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Recording essentials for an amateur?

Discussion in 'Recording' started by Unregistered, Sep 13, 2011.

  1. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    I want to record a bit, but I have zero experience. I am not very good with computers and I don't want to spent too much money (40/50 bucks) I don't plan to do much with the recording stuff. A few things I want to do: record both guitar and voice with a reasonable high bitrate, no background noise and the music will be used as background music, so ... it should sound like that xD. I really hope you can help me. Thanks
  2. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    You see, this is how it starts. All I wanted to do was a bit of recording. Just like you: a bit of guitar playing, maybe a bit of singing so, went out and bought a reel to reel. That was thirty years ago. Today I have a home studio filled with boxes, cables and laptops.

    Spend a bit more and you could buy a digital field recorder. The Fostex MR8Mk2 (£250 ota) sadly no longer available but 2nd hand ones might be. It's a great bit of kit but there are plenty of others available for under £100 that sound good when played back through a home audio or into headphones and many will download WAV files or MP3 straight onto a hardrive.

    But I bet in ten years from now you're nailing carpet to your walls and have enough equipment to fill a small bedroom.

    Good Luck
  3. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Haha. Thanks xd, though its more that I dont have more money than that.. But do I only need a microphone? Not some kind of filter or something? Thanks again.
  4. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Haha. Thanks xd, though its more that I dont have more money than that.. But do I only need a microphone? Not some kind of filter or something? Thanks again.
  5. Mirrormix

    Mirrormix Active Member

    What you'll always need is:

    -recording device and storage medium (formerly people used tape machines and tape, now digital systems and hard drives are are the norm)

    With that you can make an audio recording.

    Will using the bare bones get you anything near what you might imagine it would? Probably not, especially if you have no experience. But at least you know what you need.

    As to the matter of money, there are points of entry to any activity that require initial investment on your part. You can always do it for cheaper but you always trade off practicality in search of the lowest price possible. In your situation I'd recommend something very simple like a decent digital recorder. The ZOOM H2 is excellent for this kind of thing. It's $150, but it has 4 mics in it, internal preamps and it provides the recording device and the storage medium (an SD card or you can use it as an interface to a computer to record).

    I know it's out of your quoted budget, but as I mentioned there are points of entry that require investment if you want to do certain things. To stick to $40-$50 bucks is like someone saying they want a decent car for basic transportation but they only want to pay a few hundred bucks. At some point you realize that it's not worth going absolutely as cheap as humanly possible.
  6. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    Here's a nasty bit of reality...

    Save your money and don't buy anything... at this point.

    Take your $50 and find someone with a small amateur home studio. (It's best to find someone who's been at it at least a couple of years.)

    Go record a couple of songs with this studio owner. Pick the guy's brain. Look at his gear, ask him how much he's spent so far... and how much more they plan to spend.

    Now while you're recording and mixing up your music, watch what all he's doing...

    Chances are that your music will indeed be recorded in a digital environment... but once it's finished, listen to the quality of the recording. Does it sound as good as a recording you hear on the radio?

    Chances are that it isn't. But if that quality is acceptable for you, then just keep going back to that studio, or maybe one a little higher up the food chain in terms of quality.

    Here's the point I'm hoping to make you aware of... As a musician, your "job" is to make music. As an engineer, your job is to record music.

    I would estimate that for better than 3/4 of the musicians who self record, that their creative process is seriously impeded and dulled, due to having to suffer through the technical mumbo jumbo that's required to get the best possible recording.

    So, while you could get a couple of decent mic's, a pre-amp of decent quality and a simple 2 track analog recorder, like a reel to reel tape deck, you would still need to have mic cables, a couple of stands, a few other cables to interconnect the tape deck... you'll still need to get that analog recording to a CD or some other type of digital media. Doing this will require getting it to some sort of Analog to Digital (A/D) converter. You could burn straight to disk, by using a stand alone CDR unit, but that sure is a lot of potential wasted CD's.

    In the long run, I'd just spend my money going to a studio to see if it's even anything you really want to get into. Mainly because you'll find out that good mic's and mic-pre's are an investment, as are your cables and stands. Most everything else is disposable unless you sink significant dollars into higher end gear. Thus; Good stuff ain't cheap, and cheap stuff ain't always good.

    While there is something to be said about not buying expensive gear when you're starting out, it's also prudent to point out that the cheaper the gear you buy, the more often you are likely to need to replace it, or more quickly out grow it... thereby (IMHO), you're throwing money away, as it will not be worth more than 20%-40% of your original purchase, and can often be worth less than 5%-10%.
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member


    I think that number is closer to 90%, Max. If all the musicians who wanted a recording of their music were to actually go to a studio of some sorts on the first few passes, we'd have a lot less advice to hand out.

    You have to REALLY WANT to do the work of recording in order to be successful at it.

    Or you buy the Zoom recorder and have fun making recordings.
  8. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member

    The ONLY reason I didn't place the percentage higher is the "new" crop of "musicians" who make dubstep/rave/beats/etc.

    Typically, these genre's have nothing to do with actual performance based instrumentation, and are completely using synthesized and/or are prerecorded samples made by traditional musicians.

    While I personally don't find this to be the music I grew up appreciating, it is none the less, a type of art form in itself... and I s'pose it does take a bit of "talent" to edit artificial sounds into a musical composition.

    That being said, these "new music" types are by default plunged directly into the digital domain of learning the DAW workflow to even create the first aspect of musical creation.

    Otherwise, I agree that it's closer to 90%... if not more.
  9. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

  10. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    Practice in general is one huge recording essential. and it usually is free.
  11. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    Thanks everybody! I think Ill save some money and buy a zoom. Seeing its also a reasonable camera (which I dont have) it wont be wasted money. Ill see how well that goes, and finally , when Ive played around with it enouvh, Ill make a recording and give it to a pro recorder for hi opinion. Ill improve on what his criticism is.

    what do you think? Any better ideas? Thanks again!
  12. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    thanks everybody! I did some research and I think I'll buy a zooom h1. Though if anyone can recommend me something better, please do! As long as it's not too expensive.
  13. Unregistered

    Unregistered Guest

    - Microphone
    - Audio interface
    - Computer
    - Monitor speakers
    - TRS 1/4" male-to-male cable to connect monitor to interface (x2)
    - DAW software

    Later add:
    - External preamp
    - Condenser/dynamic microphone to compliment your first
    - Software plugins to taste

    Repeat until you've reached the quality level you want.
  14. MadMax

    MadMax Well-Known Member


    Triple that total budget to satisfy your sudden dispsosition, that the sonic properties of both the tracking space and mixing room are equally as important as the source and as such, is more important than the gear... but then you sell all that gear and get proper gear to go along with your proper environment....

    Then you die broke...

    Happy... but VERY broke.
  15. Mojito0481

    Mojito0481 Active Member

    A great tool for those just starting out is VocaLIXIR. It has free recording software, tips for creatively writing and recording your own songs, and instrumental music provided. It is mainly for vocal artists but it definitely makes it easy to get started.

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