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Looking for some suggestions on recording equipment...

Discussion in 'Recording' started by kaehyu, Feb 27, 2009.

  1. kaehyu

    kaehyu Guest

    Hello guys, I'm kaehyu, new here; first post. :)

    I was redirected here from the head-fi forums.

    I need a little help starting up a small (for now) recording set-up for acoustic guitar and vocals and possibly other acoustic instruments. We'll be recording to my computer... but the thing is, we really don't know where to stat; we don't really know much about studio gear.

    We're not looking for something professional since we are on a budget, but I was thinking of starting out with a decent enough studio microphone I can hook up to my computer. I've been looking at AKG and Sennheisser stuff, but their recording mics are waaaay out of my league financial wise; so I went to Amazon to look for some cheaper alternatives and I did find some nice looking ones from Eagletone and Audio Technica, though I personally have no experience from them and there weren't enough reviews for me to make a decision. Plus, I don't really know how they'd perform as an "all-around" mic.

    I also realize I'd probably have to get a pre-amp to get anything decent, but I don't really know where to start with that either.

    Any suggestions on the gear? Our budget is around $200, so it's pretty tight.

    Also, I do have a really nice X-Fi card, so that's a non-issue.

    Thanks in advance,
  2. kaehyu

    kaehyu Guest

    Also, if anyone has any suggestions on software I can use, I'd love to hear. Right now all I have are Fruity Loops and Audacity...
  3. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    Kristal is free and will probably be easier or more flexible than Audacity for your purposes.
    I swear I'm going to write a guide on using it along with a bunch of things about other software.

    Now, for some tips.

    1) You will want an interface as well as a microphone.
    All it does is provide a proper connection for a microphone (get a SM58 - industry standard for $100) and allows that microphone signal to get into your computer with the minimum (much less than a computer soundcard) of static.

    2) Be prepared for some ugly suggestions and maybe a lot of reading. There's been a bout of people joining recently asking things like this and to be honest, things have gotten out of hand.

    As for the reading, I suggest...
    Well, I'd point you to the search function but it's, well, awful IMO.

    However, Tweak's Guide may help. Pages I recommend are:
    Well, uhh, it's all good, but start there.
    Concepts such as compressors/EQ/plugins can come later - we'll assume for now that what you want to do is get a signal into the PC.

    Quicktips if you want to dive headfirst:
    - Don't dive in headfirst
    - Don't buy recklessly
    - Mic placement, mic placement, EQ. (In that order).
  4. kaehyu

    kaehyu Guest

    Thank you for the reply. I have been looking at other posts (I noticed similar ones to mine immediately after posting) and did consider the SM58. Do you have personal experience with it? In particular, would it do the job for both instruments and vocals?

    As for interfaces, I read tweak's article and I found one that may be suitable for now; but wow, they're expensive! I'm looking for an interface that does have a preamp and is firewire (I am working on a laptop *AND* a PC).

    Does anyone have any experience with an Onyx Satellite? Alternatively, I want the Alesis IO14, but I can't seem to find that for the price listed on Tweak's Guide ($200).
  5. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    "Do you have personal experience with it?"

    I wish.
    All I have so far is the opinion of 99% of this forum and of the industry as a whole.
    Yes, you can get awful sound from it - but that's generally caused by operator error. OK, it's not the best mic to use in all situations (recording an entire orchestra for example) but if you can't get at least a usable sound off a guitar/singer with an SM58, you need to rethink the placement (an inch either way makes a big difference, and no folks, that is not what she said).

    My personal experience is with it's younger brother, the PG58 which well, is also decent, slightly cheaper, less popular and I'm sure it's lacking in the low end somehow.

    Btw, you almost cannot break an SM58. There's a vid was linked on here a while ago - an SM58 was dropped twice, submerged in water, and ultimately driven over, before any loss of sound quality was observed. Mainly because it was looking flatter than it used to.
  6. iamfrobs

    iamfrobs Guest

    I would place my bets on the Satellite. The ONYX preamps are very nice sounding. And you should be able to find it at a good price.

    Check out all the requirements for both of your computers though.
  7. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Or an SM57.
    Either is fine. 58 has the mesh ball for vocals, 57 does not.
    I find the 57 to be a little bit more all purpose.
    If you want to use it for close vocals, get a foam cover, or put a (clean) sock on it.
    They're basically the same mic.

    Codemonkey can point you right on the rest.
    He'll be the first to say he uses some of the cheapest gear of anyone here.
    So he knows it better than anyone here. He'll help you get the most out of your $200.
  8. kaehyu

    kaehyu Guest

    Well, since I can't find the Alesis anywhere, I'm now trying to decide between the Onyx Satellite and the PreSonus Inspire 1394 (Someone I know is selling his for $100 flat). Since I have no experience with either one, I will have to turn to you all for some advice on it... Amazon has 4 reviews on it (2 4star, 2 5star) and it does say the original price is $250 (now $150).

    I'd have to really compare both just to see what one has that the other doesn't... but it looks like the Inspire has more features... I'll have to look that up tomorrow; it's a bit late now, so I'll be off to sleep.

    I really appreciate the replies, thanks!

    Be back tomorrow! :)
  9. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    I have to say, the Mackie Onyx Satellite can be a crap shoot. I've seen people laud them and others chastise them on the Mackie forum. There seems to be a quality control issue. Although the preamps are nice, the rest of the electronics tend to be less reliable. Poor connectors, faulty firewire, noise from poor grounding. I've yet to experience any of this with the exception of some minor self noise in the Pod but only when I crank it. With all that in mind, it might be safer to go with the Inspire.
  10. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Also I should point out that the drivers for the Onyx can be a little wonky. I get some strange artifacting in reverb tails when I stop playback on a mix.

    They've just recently (as in late December) released drivers for Vista 32/64 and XP 64. It was a long time coming with many a user complaining about their unusable gear for more than a year at a time.

    Incidentally, I only use mine as a preamp now for these reasons.
  11. Jeremy

    Jeremy Active Member

    You essentially turn that $200 to around 350-400 when you buy used. Shure SM57-58's are indestructible, so buy them used....they will work.
    Try to steal this little guy for the difference in buying the mics used. If you can get it for 120 including shipping you stole it.

  12. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I just saw the Presonus Inspire new at $129.00 and I don't think Cubase will activate the software buying used.
  13. Jeremy

    Jeremy Active Member

    You know I don't know if they would transfer a registration with Freeware like that. Good question JG49.
  14. kaehyu

    kaehyu Guest

    Wow, great catch, I'm keeping my eye on that one. As for the software, I'll ask the original owner and Cubase if they would transfer the registration. I'm pretty sure they would? Since I'm assuming the software is useless without the actual hardware...?

    As for mics, there really isn't a difference between the SM57/58... as you guys said... but if the 57 is better for all around, I'll go for that.

    Thanks a bunch.
  15. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    It shouldn't matter. The software is generally tied to the box. It should activate no problem. If you want support, that's a different story.
  16. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    I have had some problems with Steinberg registration in the past and that was just re-activating the software in a different computer and I am the original owner. The guys at Presonus have been helpful for the most part but the reg. is Steinberg.
    So if anyone has had any experience with this let me know.
  17. soapfloats

    soapfloats Well-Known Member

    Hold on.
    I didn't say the 57 was better for all-around.
    My experience is limited to a few years and a few mics.

    I said, "I find the 57 to be a little bit more all purpose."
    They're used for guitar amps, snare drums, toms, and more on live stages and studios worldwide. The 58 is usually seen used as a vocal mic.
    I assume that's because of the ball grill.
    I own 4 SM57s, and only one 58. I think it's easier to get the right placement on drums and amps w/ a 57.
    I've used a 57 on vocals with good results, so I consider the 57 to be preferable if you have to own just one mic.

    I'm sure there are others on here who have used a 58 for applications that tend to see a 57 more often - and probably with great results.

  18. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    If you are using a 58 on something non vocal you can unscrew the ball.
  19. Codemonkey

    Codemonkey Well-Known Member

    But the capsule has a guard on the SM57 whereas the 58 doesn't, I believe.
  20. kaehyu

    kaehyu Guest

    I've been looking up some posts online and I found this:


    I did go with the SM58 for now since I got it for cheaper than a SM57.

    Thanks for all the help! I'm looking to get an interface off of ebay right now. PreSonus Firebox or Alesis IO26, whichever I catch first!

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