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Recording at Home - need sound advise

Discussion in 'Recording' started by jasadi, Jan 9, 2013.

  1. jasadi

    jasadi Active Member

    Hi ...I am trying to find out a recording device to record my Setar/Not Sitar (Persian instrument that has medium sound ... that is not strong and it is acoustic) at home ... I used devices like iPhone but the recording is not pleasant and has a tinny sound to it... does anyone has any suggestion?
  2. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    an sm57, cable, a computer/tape machine, and an interface. that'll do you better.
  3. jasadi

    jasadi Active Member

    Home Recording...

    Thanks kmetal ... I have an Assure mic ....I have a laptop too... so do I need to connect the mic through its cable ... jack adapter to laptop's mic input? What software should I use? ... Windows 7 has its own recording interfaces (Media player)...
  4. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    What K described is sufficient, although bare bones in regard to getting depth and space of your recordings.

    I've tracked sitar many times in the past and have always used two mics, in a stereo array, generally the X-Y method using condensers, BUT you could easily use two 57's in that same pattern and get very nice results.

    I would not use Media Player as your platform, nor would I rely on the laptops's audio input.

    If you want decent results, you're probably not going to get it using the way you envision.

    I would purchase a cheap 2 channel USB audio interface (USB) with mic pre amps, and track it to a dedicated recording program like Reaper, Sonar, Cubase, etc.


  5. jasadi

    jasadi Active Member

    Thanks DonnyThompson ... I am a very novice when it comes to recording... so what I need specifically (name and model, place to order) to get a decent result? By the way, looking at Amazon ... I came across "[h=1]Tascam DR-05 Portable Digital Recorder"... what do you think of it?[/h]
  6. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    why don't you be more specific as to what it is you want to do with your music, as well as your expectations for sound quality?

    Is this just for your own personal enjoyment? Or are you looking at a commercial release?

    Are you looking at potentially hiring yourself out as a session musician, and doing tracks at home and then being able to send them to clients in need of your instrumentation?

    The more professional you plan on being, the higher the expectations will be.

    Yes, you can use a portable recorder like the Tascam... some are nice and provide very nice results if you know what you are doing in terms of placement and gain structure.

    But ....if you would want the ability to overdub other parts, or other instruments (tabla, dohl, etc) or have the ability to effect one part with processing without effecting another, or adjust levels of one take over another, you're still going to need a recording platform in a computer in which to do that.

    I think you have a lot of research to do in terms of not only what you need to do but more importantly, how to do what you want to do, based on your expectations.

    If you wanna compete with the quality of say, Ravi Shankar recordings, you'll need more than just a pocket digital recorder....of course, it wouldn't hurt to actually have Shankar's talent, either. ;)
  7. jasadi

    jasadi Active Member

    A couple of points DonnyThompson ... my Instrument is Setar no Sitar (a Persian instrument - Kiya Tabassian demonstrates the setar - YouTube) ... secondly.. the recording that I want is based on Solo playing and sharing it with my friends (Facebook or otherwise). What I want is that the result of recording be pleasant and not distorted (the way it is played). For example the link I included above; I don't know what he has used to record ... that is how it should sound...
  8. gdoubleyou

    gdoubleyou Well-Known Member

    Also be aware that the room you record in also has a sound to it, do some research on room treatment for recording.
  9. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I checked out a few videos on Setar... the only one I saw that showed miking was for a live performance:

    Namaad Ensemble in Concert (4/6) - YouTube

    I didn't see any stereo mic technique involved, but I think you'd probably be better off if you did, as the stereo pair would get you a nice depth and width to your recordings that using just one mic would not.

    Not that there's anything wrong with using just one mic, you just won't get a stereo recording.

    As far as I can tell they are using SD (small diaphragm) condensers... as to which ones model wise, I couldn't tell...maybe Nuemanns... if that's the case, these are top dollar and while they are very nice mics you don't need to spend that kind of money to get nice results. You could get into a pair of decent SD condensers for around $400.

    You will need to get an audio interface for your PC though... relying on a laptop's 1/8" mic input isn't gonna cut it, first off, the converters built into the laptop are the cheapest made, and this will absolutely effect your sound.

    Secondly, condenser mics require power to operate. This is referred to as "Phantom Power" and is a feature that is on most, if not all, dedicated mic pre amp/USB audio interfaces. You don't need to spend a kidney on one of these either for what you want to do. A couple hundred bucks should get you going with good results, and, just so you know, you can use any mic with an audio interface ... it doesn't have to be a condenser if you just want to start with a $100 SM57/58.

    And finally, Gdouble is absolutely right... the room in which you record will make a big difference as to the sound you end up with.


  10. jasadi

    jasadi Active Member

    DonnyThompson ... I realy appreciate your time here... just to let you know, I have: 1 Shure SM57 Dynamic mic and an AM100 Acoustic Master amplifier by Yorkville... can these be used in helping me in recording a decent sound (that is to be share with my friends/facebook...)?
  11. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    I think almost any microphone except for a ribbon microphone, is going to make your instrument sound tinny? Many of these microphones mentioned all helped to accentuate that tinny sound you don't like, you don't want.

    So what I really think you need is a quality USB computer audio input with XLR microphone input. And you need to purchase something like a Cascades Fat Head ribbon microphone or two. One for Mono and two for Stereo. But you can get away quite nicely with just one as good Mono is good. This will bring out any roundedness and warmth that instrument may have. Whereas any condenser or dynamic microphone will just accentuate the tinny sound. And that all starts at the microphone. It doesn't matter what you saw on television. Because that's different. The pictures influence how you perceive the sound. So without the pictures, you don't want to sound tinny. So you use a ribbon microphone. They really shine on instruments such as those and there is hardly anything that can compare. Just other ribbon microphones. And they are unique in how they pick up the sound of instruments like yours. They also help to mask not so good room acoustics so as not to accentuate them like dynamic or condenser microphones will overdo.

    Your Acoustic Master amplifier will not come into use for your recording purposes. This is for playback purposes. The decent sound will be obtained through one or two ribbon microphones in a room that is not overly acoustic but rather dead in its acoustic signature. Such as a living room or bedroom. There are no quality acoustics to be had in a small living space at all. Not really. Not much. Rarely. But sometimes it does work out well in larger rooms in houses. I don't know how many cubic feet your recording space is, so I can't make any judgments. Most everyone here is asking questions about home recording in living rooms, bedrooms and basements. So you're not after the room sound. Ain't that kind of studio right? Right.

    The microphones will still be around a $200 price point US and you will find ribbon microphones any cheaper unless you make them yourself. And there are instructions on the Internet as to how to do that as a DIY project. Something you might want to consider if you've enjoyed toying with electrical kits in the past? This is one of the oldest, simplest and most straightforward microphone designs of all times. And you make it out of a piece of aluminum foil and a magnet. Microphones were even repaired from the tinfoil one found in their cigarette packs. It's all in the coronation and the slicing. And you can make and try one ribbon after the other. It's a fun project to try and you could be very gratified by and save hundreds upon hundreds of dollars if not thousands. You might even consider building some for others and sell them? It's a cottage industry today. Lots of folks are doing it. If they're not doing it here, they're doing it in China.

    You can tell I like ribbons on instruments like yours.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  12. jasadi

    jasadi Active Member

    Thanks for an in depth and informative response RemyRadd .... so a couple of follow ups:
    - Can you give me a couple of reputable ribbon mics?
    - So, I understood that I will connect the mics to the USB port of my computer (an HP laptop). So What do I need to use for recording then?
    - Do I need anything else in this scenario for my recording that is happening in a basement room of my house?

    Take care...
  13. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    So far, I don't know of any ribbon microphones that include a internal USB interface. Ribbon microphones are not considered to be your everyday run-of-the-mill general-purpose microphone. Which is why you're not seeing any with USB built into the microphone. With these ribbon microphones, you will need a legitimate USB or FireWire computer audio interface that has at least 2 XLR microphone inputs. You won't be needing the phantom power and should not use it with any ribbon microphone that is a standard passive ribbon microphone. Active output ribbon microphones are far beyond your budget. Behind my budget! And those still require a computer audio interface.

    A low-cost but really nice quality computer audio interface can be had through Pre-Sonus for as little as $150 US as are others. And these all also include a very nice multi-track audio software bundle. So you will be dropping just shy of $500 US for a couple of Cascade (or other similar quality) ribbon microphones and the computer audio interface. But this will give you a sound that will be round, fat, natural sounding. Not tinny. Not thin. Ribbon microphones hear more like your ears do and sound far less electronic than any condenser or dynamic microphone sounds. Those microphones (dynamic and condenser) are much more appropriate for rock 'n roll recording, symphonic work, announcers, etc.. And ribbon microphones are smooth fat and lush sounding, all of them, any of them.

    Your only other items you may need are a pair of headphones and a pair of powered monitor speakers, cables, microphone stands. And you'll be cooking with gas LOL.

    Plucked instruments can be hard to capture because of the strong transients produced. Ribbon microphones don't cause high-frequency overload like condenser microphones will on plucked instruments. And that's why ribbons are so right for your application. Audio Technica, SHURE, Royer, Beyer and others make some nice ribbon microphones that will also likely be well out of your budget. And while there is a difference between the cheap ones and the nicer ones, they still all sound like ribbon microphones and not like condenser or dynamic microphones sound. Some of the cheaper microphones have a $100 optional quality transformer that can be ordered with the microphone if you want that 150+ dollar microphone to sound like a $1500 microphone. Otherwise it will only sound like a $700 microphone LOL. All for $159 or so US. $259 with a transformer upgrade. And it's hardly needed.

    As far as what else you might need in your basement scenario room, you'll better know that once you get those ribbon microphones. They have a tendency to be able to eliminate a lot of nasty acoustics. They're not as sensitive as those condenser and dynamic microphones are so they do not accentuate or amplify all of that low-frequency rumble and high frequency airborne noise. They also feature a figure of 8 pattern which, while still being directional like a cardioid is more like having a pair of cardioid's back-to-back. While being extremely dead on the sides. And it's there that it eliminates half of the bad acoustics in your room LOL. Because it's not picking up anything sideways. Just front to back. And where it will pick up a little room ambience along with a very tight directional feel from the closer up direct sound from your instrument. You can use a pair for a very interesting Stereophonics technique known as the Blumleine (I spelled that wrong OMG). Which is aiming them in a crisscross direction. Or you can create MS stereophonic microphone technique also with bidirectional, ribbon microphones. Which is then easily decoded in a matrix in software. And another great way to make stereophonic recordings that allow you to adjust the stereo width in the software. And with complete Mono compatibility for monaural playback systems such as a tabletop radio.

    That's all the news fit to print.
    Mx. Remy Ann David
  14. jasadi

    jasadi Active Member

    Thanks again David for the info and the education ... so my laptop (HP ProBook 6460b) has WireFire connection. ... so what model of Cascade ribbon mic should I be looking for? Does that ribbon mic come with a WireFire connector or I need to get get that separately? If separelty, what brand/model should I look for? And after all, for recording (I assume I need software app) what should I be using? BTW, where would you suggest to buy those items from?

    Take care ...
  15. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Well-Known Member

    No... no ribbon microphone has a digital output. They are all analog outputs designed to go into standard XLR microphone preamp inputs. So you will have to get a USB 1.1, 2.0 or FireWire interface enabled unit. Pre-Sonus has a number of units ranging in price from approximately $150 US for their Audio Box USB 1.1, 2 XLR microphone input device. For $100 extra, you can get the Audio Box USB 2.0 unit, which offers a number of real-time effects that can be monitored during the recording process. Which allows you to include compression/limiting, EQ, reverb or other digital based time delay effects. That you cannot do with the USB 1.1 unit unless it is rendered after the fact. So you cannot hear the effects during your recording process.

    Optionally, they also offer a couple of 8 input, XLR microphone, FireWire interfaces. These allow up to eight simultaneous inputs going to eight independent discrete different recording tracks. This also has the capability of delivering real-time effects during the recording process.

    All of the above devices are included with an absolutely phenomenal multi-track audio and MIDI software and sample package bundle. This software would normally cost upwards of $500 all by itself. And there is virtually nothing you cannot do with that incredible software that is included with each one of those pieces of hardware in your purchase.

    Because your computer has both USB 2.0 (downwardly compatible with USB 1.1 devices) and FireWire, you have your choice of what kind of interface your budget will allow for. Those multi-track eight input devices start around $500 US. Not sure where to tell you where to get it in Canada? I'm sure many of our other Canadian members can better advise you, where to purchase in Canada.

    Of course there are many other similar computer audio interfaces and computer enabled mixers that will vary widely in pricing from $150 US to $150,000 US. And where some of those actually have the recorders built right into the mixers with an interface to the computer. So the budget is your only limit as to what you can select. And quality doesn't change much until you get over 10-$20,000. Below that, much of everything is not much different from everything else in a similar price category. So you look for the features you think you might need and how many tracks you need to record simultaneously. Some are analog mixers with a digital computer audio interface. Where others are digital mixers that can offer different capabilities of just a digitally controlled analog mixer. And a computer audio interface doesn't have any extra whizbang features like a mixer. It's more just like a recorder with inputs and outputs. It's the software package that is the mixer inside the computer and controlled by your mouse or some other external digital controller by yet another manufacturer.

    This entire process is a money pit as you grow your facility and capabilities. You are starting with the bare minimum which is all this really necessary for most home recording enthusiasts. It only gets different, if you're going to be capturing numerous simultaneous multi-track sources, all simultaneously. And that's where you may need more than eight inputs to capture an entire band live?

    You can certainly surf equipment dealers sites such as Guitar Center, Sweetwater, many others that offer both new and used equipment. Used equipment from a dealer is almost always a good bet and a great buy for those starting out and for those professionals that are looking for a bargain and a break. Or at least something that's not already broke LOL. The only thing that's going to end up broke... is you. Like the rest of us, it's a sickness, an addiction, an obsessive-compulsive disorder where we have to constantly keep cleaning and washing our audio until our fingertips are red from all of the mouse clicking, keystrokes and knob twiddling until the cows come home and when pigs fly.

    I think there are special psychiatrists just for audio engineers?
    Mx. Remy Ann David

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