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Recording Multiple Tracks

Hi there!
I posted elsewhere but after reading I think this forum is best.

I have a Behringer XENYX 1202 mixer (I know but it was cheap and I was a noob!) with the UCA202 USB Interface to provide the input to my laptop. I want to adjust levels for each channel (vocals, keys etc.) after recording in Audacity.
How can I go about this? Perhaps by using a different usb interface? At the moment I can only record the mixed stereo tracks and not each one at the same time separate.

Thanks, I have a very small budget but once I know what I need I can save up!

Comments

Codemonkey Fri, 09/18/2009 - 14:18

I'm going to guess you need no more than 10 tracks but I honestly don't know...

You have ... 1 vocal?
1 keyboard (stereo?)?
What else?

Also you must have mics - do they use XLRs (like real mics) or are they 1/4" connectors (like you find in cheapo karaoke setups)?

This all determines what kind of solution you need, mics and line outputs (from keyboards) are different (and guitars are different again) so you need to accomodate everything.

Boswell Sat, 09/19/2009 - 06:08

dspickett wrote: Hi there!
I posted elsewhere but after reading I think this forum is best.

I have a Behringer XENYX 1202 mixer (I know but it was cheap and I was a noob!) with the UCA202 USB Interface to provide the input to my laptop. I want to adjust levels for each channel (vocals, keys etc.) after recording in Audacity.
How can I go about this? Perhaps by using a different usb interface? At the moment I can only record the mixed stereo tracks and not each one at the same time separate.

Thanks, I have a very small budget but once I know what I need I can save up!

For simultaneous multitrack recording, you don't really need a mixer unless it's for generating a monitor mix. The usual thing to use is a multi-track interface.

Now it is possible with some mixers to take what are called "direct outs". These are outputs that are tapped off from each channel after the pre-ampllfier and before that channel's contribution is added to the mix. Other mixers that are not fitted with direct outs often have "insert" points in each channel that can often be pressed into service as direct outs. Unifortunately, your 1202 has neither of these, so can't be used as part of the multitrack recording chain, but it still could find use as a monitor mixer, as mentioned before.

This leaves you with a choice: use your existing gear, laying down only one or two tracks at a time, or save up for a multitrack audio interface. Come back here for advice in that area when you have thought about how you want to proceed.

I should imagine that you will not be eternally satisfied with only recording the pickup output from your guitar. You should consider an instrument microphone to record some of the acoustic sound as well, although your future SM58 would make a perfectly reasonable instrument mic.

Another point is that Audacity is not the best software for this job. It does not easily allow more than two tracks to be recorded at once, and also for tracking work the output is not synchronised with the recording input, so you end up having to time-shift your new tracks after each take to line them up with the previous ones. If you are looking for a low-cost multitrack program, Reaper is better for this job.

dspickett Sat, 09/19/2009 - 07:03

Thanks for your reply. I thought it was like that. I agree about the Guitar, my guitar preamp onboard is pretty good actually but I think I will either get another pickup when I get my next guitar or mic it.

I'd like to find out about prices for Multi Tracks, I get quite confused looking through places such as Dolphin Music. I have a very small budget which should increase quite a bit over the next few months.

Ideally, I'd like the cheapest options but I would like something that will last.

dspickett Mon, 09/21/2009 - 09:02

Thanks! Looks great, is there a UK website though? I would ideally buy through somewhere like Dolphin Music but any UK site would be great.
The PreSonus FireBox has caught my eye! http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/product/7768-presonus-inspire-1394.html looks good as well but I will check out the web for some cheaper prices.

I presume I just click record and it will automatically do multiple tracks, for example in the included Cubase 4 LE? My laptop doesn't have FireWire so I could go down the USB route with something like: http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/product/3015-m-audio-mobile-pre-usb-bus-powered-preamp-and-audio-interface.html will that record as I want it to?

dspickett Mon, 09/21/2009 - 10:25

Thanks! I've done my research and found that http://www.sonomawireworks.com/ have a very nice feature on what interface for which price range.

http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/product/39055-line-6-pod-studio-ux1.html
or
http://www.dolphinmusic.co.uk/product/39056-line-6-pod-studio-ux2-pro-tone-recording-modelling-interface-.html
are my current choice! Whatever I can get from my account moneywise.

Do you have any experience with M-Audio or Lexicon? They are priced around the same and I'd like an extra opinion. The PreSonus seems a little out of my budget and the software with them doesn't have all the modelling.
Line 6 my best bet?

Codemonkey Tue, 09/22/2009 - 10:17

I have no opinions on Lexicon or M-Audio having never used either.

I believe Line 6 is mostly for electric guitars where people don't want to or can't use an amp. The modelling is mostly to replace that rather than add tone to an acoustic guitar - although it can be used like that if you wish.

You say you have an acoustic with pickups? As opposed to some thin but heavy affair that is about as loud as a rabbit farting until you plug it in and distort the life from it.

That only needs a 1/4" line input. There's a small issue with this that can be fixed with a £40 DI box somewhere down the line - although most DIs output via balanced XLR rather than a 1/4" jack. If you have balanced 1/4" inputs, you just need a XLR-TRS adapter cable (along with the DI :)).

Your keyboard has a stereo output, apparently? Is this via the headphone jack or does it have something marked either:
"line out" or "direct out" or possibly:
"L (mono)" or "L (L+R)" and a 2nd jack "R" next to it?

A stereo input plugged into a balanced input will essentially vanish your sound except for something that will sound like a very echoey room.
So you either use an unbalanced cable/input or a mono output.

You have 1 and possibly 2 mics, needing XLR connections.

I'd settle for any interface with the relevant connections, which I would say was 2 XLRs and 2 1/4" inputs. So long as you can use all 4 separately.
You don't really need to worry about getting balanced connections; it's just something else that can go wrong.

Here's a cheat:
Your mixer has pan controls, right? If you use that for your mics (and sacrifice some lovely clean tone) you can pan one hard left, and one hard right. Connect the mixer's L out and the R out to separate line inputs and hey presto - mic signals. The mixer acts as a preamp.

So if you just want to make some songs and not worry too much about quality, all you really need is an interface with 4 line inputs.
The M-Audio Delta 44 has 4 for about £70 I think, but it's a PCI card rather than USB - not laptop-friendly.

dspickett Tue, 09/22/2009 - 11:15

Thank You. I'm getting an electric primarily so when I record I get almost pure vocals on the Mic Channel and not a mixture of a bit of acoustic as well but also for performances. Line 6 looks great but it has just two output tracks even on the UX2.

"You say you have an acoustic with pickups?" I may buy a pickup for it, it's just got a pezzo mic at the moment.

My keyboard has a Output/Phones one 1/4" output. So no separate L+R cables. The echoey room problem I believe I have!!! I tried turning off the DSP on my keyboard to no effect. Thanks for telling me of that problem!

Mixer Cheat: I hoped I could do exactly that!!

USB is a must and USB powered really, I'm going to be doing some portable work probably and lugging around a PSU isn't great. Budget is around £100 or less if that can be done! Ideally I'd like separate 4 channel multitrack so for each mic and two guitars or two guitars and the mixer.

dspickett Tue, 09/29/2009 - 08:21

I think I'm going to go with the Pod Studio UX2 what with my new electric and everything. I'm going to invest in a SM58 for Christmas hopefully.

Unless someone can find a USB interface for £150 or less that has 4 simultaneous recording outs. I really like the software Bundle with the Pod Studio however.

Any final ideas?

dspickett Sat, 10/17/2009 - 13:41

Just a quick update; the UX1 has arrived! It looks great and the sound quality is really really good! I have been told it has made a huge difference to my recordings and POD Farm and Ableton Live Lite 7 are just a great pair and simple to use.

I really do recommend it to anyone wanting to record Guitar or Vocals or both. The mic preamps are really great and overall it does sound like a real Studio in a way. Thanks for helping!

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