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a true beginner. got a band, got eq, help!

Discussion in 'Recording' started by raize, Jan 26, 2002.

  1. raize

    raize Guest

    i finally picked up the computer that will become my daw. the only thing keeping it from being one now is it's only got a sb live in it. either way, it's all i have for a few weeks so let's get to the real problem.

    i've never recorded before.

    what do i do?

    i have a band, i have a mackie 1202vlz (8 inputs total, 4 stereo capable from what i can see)which i don't really know how to use effectively, and one mic currently.

    we have a room that's around 14'x40' or so, with lame old wood panelling on the walls, and vinyl floor tiles.

    the room is empty for the most part, save for the gear which includes a 9 piece drum kit (hi-hat, ride, thin crash, regular crash, snare, open bottom toms, open back bass drum w/double bass peddle), two guitars (gibson studio and gibson sg), one bass (ibanez). we don't yet have a vocalist so that's not a concern atm.

    i know nothing else except that i'd like to know how to a) record all the instruments in a live environment onto separate tracks of the computer. b) record the instruments separately.

    where should the amps be placed in relationship to the drums? should the drums be off in their own booth? how do you mike instruments in a room without having the other instruments bleed into each other? where do they get positioned? how do we record the instruments individualy even? i mean, is this where a guide track comes into play so the individual band members know what tempo and where they should be playing in the song? do they use headphones to hear it if that's the case? how do i mic in stereo? use pans? what's a mult? and we still need to buy mics! how many and what kind based on the mixer i've got?!

    i'm a true newbie. sigh.

    are there diagrams i can look at for any of this? a F.A.Q. for the recording-challenged? or can these questions i've asked all be answered right here, in:


    i'm hemmoraging, and gene hoglan is drumming to the beat of my seizure.

    cold and ugly
  2. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Near Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    You have asked questions that in some cases cannot be easily answered. I compare it to someone asking how to build an airplane. You have a propeller, a set of wings and some wheels. No pilot training.

    You need to get some good books on recording techniques. I suggest you search Amazon.com for books on the subject. You need help with mic placement and type, room design, isolation, computer recording techniques and a host of other subjects that cannot be answered in a simple post.

    You also want to record your band through a stereo analog consumer level sound card. This subject alone could fill a book. Room treatment and acoustics could fill a book.

    There is no quick fix and no easy answers. Read, try, practice, do it again, change, upgrade, and most of all listen.

    If you ask for advice, try to ask about one subject at a time. For instance, ask about the capabilities of a Sound Blaster sound card for recording a live band. Or ask about what mics are suggested for drums, or vocals, or guitar. Should you mic the bass or go direct, etc. Keep it simple and you will get better advice.

    Take small steps.
  3. raize

    raize Guest

    forgive my impudence because i have a feeling that no matter how i try and say this, it's going to come out wrong, although the point will be the same.

    i understand your reply, and while it's a valid one, it's also somewhat of a cop out, and i have a feeling that because of it, nobody else is going to offer up any help now. they'l just look at your answer and go "yeah, that's what i think too." and move on to the next message. you're basically telling me that it's up to me to find out the information i need, which is already what i was trying to do before your answer. the only difference is you want me to break it apart into digestible pieces rather than covering it all at once. if a couple of people just reply to this thread answering different pieces of it, then we'd have one great thread.

    also, just to point to your analogy. if i have all the pieces to build an airplane i don't need any pilot training, i need engineer training. in the case of your analogy, the pilot would be the musician, driving the music. the engineer would set up the airplane.

    which is exactly why i'm asking all the knowledgable to lend me a hand here =).

    i realize there's an overwhelming amount of information out there on a number of the topics i'm asking about, but think of it this way:

    this forum is for the recording enlightened to help the recording ignorant, and your simple suggestions have already helped me out. i'm not looking for specifics to the questions just point form "here's what you should try for <question a>".

    if someone asks me what they need to build a computer i can cover every piece of the hardware, along with providing choices by name, and the setup in a relative short amount of time and using a minimal amount of space. if they need to get into the specifics of each piece of hardware and why they should choose "a" over "b" then that takes a bit more work, and is obviously more laborious. if that were the case i'd make the same suggestions as you did to me.

    however, i've given my entire setup and all the equipment i own out as information and i'm asking for a general startup.

    i just think your reply, while insightful, has also lessened my chances of getting any more help for anyone else.

    maybe i'm wrong. let's see if anyone else replies with ideas or answers though, and i thank you for yours.
  4. RandomGuest

    RandomGuest Guest

    Feb 10, 2001
    OK, I'll take the plunge. I'm assuming you are basically asking how you can record two guitars, bass, and drum kit with the minimal additions to what you already have in terms of computer, gear, and space.

    You mentioned individual tracks for individual instruments. First this implies either an available mic for each track or a combination of mic's and DI boxes (which are a possibility for the bass and guitars. Assuming a minimum of three mics for the drums, you therefore need a minimum configuration of 6 mics and/or DI's, with at least 3 mics out of the 6 total.

    Now the problem is that many soundcards only accept stereo input. If that is your case, you would need to upgrade to a computer DAW setup that would allow you to record six tracks simultaneously. Otherwise, you will have to submix in your analog mixer and just record stereo, which means you are kind of stuck with whatever you get at that point.

    The only other option would be to record each instrument one at a time. The problem is, that even for the most experienced pros, it's hard to make MUSIC this way.

    If you do get a DAW setup that allows multitrack recording, you need to make sure that you have enough mixer channels that have direct outs, so that each mic can have it's own output to the computer. I'm not sure if your Mackie has this feature or not.

    Getting your basic hardware together is your first step. Learning how to use it would be step two. It might be good to concentrate on step one so you don't get overwhelmed with trying to process too much information all at once. You may want to go to a local pro music dealer and talk about your basic mic/mixer/soundcard etc. options - see what is available with what your budget will allow. (NOTE: You never mentioned budget. It's always the key in any decision.) You may even find it might be easier to accomplish want you want at your price point with a dedicated hardware box like one of the Roland V series.

    Once you have your necessary hardware, then you can fool around with all kinds of recording techniques to your heart's content and find what works best for you given your particular style and space. It's a lot easier to teach someone to swim if they're at least already in the water. Get your basics together, and then come back with more questions. You'll find many of us will be glad to help. :)
  5. raize

    raize Guest


    now that makes a lot of sense to me.

    the mackie mixer seems to have 2 outs.. one being the main outs, and the other being the alt outs. in other words, like you said i'm pretty much stuck either recording the whole band into the mixer, and out in stereo as one big mess into the computer, or doing every instrument individually which in my very limited experience takes a whole lot of takes.

    i had two guitar rhythms i wanted to layer over each other today. the first obviously came out fine =). the second took me 29 takes before it worked with the first.

    budget wise it's coming together one step so we generally save for the piece/pieces of hardware we need next. in this case it would be a real DAW soundcard, as you both have mentioned as a good idea for a "step 1", and mics.

    thanks to another thread, i've narrowed my choices down to the RME hammerfall, or the echo layla24. both seem very different in their own right, but i'm drawn to them both. i guess availability will be the ultimate deciding factor. i'm prepared to spend upwards of $1500 canadian on a soundcard. i think the hammerfall will run me about $900.

    so maybe i can ask about the mics now. we're prepared to spend approximately $75 - $150 canadian for mics.

    i was figuring on a couple of shure sm57 mics for the guitars/bass, and putting a bit of extra work into the drum mics. i've heard AKG has some good drum mics for overheads and kick drums. keeping in mind i still don't know what overheads even do, only that they seem to be the method of choice when you only have 3 or 4 mics to play with.

    also, this brings up a good point. once i have the soundcard, and the mics, is the mackie mixing board something i should consider trading up for a better board (one with an out for each mic/DI)? do i even need it if the soundcard itself has 8 inputs? i'm going out on a limb and figuring most home DAW would benefit from the mixer/soundcard combo because lower to middle-end soundcards only have 1/4" inputs, and not balanced XLRs.

    although the layla24 says it has balanced 1/4" inputs. is that the same "balanced" as a balanced XLR?

    i think i need to take a course at SAE.

  6. knightfly

    knightfly Active Member

    Jan 18, 2002
    Hey Cold - You sound like a fireman puttin' out fires while he studies his correspondence course on "how to be a fireman" - HE probably picked it up pretty fast too... Sounds like you're getting there by leaps and bounds.
    When you said "$75 to $150", did you mean EACH mic, or all of them for that total price ? There is a thread on that subject on this forum, here's the link if you haven't already been -

    (Dead Link Removed)

    I have a good friend who moved away just about the time He started getting serious about recording, and one of the best things I ever did (for him AND me) was get him a subscription to Electronic Musician for Christmas. Now, he still asks as many questions, but more of them come closer to stumping me... Here is the link..

    http://industryclick.com/magazine.asp?siteid=15&magazineid=3 3

    On the Layla question, their balanced in's are physically different but electrically the same as XLR's - First, very few XLR's on semi-pro (read cheaper than your new minivan) gear are TRUE professional specs - usually they are a fairly high impedance, where "old school" ones are spec'd at 600 ohms impedance for line, usually 150 ohms or so for mic inputs. So, (gotta keep this short for now, dinner's waiting) the 1/4" connectors on gear, if they're balanced, are known as TRS - stands for Tip-Ring-Sleeve , and are wired Tip High, Ring low, Sleeve Ground. XLR's use the same signals, with Ground @ pin 1, High at pin 2, Low at pin 3. To wire one type of connector to the other, just get two connectors and wire Hot-Hot, Low-Low, Ground-Ground and it will work. (except for older American stuff, (unless I have this part backwards, don't recall for sure) which XLR's were wired with pin 2 low, pin 3 hot. Stuff will still work plugged into these, but you will have some phase reversals which will cause a loss of low frequency levels in some cases.

    Don't blame you for feeling a little picked on, we all sometimes forget we were there once. Oh, yeah, if you haven't already been there, here's another link to an audio dictionary, so you can look up what a DI box is, and what the initials mean, along with a few hundred other terms that get thrown about without explanation all the time...


    Not needling you, I actually forgot the glossary was on THIS site 'til I pasted it. Gotta go, keep on it - My attitude (one of many) is best described by the quote at the end of my posts. Have fun... Steve
  7. damster

    damster Guest

    Tired....Need sleep.Have'nt really read this thread fully so sorry if I answer something that someone else has already.

    Your mixer should have INSERTS on each channel.Read the manual.If the TIP is SEND then you have a direct out for each channel of your mixer (Use guitar cables into your new soundcard when you get it).You then monitor your 1-2 Soundcard out(maybe in an aux return?)because the fader on each channel will now be inactive.You use the mic preamp gain control to send a level into your recording software and viola!

    Next...The mics your looking at should be fine.Having well tuned/cared for instruments with good technique will be faaarrr more important at this point.After that will be mic technique.So many variations of sound can be achieved with just a few inches of movement.Experiment and read as much as you can on the subject.For drums there is a good one on this forum in the mxing,tracking etc. category called 'overhead phase'.Save it to your hardrive.Even the pro's are taking notes on this one.As for condenser mic's on the overheads-----They will make your cymbals sound nice and shiny.You will get a crystal clear sound instead of a duller sound as with most dynamics for this purpose.There is more to it than that but this is a good start.
    I hope it works out with your soundcard.
  8. Logan

    Logan Active Member

    Apr 21, 2001
    Elm Tree Ont. Canada
    Hey C&U
    Man you got a few things to work out. Ok you have had info on your sound card, and I'd get that happening before you try and do a full scale recording. You could mic up the band and run the stereo outs of your Mackie to the SB, but that's about as far as you can go unless you record each inst. seperately. check out the insert possibilities of the Mackie as someone suggested. Also look into the DI situation to cut down on bleed. I always DI the bass 'cause that low frequency will get everywhere if you have an amp in the room. You can always reamp if you want an amp sound later. Reampping means you take the track that you recorded with the DI and send it to an amp which you mic up and then rerecord. In fact you can try this with all your guitar tracks if you wish. Also you can try and isolate the amps by running them in seperate rooms. Is there a bathroom or hall outside your main room? You can also knock together some boxes out of chip board and insulation to put the amp and mic in.
    In your mic price range you'll be a little limited, but the SM57 is great for snare and guitars and in a pinch can do for vocals. You can check out the Marshall line of condensor mics, I think Harvey has found a few gems that are inexpensive. The only one I tried was not to my liking but it was large dia.
    Try and put a little more aside and check out the AT 4033 as a cheaper Large D mic that's pretty flexible. Also see if you can score a SENN. 421 ,they're great for Toms, guitars and horns and make a pretty good kick mic as well.The Beyer M88 is also a mic that will do lots of stuff.
    Renting is also a possibility, if you are together and have your tunes well rehearsed you should be able to rent some mics for a decent price for a weekend, it's a good way to evaluate some mics you may want to purchase later.
    When you are checking out the rental situation talk to the guy behind the counter and see if they are selling off any gear, you can often purchase gear that has been rented for a decent price. Is there a Long and Mcquade near you? They have pretty good rental departments.
    You are going to want your mixer for quite awhile (until you have amassed that rack of mic pres), but you will want one that has inserts on each channel and a decent number of groups, again check rental depts or places for used equiptment.
    I bought a pristeen board that cost many thousands originally out of the National Arts centre in Ottawa, when they were upgrading, so look around, talk to FOH guys at bars, they always know about used gear.
    I'm not a big fan of the Mackie sound but there are lots around, look into names like Soundcraft and Allen and Heath. If you find a Trident used, they're junk and don't touch them just call me right away and I'll come and make sure it gets dispossed of ;-).
    You are going to want to able to run a headphone mix out of one of the groups as well and will want to look into a headphone distribution amp, although you can daisy chain a bunch together out of the headphone slot of the mixer with varying success.

    Where are you located? If you are anywhere in Eastern Ontario maybe I can drop by and lend a hand sometime. Take care Logan
  9. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    Mar 20, 2001
    Near Portland, Oregon
    Home Page:
    As you have noticed, you are now getting advice on specific subjects. Still not an answer that covers all the needs you requested.

    Microphones can be had for cheap these days that will yield a fairly professional result. The C1, Rode, etc line is inexpensive and the reviews are good.

    The soundcard problem will cost several hundred dollars to fix if you want individual inputs.

    You need a good set of monitors if you want to hear what you have done. There are lots of discussions on what is the best for the money but Mackie, Event, and others make good ones for under a grand a pair.

    A mixer with inserts on each channel will work fine if you need multiple inputs to the computer.

    You can get a good drum, guitar, vocal and bass sound with a basic Shure SM57/58 although they require more work.

    Room acoustics hasn't been addressed and can cause major problems unless you are recording each instrument at a time and even then if you have a really live room with lots of echo.

    Again, not to cop out (your words) but notice the answers are getting topic specific. One good book on recording techniques can answer most of your questions and I agree reading EQ is a great idea. Sorry about the airplane analogy. I guess I meant you need to learn to crawl before you can run a marathon. At 29 takes, you are already learning the way most of us had to learn.
  10. raize

    raize Guest

    Hi guys, thanks for your incredible, and invaluable knowledge and insight here so far.

    i'd just like to say a few things really quickly in reference to everything i've read that i'm trying to digest.

    1) knightfly; you hit the nail on the head. my band has a bunch of tracks we're ready to record and we're going the DIY way, me being the technical one out of the bunch has the daunting task of making us our first quality cd, the fires are burning hot! to clarify, the budget is $75 - $150 cdn/per mic. thank you for all the links.

    2)damster; thanks to your info, i know i need a better mixer now =). our gear is quality enough atm, so it's good to know the mics we're getting will do us for a bit if we can't scrape up a bit more for better ones.

    3) Logan; i don't know where to start but i'll try. techniques like DI recording, then putting it out through an amp and re-recording with a mic is the kind of invaluable jumpstarting i was looking for. it's that kind of innovativeness which may be logical for the pros, but eye opening for the beginner. there's a long and mcquade down the street from me, and i actually live in the east side of toronto, in scarborough. if we could arrange something where i could even check out the recording process in any places you work from or even stopping by my place, that would be like finding gold for me. consider me an information sponge =). email me at nofreedom@rogers.com if any arrangement is possible. can't thank you enough.

    4) GZsound; i guess it's worked out after all. you're all very insightful, and the monitor aspect of recording is something i haven't had a chance to really get into yet, so i'll definitely take that advice to the bank (read: stores i'm buying from) along with the other hardware namebrands you suggested. i have a feeling that several hundred dollars for a soundcard is actually going to end up going over 1000 dollars =). again, i apologize if my earlier reply near the beginning of this thread put you off at all, because i never intended it to.

    and finally.. i'm sure all of these answers are going to lead to many more questions, and i hope in the end the final reward is that i can give back the same kind of ideas and suggestions to somebody who follows me in the beginners circle after i've managed to move upwards a bit.

    whew. until next post.

    muy gracias!

    cold and ugly.
  11. leeayling

    leeayling Guest

    Hey cold and ugly,... don't worry man, it will warm up soon. as for the ugly,.. beauty is in the eye...
    You guys gigging in TO at all. I live around lake simcoe, up HWY 48. Just wondering if you will be playing anywhere or do...
    You can mail me if you like.
    good luck, take comfort in knowing I know even less than you about the subject.. HA!
    Im in here tho' checking it out...
    and to all you guys who replied to his post,...
  12. Logan

    Logan Active Member

    Apr 21, 2001
    Elm Tree Ont. Canada
    Hey C&U
    Along the momitoring line, make sure that the card/ converter setup you buy will do zero latency monitering. There is always latency involved in DAW recording and it can be a real pain in the butt to deal with. When you're at L&McQ check out the Yorkville studio monitors, they are pretty good for the price. Also the Tannoy Reveals are pretty good (another good Canadian co.) and very reasonable in price. They come in both active and passive setups.
    I'll be in Toronto doing a live gig last week in Feb. I'll be staying with a friend in Scarburg. I'll send you a mail in a few days when I get the final details. take care Logan
  13. raize

    raize Guest

    awesome logan, i'm really looking forward to it. i'm going to try and get out tonight to get the RME hammerfall card, then i'll be trading up my current mackie mixer for a new one, i'm going to go with the recommendation on the allen and heath. my only consideration now is whether or not i want a 12 or a 16 track. 12 would let me mic guitar, bass, two vocals, and 8 for drums in the future, however 16 would do the same as well as providing options for more if it's ever wanted/needed.

    recommendations anyone?

    it really is cold today

    and ugly.
  14. Logan

    Logan Active Member

    Apr 21, 2001
    Elm Tree Ont. Canada
    There are never enough tracks ;-). Eventually you may want to run various effects and processers back to a channel to get more control, go for the most channels you can afford. I'll send you a mail later today.
    Also remember that you will need converter boxes to get the sound into the RME. Talk to the guys where you are buying your setup to discuss all the options. take care Logan.

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