Need some advice for recording.

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by Mortifix, Jul 23, 2007.

  1. Mortifix

    Mortifix Guest

    Well first off im new to the whole audio recording scene and I know none of the slang or lingo. Right now I have a Yamaha EMX 860st and I have it hooked up to my Hewlett Packard PC with an intergrated sound card and the program I am using Audacity. As of now im having trouble recording just voice which I will get into that in a minute. Basically what im wanting to do is be able to record voice and music. I have a two pianos, a guitar and four microphones hooked up to my EMX. I can barely run the soundboard because I don't know what half the knobs or switchs do. So with that information let me explain my problems.

    When I am recording just vocal, no matter how low I turn down the audio the meters still peak out. I was told that a better quality sound card would fix this so I went looking around and this is what I came up with.

    Now I heard that this was a really cheap sound card I could get good quality sound from.

    Im not quite sure what type of microphones I have, but I know they are nothing special (maybe $20 each I believe).

    So basically im wanting to know how and what I need to be able to record good quality sound from vocal and music.

    Also, is there any better programs than Audacity?

    Thanks for the help and sorry for the long post.
  2. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Guest

    What you need is:

    1. A minimally decent soundcard. The soundblaster is not a good choice according to many on this forum. I had one many years ago and never managed to use it productively. The first six on this page will do you fine: . I have an ESI Julia, works fine too.

    2. A good microphone. If you have to have one, a Shure SM57 or SM58 are the cheapest professional quality microphones.

    3. You will need to plug your microphone into a dedicated preamplifier and then plug the preamplifier output into your soundcard inputs. Consider your budget and pick your poison, the cheap stuff is nasty:


    A. Instead of 1. and 3. you may want to go for an integrated preamplifier and soundcard (often called "interfaces") that communicates with your computer via firewire (or USB2.0). PreSonus Inspire 1394 or the M-Audio FireWire Solo are budget units with no MIDI, while the Edirol FA-66, M-Audio FireWire 410 and PreSonus FireBox are more expensive as they, among other extra things, have MIDI. Firewire interfaces are sometimes sensitive to the quality of the firewire input on your computer - you should check for compatibility and reported problems.

    B. You may also get away with only 1. and 2. and avoid 3. by using your mixer's microphone inputs which are preamplifiers. If your mixer has aux or monitor outs you should use one of these to feed the inputs of your soundcard with the signal that you want to record. The outputs of your soundcard should be plugged into dedicated mixer channels. The main outputs of your mixer should (of course) go to your speakers (not to your soundcard).

    General issues

    If you find that what is coming out of your speakers sounds crappy while recording, it is most likely because the vocal/instrument sound going into your soundcard is being mixed with a slightly delayed version of itself (= latency) coming out of your soundcard. You can avoid this in several ways but these are specific to the soundcard software and to the recording software you are using and thus you will need to consider their manuals.

    Audacity is fine. Another good free-to-try software is Reaper. Many of the soundcards or interfaces come with bundled software which you can try out too. I don't think the different programs sound any different (especially when using budget equipment to input signal), but they do affect how you work so your results will vary depending on what you use. Whatever you use, you will need to tweak your PC (you are using winXP?); some advice can be found here:

    Also, before you record, query for "gain staging" on this forum and in Google and read up on this. Finally, as you will probably be recording in 24 bit resolution, you do not need to have a "hot" digital signal, i.e. keep the meters on your recording software safely bellow -6db, I keep mine bellow -12db all the time.

    Hope this was of some use. Have fun, Buzzgrowl
  3. Mortifix

    Mortifix Guest

    Ok well I went to that site you posted and I think im going to get the E-MU 0404 sound card.

    I didn't want to get the firewire "interface" because I believe my mixer (same as soundboard correct?) has preamplifiers on it already I think. If someone could double check for me because I haven't a clue were to look for it. Here is a link to the product:

    I have the Yamaha EMX 860st model.

    Thanks for the very useful information Buzzgrowl![/url]
  4. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA

    You're going the wrong direction.

    Yes, your Yamaha mixer has some microphone preamplifiers built in, but the mixer that you have is a live sound mixer (with the built in power amplifier). In addition, I don't see any direct outputs on the channels which means that in addition to all the other crap that the signal has to go through, it also has to get squeezed through the final mix bus which likely sucks the life out of the recording.

    I honestly think that the best bet nowadays for NOOB recordists are the Presonus firewire interfaces or the MOTU firewire interfaces. Both brands have some great preamps built in, great conversion, good headroom and great free software. (Oh...don't count out the Mackie Firewire stuff - the 400F, etc is GREAT!)

    Yeah, they might be a little more expensive than the EMU, but they're MILES better and the preamps are MUCH better too. (In other words, you stand a much better chance of getting a decent sound with a Shure SM57.)


  5. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    The E-MU 0404 is a great choice for an audio interface and gives high value for your money. But it also means that you need to have or plan to use external preamps or an external mixer. PCI interfaces in geneal have fewer problems and out perform FW and USB audio interfaces. External audio interfaces often include a few preamps and a headphone amp so that they may be a better all in one solution. But to say they are miles better is just pure wrong.
  6. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    I don't know that anyone said they were "miles" better, but in general, I find that they are far better than the cards like the Emu.

    Reasons being -

    1 - A good firewire device is just as stable as the PCI device and seeing as how they both use the same bus (the PCI bus) there shouldn't be any performance issues. If there are driver issues, they should be able to be resolved by either the Firewire card (or MoBo) manufacturer or by the audio interface manufacturer. Even if they can't be resolved there, an external, non-OEM card of high quality can be obtained for a VERY nominal fee provided you have either a PCI or PCMCIA slot available on your machine.

    2 - Very few PCI card manufacturers have done a good job manufacturing cards which are not affected by the surroundings of the inside of a PC. Lynx and RME are among those, but I have not found EMU to be one. (I've found Echo to be an AMAZING internal soundcard - the Mia occupies one of my systems to this date and I still love it!)

    That being said - converters, mic pres, line amplifiers and all else are contained outside of the computer in an external device with what is likely to be a far better and more stable power supply than the low voltage supply from the computer's (starving) power supply.

    Basically, if I weren't passing digital streams only into the computer, I wouldn't trust it. Again, some card manufacturers do a far better job than others at this. However, I don't find EMU to be in that camp. (I do like some of their PCI daughter cards with external hardware connections - they are quite a bargain!)

    3 - Many of these interfaces include some sort of digital input en masse. Meaning that, even if one were to outgrow the mediocre pres and the modest quality conversion, they could at least come into the box in digital. Since many to even most of these interfaces include lightpipe, you could have yourself a genuinely flexible device that you can grow with until there is no such thing as PCI, Firewire or PCM in existence.

    Just some thoughts....

  7. salamichrist

    salamichrist Guest

    I'm doing the same thing that you are trying to do. Buy all these things and you will have great quality for the price. Emu 0404 sound card($100). Also get a shure sm57 microphone ($100). A behringer Xenyx 502 mixer ($45) is great too. To record your guitar, buy a Behringer V-amp2 ($100) and go from the v-amp straight to the sound card. go on ebay and sell all your cheap mics and Yamaha live mixer. Trust me, and buy all this stuff, you will be more than satisfied.
  8. AudioGaff

    AudioGaff Well-Known Member

    Feb 23, 2001
    Silicon Valley
    The way I read it, you did say MILES better and that simply is not true.

    True in general, but my experience is that it is not as much of problem as it used to be and not a problem with the 0404. The 0404 test results from many users, pro reviewers and 3rd party test labs all seem more than satisfied with it's specs and performance capability. Like all products, it is not a perfect product and not for everybody, nor is it the best quality you can buy. But I have now helped over 100+ clients over the last few years install and/or use the 0404 with no audible artifacts or complaints about noise or being in a noisy computer enviornment although it is likely that on some specific systems there could be a problem. The 0404 is at the bottom of the PCI line for the E-MU stuff and if you want real quality for amazing price value, the E-MU 1212M is much better and measures as good as anything else on the audio interface market.
  9. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    Oops... :shock: :oops:

    I didn't see that I myself had said that.

    Of course, I do actually believe this, but we're definitely entitled to differing opinions.
  10. Mortifix

    Mortifix Guest

    Ok well thanks for the all the information so far, but as Cucco said I am a NOOB at this and im not understanding what I need to buy. I think this is what I have so far:

    Mic to Mixer to Pre-amp to PC?

    The mic isn't a big deal, because the main thing im worried about is the one mic which is wireless and it cost around $300 - $500 I can't quite remember so I believe it was a pretty good one.

    I really would like to keep my mixer because I don't want to have to take a step back or buy more equipment.

    The Pre-amp I am looking at is
    I am not sure is this is a good one or even a pre-amp that you are talking about. Will I be able to run all my microphones through this pre-amp?

    The sound card I am looking at is
    This is cheap and that is what I am aiming for.
  11. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Guest

    You said:
    1. Your mixer has preapms for your mic(s) already. If you choose to use your mixer, make sure it has line-level monitor or aux outputs. I am pretty sure that it does not have direct outs on each channel. If it does not have line-level monitor or aux outputs, your mixer is useless for recording. If it just has a stereo tape out, this is again of no help because your summed monitor's signal (i.e. all the other pre-recorded instruments) will bleed back into the track you are currently recording.

    If you have line-level monitor or aux outputs, connect these to your soundcard of choice inputs. Keep monitor or aux all at 0 except the one instrument channel you are recording. As others have explained, your mixer probably does not have very good mic preapms built-in and the circuitry behind the line-level monitor or aux outputs will be just adequate because your mixer was not designed to provide clean recording signals (rather it was designed to suffer grueling long gigs). If your mixer can give you a line-level monitor or aux output, you do not need additional mic preapms.

    2. If you do not know what mic you have, you probably have a crappy one. :wink: . Seriously, don't skimp on the mic, and get yourself a good industry quality mic cable, but nothing esoteric.

    3. The firepod will take 8 mics simultaneously, and output 8 channels to 8 seperate tracks on your recording software. It has a sound card built-in. Therefore, you do not need the 1212M. If you buy the firepod, you will not be using your mixer anymore. You will be mixing in the software DAW on your computer. The next question would be how would you monitor the output from the computer and firepod? You could plug its outputs back into your mixer. A better solution is to get a pair of powered monitors and plug these into the firepod.

    4. If you get the 1212M, the firepod is redundent. With the 1212M you need to decide whether to use the barely adequate mic preamps on your mixer or buy a mono or stereo (or multiple) mic preamp that has both analog inputs and outputs, the outputs of whic you plug durectly into your 1212M.

    If you have a guitar amp, it is best to record it with a microphone. A great guide on how to do so is here:

    If you want to record a guitar direct, without an amplifier, you need a direct box. I use a Tech 21 sansamp. I also cut everything above 10-12k before the signal goes into the soundcard.

    You should really search and read this forum in detail. Also consult the gearslutz forums.

    Enjoy, Buzzgrowl
  12. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    No problem. That's why we're here.

    The Preamp is built in to the mixer. However, the preamps in that series of mixer are not really that good. They're designed to amplify announcers at mall beauty pageants, not to record people.

    Wireless mics have no place in a recording studio, regardless of price.

  13. Mortifix

    Mortifix Guest

    Ok I think I am starting to understand everything a little better. Basically I can ditch my mixer, and a new soundcard if I buy the FirePod? Ok now see I don't do just recording...I do use the mixer to pass the sound through the speakers. So can the firepod be used in the place of the mixer?
  14. Cucco

    Cucco Distinguished Member

    Mar 8, 2004
    Tacoma, WA
    The firepod can do mixing for live sound if you have a laptop (or portable desktop).

    I won't lie and say it's ideal, but many people do it that way.

    It does not amplify though, so you'd lose the amps in your mixer too.
  15. Mortifix

    Mortifix Guest

    Well, I will be hooking up my FirePod to the desktop comuter I have sitting next to the mixer.

    Also, is this FirePod good for what im going to be doing? I don't need anything fancy; just something that will get the job done.
  16. Buzzgrowl

    Buzzgrowl Guest

    The difference is:

    Presonus Inspire 1394: two mic preapms + soundcard

    Presonus Firebox: two mic preamps + soundcard + MIDI i/o

    Personus Firepod: eight mic preamps + soundcard + MIDI i/o

    So your question is: how many mics/channels do need to record at the same time and do you need MIDI?

    All three hook up to your pc with a firewire cable.

    For all three, you will need to hook up their outputs to either an amplifier and speakers (in your case your mixer and its speakers) or buy a pair of active speakers.

    Also the Firepod seems to be no longer produced (replaced by the Firestudio). Thus the good deal on it, so if this is what you need, hurry up while stocks last.

    If you need only two mic inputs/preamps but could use some more line-level inputs for your keyboards, the cheapest option is this: .

    However, I have no experience with this card and you will need search this forum (and gearslutz, see(Dead Link Removed)

  17. Mortifix

    Mortifix Guest

    Ok well I just bought my PreSonus Firepod and i've got to say its looking pretty fancy. Unfortunatly I ran into a little trouble. As you already know, I have the Yamaha EMX860st mixer and I'm not wanting to pull it out of the scene just yet. I didn't think about this until know but how would I have the speakers hooked up to the mixer and have a mic hooked up to the firepod but still have the audio coming from the speakers. Would I just run a line from the line-out from the firepod to a line-in on the mixer?
  18. blue2124

    blue2124 Guest

    Hi everyone,

    A bit off track question, but still related to FirePod. Hope the experts here can help :)

    Is FirePod able to do 4 track simultaneous recording? Let say I'll hook up 4 mics to the input and record the 4 mic channels simultaneously.

    Also, can the FirePod pre-amp gain adjusted in discrete, precise step or continuous step (the spec says something about TrimControl?)?

    What would you suggest if I need to record 4 channels simultaneously and have to match the gain of the 4 channels very precisely? Will FirePod do the job?

    Thanks :)

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