help me get started.

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by KnowThisx, Feb 21, 2006.

  1. KnowThisx

    KnowThisx Guest

    so im sitting around with my friend and BAM it hits me..a sudden interest in sound recording/engineering/production.
    i want to set up a little recording studio type thing for guitars and vocals mostly.

    so what do i need?.... what kind of mics, software, hardware? tell me what i need to buy.

    all i have is:

    a computer
    a 30 dollar little computer mic
    a guitar
    an amp
    adobe audition
    and will power! WOO!
  2. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    To begin with your computer's soundcard considering that it is a Sound Blaster or equivalent is rather substandard. Usable in a marginal Way, but is to say the microphone input is definitely awful while the line input is about adequate for learning purposes.

    Your Adobe Audition software is quite good. I recommend that you purchase a relatively inexpensive small mixer that features at least 4 "XLR" 3 pin balanced microphone inputs with phantom power supply capability. Phantom power is needed for most condenser microphones unless you have a type that can accommodate a AA penlight battery. Many inexpensive startup mixers are available from companies like Mackie, Beringer and others that can cost you less than $200.

    For microphones, I recommend the Shure SM58. The ones you always see on television and the one that bands used most often at their live gigs. They generally run about $120 at your local music store/mail order. They are wonderful microphones that have been used for many hit records. Bono uses one in the studio handheld since he likes to move and jump around a lot and Bruce Swedien uses a similar microphone the Shure SM 7b, which is a finer version of the SM58 and costs about twice that of the SM58.

    I might also suggest a better soundcard than your computer's onboard type. There are a multitude of selections out there. Edirol (Roland Corp.), Yamaha, M-audio (owned by Digidesign), Presonus and others offer from 2 track inputs to 8 to 10 and more. Some require that you installed a PCI card into your computer. Some offer Fire Wire or USB connectivity and do not require anything to be installed inside your computer, which is much more convenient.

    If you have a relatively current Pentium 4, Pentium 3 style computer with at least 512MB of RAM, you should be good to go. I also do not recommend that you attempt to use your music computer as your Internet computer. I might also recommend it to purchase an additional sizable hard drive, to be used for recording/playback storage purposes only that do not have your operating system on it. Using your Internet computer for music purposes generally does not work well since there are too many conflicts and resources being used for your Internet uses.

    I'm sure you will find other people posting their suggestions here for you as what you are requesting is all quite subjective and everybody has their favorite pieces and methods.

    Happy track making!
    Ms. Remy Ann David
    Ms. Remy Ann David
  3. KnowThisx

    KnowThisx Guest


    thanks. this is useful. but about soundcards..they are external right? like an mbox? what is there main purpose? do i like plug my guitar straight into it? hows it work? and do you know of any relatively inexpensive soundcards that work well?
  4. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    I just thought you should "Know This x" the thing about sound cards is, they are about 33-33-33%. 33% of them must be installed in a PCI slot within your computer and the 33% offer Fire Wire or USB connectivity, while the other 33% must have a card installed along with an associated breakout box externally. So not all sound cards are external. In the case of my Mark of the Unicorn (MOTU) 2408, I have to install a PCI card into the computer and then plug in the "special cable" (the special cable is a fire wire cable but this is not a FireWire interface, we make other products that are) to the "breakout box" which has all of the input, output and metering on the breakout box. In this particular case the analog to digital and digital to analog converters are inside the breakout box as opposed to being on the PCI card. Other cards may have the converters on the card. I believe that is more typical of cards that offer less than eight to 24 channels? But I could be wrong?

    Regarding inputting your guitar, the guitar's pickup output is a very low voltage level, kind of like a microphone. Many of these cards are mostly line or microphone inputs. Not many offer a musical instrument DI input that is high enough in impedance so as not to "load down" a guitar pick up. That is where a good purpose built DI designed for guitar's is recommended. Most guitars outputs require an input impedance of at least one million ohms or more. That is why tubes are so good along with FETs or " field effect transistors" which have extremely high input impedance and as opposed to a standard bipolar transistor, which is of a medium impedance. You would then plug your DI into your balanced microphone input and voilà!

    As far as recommending a sound card I like the Mark of the Unicorn product line. They offer both PCI and FireWire devices from 8 to 24 inputs. If you go with an M-audio card they have multiple options as well along with the added advantage of if you want to go Pro tools (which requires a proprietary interface to function) you can do so with a number of their products. I think you'll find many of the 2 to 4 input devices to be much more affordable while the Mark of the Unicorn products all seem to hover around slightly under $1000. So the M-audio may be the lesser expensive way for you to go?

    Many people want the higher resolution sound cards that are capable of 24-bit 96kHz, 24-bit 192kHz or DSD but you're not talking anything really affordable or inexpensive. I still make fine recordings at 16-bit 44.1kHz but the fine arts or more esoteric engineers really think that sounds like doggie do do, I don't agree because I realize most people don't know what the heck they're listening to to begin with and think MP3s sound good. Of course the higher resolutions stuff does sound better but like anything, it's an acquired taste. It will give you better masters for your archive for when the next great standard materializes. If you are still in the learning process I don't believe higher resolution will do you much good until you become more accomplished with what you're doing. Many people on this forum have good sounding sound cards but want to go out and buy a more esoteric analog to digital converter because they don't like what they're currently hearing. I chalk most of that up to inexperience and operator error as I can make beautiful recordings on just about any kind of piece of crappy equipment since I know its limitations. Its more the presentation that counts and not so much the technical blah blah involved.

    The information presented here is that of the author and not necessarily those of the stations forum. (A typical disclaimer)

    Ms. Remy Ann David

    I don't do Pro Tools but I do do Windows.
    Hey what's that smudge???
    Go wash your hands now.
  5. casper

    casper Guest

    All that Remy has stated is totally on the money. My two cents, Line 6 Tone Port UX1. Has inputs for high impedence (Inst in) and Mic Preamp + lots of software. If you need phantom power move up to the UX2 includes double the inputs of UX1 plus outboard VU meters. It isn't firewire but USB. It may be wothwhile to check it out. :D
  6. RemyRAD

    RemyRAD Member

    Sep 26, 2005
    Why, thank you Casper. I don't see you much on this forum? You are a friendly ghost aren't you??

    I'm not afraid of ghosts!
    Ms. Remy Ann David

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