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Connecting the recording world together...

Hello. This is my first post; I would really appreciate some help. I should probably stick around and learn more after, though, as I've been recording for a long time. I might have a toughie here, and it's a long question too. I have included any information that I think is valid and probably some which is not.

I've been recording at home for a decade, but have always been on the extreme primitive side of things. I used win 95 sound recorder on an ancient PC and a fisher price tape deck for years, doing all the math for looping and counting by handclaps. Weird, I know. Next I moved on to a Behringer USB dealie, using a busted tascam fourtrack as a sort of direct box just to have mic inputs and faders and recording in Audacity. That was meeting my needs for another five years before grinding out. Turns out the codec on my Behringer kept switching the HD access mode on my latptop (acer aspire 1, cheapie) from DMA to PIO and causing severe audio problems. I am still on the same laptop and have rocketed into the future by purchasing a MARK 1 Tascam US-122 (Goodwill, 40 bucks, probably overpaid). I installed downloaded drivers, it powers on, and plugging my mic (a shure ampro 100, ancient thing) into the line in/R jack, and turning EVERYTHING up, I get signal LED flashing when tapping the mic and OL (overload LED flashing when yelling). Looking at the control panel, I can use the tuner function under the us-122 entry and it actually works, the meter there shows input levels and I can overload it if I yell into the mic. I can hear the taps through the headphone jack of the US-122, but no signal seems to be getting into any program I attempt to record with (audacity, reaper, even sndrec). I did NOT install the Cubase LE 1.08 OEM disc or the Gigastudio 3.0 disc that came with the US-122, mostly because I don't have a CD drive on this thing.

The acer is a winXP machine. Under sound and audio devices in the control panel, I have the US-122 selectede as default for sound playback (listed as Us-122 out) and sound recording (listed as US-122 A:B). I haven't changed the midi music playback device. I also have the us-122 selected as voice playback and voice recording for good measure. Under hardware, I see US-122 WDM interface and TASCAM US-122 as devices, and the window states that they are both working properly. Under control panel, the Tascam us-122 entry itself appears and has 2048 selected as the latency, with "midi and audio enabled". The tuner tab works: I can tune my violin to it at least.

Reaper seems cool; I would be happy if I could get audacity working again even, but I think I'm interested in reaper. Reaper recognizes the US-122 as an "audio system" audio device under preferences and lets me select it as WDM kernel streaming, directsound, or waveout but not ASIO or "wasapi". I can also choose 16, 24 or 32 bit. This might as well be Cherokee to my ear, as I am 92% clueless in this arena. Which one of these systems should I use, assuming my problem is as simple as the wrong mic or something, or otherwise unrelated to the choice here? Should I used 32 bit because it's the highest, or 16 because the Us-122 is an older machine?

What exactly is my problem here, aside from antiquated stuff (I do not have this thing that you call "money")? Is my mic just not putting out enough? There is a phantom power switch on the US-122 to send power to a condenser mic, but I don't really know if this is one or not, or what a condenser mic is specifically. Turning the switch on adds a lot of noise to the signal without really increasing the "hotness" of the mic; it works either way but not enough to make a dent in a track that's recording. The program IS listening to the tascam, I think, because if I fiddle with knobs and switches I can sometimes get a quick peak from flicking a switch. There are mic in ports, but I do not have a three-prong mic right now (the ampro is 1/4). Is that my main problem? I just want to record acoustic instruments (violin, melodica, acoustic guitar, small percussion items, chord organ) or mic'ed electric guitar amp in some basic multitrack setting. In a minute I can try electric guitar line out from the amp into one of the Line /guitar in ports. The documentation says they have balanced impedance or something, so you can use a line from an amp and presumably NOT blow a smoking hole in it like I did with my Soundblaster 16 back in the day (goodbye sound in commander Keen and Doom.exe).

Ok, no smoking hole. If I run a line out from my amp (just a marshall practice amp, again, poor - into the line/guitar in port on the us-122, i get signal LED activity and can hear it through the headphone jack. It's not loud even with everything turned all the way up, though, and the recording issue is the same - not even a jump on the levels UNLESS I turn my amp up all the way (just for a second, it IS five AM here), in which case I get a very minor fluctuation in the "armed track" in reaper (not the main horizontal line showing levels as you record, but the small vertical track itself. A little bit of orange blippery appears at the bottom of it, in the -35 DB range. I have tried this while wearing pants and also pantless and the results seem about the same.

One more issue: this laptop has some foolish program called "realtek HD audio manager" which appears to be integrated. Could that be messing with my settings somehow? I have it as turned off as I can get it, but the icon still appears in my tray.

I also don't have a working battery for this laptop, so I get interference from the power brick when it's plugged in, which is a pain, but I'm not sure what else to do about that. Just suck it up and buy one, I guess; but I might be better off saving up for a newer laptop. This one has a billion other issues. I can't really afford a new laptop right now. I digress.

Do I need to hook the line outs (rca) into the computer with some other device? Don't think so. I assumed the USB connection was what was actually carrying the data into a program. All I have is that Behringer, which I don't think would work since the tascam is like the selected audio device; you can't have two going at once. I assume the line outs are for monitors or some device not attached to the computer. Why is my signal so quiet?

Thanks in advance to anyone who climbed this textwall and extra thanks to anyone who can offer suggestions.

IIRs Fri, 08/26/2011 - 13:19

Adjutant Asafoetida, post: 375526 wrote: Reaper recognizes the US-122 as an "audio system" audio device under preferences and lets me select it as WDM kernel streaming, directsound, or waveout but not ASIO or "wasapi".

ASIO is the one you want. Download the US-122 ASIO drivers and install them, then select those ASIO drivers in Reaper's preferences.

You will also need to arm a Reaper track, select the relevant input and (if you want to hear the input signal through Reaper's mixer as you record) turn on monitoring.