews. However, I have no personal experience of them due to the price - they are around double the price of the equivalent equipment from other manufacturers, none of the research I've ever done has justified this.

Hybrid Equipment


Zoom R series
R8
Spec: http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/r8
Image: http://cachepe.zzounds.com/media/quality,85/ZoomR_ Series_RecordersR8R8_head_on-11008c2f3870123d5ffa7 5bbfbc5c795.jpg
RRP: £199
Simultaneous recording tracks: 2
Playback tracks: 8

R16
Spec: http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/r16
Image: http://www.samsontech.com/site_media/legacy_docs/R 16_top.jpg
RRP: £379
Simultaneous recording tracks: 8*
Playback tracks: 16

R24
Spec: http://www.zoom.co.jp/products/r24
Image: http://cdn.slashgear.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/0 6/zoom_r24_1.jpg
RRP: £479
Simultaneous recording tracks: 8*
Playback tracks: 24

*16 tracks can be recorded at once by linking two separate units via a USB cable.

For people who like the idea of having an all-in-one multitracker but also want the flexibility that software based systems provides, this is the ideal solution. It can be used on it's own, but it is also designed to act as an interface and controller for whatever software DAW you have chosen. The R8 & R24 also include a drum machine & bass sequencer, but for some reason this was left off the R16.

Although it doesn't have the same level of in built capability for EQ & effects etc that the Tascam 2488 does, the fact that it is designed to work in conjunction with your PC mean any shortcomings you may find with the EQ & effects that are included can be rectified using a software plugin
.
For people who want a multitracker to start their recording hobby but who fear they may outgrow it in time, this is the perfect solution as it provides the best of both worlds - standalone multitracker and interface/software controller all in one.
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



Quote by DisarmGoliath
You can be the deputy llamma of the recordings forum!
Last edited by ChemicalFire at Oct 13, 2014,
#6
*Just one more*
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



Quote by DisarmGoliath
You can be the deputy llamma of the recordings forum!
#7
*I lied*
All I want is for everyone to go to hell...
...It's the last place I was seen before I lost myself



Quote by DisarmGoliath
You can be the deputy llamma of the recordings forum!
#9
^ this really isn't the place for posting that stuff, we have an "original recordings" section in the recording forum for that.

Also beware, with this + your new thread somebody might think you're spamming your stuff...
Name's Luca.

Quote by OliOsbourne
I don't know anything about this topic, but I just clicked on this thread because of your username :O
Quote by Cajundaddy
Clue: amplifiers amplify so don't turn it on if you need quiet.
Quote by chrismendiola
I guess spambots are now capable of reading minds.
#10
Is there any reason to recommend Reason over something free like Garage Band? I see Garage Band as Logic Pro lite, but it still gets the job done as much as something cheap like Reason or Fruity Loops. I'm sure one of the interfaces is going to come bundled with something like Cubase anyways?
My Current Signal Chain: Rode NTK > FMR RNP > FMR RNC > Focusrite Saffire > Logic Pro
#11
Quote by LedgerNote
Is there any reason to recommend Reason over something free like Garage Band?
Reason has a shit ton more options, it can do things that one used to using garageband wouldn't think about.
Quote by LedgerNote
I see Garage Band as Logic Pro lite
Logic X maybe, mostly because of the interface and the simplified midi editing and the drummer thing, but Logic 9 not even by a stretch.
They share some features but they're two veeery different programs.

Think iMovie vs final cut pro.
Quote by LedgerNote
but it still gets the job done as much as something cheap like Reason or Fruity Loops.
Depends what job you want to get done.

If you wanna record 24 tracks and all the processing is done with outboard processors, you don't need to mix the thing and you don't care for software synth's, then garageband will get the job done.

I personally couldn't get the job done with garageband, but it really only depends on what you want to do.
Quote by LedgerNote
I'm sure one of the interfaces is going to come bundled with something like Cubase anyways?
Interfaces are often bundled with very limited versions of DAW's, yes.

Reaper is gonna have a lot more features than them, as any other full DAW will.
Garageband will be about on par with the limited versions found with interfaces.

Anyway, in your sig you're mentioning you have a scarlett and logic.
What doesn't satisfy you in them so that you wanna change setup?
Name's Luca.

Quote by OliOsbourne
I don't know anything about this topic, but I just clicked on this thread because of your username :O
Quote by Cajundaddy
Clue: amplifiers amplify so don't turn it on if you need quiet.
Quote by chrismendiola
I guess spambots are now capable of reading minds.
#12
Hey there, I've been using an imitation guitar link for a while and planning to upgrade it to a decent sound interface. Yet I'm short of money and used market for such stuff is really non-existent here, so I was thinking how would processors like line 6 pod pocket work as an interface? I've heard about ppl using them as such via usb but didn't see any comparisons. I'll mostly use that to practicing/jamming and a bit amateur recording.
#13
Quote by diemydarling
Hey there, I've been using an imitation guitar link for a while and planning to upgrade it to a decent sound interface. Yet I'm short of money and used market for such stuff is really non-existent here, so I was thinking how would processors like line 6 pod pocket work as an interface? I've heard about ppl using them as such via usb but didn't see any comparisons. I'll mostly use that to practicing/jamming and a bit amateur recording.


The LINE 6 Pocket POD is NOT an interface, as far as I know.

It wouldn't be that much of an upgrade over your guitar link anyway. If you want an upgrade over your guitar link, you would have to get a much better interface. The bare minimum should be something in the league of the Scarlett 2i4, but ymmv.
#14
Quote by diemydarling
how would processors like line 6 pod pocket work as an interface?
The pocket pod isn't an interface.
If it has digital i/o (usually usb or firewire) and can transmit audio over it then it's a digital audio interface.
Some processors might not allow you to get a clean, unprocessed signal through to the computer though, so if you want to use signal processing (amp sims for example) different from the ones in the fx processor you're using then be sure to know if the thing can transmit the clean signal over usb.
Name's Luca.

Quote by OliOsbourne
I don't know anything about this topic, but I just clicked on this thread because of your username :O
Quote by Cajundaddy
Clue: amplifiers amplify so don't turn it on if you need quiet.
Quote by chrismendiola
I guess spambots are now capable of reading minds.
#15
Wow, I forgot to thank you guys, how rude of me. Necro thanks-bump.
Also, did anyone try Alesis Core 1? It is really a no bullshit interface with one hi-z input and one output, each featuring signal/volume control, connected through usb. For those who majorily need it for practice and doesn't care for multiple inputs/outputs, it seems pretty well. Would that be an upgrade over those cheapo guitar-links, I'm not sure though. If it is, it may provide an option between guitar link types and entry level interfaces like pod gx, rolan duo capture etc, the gap between them (price-wise) is significant now, especially if you don't live in the us*. Can't seem to find any detailed reviews though.

*ex: here in turkey you can find guitarlink for 40tl, while any pod gx/scarlett 2i2 grade thing starts at 320tl. you can get used for 220tl or so from really dubious websites, the market is literally nonexistent. min. wage is around 900tl. importers really bust our a**es here guys.
#16
If I have a USB adapter for my guitar and a good laptop can I just find a recording software and start going at it? And whats a good free and easy to use recording software?
#17
Nothing worthwhile is free here.
Download the free trial of everything and see what you like best.

Closest thing to free is reaper which has an unlimited free trial.
Name's Luca.

Quote by OliOsbourne
I don't know anything about this topic, but I just clicked on this thread because of your username :O
Quote by Cajundaddy
Clue: amplifiers amplify so don't turn it on if you need quiet.
Quote by chrismendiola
I guess spambots are now capable of reading minds.
#18
Thanks for the post guys. I'm super new and absolutely clueless to recording. I've read through this thread and tried to understand it, but a lot of this is like foreign language to me.

So from what I'm seeing Reaper is a good cheap program for beginners to start with, and the good interface to get is the Scarlett 2i4 or the Behringer Guitar Link, correct? Also, would these work with me wanting to record scratch tracks for metal?

The biggest reason I want to start investing into some recording equipment is because I use GP for tabs and midis, and the producer I worked with last time had a hard time getting those to work on his computer. He also suggested that I get some recording software so that it makes it easier when going into the studio, and so that transfer of sound is much smoother and quicker.

Of course, the long term goal is to eventually be able to take care of my recording all by myself, but for the time being I want a real pro to record my album. Anway, that's enough of my background. Thanks for helping out guys!
#19
Quote by Jeremy.R5544998
Thanks for the post guys. I'm super new and absolutely clueless to recording. I've read through this thread and tried to understand it, but a lot of this is like foreign language to me.

So from what I'm seeing Reaper is a good cheap program for beginners to start with, and the good interface to get is the Scarlett 2i4 or the Behringer Guitar Link, correct? Also, would these work with me wanting to record scratch tracks for metal?

The biggest reason I want to start investing into some recording equipment is because I use GP for tabs and midis, and the producer I worked with last time had a hard time getting those to work on his computer. He also suggested that I get some recording software so that it makes it easier when going into the studio, and so that transfer of sound is much smoother and quicker.

Of course, the long term goal is to eventually be able to take care of my recording all by myself, but for the time being I want a real pro to record my album. Anway, that's enough of my background. Thanks for helping out guys!

Yes, Reaper is great. And so is the Scarlett 2i4. I started off with those two and have yet to use anything else. If you want, I can give you my info and help you out. Im not too experienced yet myself since i've only been recording a year but I can help you get started.
#20
So after 2 months with Core 1, here are my impressions:
First of all the build is really solid, also nicely isolated so it's not easily interfered with outside signals. As I said, I mostly use it for practicing, hence didn't have the opportunity to make an in-depth analysis by recordings. Still, it's obviously better than low-grade stuff like usb&behringer link or jack-to-usb&realtone cables. The main question was whether it would be a worthy option between cheapest of the cheap guitar-links and expensive-ish scarlett 2i4s, and I can confidently recommend it to anyone looking for such a component. If Alesis can manage to drop the price below 40$s, it would be no-brainer for anyone.

Quote by diemydarling
Wow, I forgot to thank you guys, how rude of me. Necro thanks-bump.
Also, did anyone try Alesis Core 1? It is really a no bullshit interface with one hi-z input and one output, each featuring signal/volume control, connected through usb. For those who majorily need it for practice and doesn't care for multiple inputs/outputs, it seems pretty well. Would that be an upgrade over those cheapo guitar-links, I'm not sure though. If it is, it may provide an option between guitar link types and entry level interfaces like pod gx, rolan duo capture etc, the gap between them (price-wise) is significant now, especially if you don't live in the us*. Can't seem to find any detailed reviews though.

*ex: here in turkey you can find guitarlink for 40tl, while any pod gx/scarlett 2i2 grade thing starts at 320tl. you can get used for 220tl or so from really dubious websites, the market is literally nonexistent. min. wage is around 900tl. importers really bust our a**es here guys.
#21
So is the 2i4 still the go-to interface after the last couple years? Does the Scarlett Solo suffer from the same low headroom as the 2i2? And that Alesis Core1?

Mainly interested in using for amp simulation in lieu of a practice amp.
#22
Quote by Seref
So is the 2i4 still the go-to interface after the last couple years? Does the Scarlett Solo suffer from the same low headroom as the 2i2? And that Alesis Core1?

Mainly interested in using for amp simulation in lieu of a practice amp.


Yes, Solo suffers from the same problems as the 2i2. As far as I know, the solo is a 2i2, but with one less input.

2i4 has the pad to solve the low headroom problem.

Don't have any experience with the Alesis Core1.
#23
Quote by Jeremy.R5544998
Thanks for the post guys. I'm super new and absolutely clueless to recording. I've read through this thread and tried to understand it, but a lot of this is like foreign language to me.

So from what I'm seeing Reaper is a good cheap program for beginners to start with, and the good interface to get is the Scarlett 2i4 or the Behringer Guitar Link, correct? Also, would these work with me wanting to record scratch tracks for metal?

The biggest reason I want to start investing into some recording equipment is because I use GP for tabs and midis, and the producer I worked with last time had a hard time getting those to work on his computer. He also suggested that I get some recording software so that it makes it easier when going into the studio, and so that transfer of sound is much smoother and quicker.

Of course, the long term goal is to eventually be able to take care of my recording all by myself, but for the time being I want a real pro to record my album. Anway, that's enough of my background. Thanks for helping out guys!



Do not worry too much about all those technical details. A lot of that will come and go. There are some great threads here and help that should be appreciated but mainly focus on making some good music, that is what counts and that is what will stay. A lot of great songs were made with wrong tuned & half broken instruments.... Whatever brings and lifts your imagination and creativity, that could be the right tool and instrument....

Best, B.


https://www.reverbnation.com/bergzea
https://soundcloud.com/bergzea
https://bergzea.bandcamp.com
#24
The 2nd generation of the Scarlett interfaces is out now. They claim the 1/4" input has been redesigned to "handle the hottest active pickups" on every model, Scarlett Solo included. Perhaps the headroom issue has been solved.

Specs on the Solo:


Frequency Response: 20 Hz - 20 kHz ± 0.1dB

Dynamic Range: 106 dB (A-Weighted)

THD+N: <0.02% (minimum gain, -1dBFS input with 22Hz/22kHz bandpass filter)

Maximum input level: +13 dBu

Gain Range: 50 dB


--Edit--

I went ahead and bought a second gen Scarlett Solo. Works great. Using Burstbuckers I have to turn the input gain pretty far down but there's still some room left to turn down for hotter pickups. Might not be suitable for active pickups or super high output monster pickups. Can recommend for most basic applications.
Last edited by Seref at Jun 24, 2016,
#25
Hey, I dont suppose anyone has any advice for what i would need to start recording through my VYPYR VIP II?
It has an "amp to PC port" which i assume is there to negate the need to use a jack adapter and run it through the mic port... but I havent been able to find anything on what i need to do to make it work, Ive been told to try "reaper" a recording and mixing suite as im just starting to get into it but i still dont know much about this mysterious port on the amp...
Guitars
Jackson JS-227
JT Les Paul custom
LTD H-208
Ibanez RG 350
Fender '89 Strat
Worst Encore ever made
Fender acoustic thing

Gear
Boss ME-50 MFX
Peavey VYPYR VIP II
#26
Quote by ChemicalFire
Zoom H4n
Spec: http://www.zoom.co.jp/english/products/h4n/
Image: http://www.mveducation.com/assets/products/61412_l .jpgcam
RRP: £269
Simultaneous recording tracks: 1
Playback tracks: 4

Much like the DP-004, this is nothing more than a musical notebook, but with the added advantages of being smaller as well as including some effects and amp models. It can also be used as a interface, so if you come up with something useful you could use it in conjunction with a PC based system to create a more complete product.


I think this is a bit misleading. For one, like the Tascam DP-004, the H4n is a field recorder first - i.e. it's selling point is that it comes with in built microphones and is battery powered.

But the main thing is that it can actually record four tracks simultaneously [the stereo pair of microphones, plus two additional instruments/mics].

In saying that, it's also no longer available, having been replaced by the very similar H4n pro.
RIP Gooze

cats
Last edited by mulefish at Jan 2, 2017,
#27
Oops, sorry I missed the question about Core 1 headroom (missed it by a year it seems). I haven't experienced any, and also haven't heard anyone suffering from it, to provide a benchmark I'm running humbuckers into it and the input level knob is set a bit lower than the mid level, so there is a lot of room for hotter stuff. And at the risk of sounding like a fanboi, can we introduce Core 1 into the OP already? For 50$ it nicely fills that gap between cheapo guitar links and audio interfaces that have more features than a beginner guitarist would need, and I'm seeing a lot of threads about this. 
Last edited by diemydarling at Apr 23, 2017,