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How to record live music for demos

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Gregjonesy, Mar 19, 2012.

  1. Gregjonesy

    Gregjonesy Active Member

    I am in a band called High noon I am the lead singer and promo guy and we need to record some demos for night clubs and fans to promote the band BUT I have no clue what I am doing. I was told to buy a snowball usb mic. I also wanna find out how to properly edit the recordings ie what software to buy and look up tutorials on how to use it. can anyone help me out!

    Ok I am a total beginner I know zero about record live digital audio, I tried using my laptop (acer) with the built in mic and the windows media recorder. the results we horrible.
     
  2. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    Check out the Zoom H4n. It's got a built in stereo mic and two mic/line inputs. You can just use the stereo mic or you can get fancy and also record the live mix from the board.

    Editing can be as simple as freeware like Audacity or you can spend a little on a good DAW like Reaper or you can spend more. You will also need some good way to hear what you're doing. Headphones aren't reliable for this.
     
  3. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    Hi and welcome,

    First let me say, I am very much in favor of folks buying your own equipment and learning how to use it. But if you're looking for professional sounding results any time soon, I'd think twice about this. Especially in your case, being a mere 15-20 minutes from one of the nicest studios in the region. I'd at least consider hiring this out at a studio known for great results and fair prices rather than fork out hundreds and hundreds of dollars on equipment you're not sure how to use right now. If you guys go in really well rehearsed, the cost could be really reasonable. I believe he does remote recording too, if you want to record a live show. In either case, you'd be miles ahead putting this in the hands of someone experienced.

    The cliche', " you only get one chance to make a first impression", is a cliche' because it is absolutely true. Wouldn't you rather have people judging your music for it's musical originality, style, energy, and integrity, rather than your ability to record and mix? No pulling your hair out trying to figure out how it all works, and a recording that puts the band in it's best light. I'd put that in the 'win' column.

    Dark Pines Studio is just a few minutes away in Graham, NC and would be well worth your time to call and/or visit in-person. MadMax, the owner, is a pillar here at Recording.Org and will absolutely put your project into a whole different league than anything you might do yourself with entry-level gear in your favorite venue / or home. If you're on a tight budget tell him what you can afford, you might be surprised.

    Just my two cents.

    Best of luck.
     
  4. Gregjonesy

    Gregjonesy Active Member

    Studio Cost vs Live recording

    I love the idea of actual studio recording but if it cost more than 70 bucks (The cost of a decent usb microphone or a twotrack hand held digital recorder) on my budget it would be out of the question,..and I didn't plan on buying hundreds of dollars of equipment either. I actually would like to learn how to set up and record LIVE audio and edit it myself and just make a (decent recording). It doesn't have to be perfect. Any one who has ever played in a band and had a professional recording done knows the 2 sound totally different. The professional recording will always be much better than actual live music. I know plenty of people that don't know how to do it right and end up with bad recordings. After I learn how to do this right and get the highest quality for the budget I am working with, I may invest in better equipment and record good quality live demos for other Bands. I really do want to learn how to do it and do it right.
     
  5. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    $70 won't buy you a decent handheld recorder. Even on a close-out, the Tascam DR-07 was $100.00. USB mics and a soundcard sound terrible, no headroom to cleanly record live, loud music. You need to be realistic in your goals. I understand that if you're doing clubs, you may very well want to record your performances in a live scenario. Maybe a local live sound mixer could help steer you in the right direction - or even record you for a nominal fee.
     
  6. dvdhawk

    dvdhawk Well-Known Member

    OK, I completely understand where you're coming from. I've got 35 years experience playing in bands and I hear what you're saying about wanting a recording that's more comparable to your live sound. I've been doing exactly that sort of thing for a long long time.

    I think moonbaby is absolutely right, you're not going to be able to buy any recorder worth having on your budget.

    Your bandmates are asking a lot on a $70 budget, but if you have your own mixer you're using for the live gigs, I'd consider buying an inexpensive interface [maybe a Lexicon Alpha, or someone else may have a better suggestion] that can go between the soundboard and the laptop rather than a cheap mic or cheapest recorder. Then you can dedicate one or more of the Aux sends to the recorder and have at least some control over what goes down to the recording.

    Just recording a mirror of the FOH Main mix is rarely satisfactory. In a typical small venue, the direct board mix is usually upside-down for the recording. In other words, the things that are loudest in the room are the quietest on the recording and vice versa. Because if Nigel has his Marsnall (the loop at the top of the H is busted) stack turned up to 11 - he's going to be Off at the board. So the recording will not have any direct guitar sound - it will only have whatever amount of guitar bled into the other mics. Same goes for the bass player with a loud rig and so on. The quietest vocalist will be entirely too loud, because they'll be cranked up at the board. So if you want to try recording from the mixer use an Aux or Matrix output you have some control over that is independent of the house mix. (You may need good loud closed-back headphones to make those adjustments during sound check). Record the first set, take the CD to your car and listen to it during the break so you know what needs adjusted. Trial and error is part of the learning process.

    Even though I have more than enough gear to multi-track just about any band live, if it's for a demo intended to book gigs - I will often favor a 'more live' recording and record 2 tracks to a portable mini-disc, or a standalone CD recorder. I recently shared a recording done this way - using nothing more than a room mic at the soundboard sent to the left channel PLUS a mix from one of the Aux sends going to the right channel of a good Sony CD recorder with XLR inputs. I used a cheap Aphex pre-amp for the room mic because it was already in the rack with the CD recorder - but it probably wouldn't have been necessary. Then when I got home I took the two channels from the CD [dry board mix and the room mic] and centered them and got a balance between the wet and dry. And it goes like this. It's a 3-pc bar band, it's 100% live, it's mono, it's organic, it gets the point across, it's cheap to do - if you have a mixer with at least one available Aux, a spare mic, and anything that can record 2-tracks or more.

    If you're renting PA, or playing places that have in-house sound - buy the soundman the beverage of their choice and ask him/her to help.

    Good luck.
     
  7. Gregjonesy

    Gregjonesy Active Member

    Thanks for the advice, the Zoom 4 is more money than I want to spend, do you know anything about twotracks? specifically the Alesis twotrack? You post got me thinking in a new direction. Other than condenser mics. I would probably spend up to a 100 to get started.
     
  8. Gregjonesy

    Gregjonesy Active Member

    I mostly want to learn, its not about making recordings to sell to people. I want to learn technique and get some technical know how, thats why I came hear. I learned to shoot at a young age using a BB gun, Now I am an Expert marksman with 2 different weapons. I know learning how to shoot with an inferior weapon helped to hone my skills so that later in life I had some foundation to work from. That's basically what I want to do here. Gotta crawl before I can walk. For me it not about having the best equipment its about learning to use the equipment i can access to get the best possible result. BTW do you know anything about this piece of equipment?

    Alesis TwoTrack Handheld Audio Recorder | Musician's Friend
     
  9. Gregjonesy

    Gregjonesy Active Member

    dvdhawk Your example music sounds great!
     
  10. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    That Alesis recorder would at least let you hear what a mic sounds like in a room and what effect placement has on the sound.
     
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Guest

    My feelings are hurt when you said nothing live sounds like studio stuff... boo-hoo (blubber snuffle snort) I didn't know it wasn't supposed to sound like studio stuff. I'll try to do worser next time.

    OK, 70-$100 budget. Reaper software, virtually free. A $30 passive microphone mixer from Radio Shaft and as many extremely cheap condenser microphones that they have that you can afford. Really when it comes to recording your band, you absolutely positively have to have more than one microphone. Otherwise you are recording a single member at a time which also works. A little more difficult to vibe together that way. Little goofball handheld recorders are fine but not for your purpose. And then there's a learning curve and learning how to work with equipment that was a functional bargain. It's really more challenging that way and you learn a lot more by doing it that way. Of course it can be difficult to find a camcorder or a cellular phone that can record video to post your stuff on YouTube also. But hey... maybe you can use speed cameras? Yeah, that's the ticket.

    Drivers license and microphone please. What's that I smell?
    Mx. Remy Ann David
     
  12. GZsound

    GZsound Active Member

    I think in todays world, I would buy a used video camera and get some decent video editing software. You can then record pretty decent live audio plus you can edit video and post to You Tube, etc. which is a great marketing tool.

    You aren't going to find much, except maybe a couple hand held recorders like the Zoom H1, etc. within your budget and all that gets you is live audio.

    A lot of buyers want to see a band live so having a demo DVD and You Tube presentations can be very helpful.

    I recently bought a full HD video camera that we use to video my wifes band and now she has demo DVD's and You Tube videos all over the place. The camera cost less than $200.
     
  13. Flagg Audio

    Flagg Audio Active Member

    Stereo Field recorders are good for demos and now you can get some for $100.

    Position the mics about ear level with pointing at the drums. Make them bisect an imaginary line from the center of the bass drum to the snare so you get a good stereo image. Place the rest of the band around the field recorder in a circle. Bass across from the drums, guitars and keys to the sides. Leave the singer out for now. Record a little test to get everyone's levels nice and evenish then recording the songs for real. Afterwards overdub the vocals separately. The vocals tend to sound like mud in practice/full band settings unless everything's perfect (which it never will be) so do them alone. If you don't have the ability to overdub, put a PA speaker in front of the recorder dead center and try it out. You may have to turn down the PA a bit more than you're used to.

    With this you should have some good demos to show around.
     
  14. bouldersound

    bouldersound Real guitars are for old people. Well-Known Member

    This can be a bit tricky to pull off at a gig.
     
  15. moonbaby

    moonbaby Mmmmmm Well-Known Member

    Bouldersound said:"This can be a bit tricky to pull off at a gig."

    Not really. In fact, what you do is give every player a fifth of JB, than you'll have (drum roll)...A circle of fifths!
     
  16. Flagg Audio

    Flagg Audio Active Member

    Whoops, meant that in a band practice setting. At an actual gig you can record off the soundboard (doesn't hurt to ask) or just find a place to stick the field recorded, either in the back (away from people talking about you) or on stage (if there's good vocal monitors).
     
  17. Flagg Audio

    Flagg Audio Active Member

    A drink to equal temperament!
     

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