How to start recording

I posted the following in response to a newbie asking how to start recording a small band:

For a portable multi-track recorder, I highly reco the Zoom R16.

I use it simply like a tape deck (ignoring its digital effects), and dump into the computer for mix-down. If that’s your approach, the R16 comes with Cakewalk LE. But if I didn’t use Cool Edit, I’d get Reaper.

Even cheaper might be an older, used DAW unit, like a Roland VS, or a Yamaha, Tascam, etc. I will say they do wear out, and they all seem to have their oddities – the R16 is about as simple as they come,especially if you just use it as a recorder.

Mic-wise you might want a pair of small diaphragm condensers for overheads and acoustic guitars. There are cheap variations of the Nuemanns all over, ex., MXL 603’s, Studio Project C5’s – Samson, Nady, Golden Age Projects all make variations. I started that way (SP C5’s and Shure BG2.1’s), but decided I like LDC’s (AT4040’s and CAD M179’s) better.

A kick drum would be good – there are tons from the AKG D112 to the EV RE20/320 (what I use) to the Senn E602 (what I use) to many more from different manufacturers; the ubiquitous and venerable SM57 can even work. Or you could put put your 67 front of kick … Of course, the 67 could be a OK room mic, also.

I DI my bass, but any mic you might use on kick can work.

Eventually you might wanna start trying variations of snare mic’s, room mic’s, etc., but the above and what you got will get ya started.

Welcome aboard the GAS-train! Twisted Evil


He asked about mixers, Sonar Reaper, … :

I’m onna roll, here …

I haven’t really played with Sonar that much or lately, but it does get good reviews in the Producer edition, at about US$3-400.

I did like Reaper when I goofed with it, US$60 for an individual license.

My impression is they are fairly different, but can be used with the same results.

As far as mixers go, that’s a question for workflow, investment, etc.

Mackie is a great company, and their products are very good for live use and certainly adequate for recording. My impression (I do have a 1202), is that using a Mackie board might have some issues of “sameness” and frequency build-up to deal with – mebbe not too different from using any board, especially relatively inexpensive ones.

As said, I use the Zoom R16 what has a built-in mixer, but I use it as a tape deck for drums and bass and then overdub to that. My recording model, then is different, ad I use outboard pre-amps and compressors and EQ, reserving time-based effects (and some EQ) to be applied with software at mixdown.

But mine is a hobbiest approach (not that pro’s don’t use it) wherein half of my fun comes in buying shite and learning to use it.

If you are recording a small band you need to decide how many “ins” you need. Even if you are using a stand-alone DAW with limited tracks, you can expand the “ins” by bussing (ex., top and bottom snare mic’s, bass DI and amp, multiple guitar mic’s, etc.).

If 8 or 12 or 16 “ins” are enuff, you could look for a stand-alone DAW (perhaps used) that gives you that and avoid the expense of a stand-alone mixer.

Or there are multi-channel interfaces. I use a M-Audio Delta 44 what has 4 “ins”; I only ever use 2 at a time, tho’, but do use the 4 “outs” sometimes for different monitoring set-ups.

What also raises something we haven’t spoken of: monitoring. You can go so many ways here, ya gotta do yer research, but I will strongly reco you have at least one pair of actual speakers. (I use Tannoy PBM 6.5 II’s, Auratones, small Dual’s, and Optimus, among others, with Sony 7506 cans.)

Some will argue that the recording space itself should be focused on, as well as the mixing space. As a hobbiest I record drums and DI bass inna basement, record and mix the rest in a bedroom – I utilize those spaces pretty much as they come to me.

I’ll stop here, unless you have other questions.

Anyone else wanna contrib? I wanna get to recording! Twisted Evil


One Response

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