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Ok, need urgent help. I'm a newbie

Discussion in 'Recording' started by ManchesterUpanda, May 11, 2009.

  1. So, I want to start recording really soon. I want to record acoutsic guitar/electric guitar/ and vocals...I've talked to several friends who know some things about recording so they said all I needed was a mic, mixer, cables, stand, and computer.

    My understanding is that you run it like this:

    mic--> cable --> mixer --> cable --> computer -->software

    Is this right? If so, I'm thinking about getting these things:

    Microphone: MXL 990 Condenser Microphone (http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/MXL-MXL-990-Condenser-Microphone-with-Shockmount?sku=273156)

    1. Samson MDR 6 Input 4 Channel (http://www.samash.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_MDR6 6 Input 4 Channel Mixer_-1_10052_10002_-49966759_cmCategorySA182831)


    2. Yamaha MG102C (http://www.samash.com/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/product_MG102C 10 Channel Mixer_-1_10052_10002_-49984976_cmCategorySA182831)


    3. Some Behringer mixers:


    4. Peavey PV6 (http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/Peavey-PV6-Mixer?sku=631366)

    Cables: No idea...not even what type

    Software: I'll probably get protools...i dont know

    Computer : Just an HP dv7 laptop

    What I'm confused about is that some people said that I need a preamp...but aren't preamps already in the mixers? Or do I just need a preamp instead of a mixer?

    Please help. Thanks.
  2. Boswell

    Boswell Moderator Distinguished Member

    Hi, and welcome to the group!

    It would help us to know your budget, but to start out, you need neither mixer nor separate pre-amps. You need a multi-channel interface. These have pre-amps built in and a FireWire connection to your computer that can transfer all the channels at once. In this way, you end up with individual tracks on the computer disc that you mix in software to a stereo track that you burn to CD.

    There are plenty of reasonable-quality 2, 4 and 8-channel interfaces to choose from. Most of these have at least two outputs as well, which you will need to drive monitor loudspeakers.

    If you are thinking of getting ProTools, you are very constrained as to the choice of interface. If it's to be ProTools LE, you have to use DigiDesign interfaces. It it's M-Powered PT, then you have to use M-Audio hardware. In addition, you should choose a computer from the list of supported types for ProTools. There are plenty of programs other than ProTools that will work as well if not better for your purposes and do not constrain your choice of hardware.

    So your shopping list should look something like:

    Vocal microphone (SM58)
    Instrument microphone (SM57)
    Multi-channel interface (2, 4 or 8 channels)
    XLR-XLR microphone cables
    Microphone stands
    Pair of powered (active) monitors with cables
    Computer with FireWire interface and two separate hard disks
    Audio software
    Acoustic treatment for your room

    All these items have been covered in depth in this forum in the past. The search engine is your best recourse.
  3. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Well you are on the right track. There are many ways to do anything, but here is a common solution to what you are trying to do.

    mic (or instrument) > cable > interface > usb or firewire cable > comp > software

    The first mixer you listed is for a PA type of set up.
    I did not look at the others.

    A recording interface is probably your best choice. It should have enough inputs for your needs, built in preamps, and either USB or firewire outputs. Firewire is usually best but is it compatibile with your computer?
    Here is a link

    The great part is that most of these units come with free software, but if you only want to use protools than only certain ones will come with that.
  4. I'm not looking to go over $300. So I guess that's my limit.

    Vocal microphone (SM58)
    Instrument microphone (SM57)
    (As for microphones, I'm just gonna get one MXL 990)

    Pair of powered (active) monitors with cables
    (What is a powered monitor?)

    Computer with FireWire interface and two separate hard disks
    (why do i need two hard disks?)

    As for acoustic treatment...I dont think i need that cause i'm still a newb.

    "The first mixer you listed is for a PA type of set up.
    I did not look at the others."
    What is a PA type of setup?

    Also, why is a recording interface better than a mixer?
    My friends said mixers are a better option.

    This is basically what my budget will look like

    Microphone: $70.00
    Mixer or Interface: $100.00
    Cables (dunno how many i need.. guessing two?): $40.00
    Stand: $20.00
    Pop Filter: $20.00

    Maybe I can spend a bit more on mixer/interface...
  5. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    While the Samson mixer says that is set up to interface with computer hard disc systems it utilizes a certain type of sound card which it does not seem to specify. This is another type of recording structure, I said there are many ways to do anything. The use of a mixer in a PA type system is live sound sent from mic to amplified speakers for increased volume to a crowd.
    A recording interface takes a signal preamplifies it converts it to a digital signal that the computer can recognize and record. My advice (and Boswell's who posted an almost identical recommendation while I was writing mine) is to use an interface system. You will get a cleaner signal as the dollars you are spending will buy better converters and preamps not faders and other unneeded equip.
    Presonus Audiobox ($149.00)
    You would be much better off getting a SM57 ($99.00) than the MXL condenser.
    1 Mic cable ($20.00)
    1 mic stand ($20.00)
    Less than 300.00
  6. 1. So basically what you're saying is get a recording interface rather than a mixer because mixers have a less clearer signal (sounds more like live)?

    2. Why would the SM57 be better than the MXL condenser? Isn't SM57 just for instruments..not vocals since its kind of a dynamic microphone? Also, do i need a shockmount and pop filter for it?

    3. Don't I need an extra cable to connect from audio box to comp? I'm guessing I use the USB to the computer...which brings me to my next question: Isn't firewire better than a USB interface

    4. What do you think about this: http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/Behringer-FireWire-Recording-Package?sku=243009&src=3WFRWXX&ZYXSEM=0&CAWELAID=162466788
  7. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Forget the mixer. The mixer is a pointless venture unless you are willing to spend 10-100x your budget. Believe it. Mixers look cool in a "Real" studio but that's because they have the hardware to make use of it.

    When it comes to recording in the box, the only thing that matters is getting a good signal to disc. Everything else is a bonus. If you can control the mix once it's in the box, that's a bonus. You can't do that with a mixer. You need a control surface. If you can eq the mix once it's in your box, that's a bonus. You can't do that with a mixer. You need a control surface. If you can record multiple channels to individual tracks simultaneously, that is a bonus. You can't do that with a standard mixer. You need an interface. You can't get a mixer/interface for under $300 that will record more than 2 channels at a time and the ones that you can get for $300 recording 2 channels at a time are a compromise because they sacrifice quality preamps and A/D conversion for the appearance of more channels.

    Your friends are giving you amateur advice because they are amateurs.

    You asked a question on a "pro audio forum" because well...many of the people on this forum are pros. Not all. Not most but many.

    You need an interface. Pick one. At the price point you are asking, you won't find much of a difference between them. Pick the one with the most robust software package.

    The Tascam US-122 comes with Cubase LE 4 (or AI or whatever it's called now). That will leave you room for one mic, one stand and one cable. And, you won't have to use pirated software.
  8. Okay so I'm definitely going for the interface now.

    But with this Tascam US-122, it seems that it is USB connected. Is this why I only need one cable for the mic to connect to the interface..and the usb connects to the computer? Also, Does it matter if it's USB? Isn't firewire better?
  9. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    USB gets the audio into the box. Firewire is definitely better if you want to get more than two channels into your DAW but, you will not find a firewire interface for less that $300.00. Not new anyway and you'd be hard pressed to get one used at that price.

  10. Okay so i guess i have to go usb. Well, I don't even know if I need more than two, because I'm just recording vocals and acoustic guitar; and maybe some electric guitar. Regardless, I'll be recording each stuff one by one.

    Also, I can record these into mp3's right? Not just onto a cd?

    Finally, is the PreSonus AudioBox USB or Tascam US-122 better?

    Or is there a better one in that price range?
  11. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    Sm 57 can be used for instruments or vocals (add $2.00 foam windscreen) a dynamic mic that sounds better on vocals than condensers in the less than $300 range IMO (and many others.) No shockmount /pop filter needed.
    USB cable to comp., firewire not needed on two channel recording.
    There is not a single piece of f$%$ing Behr%$#@) gear I could recommend.
    Huesephs recommendation of the Tascam is equivilant to the Presonus, I never used it though.
  12. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Well, voice and guitar....that's two in my book. Don't record to mp3. That's like watering down your beer with urine. Record to wav. If you really want an mp3 after the fact, there are plenty of free mp3 converters on the web. Well, there's LAME encoder anyway. You might download Audacity and LAME for Audacity. That'll give you a bit more control over your final product.

    As far as Presonus vs. Tascam. It's up to you. Both will do the job. Neither is "better" per se. How much "better" do you expect to get at $130?

  13. Well that's why I was asking. I have no clue what the price range should be for audio interfaces. I have no idea what company is the best. I'm a bit blind to this. Are there anymore options or are those two my best bet?

    Also for the SM57, the windscreens for that mic are like 15 bucks
  14. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    There are many options. The Tascam and Presonus are a safe bet. There are plenty of questionable ones and ones which require a preamp. The ones mentioned are all inclusive and will accept direct signal from an electric guitar or bass. Both also have midi.
  15. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    OK $7.00 windscreen
    Dual purpose mic for beginner priceless

  16. Is it compatible with the SM57?

    also what do you think about this:









    finally, after researching the PreSonus AudioBox, many users said that it was horrible with windows vista. what do you think about this?
  17. jg49

    jg49 Well-Known Member

    These are all slightly different offerings. The last Tapco is a midi interface I thought you wanted to record audio so probably not what you want.
    The Line 6 unit has amp modeling but no phantom power. Condenser mics require it so you won't be able to add one down the road.
    The ART does not come bundled with software and trust me getting Cubase or a similar software package for $50.00 more is a bargain for all these (even the LE) programs offer.
    The first Tapco is bundled with Tracktion software which I know nothing about, but this "hobby" of recording can be very addictive. You might want to start off learning a more popular pro program but really not sure. A lot of people have come into this thinking I am only going to get this wet and found all too soon that they wanted to swim. What I am saying is buy equip. you can grow with but the decision is yours. As far Presonus/Vista when Vista first came out they lagged in getting drivers with good compatability as far as I know those issues have been solved.
  18. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Tracktion is great software. Of all of those, I would take the Tapco Link Firewire interface. Tracktion is pretty intuitive. Easy to learn once you set it up. But as jg49 says you NEED to get something with software.
  19. What about the PreSonus AudioBox USB and Tascam US-122 that were talked about before? Would you take the Tapco Link firewire over the previous two?

    Is firewire that much better than the USB?

    And does anyone know if the PreSonus AudioBox is more compatible with more recent versions of vista? I don't want to get it an have problems that many have had before.
  20. hueseph

    hueseph Well-Known Member

    Well, again, it's up to you. I would take any of those over the other ones you posted but at this price point there isn't going to be a huge difference in audio quality. The Tapco, Tascam and Presonus are all comparable. Only the Tapco doesn't have midi ports. Still most midi controllers are usb capable these days so, it's not that big of an issue.

    Seriously though, at this point just pick one of the three and get on with it. If you're not going to spend considerably more, it won't make a shred of difference.

    Right now you need to get the hardware with the software and sit down to read the manuals and do the tutorials. Once you've done that you'll need to practice recording. Yeah. It takes practice.

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