Uneducated Newbie seeking some guidance

Discussion in 'Microphones (live or studio)' started by RosebowlMcMurray, May 19, 2005.

  1. Alright, so I just signed up today and haven't necissarily found the kind of information i'm looking for, forgive me if i haven't searched hard enough...

    please bear with me, i understand some basics of recording, but the more technical aspect confuses the hell out of me.

    basically, my band (drumset, two guitars, bass, four vocals) has been trying numerous, incredibly amateur ways of recording for the past year.

    we have a full drum mic set(two overheads, kick, snare, room/ambience? mic), i'm aware of how to set the mics up properly so i don't get any cancellation and whatnot, but i'm confused on how to record the ENTIRE band in a live setting...

    since we're a jam/improv band we want to record our practices for a cd rather than doing a "studio recording" which, i believe, involves alot of overdubbing(a past band used a "pro" studio and we lost alot of the soul in our music because of overproduction, we're going for an honest sound)

    -what sort of mixer will i need in order to adjust the levels of the individual drum mics after recording? is that possible at all?
    -is there a way to record live in a room without the amps being picked up too much by the drum overheads? same applies for vocals.

    i'd suppose, in a nutshell, my question is, how can i create a home studio that will allow for a straightforward live recording that can be mixed and mastered slightly?

    phish and similar bands record every show in this manner, i think.
    rather, i think an even better question would be, how do professional bands/venues record shows?

    my apologies if i'm not understanding the obvious.

    thanks for the time
  2. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    Welcome to Recording.org Dustin!
    This place rocks!!!!!
    Recording live is one of the hardest things to do. In my opinion (IMO) you can get good at it, but it takes lots of practice, and lots of learning. Patience will go alot further than any short cuts or tricks will ever go.
    Keep trying, and keep your best recordings on a disc to make sure that each time you do it, you are getting better results. Trust me, it will not happen over night. You will make lots of mistakes WAY before you do something that is AWESOME. But it will happen soon.
    For instance, your first 2 or 3 recordings suck. Then the next one you do doesn't at least "suck". Next thing you know your listening to your old mixes from weeks ago, and your wondering,"what the f*ck was I thinking?! That sounds like ass"
    So you become you own worst critic. And over the next fews months you just get better, and better. Until the ineviable "time to upgrade comes". Because you become better than you equipment will allow you to sound.
    As far as a mixing board, any of the small compact mixers will do you just fine.
    Please let use help you get the right gear the first time!
  3. thanks

    thanks for the advice.

    i've definitely had my share of crap recordings ha ha.

    more or less, though, what i'm confused about is HOW to record so that i have more than a just a mixdowned product.

    let me explain.

    and please don't scream on me, lol, i know this is a stupid idea.

    basically, all last summer we were running about 16 mics into an old power mixer(don't ask me what the name was, it was old and available) we then had the mixer running from the output to a microphone input jack on a POS pc and used cooledit to record. Since then i've been told i need an analog>digital converter, so i know that's on my list of things to check into, but with our finished product it was only one mixdowned track on cooledit(most likely cause there was only one soundcard), making it impossible to turn the guitar levels down or the vocal levels up.

    my conclusions from working this way were:
    a) stop it.
    b) i would prefer to avoid hooking anything up to any sort of computer.

    for a few jam sessions, we rented a mackie 8-track mixer with a tape recorder built in. this was more along the lines of the type of equipment i'm interested in researching. we were able to go back after playing and change the levels of the guitar/vocals/ect. as opposed to when we were F'ing around with the single-card pc.

    ideally, i imagine i should be able to have a pa, but running through a mixer that can record us and then edit levels after we call it quits. any suggestions on makes and models to check out? obviously i know this costs money, but some things are necessary to our "vision"(for lack of better word).

    we were hoping that after getting this "vision" accomplished we would be able to take different takes from numerous jams, find our favorite and send the unmixed copies to a studio for a little bit of buffering(no overproducion though, just boosted volume and noise reduction type stuff.)

    if i understood how to communicate in recording language i'm sure it'd make alot more sense.

    i blame it on growing up in the diy "punk" scene and not caring about the REAL way of doing things. unfortunately now i have to learn all the basics all over again.

  4. I did it the computer way too... and actually, after a while they started sounding decent... I was just using Advanced MP3 Recorder to record.

    Anyway, what's your budget?

    Basically, you either need one of those "digital studios" like the Boss BR-1600CD, or a mixer with direct outs and tape returns on each channel (the tape returns are a lot of times referred to as "Mix B") and an outboard recorder. Going the second approach, a cheaper solution is using the insert send (put the 1/4" plug to the first click) as your direct out and just return through your line-ins on each channel after unplugging the mic.
  5. KyroJoe

    KyroJoe Guest


    I want to begin this without misleading you at all,
    given what you've said there is no way that you're going
    to make a normal commercial quality CD in this situation
    without a lot of experimentation, practice, experience,
    and the right gear. If you're serious about it, you should
    expect that it will take some time to learn how to get
    things just right!

    I'll also be honest that to achieve a pro result you really
    should consider saving up your money and doing this in a
    studio that has the right gear and rooms available to you.

    HOWEVER, not being one to discourage, it is still
    possible for you to get a very good home recording.

    "making it impossible to turn the guitar levels down or the vocal levels up."

    Unless you have a multitrack recording device (HD or DAT or Tape)
    you've got to get your sound right coming out of the mixing console.
    Don't expect to always "fix it in the mix". Most of this forensic level music
    creation is expensive and can only be done effectively on pro quality

    FYI: You should always get your desired sound as right as possible out of
    the console or before the recording is stored regardless of your end
    tracking device!!

    "we were hoping that after getting this "vision" accomplished we would be
    able to take different takes from numerous jams, find our favorite and send
    the unmixed copies to a studio for a little bit of buffering(no overproducion
    though, just boosted volume and noise reduction type stuff.) "

    Remember that you're going to have to try to get your timing the same as
    possible for each take that you intend to use! Time correction
    and pitch shifting across multiple takes will add to your mix cost.

    If you want to record "live" as a complete band, you're going
    to need to begin with some room treatment. You can go for
    commercially available bass traps and auralex or the like or
    as an alternative you can make your own. Some mineral wool
    insulation products make excellent quality traps. These are available
    from Home Depot or an insulation contractor.

    There are many resources for this info available through a google
    search for DIY accoustic treatment. You should also buy or make yourself some
    gobos to add a little more isolation.
    No matter what, your best results are still going to come from isolating
    as much as possible and wearing headphones with a distributed
    monitoring mix! Keep in mind, even this will affect how you play
    your songs. Unless everything is DI, it will forever be a
    compromise between performance and a good recording.

    To get it done on your own, you can build most of what you
    require for <$1500 and rent your required recording gear.
    Shop around. I have even, on the right occasion, rented out some
    of my pro mobile gear to qualified newbies.

    Spending your money on getting both a good mix and mastering
    engineer for your recorded material will definitely help the
    quality of your final product.

    But, most of all, when doing things yourself, don't be afraid to
    ask questions! Ask in the correct forums and also ask if there are other
    home recording hobbyists that would share tips at your pro audio dealer
    or musical gear store. Most will freely share the info with the hope
    that you catch the never ending "upgrade-me bug" and buy your
    gear from them.

    start with these resources:



    Your library and bookstore can be helpful resources as well

    Kyro Studios

    much appreciated, i get what you're saying, i'll definitely be using this board alot.
  7. KyroJoe

    KyroJoe Guest


    "we rented a mackie 8-track mixer with a tape recorder built in"

    sorry I didn't post this for you before, I'm taking brain & ear breaks between projects,
    have you looked into the standalone DAW solutions like the Akai DPS24?
    I know that these units are also available at some places for rental.
    Check it out.

    Kyro Studios
  8. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    I wouldn't sweat it. You only have about 20 frinkin brands to choose from :lol: , and 15 or 20 type of platforms. :shock: And 10 or 12 type of connectors and then theres aways....what to use??? Harddrive? Mini Disc? MP3 player? CD burner? Tape based? DAT's? Reel to reel? Ect, ect.
    Look around alot before you buy. Get something that will be worth at least the same amount (roughly) that you paid for it when you bought it (new or used). That way when you want to upgrade you won't have to start all over saving your money again. Maybe try one of the mixer/recorders that are out today. That's what I started out on.
    I think it was a Tascam 488. Wow, that was a long time ago. :oops:
  9. TeddyG

    TeddyG Well-Known Member

    Jan 20, 2005
    What you need is a producer! Maybe you?

    The very purpose of this forum is to promote the recording art, and to get as many people to buy gear as possible so it's cheaper for all of us, however!

    As stated, it would cost ALOT of money and take ALOT of time and ALOT of effort, to come-up with anything resembling a commercial quality song/album - at home... And all that time, all you'll be doing is learning about and buying equipment, hammering nails in walls - forget the music itself... And all you'll end up with is a kind've half-assed studio that you really don't know how to use... or maybe even care to know..?

    How about this?

    Rent an "already" studio for a long period of time. Check-out your local places, see when they can accomodate you, work several nights just getting used to the place, setting up mics, monitors, levels, planning your tracks - if any, etc. Then, leaving your stuff set-up, spend another week or two "just playing", with a day or two off when needed. Won't be cheap! Or will it, by comparison to any other way..?

    Yes, the producer must have "a plan", or use the first several days to formulate one, but a plan allowing for plenty of screwing arou--- ahh, "creativity"! Keeping alwaysd in mind that you want something "done" at the end, if at all possible. Bet once you know what will actually have to be done you'll scale-down your plan to something much more reasonalbe(Like completing just 2 or 3 songs...??? But REALLY completing them!)

    The engineer could be just watching levels and tracking, positioning mics, suggesting here and there and little else - NOT being a producer, just an overseer. Only enough eq and compression, etc., to make sure the tracks get down nicely - no EFFECTS, perse - maybe a little reverb but only in the earphones... that kind of thing.

    At the end of the two week period you'll have lots of tracks to go through, as a group, as soloists, whatever you've come-up with.

    Now, give yourself another couple of weeks "off"... If needed(Maybe not?), pack-up your gear and go home - forget about it. Then, go back in the studio and start going through things from the mix side. You can "produce" only as much as you like, and keep the original stuff so you can "re-produce"(Down boy!), if you change your mind. As you like you can "add" things that seem appropriate("A cowbell would be nice here, ey???), or re-track things that need improvement or changes, etc. Take another couple of weeks to do all this.

    Be sure to write out checks to the studio, when agreed, or earlier..! Be professional, take care of the space, equipment and yourselves - this is creative time NOT prima-donna or binge time...

    Indeed, I'm talking a month or 2 here, but hey, that's just what the "big folk" do! Except they might take a year or more.....? And, even though you won't have to, you'll know a whole bunch about recording and the equipment used when you're done - quite a deal!

    I'll bet, somewhere within driving distance(Or maybe you need to find go further away and make a real "project" out of it?) is a studio you'd fit into nicely that would love to sell you all the time you want for an affordable price. At least likely alot more affordable, and worthwhile, than doing it yourself...

  10. Todzilla

    Todzilla Active Member

    May 12, 2003
    Neuse River Watershed
    Home Page:
    Recording live poses lots of challenges (although you've correctly identified the benefits).

    For one thing, you need to record many concurrent tracks at once. This means you need to have lots of preamps (5 for drums, 2 for guitars, 1 for bass, 4 for vocals = 12 preamp channels), as many microphones (although you might do well to record bass direct) and of course, your performance will only be as good as the sloppiest player.

    You may want to overdub vocals later, in which case you'll still need 8 preamps. Lots of folks who overdub their way to a finished track get away with just a couple channels of preamp and a couple great mics, utilizing them at each pass. This is how many of us can get away with a slightly non-bankrupting investment and get pretty great sound.

    Be very careful to look at maximum simultaneous inputs on any of these all-in-one boxes. Many of them have just 2 simultaneous inputs, which would be an okay price-benefit compromise for overdubbers, but it would be disastrous to you. DAW interfaces also have limits on the numbers of simultaneous inputs.

    With live recording, you're gonna get lots of bleed through - guitar tracks that have some drums in them, and vice versa. This isn't as big of a problem as some would have you believe, as it adds to a cohesive feel in the mix. However, it will thwart your ability to individually treat each track with discrete processing. You will want to use lots of cardiod patterned mics and careful positioning of amps, drums, and the mics themselves to maximize rejection of other sound sources.

    Months later, after you've hit on the ideal way to get all this on tape, you should video document your setup, 'cause you're gonna want to recreate it at some point in the future.

    Good luck, and please try not to sound like the Grateful Dead.
  11. anonymous

    anonymous Guests

    Feb 10, 2001
    But if you run across any shrooms, get back online and start a new post. :lol:
    Just call it "Hey Dave man, I got the stuff"

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