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Help! First-Time home recorder, need advice!

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Showing 1-21 of 21 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Nov 5, 2011 8:27:45 AM PDT
Allison H. says:
So, want to record some songs in my basement, I do all the instruments myself (meaning guitar, bass, drums, vocals), and I need to know what the best recorder (and easiest) I can get for under $200 is. I have a PA system and a few mics, but they aren't great quality.

I as also wondering if I record, how is playback handled? Like, If I want to record the guitar while listening to the drum track, I need a recorder that can do that. I've made 2 albums, but I didn't produce either of them, and it was with a full band, not just by myself.

Please, any tips or advice are appreciated!

Posted on Nov 5, 2011 8:31:52 AM PDT
Allison H. says:
Maybe some more info, I haven't recorded anything on my own since the analog days, and I have Vegas Pro on my computer. I've been looking at the portable recorders, are those any good?

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2011 10:46:45 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2011 10:48:55 AM PDT
M. Stevens says:
You can get something like the "TASCAM DP-004 Portable 4-track Digital Multi-track". I haven't used this one but have had experience with many other brands.
It has a couple of inputs and a headphone/line out jack, which could be used to drive your P.A. system. It is a "4-track" which means that there are 4 separate mono tracks to record on. You could record one track(i.e. drums), then record another(bass) which would use two of the four tracks. You could "bounce" those two down to a single (mono)track and then you would have three open tracks left to record on. You can keep doing this, and have any number of instruments in your song.
You can also use it to record a stereo recording of a live band if you like, by plugging in two mics, and setting them far apart in the room.
If you have never used digital recorders before, some of the terminology can be a little daunting at first, but generally, these are pretty easy to use.
As far as the quality goes, that would depend mostly on the equipment you are using(mics, effect pedals etc.) as the recorders are all CD quality.
Hope this helps.

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 5, 2011 11:13:43 AM PDT
Allison H. says:
when you make them mono, will it become stereo after you master it? I had that tascam in my favorites too, seems like what I would be looking for.

Posted on Nov 5, 2011 2:27:05 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Nov 5, 2011 2:27:33 PM PDT
I used various sound cards over the years including the Audigy Platinum, some DAWs like Logic Pro, Cakewalk and Cubase. I lately bought the Line 6 POD Studio UX2. I am sold to that one. I did some little teaks for a latency problem and now I have all I need. It plugs into a USB 2.0 port. It's packed with some great software : Ableton Live Lite 7 (upgradable to 8 for free) Line 6 version (16 tracks instead of 8 for the non-line 6 edition) and POD Farm 2.5. That last one is a killer for guitar players. Even without the additional packages POD farm gives a really great range of different guitar tones. The USB module has two instrument ports, two mic ports and lines in for other instruments. It's around 250$ for the Ux2 studio.

Posted on Nov 6, 2011 5:56:57 AM PST
Allison H. says:
Do I have to have a sound card? Like, can I just do the rough mix on the recorder, and transfer it through a flash drive to my computer, where I have editing software? I don't think my crap computer will like a new soundcard either. Thanks everyone for the replies!

Posted on Nov 8, 2011 4:45:47 AM PST
S. Goad says:
IMHO- don't buy the outboard recorder, it's a bottleneck (4 tracks) and a throwback to the reel-to-reel days (been there). For minimal $, try something like Sony Acid Music Studio 8 (around $50) and Lexicon Alpha or Lambda USB interface (around $40-60). The Lexicon will get your sounds into your PC, with Acid you can record and multitrack (up to 48 I think), playback, and edit/mix them . Audacity is free, but has minimal editing/mixing. Use your PA as the "playback monitor" for now, and the mics you have (EQ in Acid to compensate some for low quality mics). Get the Sony Acid Pro 7 manual (free) to better understand Music Studio 8, it's 99% the same overall software & screenshots, w/o the bells and whistles. The internet has lots of free drum loops and VST effects. If your PC meets the Acid requirements, give it a try before pitching it. About now, the purists and audiophiles are howling, but it's all about you and other people enjoying your music, not collecting pricey equipment and brand names. If your music is good, it will sound good even with basic gear. Better to upgrade as your recording expertise grows than spend big $$$ up front on stuff you may not need. With what you already have, another $100 or so can get you started. Have fun!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 12, 2011 3:50:05 PM PST
Tim says:
I strongly agree with S. Goad. I've also done the reel-to-reel thing, the 4-track cassette thing, and the 8-track hard-drive thing. Now it's the laptop with software. I've recorded 6 albums that way, and I'll never look back.

I also think S. Goad hit the nail on the head: "...better to upgrade as your recording expertise grows than spending big $$$ up front on stuff you may not need." Best of luck, and keep rocking! --Tim

Posted on Nov 12, 2011 9:13:31 PM PST
Howard D.A. says:
Also you'll need a pair of headphones (don't think I saw that mentioned). Good luck and have fun!

In reply to an earlier post on Nov 27, 2011 3:11:11 PM PST
Scott Seward says:
Allison, The Line6 UX2 is a great option. To answer your question, it is itself an external soundcard, so while it is being used it is overriding your computer's internal soundcard. Your iTunes will still use the internal card to play music and sounds but when you start up your DAW software it will use the Line6 UX2 as the sound source to record.

Also, the UX2 allows 2 simultaneous source recordings, so you can record guitar into one port and bass in the other if you have a friend playing with you for instance. In your case, it sounds like you don't care about that as much and are content to add each track layer by layer. If that is the case, then you dont have to buy the more expensive Ux2, but you should be fine with the Ux1 which limits you to just one simultaneous track at a time, which is how you will typically be recording.

Posted on Nov 27, 2011 3:17:08 PM PST
Scott Seward says:
As for handheld recorders, I have the Boss Micro-Br 4 track recorder and it is an excellent option. I still primarily record thru my PC, but having something that is mobile and high-quality with the power and options the Micro-Br has really comes in handy. The Boss Micro-Br also acts an excellent pre-amp with awesome guitar tones, and great tones for just about all other instruments. The Tascam that was mentioned earlier is also good, but I don't its guitar pre-amp is impressive as the Boss. Both are excellent values however.

Posted on Dec 2, 2011 7:14:14 PM PST
R.B. says:

Posted on Dec 5, 2011 12:44:25 PM PST
P. Verberne says:
Do you have a decent Laptop/PC that you can use? if so, and you are willing to spend a lot of time learning the software and how to hook it all up (not easy if you are totally new). If it is more about the music than learning and you just want to get it down on tape so to speak, the self contained multi-track is a better solution. However the most efficient solution for a good musician is to find a studio where you can record while someone else pushes all the buttons for $20/hr or so. You will end up with much better results and can use the opportunity to learn how digital recording is done. IF you go the recorder route, this one used it 200 and in my opinion the best bang for the buck.
BOSS BR-600 8-track portable digital recorder

Posted on Dec 12, 2011 11:50:57 PM PST
Last edited by the author on Dec 13, 2011 12:30:05 AM PST
Dave says:
TASCAM DP-008 8-Track Digital Portastudio
I love my DP-008 for its sound quality, portability, ease of use, good built in stereo mics.
I like the built in reverb, Parametric EQ. Also the analog style volume, pan, and effects send knobs make tracking and mixing fast and easy. With XLR mic inputs and phantom power capability, you can use studio grade mics in future. Battery power allows me to easily take it to practice sessions and gigs, for recording live performances.

Small enough to fit in my gig bag or guitar case, it's always with me.
I can record vocal/guitar parts siting in my car or in a park.
Good for recording ambient sounds/sound effects.
Good for taking to someplace that has acoustic piano, drumset, and/or good acoustics for recording vocals, etc. that my own place lacks.

When I want to use the computer for more sophisticated mixing/effects, I just plug in the USB and transfer the tracks to my computer.

It is a very versatile unit, and much less hassle than carrying around a laptop or starting up computer/loading software to start recording.
With solid state SD card to record on, there is no hard disk or fan noise either.
Also has built in chromatic tuner and metronome.
You can download free backing tracks (or any other music) and save them to 1 or 2 of the eight tracks and use those to play along with.
Like having a built in drum machine, but you choose from anything you can find on the net.
I am a multi instrumentalist, recording eng. and played bass in a rock band for 20 years. I have big studio multitrack gear gathering dust, because DP-008 is more fun/versital/portable, and less time/hassle/space to set up, when I get "the urge".
Inspiration seems to fade away, if I spend to much time setting up gear.
Hope this helps you understand the tradeoffs between creativity and complexity, when you are writing/recording your own ideas, while they are still fresh in your head, wherever you happen to have them.
Happy trails...

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 13, 2011 2:40:51 PM PST
Depends on how you wanna go about it. I would buy a cheap "Audio Interface" for your computer, something like a M-Audio Fastrack with at least 2 simultaneous inputs, that way you can record vox and an instrument at the same time. Then buy a software program within your budget, I use Propellerhead's Reason, but Logic, Cubase, Pro Tools, Garageband, Cool Edit Pro or Abelton will all do the trick. I've used this method to record for the last 5 years and its served me well. If your handy with computers, it'll actually make things easier in the long run. All of your songs can be edited or have effects added after you get the raw recordings done.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 16, 2011 11:11:40 AM PST
go to fostex . com or would probly want a 16 track digital recorder or you might get by with a high end 8 track.Some you have to transport t to your pc others e make cd,s right at the unit.they are exelent quality recordings cost for most 350-600 but you could get a used one for less, most use memory cards so you need at least 2 gigs

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 29, 2011 7:46:20 PM PST
Straydogger says:
You could also get a Tascam DP-02. It is an 8 track ...not a four track. Gives you a little more room to work. They make one with a built in CD burner for burning your music right to a CD when you are done mixing it. Pretty cool. That's what I am using now. Granted, it's not as versitile as a computer set-up but it works fine for my home recordings. It has some built in effects too. Not the best but they work for some things. OH, and it has phantom power if you need that to power a microphone. Check 'em out. It might be what you're looking for.

Posted on Jan 1, 2012 5:31:45 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 1, 2012 5:40:22 AM PST
stockwrock says:
Zoom R8 Digital Multi-Track Recorder, Interface, Controller, and Sampler Bundle with 10-Foot Instrument Cable, 10-Foot XLR Cable, Headphones, and Polishing Clothi personally like using digital recorders that are NOT hooked up to computers, and have been using a zoom 12-track for many years. the newer models have better features, but depending on how many tracks you need, some do cost more than $200. Zoom R24 Multitrack Recorder/Interface/Controller/Sampler Bundle with Headphones, Instrument Cable, XLR Cable, 16GB SD Card, and AA Batteries Zoom R8 Digital Multi-Track Recorder, Interface, Controller, and Sampler Bundle with 10-Foot Instrument Cable, 10-Foot XLR Cable, Headphones, and Polishing Cloth]]

In reply to an earlier post on Jan 1, 2012 11:36:50 AM PST
Last edited by the author on Jan 1, 2012 11:49:17 AM PST
K. Wise says:
I started out recording on a Tascam Cassette 4-track, and it is good (and very usable) but the flexibility in digital recording is unmatched. Of course it's a matter of opinion. I'm not a fan of the Acid since it's primarily a loop based DAW (digital audio workstation). My first piece of digital recording gear was an M-Audio Fast Track Pro - it works with either PC or Mac, and comes with a version of ProTools to get you started. It works as a soundcard (allowing you to listen to your mixes) and as a recording interface (allowing you to recording with a mic, or an electric guitar). All you would really need after that are a decent set of studio monitor headphones.

The "best" DAW (as in easiest to be 'creative' with) in my mind is Logic Pro (or it's cheaper cousin, Garageband), followed by Reason 6.0, then Cubase. Just considering overall features, ease of recording, and software instruments (and availability of plugins). All of these offer both live audio recording and software synthesis. Just remember, though- DAWs are complex (they take a little bit of time to learn)- it's a whole different process than recording on a 4-track. If you want flexibility, go with a DAW. If you just want to record a few tracks and could care less about editing or doing anything with it (or getting really top-notch sound quality) a 4-track might be the way to go. Then you can just record it and be done with it. Once you spend a few days with a DAW and get to know it- it gets much easier- it's not THAT complex- and you will wonder how you ever did without it! Thats my 2 cents!

--Just an afterthought- if I were you, I would not get a Tascam Cassette 4 track, I'd spend a little more and go for the digital recorder I linked into this post.
TASCAM DP-004 Digital 4-track Recorder

Posted on Jan 1, 2012 1:03:33 PM PST
Dave says:
After checking out the new Zoom multi track recorders, I think they represent the most "bang for the buck".
At the low end of the range the Zoom R8 (8 Track Multi-Track Recorder, Sampler, USB Interface) for $300, is an incredible value.
Zoom R8 Multitrack SD Recorder Controller and Interface
It is capable of stand alone (and battery powered if needed) recording, with many excellent built in features including , a sampler, drum machine, large variety of affects, built in stereo mics, and it Uses SD memory cards instead of Hard Disks, in addition to having excellent sound quality.
It also is capable of functioning as a USB audio interface and control surface, for use with computer based, recording software.
As it is capable of running on batteries and from USB power, alone or with a Laptop computer, it is truly a portable, flexible, inexpensive, high quality solution, for the musician, singer, songwriter, recordists.

Now get out there make some music, and express yourself.
Happy Trails...

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 6, 2012 4:00:51 PM PDT
I'd suggest looking for a used Boss BR-600. They're super-cheap here or on Ebay... Stay away from software, whatever you do, unless you don't mind losing all of your work because of some ridiculous software issue. You'll learn to work the Boss as you mess with it, reading the manual. You'll get how to operate it sooner than you think. It has built-in mics that sound good. Any recorded tracks you can listen to as you record another track live over them, and you can totally control the volume of each part so you can hear it clearly. Look under "Amberdose" on YouTube, that's me and my friend's "band", to hear how it sounds...Just don't go by the music, just the sound quality xD. Hope some of this helps. Good luck!
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Discussion in:  Home Recording forum
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Total posts:  21
Initial post:  Nov 5, 2011
Latest post:  Aug 6, 2012

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