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Hey guys,

I'm a bassplayer (electric bassguitar and upright bass) from Antwerp, Belgium. I'd love to make some good quality recordings of my rehearsals/live gigs. So far I used a Zoom H2N and Audacity for rehearsals. The result is not bad. Sure, it's not good enough to be published on social media but it gives me (and the band) an idea about how we sound and it gives us the opportinity to listen to ourselves and fine-tune the music if necessary. I would like to make better recordings but I have absolutely no clue where to begin. Is it possible to buy a high quality microphone and put it somewhere in the center of the room and record it to a PA mixer? If so, how do I get the music from the PA to my PC? And which microphone is good for that? I'm probably asking a lot of stupid questions I know ;-) And what (affordable) software would you recommend? All info is much appreciated!



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kmetal Sat, 08/30/2014 - 03:00

A lot of pa mixers will have a stereo out which you could plug into h2n. Direct mic the important stuff like kick snare keys gtr vocs, and set your balance w whatever speakers orl headphones you have so it sounds similar to other bands like you sound like on the system. Do this if while the bands playing if you can listen in a spare room, or just set some basic levels and listen to a brief recording and tweak things on the boar till you get close. Just gotta be patient sometimes, but you can get some decent practice recordings that would be fine just for reference and arrangement tweaks

If you want control over each instrument or mic after the recording you want a multitrack recorder. You'll need an audio interface like this and that would comfortably handle enough inputs for a typical rock band to make practice recordings. This would be the way to go if you want to build on the the recordings and make some more fleshed out demos

So depending open what you already have besides the h2n, and what your expectations are, you can figure out how much money it's gonna cost.

If you got that thing and a 6 or 8 shure sm mics you'd be doing ok for about the lowest cost of entry for decent reliable stuff, and it just goes upward from there.

There's some basic mic techniques you'll need to use and some other things you can do, but it's totLlyossible to make decent recongs in practice. Something like that would be the next step up from what your currently doing.

RemyRAD Sat, 08/30/2014 - 03:28

Welcome brother. You came to the right place. Electric and upright MMM MMM good. And... what kind of twerp is an Antwerp? Never mind... we can discuss that later.

What do ya mean your ZOOM is not good enough? It's perfectly wonderful. Capable of 24-bit, 96 kHz... who could ask for anything more? It's all in how you use it. Like the difference between your upright and your electric.

To give us a clue, what you want to do, we'd all like to have a little more information about your band? While, you may, or you may not know, that your ZOOM is capable of recording 4 simultaneous tracks. Of course that's 2 from the built-in, onboard microphones. And two, external, professional, XLR balanced, microphones. Or any combination thereof. In other words, you could use the 2 onboard microphones, which are quite nice. Then you could also take a feed from a small mixer, mixed in stereo, to the other to XLR or 1/4 inch, combo inputs.

The digital recording capability of that little gizmo, is really quite professional. It also doubles as a USB, computer audio interface device. Capable of recording 4 simultaneous channels, with 2 of those channels from the onboard built-in microphones. Such as in front of a drum set or a piano and other acoustic instruments. Which can then be supplemented by a few more microphones from a small mixer. Say... this drum and bass guitar on the left channel. Keyboards and guitar on the right channel. And now you're cooking with gas.

Since also doubles as a USB computer audio interface device, with your choice of multitrack software, you could position the overtop the drums, using the built-in microphones. Then you could put a microphone on the bass drum and plug that into the one of two ancillary XLR inputs. And the second microphone on your snare drum, to lay down a drum track, to four channels in your multitrack software. Then you could go back to the top and this time put the device in front of a piano, with the built-in microphones. Then plugged the guitar microphone into one of the two ancillary XLR inputs. With your bass guitar taken direct, from the output of your amplifier or direct via your pickup from your upright. And you're laying down an additional four tracks, into your software, for a total of eight channels. Then you go back to the top. You set up a vocal microphone like a SHURE, SM-58 with an additional large foam pop filter, for the vocalist. Which will plug into one of the open XLR inputs on the ZOOM. And then you can position the gizmo, a couple of feet away from your vocalist, to capture the sound of the room, from the built-in microphones, printing those two additional two extra tracks, in your multitrack software. For a total of 3 lead, vocal tracks that you'll position left, center and right, in your mix. Mixing in the left and right XY vocal room microphones, to taste. Not too much. Not too little. Then the lead vocal positioned, in the center of your stereo mix.

While you can't record more than 4 tracks, simultaneously, they are still of the utmost in quality. That little gizmo has some pretty fine analog to digital and digital to analog converters, that satisfies many a discerning ear. And voilà! Unfortunately, that's about the only French I speak. It was only a friend of the family's that my parents liked and so I was named after their acquaintance. There's no French in me except for mustard. Could you pass the gray mustard? I can't even properly pronounce that name? That's how American I am LOL.

While it can record at 24 bit, 96 kHz, wave files. You want to record with the wave files as they are not compressed data files like MP3. MP3 is for quantity. Wave files are for quality and are uncompressed. In fact, since I'm old school, I rarely bother with anything other than 16-bit, 44.1 kHz. It's still more than adequate. Better in quality than the finest analog studio recorders we used to use. And when your recorder cost you $2500 and its specifications aren't as good as your ZOOM gizmo. What do you have? One hell of a great bargain for the buck. Or Franks, Pounds, Marks, greenbacks. Or lire... peso, rubles, Yen, all that stuff we have in short supply.

Yeah... Audacity is decent shareware, for those that like to get confused. There are so many good multitrack software's out there but my favorite always has been, Adobe Audition. For you? Try to find an older used version or you may be able to still download the free, 3.0 version that Adobe, gave away last year? It is now considered obsolete in favor of their 64-bit programs which are up to CS (Creative Suite) 6. Meanwhile... I still use a really old version of 1.5, which I like very much. I don't care if it's still 32-bit it still runs under Windows 8.0, 64-bit operating system. And it does more than I need. I don't play around with MIDI where the later versions had it integrated. I go back to the previous ownership of Audition,, which was called Cool Edit 95 & 96. Which later was released, commercially, as Cool Edit Pro. Until they were purchased/bought out by Adobe. Who has released further enhancements to the program. Most of which, I find relatively unnecessary. Since in addition to the onboard effects and processing, and can also run third-party Direct X and VST plug-ins. Of which you'll find hundreds of popular third-party plug-ins. Few of which I possess since it is such a comprehensive program. And it's very user intuitive. ProTools by Avid, isn't all that intuitive and is rather quite deep. And then the Steinberg product line, which is also very popular.

Now none of the programs I've mentioned, are inexpensive. They cost in the hundreds of dollars. But wait! If you decide, you need at least 8 simultaneous inputs? There are other popular computer audio interface devices that can accommodate 8 XLR microphone inputs but which are also 1 quarter-inch combo inputs. Those devices require at least USB 2.0 or FireWire ports on your computer as opposed to the USB 1.1 that the ZOOM is. And with those $500 plus, average price computer audio multitrack interface devices, you'll find an incredible multitrack software package, included. Many of which have embraced the Steinberg product line. Where companies like Presonus, which are very nice devices, introduced their own rather spectacular, software package. Included with the cost of their gizmos. Normally costing $600 just for the software! And that's in US dollars.

So you have a world of possibilities awaiting you. You'll feel like a little kid in a candy store again. Or maybe a Belgian Brewery? I like the unfiltered wheat beer personally. Weiss or Dark. Which goes really well with multitrack recording. Hard to make a good recording without that stuff. That and a little mother nature. No I don't mean rain. Not wind or snow. Well... some musicians are into the snow, ya know? Not I. It was bad when they spilled it all over the recording tape. Luckily, you've got a solid-state recorder. Which allows for easier snow removal. Not the cold kind.

Now... the external microphones. Generally... whether for entry-level enthusiasts like yourself, to the top of the top recordings on the chart. One of my all-time favorites... well... two of my all-time favorites are the SHURE, SM-57 and the 58. $100 US new, each. They are identical microphones except that one has a metal ball and a little more Foam, in the metal ball. Fine for live, just the way it is. 10 times better, when ya put a large foam pop filter over the 58, for vocal recording purposes. Because if you don't have that extra foam, though vocalist will end up getting too close. The foam, puts the vocalist has a better distance from the diaphragm, in the microphone. This yields a vocal recording sound, damned near equivalent to the $3300 US, classic Neumann, U-87's. I kid you not! For $100 US. Now if that's not an incredible bargain? I don't know what is? And while I have those 87's and the older version, the tube 67's, valued at over $4000 each. 99% of the time, I used a $100, 58's and the 57's. Those are so versatile, we all typically use them on most all of the drums on a drum set. 99% of the time on electric guitar. 99% of the time on the vocalist's. On acoustic guitars. On upright basses. On piano. And just about anything else. This is what we use in the studio. This is what we use live. This is what we use.

And guess what? I'm not giving you any BS.
Mx. Remy Ann David

King Norre Sat, 08/30/2014 - 05:44

Hey guys, thanks for the info! It all sounds very complicated and chances are it's easier to learn how to speak Chinese than to make a good recording ;-) lol.
You were right about the Zoom ... I don't know how to use it. I just put it on a tripod in the center of the room and press rec at the start of a song and rec again at the end.
It's not bad but it's hard to get a good balance. Sometimes all I hear is bass, sometimes it's the guitar or the drums making the recording useless. So yeah, I get it that you need multiple mics to record each instrument and find a good balance using the software afterwards or even better, on the spot. However, if I record something now it takes about 2 sec to set it up. If I need 6 mics or so, a mixer, a laptop, etc ... by the time we can start our rehearsal it's time to go home. I'm afraid that's not really an option. How about if I just get 2 extra mics and use the 4 tracks? If I just spread the mics in the room (the Zoom in the center, one mic on one side of the room and the other mic on the opposite side), wouldn't that work?

Btw, Antwerp is a special kind of mustard-eating twerp ;-)
... and if there's anything you need to know about Belgian beers just ask ... I've tasted a few :-p

anonymous Sat, 08/30/2014 - 06:40

I don't know how to use it. I just put it on a tripod in the center of the room and press rec at the start of a song and rec again at the end.

You need to be more patient, and work with mic placement to find the sweet-spots in your room, if in fact there are any. Most home recording spaces are anything but good-sounding acoustically, and generally require some form of corrective treatment.

But even in pro studios, it's never just as easy as randomly putting a mic up just "anywhere". You need to realize - as so many of you who do this at home - that getting successful recordings requires far more than simply putting up a mic just anywhere and then hitting the R button on your DAW.

And until you research and learn which mics are what, how they are constructed, and how they work, as well as proper mic placement .... then adding more microphones to your workflow isn't going to accomplish anything other than adding more problematic issues.

Mic technique and placement is a science all on its own... it's a creative science, but a science nonetheless. Physics and geometry are involved in both the construction of the microphone and in the application of how a mic is used.

I suggest you do some research on your own, study the subject, and then apply what you've learned. This involves learning what not to do as well.

you could start here:

anonymous Sat, 08/30/2014 - 08:34

"This is what we use in the studio. This is what we use live. This is what we use."

I don't know to whom you are referring when you say "we". o_O

I think it's important to note here that this is Remy's preference... and that's fine... but it's not necessarily a preference or opinion shared by other pro engineers here, so understand that when she says "WE", she is NOT speaking for everyone here.

Yes, the Shure SM57, 58 and SM7 are all fine dynamic mics - But they aren't necessarily the only microphones that everyone else here would choose for every single application, as Remy has mentioned she does so often.

( It's also important to note that Remy is using very high quality Neve and API mic preamps... so yes, it's true that an SM57 through her Neve pre will likely sound a lot better than a U87 through a cheap $49 Behringer preamp will sound, but most people here aren't using these very high quality and high priced pre's. Sure there are a few of us here who do, but most are using what would be considered to be very good quality pre's and converters, average price being somewhere in the neighborhood of $600 - $1200, so we need to specify that while the engineers with "average" gear are using nice condenser mics, most aren't using $3000 - $5000 pre amps with them. )

That point aside, for those of us who do have a variety of mics to choose from, there are personal preferences, based on application. While I like the 57 for miking snare, the 58 for miking guitar amps, and yes, I do use a 57 for my LIVE vocal mic - these are not the first choices I would turn to in terms of recording a vocal, acoustic guitar, drum overheads, or, many other recording applications that require a greater sensitivity.

Being the owner of both the 57 and 58 (several) and also being the owner of several very nice condenser mics (a Neumann U87, a Neumann U89i (the U87's little cousin), several AKG 414's,) I can tell you unequivocally that the Shure dynamic mics that she mentioned in fact do NOT sound the same as those that I have just mentioned.

Yes... the 57/58 is a great mic for snare, amps, live vocal, etc., but it will NOT give you the same sensitivity, or nuances and textures, that a nice condenser like a U87, U89, or an AKG 414 will. You will not get the same silk, air, or sensitivity from a 57 or 58 that you will get from a high quality condenser matched with a good preamp.

In short, for her to say that there is no difference between an SM57/58 - and a Neumann U87, 89, AKG 414, Mohave, Bock, or other high-quality studio condenser mics is, well.... ridiculous.

I understand Remy's attachments to her 57's and 58's, we all have our own preferences and attachments when it comes to mics, but it's very important to note that just because she chooses to use these mics as her main "go-to's", or as a substitute - or to compare them to be equal to - high quality studio condenser mics, is not necessarily the same opinion or preference(s) that other pro engineers here at RO would share with her.

So take note that when she says "we", she very likely means "me" and is referring to herself. ;)



King Norre Sat, 08/30/2014 - 09:13

Opinions are always subjective, but that's ok. I asked for it :-) But yes, you're absolutely right. Since I'm a noob, I'm not going to spend thousands of dollars (or euros) just to make some recordings of my rehearsals. If I need a top quality recording of a song I just go to a professional study. I need a simple, fast, affordable, easy-to-use solution that gives me a little more control than I have now.

I realised I haven't told anything about my bands yet.
- bluesband: vocals/harmonica, guitar, drums, bass
- bluesband: vocals/guitar, sax, drums, upright bass
- singer-songwriter (acoustic): vocals/acoustic guitar, backing vocals, percussion, upright bass and sometimes violin

pcrecord Sat, 08/30/2014 - 09:44

DonnyThompson : I agree, a sm57/58 sounds a lot better on a highend preamp and a U87 (God I'd like to have one of those!) will sound more detailed in most applications.

The only thing I would add is that you might choose the 57/58 anyway depending on the texture of the vocal and the style of music you want to record. That's why, having many choices is important when recording others than yourself. The best mic/pre for your vocal may sound terrible on someone else vocal.

A good record tech will envision the sound he's after, listen to the source and choose the right tools to get there. (what ever he's got in his arsenal) ;)

kmetal Mon, 09/01/2014 - 02:00

Wow Kmetal, you beat me to the punch. Does this mean ya haven't gone to bed yet? Or did you really get up this early? I just got in from a hot time in downtown Austin. What's your excuse LOL?

Snore ZZZZ

Still up naturally, not an early riser :). My excuse is doing 4 live sound gigs a week, mixing a death metal ep, and planning and building a home theater with a buddy. Here's more about the weather... Hes putting some cesac speakers in there, they sound nice.

I'd say to the OP stick w ur h2n, but remember unless your gigging all the time you can just leave the mics setup for and just plug the recorder in quickly at each time.

You guys got any other gear? And mixers or headphones or anything? PA?

I'd use one track for drum overhead one for vocal/lead, the built in pair In a decent spot in the room. Those mics are pretty detailed so they can tend to pick up some brash stuff, if have u have some blankets for the walls or ceiling that will help a lot. I used to use a similar recorde at practice all the time, to record ideas and changes, and practice to later. No need to spend any money, use what you got, and after you know it well, you'll know if u need more or not. Good luck. Record some fun stuff!