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Recording Home recording options - are these the main options?

MikeMorrell

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Hi, and thanks for reading this.

I'm completely new to (home) recording and yesterday I browsed through many of the threads on this topic. To say I learnt a lot is an understatement! The threads pointed me to some excellent articles, videos and products I'd never heard of before. So it's been a steep learning curve! All I really need at the moment is a good quality home recording setup that lets me track the development of my sax tone, play along with backing tracks, etc. The H2n would probably do me just fine. But before I bite the bullet, I just want to make sure that I understand what the options. I'm sure there are things I missed so any feedback is very welcome! .

The options I see are:
1. Use a portable recorder (Zoom, Tascam, ...)
This seems by far the most popular option for home recording. A lot people use the Zoom H2n and all are positive and enthusiastic about it. So this is probably the one for me too. I'm considering the H4nsp because I could also mount it on my DSLR for shooting video's. Both Zoom and Tascam have a range of models with different features.
Advantages: Portability, Flexibility, Zoom models can serve as USB mic, great value for money
Disadvantages: No disadvantages that I can see - people seem to be happy with the sound quality
Considerations: Some models have XLR inputs/outputs, a mount for DSLR, Wifi remote/streaming
Price indication: H2n: £120; H4nsp: £160, Tascam DR-05: £70, Tascam DR-22WL £90​

2. Use an USB mic (Blue Snowball, Yeti, Samson, Rode, XLR)
Record straight onto my laptop/Ipad.The Snowball does the job fine but I'm leaning towards the Yeti which has got some great reviews. The quality of these USB mics matches equivalent XLR models
Advantages: Don't see any real advantages over a Zoom H2n (which also doubles as a USB mic);
advantage over XLR is that no separate audio interface is needed (its cheaper and more portable).​
Disadvantages: Tied to laptop (less portable than option 1)
Considerations: Yeti Pro has XLR output that could be used in live sessions
Price indication: Snowball: £60.00; £Yeti: £95.00; Yeti Pro £180.00 (£138.00 in sale)

3. Use a XLR mic (e.g. MXL 770, Audio-Technica AT2035) with Audio interface (e.g. Focusrite)
Record onto my laptop (or play into any other device) via an audio interface. A wide range of condenser XLR mics are available starting from about £35. The better ones start at around £60-80.
Advantages: mic connects to other audio equipment; more flexibility with audio interface
Considerations: Cheaper packaged sets offered by DAW software by Focusrite, Presonus and Avid
Price indication: MXL 770 (£60.00) + Focusrite Scarlett Solo (£70.00) =£130.00
Focusrite and Presonus sets: £ 135.00; Avid set £120.00​

So for about £125.00 I could go with the portable H2n or get the Yeti Pro USB in the sale or opt for the combination of XLR mic with audio interface. I'm going to mull this over for a day or two but I'd welcome any input/opinions. Although I did my best to read up on the previous threads, maybe this has all been summarised somewhere else!

Thanks,
Mike
 

MikeMorrell

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Thanks Martin, yes a recorder would be much more versatile (especially if I can use it with a DSLR too).

Mike
 

jimmylh

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There are a ton of options out there for sure. All I can offer is to say what I've been using lately. I use a MacBook pro laptop with garageband. The mic is an MD 421 ii, the interface is a Focusrite Scarlett Solo. I use a comfortable wearing pair of audio-technica headphones to help hear and isolate the backtrack from the mic.
 
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MikeMorrell

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There are a ton of options out there for sure. All I can offer is to say what I've been using lately. I use a MacBook pro laptop with garageband. The mic is an MD 421 ii, the interface is a Focusrite Scarlett Solo. I use a comfortable wearing pair of audio-technical headphones to help hear and isolate the backtrack from the mic.
Thanks for the feedback, Jimmy. Your audio setup looks wonderful and the tracks you have on soundcloud (the couple that I've listened to) sound great too. The MD 421 is a beauty but it's outside my budget at the moment. Still, it's great to hear what the XLR mic + audio interface combi can sound like.

Mike
 

Colin the Bear

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Burnley bb9 9dn
I started off with Audacity on the lap top and this mic.

Mini Flexible Microphone mini Mic for PC Laptop: Amazon.co.uk: Electronics

Total outlay £1.27. I added a clothes peg and a 3.5mm extension cable to make it a clip on.

I still use free audacity but I've upgraded the mic.

BTSKY Condenser Microphone Sound Studio Recording Dynamic w/ Shock Mount (Blue): Amazon.co.uk: Musical Instruments

No need for an interface, but I suppose it would help. I haven't found head phones as of yet for recording though, I do use them for mixing and balancing.
 

Jeanette

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Zoom and audacity on PC gives me all I need for now. The zoom has been used as much if not more as a standalone recorder too. :)

Jx
 

mizmar

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Trondheim, Norway
Another happy H2n user (happy with the kit, anyway).
I just wanted it for practice, for personal feedback. And it's great because you can endlessly cycle record / restart/ listen without worrying about filling the phone storage; as well as the mic quality and dynamic range being excellent... so I can't blame the kit.
I use it with backing tracks with the line-in from a phone and line-out to headphones. And you can record that, so that the backing is in separate files from the mic, should you want just your playing for audacity etc.
The only occasional niggle is that the line-in gain control is the same as the mics so balance is with the phone / zoom volume knobs. No big deal.
 
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Colin the Bear

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Is the zoom still working after 6 years?
thursday kinoba GIF

Happy Birthday GIF
 

Wade Cornell

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New Zealand and Australia
I have both a Zoom and various microphones. No doubt the zoom is good for outings where you're recording band practice etc. The Zoom mainly just records from some point in the room, so it picks up whatever the room ambience is...can be good or bad. You can plug a microphone into the zoom, but if this is being matched with your playing a backing track (open to the room) it won't sound very good. Trying to get a good recording of one's tone requires a microphone to be not much more than 30 cm from and pointing toward your G key. That's kind of difficult (not impossible) to set up with a zoom, but much easier with a microphone and a cheap mike stand.

Matching your sound/playing with a backing track can be done most easily if recording into your computer. The best way to do this is with a separate mixer. You'll need a computer that can give you audio out and in at the same time (some computers have only one jack point that does both, but not at the same time!). A mixer can also be necessary for phantom power to a condenser microphone and so you can hear how you sound in the mix with the backing track.

If you've got a computer with audio in and out, then the rest of the gear (used moderately descent mixer, microphone and stand ) can be found on E-bay for around $200 USD. It won't give you portability, but the sound will be 1000% better and something you can work with for a dozen years before thinking you need an upgrade.

I've not used a USB microphone, but if the quality is OK then that could eliminate the need for a mixer. I think the problem with this is that you won't hear yourself too well with headphones on (the reason a mixer works well). Playing with speakers on will add a layer of mud to your recording if your microphone picks it up, and it's likely it will if its loud enough for you to be hearing it.

IMHO it's highly likely that if you go cheap and nasty (Zoom only with room speakers) it won't take long before you're spending a lot more to get a better sound. Microphones on the Zoom are OK, but not great. If trying to sync a separate Zoom recording to a backing track in your computer you may find it difficult.

Your money...your choice. If me I'd always choose the computer with the mixer and microphone. I do have a H4N Zoom as well, but it only gets used a couple times a year. I record with my computer two or three times a week.
 
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nigeld

I don't need another mouthpiece; but . . .
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I've not used a USB microphone, but if the quality is OK then that could eliminate the need for a mixer. I think the problem with this is that you won't hear yourself too well with headphones on (the reason a mixer works well).
My USB microphone has a headphone jack which allows the user to hear themselves and the computer backing track on headphones and to adjust the relative volume. I think several of them do this more or less well.
 

mizmar

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Trondheim, Norway
If trying to sync a separate Zoom recording to a backing track in your computer you may find it difficult
As I mentioned, for simple personal use, the zoom can record a backing track on line-in separately from the mics (4 channel recording) so you can drop in the original backing track in, eg, audacity, sync it with the line-in recording and change the balance etc.

But it depends on what a body wants to be doing. I, as a learner, use the zoom for personal feedback and it's up to recording something should I want to post here or something. And it's simple, cheep and keeps the tec in the practice room minimal.
Probably your and my objectives and expectations are quite different... The OP should consider what he'll spend his time doing.
 

Ballymenaboy

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Ballymena.Co.Antrim
I have been using a Zoomr8 with Shure SM58 microphobe a d am more than hapoy with this.It is easy to import tracks a d then add sax track(s) whilst listening to the backing track.. considerable effects on the zoom although I sometimes link an effects pedal.
 

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