advice on recording stuff needed

gladsaxisme

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As I posted earlier I would like to post some of my music and would be very grateful for any advice on the following

1)..A reasonable quality mic to use

2)..music recording programs for my pc I believe there are many available and would be very grateful for advice on which is best for a novice to use,these are a few of the ones I have heard of.

a)..garage band

b)..logic express

c)..cu base

d)..pro tools

Your advice on the pros and cons of these and any others that are available would be much appreciated ....thanks..John
 

Chris98

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As I posted earlier I would like to post some of my music and would be very grateful for any advice on the following

1)..A reasonable quality mic to use

2)..music recording programs for my pc I believe there are many available and would be very grateful for advice on which is best for a novice to use,these are a few of the ones I have heard of.

a)..garage band

b)..logic express

c)..cu base

d)..pro tools

Your advice on the pros and cons of these and any others that are available would be much appreciated ....thanks..John

Hello John,

Just a quick reply for the moment, Garage Band and Logic Pro/Express are mac only programs (and very good)

Pro Tools is the industry standard and available for Mac and PC you can get it in a cut down LE version in various configurations: ProTools LE & ProTools MPowered

Audacity is free but for me has some quite major limitations as far as using effect such as reverb.

I've had a quick look at the manual for your Boss recorder and as a stand alone multitrack recorder it's well featured but I can't see it allowing you to pass the audio through into your computer like the I think the Zoom devices can.

If you are serious about getting into recording you will have to make a decision on what you want and need to do, i.e. no point getting an 8 input interface if your only ever going to use one mic. Like wise no point shelling out a load of money on ProTools only to use a USB mic with it and never take advantage of it's more sophisticated editing and sequencing tools.

As I see it there are several hardware solutions.

Perhaps the easiest thing to look at is a USB mic like a Samson CU01, I want to try one but keep getting out bid on ebay! For a bit more flexibility there is also the multipattern Samson CU03

The next step might be to get a USB or Firewire interface box like the Alesis IO2. There are many others, some cheaper some much more expensive. Then match this up with a mic of your choice, again the range is huge and the price range is equal huge!

This is actually a huge topic and there are lots of options.

Best wishes,

Chris
 
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gladsaxisme

gladsaxisme

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Thanks chris

I am serious about recording my music but I don't think I'm going to need some mega 32track whizz interface deck.like you say it's a case of sorting a system that will do the job well

I've been looking at crazydaisydo on youtube and he gives some great advice about setting up a recording system but I dont think he states what make the interface is but now you mention the ALESIS I02 that might be what I could see on the one he was using, or what the software is he uses though he mentions the ones I stated. I think he says that if you use pro tools you have to use there interface.

I was thinking of something on those lines good mic good interface good program but nothing over fancy £100-£200 on each part was the kind of budget I was thinking of, I'll look at the mics and interface you mentioned and that just leaves a programm to sort...thanks john
 
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gladsaxisme

gladsaxisme

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Thanks chris

I am serious about recording my music but I don't think I'm going to ned some mega 32track whizz interface deck.like you say it's a case of sorting a system that will do the job well

I've been looking at crazydaisydo on youtube and he gives some great advice about setting up a recording system but I dont think he states what make the interface is but now you mention the ALESIS I02 that might be what I could see on the one he was using, or what the software is he uses though he mentions the ones I stated. I think he says that if you use pro tools you have to use there interface.

I was thinking of something on those lines good mic good interface good program but nothing over fancy £100-£200 on each part was the kind of budget I was thinking of, I'll look at the mics and interface you mentioned and that just leaves a programm to sort...thanks john
 
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Chris98

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Hi John,

I'm fairly sure Crazydaisydo uses an ALESIS I02 with a Rode NT2a microphone (same mic I use - see pic) He's a Mac user and started with Garage Band but has moved onto Logic, I'm not sure if it's the express or pro version. Crazydaisydo has done a wonderful job inspiring people to play and record themselves. He also make constantly good recordings which capture his tone and playing style very well.

A couple of old threads for you:

Microphones for recording at home (and software)

Audio Interfaces

All the best,

Chris


 
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gladsaxisme

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Protools

I'd not realised that Avid/M-Audio/Pro Tools (what ever they want to call themselves) have released a new and even cheaper range of hardware & software packages for the budding home studio:

£79 gets you either a USB Mic and Pro Tools M-Powered Essential software or a Fast Track USB audio interface with the same software: Pro Tools M-Powered Essential

What's a little annoying is that they used to do a free version of Pro Tools, very limited in features and tracks but it gave you enough experience to know whether Pro Tools was for you or not without having to spend loads of money.

Hi chris this is a post you made in the thread AUDIO INTERFACES does this mean I can buy an interface complete with a protool software package for £79
and is this likely to do what I need it to do.

also you wont believe this but I cant find the start of this thread on the forum and I cant remember what I started it in I only found it through your reply in the side bar
 

Chris98

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also you wont believe this but I cant find the start of this thread on the forum and I cant remember what I started it in I only found it through your reply in the side bar
Hi John,

This thread is under the 'Playing' section of the forum.

Protools

I'd not realised that Avid/M-Audio/Pro Tools (what ever they want to call themselves) have released a new and even cheaper range of hardware & software packages for the budding home studio:

£79 gets you either a USB Mic and Pro Tools M-Powered Essential software or a Fast Track USB audio interface with the same software: Pro Tools M-Powered Essential

What's a little annoying is that they used to do a free version of Pro Tools, very limited in features and tracks but it gave you enough experience to know whether Pro Tools was for you or not without having to spend loads of money.
Hi chris this is a post you made in the thread AUDIO INTERFACES does this mean I can buy an interface complete with a protool software package for £79
and is this likely to do what I need it to do.
We need to narrow down the scope of what it is you want to do? Is it to just record yourself playing the sax? To record and mix yourself playing against a backing track? To build a track from scratch using software instruments, samples and other 'live' instruments such as guitars, percussion etc? To record a group of musicians? There is a lot you can do with just one mic and layering things up.

The Protools M-powered essentials seems potentially great value but it's odd that I can't find it listed under any of the main online pro audio retailers! Also have a look at this review: Pro Tools Vocal Studio mini review.

Have a think about what you want to be able to do both now and perhaps a little further down the road.

Best wishes,

Chris
 
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gladsaxisme

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Hi chris

basically I see it as doing pretty much what crazy does when he just does his own recordings to put on you tube ie adding my playing to a backing track
 

Chris98

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Hi chris

basically I see it as doing pretty much what crazy does when he just does his own recordings to put on you tube ie adding my playing to a backing track
Hello John,

That's sounding good.

By the way I'm looking at a program called Reaper (it was mentioned in the link above) it's available for either $60 or $225 the $60 version is the same as the $225 version but it's available cheaper on the understanding that it's being used for personal and none commercial use.

Have a look at the review in Sound on Sound

I'm not saying this is the software for you, just that it seems to offer a lot at a reasonable price, $60 being about £40 at the moment. I've downloaded the manual and am tempted to try the Mac beta version as well.

Other thoughts I had, don't forget the need for a mic stand, if you are using a studio condenser microphone you'll want it to be able to hold that without slowly sinking south as you're playing.

A decent mic lead, usually XLR to XLR, no point buying a nice mic and interface only to join then up with a cheap lead that strips the sound of the treble and is noisy when moved. Not saying you need to spend huge amounts, but a £3 lead is usually £3 for a reason.

You'll need some headphones, preferable ones that seal around your ears otherwise the mic will pick up the backing track leaking out of them.

All the best,

Chris
 
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gladsaxisme

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Hi chris

I've just looked at reaper and like you say it looks incredible value for money and very top end ,I'm a bit worried it might be a bit to high tech for me to be able to get it to work,there is trial period thing though which is useful

I know it's difficult for you to give hands on advise because you use mac and I'm pc,I'm going to have a look at the review you've shown and I think I'll go back again to that previous thread and see if can glean some info from there,

I do have a mic stand I bought a stagg stand when I bought the gizmo and cheap mic

There seems to be three or four mics that are very similar in appearance and spec but there seems to be quite a difference in price say samson to rhode
or is that just different web sites selling at different prices or are some more high end than others and you get what you pay for

Any way thanks again for your advice speak to you again soon no doubt...john...off to sound on sound
 
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gladsaxisme

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One more thing I've just thought of some people talk of using usb mics straight into the pc but crazy says thats not the way to go and an interface is best and thats what I'm thinking of doing..john
 

JasonC

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Personally, I don't see a problem using a USB mic, the only problem would be is if you wanted to use the mic for live performances or mixing before the recording reaches your PC, maybe you do want to do this?

If your just recording at home and playing it back for personal pleasure or uploading it to the internet, you need to bear in mind that the quality will be reduced anyway once you save your recorded files to MP3, for playing back at home you can use WAV as this is much higher quality. But then, if you are playing back at home then the quality of the speakers etc will also depend on how good it sounds, if you have crap speakers then it doesn't matter what you record with, it will sound crap! For a decent pair of good quality monitor speakers you can expect to pay quite a few hundred pounds.

I use a USB mic, albeit £200 worth, but its the easiest thing to use on the planet! I use Audacity for recording as its free and easy to use, but if you want more control and more effects etc you can spend as much as you like to get what you need.

One thing I would say though is make sure you can monitor properly while your recording, you need to have no sounds whatsoever in the room you are recording in apart from your sax. A lot of USB mics don't have monitoring built in so you'd have to listen back through your PC, however, this has lag and therefore is out of time. If you do go USB, make sure it has a built in monitoring, this means you can plug headphones into the mic directly and hear the backing track and your sax through headphones. I use a Shure PG27-USB which has all the monitoring built in but your mic stand will need to a be hefty as its very heavy, but well made.

I'll try and upload one of my recordings later using a USB mic so you can see how it sounds, although it won't be that great as I don't sound that good myself yet!
 

saxnik

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Just a quick comment - for multi-tracking myself or overlaying onto backing tracks, Audacity will play the tracks it's got while you're recording a new one, and cunningly time-shift the recorded track to sync it after you press 'stop'. This means I can plug my headphones into my stereo (connected to the Line Out of the PC), play along and record real time, just using the PC mic.

This is how I recorded my arrangement of 'Nostalgia in Times Square' for sax quartet (listen here) completely for free in our spare room!

Nick
 

Chris98

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Hi chris

I've just looked at reaper and like you say it looks incredible value for money and very top end ,I'm a bit worried it might be a bit to high tech for me to be able to get it to work,there is trial period thing though which is useful

I know it's difficult for you to give hands on advise because you use mac and I'm pc,I'm going to have a look at the review you've shown and I think I'll go back again to that previous thread and see if can glean some info from there,

I do have a mic stand I bought a stagg stand when I bought the gizmo and cheap mic

There seems to be three or four mics that are very similar in appearance and spec but there seems to be quite a difference in price say samson to rhode
or is that just different web sites selling at different prices or are some more high end than others and you get what you pay for

Any way thanks again for your advice speak to you again soon no doubt...john...off to sound on sound
Hello John,

I should be filling in paper work, I seem to be being vetted for the job even though I've already done it! And they called me! HR departments! Anyway I've reached a mental block so thought I'd write back to you.

Don't get too frightened about the complexity of the program, it's a bit like MS Word, that is one big complex program but quite quickly you can learn to type the letter you want and you don't have to understand or use many of the more advanced features. They are there for those that need and want them.

Yep looking at the specs of mics and you could quite easily wonder where your cash is going! Nealy all large diaphragm studio mics from £50 to £5000 will state that they have 20-20K frequency response (around the limit of human hearing and CD quality.) What you pay for is quality of the sound, microphones have their own voice and will flatter one instrument or singer and not another. The construction and components and name also adds to the price.

Luckily there is a good range of mics that will lend themselves very nicely to home recording, providing exceptional sound quality at a reasonable cost. In fact for most people the limiting factor to the sound they record will be the environment they have to record in, that's probably why Crazydaisydo and I, and probably many others tend to mic quite close to minimise the sound of the room.

One more thing I've just thought of some people talk of using usb mics straight into the pc but crazy says thats not the way to go and an interface is best and thats what I'm thinking of doing..john
I'm not sure what Crazydaisydo has against USB mics, I've never tried one or knowingly heard a recording made with one but think a few people here have had some success with them. I keep trying to grab a cheep one off ebay to try it out. I know that the Behringer makes one that is said to be noisy, maybe they've improved that now. There are certainly limitations on the sampling rate and bit depth (quality) but they are at the same quality level or slightly higher than CDs, how many in a home studio are going to be able to notice the difference? The other problem, if I understand it rightly, is that the gain structure is fixed within the mic and it's the software that boosts or lowers the signal, which is not the best solution if your trying to get the cleanest signal. But at the price the Samson is perhaps one of the least painful and most straightforward ways to get into recording.

All the best,

Chris
 

JasonC

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As Chris mentioned above, yes the gain control is quite important because doing it software side will create more noise, however, there are USB mics with their own gain control such as the one I use so this is also worth looking for.

Saxnik is also right about syncing multiple tracks in Audacity, I forgot that it could do that! the only thing I would say about Audacity is that the MP3 output is not very good quality, WAV is perfectly fine so I use a converter to convert the WAV to MP3 with much better results, obviously with higher end software this wouldn't be a problem.

Here is a recording I made with mine. Bear in mind this is the first recording I ever made on my sax and the mic was just plugged in without changing any settings etc, plus I sound really bad! The sax track is way too loud on this one!
 
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gladsaxisme

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Hi every body saxnic jasonc and chris that is

Thank you all for your input it's starting to get very interesting now if not a little confusing, I was beginning to think that chris was the only one prepared to comment, I've made a list the various mic numbers and I'm going now to my local music shop to see what they can offer, I will let you all know the outcome of this forray.... john>:)
 

Chris98

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Hi every body saxnic jasonc and chris that is

Thank you all for your input it's starting to get very interesting now if not a little confusing, I was beginning to think that chris was the only one prepared to comment, I've made a list the various mic numbers and I'm going now to my local music shop to see what they can offer, I will let you all know the outcome of this forray.... john>:)
I'm guessing they won't have any! maybe a Shure SM58 but I'm betting that's not on your list! Then again you're in Manchester and there might be better music shops there.

Let us know how you get on,

Chris
 

JasonC

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Chris is right, I couldn't find anywhere by me that sold mics like the ones mentioned above, I had to buy of the internet.

It took me ages to decide which was best for my needs, even after looking at the great info on here, speaking to my teacher who also plays in his own band and has various mics. The main thing I had to consider was whether I wanted to use the mic for live performances, in which case it would need a different connector to connect to band equipment etc. I decided that performing live was a long way off, if at all! so decided to go for the easiest to use option, but bearing in mind all of the things mentioned above!

Good luck.
 

Chris98

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Just a quick comment - for multi-tracking myself or overlaying onto backing tracks, Audacity will play the tracks it's got while you're recording a new one, and cunningly time-shift the recorded track to sync it after you press 'stop'. This means I can plug my headphones into my stereo (connected to the Line Out of the PC), play along and record real time, just using the PC mic.

This is how I recorded my arrangement of 'Nostalgia in Times Square' for sax quartet (listen here) completely for free in our spare room!

Nick

Hi Nick,

I’m going to have to go back and visit your site tonight and listen to some more of your playing, great stuff.

As Chris mentioned above, yes the gain control is quite important because doing it software side will create more noise, however, there are USB mics with their own gain control such as the one I use so this is also worth looking for.

Saxnik is also right about syncing multiple tracks in Audacity, I forgot that it could do that! the only thing I would say about Audacity is that the MP3 output is not very good quality, WAV is perfectly fine so I use a converter to convert the WAV to MP3 with much better results, obviously with higher end software this wouldn't be a problem.

Here is a recording I made with mine. Bear in mind this is the first recording I ever made on my sax and the mic was just plugged in without changing any settings etc, plus I sound really bad! The sax track is way too loud on this one!
Hi Jason,

Brilliant, the more people that record and put stuff up the better as far as I'm concerned, after all, we are talking about music and making music, words can only go so far. A good first recording, just out of curiosity how far away were you from the mic and where generally was the mic pointing? Also how are you dealing with reverb in Audacity, or are you not?

The Shure PG27-USB is quite a new mic if memory serves me right, I suspect Shure have spent some time considering the best way to implement gain stages, analogue to digital conversion and USB interface, great that it also provides a monitoring solution.

John,

Monitoring is important as Jason mentioned above, but you might not be aware of where the potential problems lie. Take this example:

Your computer plays the backing track off the time line at the same time you’re playing and recording your sax. The sax signal is picked up by your mic and sent to the computer, somewhere along the way the signal is converted from analogue to digital. Your sax is then mixed with the backing track in the computer and pushed out again, converted back into analogue, and played back in your headphones. Sounds great, yeah? Both your sax and the backing track in your headphones at the same time. Except the processing takes a little time so the sax lags behind the backing track by a fraction of a second but it’s enough to put you off your timing. This lag is dependent on the quality (sample rate & bit depth) you’re recording at and how powerful your system is.

To get around this problem a lot of interfaces now enable you to do a monitoring mix completely in the analogue environment so there is no lag what so ever, others do it in software but manage to do it with very low lag times, know as “Low latency mixing”

This is purely a personal preference but I prefer to have my headphones covering just one ear and only having the backing track played through them, my other ear I use for listening to the sound I’m making with the sax.

All the best,

Chris
 

JasonC

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Hi Jason,

Brilliant, the more people that record and put stuff up the better as far as I'm concerned, after all, we are talking about music and making music, words can only go so far. A good first recording, just out of curiosity how far away were you from the mic and where generally was the mic pointing? Also how are you dealing with reverb in Audacity, or are you not?

The Shure PG27-USB is quite a new mic if memory serves me right, I suspect Shure have spent some time considering the best way to implement gain stages, analogue to digital conversion and USB interface, great that it also provides a monitoring solution.
Hi Chris, I guess for a first attempt at recording with a backing track it wasn't too bad, although its sounding worse and worse to me as I get better! There was no reverb or anything added to the recording, it was just an MP3 track and then my mic recording of the Sax. I'm not really too worried about adding any effects just yet, I'm mainly using the mic so I can listen to all my flaws and try and improve on them.

The Sax was very close to the microphone when I recorded that, probably too close, but I've got a bit more used to it now and moved further back, I've just increased the gain on the mic to compensate.

One think to note about the mic I'm using regarding monitoring... the sound that comes through the headphones from the mic is actually directly from the mic rather than going to the computer and then back to the mic, this pretty much eliminates the lag completely regarding what goes into the mic.
 
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